I spent the day lazing about. This was partially by design (it happens the day after treatment, which is why I plan my treatment days when I do)and partially thanks to nature. It’s been exceedingly hot here. Too hot to do much of anything. Couple that with bright sunshine and nudity and you have a case for a lazy day.
I read some, okay a lot. I’ve always had a fascination with history and today I gave into it. Ancient cultures always catch my eye. Beloved had provided me with a few magazines decimated to ancient cultures and so today I immersed myself in ancient Egypt and then the Mayans. It was lovely.
I couldn’t imagine life during those times, not in its entirety. No air conditioning. No soft comfy beds. No medication to try and hold lupus at bay. Chances are if I were living back then, I’d have died young. Either from hard labor or the sun. From what we know, the odds of a woman being learned back then were slim.
So I lazed and marbled at the pictures of artifacts (how on earth did they create such delicate carvings and such?), and architecture and thanked modern inventions such as air conditioning and medical treatments for allowing me to have the life I do. In other words, today was a marvellous day!
Not far from where we live there is a copse of old trees, some almost hollowed out with decay. It’s one of my favorite places to ramble when I feel up to it and the four-footed one enjoys poking her nose in the holes and crevices.
The trees remind me of wise beings, having witnessed so much history and turmoil as well as peace and good times. On those really challenging days, if I’m up to it, I will go to these wise sentinels and pour my heart out to them. I don’t expect much from them, not in terms of answers or feedback. I do, however, feel, better after my monologue. I think the four-footed one is just thrilled to not have to hear me tell her all of these things.
I always wonder though, what have those trees really witnessed. What amazing sights have they seen? What incredible conversations have they overheard? What theories have been found and sorted within their midst and what plans have come to fruition under those gnarly limbs.
Beneath these trees is a carpet of slightly bumpy and hilly grass. It looks so soft and lush, yet it seems to cover a hardness you wouldn’t expect to find in this land. Rocks are just covered by the turf, not buried as deep as one would expect. I wonder how many others have stumbled and tripped upon them the way I have when I’m not paying attention. Surely my feet are not the only ones to lack coordination and proper placement.
I don’t share this place, not it’s exact location with anyone other than the four-footed one because there is something sacred about this space. There is something knowing and special, at least to me and I’d dread losing that simply through the act of sharing it with anyone, even Beloved. And so it is where I run to, where I hide, when I need to tear down the walls I’ve built up within myself. So I can get to the very essence of me.
Once upon a time a young man stood across a rocky shore and glanced backwards to where his people came from centuries before he had even been a twinkle in his daddy’s eye. His people never looked back as far as he knew, the accepted the rocky shoreline as the beginning of a new start. A place to start over, learning, winning and gaining since they had really nothing prior to that.
Beloved has never stopped looking back at where his people have come from so this year I opened up the idea that he could go and see what had once been a place of his people. Before the left. And so he packed a small-ish bag and headed back to what was once the homelands of his ancestors to explore, to see if it felt like home. Mostly he went to see what might have been.
But you can’t ever really go back can you? One small change sends ripples in all directions leading to other changes and soon you can’t see through the water. Nothing remains the same and so going back will never really show you what might have been, or what could have been. You can only go and realize that once upon a time your ancestors walked the ground and maybe, if you are lucky, you may feel like you are going home. But it’s all a trick of light, slight of hand and emotions.
The dishwasher decided to go kaput. I can’t blame it, I mean it has a never-ending job that seems to be taken for granted. Maybe it’s staging a strike, perhaps it just wants to be appreciated and then again maybe it’s broken from regular use.
It isn’t the end of the world, but with limited energy and I use the dishwasher. Oh I don’t run it every day or all the time, and never run it with only a small amount in it. I mean to say that while it may not be the greenest of choices, it’s a choice that allows me a little more quality of life. And now it is no longer functioning.
My dishwasher, it seems, is a bit like me, damaged and unable to work as it had previously. It doesn’t mean it is something to be cast aside, it simply needs some help. Beloved pointed out that early cultures would allow domesticated dogs to lick their dishware clean. I’m not sure how clean that would get things, but maybe it was better than nothing. Other cultures scoured the dishware with salt or sand, which then would get into their teeth and wear them down as well.
So no sand or salt and despite what the four-footed one thinks she will not be licking the plates clean. Washing by hand is in order until the machine is fixed. And once it is fixed, I promise you I will not take it for granted not for one wash cycle.
Everyone should have a chance to experience a Clarence Darrow or Atticus Finch in their lives, even if only through books or old newspaper articles. Not so much because these men took the case of the underdog, although this too is important, but rather because these men took on the battled for justice and equality. They showed that even in our darkest moments, humanity can still shine and find good.
Atticus Finch, being a fictional character could easily be crafted into something very mythical, nothing but goodness coming out of him. Harper Lee, though, assured readers of his humanness and such through her second story, Go Set A Watchman. I confess that it pained me to read how easily Atticus was shown to be human. Yes he fought for justice and the truth and yet he still harboured human hate and such. I wanted, nay I needed Atticus, to remain above the rest of us.
Clarence Darrow, not a piece of fiction, wore his human complications on his very person. He may champion for women, at least certain women he believed in and yet st the same time want a woman to provide him with all the expected female trappings. Such as meals and subservience. Darrow, for all of his goodness was also harsh to those who cared most about him, having affairs without concern for his wife’s feelings. And in the end, Darrow who was a lion in court ended as we all do, damaged and weak beyond the image of his days in court.
I am not old enough to have witnessed Darrow, but I’ve read accounts of him. Sometimes, when Beloved has found a certain topic that strikes his passion into an out of control wildfire I wonder if there is a hint, a small glimmer of something Darrow-ish or maybe Atticus Finch like happen before my very eyes. After all Beloved seeks truth and justice for almost needing and demanding equality without qualifiers.
If I should be just a wee bit like any of these three men, I would be a much better human. I just work harder at this and never forgot those who are left voiceless by a system that fails to see the, clearly or equally. Perhaps those are the gifts given to us in the form of Atticus Finch and Clarence Darrow..to always be the voice for the voice and the lion even when we feel smaller than a mouse.
I slipped through the doorway and into building, allowing my eyes time to adjust to the change in light. It was dark and seemed smaller now that I was inside it. If the walls had been built of adobe or thick clay it would make sense that the interior was smaller than the exterior. Historically these walls were built thick to help keep the heat in or the cold out depending upon the seasons.
Given that the building had been constructed of roughly hewn logs, I decided it was the collapsing roof that gave it the almost claustrophobic feel of smallness. Focusing on what made the space seem smaller was better than focusing on who might be sharing the space with me. Snakes, stinging bugs and all sorts of creepy crawlies are known to hide out from the hot daytime sun in these abandoned buildings.
I hadn’t come in to escape the sun; I had wanted to step inside and see what the space was like. I guess I thought it would give me a sense of those who had lived here before, or at least tried to live here before. Maybe I wanted to catch the essence of those pioneers who didn’t worry about the odds, or what was stacked against them as long as they had decent land and access to water. What made those people want to stay here, so far away that you could literally hear the silence riding in on a breeze and feel with weight of open spaces? Of course I knew, even then, I was projecting my modern concerns onto something from another time and place. Not a simpler time, for I cannot fathom how trying to make anything grow in the rocky ground would be simple, just a different time.
I can feel a part of me soar off on the breeze, free to see what’s over the next hill or find a rock to perch upon and see the new view. Another part of me seems rooted in or at least near the building, trying to find who lived there and what these people were like. Would people, at some point in the future, slip through one of my own doorways and pause the way I did or would it be a space just decaying at its own pace much like the person who used to live in it?
I want to linger, to stay in this peaceful place but somewhere further up the hillside, near where we parked, I imagine Beloved pacing the way he does when he is bored or hot. He is probably both I decide as I make my way back out of what once was someone’s house. The heat is no doubt radiating off the dark pavement; his face will be a brilliant reddish color both from the heat and the sun. He has had enough of these abandoned places, he has seen enough that he can paint his own picture, but he will not deny me what I need. Nor will he sit in the car with the air conditioning on. Instead he will wait out in the heat and pace while he waits for me. He will remind me that neither of us could handle the day to day existence that these people had as he pulls out a cool bottle of water and offers it to me with a grin. And we slip easily into that cool car and cover more ground in a day than those people would have been able to cover. Are we better for it? No. Will our places also become abandoned? Probably.
Stumbling through historical documents the way I usually do, in other words I read through or rather skim through until something catches my eye besides creative spelling and what have you, I came across the mention of immurement (literally being walled in) as a means of religious practice. In the text I was reading, it referred to how the cells of religious followers known as anchorites were designed to allow for small things, such as shuttered windows from which they might hear the Mass and see the altar of the church. Another small opening was present to provide for small yet basic needs of the follower. The understanding is that the person walled in never leaves his/her cell again. This life would be one of communion, albeit solitary in nature, with God via contemplative prayer.
I can’t fathom what that life would be like. What would even go through a person’s mind while the work on being walled in was taking place? Yes a great spiritual journey may await you but that journey would include long, lonely hours interrupted with the hearing/sights of a ceremony and the smallest, most frugal of food offered to you. If you were fortunate you would be able to speak with others (I have read in some instances where an anchorite would simply be walled up in a cell completely, left to starve or dehydrate to death as there were no windows provided) when they came to seek you out for wisdom or to intercede upon their behalf for religious matters and such.
As much as I cannot fathom that lifestyle I also cannot say that a different form of this isn’t going on today. How many people are ostracized from mainstream society due to illness, medical conditions or simply being different? How many times do you read articles about people being found only after neighbors complain of a foul odor or the mail-person notices the mail hasn’t been picked up for a number of days? I suspect that when you start to live a very solitary existence, and for the record there is nothing wrong with that if that is by the person’s choice, that it is may be not too far off form a walled in experience, expect you have the freedom to move out of your “confinement” if you wish. Of course when one is ostracized there isn’t the freedom to “join” back into the rest of the group unless you go forth and seek out your own group.
Of course this method could be used for reasons other than religion, such as punishment, an out of sight and out of mind approach where people would simple die of starvation and dehydration. A most horrible way to spend one’s last hours, starved, thirsty, dehydrated and probably injured from trying to claw one’s way out. Not to mention you would be completely shut off from all human contact with only your own thoughts, voice and hallucinations to keep you company.
I can honestly say that although I thoroughly enjoy my solitude and my privacy, I can’t imagine being stuck with just myself 24 hours a day for the reminder of my life.