I called him from the town where we met, where I still live. I called him where he lives now, a time zone away, halfway across the continent. I dialed a number with an area code the same as many of my friends, three digits that reference the broad spread of this place that is home. I am amazed at the portability of identity, this ease of access. He is so far away.
I had sent him a text a few days before – “How are you?”
I thought, but didn’t write, because it’s too much:
I think about you often, I want to make sure you are well. I have measured in small ways the turn of seasons in this town against memories from the years you lived here: soon there will be the spring festival and then the sister autumn festival at the campground where I saw you play on the stage with the big band behind you, where you stood beside me at the bonfire. I no longer eat at the cafe where we used to sing. Sometimes these things remind me of you and I want to be sure you are well.
Sometimes we allow people to dwell this way within our interior lives. It’s a gift, to be open to memories, to give a friend a place within the mansion of our minds. As much as the observation of seasons brings us closer to the truth and closer to the good life, community is something that exists not only in the physical space when we are in the room together, but also when we allow ourselves the heart-openness of knowing others, remaining connected.
(We have gone years without speaking. I have gone half a year or longer without thinking of him, but part of my heart is forever broken open, in a good way, but in the painful way the flower must burst from the bud, from the hours spent sitting beside him doing nothing more than showing up and being there, Being There.)
So a few days ago, he called after my text, and he left me a voicemail, and he said some words, and some of them were what I’d not said – “I think about you often enough”. He apologized for accidentally having his phone on silent. I’d missed his call because my phone was also accidentally on silent.
I called back. We talked.
There are always synchronicities where he goes- they travel with him, like the rippling wake of water behind a boat. I don’t know if he sees them.
(The position of an object in space is only known in relation to other objects. You can know the position of a particle or it’s speed but not both. There are certain things you can only see from the corner of your eye. When you’re in the woods and you’re hunting, whether for deer or for mushrooms, you open up your awareness to the gestalt, the patterns within the larger field of view, instead of looking at each individual leaf. Sometimes you meet someone and you know they know the same truths you know.)
There are parallels in our lives: observations, lessons we have learned. A desire to sit with a difficult experience rather than pushing it away (the mental jujitsu), a desire to throw ourselves into challenges to keep ourselves sharp and strong by overcoming them, always learning. Sit with this.
Right now we’re working hard to learn to live with something similar that we recognized in ourselves, in our histories, in our generational and epigenetic constitution.
And we are choosing to sit with it.
Compost that shit.
And we find reassurance in the belief that what we are going through as individuals is an echo of the global struggle to live with and grow from our cultural and generational histories of trauma: the planet has cultural PTSD, our acceptance of ourselves is mirrored in the increasing connection of the world as a whole, and is also mirrored through the ways computer learning and data analysis shape decision-making and influence the world.
We are not in this alone. Each part is a reflection of the larger whole. Our small lives are themselves fractal and recursive.
I need to remember this.
How do we live in a time of war and global connection? How do we live when technology takes over our lives? How do we live when a Nazi has the nuclear launch codes?
We all need to remember this. The struggle of waking up, the way sickness is a message to pay attention to taking care of the body. The part is a reflection of the larger whole. A person is a world, a cell is a community.
And I’m grateful, always grateful, forever grateful, for the people who have come into my life and together (meaning is created through the overlap of two fields of awareness) we have co-created a beautiful and simple and unconditional acceptance. It’s a privilege to appreciate someone and not need anything from them, and to be given that gift in turn. Emotional generosity.
Sit with it.