Je T’aime

Now, I must say good bye to you, though you are already gone. And I do not know why I must write this: this, the most difficult of all things to put into words. It is not within my powers of expression to write the words that would be a fitting eulogy, though perhaps I might be able to capture something of how I find myself wanting to live in that deep certainty of joy that you taught me. That joy lives in me, viscerally; that even as I weep, I feel its call to experience deeply and fully with no reserve. This is the gift you have given me, which is beyond words.

Still, I shall write some more words. That you once told me that simply to hold my hand was your idea of happiness. That when I fell asleep in your arms, you would not move for fear of disturbing my rest. That in those moments of fine rapture we murmured ‘babe’ to each other in tone and feeling that echoed the great love language of English poets. That your delight in loving me was the greatest compliment I have ever been paid.

That you told me you would try to find a million ways in which to tell me that you loved me. That every time you told me that you loved me I was thrilled and moved to the centre of my being. That you will never again tell me that you love me; even so, it lies here in my heart and cannot be dislodged or shaken.

We do not get to the final movement of our symphony, you and I. I shall always envision you in the glorious, heat-soaked foothills landscape; the sky, and the possibilities, endless. Some echo of our music shall linger there forever, I believe. Our human hearts grapple with the mysteries of love and life and death and loss…perhaps it is simply to comfort myself that I write these words inadequate to tell of my love, and my desolation. But this, this I feel with a certainty – that within this cauldron of swirling memories lies the promise of rebirth, for to love another is to immortalize some part of ourselves.

I find I cannot say good bye, and words of love spoken to empty air bring no consolation. To return to the beginning is perhaps to honour the spiral of life and death – I shall live with the joy of having been loved by you. Je t’aime.

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Forest Alchemy

Late afternoon as I sit in my favourite library chair to write, and there is some wistfulness in watching the gathering darkness, for the day has been sunny. While it is mild in January, on Vancouver Island, it can also be grey, and even the weak sun dispersed through clouds enough to bring heightened pleasure, and a sense of lightening, if not quite the friskiness of spring. The forest that I hiked this particular day was thronged with people, in contrast to its usual vast emptiness, and I confess that the experience that I go to seek was somewhat lacking. I find myself pondering the meaning of that experience, for me.

I encountered only one other solitary hiker, a man I see often enough to recognize and we share only nods and smiles, nothing more. Every other group is noisy and talkative and somewhat overwhelming with their questions and chit chat and neon-bright human presence that seems to shout a spastic greeting at me. I’ve been known to hike with selected friends: friends selected for their quiet conversation, and enjoyment of the forest sights and smells and sounds. I also prefer hiking companions who don’t wear neon colours, but this may be a prejudice I should strive to overcome. Perhaps neon would be disquieting to a bear or other wildlife, and surely it would help in not getting lost. And rather mean of me to poke fun at neon-wearing, smelly-with-fragrance, shouting humans. But clearly the experience they seek is socially constructed, whereas I – hmmmmm, I seek other.

I am conscious of my body in the sense of its pleasure in movement, and, at times, super-conscious if I must cross steep terrain or ford a stream. But mostly, my body, like my thoughts, settles to a background song to the delight and joys of the forest – the fifty shades of green of the temperate rain forest, the creak of the forest canopy, the rustlings that tell of foraging birds or squirrels or what have you. The moist and fragrant air – the fragrance of loam, and branch, and decaying vegetation that builds the forest anew. The sights that unfold slowly, at a walking pace, slowly enough to take it all in and to find new details even on a well-familiar trail.

Often, when I return to my truck at the end of the trail, I must sit for a few moments to awaken to my return to the busy world. My consciousness needs to shift into doing, instead of being – which seems paradoxical, as hiking is doing of some sort. Nevertheless, too abrupt a transition is disquieting to me. It may be that my ramblings have given you the impression, my imaginary friend, that I am just an introvert seeking solitude. But truthfully, I sit squarely in the middle of the introversion/extroversion scale, being a seeker of solitude while enjoying the social immensely; indeed, with a need for both in my life. I find I can come up with only one word to describe what I seek – which is intimacy. I become intimate with my body, my thoughts, and my place in the wider surroundings in a way that seldom happens elsewhere, and which also seems to be a kind of alchemy. To become, for a time, truly wild and free.

I am left with this last reflection: that this thrilling wildness and freedom I seek comes through a deep intimacy… which strikes me as a lovely metaphor for both life and love.

Forest Alchemy of Another Day

Forest Alchemy of Another Day