I went out to the Northern California coast the other day because I wanted to watch the sun set and perform a ceremony as the Full Moon rose. The moon went full at 6:38 PM, and the sun did not set until just after 7:30, so I had some time to enjoy the ambience before the State beach closed at sunset. It was a weekday, so there were not many people at the beach, although I have noticed over the years that this particular part of the Coast does not get the over-crowded attention that the beaches a little farther south do. Whenever I drive north on Hwy 1, I am always happy to see the cars parked at the other beaches; it means that they have not driven as far north as where I am going, and I will have my seclusion.
On Monday, I arrived at 5:00, and had plenty of time to take a long walk along the shoreline, go back to the car for a bite to eat, and then get ready for my ceremony. As I sat on the beach, I looked up at a gull flying over my head, and saw past it to a pair of Golden Eagles hanging in the air with wings outstretched. They were perfect in their stillness as they held against the winds, watching for any movement at the base of the cliffs below. For once, I had actually remembered to bring my binoculars with me from the car and was able to see them quite clearly in wonderful detail.
Soon, though, I was drawn back to the rhythm of the ocean and the tide in its turning from its lowest point for the afternoon. The ocean was at what I consider to be its finest. The waves crashed in under the high fog and were helped along by the moderately strong winds. The ocean was deep jade green, as opposed to the softer, greenish blue of calmer days. My thoughts began to roll with the rhythm of the waves, with as many variations of shape, size, foam, and force. Most of the fog lifted just before sunset, and I was treated to spectacular golden light forming a golden path to the shore as the sun went behind the far off clouds.
It’s interesting how looking through binoculars can give such clarity, but only in a relatively small field of vision. I think that the best vision is not merely that of the big picture but of the variations of perspective within it. As I walked along the shoreline, the colors and the light upon the waves changed as I walked.
I remember how I first played with changing perspective of sight when I first came to California at 18. I had driven up into the Berkeley hills and pulled off at a lookout near the top of the road. I sat on a stone wall, looking down at the lights of the Bay Area. Below me were the lights of Berkeley, the lights of the Marina, the lights of San Francisco, all reflected in the water of the Bay, and the lights of the stars. It was a calm night in early autumn, and I sat there for a long while in a semi-meditative state. I used the lights as my focus and kept bringing it back to them as I slowed my breath. Soon, all thoughts of being out on my own and the great time I was having traveling around softened, quieted, and melted away. I was left with only my breath…and the lights.
I realized that as I followed my breath, the combined city lights were more prominent in my vision, then they would recede, and the stars would then become dominant . The stars were highlighted on my inhalation. As I breathed more slowly, the stars became brighter and I became more in touch with their energy. I was able to dis-associate from the closer, un-natural lights of the cities and become fully present with the stars. With each exhalation, the city lights were recessed in my vision and the stars were more and more prevalent with each inhalation. I played with it for an hour or so, and learned more about letting my vision go behind the veil of stark reality.
A decade or so ago, I was talking with the man who now owns the land around Buttermilk Falls. He mentioned that when he went up to the ridge above the Falls and looked down in to the canyon, the Falls didn’t look anything like the way they looked from any other vantage point. I shared the experiences that I had there as a young girl, and the understanding that I had about how different places can look, how remarkably the perspective can change, when we look past the boundary of their magic.
It is the ability to see the magic in places that draws me to this particular beach, to certain mountains, and places that are well-known as sacred. As I was sitting in the car having my snack, I watched a man get out of his car, walk a little way down the beach, and then stop. He sat; and as he sat, I noticed that he straightened himself and sat in a more attentive posture. I saw him dig in to the sand with his hands and let them rest there. When he stood to leave, he went to the edge of the water, touched a wave with his foot, and saluted to the West. To the ocean? To the sun? To all that the West is energetically? It was for him to know, not me. What I did know was that he had felt/seen the magic, and acted on it. I enjoyed feeling a kinship with this person whom I did not know. I was happy that he brought his awareness and was not merely another beachcomber.
The worldview that we who are able to do the seeing can manifest gives us quite a different perspective and meaning, and puts us a risk of being on the edge of other people’s reality. This has not always made it easy to be me. I cannot always articulate what I am witness to in words that will fit another’s mindset. When I am able to open a little door somewhere inside someone, I enjoy feeling the connection, the kinship. When I cannot describe things sufficiently enough for other people’s viewpoints, and they are not able, or willing, to entertain the idea of my viewpoint, the energy of the non-understanding is palpable to me. I usually try to continue on, but with a more acceptable level of energy for them; I stay away from talking about things they do not see. When they feel such discomfort at the realization that I may be aware of things when they are not, it feels best to separate myself. Occasionally, they do the separating for me. It isn’t necessarily as graceful as I would like it to be, but I can only control my part of any interaction. I have just starting getting used to this in the past couple of years, although it never ceases to confound me at least a little.
Sometimes, lessons take a long, and sometimes hard, time in getting learned. When I was young, I took it quite personally when I was left isolated by my worldview. I am hyper-empathic and operate with knowledge about how people feel, and base my actions/reactions in light of it. It gave me a sense of universal trust that kept getting broken. It took me years to understand that I was operating with information others did not have. I realized that not all people are empathic, and even some of those who are will not act in deference to someone else’s needs. I had been assuming that everyone else was also sensing the things I was and would act accordingly. They didn’t and they weren’t. It’s kind of like driving through heavy traffic. If we all obey the common good laws (integrity) and be respectful of those around us (empathy), then we can all get to where we are going peacefully and without stress. Not all people are aware of their surroundings, though, and just zoom along as though there are not others around. If empathic traffic gets to be too congested for me, I need to find a place to be quiet and be able to listen to the rhythm of my own tides.
“well, you know what they will say….”
I know what they will say:
They would have me keep my silence in their rhythm.
But, shall I curb the growth of my own spirit to suit their needs?
Shall I ignore the turning of my inner tides?
And, when the pull within me is strong—
And the moon glares full and bright against the black sky—
When my spirit cries out its mating song,
not for a kindred soul to hear;
or even for the cosmos to respond
but for my own mind and body to heed
and answer in perfect union and harmony—
Shall I not listen to my own spirit as it sends its coyote call forth in the night?
Will the echoes of my own cries grow faint, and finally be lost because I did not answer?
No, I will open my spirit further in the hearing of my answers.
I will learn to dance in the waves of my own tidal flow
Adding my voice and heartbeat to the cadence of the universe.