June 22: Barnacles and barking dogs
Whether it be barnacles, airplanes, or barking dogs, their presence can annoy me and make me respond with negativity, or I can greet their presence as reminders of the beautiful gifts of smooth sand under bare feet, the gentle sound of the outgoing surf, the treasured silence of a night in the forest, after they disappear. Buddhists know the truth of suffering as a pathway to a greater awareness. Do I want to wish you health and happiness? Or should I rather wish you just the perfect amount of sickness, loss, poverty, hunger, cold, and discomfort, so that you can come out at the other end not wounded and weakened but wiser and stronger and more conscious of your blessings? Or maybe what I should wish for you is the tools, the space, the quiet, the support, whatever it is that may be the key to helping you through times of trouble. For me, it is the love of my daughter, steadfast support of caring friends, acceptance from my parents in spite of our very different lifestyles and choices, my dogs' stinky hugs, my passion for my writing and teaching, occasional dumb luck, but most importantly the simple beauty I find in nature, in a blackberry blossom, kingfisher's dive, conversation with a raven, and the incoming tide taking me in her arms with mother nature's love and abundance.
Why does the Sea (and I have to spell her with a capital S because her presence is just that big in my life) always make me cry? I don't know the rational scientific explanation for the healing effect of the Sea on my PTSD and grief, and I don't really care. It just is. In this most yang (as opposed to yin) time of the year, the day after the solstice, I am embracing the yin nature of my current new home on the cold, grey, rainy side of an island in the cold grey rainy Pacific Northwest, sitting by the beach on wet sand in a wool sweater sipping hot tea.
The Sea! It holds me, strokes me, hugs me, comforts me, surrounds me, soothes me, nurtures me, calms me, grounds me, and feeds me in my body, heart, spirit, essence, Qi, and in every fiber of my being. With her beauty and strength and vast abundance, constancy, eternity, patience, tenderness, and power, she treats us all like the straw dogs that we are, from the tiniest shrimp to the barnacle-crusted Grey Whale.