Reflections from Tonga.
So much of what lies on the ocean floor looks like brains. It’s no wonder the sea takes on the essence of a living, breathing thing. It is. A monstrous one, massive and powerful, deep and secretive. Here in the Pacific, it’s absolutely clear. So clear that even when you’re floating in it, you can forget there’s water there, save for the coolness against your skin. It’s as if you’re flying, looking down at the way the sand folds snake across the earth. You don’t even have to put your head under. When the sun is shining, the Pacific is as clear as air.
I was floating this way today, watching the sunlight’s dancing patterns against the distant sand, wondering how deep the water was. I grew up with such a phobia of the ocean, I never could have swum so far out before. Especially on this island all by myself. But these blues are so warm and peaceful, my body so buoyant in the salt. It didn’t bother me at all. The realization made me smile. Then I saw a fish dart by. One small fish, so white it was nearly translucent, a bit of yellow dusted across his bottom fin. I watched like a child as he came closer to me.
Then there was another, maybe a big brother, and together they circled me. Suddenly there were five. Ten. An uncountable school came flowing in an endless stream from the deeper water. Was something bigger chasing them? Were they chasing me? They didn’t touch me, but they formed a ring around my floating body, swimming in circles at a steady pace. I tried to count them, but I couldn’t keep track of these fish that all looked the same. I swam, and they followed me in a long, thin line until I was able to stand. I grazed my hand across the water, and they responded with a dance below.
This is a blog post that I wrote for the fabulous folks at Dreamfarm Arts-Eco Village, a center for arts, education and eco living in southern Tasmania's Huon Valley. I had the privilege of staying here for a week and the honor of being the first writer in their creative residency program. It was a much needed escape from the hectic backpacker life and incredible setting to sit down and put some serious work time into my book project. Read on about my experience at this emerging powerhouse for creatives, and check them out online!
"As a writer, aspiring novelist, and creator of things in general (business cards pending), I’ve spent much of my life dreaming about an elusive set of “perfect conditions” — the circumstances that would allow me to realize my full artistic potential, pumping out volumes of written work with ease, painting the world’s next great masterpiece in a single, sunny afternoon. (Creatives are an idealist bunch sometimes, aren’t they?)
Surely, if I could just remove the stress of work and financial obligations, free my time to do nothing but create, distance myself from technology and other distractions, throw myself into nature, out in the middle of nowhere — then, finally, I could access an infinite stream of creativity and inspiration, one that would allow me to produce the art that lies dormant in me. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I was sure it could be done..."
Click here to read the rest of the post on the Dreamfarm website, and check out their Facebook page!
My head floated in feverish clouds, while my body slumped heavy in the chair of a waiting room, the signs all in Thai. I was cold, too cold for Thailand, even on a rainy day. I watched the rainfall through the open doorway until I caught a young girl staring at me, peeking around a wall just beyond the door. Even as my eyes caught hers, she looked at me relentlessly, and I felt self-conscious. I felt so ill, and I’m sure I looked it. Hadn’t anyone taught her not to stare at people? I told myself to stop being sensitive; I always revert back to a child when I’m sick. I yearn for my mother; I crave grandma’s soup; I want to cuddle my Mickey Mouse doll, which I left back home for safekeeping. I want to be hugged.
I pleaded something to this effect with my eyes, and the girl looked away. I turned my attention back to the rain and wondered how long it would before they called me. I wondered how many people in this waiting room were here to see the doctor, and how many were here to see the dentist, and why they both shared this tiny clinic. I wondered why there were so many people in the waiting room when I arrived, just before five, when I was told the clinic wouldn’t open until five. I wondered if the doctor would speak English, and if not, if he would understand the Thai that I had been quietly rehearsing in my head since I left my apartment: Fever, kai. Three days, saam wan. Sore throat, jep kaw. Headache, buat hua. Very bad, mak mak!
I wondered if the little paper card with the words I can’t read is really my insurance card, if these numbers are dates, and whether or not they’ve passed. I wondered why the receptionist, when she got up to let the little girl (I wondered if it was her daughter) into the bathroom, took off the pair of slippers she was wearing and put on another pair of slippers, and then switched them again when she came back. I wondered why the little girl, who looked at me with every pass, was unable to get into the bathroom on her own. I wondered how the cluster of motorbikes parked right outside the doorway on the sidewalk had gotten up there - the curb was high, and I couldn’t see a ramp or rock or brick in sight. I wondered how they’d get down. I wondered why the woman who had recently walked in and sat down got up and walked out just minutes later, without a word to anyone. She never did come back.
Chicago-born citizen of the globe, rich in the things that really matter. Let's get weird.