The Rising Flood

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Nine Mile Creek, Lake Erie Watershed (Southern Basin), USA

  • No time (all a-rush)…
  • No time; here & there arranging, buying, doing, fixing, speaking…
  • Where is the water that I can touch today? I have failed to notice properly…
  • I forget my internal tides; I race on asphalt, smelling of urgency (road and body)…
  • Annoyance, desire, fatigue…
  • People jostling, striving, trying to fulfill something…
  • Home again, bulk purchases to store — toilet paper, enormous bag of kidney beans…
  • Dinner preparations; feeling the impossibility of practicing AS anything but chaos!
  • And why not, then, let the whole damn thing fall down?!
  • And why not, then, stand witness to what limits I place on the parsing of time?!
  • How to prioritize when it is ALL to be done RIGHT NOW?!
  • Alarm, alarm, alarm…
  • See there, the sky is darkening, the news comes of an impending storm…
  • Wind rising, trees bending, air smelling of wet from far away, rumbles overhead…
  • Here it comes! The waters are coming! Down from above! DOWN FROM ABOVE!
  • I looked for too long at the too low, seeking water’s message there…
  • Here it comes! All a-thunder, wreaking torment out of trees’ whiplash bow-down!
  • OH! OH! OH! SHEETS of water all a-streaming, cutting sideways, flushing the sky!
  • In my body, electric rising of panic? joy? awe? Yes, indeed!
  • My body is SHOUTING every hair on end! The rain is a river falling down!
  • Below, in the flood plain, I know it is a wonder…
  • Warnings of flash flooding so I go down to see, go down to find something…
  • To see what asks to be seen…
  • To ask, what wishes to be seen…
  • Nine Mile Creek…it is RISING! OH! MY! GOD!
  • Never so high have these eyes seen the waters flow in this place!
  • Churning vortices of mud and flotsam; muddy bank-slivers knifed away by force…
  • THINGS being carried away, away, away into the lake to the North…
  • If I fall, if I fall into the waters, I will die in every way…
  • The banks are too soft to bear my weight…
  • My body is too soft to carry the waters if I should fall and open my mouth…
  • If I should fall and swallow the torrents of meaning washing down from the sky…
  • If I should fall and take into myself the human detritus carried by the waters…
  • So, today I will not fall. I will not allow it. I will not give myself to this power (yet)…
  • Today, I will watch, notice, witness, feel the implications of water all wild & free…
  • Then, one day, fall into the ecstasy of vibrating in sympathy with the rising flood.

Surfacing…

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We begin again, James Aldridge and I, to walk in concert, in reflection, in wondering and noticing. We’ve been at it for awhile, off and on, this becoming flaneur and flaneuse and walking-to-know some thing. In the end, we may well find that we have known all along the thing being sought. On this one bright, hot and savory day it seems possible that this is true.

Being here in space-time, alive in an epoch of unspeakable sorrows and yet still alive to wonder, our hearts sometimes cannot bear the very real potential of great and total loss — of planet and all the what and who we love — while yet still encountering what is beautiful and seemingly true and good in the midst of the ever-expanding ruin. Most of the time, I think we do not even know the questions we are trying to ask. Our mouths gape under wide eyes and we dribble. We stand mute in the face of an aching need to give voice to the mad paradox of being impulsed toward life and beauty while faced with accelerating degeneration and collapse of the planetary body. We are walking-to-know and also writing-to-know in part to engage this paradox.

We are also moving together as ritual for and remembrance of our heart-friend, the great red-nose clown, free artist and writer, change practitioner, midwife of disruption, gleeful provocateur, and star-bright intellect, Chris Seeley (1966-2014). She would see a person whole even when they could not see themselves as such and she would hold the truth of that one — you, if she had met you — as treasure until you became strong enough to swallow yourself down and become again. If she had lived a little longer, she would have been our Bateson.

James and I have agreed to go on “bodying forth” as Seeley would have suggested with her “what are you waiting for” look. Alright then, she’d say, get on with it. Alright then, we say; we will play together for a few days by opening our selves up with great inhalations to get at things we know as bodies before our eyes make a shape of form or appearance. Feeling beyond our thin membraneous skin barriers (that cellular tape that makes us think we are fundamentally different from each other) we will try to touch our interior spaces and with artful exhalations (blowing out like wind in trees that move all the branches up and down and sidewise) perhaps open portals for the light of insight to descend and make visible a little of what may be found in the way of the processes and patterns and emerging questions that inhabit us. We will consider how these elements give shape to our personal bodies and manner of being in this time of climate emergency and social upheaval across the vast planetary body, a monumental entity whose pattern-form is reflected in our own fleshy forms of blood and lymph and osmotic flows.

We are starting with a change in working presumption from a rather typical “how do we become more deeply in relationship with nature and help others to do the same” to “what happens when we presume not that we are “one with” but rather are inherently the thing we seem to inquire into as ‘other’, then; what are the artful means that magnify the possibility of our realizing this “as-ness” rather than merely experiencing connection of self, nature, process, and so on to one another as inherently separate”?

We start with water. We are water bodies living on a water planet. When we look at the waters, what or who looks back?

 

Perhaps we yearn for an impossible dream, to belong here and now, to each other, to be the roots and the soil, to grow from place and tribe, to go out and perform as a troupe performs and return home to be greeted and fed and then to sleep…

My home is now, during my turn on the planet, passing through with this tribe — this troupe of wonderful creative, vital people alive at a time of astonishing loss.

Chris Seeley