Apologies to Peggy, although I know she will understand, this post is not about tracking killer whales in Monterey Bay, marine conservation or even getting soaking wet. And apologies to Pieter Folkens, who I have as yet to turn my hand to writing about, this post does not deal with the subject of climate change. Instead, it is a rare personal aside, a celebration of love, because today is a special day for my husband Bruno and I.
As I write this, Bruno is sleeping many miles away in California, while I sit with an autumnal sun shining in through the window in southern England. All being well, within two weeks I will be flying home to him, legally entitled to live and work at his side in America, and we will not have to be separated again, (at least not because we happen to be citizens of different countries).
All of which may sound a world away from the usual cetacean or philosophical related matters, or even Lilanthro-style short story, often featured on this blog. But for me, they are so intrinsically linked, so steeped in what feels like destiny that in my mind’s eye they form a criss-crossing of interdependent vines growing their way towards the light.
With love and gratitude I look back on the last year and a half of writing this blog, and the people who have featured on it. Had it not been for Dylan Walker and Ian Rowlands at Planet Whale, my path would have led elsewhere, maybe never to reach the arms of my love. Without the goodwill of Peggy from Marine Life Studies, Stefan from Mundo Azul and Laurie from Grand Manan Whale and Seabird Research Station, the wheels would not have started turning. Without all the many mysterious events that led Bruno and I to both be at that particular place at that particular moment in time, in the heart of Lima as the evening darkened, our paths may never have touched, let alone begun a journey through life together.
I wish I had adequate words to express the bundles of thoughts, reflections and emotions inside of me today. Instead I remain simply stupefied by the wonders, surprises, power, intensity, complexity, confusion, sparkling joyfulness and deep harshness of life. And yet, as this blog proves of course, I cannot help but attempt to pull the spiralling thought-forms from my head and see what happens if I give them voice as words on this page.
Life / God / the Universe really does giveth and taketh away at any seemingly random moment in time. The ages of man come and go, the cycles of growth and decay wax and wain, civilisations grow strong and well-intentioned then fall foul of corruption, war and darkened motives, each tiny entity of human-being-ness lives its life of unique happiness and suffering, growing sometimes towards and sometimes away from the light of self-awareness, love and compassion. Everywhere the eye and mind can look there are sandstorms of chaos, meaninglessness and chance, and yet everywhere the heart and soul can perceive there are also complex patterns, repetitive cycles and interlinked meanings lying buried in the sand.
We live, we die, as our ancestors have done for thousands of years, as our children will in all likelihood do for thousands more. We enter the doorway to this world on our own and we will leave it on our own. From an unremembered dark void we come and to it we will return, leaving loved ones to stumble onwards while attempting to knit back together the fabric of their existence which now bears a hole torn within it; a hole which did not exist before but which is now painfully and inextricably there, empty of the life and love that once filled it, with hollow questions floating in its midst, accompanied sometimes by faith, (which by definition cannot be proved, so offers only uncertain answers).
And in that brief span of our existence, we all seek love, whether knowingly or not. By whatever measure of innate qualities, soul experience, genetic inheritance and environmental upbringing we are allotted, our ability to recognise, seek, develop, give and receive love in its true nourishing form is either aided or hindered. Some of us attain a life where love flows relatively freely both in and out, nourishing ourselves and those around us in a harmonious flow. Most of us are stunted in one way or another, and our search for love wanders painfully offtrack to places where we mistake love for need, comfort, greed, abuse, manipulation or power, to name just a handful. And those of us whose minds, hearts and souls are so terribly twisted and tormented by lack of love and repeated mistakes, step too far into the dark to become tormentors themselves, inflicting pain and atrocity on others and the world.
For whatever reasons, life bestows its blessings and its dooms upon us. Wealth, health, power, apparent happiness, life and death, fortune and misfortune are given and taken by chaotic random chance, or in tune with a song which none can fully understand or predict. ‘Good’ people become sick and die before their time. ‘Bad’ people have wealth landing in their laps. ‘Hard working’ people struggle. ‘Lazy’ people are handed an easy life on a plate. ‘Humble’ people live small lives which barely leave an impact. ‘Power hungry’ people lead whole nations into war and hatred….
The same stories, the same patterns repeated since mankind became conscious of itself and the world.
There is either a reason for this multiplicity of existence, with its apparent random justice and injustices, or there is not. Simple. So surely it should be a simple matter for each of us to decide for ourselves whether we instinctively believe in an underlying fundamental reason for our existence, along with its pain and unfairness, or not. And surely, it should be a matter of personal choice what form our belief takes. Yet, of course inevitably, given the weaknesses of our human condition, even this simple choice has led to the bloodiest of wars, the vilest of hatred and prejudice, the most long lasting arguments to prove who can lay claim to being undeniably, without contention, utterly RIGHT.
Bless us all for our weaknesses and childish ways! The worst of us try to force everyone else to be like us, and even the best of us still judge ourselves and others every day of our lives; as if we had the omnipotent and perfectly inclusive viewpoint of God rather than the warped, coloured, distorted tiny peephole that is our fragmented vision of reality.
As I sit here filled with these bundles of thought-forms, accompanying emotions and awareness of the complexities of existence, I wonder…
How do I know why Bruno and I were lucky enough to meet that day in Peru less than a year and a half ago? How do I know if we ‘deserved’ such good fortune or not? How do I know if it was destiny or chance that brought us together? How do I know why the last year has been full of such wonderful love and miracles, yet also such difficult struggles in this challenging, material world? How do I know if Bruno and I will be graced with living a long, happy, loving life together or if today’s luck will become tomorrow’s deepest pain and sorrow?
My hands are empty, I have no answers. This world of wonder is too big for me to comprehend and understand even the tiniest workings of it. All I know is that I am full of gratitude that Bruno and I have met and shared this small fragment of the journey together. I am also full of gratitude that my eyes see and appreciate the wonders around me, my mind enjoys reflecting on the questions (even though I cannot answer them), my heart wants to feel and experience every single drop of life, my spirit has a questing nature, and my soul urges me to continue growing, continue learning and continue becoming.
None of this guarantees any particular future for Bruno and I, whether rosy or not, neither does it guarantee that I will always feel this way about life. But at this very moment in time, on this very day, as I sit here thinking of Bruno even as he lies sleeping faraway, it brings me gladness, meaning, fulfilment and hope. It allows me to perceive this world as something full of love, mystery and riddles, along with incomprehensible dangers. At this moment in time I cannot imagine thinking of life as something to plod through, to be filled with distractions, to be ‘done’ without pausing to muse over its wonders. At this moment in time, I am simply happy to be alive and to have Bruno, my family and friends to love.
And seeing as this very moment is all we ever truly have, I know that it is wonderfully, plentifully enough!