The creek is such a different place in the winter. Only the sound of water gurgling over rocks is the same. Gusts of wind moaning through the boughs of the trees and the caw of crows in the distance break the stillness. The smooth waters are still tempting, but oh so deathly cold. Numbness would set in quickly; hypothermia fast on it’s heals.
I’ve often wondered at a death so sure and swift. I’m morbid that way. The winter creek is not terribly familiar to me. I cannot remember knowing it as a child. I would see it last as the fall leaves drifted to float away in the current and see it next when the leaves were just opening to the warmth of spring.
The snow covered mountains tower around like expectant ancestors, pines swaying in the breeze. It’s calming even now, even in the cold, the wind tugging at my jacket and turning skin to tingling ice. I see myself there, in the waters depths, at the bottom of the deepest pool. That is where my soul finds peace, security, safety, where no one can touch it or break it.
A murder of crows flies over in the deep grey sky, high lighting the dimness of the place. The shadow of its summer existence that is winter. The old Craft place, it’s failing structure out lined in snow, the lonely deserted graveyard staring down from the knoll over looking the creek.
This is a different experience, but I can’t help but see the parallel. Our own souls are much like this, our personalities too. We have mirror images within ourselves that differ in only the details, but the details are what make that startling difference. Light and dark, day and night, the good and bad that lies within us all.
I believe I have mentioned before that I once had a journal in which I put things I had learned along my path. When I was a child and we’d take the ride to what we called “the farm,” which was the place where the creek that this blog is named after is located, my father would offer up nuggets of his own. Little bits of information he wanted to impart. As most children are apt to I’m sure at the time we quietly rolled our eyes and could not fathom how the information might apply to us someday. Of course, every bit and parcel did, eventually, apply.
As they are apt to do my own have done very much the same thing. Roll of the eyes, the sigh and proceed to do everything I warned them against. It was only recently that the elder of them laughingly admitted to repeating just the things I’d done that I had warned her against. Once all is said and done we can laugh about it, because the painful and harmful bits are over and there isn’t a thing we can do to change it. She hopes her own will listen someday, I only smile and nod. I laugh after she leaves. A mother’s revenge for everything her children have put her through is that her grandchildren will return the favor and torment those who once tormented her in much the same ways.
So, now that they are grown and on their own path, what wisdom would I give them that they might actually heed? Since they have some experience behind them, some heartbreaks and friendships that have run their course, I now offer up the one thing that I think both might benefit the most from.
To my daughters I impart the most important lesson learned. Learn it now, learn it early, while it can still benefit you most. You are just finding your paths, stay true to them, stay true to yourself and do not let false hopes, friends or loves lead you astray.
~Let no one pressure you into being what you are not. Your path is yours alone. Others may parallel it for varying distances, but you ultimately walk alone. The consequences in life, whether for your action or action suggested by others, are yours to bear. Make no mistake, you bear them alone.
This is true of spiritual matters as well. You must find your path, not just the one followed by the popularity of the masses. Look carefully at the history of that which you follow. Was it a truly honorable path, or merely disguised as such? You must find strength, peace, security and serenity on your own, for it is yours to seek, not others to give.
My father brought us to the creek above, where he’d come as a child and I brought my children when they were young. Three generations have enjoyed these silken waters, the creek bed lined with smooth stones of all sizes. We learned to swim here, we learned to skip stones here and in a strange round about way, we learned to reflect here.
Back in the summer I sat at the edge of the water alone, as I had many times before. I go there to reflect, to think, to write and to make important decisions. That day was all those things. I no longer knew where I was going or why I was where I was, or even which direction to turn. I knew, however, that change was coming. It approached like a summer storm, the air around cooling, that special scent wrapping in around everything.
If there is one thing I have learned over my forty plus years, it’s not to fight change. Welcome it, embrace it. What’s meant to be will be and change has its place and it’s reason. To fight only makes it harder and it’s coming with or without your cooperation. It may be difficult or painful, but it’s for the best.
The problem then was that I wanted nothing more than to stay where I was at that moment. My memories were not there to keep me company. There was just peace there, in that place. Simple creatures doing what they do. That is all I want, to do what I do. To exist and achieve and cease to be. To someday end and blend into the peace that is that place. The dragonflies gathered around, all sizes and colors sitting on my legs, my toes, drawn by my brightness I suppose. Orange skirt, white skin, rose toenails. I envied them their simplicity.
Delicate veined wings, so perfect, big eyes that were studing me like alien creatures, stout, streamlined bodies so perfect. Such a variety of colors and markings. They will never fall apart from the ravages of old age or face the traumas of emotions and troubles. They live, they do what they do and they die. All in a neat order unless something else ends it early.
But to live here, in this place, out of reach of such horrors as the human race inflicts on one another, willing or not. In many, in fact most, cultures the dragonfly is either a messenger or a carrier. Some believe they carry souls to and from the afterlife. In others they are messengers. Since these seemed intent to visit in abundance I wondered what messages they were carrying? Word from those on the other side? Or were they simply sharing their peace and solitude? I didn't want to go back. I needed to find positive change. Maybe the answers lie in places like the creek that have carried me through lifetimes of joys and troubles.
I will be eternally greatful to my Dad for taking us there, for introducing me to that place that I will forever hang on to through the good and the bad. A place where I can find peace and reflect on pressing issues. A place where I can go to remember who I am and what I want in this insane world that brainwashes you into thinking you are not good enough to achieve your goals and tells you that you are nothing and no one. A place where I can find my balance, get my bearings and gather up every part of myself before striking off in the direction of my dreams.
Do entities, spirits, houses, places haunt us? Or are the times experienced there, the best of times, the worst of times what haunt our psyche? Is it guilt for what we did or didn’t do, that we were happy there when so many around us cannot find happiness? Or is it what we had between us and another that others did/do not possess? Or perhaps it is these energies that give entities their life, their existence. Does deep seated love of a home give the house its energy, personality, pooling like a primordial soup until the soul of the place is born?
Or is it perhaps something that is always there, in existence, looking for a place with enough sustience to settle down into, like a hermit crab and a shell. How does it choose the location, the home or house into which it settles? Is it a possession? After all, it is a free entity – a soul of sorts – settling into a body of its choice. Are they like all of us? Some predominately good, some predominately bad, all with a past, emotions, experiences of their own? Can they pick up and move from one place to another at will? Or is there something that anchors them there, that has to go away in order for the entity to be freed to move on? And is there a beyond for them? Or do they wander here once born, moving from one existence, one possession to another?
I strongly believe that a place, a house or other location/structure can have a soul, a personality all its own. I know it from personal experience several times over. The occupying party/parties must fit with its needs and who or what it is in its essence. That's why some people are not comfortable in a place when another is, that's why some have experiences that are negative and others have positive experiences. That place was already occupied. The entity living there was there first, that is its home. Whether it is the structure or location itself that has an essence, or if there was an essence that settled there, that place belongs first and foremost to them. They must accept the new occupants and live in harmony with them. If the new additions are not a proper fit, then they must be dealt with much like anything else.
It’s a lot like when something moves into a location or home where we are already there. Wildlife for instance. We accept them and live in harmony or we make it unreasonable for the other and it leaves. This is all that the occupant of these places are doing, they wish to be accepted, in harmony. Either they accept you or they don’t, either you fit into their existence or you don’t. It’s no more right to expect them to leave than if someone moved into your home and expected you to leave without resistance because they suddenly decide to be there.
Think about it. How many times have people tried to “exorcise” a ghost? What right do you have to ask them to leave? They were there first after all. Or is it all in our heads? Are the ghosts, entities, spirits that haunt us our own subconscious? Is it our guilt or our desires or a result of any number of emotions? Or perhaps our own existence haunts us, our own perceptions of ourselves and our surroundings, our past and present and dreams. Maybe it all soaks into the environment around us to manifest in an external form that is more easily seen, lurking at the edge of our vision and consciousness.
What if? What if it is the result of residuals of someone else’s subconscious? Someone else’s hopes, dreams, demons soaked into the environment before we ever arrive. They are just residual emotions that manifested and were left behind by their creators. Wouldn’t that be an interesting twist?
Whatever they are we deal with them on different levels of consciousness and belief. Some don’t believe at all and ignore what is around them. Others are sensitive to their environment and cannot ignore it. Others approach it with cautious curiosity and then still others simply acknowledge and accept it as a part of their normal existence. I’ve lived in places that were sentient in their own right. I am of the latter persuasion, that they were there first and so long as we are both sharing the same place there’s little reason we would not get along sufficiently to both our benefits. I’ve never had a problem. We’ve existed in harmony with a rhythm all our own, each accepting the other as part of our natural environment and the relationship flourished as a result. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we treated all our environments with such mutual respect?
Dedicated to my daughters:
While unpacking from a recent move I discovered among my many journals one I started long ago intended for my daughters. It was meant to impart to them things I learned along the way, life lessons and little helpful tidbits should I not be around to share them myself. At the time they were young and my thoughts were probably of the “what if” variety that entailed my untimely departure.
There are so many ways of being separated, however. Those are lessons I’ve learned over time. That things other than death part us in our daily lives. Ignorance and arrogance, sorrow and pain, pride and prejudice. Teenage angst twists the mind and perception, our adult lives get too hectic and pain filled. Sometimes people just have their own paths to follow and they may be paths that we must walk alone.
The young have their own choices and mistakes to make and their own lessons to learn. The old have a lifetime full of those to come to terms with and make peace with. Both have to accept that there comes a time when their paths must part. For some the parting may not be far from one another, for others it is worlds and lifetimes between them. Some paths will cross often, others will never cross again. It is a sadness neither ever fully recovers from and for many our first hard life lesson.
In this journal I wrote to my daughters:
“Life goes on. It doesn’t stop for broken hearts or spirits. Not even for death. It demands movement and blood sacrifice. If you try to stop, to even pause to catch your breath, it will run over you with great indifference.”
I read those words and thought how little I knew of it’s meaning at the time that I wrote it. Never have I written anything that holds so true as this. Life moves and it breathes and consumes, an entity unto itself, demanding all you will give it and taking much more than you are willing to give. By the same token that is what makes it worth living, fighting for, striving to achieve. It makes us rise with each breath, pulls us down with each exhale to depths we never fathomed existed and just when we think there can be no more, no worse, that the sun will never again shine on our face it inhales again, and we rise with the breath.
It is an endless cycle, life. When the days are their darkest is just before the dawn. It’s cliché, I know, but it’s true. For we know the dawn is coming, we endure the dark and just as we are beginning to doubt our faith that the sun will rise, just when the darkness seems to have swallowed any hope of the light returning is when the blackness turns to grey. The grey lightens to blue and the first rays of light creep over the horizons. Life is like this, it stops for nothing just as the sunset and the sunrise. The moon may wax and wane, but it is ever present and does not falter from its course, just as the earth and sun do not falter from theirs. It is our constant, a special kind of reassurance with complete indifference to our blood, sweat or tears.
All things pass, good bad and everything in-between. Everything in this world is transient, you can only hang on for as long as you can, enjoy what you have while you have it and let go when the time comes. To fight change is to draw your own blood sacrifice to life – which will take it and keep going, with or without your consent.
Not very long ago I met someone with a sixteenth century mentality. Let me set the stage a little here, as there are some important facts to know. This was a middle aged, average looking woman. Carefully kept short, dyed to hide the first grays, light color hair, slightly pudgy and a little heavy on the makeup. This individual was talking religion and claimed to be a very devote Christian. She turned directly from her self-declarations on how devout she was to a statement, the gist of which was: anyone claiming to have special gifts or anyone unusually gifted must be in league with the devil.
Now, first of all, she was not referring to palm readers or any of the more exploratory beliefs. She was referring to an earlier part of the discussion, which dealt with sensitives, people who had premonitions and other gifts that the subjects were generally born to, not sought out or induced. People who just had odd things occur like knowing something before it happened or being able to tap into people they were close to when something was amiss.
I wanted very badly to turn to this individual and ask her to state again what religion she was so well educated in that she was so ignorant. Did not her own religion believe that their own God sent a son, via a gift of the same sort to his mother? Unexplained, physically, biologically impossible? Did it not claim numerous gifts of prophesies, premonition, physically impossible feats, gifts of every imaginable sort and even interaction with these same people she would persecute for assistance in various forms? So are her Saints and Saviors (all supernaturally gifted people) in league with the devil?
I was not in company that would have forgiven me doing this, though they saw it cross my face and the temptation building and ended the discussion and spirited me away before I could lose my composure and control of my tongue. For myself I would never even consider not rising to the discussion and the occasion to offer educational assistance, however, I try not to taint others reputations with my lack of impulse control.
While it is no surprise to me that much ignorance and arrogance still exists in this “advanced age” of well educated individuals it does sadden me that history’s lessons are so thoroughly buried. There is no excuse for that kind of ignorance in particular. The dark days of Witch Finders and the crusades along with many other periods of devastation in Europe, the infamous Salem Witch Trials of Salem Mass, the destruction of the American Indians and all these cultures should teach us something of such arrogance. To believe one’s ways are so superior to another’s is to tuck their world in so tightly around them that they will never know the beauty of the diversity they have their noses too high in the air to see. It is a true shame and the irony is that they don’t even know what it is that they’ve lost.
Our whole lives we hear about the people who are looked up to, about the idolization of successful people. What we don’t hear about is the prejudice they face due to jealousy of their success or the attributes that it takes to make them successful. As someone who has become progressively more successful over the years, not famous or financially successful by any means, but at setting and meeting goals, the fulfillment of dreams, and so on, I have been constantly surprised at how many people there are who are like that.
The first time is a shock. Partly because you just don’t expect it. It is in our nature to think that people are going to be happy to see us succeed. It feels as if it would be a natural reaction. I for one, am right there cheering others on to see them succeed at whatever it is they are striving to do. Many people I know are like this. We would never think to be any other way and so we expect the same from others.
It’s been my experience it’s the quiet, watchful ones that will be the quickest to try and drag others down. They don’t want to see anyone do better than they are doing. Instead of setting higher bars for themselves if they are not happy with another surpassing them they seek to drag down the successful ones. Perhaps they think they can’t do better, or don’t want to expend the energy to do so. No matter what the reason they must shoot barbs at those who soar above.
The second time is just hurtful, whether it’s the same person or a complete stranger. After that you form a shell and then it just becomes irritating, because these people, no matter who they are, have no right to take what you have rightfully earned. Earned, I might add, often at great personal expense. To be successful in anything takes hard work and a lot of it. It takes putting yourself out there, drive and determination, all of which are things that take vast amounts of energy on a consistent basis.
Frankly, the jealous people can either suck it up and get over it or pick it up as a challenge. If they can’t work to match the success, which they so covet, then they have not earned any successful persons time to bother giving it any thought at all. To shoot down another’s success is a cowardly pursuit for those with nothing better to do with their time. Time that would be better spent pursuing their own dreams and goals, or in some cases, perhaps even coming up with things to strive toward to fill their excess time.
I have kept journals for many, many years. Decades in fact. It was not so long ago I read through several different time periods, wondering what was in those journals. Anything significant or just my mental wanderings. Were they something I might someday regret writing down? I spurred many questions that will likely make future blogs, essays and even short stories. Who knows, maybe even a novel. I’m sure they will find their way into the story of my adult life, should I ever find the time to put it to the page.
I reflected for a long while on what I found there. Each separate period felt like I was reading the thoughts of a different person. Each one had differing opinions, differing feelings, differing reactions to the things around her. Then I realized my journals are all the people I have been and there have been many. Each a lifetime removed from the other.
While they may have had the same goals, the same dreams in some cases, they were very different in what held priority and sway. What would get in ones way would not get in anothers. Even the personalities were different. There was a point in my life when I had no personality of my own, but seemed to bend to those I was most in contact with. This I understand all too well. It came from a need to belong, to fit in somewhere, anywhere. For such a huge part of my life I wanted more than anything to belong in some way to the world around me, to the people around me.
It took decades for me to understand that some people just aren’t meant to belong anywhere. Some are born wanders whose place it is to float about observing. Different wanders have different purposes. Mine is to record the world as I find it, then translate it into understandable, usable information for absorption by others. To give a view of things that are not readily available to the reader I reach. I never belonged to one particular place, but was a transient being trying to find an anchor that was not intended for my possession.
I would watch and mimic, trying to find an open spot meant for me, or maybe just take a spot left open by someone else’s twist of raw fate. I was trying to fit in places I did not belong, to people who did not know what I was or how to associate with my strange otherness.
When the pain of trying to fit into places I didn't belong grew to be too much, I let go, let myself drift and found peace there in the current. The struggle is past, the wayward anchor sent to the scrap heap and I drift, quite content to observe and record as I float through places I could never belong.