Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Return of the Hopefulness Tide

Before I lived by the ocean, tides were an abstraction. When I thought of homeostasis--that marvelous complexity of interrelationships of cells and systems that keeps itself in order without any real attention from us--I visualized a kind of bioengineering model with a team of hardworking engineers like Scotty of the USS Enterprise sitting neslted in the mitochondria coordinating and monitoring and rewiring as necessary. When I got sick, I went from warp drive to impulse power or, as in the shingles episodes, full stop, and the engineers did what they needed to do.

Two days ago I woke suddenly to the sound of what I first took to be an alarm clock. In an instant I was back in my old life--did I have a meeting that day or could I dress casually? was it a teaching day and did I have the students' papers ready to return? My waking mind started challenging these assumptions. I don't live with alarm clocks or meetings or late night teaching. The sound was a pheasant strutting across the front lawn looking for love in all the wrong places. For as pretty as he looks in all his gaudy spring finery, he sounds like, well, an alarm clock.

As I lay in bed celebrating the fact that I did not have to jump up and go out into the world, I noticed a songbird start to sing. Not a lark or one of the fabled song birds, just a sparrow and without a thought, I smiled. In that instant I realized both that I was back to my old self and that I looked at myself both inside and out with new metaphors for the rhythm of this new life.

It felt as if a tide had returned. I dubbed it the hopefulness tide: not hopefulness in the Polyanna- Pangloss-best-of-all-possible-worlds blind acceptance of everything, but a quiet faith in possibilities. I lay a while longer, and the doves joined the bird chorus. I got up and looked out the window to see the state of the tide in the bay. It was well out with the sun shining a bright blue gold twinkling on the beach. Each aspect has its own beauties, but that is one of my favorites, so I took it as a special gift to me and for the first time in many days set out to face a day with an eager curiosity.


At 11:01 PM, Anonymous ampiggy said...

I like this description of hopefulness. At my age I don't have much optimism but I don't want to be in complete despair. Your description sounds like a good place to aim for.

At 2:50 AM, Blogger Gabriel Harley said...

It's hard to see spring through the late winter gloom here in Indy. Thanks for that glimpse of blue skies and hopeful birdsong.


At 9:51 AM, Blogger landgirl said...

Ampiggy, you might enjoy reading Erich Fromm's book that deals with hope. I don't remember the title. Not the Art of Love tho that was good, too, if I recall. I like to think by our age, it is a wise hopefulness.

At 9:51 AM, Blogger landgirl said...

Gabe, I am glad to have given you a wee sight of spring. Alas, since I wrote that we have been under a gale. Sigh. Things have got to get better or, well, at least different.

At 2:46 AM, Blogger Hayden said...

I love lazing in bed for a few moments in the AM, listening to the bird chorus, tickling Jake's belly to wake him (he's a very HARD sleeper, LOL) just being 'with' the morning before joining the raucus schedule of the day.

Last weekend at Esalen I staked out a spot to acquaint myself with the tides - rock and wall markers - and checked there different times during the day. Early Sat a man wandered down and stared out with me for a moment - I commented "the tide is coming in, I think it's almost at high tide." He glanced at me sceptically, responded "I think it's pretty much the same all of the time" and wandered away.

I was astonished!

At 5:40 PM, Blogger landgirl said...

Oh, yes, Hayden, those golden moments in the morning can set the whole rest of the day up.

I didn't understand tides until I lived near them, but people notice different things. I would be curious to know what that guy was noticing when he wasn't noticing tides, but then I wonder about thingd like that.


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