Tag Archives: journey

Listening in Time

(short story,  by Sha’Tara)

“I know you are keen, and willing.  Good traits in a researcher.  But you are missing the key ingredients.  You must sit quietly, by yourself, for hours, maybe days, and listen in time.  Listen to the voices of the dead, and the pre-incarnate.  They are in the voices of “others” and in the sounds of the earth: the wind, the cracking soil, the moving grains of sand, the patter of the rain on scrabbly hard-pan soil.  They come on the heat waves.  Sometimes they get playful and paint mirages which tell stories from within your own heart and soul which your tired and bleary eyes will translate into images of desires.  

If you do not learn to listen, all you will accomplish in these places as you sift through dirt and rubble is collect garbage.  It will be recognizable as works of the people but it will reveal no stories, no myths, no history.  These you will have to create from your own imagination and trust me on this, it will not be the same stories as what was, even if the entire world should buy your interpretations.  Honest archaeologists are a rare breed but there is nothing written, either in this desert or in mountains, that says you can not be one of that small group.  When you teach yourself the secret of time listening the people who made and used the objects you unearth, they will tell you their stories.  Some will seem strange and some will be, to your modern understanding, quite unbelievable, but just listen.  It is not your call to re-interpret the lives of others according to your current knowledge: that is sacrilege.  Let the ghosts speak; let them tell their story, and accept it at face value.  It may be that they lie to you, but let it be: do not add insult to injury by adding to the lies.  After all, as you will discover in time, all of your history is lies.  There is no truth to be found on this world, or in this universe.  We know, we’ve been looking for millions of your years and there is no such chimera.”

I was young then, and I’d been experimenting with the local flora under the auspices of a would-be witch doctor who called himself George but whose real name was an unpronounceable Mexican word that sounded like apple-cotle or aptly cotli.  This particular drug induced “time dreams” he had told me, and… “You should only smoke a small amount at sunset.  Sit against a rock, or a tree if you can find one, and set your mind free to roam.  Do not try anything, just let it all go.  It is the time of the spirits and sometimes one of them will notice you and approach you with a story, or some advice.  Just listen and do not try to make any judgment about what you hear, or think you hear.  Put your own thoughts aside and just absorb.” 

I smoked slowly, not eagerly, trying to practice “wisdom” in my folly.  How long I sat against the rock that dug into my back, feeling the sand getting cold beneath me, I don’t know.  Darkness came and the sky exploded with myriads of pin-points of lights: star, planets, meteors, even satellites and flashing lights of planes.  Time passed and I no longer felt the cold, nor the loneliness or that deep fear of the dark unknown.  I “slept” with eyes open, hearing and learning to listen.  I heard small animals squeaking to one-another, some unrecognizable insects repeating endless calls; owls, even one loud shriek of what could only be some wild cat, cougar perhaps.  It didn’t matter.

It seemed as if I’d become a part of the landscape, an extension of the rock I leaned against.  I felt a deep well-being; a thoroughly unfamiliar certainty.  I was “here” and “here” was where I belonged.  This was “home” like nothing had ever been.  “Here I sit, and here I remain,” I thought, against all common sense.  I felt the cold, hunger and thirst but it did not matter to this “me” that was being absorbed by the land, the air, the sky, the universe, the cosmos.  In that time I was no longer a body-centered, or physical being.  I was a member of the cosmic races, with a part of me resting upon a planet called earth – a very small, very strange planet. 

That’s when the voice came to my mind; when I heard the words I quoted above. 

I have been digging up history in this part of the world for almost fifty years now.  I’ve become old and bent.  My skin is like that of a lizard, dry and scaly, with brown spots.  I’ve loved being naked in the sun and it has left its marks on my body but I don’t care.  He was my lover and I cherish his touch still.  I haven’t become famous.  No best seller came from my notes; no following.  People came here to dig with me, and left to seek fame and fortune.  Some managed it, returning to tell me about it.  Some even provided funds so I could remain here, on my wind-swept plateaus digging up ghost stories; me, the crazy Canadian who should have been more at home on the snowy wilds of northern Canada, than here. 

To the local people, I am “loca perdida” or the crazy one, though many come just to be with me, or to listen to my stories.  They come to get me sometimes, either with a jeep, or even a donkey, and take me to a village feast so they can hear some of my stories about their ancient peoples.  They seem to have no difficulty believing me, and I have wondered about that.  Do they also listen in time? They “pay” me in food, or in new blankets for my tents or shelters.  Good people, all of them.  I’ve always felt safe here; not sure I could have managed that in cities where people crowd unhappily together, hardly ever getting to know each other though rubbing shoulders every day.  How sad is that life, I think.

Here I remain.  Here I belong for my body’s time being.  Here I taught myself to listen in time and it is here that I will die so another archaeologist, another time listener, can find bits and pieces of my presence in this place and unearth my own story – a story that will have meaning only to her and the few who carry our vision of living in time.  

How I wish I could express, in words, how blessed my life has been and how much I look forward to new digs out there in the stars, knowing that when I sit down and look up I will see more stars.

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A Difficult but Necessary Matter of Balance

 (thoughts from    ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara)

I haven’t had much time for blogging lately, being as they say, busy.  But surprisingly, I’ve had time, perhaps too much time, to think about this world, about its overall condition and where it is heading, apparently heedless and unaware.  I know this is a judgment forming an opinion, but not once in my entire life of 70 years has my sense of where things are going ever been wrong.  It’s like a compass in my mind, something I can “see” and rely on entirely, basing my personal movements on it, knowing when to “hold and when to fold” as the song goes.

I feel massive waves of sorrow passing over me time and again, triggered by many encounters: a baby in its mother’s arms; an old man hunched over waiting to safely cross a busy street; a homeless lady holding a sign saying, ‘Please buy my CD, I’m hungry’ and displaying a CD she probably found in a dumpster – (she got lucky: I saw her and I chose to believe her despite all the propaganda against her) or even moved to a helpless stop by the wind’s choreography of tree branches not yet covered in leaves.  A house hunched behind a sagging gate; a rusting sign from a business that went broke years before…  

Have you ever just “thought” about “the world” and had tears well in your eyes until they started flowing down your cheeks?  Closed your eyes and brought your hands together as if in prayer, though you don’t pray?  Then thinking, ‘Do I want to be here?’ and knowing the answer is ‘No, I don’t want to feel this, this way, connected to this chaos of ignorance, of pain, of apparent mindlessness.  I don’t want to be the stranger any longer; to not be able to speak to the trees, the birds, the clouds.  I’m tired of just feeling and finding it so terribly difficult to harness those feelings; to draw intelligence, awareness, understanding, acceptance and meaningful teaching from them.  That is probably neither their purpose, nor task but I’m breaking the rules here.’ 

Life, I find, is like driving a street.  Some parts are smooth, some rough.  Some are safe and some, well, you may not get out of alive.  The truly sad part is, much of life is entered into without its overall costs duly assessed.  People are programmed, it seems, to repeat patterns and unable to stop and consider the risks, the odds, based on previous lives, previous experiences of elder people, or people in history.  ‘What are my chances this is going to work as I hope?’ Is not the question asked.  Plunge into the swamp, there are no alligators here!  But there are, disguised as floating logs.  You may have passed your swimming tests and won medals, but guaranteed: terror is but a splash behind you, and it isn’t virtual reality. 

Too dark a vision?  Probably, but some of us have chosen a path that runs counter to that of the herd and we see that which the herd isn’t permitted to see, and would not want to see in any case. 

Someone has to shed burning hot tears for the dying.  It’s a difficult but necessary matter of balance.  

 

The Goal on the Horizon

[thoughts from  ~burning woman~  by Sha’Tara]

A long, short time ago, when religion still claimed my soul and clung desperately to my Sunday ramblings, I didn’t have to wonder what I’d be thinking about.  I’d go to church, talk with a few people and listen to the sermon.  Sermon: some lofty title for the pathetic offerings from the elevated platform.  Still, with a great deal of effort I’d often find something of value to ruminate on, even if I had to add it in myself.  Either that, or I’d have to admit I was wasting my time as if I had all the time in the world.  And besides, there are many other ways to waste one’s life when one hasn’t yet discovered that life is a gift and is not only worth living, but to waste it is sacrilegious.

So this morning, being Sunday, and seeing as I’m free now to be me, not some clone of a System maintaining an obsolete view of the world, and after having a thoughtful look outside at the greenery and the heavy dark grey cloud announcing another possible day of cold rain, I’ve decided it was time to go for a long walk.

I’m going to set out now, and walk to that place where the earth’s curvature makes things disappear on the horizon.  When I reach that horizon, I’m going to drive a post at that point, to mark it.  That way, when I look again next time, I’ll know just how far that point is.  And I’ll be reminded that I’d been there. 

“The Road Goes Ever On” wrote Mr. Tolkien.  A truism, certainly, but only true for those who travel that road, isn’t that so?  A road may well go ever on, but of what value is that to the one who won’t get on it and walk it?  “The Longest Journey Begins With A Single Step” is another worn out quote.  But if that first step isn’t taken?  I’ve often pondered the concept of that first step.  Easy enough to take, I suppose.  When there’s no goal, that first step will amount to nothing in the end, just a circular path around one’s little holding.  That’s not a journey, at best it’s exercise on a treadmill.

Returning to my initial quest: to walk to the horizon.  Silly, right?  You could walk forever and still the horizon would remain to taunt and haunt.  I could put that post in the ground anywhere, and it would always, or never, be on the horizon. 

What’s my point?  Simple.  I need a goal to set out on the endless journey.  It doesn’t have to involve saving the world (from itself? How preposterous!); it only needs to be a goal suitable to the quest; a goal that will continue to fuel and motivate the quest. 

I used to think; I was convinced; that a life properly lived was a life whose motive was to do something “great” as compared to the rest of the world.  Something that would set me apart from the rank and file.  Ideally something that would leave a deep and great “mark” upon the fabric of society; something that would benefit millions, perhaps.  When we are entering adult life, how many of us dream of becoming super heroes?  Of living the greatest life ever?  Many, I’d say, even if they never come right out and tell anyone.  The dream is there, to be shortly filed, erased, shattered, by what the world likes to call reality. 

Let’s use another overused quote: “There’s A Pot Of Gold At The End Of The Rainbow.”  When I was young, I knew this was true.  There was a pot of gold at the foot of the rainbow.  At seventy years now, I know this is still as true now as it was then.  The earth is full of real treasures, the ones you cannot find with backpacks, cameras, shovels, axes, and any sort of assorted machinery and technology.  What is observed with the eyes, what can be touched or smelled, what is felled, what is ploughed, what is pumped and dragged out of the ground: those aren’t treasures.  What can be displayed, piled, counted and sold: those are spoils, not treasures.

A treasure is by its very nature unattainable but sought with all of one’s power.  That post I planted at the edge of the earth’s curvature this morning has a treasure under it.  I know this because I sensed it.  I heard it calling to me.  And I was able to answer in the same language. 

I’ll let you in on a secret regarding the endless road, the endless journey, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow: the treasure you began seeking when you were born, and subconsciously if not openly continue to seek, is you. 

To properly close, another overused quote: “To Thine Own Self Be True.”