I am terminating this project prematurely; what started in me as a need to catalog ALL the memories turned out to be a hunt for specific memories, for a specific healing purpose. I have found what I need and am beginning the work of releasing the pent-up energies that I believe are keeping me from moving forward. Thank you for the support you gave me during this project; it means a lot to be able to share something of myself with you. Stay tuned for the next project (whenever it finds me)…
of my favorite trips I made while I was active duty was to Pinedale,
Wyoming. The beauty of the wide open space, dotted with fragrant
sagebrush, rolling hills and roaming critters, was almost more than I
could bear. The air was so clean that beautiful lichen grew nearly
everywhere one looked. I was at such a weird place in my life
then—full of anger, confusion and a dwindling sense of purpose—that
being here reminded me that sometimes it is okay to be in disarray,
to just be. The wildness fit like some kind of invisible puzzle piece
and I felt right with the chaos; yes, we were there to work but I
remember almost none of the toil and all of the roaming, exploring,
and adventures. Wyoming might be “just a place,” but it will
always maintain a rarefied status in my memory.
Today I was thinking about the imaginary friends I had as a kid. One of them was a girl named Cici, after a song my mom used to sing called, “Cici my playmate.” I would sing her song and she would appear, sometimes with her brother, and we would explore the worlds hidden in our house. For instance, I remember there was a remarkably tiny, but densely fertile, valley under the kitchen table, complete with sheep and a little village.
I remember, even as I enjoyed my time exploring imaginary realms with my “friends,” I knew that one day it would all have to end. One day I would be “too old” to have imaginary friends.
And so, one day, I did not sing her song. One day, she did not come to me. One day, I did not go to the village under the kitchen table, again. One day, I grew up.
And I have been searching for my playmate, Cici, ever since.
Today’s Echo is brought to you by the Facebook “memories” function which reminded me that 8 years ago I finished up my second tattoo at Endless Summer Tattoo on Cocoa Beach. The image of the clipper ship chasing the octopus had come to me when I was fresh out of high school, but somehow, over the next 10 years, I could not manage to draw the damned thing myself.
My first tattoo—the little flying heart with wings in the upper left of my back—was something I drew up and took to an artist back in 2001. I think I took it as a matter of pride that I should design this tattoo as well, but I couldn’t produce a satisfactory drawing so the idea went on hold for a while…
Looking back, it kind of feels like a whim that took me into the tattoo shop that day, all those years ago; but once I was there, I knew exactly what I wanted. I met Katy and when I saw the awesome shading and finger waves she was doing in her work I knew she was the one to breathe life into my vision; I described the image that had been haunting me for a decade and then, when I came back the following week, there it was—finally—on paper. We got straight to work on it. I could stand about three hours of work before I started to shiver uncontrollably and got pretty close to passing out.
So, over three sessions, totaling about 8 hours (with two weeks to heal in between each) the work was done; it turned out gorgeously. It was totally worth all the struggling with wearing bras and trying to rub lotion on my own back while at work. I still love this tattoo; especially when I catch a surprise glimpse of it in the mirror, peeking out of my racer-back workout top or a slouchy blouse.
I’ve thought about getting another tattoo but, to be honest, I just can’t think of anything that would be as meaningful as this one, which encompasses my experiences chasing down beauty and meaning in my life. I eventually found a quote that perfectly articulates what I was trying to say with this image: “If your ship does not come in, go out to meet it.”
I used to think of myself as the ship, and the octopus as the mystery and beauty worthy of pursuit but, these days, with my focus on curiosity, I often wonder if I am not also the octopus, chasing the ship, craving what is lying in wait inside for me to discover (mmm; man-flesh).
Today’s Echo is the first crystal point I ever purchased; this beautiful “Lemurian” beauty spoke to me from one of my favorite shops shortly after we arrived in Alice Springs, Australia.
The legend goes that these striated quartz crystals are all that remains of an ancient Atlantis-esque civilization called Lemuria, the citizens of which “planted” these crystals in the earth as energetic databases of spiritual wisdom before departing our planet. Working with these crystals is said to connect us to the universal energy grid, using encoded instructions left in the crystals by the Lemurians themselves.
I didn’t know about this rich legend until today; but I do know this is my favorite meditation crystal. While the powerful legend is inspiring, I wonder why I have never stumbled upon these or other crystals in my wanderings before. Did the Lemurians reckon that unlocking this knowledge should require some level of mining technology? A thriving economic system? I guess they wouldn’t have wanted to make attaining “ultimate spiritual knowledge” easy, per se, but I sometimes wonder about how spiritual energies have adapted to operate in our world of wires and machines.
Even as I develop weird attachments to my appliances and electronics, going so far as to name some of them (and having conversations with most of them), I find myself craving regular contact with natural objects such as rocks, branches, feathers, plants, and shells…and I will not turn up my nose at “adopting” a natural beauty such as this from a retail outlet. After all, the exchange of money for goods is just another form of energy exchange.
Can you see the other “memento” in this photograph?
Here is a stylized drawing I did with felt tip markers back in high school; this one is from my senior year but I did a lot of work back then with markers in this flat, stylized fashion. I loved fantasy creatures when I was a kid, and on into high school; dragons and unicorns were my favorites. I suspect it’s nerds like me that grew up and managed to make our love mainstream, since you can find unicorns pretty much everywhere these days.
I say nerds “like me” because I actually actively shelved my affiliation with the obviously-fantastic at some point, not too long after this drawing was made. I don’t remember what specifically prompted it, what well-meaning sentiment or bit of advice might have been taken into my brain and turned into this rejection, but I DO remember standing in my bedroom, surrounded by all my unicorns and dragons, and actively deciding that it was time to put all this away; “real grown-ups” don’t have a room full of ceramic unipegs and puzzle-posters of wizards battling dragons.
Maybe I just needed some kind of symbolic action to put me on the path towards adulthood and this was all I could think to do at the time. Of course I have seen plenty of “real grown-ups” with such things in their homes (I grew up in one, after all), but, at the time, it seemed of paramount importance to put away the fantasy, to embrace something deeper, more meaningful, than the kitsch I surrounded myself with growing up.
I don’t regret this dislocation per se, and of course I have dabbled with the fantastic since then but the curious nature of the act and its unknown trigger keep me thinking about it, turning the event over in my mind and trying to derive some sort of meaning from it.
Perhaps there is meaning to be found in what I replaced it with: the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelites, Romanticists, and Neo-classicists as well as world mythologies and folklore. I broadened my experience of the fantastic beyond creatures to include mythos and archetypes which have naturally informed my work more deeply and recently.
Perhaps the puzzling event was natural after all, and that explains why I don’t recall a trigger for it; it was just the right time to move on to the deeper segment on the spiral path, to deepen my understanding of fantasy and its role in making meaning in my life.
sleepy image was taken at the end of an otherwise exciting trip to
the Florida Keys. Oddly enough, this was one of the rare beaches we
found; most of the Keys are shored up by seawalls so access to the
ocean seems to be predominately by boat. Given the absence of
beachfront, we tooled around the many bars, restaurants, and museums
there—my favorite of which would be the Hemingway House, home to
all those lovely five-toed cats. Yes, this is probably one of the
least interesting of the 400+ photos I took while on that trip; blame
the Random Number Generator, if you must.