190623 Irv’s REFLECTIONS on Creative benefits of FALLOW TIME by author of “American Chinatown”. REFLECTIONS
I’m coming off a two month period of intense harvesting of mulberries, the nutritionally and satisfyingly delicious result of a five year bit by bit learning curve on tending fruit trees, combined with uncharacteristic voluminous rain for Santa Ynez Valley. When I read the article author’s credits, of course I had to share it in our China email distribution. [see the article link below on her NYT piece]
Prior to harvest season at our Serenity Ranch [or should it be called Serenity Farm?] there was another intense period, fighting Big Oil’s enormous strategic move from decimated polluted Kern County to Santa Barbara County. I made multiple oral and written comments, the most recent of which bought a gasp and loud retorts from proponents of oil extraction in the county. This has been another learning curve, deeply troubling, into the convoluted morass of oil company operations and regulatory governance by local, state and federal agencies. Can anyone hear, “Regulatory Capture” as the penultimate goal of those who are stuck in third chakra Power, Money and Greed?
Parallel with my entry into the battle with Big Oil, I wrote 100 pages of screenplay covering my time with YL, initially in the US, and our time in China, with Act 3 planned to cover our time in SYV’s pastoral Eden-like setting. As that ground to a halt to see how Act 3 would play out, I shifted to beginning a memoir, using the draft screenplay as the source starting point.
During all this time I’ve been reading email newsletters [and sharing selected articles] that focus on climate change, which is finally morphing publicly into the meme, Climate Emergency, as the facts continue to emerge in expanding media coverage. It’s only taken twelve long years for the media to catch up with what BBC was reporting late in 2006 about melting permafrost in Siberia. Now, anyone who has their head out of the sand, has read snippets about melting permafrost, Greenland/Antarctica ice melt, wobbly jet stream creating horrendous weather, and of course, rain bombs, drought and fire, along with hurricanes, tornadoes, and food insecurity.
So, what to do now? Peel grapes by the pool? Continue the battle of resistance and speaking truth to power? Forge a strategic move toward resilience? Or do what an online test told me about myself years ago, be a “Word Warrior”?
I have writing in my DNA. It is a practice in mindfully living in the moment with ten fingers, not unlike the Zen no-mind state cultivated by mulberry harvesting. In 1979 I was introduced to The Zen of Seeing in a book by Frederick Franck. His calligraphy imbued me with the act of seeing rather than merely looking. Seeing into the deeper nature of the world around us.
I was reminded of this book during the past two months, as I crouched, bent, twisted, stretched and reached for each ripe mulberry, noticing that with each movement of my body, a new view emerged, a fresh facet in the same space, revealing yet more delicious berries available for selection. No thought. No words. No mind. Only being with the tree and its sexual reproduction, its seed, black and purple, tart and sweet, nutrition for our bodies, and possibly, just possibly our soul consciousness.
Doing this for hours on end, without an external imperative to do so, led me to reflect on the Adam and Eve narrative. I was in the flow of beingness with an amazing creation that just kept giving as long as I visited it every day, whispering gratitude, extolling its benefits, sharing my astonishment at how quickly its seed could ripen in the late afternoon sun as I examined its visually subtle [but noticeable!] shifts.
I’m headed to Pacific Grove for a few days of fallow time, the home of John Steinbeck and Asilomar Beach, the absolutely most beautiful beach I’ve ever experienced. It was there for a summer month in 2012 that I healed myself of a recurrent viral infection that simply wouldn’t go away while we resided in China. It was there I imbibed the vibe of natural seascape, inhaled the spray of pure wave water, examined the pristine rock formations and chanted on driftwood beside stone totems that bespoke of an indigenous spirituality to honor the sacred earth, where protected beach meets protected ocean.
This first draft, spun off my fingers, may mark a return to writing. The writing experience brings a temporary healing to my troubled soul as I observe the unfolding of our collective future.
The Mythic Journey continues…
You Are Doing Something Important When You Aren’t Doing Anything
We need to rest, to read, to reconnect. It is the invisible labor that makes creative life possible.