I grazed among my tasks for most of the day. Finally, beginning to unpack a box with thoughts of tackling more. I worked on the memoir -- easy work, formatting of pages and pages of blogging. And I picked up a book from last year and read a few chapters about one researcher’s experiments on monkeys (the work on animals is very hard for me to read.) to prove the plasticity of the brain. I lost myself in each task and could have spent the day doing each but the practicalities of the day and my own restlessness did not allow for that. I chaffed with the idea that I was not using my time efficiently, that I was flitting among my interests and tasks and not settling down to efficiently complete any one of them.
In the late afternoon while Julia was working with a therapist, I used the I Ching. I do not throw coins or yarrow sticks, instead I just asked my question and opened the book at random and read the paragraph under my finger. A great, old teacher of mine, Wilford Leach, who died of AIDS when it almost did not have a name, who, although I thought of as old, died at 58, which I now think of as . . . well, now, not old, just living, but two years older than David. Young almost. Will was so wise, but never got to be venerable. Anyway, Will told me about the I Ching. He did it in some master class, it was not a personal message. I wonder how many of us, his students, took everything he said as a personal message. He was that kind of a teacher. He told us about I Ching, that it always gave a correct answer to petty questions and those from the bottoms of our souls, and that it always gave the answer that the asker already knew. That if we were able, we could get the answer to our question looking deep inside, but as that was hard, maybe impossible for some of us, and we could use the I Ching.
I have used it now and again since that time, most of the time alone, sometimes with friends. Lisa gave me an excellent, newer translation of it by Carol Anthony and Hanna Moog which I slog through now and then, but often ask a question and open the book for an answer. Strangely, amazingly, almost magically, although I know it is none of those and I now expect that there will be an answer to what I ask.
And so, I asked for guidance for the immediate future. Where to put my energy and effort with the varied tasks that I have set for myself. I wanted to know exactly which task would bring me efficiently to some answer, some resolve, some enlightenment, some ending of this fallow year which is not even half over. And I opened the book, and put my finger on this paragraph:
“‘Plowing and clearing the ground’ refers to the inner undertakings that return a person to his original nature, allowing it more and more to express itself in its uniqueness. These undertakings consist in identifying and deprogramming prejudices, pre-structured views, and mistaken beliefs. The ground is not to be prepared for the planting of “good seeds,” as is done in positive thinking or imaging, or by introducing another belief system. Preparing the ground for peace, for example, does not mean praying for peace, as this would bypass seeking out and deprogramming the mistaken beliefs that foment and perpetuate war.
“Receiving this line counsels a person to examine his attitude toward his goal (the harvest), and to free it from any projection or spell put upon it by his egotistical demands.” (p. 237).”
The immediate reference to the land, the preparing of the ground, and the final direction to free myself from egotistical demands all made me smile. The answer was, of course, that there is no short cut in my fallow year, no way to get to the answer, the enlightenment, without the entire path being walked.
To myself, I whined for a bit about all of those friends and strangers who seemed to have found their direction, their guidance, their research project without so much of a process, but I didn’t even bother asking the I Ching about that one. I know what the answer is.
And I had a dream. I have been dreaming and remembering more frequently these days. Not every night, but many nights. I am enjoying this getting back to my sleep life. I actually decided on the shape of the light that I will buy for the dining room after one night’s dreaming. Surprising for me now a days, but quite the normal way to arrive at decisions in my younger years.
But last night, I dreamed of David’s voice. He told me that we, meaning everyone else except for him, had died, intimating that he was lonely, missing us all. I began to awaken and thought for a minute that, yes, we had all died, leaving him alone. Here and alone. But then I questioned who this “we” was. Me? Me and Julia? Me and Julia and Cheshire and Lisa and Nick and Jan and the list of friends and relatives and acquaintances and co-workers trailed on inside my head. No, it could not have been “us”, all of us who died, it was him. And I wonder about whether the dead, in the afterlife, not matter how heavenly, miss us, feel lonely. And I realized (although this is not quite the right word) that even if heaven was all learning and fulfillment (both of which would be ultimate joy to me) that David might still miss us and feel lonely because of that.
This was an instant thought, not pondered over. I was still mostly asleep and raised my head and turned to the bed stand as if to look at the clock (a movement which is almost instinctive with me) and there in shadow was David holding a bowl. It did not scare me or cause even an extra heart beat. I just accepted that he had been there, a bit lonely and wanting me to know that. I also accepted that what I saw was some shadow of furniture together with my night light (although a bit later when I was more fully awake and turned again to look for that combinations of shadows, I could not re-create what I had seen.). There was an ache in my shoulder, something very unusual for me in the morning, but an ache the kind of which I got now and then when I laid on my side in the crook of David’s arm for much too long a night.
I am not going to try to make sense of any of this. It is what it is -- some heavenly visitation, some part of me comforting another part, something from the outside, something from the inside. It does not matter. So, now, awake and typing, I send my love out to him who may be lonely because he has gone ahead, and maybe it is not ahead, but just away and not here. And that I am on some path, with tasks that he is not a part of and he is missing being included in my adventures. In the adventures of the “we” who are still here.