Sunday, January 31, 2016

Turn Around

New Zealand wild beauty
Here I am, back in the United States of America for the first time since September 12 of last year. Following the scenario that seems sketched out for my life, THE DREAM has surprised me again and put me on a stage with a strange set and I have to improvise my part.
In New Zealand I had spent ten days on the south island and was preparing to go to the north island and explore further, making paintings, writing, and producing photographs when my mother died suddenly. I had been feeling strange for about week—bewilderment and tinges of grief after being adrift for so long, and then the news arrived to complicate my inner life further. Perhaps I had been unconsciously anticipating the death, knowing it would happen soon. My mother and I always affirmed our bond with each other by ending our conversations with statements of love and affection.

I felt better after determining to go back for the memorial. Yes, I would not be visiting the spectacular north island and doing what I had planned, but I would be going “home” and getting closure, bonding and celebrating with others my mother's life.

The home of my parents in Santa Barbara, California, USA

I have been alone in the home of my parents for several days. My sister arrived last night and a brother is to arrive today. Another brother is already living in Santa Barbara, and one brother is not coming—he lives in New York state. I have had continued feelings of being adrift and not knowing the future or being excited about it. But I am working at improving. There are reasons for everything that I feel, going back over the years and now with the loss of my mother. But yesterday I realized I could turn around the feelings of grief that are associated with loss. It takes willpower but I am doing it consciously—celebrating instead of grieving.

An "angel" cloud that formed over the house, the second night

Sunday, January 24, 2016

That Night She Died

Chloris Boone, about 21 years old
I hope she does not die while I am in foreign lands. This thought occurred several times before leaving the United States last September. My mother had escaped death before, astonishing even seasoned workers in the hospice field. At one point I had been called to her side by both her caregivers who were certain she was dying, and after flying from New Mexico to California and arriving at her side, that evening she beat me at a game of cards. My brother and sister who live nearby shook their heads at her turn around but did not put it past her. I stayed another seven days, waiting for her to die, but she was phenomenal. Her neighbor arrived with a fresh bag of books from the library, which she finished in no time, (with speed-reading skill), and we watched music videos together and listened to her favorite rock groups—The Eagles, and The Band. When I left, I swore I would not be jumping on an airplane every several months when an alarm went off.

About the time I arrived in New Zealand from Bali, Indonesia, I was four months into travel and began having morbid feelings but could not decipher them. Perhaps I had become too unsettled from travel around the globe. Maybe I was not prepared to go home and start hustling for income. Had I not resolved the hurt from divorce a year earlier? 
With her five children
New Zealand's beauty and majesty entranced me and I threw myself into it, yet could not shake feelings of sadness. Then came a message from one of the caretakers that Mom's heart was failing and to please call. I spoke with my mother and she sounded far away and muffled. She wanted to know where I was. The next day I called again and she sounded much better, even accusing me of being narcissistic like my father and reminding me of the fable of the young man who fell in love with his image reflected in a pond. After I took exception and remarked I am quite aware of my flaws, she apologized and asked when would I go home to people who love me and want to see me. That night she died.

Her body has already been cremated. I am cutting short my time in New Zealand to go to Santa Barbara where my siblings have scheduled a memorial. I feel better now. My last ticket is to go home—not to mine, but to where my father and mother lived contentedly for 35 years.

More writing about Chloris and her home:

Private Sanctuary Of Love 

The Jig  

Created With Loving Care  


Chloris Boone,  08/26/1932 - 01/21/2016

New Zealand, South Island

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Awakenings and Little Deaths

Since September of last year, I have traveled eastward through nineteen time zones. In New Zealand, I am 21 hours ahead of myself were I to be at home in the USA. When I communicate with people there, they are in yesterday and I am in tomorrow.

After so many exotic sights and sounds, foreign experiences, awakenings and little deaths, I am transformed and don't know how I will pick up where I left off once home. I want to continue sharing what I have seen and experienced. Fortunately, all the paintings I have sent back to the USA arrived safely from Italy, India and Thailand, and I have with me the others made in Cambodia and Bali. The photos I have spent countless hours creating are on my laptop and backed up on an extra hard drive. So far so good.

After densely populated Bali, there is more solitude in New Zealand, even though it is summer tourist season. Nature has greater contrasts here and it is more of a struggle for inhabitants to exist year around. Days are gorgeous now, easy to enjoy, and the sun does not set until two hours before midnight. In the winter, days can be seven hours shorter. New Zealand has glaciers, as well as volcanoes.

Today I hiked to the foot of a glacier and was lucky to hear and see an avalanche. Flowers bloomed and made a carpet at my feet, the mountains capped with snow and ice soared above and waterfalls cascaded off shear rock cliffs. Wisps of clouds gathered to play around the peaks. I took off layers of clothes along the way . . . but never ended up as naked as in Bali!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Beautiful Purpose

Fallen plumeria blossom
Bali throws flower petals at my feet everywhere every day. When I step outside, fresh plumeria blossoms adorn my path. Arriving at my car, they are on the windshield. It is beautiful and I have experienced it in other tropical places such as Hawaii. The blessing is compounded in Bali because blossoms are ubiquitous to the island.

Balinese people make offerings every day and leave them all around and on the ground too.  It is called canang sari. Canang means beautiful purpose and sari means essence. A small tray made of woven palm leaves is filled with different colored flowers, with perhaps some food, incense, and even money. The whole arrangement is specific and includes careful placement as to direction of each object. It is time consuming to prepare each day and I have seen a woman at my hotel here in Ubud spend hours carefully preparing scores of trays to be placed in many places each day. People all over Bali spend countless hours in this daily ritual of prayer offering. To walk anywhere in the street is to see canang sari on the ground in front of businesses, at temples and homes, adorning sculptures and shrines; everywhere. This morning I walked to my car and the vehicle next to mine had a freshly made canang sari offering sitting at a place of prominence on the dashboard.

Balinese girl, adding fresh offerings midday on a sidewalk in front of an establishment or home

On a sculpture of Ganesha

At first, I took note and simply stepped around the little baskets, but now I am also honoring their meaning and absorbing the blessings. It is respectful. I feel blessed.
Read more here: Offering 
On the pavement

Offering flowers being sold at market.

Early morning, on a car dashboard!

On a sculpture of a praying man.

I love the term canang sari, beautiful purpose—essence! Something to meditate upon. The Balinese do each day, and then spend time and resource manifesting it.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

A Life Of Its Own

Traveling in THE DREAM has a life of its own. All experiences are essential and woven together, and cannot be labeled or isolated by the dreamer. They unfurl like a flag in the wind, ceaselessly changing shape. When I arrived in Sanur, Bali, I spent the first night in a hotel near the airport, since my arrival from Cambodia was after midnight. The next day a short taxi ride brought me to a homestay I had booked in Sanur, in a densely populated neighborhood not far from the beach. The hostess from Finland met me, along with the Balinese owner of the house who lived with his family in the rear. Cia, the Finnish woman showed me around and I put my things down in my room. Immediately, I felt a bit sick to my stomach, and when alone, went in the bathroom and vomited. I realized that something was amiss. The room was windowless, and had a shallow light, peculiar smells were in the air, the furnishings were worn and drab, and I felt unsettled.

Cia is a short woman and underweight. She drinks and smokes, and I soon learned that she is battling lymphoma cancer and has large tumors on her neck. Her mind is bright, and she smiles readily, but there is a darkness settled around her. I discovered that she cannot eat because it causes her pain, but drinks beer and smokes cigarettes.

I never had the thought of leaving, and spent seven days with her. I didn't feel comfortable in my physical circumstance, but I am not physical. THE DREAM brought me to Cia, and I came to appreciate her and could relate with her because I lost my Naomi to cancer and walked with her for two years through the valley of the shadow of death. Cia has been living in Bali for five years and has a wealth of knowledge about the island and its culture. She speaks at least four languages, is an ardent animal lover and takes care of them wherever she finds they need help. Three cats and a dog have found her and stayed to live with her. She is pragmatic and accepts her condition in a matter-of-fact way.

One night at dinner she mentioned she was trying to make a doctor's appointment for the next day. I told her I would go with her so she would have company and not feel alone. Her eyes opened wide and she stared at me and said, “But you are on vacation, you don't want to do that!” I looked back straight in her eyes and said, “Yes, I do.” Her jaw dropped, and looking even more intensely into my face she said, “I believe you.” And then she started to cry, and apologized. Later I told her that the two years I spent in close communion with Naomi, by her side through all her medical treatments and living with her in foreign cities, was the best time of my life. “We were burning the candle at both ends.” I said.

I left Cia a couple days ago and THE DREAM put everything in place for me. I found a lady from Bali who is renting me her car. Anne, a young woman from Finland who is a friend of Cia's has given me the keys to her bamboo house up the coast in a place that Cia wrote on her list of places for me to visit. I am now in the bamboo house, making paintings, visiting nearby villages, swimming in the sea, taking photographs, and continuing creatively.

Cia said, “There is a reason we met.” We will meet again. I left a few of my things with her so must return before leaving for New Zealand in about a week.