I wrote this piece, titled ‘longing’ in April, 2014: i have rarely lived so far from a sea or an ocean, some salty place i could swim in, paddle on, dive into and otherwise be refreshed, renewed, and recharged by. my deliquescent nature is drawn thin, made brittle and fractious by these desert-dry months of march and april and may.
what IS it about ‘place’ that can so wreck us for another? does it have something to do with alchemy, some particular mix of special ingredients that speaks to the soul? for lack of nearby ocean, i find myself collecting salt, storing the raw chunks, precious and jewel-like, in special wood boxes. when i am feeling particularly parched i blend scoops of salt in bowls of oil, performing ancient ablutions on the shores of my towel.
being fully submerged in salt water invokes primordial sense-memories. i have tried to find my seal-body in the waters of the local hot springs, but once out the hard minerals make my surfaces feel papery and bark-like. i can be soothed in the pools, and deliciously pummeled by the flumes that cascade from high in the walls. at the end of the day, though, i miss the glistening sea and my slippery, slidey, kelp-wrapped limbs. i miss my tail, my gills and my fins.
I wrote its companion piece, titled ‘When the Universe Answers Your Call’ in May, 2014:
You pick up the phone, oh yes. A month ago I was in a very salty sea-starved place. The Universe must have had her antennae pointed my way, because next thing I knew I was making reservations for a bungalow at Hotel Xixim, packing my one bathing suit, heading for the Gulf of Mexico and plunking my depleted body~mind~soul in a hammock on a beach.
I did check my email that first day, after I had unpacked and settled in (but not before I had peeled on my old bathing suit and tossed myself into the Gulf.) My husband had forwarded a newsletter from Anna Breytenbach, the woman who communicates with animals and trains humans how to do this. I wrote her short list of tips on a piece of paper, and brought it to the beach after supper. On the first of my many long, solo walks, I looked around to see who else was here with me: Frigate birds, all kinds of gulls, and terns and pelicans, too. The slower I walked, the more I was able to open up to the sounds and smells and other sensations of being on the beach, the more I could sense a growing readiness: ‘OK guys, I am here. Talk to me.’
Seems I first had to pass muster, and subsequently exhibit a commitment to showing up to this practice every day. The birds would come close, usually sending in one or two advance scouts, and then swoop or dart or scurry away. I let my eyes settle on the riot of shells and bits of coral that were strewn across the soft, white sand while going through this avian vetting process. Finally, on day 3, this happened:
Late afternoon, I am again walking along the beach, heading North. There is a large flock of Frigate birds off in the distance, way over the water. They looked suspended in time and space, hovering on a pillow of wind current. Standing at the water’s edge, I began to call them in, raising my arms, opening my heart, and waiting. No rush.
The birds began to fly straight towards me~ slowly, languidly~ forming a flying column punctuated by the rhythmic black stamp of broad wingspan and forked tail. As they got close, they began to divide, mimicking the wide V-shape of my uplifted arms. Space overhead opened up, this joyous connection created burbles of laughter coming up from my chest, and streams of tears loosing themselves down my face. And out of this wild, peaceful, unexpected dance, one Frigate bird looked down and said, ‘Aren’t we beautiful?’
Yes. Oh my, yes…
Communicating with animals, from Anna Breytenbach:
Close your eyes and relax your body from head to toe.
Set a silent, strong intention in your mind for clarity in your intuition.
Imagine your heart centre opening.
Visualize connecting via an energetic channel, heart to heart, with the animal.
Call their name in the location that they are and send a silent greeting.
Continue with the communication, asking questions if you wish to.