This Beautiful Place

ButterflyThe cold has strengthened and I struggle to stay warm. I had Bulbar Polio as a child; now as I age the late effects of that illness seem to mount. One of the most challenging of these is fatigue; intense cold heightens the fatigue and accompanying lethargy.

I am reminded of a conversation with a teacher, now passed, who, several years ago suggested I might take to hibernating in the winter. He encouraged me to strenuously avoid conflict with my personal cycles of activity and quietude, encouraging me to use the deep winter to recharge. The other night one of my spirit companions came by in a dream, a fellow hibernator. She planted a big, sloppy kiss on my cheek and dashed away. I felt blessed and reminded that hibernation might be OK.

Of course, I am not truly hibernating. While I am focused inside, I continue to journey into the world to work and play. I seem to have joined those other Warm Bloodeds who move in and out of something akin to semi-hibernation, alternating periods of activity with times of deep rest. This can be challenging in our age of unceasing work and interaction. One must build new skills, or rather, rediscover old ones.

Learning to live with the Late Effects of Polio is, in some ways, a journey of return to the original illness.   One must acknowledge and adapt to new losses; for the third time I am learning to live in a changed body-mind. Once again I find myself potentially isolated by the deep winter cold, striving to find ways of keeping in touch with my human community even as I feel closer to the denizens of the non-human world.

The journey is not without anxiety and now and then I am reminded of an old Inuit saying,”I do not want to leave this beautiful place.” Like the sage I long to stay connected to the staggering beautiful world we know, even as I am aware that ultimately we all must pass from it.

This is a knowing that often comes early to children who have serious illness, or other trauma, even though we adults may wish it were otherwise. One of my best friends in college was a young woman who had childhood cancer and, against the odds, survived. She was a world-class flutist who lived her life with the well-educated expectancy the cancer, long in remission, would return. For her, each moment was precious beyond counting, and she lived with an intensity that underscored this.

Many surgery scars covered my friend’s body, a constant reminder of her visitor’s status in this breathtaking place. Indeed, she often spoke to the certainty that we are but guests here. Now I know that while we are transients, we also belong to the places we love and that embrace us. This is a great paradox, worthy of pondering.

Are there beautiful places you wish not to leave?

12 thoughts on “This Beautiful Place

  1. Yes…none of us can stay here. Something that is always on my mind. What’s the point of collecting things when it is all going to vanish away.
    Now, I do love the warmth of Hawaii.
    I don’t really like the cold that much either. In December, I often tell my husband that I would just like to curl up underneath warm blankets until April. Of course, that isn’t possible…there are things that must be done.

  2. Summer is our time to hibernate because it is so hot and humid. We spend our holidays in a darkened lounge room watching the cricket on the telly, reading, playing card or board games. My boys get active after 6pm when it has cooled down a bit and the cicadas are in full song. We don’t go into the bush much because of the snakes.

    Winter is when we come alive, and it is a great time to get out and about in the community. But we don’t have snow and the extreme cold temperatures you have. I love getting about with lots of layers on, cardigans, beanies, shoes and socks. Making soups and casseroles. Bushwalking. Bliss!

    I like what your teacher spoke of – avoid conflict with your cycles of activity and quietude. That’s so lovely.

    1. Today the weather has warmed into the mid 20’s F! It would be lovely to visit Australia in your winter.
      Last night we had neighbors over for an evening of food and chat. It was a lovely evening, with the food built around 3 soups. We sat by the wood stove and talked for hours. No one wanted to be outside for very long. We agreed that winter is a fine time for such gatherings.

      1. Yes. There are internal and external beautiful places and I find myself wishing to remain in each. I imagine we learn to love the places we inhabit (if we are healthy), provided they nurture and speak to us. If not, we strike out at them and suffer.

  3. I love your butterfly photo. It reminds me of an indoor butterfly garden exhibit at a museum I used to visit years ago. The museum would have the exhibit in the winter so it was the perfect magical place to visit to lift your spirits on a cold snowy day. In addition to the warm air there are hundreds of gorgeous butterflies fluttering around fragrant flowering tropical plants and the sound of cascading water. I have thought many times that I would love to create something similar here.

    One of my favorite beautiful places is Sleeping Bear Dunes on the shore of Lake Michigan. There is something calming about sitting on the beach, looking out on the horizon and seeing nothing but water as far as you can see. Although I have not been there in a long time the spirit of the lake and Grandmother Bear lives forever in my memory and my heart.

    I enjoy ginger tea to warm up on cold days.

    1. Bridgett, I have not had the good luck of visiting Sleeping Bear Dunes. Perhaps some day I will. Yes, there was something magical about being surrounded by butterflies in the midst of winter. Outside, there was snow and ice, even the harbor showing ice. It was also a relatively warm day. It is good to have magic! and ginger tea! How are you weathering the cold?

      1. I had a couple of rough days around the beginning of the month when anxiety/depression was giving me excruciating headaches and vertigo. A spirit companion told me to sleep and so I did only what I absolutely had to for a couple of days and slept about twice as much as I normally would and I am feeling much better now.

        We have a new addition to the family who arrived on New Year’s Day, a pug mix who came from a southern shelter and wasn’t doing well in his previous foster home. We have fostered a number of dogs. The wonderful feeling I receive from helping heal a foster dog is enough to warm my heart even on the coldest of winter days. The other night I woke up around two am to discover my husband rocking our foster dog while he was watching a movie on his nook. He said the dog was getting his therapy. I smiled to myself thinking that they are both healing from the experience.

        Enjoy the warmer weather today before the arctic blast returns tomorrow 🙂

  4. Are there beautiful places you wish not to leave?
    The place next to my husband and daughter. But then…some beloved ones have crossed the river Styx. The most beautiful places is among our beloved ones, wherever that is.

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