Friday, November 06, 2009

An Unlikely Insight

What Happened on the Roof on Columbus Day 2009

There I sat on top of the world, contemplating all of creation. I felt wonderful, enlightened, elevated. I felt one with all my dearly departed – Dolores, Cassius, Marie, Frank, Ramah, and others.

But I was not really "on top of the world" – it just seemed that way. I was taking a break from all-day roof repairs, hurrying to beat the coming rain. Full of tar and Uncle Henry’s Solar 278, I sat on the only flat spot on the roof, crossed my legs and breathed deeply. All I could see were the tops of trees and roofs of houses. It was an amazingly beautiful scene, and I could barely believe I was looking out over Los Angeles. I could have easily fooled myself into thinking I was at the border of ruralness and forest. Yet, here I was in the ‘hood, relaxing, seeing things from another perspective and suddenly Europa starts playing on the radio.

Europa. That was Ramah’s song, the song that played as our pit bull Ramah died in my arms 15 years earlier. I never fail to think of Ramah when Europa plays. I breathed deeply, and thought of Cassius Clay too, my pit bull pal who died about a year ago. I closed my eyes and felt Cassie there with me on the roof, by my side. I cried as I began to talk to Cassie, to Ramah, to Dolores, to my mother. How quickly those sounds –- that specific music – took me into the realm of all my departed dear ones. I found that I enjoyed being there with them as I sat there on the roof, and I realized that I also need to simply love more those who are still with me.

The clouds were hugs, dynamic, in shades of gray to the north as they towered over the mountain range. To the west, the clouds were breath-taking, colored in their pastel shades of pink and red by the setting sun.

I’d been feeling hectic the last few days, now rushing on a job that I’d intended to do over a longer period of time. I couldn’t tolerate another storm with leaks all over, and the weathermen were telling us to expect two to four inches of rain. One inch of rain in a 24 hour period is a lot. I was on the roof on automatic pilot. I’d neglected friends, normal niceties, preferred customs. I was in emergency mode to prepare for the rain.

Now, taking a break from this pace, relaxed in cross-legged posture on the nearly flat roof, I breathed again deeply, and let the stress flow out of me, and became one with the sound and the cloud and the wind and the coolness and the love of my dearly departed and the love of my living loved ones. My little sense of "self" dissolved into the bigger picture of "the moment." Wow, I’m alive, I thought. How wonderful that I awoke today from my dream, the "dream of life," that dream that occupies most of my mind most of the time. The dream of illusion, duty, momentum, success, and failure, and so often devoid of feeling. I let my mental words dissolve into nothingness, and became one with the dynamic reality, this moment of NOW, all around me.

I realized that I have lived so much of my life in the seeming-reality of words. Are they real? Or are they merely tools with greater or lesser clarity, greater or lesser accuracy in portraying the "what is" of life? I felt no excitement with words, with their ability to convey something, their facility to lead me into "truth," their wonderful taste and color. In this moment, I withdrew deep into my inner circle and I dissolved into this moment of awareness and I let go, and felt.

Soon, as the wind picked up and I contemplated the unfinished roof and the coming rain, I put my tar-covered gloves back on, and then got up to continue sealing the roof.