While visiting cemeteries in New England, I was absolutely taken by the different forms of this winged head on headstones, along with inscriptions like this one: “View here thy transient state / Life is an empty show / See mine how short the date / How soon may yourn be so!”
“Today I have been visiting the Atlantic Ocean on the Connecticut shore. I’ve visited Stonington Borough and Mystic and now I’m on Eastern Point Beach in Groton. I am sitting on a sand dune smelling the salt and chill of the sea, being kept company by dozens of seagulls—white and gray and dappled brown.
This morning we found on the breakfast table at the Tolland Inn, a copy of a Hartford newspaper with Osama Bin Laden’s face and the headline: Osama Bin Laden is Dead.
I listened in the car to a Boston radio show called “Matt and Ray.” Two sports guys stopped their regular broadcast to talk about America’s news. They interviewed an FDNY firefighter who was on the ground when the World Trade Centers fell in 2001. He was very emotional as he talked about that day and the closure that comes with this [Bin Laden’s death] for so many people, particularly military and firefighters. Many called in with the same line and feeling: God Bless America!
I spent a cold morning in a New England cemetery conversing with ghosts who died two centuries before I was born, and wandered into a meadow where I tromped through a carpet of fallen oak leaves and acorn caps.
I smashed an ant by accident outside of Mystic Seaport. Really, I just wanted to flick him away, but my fingernail perished him.
And I just keep thinking. Are we not all the same?
I’ve seen so many loved ones turn to their final homes, their graves this year and life is so fleeting and precious and rare.
The ocean laps the shore. It crash, crash, crashes in and goes back out. The driftwood and sea-glass dot the beach. These scallop and mussel shells lie empty, their house-guests now gone, and some day we all die.
All that’s left to us is to say YES to each moment we are alive.
- The salt smell of ocean
- The blaring horn and ding that rings in answer off DuBois Beach on Stonington Borough
- The woman (0r man) living beneath a bridge in North Boston, the curled form buried under a pink blanket on a lounge chair and a bicycle guarding bags of belongings beside it
- Free ice cream in Boston Common
- The gull diving in shallow ocean for black wormy food
- Black sea ducks skimming the water in flight, less than a wing’s breadth above the waves
- Driving alone up the coast on Conn 1 and I-95
- The cold damp of the sea air that freezes the bubbles of my bones and chills the hands that grip this pen
- YES! to the lighthouses at Groton
- Yes! Yes! Yes! to climbing the stone spiral steps of Stonington lighthouse and gripping the iron ladder in fear as I climbed through to the top BECAUSE IT SCARED ME!
And oh, the sight I saw as reward! The ocean beckoning me into her arms. The waves curling and calling. The homes on the shore and the V of sea ducks overhead. The embrace of the endless ocean, Old Man Sea, around the finger of the Borough stretching out into the ocean with me, reaching out as if we two touched God today, and climbing back down with fear behind me, flown, burst through the lighthouse glass as a blaring beacon, a signal light to ships in the harbor to say: Come! See what I have seen and do not be afraid to live, or living be afraid to die, but come with me and let your fear burn blue and green as the driftwood it is, and CRACK OPEN WIDER, Welcoming Sorrow and Pain and Anger. Invite it all to burn in the blaze of who you will become. Someone new will fall down these stone steps, the you you thought was you, gone, shed like old skin. Newborn. Like a Phoenix from the flame of your fear.”
From my green journal, Dated May 2, 2011. This is still part of my goal for life. The opening. The welcoming of EVERYTHING inherent in living, the YES! YES! YES! to this life I love.