The image above is my shirt and sweater, thrown over the back of the chair my grandfather made. He died before I was born. I don’t know how long before he died that he made the chair, perhaps in the 1940s sometime. Probably earlier, but lets say 1943 to make the math work. 80 years ago. It sat under Mom and Dad’s house for 20 years till I dragged it out and restored it. I smile remembering the man I never knew, his craft still lasting. Since restoring it, it had taken a few more hits, a rough spot on the back from some transportation mishap when we moved. Still looks nice, though, I think. Enduring and endearing.
I got up this morning while Wanda was in the shower and began to tidy the dishes from last night. She and Essence made caramel pop-corn before we watched the original Avatar, in preparation for watching the new one in a few days. While we watched we ate my favorite Pizza from Panago. Chicken Ceasar, and Steak and Mushroom. Hawaiian for those that like that kind of thing. We all teared up at the loss of the home tree. Cheered for the underdogs on their alien dragons, fighting the corporate greed and ignorance. I thought about being blue and naked and having a tail. I thought about the vision of Pandora. A vision of harmony. A scientific romanticism about the harshness and beauty of nature.
Cleaning the sticky pan, smelling last night’s caramel, loading the dishwasher, spritzing the counter with my favorite counter cleaner, filling the air with the scent of lavender; these routines bring me a sense of calm, of satisfaction. Cleaning up, doing my part, setting things in order. Then cutting strawberries onto our breakfast plates, tipping the raspberry container so that raspberries tumble out to join the strawberries. Whipping the eggs with a fork. My favorite fork for the task, the one with the large rounded handle. The scrape of butter on toast. The kettle boiling, then beeping. The first sip of tea and bite of eggs. Asiago cheese, finely grated on top. Looking across the table at the woman I love.
Our life is filled with rich tastes, comforting textures, warm clothing on our bodies. I crunch my toast contentedly and look at the clothes on the chair. The solid pleasure of that shirt, the colours, the feel of the fabric, fine and soft. Cotton and wool, blended. Something perfected about it. The tight weave of the fabric, the enduring dyes. Feel privileged to live at the end of this long spell of innovation and industrialization. Corporate greed had given me good things. Part of the evolution of our species. Bringing us close to downfall. The planet groaning, storms raging, bank accounts draining.
Despite the anxieties, I love this life. Feel so fortunate to be here, with these people, this family, this house, this time in history. Winter light pours in the large windows. Rain gushes from the eaves trough outside. Weather forecast warns of flooding. We are safe inside, on our small hill, in our small city, in a big and manic world.
Nearly 800 people are still homeless in Nanaimo. More faces than I can even imagine. Should I live more spartan? Should I work harder to solve the problem? Wanda and I struggle with anxiety and depression, good days and bad days. We insulate ourselves from the suffering of others, like so many others do. Soon my life will end. Maybe 20 years left. I think of those I know who have died. All they have missed, all I will miss.
If I do not live this contented life, find meaning in the quest to know, if I live with guilt, pouring my life energy into insoluble problems, I do not become more than I was born with. I am a writer and photographer and contemplative. My identity always slightly in flux, but these three things consistent over time.
My deepest desire is to have a deep reserve of calm, time to contemplate and create, a resilient and abiding contentment. And from that grounded satisfied place, to love, lead, and shore up the ones around me.
Avatar depicts a harsh jungle as beautiful as it is fierce. Our life is not much different. We band together against the brutality of reality. We also sit together to share the awe of a sunrise.
I see that my life will be a cycle of dissatisfaction and satisfaction, contentment and discontent. Grasping and letting go. Being a creature and being more. No blue skin, or tail, but my connection to that strange thing called the collective unconscious, or the Ancestors, or tree spirits, or God, remains an enigma, the deepest real thing I want to understand.
2 thoughts on “Contentment”
So much color in your photo of the chair…beautiful! You say that you seek to find beauty and to create it. You seem to be doing that, creating beauty, but I think you may be one of the few. When I watch the news, it seems that all over the world we humans are taking wild places (beauty) and turning them into concrete jungles, run by greedy CEOs who care for nothing except profit. With time, I have come to realize how humanity is a virus that infects any species that it comes in contact with. It’s difficult for me to watch what we are doing to our planet (destroying beauty) and few people seem to care that we are destroying our home. Soon, the glaciers will be gone and we will be living in a water world. Mountain tops will be islands. Maybe then the virus population that we call humanity will be reduced to pre-historic numbers. Mankind might evolve into people like you, who appreciate beauty and want to preserve it. But, we may look and function more like dolphins, with adaptation for living in sea water. We will appreciate living things more than we will things (cars, computers, etc)…if we survive this next mass extinction. I enjoy your blog. Please, keep your ideas flowing.
Ed Leathers (I took my grandmother’s name and made it my pseudonym, Taka Shimono)
Hey Taka/Ed, I appreciate your words of encouragement and sorrow. I share the sense of alarm and concern over humanity’s trajectory. I think the majority of men, and they are mostly men, who are driving a capitalized agenda (i.e. one that is focused on money above all else) are on the sociopath/narcissist end of the continuum that makes up humanity. I’ve seen first hand how the lack of conscience and generally the lack of feeling is fostered among men of a certain type. Because they don’t really care about others, they push ahead aggressively and shape the world in their image. People like me (us?) are more interested in feeling, thinking, and processing deeply, and so my aggression is in the pursuit of truth and beauty. There was a time when I believed that poets could change the world, but I’m not sure now. The successful shapers of the collective consciousness seem to be the ones who master money and media. Still, for me, the hope is in speaking with our true voice, connecting with the deep wisdom, and exercising influence were we have it. In this regard, my relationships with family and friends are the most important. But I also think there is a role for blogs, vlogs, and other expressions in media. I encourage you to continue in your own calling, and appreciate that you took the time to write about your fears about the future. Fear and anxiety are such positive emotions, if they motivate us to change. Change is a subject I’m very interested in, not the change that just happens, but the change that takes work. And here I think of changing myself. That is where it starts I think?
LikeLiked by 1 person