Photo by Iris
I just returned from La Gomera, a Spanish Island in the Canary chain of islands off the west coast of Africa. Iris and I went for a winter break and a chance for her to recover from a grueling schedule over Christmas and the autumn months. I walk the edge in my relationship with Iris with her intense energy, work and other ways themselves being on the edge with all this outside of what I contribute to keeping it this way. I have been inclined in this way as well but at sixty years of age when there is some slowing down of my physical ability she keeps the ball rolling.
La Gomera is on the edge. It is an island of severe and constant elevation changes and drop offs. I think that at one time in my more numbed out days I may have been better able to tolerate the drop offs and the intense hiking up and down. Strong feelings of vertigo affected my ability to enjoy this trip at times outside of the wonderful peace and silence that were part of it. Driving on the Island was challenging for me. The constant exposure to the turbulent sea and rocky coastal areas, sky, rocks and cliffs and drop offs possibly requires an adjustment that takes longer than a week for some. Iris seemed to be much better suited to it but she is someone who has lived in, and been drawn to such high elevation and challenging places as Nepal, Kenya, Tibet, Cameroon, Patagonia, Bhutan and Cape Breton.
I think that the grueling geography and very rural environment has kept modernity to a minimum in La Gomera and some of these other high elevation countries that I have mentioned that Iris has enjoyed. There is an internet connection however limited it is at times but no fast food, theatres, cinemas or shopping malls. The locals there are focused in a more natural way. The people who generally visit and return are more inclined in this way as well. You can hear the wind, birds, goats and chickens wherever you go on the Island. That part both Iris and I enjoyed but the differences between us, despite the peace and external distraction still seem to keep our relationship on the edge and were in full force on this Island.
So what does it mean to be on the edge for me? I give a lot of value to being in the moment. I live for this these days and in doing so I am not so focused on the pursuit of security and certainty. It is not my intent to deny these aspects of life and other conventional needs but it is more that they seem to fall by the side to some degree. I am as curious as I was as a child and eager to express that in photography, art and other ways as is Iris who I partner with most of the time and I am much more content in this place of being. This experience in La Gomera was a Dizzying Ride and it in fact seems to reflect a larger experience for me. There are times where I felt overwhelmed and too old to be doing this as I often do about other things at other times, especially with a younger very active partner near by. In the moment I acknowledge and express these truths also knowing that things will change although not to be overly optimistic, maybe they will become more unbearable in some ways. I don’t know and don’t seem to bother too much with the ultimate answers to that one. Sometimes it feels that I just have to hang on tight to the ride that life offers and that I don’t know where I will end up, and that the difficult parts of the ride are in fact an integral part of it. I have longings and desires and often they are contradictory and unclear and somehow they seem to be connected to a search for a more familiar and comforting ride in life. But I am realizing that life is this ever-changing topsy-turvy ride that I am on and I always seem to come to a place that in turning back to presence brings me the guidance and orientation to some of the most profound doubts, knots questions that arise and as Caroline Myss suggests in her new book “Entering the Castle”, “life is a journey of practicing consciousness, not perfecting it”. In practicing presence my intent is to live consciously and in accord with the highest degree of truth that I can maintain. What it is that constitutes the “I” should be included in that conscious contemplation.