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Stories from the field: everything is finding its way.

Updated: Sep 21, 2021

Everything is finding its way.....

Walking through the evening forest with PJ and our doggy Gus, the air is full of cool moisture from the river. I feel I can touch it if I raise my arms into it; a lace of mist. A relief from the heat of the day, the sun is reaching only the uppermost branches, still bright green in the leaves up there. The quality of those light beams though, speak something autumnal.

I dust off the day as I walk.

We chit chat together, our parenting talk, some strategizing about schedules and the house and slowly come into the silence. I know there are some physiological things happening. Science tells us ( what we had forgotten) that we exchange all kinds of chemistry with the forest as we spend time together.

The cold white water is gushing around large boulders, up and under fallen trees, the soil is sodden. It's the southern Appalachian rainforest after all. We clamber down a slope, the rocks are slick. Others have swum here in the heat of the day and the earth has become a muddy slide. Gus has to go first (which is hard for him to fathom), so he doesn’t trip us up on his way. Once he catches on we are swimming he will be excited and forge forcefully through us. It's happened before. He isn’t the smartest pup on the block but we love him.

The river edge is emerald green and the rocks take on an amber glow. It's beautiful and very jewel-like.

I find myself saying aloud as I reach it and let Gus off his lead “Everything finds its way”. I undress, I can’t wait to get in. I know it will be a tall glass of ice water kind of refreshing and I am completely ready. I tiptoe in at first anticipating minnows and perhaps a crawdad. It takes a bit of getting used to, being okay with being nibbled.

The light is fading fast and everything seems held in shadowing of darkening green. I feel I am climbing into my own heart for some reason. This thought feels strange enough to get some real notice. And again I think, everything finds its way.

I turn that notion over and swim it up against the current to the waterfall and under a cedar that's down, I have enough space to swim under and I like the feel of adventure when I do. What's that about. Is Everything is finding its way? I turn over myself and lay on my back, arms stretched out to protect my head from bumps on rocks, and I let myself be carried downstream. “Everything is finding its way”.

I look up into inky green leaves, into the silhouetting shapes.

I make a list of the difficulties facing me, how I might be NOT finding my way. I don’t get too caught up in it but notice how it's shaping me like a river rock. My decisions, my moves, my indecisions… I swim up against the current again and turn over, lay on my back again, and make a list of all that's going well. I notice I am being crafted by life in different directions. I notice my life crafts other lives by its nature of being here at all. I feel a sense of connection between the moment I decided to go for a swim and asked PJ to join me and this River. PJ watches for a while and takes pictures. I persuade him in.

Afterward, I find a moment to write this down. I feel it is walking with me, it sleeps with me, as if someone had put it under my pillow, I wake up and shower with it and it's in my tea. As I think about work and the day ahead and bring M to school, I say it like a chant. I see myself painting in the studio and beginning two new works and how that first move will cause another.

I travel back with it, I remember the day or days in my bedroom at 19 years old, so ill. Ill and lost and having searched all year for an answer, I stood up or sat up, whatever my realizing stance was, my illness was a visitor that had decided to stay and I would have to welcome it and decide what we were going to do together. For the foreseeable future illness would be visiting and my long-awaited miraculous recovery had not arrived. Was this the first time I realized Everything finds its way?

Before my mother died just the following year, as I understood the dying would occur I lay beside her each day holding her ever so close knowing there was this letting go about to happen. I was scared and I wanted to swim against the current and drag her with me, be a lifesaver. I would have clambered out and pulled her ashore any time. Her dying though was soon cleared out of my control. All my efforts were for that part, to be with her fully, just for then. Though I had never experienced anything like it, I had some innate understanding of how this goes. Somehow by holding her close enough for long enough, I had some iota, something clicked into place like leaves in the great fall knowing to change color. Understanding I would have to swim with her death now, alongside it, hold her as long as she held and let her go shaped me. I had never known how alive I was till I watched her life drift out.

And each and every little chapter thereafter, its heading and subheading and perhaps all under some title that could be called Trust.

Everything is finding its way.

It is broad enough to be malleable, that I could render it differently enough for each death, or birth, or great move. It is true enough though, true in the way a line is truing along the edge of a piece of wood as it is carved, honed, shaped, turned. I look along its edge and see it will curve again…I paint this way. Paintings are formed out of some initial moment of trust. Stepping into the river and finding my feet, I push into it, into the middle of it, and work my way across the canvas or the wood. And somewhere inside there is an innate knowledge of when this chapter is closing or opening or carrying on and I feel in those moments when I do truly recognize it, so very much a part of everything.

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