Here it is, lordflea readers! the FIRST EXCERPT of my new book, “Dharma Brat” a nonfiction narrative, soon to be at your favorite bookseller.
As I look up at the constellation Orion, here in my new home in St. Augustine, where we moved after seventeen years in Lackland, I remember that I forgot to tell you about how much I love these stars, and how I used to stare at Orion’s belt, in the middle of the giant formation of stars seen all over both hemispheres, the most reliable of ancient forms of navigation methods, which I too, used during my night watches, when my boat was harnessing the stiff breezes of the Caribbean and I wanted to stay on course.
Oh, and did I tell you how steady and sure I felt, guiding my boat using these stars, the ones that make up Orion’s belt? They stay permanently affixed in their position, up there in the bowl of the cosmos we see as the night sky above, and they hardly move at all, for the entire night’s length. So, naturally, humanity discovered this and has been using stars, and especially Orion’s belt to guide sailboats to our destinations, through currents and winds, as long as we can keep our gaze fixed upon them. When clouds cover them, or people use motorized vessels, the compass or the GPS is the favored instrument. But in ancient times and with keep-it-simple sailors such as myself, I much prefer using Orion’s belt to steer my boat by. Then I’m reminded that we, as mortal men and women, and boys and girls also, we’re forever growing in our quests, finding out what we want, then accomplishing our desires. Some of them as simple as harnessing the winds through the invention of a boat that sails, then finding our way along the latitudes and longitudes of this glorious planet using the stars, the most basic way to find our way that the ingenious ancients discovered. And it’s right up there, still—Orion’s belt—every night, seen from every angle, useful on sea as well as on land. I look up at it now to remind myself I’m still on this journey, this life of discovery.
Oh, and did I mention how I used to daydream about leaving my humanness behind? First I would paint it, without a pre-imagined sketch or anything, and then I’d stare at my painting, finding myself wanting to jump inside it, or at least try to imagine what it felt like—to be what I’d created on paper, to become the image I’d fished out of my deepest, most profound wants. My humanness. The first time it happened to me, I was a teenager. After I’d finished the painting, in which a woman was turning into a tree and a man was chasing her, reaching out but not able to touch her, someone came up from behind me and said, “Oh, you’ve painted the myth of Daphne and Apolllo.”
There it was, on the paper, me not knowing where it came from until it was out. And the unlikely images came forth after that, like a gush of needs, the entire mythology of our human condition, there on sheets of paper, canvas or board used by young artists-in-training: haunting images of some man becoming a horse (the centaur), dragons with many human heads, all at odds with each other’s basic natures, following whatever whim grabbed them; a woman happy to merge her beautiful face into some gelatinous glowing sea creature that only floats through life (weird fairytale that), or…the recurring one that comes over and over to me, even now, the idea of swimming with other shadowy forms, but like them…I’m a dolphin, romping and roaming the watery byways without the encumbrance of being a frail, and foible-prone human. Laughing at humanity’s being so stuck on itself we don’t recognize our first cousins, the smart cetaceans. Ahhh, what joy to paint such adventures.
Didn’t I mention these things?
Oh, sorry, Guess I didn’t because I figured you felt the same too.
Because in the interior parts of all of us–the secrete we hold to ourselves, in which we’re a sea-floating jellyfish tentacled woman, or a horse-legged blue man astride a high mountain–we’re all the same, aren’t we.
Following our truth.