Friday, September 25, 2020

I Needed That

 Waxing Gibbous Moon

After a string of twelve-hour days trying to meet a self-imposed deadline to finish my book, I pronounced it done and took off for Moss Landing State Beach yesterday to shut up and walk. It was practically perfect. To breathe freely and soak in the familiar colors of sand and sea and sky was precious. Plus I brought a delicious sammie from Lolla for a halftime picnic. What a a great day!

I ran into a little snag with respect to my book title. Evidently someone already used Spirit Walker as the name of a fantasy fiction series, so I had to go to Plan B. The new title is Walks Far Man: In Step with History on the Pacific Crest Trail. I am waiting patiently for the cover art to be finished and expect the book to be available on Amazon (paperback and e-book formats) by the end of the month. I hope you all read it and enjoy it. I think this is my best effort so far.

As for the title, when I got home from my coast to coast walk in 2016, my friends and neighbors Laynee and Sonne gave me my Indian name, "Walks Far Man." I was humbled to receive it and I kept it to myself as something special. They didn't tell me they got the idea from Raquel Welch!

In the process of re-titling the manuscript, I googled Walks Far Man, not wanting to make the same copyright mistake twice. Nothing came up for that, but Walks Far Woman did. That was the title of a 1982 movie starring Raquel Welch as a Blackfoot woman in a serious pickle. I won't spoil it for you, but you can watch it on YouTube if you want. The sound quality is comically horrendous (sounds like everybody was inhaling helium the whole movie long) so I recommend clicking the Closed Caption button right away, haha.

Anyway, the beach was great. I saw sea otters and sea lions, cormorants, pelicans, snowy plovers, curlews, and gulls, a long, hairy beach caterpillar, and assorted beached jellies. I had the stretch of the beach between the jetty and the Pajaro River to myself for the most part so I was able to coast along (bad pun intended) for a few hours with the aforementioned halftime picnic providing the fuel. 

The surf was so-so, but the sound and the rhythm of the waves were perfect. Just what I needed.

Peace, Love, and Relaxation,

P.S. Cud'n Mindy sent me this yesterday. Her timing was excellent for my book release and my beach walk:
“When Einstein gave lectures at U.S. universities, the recurring question that students asked him most was: - Do you believe in God? And he always answered: - I believe in the God of Spinoza.
Baruch de Spinoza was a Dutch philosopher considered one of the great rationalists of 17th century philosophy, along with Descartes.
(Spinoza) : God would say:
Stop praying. What I want you to do is go out into the world and enjoy your life. I want you to sing, have fun and enjoy everything I've made for you.
Stop going into those dark, cold temples that you built yourself and saying they are my house. My house is in the mountains, in the woods, rivers, lakes, beaches. That's where I live and there I express my love for you.
Stop blaming me for your miserable life; I never told you there was anything wrong with you or that you were a sinner, or that your sexuality was a bad thing. Sex is a gift I have given you and with which you can express your love, your ecstasy, your joy. So don't blame me for everything they made you believe.
Stop reading alleged sacred scriptures that have nothing to do with me. If you can't read me in a sunrise, in a landscape, in the look of your friends, in your son's eyes... ➤ you will find me in no book!
Stop asking me "will you tell me how to do my job?" Stop being so scared of me. I do not judge you or criticize you, nor get angry, or bothered. I am pure love.
Stop asking for forgiveness, there's nothing to forgive. If I made you... I filled you with passions, limitations, pleasures, feelings, needs, inconsistencies... free will. How can I blame you if you respond to something I put in you? How can I punish you for being the way you are, if I'm the one who made you? Do you think I could create a place to burn all my children who behave badly for the rest of eternity? What kind of god would do that?
Respect your peers and don't do what you don't want for yourself. All I ask is that you pay attention in your life, that alertness is your guide.
My beloved, this life is not a test, not a step on the way, not a rehearsal, nor a prelude to paradise. This life is the only thing here and now and it is all you need.
I have set you absolutely free, no prizes or punishments, no sins or virtues, no one carries a marker, no one keeps a record. You are absolutely free to create in your life. Heaven or hell.
➤ I can't tell you if there's anything after this life but I can give you a tip. Live as if there is not. As if this is your only chance to enjoy, to love, to exist.
So, if there's nothing after, then you will have enjoyed the opportunity I gave you. And if there is, rest assured that I won't ask if you behaved right or wrong, I'll ask. Did you like it? Did you have fun? What did you enjoy the most? What did you learn?...
Stop believing in me; believing is assuming, guessing, imagining. I don't want you to believe in me, I want you to believe in you. I want you to feel me in you when you kiss your beloved, when you tuck in your little girl, when you caress your dog, when you bathe in the sea.
Stop praising me, what kind of egomaniac God do you think I am?
I'm bored being praised. I'm tired of being thanked. Feeling grateful? Prove it by taking care of yourself, your health, your relationships, the world. Express your joy! That's the way to praise me.
Stop complicating things and repeating as a parakeet what you've been taught about me.
What do you need more miracles for? So many explanations?
The only thing for sure is that you are here, that you are alive, that this world is full of wonders.
- Spinoza”

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Bat Ray Man

 Waning Crescent Moon

As a child, probably like most folks, I had several nicknames or pet names bestowed by different family members. I was Jim, Jimmy, and Jimbo, or Ray (short for my middle name Raymond), Rayman, and Rayme, depending on the whimsy or mood of the addresser. There were a few others, but these are the common ones that I can easily recall. 

The only one that I kind of relate to in this day and age is Rayman. The first thing I do every morning when I awake is to stretch my arms and hands and fingers into the air, as well as my feet and toes, and say to myself, "Shine like the Sun, Rayman. Be kind." The stretch makes me feel good and the words reinforce my positive intention to try to be a good person. I don't know if the rest of my family does that or something similar, but I will  bet that they do, here or up in the stars.

All day yesterday the sky was orange. The Sun could not poke through all the smoke from the two and a half million acres of California that are on fire. It was dark and eerie and sad. 

I needed a pick me up and some exercise, so I drove to the beach twenty miles from my camp, hoping the air there would be safer to breathe. I walked and walked and walked for three hours in the weird orange light. It was high tide. There were pretty good wave sets rolling in on a steady basis. The sea otters were playing like it was a normal day.

Pelicans put on a pretty good air show, skimming the waves for breakfast. I love it when that happens.

On my return trip along the beach, walking on the firm, wet sand next to the surf, I saw a Bat Ray washed up on the edge of the water alongside a pile of beached kelp. At first I thought it was dead. There was some blood along its fins and tail, but not a lot. Maybe it was just knocked out or exhausted from a fight. Not counting the tail, the Bat Ray was about as big as home plate on a baseball diamond. 

As I got a little closer, I was staring at its face and all of a sudden, he or she inhaled, tried to take a breath. I could see the sides of its body behind its eyes, draw slowly in and out. I decided mostly out of ignorance that I was going to call it Mr. Bat Ray, regardless of gender. I talked to him, asking if I should risk moving him into the water, which was ebbing and surging about fifteen feet away. I gently touched his fin and he twitched his long tail from one side to the other and back. That appeared to require a lot of effort. Was it voluntary or just instinct? Did the tail twitch mean yes, help me, or did it mean if you touch me again, mother-----, I will sting you and inject the last of my venom in your weak-ass hand? I didn't know, really, but when I saw the tail movement combined with his effort to breathe, I knew I couldn't just walk away. 

Toward the dunes about thirty feet up the beach, I could see the remains of somebody's illegal campfire. I said, "Hold on, Mr. Bat Ray, I'll be right back." Geez, I can't move very fast any more, especially in sand, but I managed to find a stick of driftwood about a foot long and I returned fairly quickly. Mr. Bat Ray was still trying to breathe. I told him I was going to help him get back in the water.

Well, Mr. Bay Ray was much heavier than he looked. I was pretty sure if I touched him with my hand again he would freak out and attempt to deploy that stinger, even if the effort killed him. My little one-foot stick, though, was not up to the task. I pushed it underneath his body and shoved him toward the water, but nothing happened. "You have to try," I said to him. "I'll do everything I can, but you have to try." 

Clearly, I needed a better tool. So off I went down the beach. Past tons of kelp, kelp, soggy, floppy, no-help kelp. I had to go a quarter mile or so to find a piece of driftwood big enough to act like a shovel. Then I dragged it back, half expecting Mr. Bat Ray to be goners. 

But no, he showed me he was still kicking, sucking in moist, sandy beach air, which was not doing much good. I did some more talking, saying I hope this doesn't hurt you, but I am going to use this big stick to push and shove and shovel you back into the ocean. "You have to try," I kept saying, "you can't freaking quit." 

It took about twenty minutes to get him to the foamy wet edge of the water. I could see him straining to get it into his lungs. I could see him trying. So the next time the surf retreated, I went all out to scoot him as far down the sand as I could before the next wave broke. I pushed one last time and oh crap, I clumsily flipped him over onto his back just as the water washed over him and I scrambled back in retreat. I felt like an idiot. 

Then the surf sucked backwards, leaving Mr. Bat Ray beached upside down in the wet sand, revealing his mouth desperately opening and closing, searching for water. Yes he had to try, but so did I, so back out I went to dig and push and shovel under him one more time, flipping that unwieldy home plate pancake mostly upright as another wave crashed. This one was pretty big and as it receded it carried Mr. Bat Ray ocean-ward a few more feet, keeping him covered as I watched. I could see one bat flipper flopping out of the water for a few seconds, then another surge came and Mr. Bat Ray righted himself and whoosh, he was gone. 

Did he live to tell the tale to Mrs. Bat Ray? Dunno.

Shine like the Sun, Bat Ray Man. Be kind.

Peace, Love, and You Have to Try,