December 20th 6:58am
Kate is coughing and the sounds of her little 8 month waking down the hall are calmed by Gail’s soothing voice…like only a mom can do…then quiet. If only words could capture that feeling…the tenderness that is instinct that begins my daughter’s new day with nothing but love. Children (especially our own children) are a gift of love, magic.
Meanwhile…snow, rain, ice, more snow, crowded buses, shoppers, lift lines, credit cards, credit calls, submitting monthly tax returns for the business, shhhhhhhhhhh…Christmas is coming.
Sometimes when Gail is out teaching I dance with Kate in the kitchen…our favorite lately is Arrested Development’s, ‘Zingalamaduni’ album. Two decades of hip hop, a century of jazz and the 400 years before that take us back to Africa and we dance in our tiny kitchen. The lyrics are engrained by years of repetition and solitary escapes in headphones on crowded trains…”I need some time to ease my mind…” like the Sunday morning sermons I never heard and I think, “on this rock, I build my church.” Christmas is coming and Kate kicks her legs to the African rhythm and sometimes, most times, falls asleep with her head on dada’s shoulder.
Aside: The Americas are a lost tribe, lost people tossed together in a harsh homeless disconnect. African, Asian, Europeans of all sorts, North, South, East, and West is best, it doesn’t matter -well it does, there are roots in culture – because none but a precious few of us are from here, indigenous, home…and yet we all call this home. It’s no wonder we struggle.
“There is one path and one path only, the path of relentless struggle.”
Words are deeds…My wife was writing on her computer last night and from the other end of the couch, with the 50th anniversary issue of Surfer Magazine I said, “What are you doing?” “Just writing”, she replied, “you write.”, and with that, I went to bed with a smile and fell fast asleep, and woke up this morning thinking ‘words are deeds’.
‘Words are deeds.’ I cut it out of a magazine ad in university and taped it in a book somewhere. Words spill out and color the world like brushes and fingers with paint from cans in anything but random. They are real. Poetry, songs, love letters, journals, articles, graffiti at skate parks, cook books, the signs on homeless bearded men that say, “feed me”, Christmas cards….all of them, they are healing and revealing and while they seem to escape the everyday (are you there right now?) beneath the pages, signs and letters, below the surface they find us peace in uncertainty, and home where there is none. I go there, into the words, more often this time of year and I am reminded where I have been and who I am. Not that I am defined or cast into the mold of my making but that I was and I am ever fluid and alive in every point in time, at the crest of the wave, and right there I capture the otherwise forgotten magic like Clark Little in the aftermath of the north shore break with his camera strapped to his wrist, washed up the sand with the impossible captured in his lens. Words are deeds.
Do I paddle in or float over and wait or does the next wave catch me ducking under? (Ed. Cut to me at Chesterman Beach, Tofino…5mm of neoprene head to toe, struggling in the late April white water trying to figure out how that dude out there is sitting on his board without paddling.) The ‘line up’…I’m not in the lineup. I was in ‘my’ line up, a point off the shore left of the logs at center, in line with the rocky point to the south but I wasn’t in ‘the’ line up. In the water, like in the mountains, there is a right place to be and it’s right over there (really, it is) but you can’t just paddle out thinking you are there…you have to find it, you have to commit, and you have to work and learn and struggle and…and don’t worry; if you’re not there the ocean will let you know.
“There are thousands of religions, but there’s only one surfing.” Kelly Slater
Where will you build your church? On a mountain, on a wave, on a canvas, in books with words, with pencils on empty pages…or maybe in your little girl’s eyes when she wakes to find a new day and smiles? Christmas is coming.