So much of our lives revolves around movement – and is usually not accomplished in the most positive of attitudes, by that I mean rushing. To languish over a task in our lives is somehow perceived as being lazy instead of purposeful. Think about the slow passion of a cellist drawing his or her bow across the strings – how achingly beautiful this is. Or how Buddhists prostrate themselves hands and knees sliding the length of their bodies along the Earth for hundreds of miles – with joy in their hearts – as they make their pilgrimage to the most holy sites of their faith. A kiss that is precious for its beginning, and its end.
To capture the special nuances of a pre-dawn breathe of air caressing your skin as your hands cut through the sea, and later, the sun glistening on water as sea birds lift into the expanse of blue. I call this mindful-sensualism. This is different from hedonism – this is awareness of self and environment without reckless abandon, without willful expenditure of obscene amounts of money (largely spent to ‘feel good’ which fades all too quickly). I am thinking about the pilgrimage of living well, in truth that is precisely what I am doing here in Croatia. I am relearning the art of absolute quietude.
On the balcony of the flat I am renting my down comforter hangs airing in after-the-storm morning sun and breeze. When you live next to the sea you come to have a new appreciation for things not being damp and fully capitalise upon such weather as you have the opportunity to do so. In my adventures into Trogir yesterday I sat on something so also hanging outside is the freshly hand-washed sarong my girlfriend Jennifer brought back from Bangkok for me – its shades of aqua a brilliant contrast to the green-y blue of the sea and the lavender of my duvet cover. Across the mouth of the bay into Split there are two small islands (you can see them in the photo above), the larger has a lighthouse on it. Right now there is a small open boat tethered to the island and the lighthouse keeper or some intrepid and curious soul has claimed this small rocky space as their own. I see this person standing at the edge of the island pulling the rope in so as to gain the boat. A metaphor for tending – small, deliberate actions realising what we most require from life.
While exploring Grad Trogir Croatia yesterday afternoon I found a magical courtyard filled with living but absent of humans. UNESCO writes that “Trogir is a remarkable example of urban continuity.” No truer words. Shortly after having my breath catch for the simple beauty of laundry hanging in the open air an ancient, diminutive woman walked toward me, and as I smiled, nodded and said “Dobar dan” she gave me a breathtaking series of smiles in return, and five minutes of incomprehensible conversation. Admist the stones worn smooth from the footfalls of hundreds of generations of Croatians living in this warren of narrow alleyways one, perfect, semi-ruined detached house with a garden no bigger than the average American bathroom. Within its surrounding stone wall was a very old fig tree, a feral kitten, garbage, debris, weeds and a rose bush still lush with full pink blooms. Wistfully imagining the possibilities (as I have done for nearly a year with every old stone house I have seen online in Croatia) a man in his eighties approached, plucked a rose from the vine and made a sweeping gesture in his gifting it to me. Someone very wise once wrote that music begins where language ends. I experienced this yesterday in adagios so sweet as to break the heart in ten thousand pieces.
“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”
We struggle against this growth instead of embracing such. If we remember we are connected to everything in the universe and the person standing beside us then the growth seems more organic and authentic. There is no end, no beginning there is only – now. Embrace what is before you. Let beauty find you and then dwell in it.
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