Today I know what I need. I feel it in my cells. They are thirsty for it, aching for it. To soak it in, to soak in it. I swim to shore. The water is too watery, too salty, too dry and windblown and barren. Today I do not need the sea. The sea is for other days.
Today I am already full of water, swollen with it. I must pass through it to get to land, but the pull of land is that strong. I know what I need, undeniably. I don’t always know. I don’t always follow what I know.
My feet touch bottom, moon walk to the shore, slow bobbing. Nothing in me moves fast today. The dizzy dance of hormones. All is slurred, blended together, nothing is crisp or clear.
No, one thing is clear. That I want to be surrounded by those trees. Those trees, I cannot explain why they fill me with such comfort, such softness.
Puerto Rico, four years ago, I lay flat on my back on canvas over sand. Savasana, corpse pose, the end of a yoga class. The sound of surf shushed between my ears. I opened my eyes and breathed in long, full, uninhibited. Pupils adjusted, shapes focused, and those leaves were looking down on me, glowing green, reddish brown, the shape of tears, of raindrops.
How can a tree fill me with such love. What is this tree, which turns a burning beach into a cool forest? Could I love it even more? Then I learn that it drops fruit, food for the monkeys and me, a small rich nut hidden deep in a rock-hard shell.
My bare feet shed wet footprints on the sidewalk, the pavement to cross the street, the red cement of the hotel path. I film the walk, I will make a movie. I have a goal today. That is an excuse. I just need to see the trees.
Feet finally dried by land step onto lumpy sand, firmed by buried tree roots. I stop, I gaze up through the leaves, I catch my breathe, catch their breath, breathe them in. Close my eyes, exhale, smile. Ahhhhhhh. I’m here.
Toes spread and grip at the ground, holding tight, firm like magnets. Each sole peels up, resistant, so that the other can lay down. Step, peel, shuffle through crispy leaves.
I close my eyes and walk slow, trying to sense the skinny trunks, see them without looking. I wish I could see their energy, their auras. I’ve always wished I could. Other people say they can. I open my eyes and stare intent at the edges of the leaves, of the bark. I’m trying too hard. I don’t see anything, but I know it exists. I feel it. That gravity that pulled me here today.
I am craving something…nourishment, validation. I’ve been tough lately, active. It’s been good, productive. Oh, the places I’ve gone.
But today I am sensitive, tender, and I want to resonate with that. That earthiness, connectedness, leaves decomposing and becoming each other. Not the stark independence of the bright open sea, the airy playfulness of windblown sailors.
I walk to watch the surfers. Two men sitting in the trees radiate an invisible vibe, and some subtle intuition pushes my path out and around them. They don’t have what I need. I weave back into the trees, there is another man standing, and some subtle intuition lets him approach.
“You going out surfing today?”
He is small man, with dark, shoulder length dreadlocks painted gold by hours in the surf. When he turns his head his cheek bones jut out beyond his taught dark skin.
We sink quickly through pleasantries. He sizes up my lifestyle, asks my birth month.
“August, you are born to the tribe of Issachar. You are all about elimination,” he says. I think of pooping. “Purification, getting rid of the bad,” he continues. (I learn later that March is actually about elimination, that August’s characteristic is zeal.)
I ask him by what belief system. “That is Rastafari Twelve Tribes of Israel. Many Rastas are born in August.”
Of course. I’d become intrigued by Rastafarianism, read a Bob Marley biography on crossing. I’d been wanting to learn more, wanting to sit with some Rastas and do some ‘reasoning’, although I’m not quite sure what reasoning entails…a lot of weed smoking I’m sure.
We get to talking.
“Rastafari is not a religion, it is a ‘livity’, a way of life,” he starts.
My mind reacts at first as it is accustomed, intellectual tennis, thinking of the next inspiring quote, trying to impress, to one-up. But my hormones block my wit from firing, fortunately. My current sensitivity reminds me that I am trying to be more open, more present, more alive. And anyways, we are preaching the same medicine.
He is passionate in his tone and with his words. I tense, triggered by memories of domineering spirituality. But his eyes are genuine, honest, safe. I soften. We are meant to be here, standing beneath the palm trees, connecting, reasoning.
I feel validated by his presence, as we talk of goodness and wisdom. Of shedding drama and pulling in positivity. I try to share with him my perspective of compassion for even those stuck in the system, the ‘oppressors’.
He tells me that I am already living Rastafari, that there has always ever been Rastafari. I smile to think of always, of how long Rastafari has been a word, but of how long love has been a lifestyle. Yet another word, another definition.
I must leave now, back to the boat. He flatters me with his words, telling me I am one of a kind. I tell him how much I’ve been craving this attention. To be seen in this way, as a spiritual being, nourished through connection, through sharing energy. I forget these parts of myself without it. We agree that we were supposed to meet today. We hug goodbye and I squeeze his skinny frame hard, absorb every last drop of rich synchronicity.
Then I walk back through my beloved almond trees, over dimpled sand. My moving eyes think they just might see a blurry glow around the edges of the leaves, the trunks. Energy? Don’t try too hard. I walk on. I feel filled.
Today I knew what I needed. Sometimes I don’t know. Sometimes I know but don’t follow. I am glad that I followed.