Monday, June 25, 2012

The sound of fish dreaming

How I didn't know of Barry Lopez, I can't even guess.  I found him through Claire Beynon and her post quoting his work, a quote I saved and have returned to.  My wish is that it and his way of being, not only in but of the natural mystery, will seep in and awaken sleeping memories.

Photo credit: http://alisonwotton.tumblr.com/page/4 - Death Valley, desert wilderness

When I was growing up my family traveled to California's back country, wilderness, as part of the research for my father's magazine articles.  By the time my siblings and I grew accustomed to those silent journeys, I had long since detached from myself.  Hours in the car, especially when we drove at night, only exaggerated the practice, at which I was becoming skilled, of living entirely in the fantasies in my head.

Now as I read even a few paragraphs of Lopez I interpret them as the work of a present mind. As one who has been absent, I feel myself yearning to make such graceful leaps, stumble-free transitions from one aspect of life as he finds it to another.   I want to go back and gather, a twig and pebble at a time, what I wasn't able to absorb or even connect to then.  I wonder if any child part escaped dissociation and does that part remember what those remote landscapes told me.

A journey of this magnitude, the ability to revisit vignettes of the past in an altered form, seems at least like an alchemical process, if not outright magic.  Yet it feels possible, requiring all the precision of alchemy, the focus, the stillness, the knowing of all the ways in which this self differs from that.  As the idea has only been with me a few days, there has been no time yet to test it.  I believe that its appearance even as a faint notion, a whim or fancy, gives it some credibility.  If we, as the beings into which we have evolved, contain all the parts and experiences of who and where we've been,  why would it not be possible to return and know them differently?  We are constantly given the opportunity, even an inner urging, to re-evaluate people and situations, see them in a new light, find what they added and forget what we thought they took away.

The spiritual aspects of this experiment seem to be its greatest purpose.  The inner Stanley meets the inner Livingston; the self as explorer and the lost tribe it discovers.  If I can find my way into these forgotten chambers, my next hope is to be able to write of them as they deserve.  If I get there, I'll be back to tell you the story.

"I could then examine myself as though I were an empty abalone shell, held up in my own hands, held up to the wind to see what sort of noise I would make. I know the sound - the sound of fish dreaming, twilight in a still pool downstream. . . "

from RIVER NOTES by Barry Lopez

12 comments:

Angella Lister said...

you bring back such memories. barry lopez also wrote blue highways, right? i used to be such a fan.

JeannetteLS said...

I will have to read this, I think. Beautiful post--at least, what I think it meant resonated deep within me. Most of the last few years has been a journey of rediscovery, of freeing myself from what was lost to treasure what I was given from so very many experiences.

I think that each of us holds very close a child of a particular age, or a couple of ages. Me at two or so--there is a picture of me one one blog or another at that age, in ecstasy over a feather. And me, around eight. Before innocence was lost, before I absorbed the pain. Free, unfettered, most emphatically me.

Never mind. I'm rambling. I love this post of yours and, as I said, I must read.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Angella - I think his best-known book is ARCTIC DREAMS, not sure of all his other titles. There are many. I do love his writing. xo

Jayne said...

Oh Marylinn... this is quintessential Marylinn. What I've missed while on a hiatus. I'll be looking forward to reading what you come back with.

And that photo. It was an illusion to me. I though, at first, it was the tidal flats of an ocean or bay. Seeing one thing in another. Altered forms.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Jeannette - Thank you and you are not rambling in the least. Lopez seems, just from cursory reading, to have a rare ability to merge with place, as though he knew what it was thinking or would say.

I may have set myself an impossible task, for not only do I want to spend time and resurrect memories of particular places, I want the insight I could now bring. I don't know that we get to burrow into ourselves in quite that way.

There is good, however, in what sparks us to go back for the treasure, knowing it is there, that it waits for us. No matter what else there was, THAT aspect is gone and the flecks of gold remain. Perhaps the two girl parts could go together to claim them. xo

grrl + dog said...

I believe that is the essence of the aboriginal dreaming and their magic. All time is continuous and they do swim about in it, past and future.

susan t. landry said...

barry lopez. terry tempest williams. bernd heinrich. gretel ehrlich. fiction often fails me. these writers never do.
i always love your posts, marylinn. i know i've told you that a million times; but, put it in the bank, for those days when the ink runs pale.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Jayne - Thank you. What I need to do is sit myself down and journey, see where I go and what I find. The photo does resemble tidal flats I've seen, some with very sticky mud beneath. We can be very far from the familiar in such a short time. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Denise - Perhaps that is why it feels possible, because for some it is. Having paid attention to some recent programs on space and time and physics, it seems science now knows all things exist at once. The question is, how do we find our way there? xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Susan - Susan, thank you and it is on its way to the bank, the vault. Apropos of nothing but fiction I came across a Josephine Tey mystery last week and it was almost like being in love. Some fiction suits me fine. xo

beth coyote said...

Recovering-I believe it's all there. The artists give themselves the time to unhinge, to float, to dream (if you will) to fish for the right color, word, image, gesture-that explains or translates an experience waiting to be brought to the surface.

We need to sit on the rim of the well of darkness and fish for fallen light ... Pablo Neruda

Marylinn Kelly said...

Beth - Good to hear your thoughts. I think it is all there, too, and somehow, because it matters, we will be able to uncover it. I like your take on it and the Neruda quote. A potent, significant week for the word fish. xo