The artist Ron O'Brien, who is also known _as the Monterey Roseman. His instagram bio says "Homeless in Monterey." (https://www.instagram.com/montereyroseman/)
He does wonderful work balancing big heavy rocks on tiny little rocks, all precariously perched, but totally balanced. I wondered, when looking at some of the designs if there was an iron rod, running through the stack. Keeping everything together.
I saw him make one, as we sat there in Cannery Row, or near it. It was a cool day. I wondered if Steinbeck would include him in the book I had just purchased.
I finally read Cannery Row after finishing many other books on my list last year. I guess after reading the book, tasting the sea salt on my skin, pulling my jacket closer and looking for the boots, bucket and bûche de la mer, I started to think about those structures again. Not that there was any connection beyond the one my memory was making.
And it really is funny how life works. Now with a lot of free time on my hands (the joys of unemployment I suppose, and the curse) I threw myself into my yoga practice, more specifically yoga nidra and vipassana (both meditation) and ashtanga vinyasa primary series (moving almost flying meditation).
I still get the random, "what are you doing now? why did you leave? what are you going to do now?" All of which I myself, am still trying to discern, much less coherently answer strangers', family members' and friends' queries. I'm just seeking grounding and balance I suppose. That sounds loopy, so I tell them I am writing (which is a big lie, I've not written anything in weeks, save a few angry reactionary poems) and doing yoga (which is true). I get some blank and worried stares. Probably my response would have been similar if I were in their shoes, I doubt it though.
The blank stares, or the worried ones, fade away when I get on the mat and breathe, and I must say, it is a truly glorious feeling. Flying high above the expectations, admonitions, blank spaces. Everything goes away. In August, I felt washed unto an extremely unfamiliar and eventually hostile shore, in November it was completely washed away, carrying with it financial stability (the attempt at attaining it anyway) and my grounding. What if I'll always be anxious and unemployable? Should I leave Belize? To go where? To do what?
Yes those thoughts leave too, when on the mat, and I am very grateful.
One evening, after an essential oils class. Yes, now I am learning everything I can: rowing, oils, headstands, coordinates, math. I am challenging myself. Because after I felt my entire ability questioned, I saw the need to make my self as able as possible.
There! Just for a split second in the flickering lights and moon, a cairn, or something like it.
"Please let me jump out and take a picture" I asked, Ms. Scott who was giving me a ride to the bus stop. Thankfully, she was a good sport.
And yes they were cairns, more than one. One in a cleared away space, raised up like a shrine, a place to pray. I must send these images to Monterey Roseman I thought. "Wow! No way!"
The commonly used 'everything is connected' felt as real as it had ever felt for me then. I am still looking for the artist of these original cairns.
I reconnected with Roseman on social media, and he asked when I would start stacking.
Me? I thought. Impossible!
Turns out it wasn't. Mind over matter, and no fear, as is practiced with many asanas. I took the opportunity when a visiting group from Boston College on their Arrupe International trip came to Belize. College students, some majoring in Math and Physics. Surely they can help me find a balance out of this rubble.
So we drove over, inspected the stacks and proceeded to make one of our own. Simple enough!
But bigger than that, well at least to me.
I don't know when I started drifting, and forgot my balance, and my point of reference oscillated between blurry and lucid. One constant has always been culture, with its elements of challenge and knowledge.
A week after they left, I went to see if the balanced rock pile was still there. If the original shrine-like arrangement of structures, which first inspired me, were there still.
I am unsure if it was wind or the human hand, but our cairn had returned to rubble. Some of the original cairns, were no longer there.
I rebuilt the one we had made. Struggled as I got to the top and like jenga, it came toppling down. Quickly I moved my foot, that would be painful in many ways. After starting again, carefully, slowly, trying to find which rock face could sit or fit into another rock face, it materialized. Serene and graceful in front of the Caribbean sea. A calm, like the one attained after a beautiful meditation or a Christian at prayer washed me, along with salty foam from the sea. Tuups! Off rolled the tiniest pebble on top of the structure.
I propped it back and took a picture. Grounding is sometimes difficult to achieve with full exposure to the elements.
I made a smaller, less ambitious one.
Balanced, photographed and seemingly steadfast in spite of the light winds picking up. I left them there. My silent prayer to the elements of the very elements themselves.
grounding and balance. Eventually I suppose.