BOBBING ALONG

I’ve mentioned before that the undergrowth on our property is so thick we’ve never set foot on a good portion of our 120 acres. I sit on my porch and gaze up at the side of our mountain, curious as to the lay of the land but unable to access it. Without a cleared trail I can get lost in 5 minutes. One time Bill and I spontaneously decided to take a quick jaunt up to the top of our mountain. It was dry season, when much of the forest is dead and brown, so we assumed the going would be easier and we’d be able to get our bearings by peeking out through the trees. We could see the ridge of the mountain when we began and thought if we headed straight up we’d reach the summit in no time. Several hours later, pouring sweat and extremely dehydrated, we emerged at the top of the mountain, quite far from where we had imagined we were. Once we had entered the woods we never did find a spot clear enough to figure out our location. Our whole adventure has followed this pattern. Before we moved here, we knew what we were after, but had no clue how to find it. We just dove in, and out of necessity quickly honed our skills at living on blind faith. If Layla gets upset, Maya will coo, "Don’t worry, we’ll figure something out," because that's what she hears all the time. Living so remotely in a foreign country continuously presents challenges we could not have imagined. As when we were lost on the side of our own mountain, once we made the decision to live out here where everything is so very different, the only thing to do was put one foot in front of the other and trust that we’d come out on top. That can be so scary that it becomes liberating.

Walking our trail to the waterfall a few weeks ago, I came upon this:

An enormous tree had fallen over, bringing my trail with it. This is a common occurrence around here. Huge, healthy trees just fall over. Due to the steepness of the slope and the thickness of the undergrowth, I couldn't position my camera to capture the size of the root system and show the gigantic double tree pointing down the embankment. Ramona, in the forefront, is standing at the edge of the trail, and Edna and Tootsie are down in the deep gully created when the tree fell over. Just past this, another gigantic uprooted tree fell from higher up on the slope, forming a blockade across the path from the other direction. My trail is completely trashed and it will be quite tricky to find an alternate route.

As with the coastline, everything in the forest is shifting all the time. Things grow, shrink, decay, and renew. Nothing ever remains the same. In the jungle, this principle applies to material goods as well. I still haven't figured out exactly why, but even though our house isn't particularly hot or humid, the jungle air causes many things to rot, rust, disintegrate, peel, and grow mold. Lampshades last about two years before the plastic under the fabric dissolves, the rims rust, the fabric discolors, and they finally flop right off. Replacement shades are practically impossible to come by. Paint soon wears off of anything wooden. Insects eat wood, cardboard, and any food that isn't encased in plastic, and then lay eggs and multiply all over the place.

This is what happened when I went to put on sandals that had been in my closet awhile:

It's as if everything is somehow more alive in its fluidity. I know I am. Civilization is all about building something and keeping it. In the jungle it's all about letting things go. The key to living happily here is to go with the flow even though you have no idea where the flow is heading. As long as we don't struggle to grasp and hold on to what is familiar, bobbing along on the wave of uncertainty brings us to places we never knew existed. Tomorrow those places will change along with everything else, so we must always remember to fully enjoy what is happening in this moment and simply look for another route when the trail beneath our feet disappears.

The fallen tree that stood so strong and mighty a few weeks ago is already nourishing new life.

Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible. ~ Buddha