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Posts Tagged ‘rain’

back to the rain

I forgot about the rain – how the sky turns to grey and the mist hangs low and calls you within – how the drizzle turns heavy and you get wet quickly – and how the dampness enters into the bones. How it closes in and you crawl inside and explore no more. The rain began today and is supposed to hang on for many more and i ask just what am i doing here.

It held off for most of the day, and i was able to explore a bit, but then it turned to a world of umbrellas and i hid out inside – and if i am inside, does it really matter where i am – the expansion of thought and feeling that occurred when i was riding the train, all but disappeared when i went in and sat down. I was thankful that i got out earlier and rode the muni trains around – out to where they are at street level and you can see the neighbourhoods around. Still i got off but once, to walk and explore, in one of the many areas to the south where i had never been – but a chill got into my bones, and i hurried back to where it was dry and warm. Faced turned towards the ground as the rain picked up a steady stream – and yes, this was the other coast i remember all too well – the one that does not inspire my imagination at all.

But earlier i took the train down church out to Balboa park – and so many place i would like to take a stroll – the homes in different colours and styles, with so many whimsical motives, and parks to walk, and stores and commercial streets, and trees to Ingleside and more lived in places, neighbourhoods of different types. with the time of year, it is not only the skies that are grey, but they turn dark so early, just before 5pm, shortening the day even more. i was inspired, but i felt blocked, and ended up back in the center of town again. I wished to explore and this place calls me forth, but am i to remain unto myself. the rain is predicted to be even greater over the next week or so.

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It’s a rainy day at the hostel on vashon island. It is quiet here and i crawl inside and memories of rainy days spent elsewhere come upon me. It is not the activity, or inactivity, i remember so much as the mood, and the desire to crawl within. I have slept a lot in my time here, and my body returns to a familiar sluggishness that comes with the rain and darker days. but it is spring now, and days get longer, and as i write this at 8:43 the sun still has not set. But i feel heavier now, like i did after my deep nap my first day here, that deep afternoon sleep where you wake up and your entire body is deeply creased from the clothes and blankets that dug in, and you wonder how you pressed so heavily so as to be marked so deep.

While the sleep was much need with the journeys into that other world and an emptiness of mind, when i lay too long the sadness creeps in and wants to settle inside. And why is this i ask? need it be so? And the answer is really – i don’t know. I know in theory it need not be, but it is such a familiar feeling returning to me. i have felt this way in my body and energy on so many rainy days spent inside before.

this morning as i prepared my heavier breakfast of oatmeal, i stared out the window as the clouds blew over the sun and lines of rain began to fall. A memory of a place and time long forgotten came upon me – a few rainy days at the Cosmic Cow Hostel south of Naniamo where i first WOOFed in April 2002. They were days of people and alone gathered inside against the rain, many movies watched and some talk, and trips outside to walk in the woods. While the landscape is similar, though more rural there, it was the heaviness and condensation in my body that brought on that memory. And with it came many others, in various country locations on Vancouver Island and the BC coast, rainy days in Tofino, courtenay, and Sechelt where i felt much the same, and i realized that for a long time this felt normal to me. But even then i knew something was off.

I know it is not just the pacific northwest, for times in the fall in the east came to me, a weekend reading in bed in montreal, and some endless days spent at pams outside of Buffalo. What these days have in common, is that they were lazy days where i could give into the feelings and crawl inside for awhile. After all is this not what rainy days are about? I watched a good movie from the collection of videocasettes, and drank tea and napped for a while.

When i arrived here in the sun my energy already felt denser to me, but the weather had already begun to shift that day; earlier there were periods of clouds and rain and the temperature had dropped several degrees. But i stood outside and stretched my body out, a little bit of yoga and qigong – neither of which i had done in a while. And it felt so good, for i had gotten into a zone in my head, and i have remembered to do some since i have been here. But this morning it felt more like a desperate quest, to move something along that was settling inside – a dense unease. Though i have meditated, but not as much as planned and sang to myself, still i feel the crawling or hiding within. but is this not a time to do just so, to assimilate and process the activities of late – is that not why we have rain and winter, a time to slow down and move inside.

For often when life is full of activity, outside and/or within, i have craved a rainy day where i could just be unto myself (or ideally with a loved one, and maybe that is the point). As i was writing this i remember some days camping in the rain, the days i rejoiced the chance just to sit in my tent, read, meditate, sing and sleep, integrate and process all that was in me. But after a while i also rejoiced (or craved) the sun and the ability to journey back out again.

And i know that at times rains are welcomed, and rejoiced upon, bringing an end or a release to what has building up, releasing heavy pressure or a crackling dry and nurturing the earth. But it is not the summer rains or thunderstorms i write about, but the cool constant rains of the northwest and similar locales or the rains of the fall.
These rains can become a weight holding you down, and while it need not be so, i am not alone in this feeling i know. The rain in the city is different quality altogether as it bounces off concrete and splashed upon you. For i remember the depression that came upon me in Vancouver and Victoria and elsewhere. But i think the difference is not only in the terrain, but in the level you are able to integrate the rain – to be with it outside or to journey to that space within.

I think of my last time in Seaside in an early rainy spring when i stayed about a week. sun had been predicted for two weekends before, but the rain had continued on and winter was getting stale. All everyone talked about how there would be sun for the weekend coming up, and i could sense the desperation in their voices. I felt that if there had been another weekend of rain, all would have a collective breakdown, But the sun did come and you could feel the mood shift as people looked up and walked with a bounce in their steps, smiling as they went along, and this is something i have detected many places after a long bout of rain.

But i also remember one weekend in Seward, where the sun did shine after 10 days of rain (and before another 17 but we did not know that then) where the town seem to crackle that day, as people let loose what they had been holding inside. i later heard that i was one of many who briefly walked off their jobs that day. And i remember the crackling of an energy shift that has happened several times as i have crossed over the mountains away from the coast leaving the heavy comfort behind. So different expressions can be released when it lifts.

I think some of my feelings might be the duration of the journey within – not merely with the rains, but with my life more broadly for i remember my time in ireland where the days of heavy rain alternated with those of sun and grey, and i was able to truly appreciate all. i also was more active and expansive there. So the journey within and the days to reflect were a balance to those i journeyed out. i is not merely what i do with the days, to reach for the beyond and bring joy and transform inside, but also the question if i spend too much time there. And i feel like i have spent too much time in that cave within.

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I had forgotten about the depression i had felt in this zone – the memory of its intensity slipped away and now it has come crushing back, holding on deep. I remember the way I often felt here before, not only the deep spiraled down weeks, but how low my base mood often was. As i write this i know that it is not only here that i have felt this way, but the grey and the chill hang onto me and i wonder if this region was really any good for me. I know i have come back time and time again, but i have also left just as many times as i had arrived.

There are so many thoughts and emotions caught up in this place, feelings that i had forgotten about. The details are still blank to me, but this deep feeling has returned. when i got to harbin about a month ago i know people said my face had changed, and now i feel it changing again, and i do not like what i see.

And that is part of the problem; i do not like what i see. But how much of it is the place, and how much is it me. Seattle has never been my favorite place, i down right disliked for a long while. Slowly i warmed up to it, but those were the last two times where i only planned to pass on through. And that is what i am doing this time.

I ’m no longer sure why I came up here, except as a stepping off point. Port Townsend and Alaska had both been in my mind, and i head off to the former tomorrow a destination planned long before i arrived.

I didn’t come back up to Seattle per se, and I’m not sure why I stay here so long. Part of it always is with what I wish to avoid. And it’s funny that i find myself in exactly the element i did not want to return to in San Francisco in the downtown hostel and i am now many miles away. I am in a hostel, one that i liked before, but in the centre of town with the noise and buzz. The hostel too, is somewhat depressing, but there is more interaction here, i have chatted with a few of my dorm mates, a long conversation yesterday, and with some at dinner the other night. But i have met more in the smoking room, the underbelly of this place for it is dark in there, not only with cigarette smoke but with alcohol and drugs and people who seem to be wasting their lives. And maybe that is why i find myself there, and why i pull away – so many fascinating stories of lives and dreams, some similar to my own. And so many seemingly broken down. I am not as lonely here, but i don’t always like who i see in the mirror. I imagine i am on a ship in my bed, with its curtains around. The vibrations of the city get to me.

Part of me came on the way to Port Townsend, the place where i will go tomorrow. It has called back and forth over the years, so i cannot judge this process until i see what happens there. It has been a place of dreams, a nice small town that seems to work, with arts and culture and nature too, but a place i never felt i could stay.

And i also thought of Alaska, that mysterious inside passage up the coast which I’m certain is in a world of its own. But the more i see Alaska is not where to go, but with the amount of energy invested in it, it is still a place that i might end up. Several are here in the hostel on their ways up there, poor uneducated southerners going to work on the fish processing boats, 14-16 hours a day, 7 days a week, for cents more an hour than minimum wage. The overtime and living on the ship is how they can take their earnings home with them. And when i think of Alaska i think of selling poison at the convenience store and living in my tent in the rain and blow drying socks and shoes in the public bathroom. It too has beauty, and at times i was alive, but i know that summer, something in me died. i learned many lessons i still value and hang on to a few casual friends, but i do not believe it is something i want to experience again

On my way up here, and as i was writing before, i realized that the north is where i have more often gone when i have felt the need to run and hide and given up on other dreams. And come to think of it, this area in general is where i gave up on many dreams, and ran back to when i did not know where to go. Its beauty seductive in a nurturing way, but it is also a place that closed on in and a place where i spent much time wandering lost. And maybe that is why this depression comes on, an emotion i have felt here so many times before, and while I am not conscious of it when i plan to come, buried inside it is the most profound memory.

And that voice comes back, just give up on your dreams, who were you to imagine that you ever could. Tears run down my face and snot drips onto the keyboard, and i can’t help feeling that maybe they were right. I have died inside so many times, and i have survived all right, but the body is more worn and all is ragged, and do i just give up the fight, for that is how it has felt so much of my life, a fight to preserve the integrity of that light inside.

i now remember saying i was a survivor as i sat doing phone surveys in Vancouver so many years ago, my university diploma and dreams set aside, and i walking in the rain with teary vacant eyes. i remember sitting looking at the want ads and trying so desperately to find something that called to me, and doing temp office jobs oh so badly. And i think of Victoria, going back there, finally working for minimum wage, the roommate who told me not to dream, and going into that employment office day after day staring blankly at the screen.

And i think of all those broken dreams and i wonder what brought me back here again. is it because my situation is so desperate, that it is time to give up on the dream, but i see all those empty and cracked shells of people on the street and i can let it go again. For i am empty now, and though this is self indulgent crap, for the moment it is all that i have. Is it the throwing away the dream time after time, or is the clinging on to what thin threads that remained, that has brought me to this place once again. And i feel the sadness and i feel the tears, and the heaviness and emptiness i carried with me all these years. I said that my memories of these places were gone, but as i write they come up again. And can i write them through.

Am i like one of those who passed through this place on the way to the gold rush trail? I say to myself my dreams are not of gold, but they are of somehow doing something in the world. but the truth be told, the way i have lived, i would have never made it up there. I would have been one of the many who turned back disappointed and broke. And is it false gold that i chase, and why do i have to venture so far o fail to find what i am looking for and to find that the true gold is contained within.

And maybe it is the rain that brings these memories up, and maybe it is the denseness of energy here that keeps them in place. At first i thought that it was this city itself, but now i see that it is so much more. But while my memories of this place are few,

The first time i arrived here in 1986 was on the Green Tortoise bus though there was no hostel here at the time. It was late night, after dark and we arrived in a deserted parking lot. I went to the YMCA/YWCA downtown in the office building zone. The streets were deserted beneath the closed tall buildings, only a few sleeping on the street, and i felt alone and a bit afraid, feeling that no one would be around if i needed to yell for help. It was the first time i had been in an empty core of a city, and i wanted to get out. I know i only stayed a day or two and then made my way up to Victoria or Vancouver for the first time and come to think of it, i saw the beauty and felt out of place and hurried on away from there.

I returned again in 1988, and hostelling international had opened a hostel down the steps right near here in pikes place market. I had been in Victoria after a summer in Banff and had wandered a bit on Vancouver island, in the rain in Nanaimo, and felt depressed and lost. I wanted to return to the east on the green tortoise bus, but i had my dates mixed up and found that the last bus out had left a few days before. The stairs down to the hostel were narrow and dark and i wondered who might be lurking there. Went on a tour to mount rainier, but never saw the mountain beneath the clouds. Went out and saw a film on Da Vinci in the university district, felt the neighborhoods here in the west so spread out. Made my way back up to Victoria and headed back east via prince Rupert and PEI, only to return to Vancouver several months later even sadder than before. the dreams of my university days and writing a book were long gone by then.

I did not come to this coast for years, but passed through the city on my way up to Vancouver in 2001. I was running back north after 9/11 and had a few hours after a 24-hour greyhound ride up from san Francisco on a completely full bus. i stepped outside to get a coffee and did not know where to go. I saw some people on the way to work with starbucks cups in their hands, i tried to ask where the starbucks was, but seeing the pack on my back no one would respond. i was much more clean cut then and my travel clothes were new, but i will never forget the looks of horror, contempt and fear that were directed at me that day.

I stayed here for a week or two a couple years ago. But then again by the time i arrived i had given up on my dreams, of writing, of walking a pilgrimage towards god, of finding a place where i could be. I was so lost then, that i no longer knew what they were. I had told myself the previous fall that i would go up to Alaska, which had once been a forbidden dream (another version of the story yet to be told), if i still was wandering by spring. Spring came around and up there i went, though in my time here in Seattle i discovered many museums on free days, and walked around the different neighborhoods, and found that this place was not all gloom – but it did not leave a positive impression on me.

But it is not Seattle i came back to, but this area in general. For the northwest has called me back time and time again, and each time i have found the heaviness waiting here for me. And have i clung to it, or has it clung to me, and it is time to leave the clinging behind. And it’s funny I no longer have any desire to return to Canada. Seattle is more on the BC back packer trail and leaflets and signs for hostels on Vancouver Island and the mainland abound. Though I have been to many of them, the memories have faded away. Perhaps not the memories but the clinging that held me on. For except when i sit and write, i have not felt a strong emotion towards the place, though i have visualized Vancouver in the sun, And maybe, just maybe, i have let that phase of my life go – not with anger, not with remorse, but just as something that was. For all my experiences there, the happy and the sad, the connections made and those let go, have helped make me who i am today. And if nothing else, i came to appreciate the nature around – the forests, mountains and the seas, and the powerful spirits that live there.

And did i need to come back here to tell the story that i wished to tell, and being here i tell a very different story than if i had written it from away. For often i remember the sun and forget the grey. And the grey was so real for me, and i know i cannot just push it away, but i can be like the colour no more.

I was tempted to go for a moment to Seaside on my way back up here, but did not want to bring forth the energies of that place, for they were heavy too. I hesitated and then said to myself, i do not need to relive the memories there, and I can leave them behind. But as i have sunk into this rainy zone i thought of one story that i wish to share.

I think though of a woman i met last time i was there, i was still feeling the high of harbin through i had been brought down some in Eugene. She was lonely and began to tell me her story, how she had stopped drinking a year before and then her life basically went to hell. She had an accident broke her hip, never really fixed and lost her place in the process. I let her go on and on at first, feeling that she just needed to let it out. but on and on and on it went until i could be around her no more, my energy drained away. For the story became one long constant whine and more self-pitying ever day. And for a while, that story became her life.

it got me to thinking while we need to speak out to let the energy process through, not hold it within and let it stagnate and grow (like the energy does in the northwest) and at what point does that story become itself, and feeds the negative energy within.. And in my telling of my sadness here, what process am i feeding through. And can we transmute that energy within or do we need a light to shine on us. And i think that is here on the coast, that the cycle becomes intensified, fewer places for it to sweep out. And as I write this story, I think I feed it too. For this is part of my story, and one of the lens i filter much through but i must remember it is only a part and there are other lens with which to see. And i realize the story effects what i see and helps perpetuate itself.

The last time i was here was but for a day, in late May on my way from Indralaya on Orcas Island down to Harbin in California. The gloom and rain and all so much more had brought me down up there, or maybe it was in the thickness of the air; energies returned to me and could not be shaken off and i knew i had to return down south. I had come from port townsend, a place that i love but i had to journey on. It was a hot sunny time at the end of May, and i felt the joy in this place. I had been out in the country for such a long time, and the diversity of the place sung to me, I went up to the area around capitol hill, to find groceries and a bite to eat. the sun was shining and all felt alive, sitting in a park where people and dogs played and the streets were full of life. And it is funny, because that was the main memory i had when i came back up here this time.

And i listen to the rain outside.

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What a difference the sun can make, opening up one’s horizons to the outer world. Opening up to the wisdom above. i crawl out of the insular world, the cocoon created by the clouds, and the inner reflection brought on by the rain.

Though the sun did shine for two days here, the weekend when all strolled around, the last two days have been cloudy, with periods of rain – not the steady rain predicted on the weather sites, but still, the cold moisture hung in the air. And the mood around changed, in myself, but i also saw it in others, and in the feeling on the emptier streets. People wore heavier coats and did not stroll, moved forward with purpose, of moved slowly – heads and bodies hunkered down. The clouds created a cocoon, one which i crawled into.

The sun came out today, though in reality it never disappeared, hidden only by the clouds above. Even then it shown through for a few minutes at a time, the patches of blue sky were surrounded by the clouds. You would not know when the rain might burst forth, and remained alert, on guard for it, not quite comfortable in the sun. Not quite trusting in its presence, wondering when it would be pulled away like a carpet from under your feet.
I talked with several who had just arrived here, and this was the only weather they saw. from what they could see, this was it, San francisco was a cool damp place. This the only version of the city they knew, and could not imagine it in another light – for except for photographs they had nothing else to go on. Cloudy damp weather was the reality. And they wanted to go to where it was warm. But two days before there had been sun, and that is how i remembered it when i came through over a month ago. And i have also been here during endless days of pouring rain.

The city seems different on a sunny day, and it makes me think about the sun and the clouds we carry inside. How life and ourselves feel one way when the light does shine, and when our eyes are clouded, or we rain inside (or out) how the very same locale can feel very different, and we are often convinced that is the way it is – and not just at the moment. And we want it to change or be complacent in its sweetness. Like the times when weather hangs on endlessly and you begin to feel that is all there is. Be it the sun that lights up the day, or the clouds and rain that hide it away. And at some times and in some locales the weather is the same for days, or even months at a time.

i think of places i have been, marked by definite seasons of wet and dry – much more than here, where you know what to expect, when the rains will come, cycles in time. Predictable or so it seems, enduring, rejoicing or feeling oppressed, but with an idea of when the next one will come. But with global warming or climate change you no longer have an idea of what will really come and then we become unnerved.

And even though we want the light, if that is all it can burn and dry up life. I think of a time last summer, on the eastern side of the sierras, when rain was not to be had, this was normal for the time but it had been dry for many years, in the evenings clouds would gather above the mountains around the valley, and we would listen to thunder and watch the lightning and eagerly wait for rain – which did not come. And i think of sunshine that lasts for long, how you forget to appreciate it each day. When i first got here a month ago, it was sunny after much rain, and you could feel the joy that all contained, and the effort people made to bask in it. but after two weeks the mood had changed, still uplifted but more complacent, was taken for granted, still enjoyed, but without the constant thankfulness put into it.

And i have lived in locales with endless rain, where you sit and wait for the sun. I think of my summer in seward, where clouds loomed above most of the days – a more than two week period of rain (preceded by another not as severe) the rain stopped for an hour one day, and a tiny patch of blue appeared in the sky, and we all pointed to it – blue sky, blue sky, for you had almost forgotten what it looked like, no longer remembered it there. Or like my times in vancouver, in the season of rain, when leaden sky hung endlessly, and then it would lift and the mountains came out, the ones hidden for long, and it you had never been there in the sun, you would have not known that the mountains were there, and many people came and went without even seeing them. And just as too much sun can dry and burn, too much rain can drown all out, as watercourses overflow

Sun and clouds, both within and without, affect both our perceptions of a place and the place itself. What we notice and what we see, but also what is there – it is brown or green, are their leaves, do streams trickle or rush. And so it is within ourselves. And the duration of the periods may be long or short, and the don’t always behave predictably.

Last week was one of those times, where the weather would change many times a day. Not like those place which expect an afternoon rain, or the fog to roll in or out in a pattern of sorts. But then again it is spring – the time of renewal and rebirth, and with that growth uncertainty. The sun peers out in the morning, the sky a brilliant blue, so much more after the rain of the past few days, but then clouds roll in, temperature drops, and air becomes moist. Clouds and rain fly in, unpredictably, appearing from nowhere, and then floating away, a day begins in sun and turns to rain and the back again, or you sit in a patch of blue, see the clouds of different shapes and tones, in all directions, looming around. And you feel unprepared, just not knowing what will come – put it on, take it off, and what do you carry with you? How quickly can you shift, bounce around, unknowing. Can you move with it, live in the moment, or do you get thrown off kilter. But you get through and blossoms bloom and turn to leaves. it is the season of growth, which comes in spurts, and new life comes from within. But you turn around and all has changed, only to bounce back again.

I think of Ireland in the late spring when i was there a few years ago. The saying was if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change. And while there were days like that, the changes were more from day to day and not within. I expected rain, and so i was pleasantly surprised, not like those who came to California expecting a warm beach here in San Francisco. In some ways like the weather here of late – a day or two of sun, a few of heavy rain, and the in-between days. In some ways it is my favorite, for you can appreciate all, and get tired of none, and are reminded to live in the moment and the now…and that clinging to what was, just doesn’t work.

The city feels different on a sunny day after a spell of rain, and i learn to appreciate it more.

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