Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Across The Harbor

Paco had grown old in spite of his willful opposition to the idea. The wind from the ocean knifed through his windbreaker. The sharp cliffs of Salina Cruz veered high above the ocean below, and now as he sat on the uppermost perch of the highest cliff for many surrounding miles, Paco began to think about a woman he had known many years before.

On his right sat his wife Raina. They peered into the horizon above the oceans surface anticipating the setting of the sun over their native Mexico. On this night it seemed rather useless as a thick fog of gray mist clung to the bottoms of the clouds overhead. In the distance Paco could just make out the steady blink from the lighthouse at Caruba. The ever present sea gulls soared through the fog as if it were only a part of another days work along the beach, their loud squawking announcing whatever it is gulls announce with such hardy proclamation. Paco and Raina had sat on this same rock on countless nights holding hands and understanding in unison that many of the mysteries of life are easier to make peace with if they first considered the mighty ocean alongside their own mortal ignorance. Paco was not an ignorant man really. He was a scholar of physics, having held the title of Professor in the United States while teaching in California. He was retired now and he and Raina had come home to Salina Cruz and their homeland.

The woman on Paco’s mind was not known to Raina, she was instead a memory of Paco’s passion and romance from his wandering days. He dared not speak of her now; there was no point these many years later. The woman had been unique in a thousand ways to Paco’s senses. Born in Thailand and an immigrant to the United States, she had positioned herself front row and center of Paco’s physics lectures.

There were so many memories of her that Paco would often ruminate about their time while he sat with Raina on the cliff. He meant no disrespect to his wife. It was something about the cliff and the ocean and the mystery of nature that reminded him of her native beauty and wisdom. She taught him to look into everyone’s eyes, not just the faces of his students and passersby’s in his day, but to look deep into their eyes. The eyes, she said, were the harbor of the soul and the reflector of all emotion. Over time he had come to understand that she was right.

She taught him to dance, something he had only done when it was forced upon him. On a beach in California, much like the one below him now he had danced an entire night with her, learning to move without self consciousness around the small fire she had constructed, her flowing skirt billowing out in the wind, her panty clad small bottom entrancing in its predictable appearances below the edges of the skirt as she twirled.

She taught him the power of water. She showed him how to see the soul of water and she had even taught him how to divorce the physics of the water from his mind and stand in the pouring rain with a smile on his face as big as all of Mexico. She had taught him he didn’t even need to understand why it made him so happy. She said “Happy is enough by itself.” He didn’t always understand, but he loved all of her ideas and challenges, and he always tried to understand all she had to say, even when it seemed bizarre to his scientific nature.

There was one saying she taught him that had always stuck with him. He had the saying written on an old piece of paper. He had kept it carefully stored over the years, and now he had forgotten where it was kept. It didn’t matter really. He knew the saying by heart and its deeper meaning still evaded him. Scrawled on the now lost paper was something she told him in their last days together. If Paco closed his eyes he could still see it written clearly, “Sexual Energy and Spiritual Energy are identical Energy. When Source Energy flows through you, it flows through you. You cannot separate one from the other.”

The physicist in Paco always got in his way of understanding this saying. He felt it was true, but he could not explain it with equations. He knew energy as a slew of equations, a cascading flow of numbers across a chalkboard intended to prove that something about energy was true or maybe false.

Paco stared across the ocean at the lighthouse beacon, its rhythmic blinking pulsed on and off, its signal insistent and steady. Raina buttoned her coat and pointed at a freighter in the distance. She shivered slightly, a signal to Paco that their date with the sunset was concluding. He knew that he would be back the next night to contemplate what the young student had told him. It was funny, he thought, that such a young girl from another side of the world had given him a saying about energy he knew to be true, but could not prove. After all, he should have been the one handing out theories about energy.

As Paco looked across the harbor at the fogged in beacon he realized his lack of understanding was bound up in the metaphor of the lighthouse. Maybe this energy of the soul was like the rain, he didn’t really need to understand to know the feelings it brought him. Perhaps the fog meant nothing; after all he knew exactly where the lighthouse lay. There are times when our personal fog obscures the reality of what the small lights signal, he thought, but we still know the truth of what lies at the base of the light, often from memory, therefore the fog has no real power.

Raina rose and brushed her hand across the seat of her pants, then held the same hand out to Paco. He smiled and looked into her eyes. She wanted to know what he was thinking about, but he could see that she had decided against asking.


Enemy of the Republic said...

I was just about to write to you to say: Post! Now you have and I'm too weary from the day to do it justice. I shall return. I'm always happy to see something from you.

Reach said...

beautifully written. When any conversation of the human senses occur, why is it that memory is never listed? Many times our memory carries much more than the original feel of an occasion.


patti_cake said...

Raina is a wise woman.
Even I know sometimes it's better not to ask! Some things we just have to keep to ourselves to feed the soul.

Steve said...


Lynilu said...

One wonders Raina's perception of the fog and the lighthouse and the gulls. We often assume that one's own perception is truth; however, while the lighthouse and the fog and the gulls are real, the path to understanding may be quite different for each person. Some of us have to see or hear or feel to believe it is there while others accept the memory of previous experience or even accept someone else's word that the lighthouse is there beyond the fog. Neither is wrong ... or possibly right, for that matter. Perhaps I see the lighthouse as being tall, reaching for the sky and giving light, while you see it as solidly built of stones, a real engineering feat as it withstands decades of forceful tides. The lighthouse is what it is for each of us as we understand it. But a lighthouse is a lighthouse is a light house. Isn't it?

Enemy of the Republic said...

Have you read Dante? "Sexual Energy and Spiritual Energy are identical Energy. When Source Energy flows through you, it flows through you. You cannot separate one from the other.” I think of him as he rises to Paradise with his beloved Beatrice, who is now a saint of heaven. I think you have hit on something truly sublime and very rare to feel. I commend you.