Several years ago we visited friends living on a remote ocean point in Maine. My husband Rob and I rode bikes to the little beach at the end of the road and I dumped my bike and headed like a homing pigeon for a rock outcropping speckled with rocks and shells. He removed his helmet and headed to the water’s edge with his camera, tuned toward the speckle of random people.
Unaware of my helmet, bedazzled by debris, I knelt in puddles of sea water collected in crevices and examined the ocean’s offal. At first I took little notice of the folks around me, keen on the booty, stuffing my pockets with rocks with faces, sticks washed silky by sandy salt water and then I saw that I was in the midst of a group. They were all ages and except for a few adult supervisors, they were mentally challenged.
I took a seat and stock of the scene. Someone named Betsy kept wandering away and her supervisors seemed engrossed in conversation interrupted now and again to halfheartedly call her back. I watched with dread as she purposefully wandered toward the road.
They eventually reined her in and I got tired of people watching and turned back to collecting. Suddenly Rob was at my side grinning to find me in what appeared to be a group project with the mentally challenged people. He leaned in and spoke gently like I was a delicate mental case:
“Is that your rock? Have you found a nice rock?”
I was still wearing my helmet. You can imagine how it appeared. It wasn’t really much of a stretch as my momentary companions and I were riding the same contented wave.
Today I walked the road to Radnor Lake and took the trail back home. Along the way I paused to rest my aching leg that’s been giving me trouble for some time. A tree trunk 10 feet tall and I stood face to face. She had lacy spires that looked like silver sculpture atop a temple and what seemed to be the right place for her waist was shifted a good bit to the right. Facing her, my right hip which is also shifted right began a Ouija board slide to match hers which brought it to the left. The pain in my leg subsided as I stood still waiting to see if her body had anything left to communicate to mine. And I left. It was the truest feeling of kinship I had felt that day.
I write these stories down because it pleases me to remember. I publish them because if you consider citta- vrtta- nirodha*, you might see the yoga here.
*cessation of the turnings of thought– as described in the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali