Somewhere in the world it is summer.
The local high school has recently celebrated graduation, and here in the northern hemisphere the summer solstice draws near. Yet as I sit on the wooden steps of the deck at my little writer’s cottage on the central California coast, fog swirls thickly through the trees, and the world is a shifting landscape of chilly greys and dark greens. I haven’t seen the sun in a week and there’s a linen scarf wrapped perpetually around my neck. Glancing at my iPhone earlier in the day, I noted that it is warmer and sunnier in London where I once resided. Summer, indeed.
In the early evening air , I pull my dark blue ‘hoodie’ a bit more snugly around me, but my feet are bare on the cool bricks beneath my soles. I’ve been working at the computer for much of the day, held captive by the task of transferring the Soul Artist Journal to its new, dedicated website. With nearly three years of entries, it is a significant project, albeit more tedious and repetitive than difficult.
I don’t do very well with computers. Like televisions and microwaves (neither of which I own), the electromagnetic output from them quickly makes me wobbly, a state that rather quickly progresses to nauseous, and then I’m soon ‘fried’ with a headache. (About a year ago, I wrote a three-part series on being electromagnetically sensitive and the negative effects of EMF’s/ ELF’s on the body. The posts were a bit ‘out there’ for some folks; a couple people thanked me for writing them, a few of the more close-minded unsubscribed. All good.)
As have shared in these posts, and also in the Appendix to The Bones and Breath, I’ve long ago learned that the best remedy for electromagnetic sensitivity and sickness is to be barefoot on the earth. In about twenty minutes, one feels restored and normal again—normal being entirely relative, I realize (most people probably wouldn’t consider me ‘normal’).
Over the years, I’ve tried most of the New Age remedies, from crystals to silicon patches, with little success. That said, high quality essential oils from woods (cedar, cypress, etc.) seem to help. The setup that works best for me is a wireless, battery operated, ergonomic keyboard and mouse connected to my Macbook, and keeping my feet on a grounded ‘earthing’ pad. But I still get wobbly quite quickly, especially with WiFi, so I have to limit my computer time. Being rather old fashioned, I write nearly everything longhand in a notebook with my trusty fountain pen, and if I could function in the world as a writer with a manual typewriter, by the gods, I would.
So as the day’s already dim light fades, I’m feeling a bit ‘fried’ and sitting on the steps of the deck, bundled up but with bare feet on the earth. Watching the fog trailing through the ghostly trees. Reminding myself that it is summer. In the distance, I hear the muffled voice of the sea, and the cool marine air smells just faintly of brine and resinous evergreens. Earlier, I rubbed an organic chicken inside and out with herbes de Provence and fleur de sel, and just before stepping outdoors I tucked it in the oven to roast fragrantly for a nourishing supper. Tasks of the day remain unfinished, and there are some noisy, familiar voices squabbling in my head, but as I rest on the step I push all that away and open my senses to the small fenced yard that is my existence in this moment.
The Grandmother, the venerable Monterey cypress who presides over the front of the cottage, stands just ten feet away, her great arms sweeping high, a thousand green-needled hands waving gently and stirring the mists. From where I sit, I reach out with my gaze and imagine laying hands upon her thick, roughly furrowed grey bark, as I do in actual practice each morning when I emerge from the cottage, barefoot, to greet the day in the quiet early hours.
When we extend the heart’s energetic field to encompass a living being (like a tree) and focus on how it feels, there is an immediate shift in respiration, an expansion, and a subtle relaxation of musculature as heart rhythms shift (near instantly) to a more ‘coherent’, health-inducing pattern. I feel as if I’ve sloughed some heavy weight from my shoulders, a sense of tranquility rippling through my being.
How important this little pause is, not merely to ‘reboot’ my body’s electrical system but simply to draw deeper into conscious relationship with this place where I dwell. I turn my gaze to the two camellia bushes polka-dotted with bright pink pompoms. The dark-green tangle of fragrant jasmine climbing the side of the garage. A spindly, forlorn, blight-stricken rose that just three days ago put forth a single, pale yellow offering—a miracle that seems to be the very beacon of hope, inspiration and beauty. In a less than ideal setting, not cared for properly other than the water I give it, a deep cellular intelligence has instructed, I must bloom.
Soul Artists fully understand that life is often less than perfect, that our situations are frequently suboptimal, yet still these individuals follow that inner longing to create. Unfurl, blossom, and shine. Like the small yellow rose and every living thing in nature, the soul’s innate impulse is to be in communion with the creativity and intelligence in which we are steeped at every moment. Everything is relationship.
As I’ve so often urged, here’s hoping that you will take a pause from whatever you are doing, step outdoors, and spend even just a few minutes opening your senses and heart wide. Find something of beauty to appreciate, even if that is simply a pot of pink geraniums on a neighbor’s balcony or a shapely tree along the sidewalk. It is summer somewhere in the world, but no matter the season or landscape, blessings are abundant and everywhere. Savor them, friend.
Against all odds, may you grow and bloom where you are planted.
[elephant journal published a version of this as “Barefoot on the Earth: Pausing to Reconnect“]