Two paths converged this week. I was listening to Neil Young:
I want to live
I want to give
I’ve been a miner for a heart of gold.
The saddest lyric in that song is:
and I’m getting old.
I thought about my searches for a heart of gold. What that meant to me was finding someone who would love me without ever hurting me. It was about me being loved, not so much about my loving.
And then I was reading Byron Katy, and very stark sentences leaped off the page: ultimately there is only you; you are your own suffering; you are your own happiness. And I thought about what had flitted through my mind as I hummed along with Neil: I’m the heart of gold.
It is the quality of my loving, which as always, includes loving myself, so that I don’t allow assault. But it’s about me. And I’m growing old
I was in an elementary school library this week doing volunteer work. As I shelved books, I thought about the first time I saw a library. I was nine. It was located at the school I’d just started. I remember the wonder of all the books around me. I remember selecting one about a boy in the Middle Ages. Was it a Newberry Award winner? Some day I’ll have to google and see. And I took one about Julius Caesar. Why? Very likely because it was there. Until then, the only books I’d touched were schoolroom readers and the comic books and historical novels I snuck from my grandfather’s shelf. A whole world had opened up for me, and I fell in it.
The day was spent on the coast, near a place called Christmas Bay, spent by the ocean, under a tarp we set up. The coast is brown, acorn and ivory, with seaweed the color of coffee grounds. The sea is fawn-colored, sand and silt mixed in, so you can’t see the bottom; sometimes there’s an olive tint to the water. On the horizon one can see a turquoise hue, but that seldom comes near shore. The sky is a blue white, pale with heat. The wetlands and salt grass, always a vibrant emerald, are showing the fatigue of our weather around the edges. But the water is tepid, pleasant; sometimes an oddly cool current touches the legs for an instant. Gulls and sandpipers and pelicans hunt the waves or scamper decisively up and down the sand. There’s nothing stunningly beautiful about this part of the Texas coast. No one grows magenta surprises of bougainvillea or the canary yellows and blues of coastal vines. Charm isn’t a attribute bait shops or hamburger stands cultivate around here.
We were bohemians today, taking our cooler, our chairs, our tarp, finding an empty space on the beach, enjoying the breeze because Houston is baking. Its lush green is browning. My memories of this drab shore stretch back decades. We never went to the beach in an elegant way. There were always tuna sandwiches with a touch of sand, too much sun, blistering and peeling skin for days afterwards, the itch of a wet bathing suit on the long ride back into town. But today was good. It was good to get out of town. It was good to hear the ocean, to watch the birds. Brown and fawn and ivory and olive and blue and the emerald of the wetlands are the colors of my beach palette. I wore sun block and a big hat. I was happy.