Note: I’ll return to looking at the outer world and what it all might mean tomorrow, and yeah, I know a hell of a lot has happened in three days! Today, I recount my own experience during this time.
Yesterday morning, I was showering in a marble bathroom that itself had three rooms in a resort hotel with lakes and fountains and palm trees in the desert near Las Vegas. (That bathroom was about the size of the yurt I lived in for 20 years in the Tetons. The lakes and fountains? Grrrrr. What are they thinking? That desert gets 3″ of rain per year! . .)
24 hours later, this morning, I was back home in Bloomington, Indiana (having arrived at midnight), fishing dead fish and polliwogs out of our GANG garden pond.
In those 24 hours, I participated in a Vegas meeting with co-owners of an office building in Virginia that was called as an emergency meeting. We were there because the new managers of this building wanted the co-owners of each of the many co-owned properties they manage to meet each other and understand our options for the future when the current loans run out. Banks are no longer loaning to this kind of financial structure which requires 100% of the owners to agree when important decisions are made.
Yes, the 25 owners of this building had never met each other and probably never would have, had the new managers not insisted that we come, at their expense. I wasn’t the only one who dreaded the weekend. I should have known I wouldn’t be the only one. Of course, all each of us really wants to do is continue receiving monthly distributions, and not have to think about it further. But that doesn’t work anymore. The old financial system no longer functions as before.
I have been “living on” this monthly distribution, as have many of the owners who depend on it for retirement income. So the mood was somber. And it’s amazing how easily strangers can connect when they have something in common. Something that feels like “life or death” — though of course it is not (except for the body). As my son Colin said, when I told him about the meeting, “It’s like being in the military, the soldiers bond because they are all in a life or death situation together.”
(Some of the properties in question are already underwater, no equity left. Doomed, without some kind of new structure to replace the TIC (tenants in common) structure. Others, like the one I’m in, are in better shape, until 2015, when, in our case, the loan comes due.)
I like to think that this kind of ease in getting to know each other will also hold true when and if the global financial situation breaks down entirely. Like to think that once humans do realize that we really must learn to cooperate in order to save our planet and our very souls, that we will.
Of course I found it darkly fascinating that the meeting at that faux-Hawaiian resort near Las Vegas happened to fall on a fabled, fated “Friday the 13th”! The old pagan calendar had 13 months, because of 13 moon cycles in a year. So of course Christianity would turn that day into something evil. Even now, many high rise buildings contain no number 13. And if the moon governs our emotional tides, how fitting that we co-owners of these office buildings that are in present or future trouble would meet on that one day that reflects the extreme significance of the emotional moon, that for which, as Gurdjieff said, we are “food.”
On the morning that I was due to leave home for my hour drive to Indy for a 6:30 flight, I got up at 3 am to do my yoga/chikung/taichi routine. And found myself asking that I be able to go through what I knew would be a grueling 44-hour “adventure” with an attitude of gratitude. Indeed, that I would feel privileged to be a member of a group of people who are facing, together, something that feels so significant to each of us.
I asked that I be allowed to feel myself, during this 44-hour adventure, not just as a 3rd dimensional being, but as a 4th, 5th, 6th, even 7th dimensional being — whatever that might mean and whatever it would bring.
And guess what? Yes, it was stressful. Mostly, for me, because of my body’s extreme sensitivity to being on a plane for two consecutive days. Otherwise, it was fascinating. And my gratitude continues.
Okay, you might ask so how does this relate to dead fish. What’s that about? Why that too, and why now? Furthermore, how can I go through this experience as an adventure, rather than feeling absolutely awful? Because I did feel awful at first. Poor fish! And poor Lucy, who “did it,” and who loves little creatures more than anyone I know. She forgot to turn off the hose, which had been in the pond, when she watered the rabbit in my absence. Why too much hose water kills fish, I don’t know, but I suspect it’s the chlorine, which I’ve heard, evaporates quickly. Possible confirmation of that theory: one of the fish began to come back to life within minutes of shutting off the hose, and a few others started to move soon after. (Of course, it could be something leaching from the hose itself, which I’ve heard contains lead.)
Interestingly enough, Lucy’s boyfriend is a graduate student at SPEA, where they study environmental matters. The two of them came over for a formal condolence meeting with me, and he is now fascinated with this problem, will research it.
Me? Now that I’m over feeling awful, I realize that after two years of overwintering, there were at least 100 fish (most of them goldfish, others unknown that had come in by birds?) in the pond. We had started with a dozen. If even a few survive, we will be able to replenish the little school. My son Colin came over and helped me scoop up the dead fish, at least 80 so far, and bury them in the garden beds, to increase fertility. Just as we crumbled up the cob oven and sprinkled the garden beds with cob (made of sand, clay and straw), last November, during our Ceremony of Impermance, so now, the fish.
And dead polliwogs! At least 20 so far, of three different sizes. I had known we had frogs, but had never actually seen a polliwog, and had no way of knowing that the frogs have already had three different birth cycles this spring. So the deaths of these poor little defenseless creatures increased our understanding of the critters that inhabit the pond.
I’ve been going in and out of the garden this afternoon, spotting more and more dead fish and polliwogs as they float to the surface, and burying them. Strangly, I don’t feel awful anymore. Indeed, I feel regenerated! Not sure why. But I do know this: despite my dread of that plane trip and what I would find in Las Vegas, I enjoyed myself immensely. I was sure that I would meet people with whom I had absolutely nothing in common. I was wrong.
Each of us needs to connect with this earthly life in order to live here in a body. For now, “money” fills a need, despite its grossly unequal distribution. Many of the co-owners are, like me, no longer “rich.” (The other TIC I was in went completely underwater a few years ago.)
Now that I know myself better, I realize that what I really want to do with the money I inherited from my husband is to further the goal of transforming my neighborhood into an ecovillage, a little urban farm. Hopefully, at some point I will be able to get out of the TIC and use the money from that exchange to buy another house in the neighborhood. Perhaps I will be so fortunate. In any case, I feel grateful that this new management saw fit to make sure that the co-owners of each of the properties they manage actually met each other, that we would fly in from Minnesota, and Nebraska, and Texas, and California, and Florida, and Seattle, and wherever else we live, to a resort to meet each other, discover our common vulnerability in the 3D world, and begin the process of deciding to learn how to work together for the good of all, knowing that only when all of us feel secure, will each of us feel secure.
Perhaps the fish and the polliwogs were sacrificed to the fire of this transformation that we, in our little group, mirrored for the whole.
Here are a few pond pictures, both death and regeneration.
Look in the middle of the picture below, to see little fish, all of them absolutely still, hugging the bottom. When they turn sideways, we know it’s over. Then they fill with gas and float to the surface. Some may yet make it through this passage.
The next picture shows some fish that came alive after I turned off the hose, and gathered in a shallow corner with an overhang of rock. Why that shallow corner? I also found many dead fish and polliwogs here.
But, in the midst of death, rebirth! This photo shows a tiny section of the carpet that lines the pond, how a microclimate has established itself with plants that mostly came in from the wind and birds.
And this photo is of. . . of what? For the life of me, I can’t remember this common flower’s name. But it’s the first of its kind to bloom this spring.
Let’s face it. Life and death, they mingle.