The house Jack rents faces an artificial lagoon ringed with houses in San Rafael, near the canal opening into the San Francisco Bay. There’s a little island with reeds, grasses, and small trees directly across from the house, hiding the houses behind it. There must be fifty ducks swimming and yes, ducking! under water to feed near the mudbank while white egrets prance regally nearby.
I like to go walk around the bay when the early mornings are covered with a soft blanket of maritime fog. Fog is a magic cloak that turns the visible world invisible. The world emerges from the velvet grey mist to the tune of seagulls calling, song sparrows darting, bufflehead ducks and mallards bobbing on slender wavelets of tide streaming in, watery lips gently kissing the rocky shore. As the sun rises, the maritime layer dissipates, thinning as the light comes through. Occasional humans walk with their dogs along the paths; they mostly come out in the sunshine. I hide from the too-bright sun, and wait for sunset or the subtle light of cloudy days.
Sitting by the windows overlooking the lagoon, I want to tell you about walking by the bay, feeling my legs covering ground, seeing distance change into closeness. Distance from my own nature, from my own being transforms into intimacy – the felt sense of muscles moving, heart beating, gladness flowing, love blooming for this world and every single thing in it. I walk towards a faraway point and soon it’s the landscape of right here, familiar and near. Time and space are fluid, the future point becomes the path I’m on right now, the distant shore moves imperceptibly closer.
A woman with ample hips pushes a baby carriage. As I pass them, the bundle of baby catches my eye and we exchange glances. Her eyes are open and bright; she lies perfectly still, looking up at the sky, the trees, her mother’s face – an embodiment of emptiness and silence. It’s a fleeting moment of wordless presence. The mother and I smile briefly as her baby quietly communicates her existence, like a feather or a leaf. This is the world of suchness, of things as they are – baby, path, birds, the moment, just like this. The walking path is wet, dotted with scarlet maple leaves and fallen feathers. Just to exist is beauty enough. Nature transmits this truth, without words.