- 1.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – Home
- 2.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – The Gravity of Relationship
- 3.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – Light
- 4.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – Beyond Voting: Albert and Kristina
- 5.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – The Energy of Summer
- 6.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – Zen Koan
- 7.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – Looking at Death
- 8.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – The Last Time
- 9.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – Stick-to-it-ive-ness
- 10.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – Forces of Nature
- 11.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – Courage
- 12.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – September 3rd
- 13.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – The Illusion of Time
- 14.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – Finding Voice
- 15.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – A Talk Amongst Rocks
- 16.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – How to be in Conversation with the Universe
A Talk Amongst Rocks
Pen to Paper, 40 Minute Writing with Revision
Henry David Thoreau and I sit amongst a pile of quartzite rocks. We are perched as if we are sitting across from each other at a coffee shop. I am just settling in. The dogs, tired, lie at my feet. I feel we’ve interrupted something. He’d left the house early that morning, and I’d been looking for him all afternoon.
“Hello Kristina,” he says, seeming slightly annoyed.
“Hi, Henry. Did I interrupt?” I look around for a place to set my water bottle.
“Well, yes, you did. I could just now hear. I’ve been sitting here for seven hours.”
“Seven hours. What the hell for?” I ask, a bit shocked.
“What the hell for? Seriously, Kristina? I know you. I saw you were listening to a YouTube about physics again today. Matter being 99.9% empty space. Every single thing being waves.”
“Yup, the scientists say it’s true.”
“Well, this is also true about this rock. 99.9% empty space. Waves. This is why I am working to be in conversation with these rocks. It is taking me lifetimes, but I refuse to live the life of quiet desperation, as you know. The trickiest part is learning how to drop away from the other sounds of this forest. The bugs are loud, the birds are louder. Rocks speak in the absolute silence only.”
We both smile. I see joy in his bony face. I feel happy as he has been feeling down lately. Earlier in the kitchen, he told me he is purposely entering a new phase – a well of ancestral grieving – given a world in transition the way it is. I am reflecting on his path – feeling his way into a darkness he has not faced before.
A burst of cicada song rises from the cottonwood trees, pulling my attention back to the moment; we both look toward the patch of trees as the sound of cicadas becomes almost deafening. I notice a gust of wind pass through the trees, leaves waving.
“If it takes such a long time to find the singing waves of a rock, I mean they are solid objects, why do you do it Henry?”
“How will you have relationship with nature if you do not listen with nature? No matter how silently she speaks? I am finding myself better known by these rocks.”
“You are reminding me of a movie I saw on Saturday, BladeRunner 2049. There was no nature. Only fucked-up humans and robots wanting to be free from humans.”
“Whoa. The apocalyptic vision,” he says.
“I loved the movie.”
“Tell me more. I like to keep up on popular culture,” he offers, surprising me.
“Every movie preview was a variation on the end of the world.”
“Ah, yes. The Christian Experiment! All those imaginations determined to live out the stories of the bible, down to the very last chapter. Amazing – a whole nation founded and operating on those ancient stories. The Great American Experiment!”
“Henry, as you know, words are conduits to the spirit. I understand why so many people find the stories of the bible to be informing their vision of where we’ve been in history and where they believe we are going.”
“Why has man rooted himself thus firmly in the earth but that he may rise in the same proportion into the Heavens above? We must all go down to the bedrock and up to heavens, in our individual journey, just like a seed. An apocalyptic Hollywood, creating the world’s culture, the American Dream over. Haa! I’d spend eternity in prison to be able to permanently end this thought slavery. Free your goddamn sky, or drown in it.”
“Change is happening, Henry. I feel it in my body, in my work. I see it in the way the sun comes through my camera. Evolutionary change. Are we all like the robots in Blade Runner who want to be free of the slavery paradigm? An apocalypse? Don’t we all need a new story for America?” I feel brave speaking these words out loud. I notice my body open, like a tree in the wind.
“Nobody has to live out somebody else’s story. You know this, Kristina, as much as your life has tried to destroy you.” He opens his skeletal arms wide. I look deep into his shining eyes. I feel as if he is somehow holding all beings – past, present, and future. “Here is the elemental language we are to master. I once wrote, Fish in the sky whose bottom is pebbly with stars. Now let’s go eat breakfast. I’ve collected some fresh eggs from your wonderful chicken coop.”
I nod, now looking at my phone, distracted already with reading a note from a stranger friend via Facebook Messenger.
“Listen to this Henry, this woman says she isn’t killing herself because of what she feels from photos I share.” I put my phone in my pocket, grabbing my water bottle, and then Henry’s skeletal hand. The dogs rise, and follow us closely behind.
“Find your voice. Live in nature. Or lose your bodies. Now. Stop being dumb. You can’t own nature. ”
Conversations with Dead People is a series of stories which show up in my meditative practice, Contemplative Writing. With this practice I sit with pen and paper, twenty minutes, and write to a prompt from a meditative space. I share these stories with minimal edits to share the depth, the directness, the deep body sense, I experience with my teachers.
Albert Einstein pops into my writing often, we hang out, giving us both a direct chance to explore the illusion of time. Albert feeds me tremendous encouragement to trust the irresistible urge I have to grieve, and heal, through death.
We also meet Thomas Merton, Georgia O’Keeffe, Carl Jung, and more through this weekly blog, Conversations with Dead People: A Series. Please join us each week.