In the musical “Sweet Charity”, there’s a song with a chorus that often repeats in my head (and occasionally out of my mouth) – “The rhythm of life has a powerful beat/Puts a tingle in your fingers and a tingle in your feet/Rhythm in the bedroom, rhythm in the street/Yes, the rhythm of life has a powerful beat”
I’m not tingling this morning, let along feeling the beat. I think I’m working off of the kind of hum a light bulb makes before it burns out. Ok, that’s a bit severe – I’m not tired of writing (how can I be when this site is barely four months old), or tired of consulting, or tired of being retired. My rhythm is just off. my sense of timing has been disturbed. Ergo, no tingle.
We got back from four days in Puerto Rico last night. On the flight home, I felt like we had been gone for weeks and began filling my head with my ‘to-dos’ and the ache behind my eyes began. By the time the taxi pulled into our driveway my list had given birth to more lists and I could only isolate the top priorities – check in with the kids, grocery store run, trip to PetsMart for more dog food, piles of critical mail that must need immediate attention…my heart begins to accelerate and I haven’t even put the damn key in the door.
I was wrong on all counts – w-r-o-n-g. The truth of the matter is that the half-and-half didn’t spoil, we have enough coffee, the fruit isn’t rotten (though we could use some bananas), no need to head to PetsMart for another week or more, more junk mail than real mail and lots of emails but none that make me groan with guilt for delaying my response. So – four days is just four days. This is just too much to wrap my head around. How can it be that absolutely nothing critical happened? All just went along as it should. This is clearly a reality for someone smarter than me.
Take me out of my daily environment and I lose all sense of perspective – even when there’s no time difference between where I’ve been and where I’m going. I become part of wherever I am, almost as if there was nothing that preceded it. If ever this truth was underscored, it was made clear to me after a late evening boat trip (we’re talking small motor boat holding no more than eight people) out onto a bay in which bio-luminessence is evident in the blackness of night. To get to the bay, this lone boat winded its way through a narrow lagoon with mangroves for walls and a roof over our head. Through the lagoon there was no sky, no sense of being anywhere other perhaps the set of a Wes Craven movie. Occasionally the Captain would shine a light on a large iguana balanced on a branch, indifferent to the intrusion; ribbons of translucent snakeskin left in aged, gnarled roots, as its owner slithered away at some point comfortable in a newer version of himself/herself; a lone bird sleeping peacefully with feathers that were startlingly white and orange and a beak so black one couldn’t discern its beginning or end (perhaps it was the Pinocchio of the lagoon and had a beak so long it was almost endless). Once out on the bay, the water looked as if it was receiving stars as they fell from the sky. The scientific explanation is that the plankton in this area light up when disturbed, the fish glow as they skip above the water. This nexus of nature’s variables – the type of water, weather, fish, plankton, etc occurs in only four places in the world. The romantic version is even better. A wooden pole in the water left a shiny wake similar in its smoky silver color to that of a witch’s brew. The only distinction between the sky and the water was the sound of the waves lapping against the boat. And stars in the sky don’t jump with such enthusiasm. My hand in the water took on this ethereal glow – so beautiful and shiny I never wanted to remove it for I was sure it held magic. The seven others people sharing this experience were equally awed. At first we all ‘oohed and ahhed’, occasionally we each would marvel aloud..and then quiet seemed more appropriate. It was too magnificent to absorb with anything other than silence.
Captain Suarez and Mingo his assistant were characters out of a novel – maybe Hemingway, maybe not for they were gentle and reverent. Their days-old beards covered the craggy lines that define a life on the water, aging hands that were ropier than those which moored the old boat at the end of the day’s work, broken English that shared their knowledge of astral navigation in a language we all could understand. I asked Mingo why the traveled with little if any light even in the lagoon and he said that one who sailed was supposed to know where they were going by the stars – the light did more harm than good.
You can’t be a part of time like this and not feel with certainty that there is something way bigger than we are. We disembarked with gracious silence. What had we just seen? How do we capture this in our memory? is there any way to do such moments justice? What day is it today?
I can’t say much else happened while we were gone. Our most intrepid friend zip-lined gloriously in the rain forest, my husband golfed (that’s not new), he won more than he lost at the blackjack table. We flew home – gone for not much longer than a long weekend and I’ve misplaced my rhythm.
I read your blogs last night and this morning perpetually shaking my head with wonder at the extraordinary talent of the people I follow (and some that I don’t), wondering how I will ever get back into the swing. I know I will, for life calls regardless of where one may be, and we adjust accordingly. But right now, I am slow to re-enter the music of my day-to-day life while the beat of the last four days still echoes faintly in my head. That’s the beauty and the bane of going away and coming home…I answer to a powerful beat.
19 thoughts on ““The Rhythm Of Life””
Welcome back. Sounds like a great, well-deserved time away. We missed your few days absence, but I know you will be back in the swing of things as evidenced by this spectacular recollection of your trip.
Thanks Richard! It may sound hokey, but I missed these conversations, and being offline caused me some dissonance – I wanted to be a part of the dialogues. We had a great time – and it’s good to be home!
Welcome home. You have been misssed. Your rhythm will return as it always does because the beat to which you dance/write is embedded in your soul.
I am grateful for your confidence Jo…and love…missed you too..
Wonderful and beautiful. All of it. Every word. Including…
“You can’t be a part of time like this and not feel with certainty that there is something way bigger than we are. We disembarked with gracious silence.”
Thanks David – I appreciate the vote of confidence, given that I’ve left my sea legs by the shore and have yet to get my ‘land legs’ back…:-)
And what a wonderful post! “It is impossible to come back from one’s journey; there’s always someone else coming back”. 🙂
You’re quote is perfect!! Thank you!
I travelled for business this week and could not get a good internet connection yesterday. I was fit to be tied. It is amazing how big a part of my life my interent family has become. I feel your pain. Welcome back.
It really does change the balance of the day – how important this cyber-family has become! Glad you’re re-connected again too!
Thank you for sharing this insight. Travel reminds me of how small my daily world really is. People live rich, interesting lives with so much to teach us. welcome home!
It really brings the smallness of our daily world into sharp relief…there’s so much to learn!
I love being called ‘intrepid’, it makes me feel so…….not old…….the mangrove grove was my favorite part, too, and your description was PERFECT!…….brought it all back clearly
You are SO not old!! And you are intrepid, fearless and wonderful!
Isn’t it funny that most and I do mean most of what we worry about doesn’t happen?
it’s so true!
I believe that I’m a bit behind on your blog posts because I can’t get caught up after MY wonderful vacation (that you read about and welcomed me home; thank you very much!). I fully understand your ‘time’ dilemma. I was gone a week but it felt like it was a month; this was a good thing because I really WANTED to take more than a week so it was a delicious little gift. I do these trips once a year with my sisters, and every year our group gets a little bigger from the wonderful people we meet along the way.
My family is very aware that when I first arrive home, they need to let me ‘chill’. Sounds crazy since I’ve been ‘chillin’ for a week, but it’s like ‘two worlds colliding’.
When I first get in my car to drive after a solid week of being barefoot on the beach, I find myself driving on the Interstate at 40mph . . . . I can’t seem to get back in sync. I can’t help but feel that this is a REALLY good thing. Probably the only thing that needs some work on your part is the stress that leads up to the return home. I should take my own advice because I do it too. Maybe it has to do with the guilt we feel about being side-tracked from all those ‘important’ things we do at home! Next time, maybe we can just enjoy the time warp . . . .
Relish these times away and ease back into the day-to-day…ultimately you’ll get back into your real life rhythm…my few days away have become a far-too-distant memory!