Saturday, January 08, 2005

Here's a story. Remembered while reading Bird, Mountains.

On Keats Island. A tiny chunk of land with a Bible camp at one end and a fifteen minute run along the only road across the island. Lots of undeveloped Pacific coast forest on either side. Occasional pebble beach. Mostly sharp rock face falling into the ocean. Only way in & out is the Dogwood Princess Ferry II.

A cold, wet Vancouver Island January. The sky fragile blue two minutes before the grey smudged clouds portent the coming rain. The island is deserted. At least that's how I reminisce it.

A small group of us are working with Teo Spychalski on Theater of Sources. The proposition to find an isolated spot and practice whirling . The past few days together we learnt the basic technique. It is time to work alone.

First tried a plateau at Observatory Point on the northwest side looking out over Howe Sound. Not much room. Slippery rock and the edge dangerously close. Fear of falling dominates the exercise. I move on to ferret out another site.

Come to a modest clearing. Firm level ground. Able to see, through the trees, towards the western horizon. A scant meadow of long grasses to the east. Perfect place.

Begin the exercise. Slow careful foot placement. All the various instructions booming - peripheral vision, fixed gently curved arms, soft silent motion, dynamic internal energy, faster and faster and don't ever stop. The world will stop.

Ten minutes advance into thirty. The dizziness and nausea pass into an exhilaration of physical joy. The spinning landscape blurs then suddenly shifts into focus like an incredible 360 degree panorama. After another ten minutes a deer emerges from the trees. Till this point I had seen no deer - droppings yes but no wildlife. Tentatively the doe approaches. I don't really know what to do so I continue whirling. She pauses her nose a hand reach away and watches attentively. It seems an eternity her eyes piercing me. Instructed to persist till exhaustion curiosity eventually wins over. I slow to a stop to face her. She's gentle and quivering. I'm in that place. In that moment. Calmly we look into each others eyes. The intimacy that comes with deep eye contact shocks me. I reach out desiring to touch her. She bolts and disappears in a flash.

I can't think of anything at the moment. No stories about the "old ways" or what was that about or talking in the past and not the present tense or even watching the feeling disappear.

That was around 1980. Have never been back to Keats Island. Think I want to return some day. Maybe a fine idea. Hope it won't be a brilliant mistake.