Walking my dogs through the village of my island you will mostly find me with ear pods in my ears and a podcast playing in the back ground. Spring and summer on the island give us a lot of noise of visitors and busy ness, and our small 1st and 2nd streets become the hustle and bustle of a small big city. Our relationship to the visitors is mixed as we love the ebb and flow of the locals and the connection we get from seeing one another weekly on our grocery trips. As I enter the local grocery store that sits in the center of our village I wave, and get the “Hi Jennifer”, Oh you have your ear pods in?” with a snicker and I grab my cart and peruse the isles for nightly catch or favorite snack. I can’t help but run into someone I know or a friend of friend and we usually chat for a minute or two, its usually about the Wind or the Rain, or the sunshine, and the whales who have visited the island recently. It is a big deal when the whales come visit, it is sacred, and should be treated as well.
I struggle with the Wind and the ain conversation, I avoid them, hint, hint, its why I wear ear pods, it’s the most obvious conversation to have, and I notice the breath that rises up from my root to calm my nerves as we begin to talk about it. It is actually one of the things that makes me suffer. Wind and Rain is not something you would contribute to suffering but it reminds me of tipping your toes into cold water and then saying over in over again that it is cold. I am someone that prefers to jump in the deep and acknowledge that it is cold and swim, I think to myself why do we have to have the same conversation over and over again in the produce department about such obvious things.
The produce guy will always comment when my ear pods are out “hey Jenn, you didn’t wear your ear pods”? another obvious note, but he is right, sometimes I do forget. We giggle about wearing them and how it keeps me out of the riff raft and that it makes it more difficult to get all of your items and leave the store.
Today as I walked through 2nd Street for my morning stroll with my dirty chai latte and down to the marina I noticed barking sea lions (its mating season) and also noticed a man and his dog and went up to say hi to the pup. We started chatting about the inevitable wind and rain, and found myself frustrated and finally I looked at his hat and said We’re you a Marine? He said I still am. I said “oh you are correct sir”, thank you for your service. He began sharing about his life here on the island, his dog, his daughter and the state of country and being politically correct, he shared his desire for more quiet and the need for more land. We talked about who he is and what he created here on the island, and in that moment we locked eyes and shook hands, nice to meet you. We chuckled about the dogs and sea lions and I went on my way, but we saw each other.
In Africa they greet each other with Sawubona an African Zula meaning “I see you” it is more that a traditional hello, It says, I see your personality, I see your humanity, and your dignity and respect. As I walked away from my new friend and local islander, I realized we “saw each other” we recognized each others humanity.
As I walked back home I thought I may dislike the surface conversations of the Wind and Rain, but I love to be seen and I love to see others. We are without tribe most of us in our world, we are without true connections, it has become scary and vulnerable to allow our “bellies” to be exposed, and the wind and rain may initially be painful to experience as surface level conversation, but over time it allows us to see the each others humanity and dignity, and really see each other. You may still see me with my pods on but I have given practice to taking them out when I go to the store to be more present and talk about the wind and the rain.
Much love, Jennifer