Thoughts on Self

Rainfall, attachment, and beauty

I’m not sure what I am doing, scrolling scrolling scrolling, looking for something in particular, but nothing specific, words maybe, to make you smile or think or just acknowledge that I’m here thinking of you. Without settling on whatever it could have been, I lock the phone and move to the back screen door to watch the gray sky rain down on the palm trees standing tall on the ridgeline. The echoing off the corrugated steel carport mixes with the hum of the oscillating fan with the softest of cat noises. My mind wanders to a future where I’m somewhere cold, sweaters and scarves draped over everything, and someone is there encouraging me to write because it is far too cold to venture outside in the middle of winter.

You told me to get a vase because what I was using certainly wasn’t suitable for my ambitious arrangement of assorted jungle foliage. Not long after that, a gust of wind knocked it over and water spilled all over my laptop, which is still sitting in a bag full of rice in my closet, withholding pictures waiting to upload to the cloud and the beginnings of pieces left in word documents on the desktop. This happened last year, around this same time. I was backing up my computer and wham, there it went, crashed, anxiety-ridden, pictures lost, and one of my best pieces returned to the ephemeral. Release attachment, I grumbled when mentioned to friends and family, as though I hadn’t learned that very lesson time and time again. Now here we are, a new year, a new reminder that nothing lasts.

Finding myself on the couch reading and rereading a line about panpsychism, not quite focused on the words or even the idea enough to make sense of it, I place the book on my chest and stare at the ceiling. It’s chilly, I think to myself while the rain continues to fall, I shudder when I consider what it would be like to no longer live somewhere tropical. There was a way, a path forward that would have led me closer, to that once undesired tropical paradise, to complexity and certainty. I could have fallen in love with that landscape as you have, but then it wouldn’t have been my destiny that I was following, would it? The water knows how we feel. Those drops falling, crashing, rushing, joining, separating, more rushing. Focus on the good.

Nervous keystrokes pouring forth with abandon. I told my friends that I wanted to reach out for potentiality once I got back from vacation, that all the coincidences had lined up that I couldn’t deny what it was that I wanted. Months passed by and I would just stare at the website, lost in a daydream, not making any progress. I wanted you to tell me to just do it, to go as far away as I could get, to follow dreams and never look back. Message sent. I’m not even sure what I wrote, what I proposed, what I was hoping to see in return. But that’s how I found myself here, no expectations, no attachments, no concern for the falling rain, a life changed.

Startled awake by a revisited dream, the book tumbles to the floor, the cat glances over with equal surprise. Reaching down, finding what I think is the right page, pressing in the bookmark, and walking to the back door again while noticing the pattering moving further into the distance. Stepping out onto the porch, I notice a rainbow beginning to fade, another collection of memories, a deep sense of beauty. We once talked about beauty, what it meant, where we found it, how we could grow it. The curvature of falling water, the deep greens of a botanical garden, the very conversation we were having. Lost photos are full of beauty. Floral robes are full of beauty. Tropical storms are full of beauty. My plan to move to another country, return to school, accept the cold, and discover new intimacies is full of beauty.

Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Tasmania, studying climate change adaptation, risk perspectives, and coastalscape values.

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