Substance (from night’s pages)

Substance
http://nightspages.blogspot.com/2013/10/substance.html

Smells lose cultural connotations.  They are information,
trail and detail introduction to their source.  Emotion,
exertion, state of decay, debilitation, danger.
I smell dawn approaching before telltale lightening
of the sky.  I smell Autumn approach my hidey-hole,
and know my day is starting, hear its rhythm in
synesthetic sympathy.
The day is warm.  Her aroma is charged with the city’s
hum and drain.  As refuge, audience, soulmate, I am
called by her entrance into her spell.
Despite the heat, she has energy to burn.  We play
a dance game.  In turn each will dance while the other
devises accompaniment in song, lyrics in tune with the
story the dance expresses.
Autumn leaps out angry energy.  Wild rage soaks through
her t-shirt and short pants.  She pulls them off, incorporating
that motion into her rhythm, flings the clothing aside like
token barricades against her avenging fleet.
My unnatural body takes no note of cold, heat, naked
humanity.  I am immersed in singing anger, outrage, clean
intensity of desire to emote, expel.
Seer of fire burns denial
Caustic screams pierce blocked ears
Stomp, crash, splinter, tear apart
Venial enemy ducks darts of wrath
projected from fierce protectors
Demolish leering jokesters.  Smash smug detractors.
Craven brutality, vengeance a mad extension
Slash, smash ruinous ecstasy aroused in righteous ire
Ground down to dust, unappeased,
I whirl into icy wind; blow you away!
She furiously acts out in total seriousness, outward
abandon, a pure physicality.  All in, all consumed,
concentration on an inner mapping for full effect.
Trapped emotion released, she winds down.  A sodden
lump, she quietly declares intermission.
I emit a round of stunned applause, her adoring audience.
Her song, I humbly acknowledge, pulled from me by the
force of her movements.  She smiles, gives seated bow
head into chest with arm flourishes.  Winks as her head
rises to face me.
She holds long pause, regaining balance, calming breath,
relaxing connective tissue.  Not long, she is ready to
reanimate, to take refreshment of more simple energy.
She motions for me to pass her backpack, pulls from it
an apple, her water bottle and sketchpad.
“Look.  I want to show you how much work I’ve done on
our superhero adventures comicbook.”
I take the sketches.  Her cartooned image appears
remarkably true to life.
“Is that really how I look?”
She smiles a broad affirmative, though the pictured child
seems to shine with almost ethereal innocent grace.
Autumn continues to eat the apple, then studies the seeds
for what they may tell of her future.  Seemingly satisfied,
she throws seeds and core into a small plastic bag for
later disposal.
“I’ll throw them in sidewalk cracks.  Give them a chance
to sprout, or maybe get carried along to somewhere they
can survive.”
Intermission over, I take my turn on stage.
I galumph through silly walks, poses, play the fool
promoting laughter.
Autumn leaps up, out to grab my hands.  We jump about,
singing silly phrases, laughing into each other’s laughing face.
Eventually, emotion exhausted, we fall onto a pillow, curl into
each other’s outline, become a dance of contented silence.

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Between Worlds ~ Persephone to Caela

Between Worlds ~ Persephone to Caela

I want to write her story, but it isn’t ready to write. I imagine it as a painting, swirling colors and intricate spectral figures, everything moving at once, a kaleidoscopic panorama. When I was a kid, I used to wish on the Moon, the big Full Moon. It was so much grander than any sparkling star. I would twirl around and around on the dewy summer grass, electrified by blinking fireflies. Then, I would flop down to watch the sky swirl like a Van Gogh Starry Night.

What kind of Solstice celebration would she have? Would they have comparable seasons? They would have to have a whole new system of astrology, if anyone bothered with that Earth-based lore. They would have ceremonies, celebrations, dancing and romancing and offerings of special performances to keep in touch with the mysterious. They would be a spiritually aware people, happy in the shared wealth of their culture. They would know to honor, value, celebrate the individual as the ultimate resource of the common wealth. Empaths have no ambition based on suspicion, no need for hierarchical arrangements to be secure in one’s place. The year, or whatever passed for one, would no doubt fall out differently than our years. What constellations might appear? How many moons? Does it matter? Important occasions are marked, harvests and births, rewards for hard labor, sacredly meaningful losses that we move beyond through honoring sacrifice. What else must be honored, must be held holy? There would be celebration for the occasion of the moment when the spirit is strong within the tribe, when there is need for release, tears and laughter, impassioned artistic rendering, raucous song, frenzied dance, the strong scent of blazing emotions gone wild in the loving safety of tribal union.

**************

She found the children, understandably frightened but so far unharmed. The telepathic ability which had condemned their parents had helped to save them. She knew this to be a time of crisis, a crossroad, which must open an opportunity to end this unnecessary enmity, these unnecessary tragedies.

Caela was called. She chose to answer. She was uprooted as a child, but within the caring arms of community. Within that communal embrace, she was able to learn her power, use it for the communal good. She enjoyed a happy, balanced life with family, friends, fulfilling work, peaceful spirituality, the grace of natural beauty. At the point when her life as it had been had taken her as far as it could, she was called to a sacred journey, a mission for her own continued growth of soul, and for the transformation of a world long divided, a healing of the wound dividing the people of her world. It all came as a natural progression. She was always given all she needed to be able to give what was needed by those she served.

Gentle eyes, but much more, eyes anyone could stand before with no shame. Self-evidently these eyes were ready to accept and respect what they saw.

She speaks to me sometimes. No, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.

She speaks to me in my own voice, though, perhaps, in a different register. She comes to me in a dream, a recurring dream. It was so clear and powerful. She is beautiful, full of life, full of magical power. I feel safe with her. Perhaps she is some kind of totem, spirit guide. Perhaps she is someone I could become, in the fullness of time, as some kind of metaphoric singularity, familiarity, familiar inner voice who has always guided me.

I feel a special affinity to cats. They are so completely themselves. I love the strong sensual flowering scents of Spring. Yet, I am a creature of the Winter of low lights, of shadow and multiple realities.

I call her Caela.

She makes me happy in a special, secret way. I have a sparkling, shining secret. No, it’s not schizophrenia. In a way, it is sanity. She helps me to understand who I am, who I could become, free and self-empowered. She is like a fantasy mother who is giving me everything I need to face my fortune. She is a gift from me to me.

Moon in Virgo, maybe? I’m losing track. It’s all one long wintry night.

None of that life so mine so few months ago seems real to me now. I am not that person who lived there. Can’t go back; don’t have a clue how to go forward. Celia’s still taking care of me — I have no financial woes. I can stay here for probably longer than I would ever need to, meeting all my 21st century needs, even indulgences, without having to concern myself with paychecks. One less thing.

Pandora cuddles up to me, lets me blubber and cry all over her. She doesn’t make the demands of human friends for coherency, consideration, a semblance of self-control. Yeah, I miss me, miss them, miss us. It’s like I’m being told, simply, in strict terms, that here and now I am not that girl, that womanchild. I am not clear on who this metamorphosed me is becoming. A great, golden cockroach comes to mind. But I am not ashamed. I have no family to fail, no social position to lose. I am not a golden butterfly, simple grace flying from flower to flower. Often I feel like a wraith, between worlds — not of one or the other. Am I my namesake? But in what realm am I Queen? No, I am not taking over your place, sweet Pandora, so solidly Queen of the household. There is solace in the awareness of another life, a natural way of being.

I am Persephone in her mother’s home. It is Demeter who has been taken by the minions of death, her body barely holding on to life’s sweet definition. Strangers minister narcotics to soften the veil, blur the journey.

That is where the dream comes from. The potent journey; the aging mother, crone, no longer a complete integral of her tribe, no longer anchored to her long-time position in life. Is she called to a sacred mission? Is she a possible guide to my own salvation? What do I need to be saved from? The endless days that make no sense, unanchored, dependent on inspiration? It is getting dangerously close to dawn on this not long enough winter night. I can’t bear to see the light as if ordinary routine of weekday activity could be my expected, accepted norm. I feel so much more naturally alive in Caela’s world, as I diligently figure it out in a faithful inner theatre of cinematic splendor. This has got to be a good thing, this insistently reveling imagination that hugs me with warmth and ecstatic emotion. So much more than a distraction or psychotic state, I believe it is meant to heal and elevate. But what do I know, pretending to be somewhere other than this sad little apartment in this sad little neighborhood, someone more grand than sad little me.

This lassitude is not like me, or not like the me I like to be. I do remember other times when life was too much with me and restlessness without activity overtook me. I need a visionquest. I can attain that even from this restraining lassitude by projecting my mind onto another, more vital, life. I can follow that path of no resistance, encounter demons and deities, solve the puzzle, claim the prize, reemerge, shimmy down the beanstalk refreshed and reinvented. Perhaps I must. It’s hard to know, living on all these levels, in all these layered dimensions of cosmic meaning to random happenstance, how to go about continuing.

It’s not the drugs — anyway, they are only mild antidepressants along with that old central nervous system shut-down stand-by measured in proofs below 30. I’m a self-medicator from way back; but I have considerably grown up and cut way down. I refuse to touch Celia’s pain medication, even though she left quite a nice stash behind when they evacuated her. Or, what is the word? They removed her from her former life to watch her die. I should evacuate myself, get back to where I once belonged. I should get over this private pity party and find my way to be useful and productive in the world. I am drawn into this fantasy universe as if it were the one that was real. I imagine channeling is like this. So now I am the gypsy witch of fairytales casting my scrying eye into other worlds. Anything’s better than being nothing, no one, lost, drifting, alone.

Yeah, melodramatic and untrue. I have wonderful friends who I just can’t seem to reach out to. But, you know, I know, I’m used to being alone. It’s restful, familiar, delightfully irresponsible, just me. Yet I’m never alone with my insistent imagination ever entertaining me with charming characters playing out stories. I will self-indulge for awhile, take advantage of this luxurious lapse into insanity to see where it lands me. I can’t think of any reason not to that makes any sense to me. I’m sure if I get too loud the neighbors will complain. Just a ditsy witch with her cat and inner crucible, listening to jazz, smoking herbs, drinking wine, writing fantastic journeys. If Celia wanted more from me, it’s too late for her admonishments now. Danny wanted nothing from me. Maybe some absolution, but I’m not in that business. What do I want from me? That’s the question worth pondering. Maybe Caela will tell me as I follow her visionquest through the brave forest, discovering who we are, what we can do, where we belong.

Hours melt into hours, navigators’ objects move across the sky outside this progressively filthier window. I feel the luxury of my hand losing itself in soft fur as Pandora purrs beside me on Celia’s couch. From time to time as it occurs to me, I pretend to write cogently, for something to pretend to do. Yes, I know there are vast ventures of exciting adventuring, or even simple chores I could engage in, if I could engage. Gulping down wine when the feelings get too close to the surface probably is not helping my thinking to find coherence. The radio music gives me an illusion of being somewhere, some connection to a greater world out on the airwaves. I can ride those airwaves like a magic carpet to imaginary places, people to whom no responsibility can be owed or expected.

I somehow hypnotically manage to do the few daily chores necessary to maintain me, cat, plants, to keep real squalor at bay. Going through those motions with minimal consciousness is not responsibility. I don’t have to answer for or explain myself, keep up a conversation or show appropriate emotional responses. How did such simple everyday bits of business become so exhausting to even contemplate? It’s not just that I’m not the person others expect of me. I am no one at all. There is no cohesive sense of me to explain or hold together an acceptable identity. My memories don’t feel of me but like some old tv drama series of connected stories. Do you remember that episode when Persephone and Tom made love on the beach at dawn, hidden in the water though there was no one else around to see? Or that one in the earlier seasons when Danny explained to little Persephone why he wouldn’t be living with her and her mom anymore? Seasons and seasons of this long-running soap opera in which nothing is ever resolved; no strong central character emerges complete with her happy well-rounded life, a joy to her friends, a boon to her neighbors.

Or is that Caela, the refugee? Not that I think I can find myself in her; lose myself in her is more where I’m aiming. But maybe, Goddess willing, I can lose myself in her, live out her story in my inner movie, to find myself later, after the show, curled up in the shelter of some hidden woodland tree, a sprouting seed learning how to be this new creature as I become. Or maybe I’ll just get lost in my own insanity, no good to anyone. Happy pitty party to me, lazy and selfish and brazenly morose.

Who do I think I am? Secretly:

Once upon a time a princess grew into a queen, and then into a crone, and then into a legend that never dies. When all she wanted was a world that made sense in which she could feel free to be alive. But that makes no sense. That’s not me. Must be the alcohol talking — in vino a lot of nonsense, hyperbole, and sloppy thinking.

Caela wouldn’t need wine. But they would probably have come up with a process for making fermented fruit juice, along with everything else they would need to come up with as a community creating their own existence outside civilization as they had known it. So much to consider in creating a new world. I suppose this one happened bit by bit and all at once like most endeavors over time. Is that how it happens? Threads and consequences moving together imperceptibly until there you are, hemmed in by rules and customs and history? If we travelled back along every thread to the less than conscious decisions creating consequences along the way, we would probably find much better ways of making it all work out. But I’m not that conscious or conscientious; nor are most people getting by or getting behind in our narrow little worlds. Those with real vision come off just sounding crazy. Caela’s people, despite their unique situation, would most likely fall into their own level of complacency over time.

Goddess, what would you have me do? I feel there is some purpose of yours in all of this, not just my little personal devolvement into insanity. Of course that feeling of destiny could easily be a symptom of insanity.

No doctors! No prodding or psychotic drugs or setting myself up for nasty incarceration or reindoctrination to normalcy — whatever that is. I will follow my own damned path, wherever. So, Goddess, I guess we are in this together until you abandon me too. Those dreams of sinking into mushy ice on blue frozen tundras, there is a way through, beyond — or am I frozen in stasis, merely waiting for the frostbite to reach vital organs? It all remains to be seen. Walking unsteadily between the worlds, I could fall forever I suppose. But wouldn’t that become its own level of complacency, falling without thought, receding into a normative back-drop for lazy, selfish, morose self-entertainment? Let’s pretend there is a future-place where all the threads come together in colorful, festive array that make perfect sense on reflection. It’s just a matter of making it from here to there. So, dear imaginary Caela, what can you tell me?

I feel a kinship to Caela. It’s not just because she is a creature of my mind, woven from bright bits of thought, feelings, fantasy. It’s like she can see inside me and understand as I look into her, learn her. She does not look like me. I envision her as slightly tall, strong frame, dark hair and eyes, swarthy skin, quiet, pensive, yet with a strong sense of somewhat ironic humor, a merry open laugh, sweet loving smile, mischievous grin, dancing countenance. She is intelligent, not erudite. She is compassionate, loving, kind with that strong solid kindness that tolerates fools with enduring good humor, never maudlin, never haughty, but never obeisant or credulous. She stands tall, moves gracefully, takes in each scene, each lesson, each conversation or reflection deeply, holistically, completely. She is intimately connected to her people and place, yet always able to stand apart and accept her own vision. She is quite imperfectly human, and very comfortable with exactly who she is. She loves and lives without reservation, yet with deep, complex reflection and an eternal sense of wonder. She is not representative of her people nor her time, yet she is completely enmeshed with them.

I feel comfortable with her. Her presence in my mind calms and inspires me. She is an amazing friend and confidante. I feel compelled to tell her story though it is nothing like mine. Probably there are metaphoric parallels that I, my deeper self, knows I can learn from, can delve into to discover my own intimate secrets, to grow and heal. If I fall into this other world of my own creation and never return to conventional reality, it will harm none and expand my horizons. But that is getting way too ahead of where I am now. Most likely I will go through this little experiment in traversing into a different realm, find myself on the other side an experienced dimension-shifter, cosmic traveler, no more lost to insanity than most who dare to follow the art star to personal freedom and multiple awareness.

Okay, Caela, tell me a story. Tell me stories for a thousand nights in whatever time zone we can agree on.

My mother told me stories all my life. She was very certain of the line between fiction and fact; but she was also aware of the kind of truths that can best be understood through myth, fairy tales, poetry. Celia, in your death bed, do you see and understand your morphine dreams? Are you just fading away, or are you finding answers to your lifelong mysteries? I know you no longer need or want to talk to me, to share with anyone your last ecstatic visions or drooling pain. Will I feel that why too at my end? Right now I only want to live in my spinning fantasy with Caela on her world where it is all quite wonderful and far away from here. It’s not that I get to control this world of my creation while the real world is too far out of control for me to come to terms with. It’s that I get to make wonderful discoveries, to leave the routinely painful neighborhood of planet Earth and think big thoughts, experience my wild and crazily manifesting dreams.

Pandora wants to cuddle, presses her purring body against me. Another magical companion on my road to Goddess knows where.

Tom has left several concerned messages: why don’t I respond? Isn’t he my magical companion?

My wine glass needs refilling. The curtains are drawn against impending dawn.

I thought of calling Danny, but there’s too much to say. I’m not ready to say any of it. Thank Goddess I have this time, this place, to dissolve and, hopefully, resurrect. What do people do when their reality fragments and they have no realistic choice but to keep moving forward, doing the day job, paying the bills, supporting the family, acting responsibly? Guess that’s why pharmaceutical companies make the big bucks on anti-depressants. Then there are those who crack and become homicidal suicides. It’s always the quiet ones, so they say. I can understand that. When I was more actively alive, I was so much noisier. Not that I’m about to be outwardly dangerous, or actually suicidal. I’m just going on a little sabbatical within a dreamscape.

I can see her now in her teen years. She is full of passion and purpose. She is in love with the lover of her life, waiting for him to pursue her. She is happy and reasonable and ready to take on the world with no idea what awaits her. Transitional times.

Caela wouldn’t have the astrology as we Earthlings developed it, being under different skies. Still, I see her as a Scorpio. She is a healer by going within and sharing deep content. She has power of her own, independent yet entwined in her relationships, deeply intuitive, a person of total integrity. Talk to me, Caela the naturally wise, of the integration of my soul. I feel split into ethereal bubbles wafting into unknown space. I will concentrate, become as one with my imagined healer. I know you will carry me through into my best destiny. I will learn and emulate you, my very personal hero. We will become a legend in my mind to carry me forward.

I am moving forward, though not at pace with the outside world. I am on my own time and space with my own reasons. I am on my educational sabbatical, exploring an other world, other ways of being human, to discover who I am, separate from everything I’ve known.

I get to overdramatize in my own private theater. And I harm none, I get to do what I will, imagine what I will, will what I imagine to hold me with divine mothering arms, rock me with lullabies and fairytales. Twilight’s future is the heroine’s journey.

I understand, compassionately, that too much choice is overwhelming to an individual trying to navigate a reasonably safe, reassuringly livable, life. That should not excuse or glorify obstruction against less usual ways, more ambitious or far-seeing strategies. Caela does not feel the pain or outrage of the outcast. She is happily enmeshed in her community, comfortably acknowledged. The solitude and self-directing she has carved out to accommodate her gifts, honed into skill for her best contribution, are well respected. If she wants to leave the group to follow her own dreams and visions, that is her choice and right.

The newer generations of her people no longer keep an outcast identity. They are woven into, continuing with their own threads, the rich fabric of a community that creates their experiences and goals. Her daughter, as an integral member of this younger, self-integrating generation, lives in a large home of like-minded self-identified professionals and their children, sharing familial chores, responsibilities, celebration, physical and emotional care. Caela is happy on the outskirts of the community in her small, cozy cabin. She visits and enjoys visitors, but spends much of her time on her own.

I am learning who these people are, slowly gaining their acquaintance. They are more real, immediate, than the world outside my self-absorption has become for me. I ask questions about how they live, what their world gives them. My grateful mind forms moving pictures, so beautiful, engaging. The scenes, the backgrounds, change to meet my changing expectations. It doesn’t matter if I ultimately put it all together in cogent words. It is the world I need now to be formulating, a soothing, enlightening meditation.

I keep getting caught up in the details. Lovely, soothing details, like doing sums in grade school. Weather. What would the differences in planetary physics do? And even if I am no scientist, how have they developed economic and cultural norms? How have the planet’s — let’s call it Eden — natural lifeforms (because if it is capable of sustaining life it probably already does) dealt with the invasion of life from Earth? I surmise they would have brought embryonic and seed life on the spaceship to continue farming once land was reached. Would there have been combinations, mutations, some species devouring others to become dominant in that ecological niche?

I recall attempting some preliminary research about space colonizing, some proto-musings about this race of genetically engineered empaths that seems to have morphed in my subconscious into Caela’s witchfolk. At that time I got too caught up in immediate living, abandoning forays into an imagined far future.

If I get too caught up in these endless details I could ensnare myself and be unable to continue. I can let them percolate, let the questions come to a head and seep through my imagination. Looking deeply into my metaphoric crystal, I can watch these people, see their details play out, feel out what feels right for these far off colonists and their descendants. In the mysteries of time and space and fantasy, I can watch these people I command into existence assemble into their customary daily lives for my inspection. See the scenes. Note the salient points. Feel the poignant stories. Those devilish details don’t daunt me. They will fill out as they will, as I will, once the grounds percolate and become more clarified, more real than reel (omg, what mixing of metaphors, what a mish-mash of maudlin strings). Willingly giving myself over to this fantasy, somehow this is who I am, at least for now. It feels right and safe. It’s like I want to be scared, but can’t feel it. But what is there to be scared of? I am protected by the great power of prepaid bills and social anonymity, the strongly purring cat beside me, the blessings of alcoholic bliss, and a total lack of real world responsibilities. Whoever the Hell I am, must be some mumbo-jumbo mystical power there. Caela would know about that kind of power. I see the beginning of a beautiful friendship, despite the boundary difficulties between worlds. As long as I’ve only myself to answer to, reality can be whatever I agree to.

Young Caela was able to adjust and thrive because she was tuned in to herself, to her own perceptions and power. Her parents, Lev and Letta, they exist within her, but so does all that psychic energy moving through her. To make use and sense of that, she needs integrate experiential impressions, integrating a trusted sense of self.

How moderate can temperatures be? Do we have the ranges we do have because of some specificity of size or shape or orbit and distance form our Sun? I’m not picturing Winter on Eden, despite its frigid everpresent reality for me here and now on Earth. Fall I can see, the harvest season. But why not several harvests like in the sunny warm states? Out in the farm areas beyond the city’s structures, they have greenhouses, even hydroponic technologies from the ship. Even if the planet has a variety of climate zones, they may have settled in an area less likely to freeze. Would it be sweltering in the Summer in the city? They would know how to build for minimizing that, design to encourage cooling winds, maybe have air conditioning. They would plant trees according to ecologically thought out plans for shade and water retention and air cleaning. The cultural norms would include a slowness of outdoor perambulations, light-weaved clothing. I see bright colors, even in the enclosed atmosphere of the built-up city. There is an appreciation for art, culture, color, design. It’s not that they don’t enjoy diversity. They are worried, frightened, that they will be left behind, out-classed, unable to successfully excel in competition for what they think to be scarce resources, even such nonmaterial resources as public appreciation and prestige, as well as whatever passes for wealth in their culture. They have closed themselves in to this city. Those of true valor and adventure have gone off exploring. Those who can’t abide fences and rules have been sent to the outer reaches to work out their destinies as farm labor or defense trainees or bucolic eccentrics.

People jammed together with their secret inadequacies and fears can build up a psychological squalor. People who present as clean, upright, hard-working citizens can be harboring petty and grand mal demons who rule over their potential better natures and insist on penance without respite, respect or concern. The empaths are not immune from demons, though are to some extent insulated from personal devolution by their mutuality of feelings, the ability to if they so choose never be alone. They will be able to take advantage of distance from the closed in city to develop a culture of their own design. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. The dialectic of socially evolving mankind prevails. This is not a story about man against nature or man as part of nature, but about human nature; but we are not alone in the Universe. There is no clear division of background and foreground. The picture includes waves and landscape and sky and all the rest, as far, as near, as detailed, as the artist bothers to render; as the eye bothers to see. All I can do is look deeply into the crystalline vision, and respect, describe, reflect my impressions, my perceptions, my emotions and their creations.

Jase was Singer’s father, not Aron. She had heard Maris talking with her father, Lev. Aron was Maris’s husband, father of her three daughters, though apparently not of her youngest, her son, Singer. When the troubles started getting serious back in the city, Aron had not felt his wife and children worth the sacrifices of standing by them. He was not an empath, had only married one. He had become resentful over the course of that marriage, feeling that Maris was better than he was in every way that counted. She was, but not because of some special talent. She was naturally practical and loving. He was naturally neither. He had been young and charming, confidentally ambitious but privately shy. Over time he had become uncomfortably aware that this wonderful prize of a wife he had won neither made him a better man nor failed to see his flaws. Be careful what you wish for. Keep your eye on all the clauses and subparagraphs. Relationships won’t heal us, only give us comfort and anchoring when we do the work to heal ourselves.

If Jase were Singer’s dad, not Aron, Singer was full empath, unlike his sisters. Jase was a sweet, good-humored drifter of a guy, strong and smart, always ready to help out, but mostly a loner. He and Maris had been close friends since childhood, back in the city. Neither were the kind to deny their feelings, or broadcast them. Maris and Lev had become good friends since the relocation. She was at the moment ranting a bit, reminiscing a bit, in the company of a friend she found easy to talk with. He was happy to listen. He certainly had his share of venting, ranting, sharing memories secondhand. His wife, Letta, Caela’s mom, had become unreachably ill, unable to participate in conversation, to show evidence of reciprocating his love which he now sometimes felt bordered on tragic.

Like children everywhere, Caela picked up bits and pieces of gossip and common knowledge listening to adult conversation as it drifted through her day. She had never met Aron, but did feel the distinct negative tinge given to memories of him by those who had known him. Everyone loved Jase. She supposed Singer had gotten the better of the bargain without consciously thinking about the matter at all. She loved Singer and Maris, similarly though differently from the way she loved Lev and Letta. They were all family, intertwined lives.

Though she was a few years older than Singer, they were left to play together while the grown-ups worked, often looked after by one or more of Singer’s sisters. There weren’t a lot of children in this new community. Everyone did what they could to make sure all were cared for, all the necessary work got done and done well. Everyone taught what they knew, shared tools and techniques, learned what they needed to. Separately and together they figured out how to make a life that worked. Singer and Caela took on what chores they could as time went on. Still, there was plenty of time for playing, just being, figuring out who you are and how that’s done. Friends are good mirrors, sounding boards, brain-storming aids, quiet companions.

True to Maris’s intuitive naming, Singer loved to sing and was incredibly talented at contriving a wide range of soundings from his voice and various musical instruments he was finding ways to fashion from what came to hand. He could keep those around him singing and dancing as well, lightening chores, enlivening leisure. Certainly he was quite a popular figure, central to celebrations. He took this popularity in his gently smiling way, always generous, always bubbling with fun. Music is magic. It excites, inspires, and heals.

Caela found she could heal in another way. She knew without thought that she had profound feelings of empathy, profound insights, much more than was ordinary for the extraordinary people of whom she had been born and nurtured. She had from earliest times learned without knowing she was learning to encapsulate the feelings driving into her from all around that she might work through and understand them without being overwhelmed. It had always been like a special extra mother within her teaching and protecting, perhaps an extra gift from Letta who had not been able to learn such necessary protection well enough for herself.

Though little girl Caela had tried and tried to use this gift of separating, working through feelings to move in with care and incisive healing, to help her beloved mother, Letta, cope with the demons that crippled her mind, she had not the power to effect that cure. Letta had not learned to protect herself. She had not felt the need in her protected environment where her naturally strong healing abilities had given her a fine, well-respected career. She had never expected a need to prepare for her denouncement or the escalating troubled times eventuating in exile from the life she depended upon for emotional anchor.

Though Caela’s efforts to heal that breach continued to be heartbreakingly unsuccessful, the failure did not deter nor break her. It was like layers of strength being built by practice and reflection. She found, bit by bit, that she could look into the core of dis-ease and injury to encourage and accelerate natural healing processes of those who suffered. She was also drawn to learn about healing plants, meditative practices, techniques of touch and movement. Not all callings are so strong. Perhaps she had been learning from Letta, even from the womb, to take this offered gift farther, to develop the instinct for self-preservation needed to make it a blessing rather than a curse, even should her world fall apart.

Lev had been a writer in the city, a journalist of wry social and political commentary published regularly in the most popular news magazine. In this new life, he was finding artistic and physical outlet in learning carpentry — a craft he had never been exposed to in his former life. It amused and amazed him how much he enjoyed working with his hands to miraculously create a useful product. He had been quite appreciative of Maris’s skill in weaving beautiful fabric of the fur and plant fibers of their now farming community. He continued to appreciate her creative skill, even more so, as he learned his own craft. Former city business types were having to relearn how to be alive, become people they had never known they were, processing radical change, a broken linear norm revealing to them that it was only a convenient fantasy. For Caela it was all perfectly natural, the colorful adventure of life.

Nothing is promised. A great deal is possible.

Singer’s sisters, Mirra, Cali and Arla, were cheerful, responsible, warm and witty like their mom. Even in appearance they resembled her and each other, though they had not yet achieved her manner of calm wisdom. Though they might appear less vivid younger copies of Maris, each had her own distinct flair and essence. They were all wizards of cloth, weaving, sewing, designing clothing and other useful textile wares. They had their own cottage industry, producing for their own use and trade as well as teaching others who wanted to create their own clothing and furnishings.

Though no one had thought the need to come up with “money,” there was plenty of rudimentary trade. For big projects, work and outcome were shared. It was expected that everyone help out as needed. Beyond that, individual enterprise took over. Tools were shared on rough timetables open to disruption by urgencies. Adaptations often had to be invented suitable to available resources, repurposing, devising tools and processes as necessary. Of course there were angers, resentments, frustrations, but this is where the skills of empaths excel. There are those naturally soothing presences who help to keep good feelings flowing. There is not the kind of awkward or tragic miscommunications to slow useful negotiation. It helps that there’s plenty of cohesive goodwill, shared sorrows and celebrations, respect grown from working together, playing together, sharing humor, philosophy, and everyday concerns. Recipients of an interconnected web are intimately in tune to enlightened self-interest, true vested interest in success for all.