- Calista Ocean
What I remember
We carry inside us the wonders we seek outside us.
Details. Sometimes in the present moment, all of the details feel so important. I find myself reaching out to gather them and tuck them away for safekeeping, only to discover that there's a hole in the pocket of my memory and most of them spill through. There are always a few that remain, clinging to the fabric of my mind - a sight, a sound, a sensation remembered.
I write in journals, take photos, jot down notes on my phone, and write essays and poems. Despite this, many of the details escape before I can capture them, but the essence of each experience lingers in the words and images.
I wanted so badly to remember every detail this morning. It was almost time to pack my things and begin making my way back to California after several months of travel. Costa Rica had been my home for more than two months, and there was much I would miss about this country. I felt suspended between the sadness of feeling this part of my journey draw to a close, and the reunion and possibilities that waited for me in the weeks ahead.
The past four days had been a love-fest of yoga, ecstatic dance, hugs, turmeric chai with freshly made coconut milk, tantric practices, and pulsing music. I'd slept only a few hours - waking up at two a.m. to join hundreds of others who had stayed up to watch headline artists pour music and lights from the stage, through the audience, and into the nighttime jungle.
When I was full of sound and vibration, I decided to wander. That is how I came to sit in the tail of the snake. The sculpture was maybe twenty feet long - a coiled serpent made of tree bark and seeds and flowers. I stepped gently into the mini-labyrinth of the tail and walked to its center. I sat down. The loud song of the cicadas filled the air, and the DJ sets became a drumbeat in the distance.
I don't know how long I sat there. I sat there until the birds started singing with the cicadas and the sky grew lighter. I watched ants crawl through the grass near my crossed legs. I noticed the breeze gently caress the leaves of the trees. And I observed other people. Some slept on the grass or in hammocks. Couples strolled past, holding hands. Small groups of friends sat in circles, talking. Others wandered alone through the crowd, looking tired and dreamy in their colorful festival wear. I laughed, picturing myself sitting in the midst of it all wearing a fringed skirt, crop top, hiking boots, and purple "kritter ears" clipped to my head. How delightfully ridiculous and beautiful I felt.
Ridiculous and beautiful. That is how everyone seemed to me. Ridiculously beautiful! Divine beings in human form.
Humans are such bizarre and exquisite miracles. We are fragile and powerful. We are creative and complicated. We are perfectly imperfect. We come in so many exquisite shapes and colors. We are capable of such terrible destruction. We are also capable of profound healing. Each of us has the capacity to hold a galaxy of pain and a universe of love. We are that expansive.
From where I sat in the tail of the snake, it seemed to me that most of us are just children running around wearing "adult" costumes that don't fit well. Maybe that's why five thousand people showed up in Costa Rica - to shed the adult clothing and dance with hula hoops in the jungle and fire torches on the beach. Maybe we knew that remembering how to play is powerful magic. So we played. We chanted and ate and drank and danced and tripped out and dressed up and laughed and cried and swam in the ocean and hugged each other. A lot.
And the magic worked. I was in love. Deep in it. The details didn't matter anymore. My body would remember them, even if my mind didn't. Besides, my heart had spent decades catching each wondrous detail as it slipped from the pocket of my mind and had placed them piece-by-piece in the mosaic of my soul.