Monday, May 17, 2021

Love Letters to My Life #35: What’s it all about, Alfie?

Forest Sanctuary
(We know the day we were born, but most of us do not know the day we will die. This love letter to my life is written on the day I've designated as my death day: the 17th of every month, and reminds me to be grateful for my incredible life.)     
The expedition is over. All the planning and imaginings have turned to photos and memories. Fifteen days of living in my car, visiting friends and family, seeing new places, and altering plans on the spur of the moment have changed, and continue to change, me. I am now here, when I was there. 
Alfie, a 1966 British movie, “tells the story of a young, womanizing man who leads a self-centered life, purely for his own enjoyment, until events force him to question his uncaring behaviour, his loneliness and his priorities” (Wikipedia) … all encapsulated into that one musical question which began to haunt my thoughts as I drove north. What’s it all about, Alfie? 
Awed by the big trees

 My planning process was seeded with a project possibility that had something to do with the journey through Northern California and what I might see along the way. I had been hoping that this trip might clarify the thoughts that have been simmering on the back burner for over a year. I like projects, actually need projects to ground me and give me direction and purpose. 
Separated from the big trees by a short walk and hundreds of thousands of years of soil time.
My reading of the past several months has followed some of the great scientific voyages as Von Humboldt, Darwin, Joseph Banks and others journeyed to other lands and made great discoveries. While my expectations were far more modest, I hoped that a kernel of a book or something would come out of my love for California and fascination with nature. 
Big, sun-loving flowers
Maybe it will still, the learning process continues; however, so far, I have not felt that golden call to something new. And, after 1,900 miles, I’m wondering whether it was worth the carbon I poured into our environment. 
Tiny, shade-loving flowers
The purpose of this letter is to express gratitude for my life and I am overwhelmingly grateful for my health and having the resources to make this excursion through new parts of California. I’ve basked in the joy of spending time with friends, seen beauty that took my breath away, driven through a timeless valley that made me yearn for its peace, watched myself try to flee when my comfort zone was poked, and learned more about the planet we live on. 
A new friend in the neighborhood.
I’m extremely grateful for this experience and have a ton of new material for the third volume of The Granary Tree. So what is the feeling of angst still churning through my system? I don’t know but I’m here in my little place on a beautiful lake. I have five months to contemplate the question that rode with me along the coast and through the mountains down to this peaceful spot. 
A tiny fisherman in a white cowboy hat in front of a sunlit rock gives scale.

 Immediately after posting this, a friend's Facebook post included this quote which gives me even more fodder for thought.

“ .... Paradoxical as it may seem, 
the purposeful life has no content, no point. 
It hurries on and on, and misses everything. 
Not hurrying, 
the purposeless life misses nothing, 
for it is only when there is no goal 
and no rush that the human senses 
are fully open to receive the world.” 
 ~Alan Watts.
What's it all about, Alfie? Lyrics

Song by Burt Bacharach

What's it all about, Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What's it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?
Are we meant to take more than we give
Or are we meant to be kind?

And if only fools are kind, Alfie
Then I guess it's wise to be cruel
And if life belongs only to the strong, Alfie
What will you lend on an old golden rule?
As sure as I believe there's a heaven above, Alfie
I know there's something much more
Something even non-believers can believe in

I believe in love, Alfie
Without true love we just exist, Alfie
Until you find the love you've missed you're nothing, Alfie
When you walk let your heart lead the way
And you'll find love any day, Alfie
Alfie ...

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