Sunday, 22 April 2012

A Glimpse of Paradise

A whole new world - May 2011

It had all started with a picture of a fascinating human being. I watched her sit on the sidewalk reading her magazine, while her dogs slept nearby.

‘Can I take your picture’ I had asked. She had nodded. And, I had gotten down on one knee brought my SLR to my eye and snap. She was captured.

My curiosity bubbled within, ‘Why are you here?’ I heard myself question. And, her answer was as novel as her ambience.  ‘I followed the universe here’ she responded.

Following the Universe - May 20th 2011 

Then there was Michael standing grandly before the Mediterranean Café that the young lady sat before. ‘Aren’t you going to take my picture?’ he smiled.  SLR to my eye and snap.  

Michael Dowdy - May 20th 2011 

Then he gestured to the Café.We sat at a table and Michael began to read Tarot. I was in.

I had noticed Michael and his friends from the first day I’d arrived at Berkeley. They sat along Telegraph in front of the Mediterranean Café in large groups. They read or talked or held instruments. They dressed in random apparel and were unique, to say the least. I had wanted to speak to them from the very beginning. Something within me drew me to them. Even when I’d been advised against it by the friend I was visiting in Berkeley. They could be dangerous, I’d been told.

Yet, Four days later, there I was. I was in.

Michael laid out the Tarot on the table, as he slowly explained his story as my curious eyes watched. It turned out; he had renounced his family and home and moved to Berkeley. He was on a spiritual journey.

Later that day, I was back in the Café. Sitting with Michael as some friends he'd made from the university sang Top 40’s in a way that had much more depth than I’d ever heard. Every word was said leaving a piercing presence in my mind. Techno beats replaced with a guitar melody. Oh the sorrow of the Modern age woman, I had thought.  Singing about her sexy body – when really all she wanted was innocent simple Love.

I had wanted to join. That’s just how I am. I’m a participant – a doer. I am rarely a watcher. So I had hummed because I had not known the words. And slowly, as my comfort level grew, I was singing something with no words. Ancient sounds rouse up from within me. I had tears in my eyes. Something emerged as I sang. It was sadness; I guess. Something from the depth of my soul soared out. And, I had thought - ‘that’s it, that’s how I feel’. Language had never explained it as best as the foreign sound that escaped through my lips.

And, I would come back; the day after that and the day after that. I immersed myself in the life that Michael and his friends led. And, I found bliss.

The next morning I met Michael before the Café. The sun was out and I was in high spirits. He introduced me to a friend and we settled onto the sidewalk.

His name was Nature. He was a struggling artist. He had busked for awhile to survive on the East Coast. He had faced a lot of opposition from Police officers against his occupation of sidewalks. He’d heard Berkeley was a haven for homeless musicians. So, he’d moved.

Nature - May 20th 2011 

‘Let’s see how many join us’ Michael had interjected before heading into the Café to do a Tarot reading. I waited by the sidewalk with Nature. Two Young men passed us starring curiously. I might have looked out of place. So, I just smiled. Then they stopped. And, soon they were sitting with us.

Then another and another joined us. Soon there was many. And, we all just sat there. Watching people pass us by. I guess, we all decided to just stop for the day. Where were any of us trying to get anyways? That day I felt like everything I was looking for was right where I sat emanating Joy.

Family in seconds - May 20th 2011 

By late afternoon I headed to People’s Park, which was near the Café, with my new brothers. Free food was being served there. We found ourselves a plot of grass. Nearby a young man was erratically setting up his piano, guitar and set of books. I joined him. And, spent the day singing and reading some of the books he laid about in the grass.

People's Park - May 20th 2011 

As I write about this day, what stands out the most is how easily I fell into love. I found it so easily. I had been all alone. I hadn’t known any of the people I met for more than a day. Yet, I had felt more comfortable and loved than I had felt in very long.  

Also, I had felt so free. Presumptions and fear set aside I had met so many wonderful people. Among those who did not judge easily. But, rather accepted and encouraged you to be yourself. I had discovered my interest in singing. 

The simplicity of those few days will be forever engrained in the depth of my soul. There was no pursuit and no phathonable future benefit from spending my time lying in that park mingling or singing with these various souls.

I discovered, it was the little pleasures that gave the greatest joy. There was nothing tangible gained from the day.  Yet, something intangible had etched a smile across my face, soul and memory. A smile that had been absent for far too long. 

No comments:

Post a Comment