About Me

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Born in the US, raised on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, lived in Italy, the US, and Canada. Lover of language, travel, colour, and the natural world.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Joy can't hide here

It is Wednesday night, early, early Thursday morning. I should be asleep, but when do I ever do what I should be doing? Tell me, friends, when?

This evening after I finished work I went for a long walk along the boardwalk that runs along part of the bay skirts Charlottetown, the capitol city of Prince Edward Island. It was a beautiful evening. The kind of evening that pulls you like some gravitational force out of your house to immerse yourself fully in the wash of its golden rays. I walked along the boardwalk slowly, feeling the breeze blow through the combs of my splayed fingers; listening to it play through the thick canopy of maples at the end of the boardwalk and watching it press the ocean into millions of tiny ripples of light and shadow lapping up against the boulders that are piled up as a breakwater along the boardwalk. The sky was clear blue. The ocean deep, inky blue, and the grass that sharp ripe green of mid-summer. Out in the bay at least twenty white mesmerizing sails swirled in the wind.

When I reached the opposite end of the boardwalk I turned around and started back, this time slipping off my sandals and rolling up my pant legs so that I could leap along from boulder to boulder, the sound of the ocean licking stone to my right. When I was a child I has a special place called "my rocks." It may be that everything is "my ______" when you are an only child, but these rocks were special. They were sculpted and carved out by volcanic activity and the relentless surge and fall of the Mediterranean, leaving an interesting landscape that to most people was just a rocky shoreline, but to me was "my house." My house had a bedroom and bathroom, kitchen (complete with salt water basin) and even a staircase leading up to my private quarters from the living room. I would enter my house and go straight upstairs to "my special room," a section of the rocky shoreline that was sculpted out hollow leaving a basin of stone into which I could curl like a fetus. From my bowl room I could peer out over the lip of stone and down to the waves below which would, on windy days, crash with a fury and recklessness that I loved, sending spray up into the air that would drift over me, leaving a salty mist on my lips and in my hair, and even leaving rings of dried salt crystals in the indentations around me that I would scratch at with my fingernails and dissolve on my tongue. I loved this little rock bowl, and would visit it often, sitting for long periods of time just listening to the ocean and often whispering Baha'i prayers into the wind. When I return home now I always visit "my rocks" at least once. I still crouch down into my stone bowl, but it is a lot smaller that it once was -- my body having grown to fill its curved walls. Still....I sit and listen to the ocean, and people pass by and probably wonder why a grown woman is crouching in a rock cavity staring out to sea . Of course it is the little girl with her head full of dreams, hopes, fears and the calming rhythmic lull of waves that is curled into that stone--the child that lives on  in each one of us at some level). There is always a story, and a trigger that brings it back. Like the leaping from boulder to boulder today. The texture of sandstone beneath my feet. The sound of waves breaking. And the smell of salt that is synonymous with home.

I walked the rest of the way home barefoot with my jeans rolled up and an awareness of how odd it must seem to those passing me on the boardwalk to see a woman with a strand of pearls around her neck and and dressed for work wandering along a boardwalk barefoot. The world seems to have certain expectations of us as adults -- the expectation that we will have grown out of certain ways of being, doing, and maybe even thinking. That a grown woman will not suddenly break out with a cartwheel or backflip in the middle of a beach or strip of inviting grass, for example. Or leap from boulder to boulder barefoot in her good clothes and pearls. It makes me smile because when I am out there on those boulders I am the boulders. I am the wind. There is no woman. I vanish and all that I am aware of is the elements of place. There are no pearls or makeup or hairdos. Just the air and salt water and that saturated, blinding golden sunshine.

I love that there is no line between me and the natural world. That I feel its wildness in my bones. That when I was out there yesterday boulder hopping I was thinking not of work or bills or to do lists or life goals, but about how it might feel to be one of those graceful white sails being filled with and harnessing the power of wind or a seagull soaring on wind currents high above my head. And as I think these things I wonder when and where (and why) we get such hemmed in expectations of what it means to be adults when in reality releasing the wild that lives inside --the wild that reflects that freedom of expression that is the natural world--is such an ageless expression of beauty and joy.

I came home and climbed the stairs feeling a deep contentment in my heart and body. A few years ago a dear friend sang at an academic conference that I attended here in Charlottetown. She stood up and sang in the middle of an academic conference. It blew my mind to watch her reclaim and express the joy she finds in poetry and song in the middle of this conference that although not openly stated, was so full of expectations about the right ways to communicate with the audience. She only sang one line -- "Joy can't hide here -- and why would it want to?" which she repeated over and over, pausing in between to let it sink in. Indeed, I thought. Why would joy want to hide?

Over the past few years I have been seeking out that joy in my life. Finding ways of giving it permission to reclaim its rightful place in my life. Yesterday evening returning home into my sun lit apartment I was deeply aware not only of the tremendous abundance that I have in my life -- abundance of friendship, abundance of the lush, wild beauty of the natural world, of fresh food, of love.....but also of the ever-constant presence of joy in my life these days. The conscious awareness of it not hiding but standing contentedly in the patch of sunlight in the middle of my living room floor.

And you, friends? Is your joy hiding? Or have you found ways of giving it permission to emerge and inhabit its natural home front and centre in the heart of living?


  1. just reading about joy brings joy!

    you are describing true joy which is one with your soul without the veils of self trapping it inside..surrounded by the Presence of God in His magnificent creation or expression of His Will.. this beauty of God is joy unbounded and penetrates the soul deeply.

    my joy at this moment in life is found in the smiles of my family, from observing rabbits, butterflies, trees and deer. it fills my heart in the expressions of love from friends and most vitally in prayer, deepening on the Writings and servitude throughout the day.

    sometimes it hides behind the layers of self which find expression through frustration with my children's behavior or fears that creep into my mind, or impatience with circumstances that encompass my heart.

    i love your ability to express that freedom to be your true self, a soul, with Nature. for me, it would include dancing and drumming to music that serves as a ladder for my soul's nearness to God. i enjoyed diving in the pool this summer, feeling like a child, as well as playing card games and touching a frog.. :)

  2. Hello my friend. While we may not really be friends I feel like you are a friend who is sending me a letter, telling me about your day, your joy, sharing your past. I do so love your writing. I can see you curled into the cave of your childhood and honour you for not worrying about what others think. I believe we all need this moments of sheer joy, of just letting go of the pearls and work clothes and jump or swing or do that cartwheel. I too am filled with joy. A dear friend was on the island with her little girl, 16 months old, and a few of us gathered at the beach to share food and conversation and to patiently wait for that sleeping child to wake so we could all see her. It has been a year for most of us since we last saw these two. I felt such gratitude to be with all of these people, to live on this magnificent island, to watch the sunset behind the mountains on Vancouver Island, to see kids play and splash in the bay. Life is so good when we let go of all of the trappings and just be present, in the moment, in gratitude. Love Sam

  3. Hello Ariana,

    I love your words, your heartful stories, the way you "present" yourself and the world around you for all of us to see it with such loving. So I've nominated you for One Lovely Blog Award. Go to http://ahavashira.com/?p=5162 to learn more.

    With such joy,