Ocean View: Thursday, August 5, 2010


Ocean View

Thursday, August 5, 2010

By Jude Rittenhouse

Along with no television, we also chose not to have air conditioning when we moved here a dozen years ago. In the past, that has meant enduring a couple of uncomfortable weeks around the end of July, beginning of August—a time that encouraged trips to the beach for long walks in ocean’s cooling waters. This year, life’s demands have kept me too often indoors. I’ve grown surprisingly accustomed to the sweat presently beaded on my temples and upper lip. The sound of a rotating fan companions me into childhood flashbacks even as it hums this present moment into an unknowable future.

In this evening’s soup-like air, I feel suspended—rather like moonlight that has been prevented by fog from reflecting on ocean’s surface. All of time feels present, yet also somehow inaccessible. Yes, I’m stretched out here in the midst of my own mythical journey. To my left, a calico cat dreams of murder and safety; to my right, a fan hums about tragedy and wonder.

Limbo is an odd land and I imagine we each flail around in it uniquely, just as we do with all of life’s territories. If, when we were small, life felt occasionally safe and abundant, hope may provide phoenix-like rides out of seeming-endings and other ash-filled or dangerous-feeling places. Personally, I was bottle-fed on fear and weaned on dire warnings. So I’ve spent decades and many thousands of dollars learning other ways to navigate. During these days of facing further and deeper income cuts, my mother’s terribly slow dying process, a dear friend’s breast cancer and some lesser and larger losses I’ll leave unnamed, I have scurried in all of the new and old ways. Trying. Trying not to try. Practicing. Crying. Praying. Cursing. Studying. Researching. Meditating. Forgetting. Remembering. Clinging. Releasing. And, always, this inevitable breathing.

Tonight I sit here in mythical limbo, sweating it out alone, knowing quite definitely that you are here with me, whether or not you know it. If I could save myself, I would have. If I could save you, I’d be there doing it. I’d save everyone I’ve ever known and not known (including already-deceased friends and family members) from grief and hope and loss and destiny and desire and silence. I’d be a moonbeam or firefly or breeze infusing your dreams with whatever bits of wisdom you’ll ever need.

But this myth I’m making—we’re all making—is reality and none of us can’t save anyone or anything. The best we can do is to bear truth. Breathing will happen all on its own. What I want to be is kind, loving, compassionate, but this cat and I both know there will be moments when I’m angry, righteous, frightened. All I can do is age gracefully, graciously bearing truth:

The Nature of Life in Material Form

is constant

change. Endless

transformation. Continual

self re-creation. Never knowing

the whole

of any story. Too often believing

in that false ending: death

which simply adds tears,

mythology, salt and

opens up space

for those next racing waves

that will not—cannot—be held

or saved.


Jude Rittenhouse has received a Writer’s Grant from the Vermont Studio Center, a first place short story award, and various poetry awards. In addition to her holistic practice, Integrated Healing Services, Jude teaches at conferences, retreats, schools, hospitals, alternative health centers, and domestic violence shelters. She is also an inspirational speaker and presenter for literary audiences, cancer survivors, spiritual gatherings, high school and college students, and other groups. In all of her endeavors, she strives to empower others as they explore their unique journeys toward wholeness.

To learn more about her holistic practice or to inquire about her poetry chapbook, Living In Skin, contact: Jude@JudeRittenhouse.com or call (401) 348-8079.



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