Winter Eyes

The sun gave off an extra oomph of warmth yesterday, although today I expect that the effect will be lessened. I went to the swimming pool about noon to put in some laps. My muscles enjoy gliding through water more than they do trotting across the terrain. Quite a few people were lying on lounge chairs around the perimeter of the pool, soaking up these rare and precious winter rays. When California receives its first winter cold snap, my body usually goes into a sort of spasm of revolt or rejection.

Even when the weather turns warm, I still feel cold inside. It’s mostly because of living on the edge of the redwood forest. The tree tops block light, cast long shadows all day, and trap cool moist air close to the ground. Out in the direct sunlight the air temperature may be 70, but more like 45 or 50 where the light cannot penetrate. I dress in layers, putting things on and taking them off, mainly sweat shirts, as I must work at being comfortable during the day.

Last evening before the light of day was gone from overhead, I stoked up my propane campfire and sat close by it while continuing to read my volume of Thoreau. Reading him feels more authentic when a lively flame dances near by. We have no moose here in Santa Cruz, but I have had my mind filled with images of them for a day or so now as I traipse along with Thoreau on his lively accounts of exploring the forests of Maine.

Often when I read something, it causes my mind to race. Even writing that is purported to be of a meditative quality can be so rich in imagery and in thought that I find a stimulating excitement in it that counter effects the tranquility that I am looking for. Mood and focusing ability have something to do with how I respond to what I read. Poetry some days misses me altogether. Most fiction doesn’t speak to me the same way it did when I was younger. It’s a description of a walk in the woods that seems to draw my interest, at least during these cooler winter days. I don’t need a path or a plot, a strong character, or particularly fancy and elusive language, but just a guide who is good at describing what he sees, and leaves me enough room in my own mind to let me see some of it for myself.

Sometimes I feel like my eyes were ripped out of my head at a young age, and replaced with the eyes of somebody else. I could not enjoy the freedom of looking at life and thinking about it, interpreting the meaning of it all, on my own terms. The eyes that had been given to me from others wanted me to see it differently. How much of a problem or difficulty this must be for others as well, to be disallowed the freedom to see for one’s self.

Recently I have read of the people of North Korea living under the dictatorship of Kim Jong Un, and how it is that if they do not express sincere sentiment that is in agreement with his thinking, they may be hauled off to remote torture camps. What madness in controlling the emotions of other people, unless, of course, the people are willing to be controlled by others, but I don’t see any of that going on in our modern society.

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