Since my last entry, I’ve finally settled into a deep, relaxed, vacation mode. It always takes nearly a week to be able to fully shift gears from our more purposeful and trying regular life to the full, relaxed swagger of island time, at least for me. Then suddenly it hits you and you know you’re there as you find yourself cruising down some palm-lilned causeway on your motorcycle with the sea breaze whipping your hair and wide grin growing on your face, and deep down in your soul you feel a cosmic “Ahhh…” of relief that has been trapped inside of you for too long waiting for expression.
Once that feeling hits, time starts to fade away, plans cease to be made, and you just ride through the cycles of the tides, sun, and moon as blissful and carefree as the tropical songbirds that serenade from dawn to dusk from swaying limbs of strangler figs and from nests within the ever whispering stands of palm and yucca.
In typical contradictory Piscean fashion I’ve been balancing the purifying devotions of twice daily yoga and meditation with the sporadically intoxifying indulgences of tobacco and cannabis blended cigarettes, a nip of tequila here and there, fried fish, and the occasional hard seltzer. With a mind as fluffy and dispersed as the clouds above from such alchemy and a body primed by yoga, I’ve been drifting through my days fishing, playing my hindu flute and drum, exploring the jungle backcountry on motorcyle and foot, enjoying antics with alligators, snapping pictures, chatting with fellow campers, and flipping the pages of my Edward Abbey book over coffee, sometimes laughing out loud in sheer delight from his curmudgeony wit.
On one of my walks I was in a reverie listening to an audiobook while gliding barefoot along a swamp trail when I almost stepped on a very large, full-sized, granddaddy alligator. I immediately leapt back with an audible gasp and retreated several feet to safety. The path was only four foot wide and flanked on both sides by impassable swamp and thickets, with the alligator lying lengthwise along the right edge. That’s not quite enough distance to safely squeeze by this fellow and it didn’t help that the gator was arched inward facing the path, in perfect position to pounce. And yet, I didn’t have the heart to do the sensible thing and chuck a branch at it or poke it with a long stick to goad it back into the swamp. Call me a bleeding heart hippy, but he was there first, peacefully enjoying his afternoon sunbath until I came along. My instincts told me that he was only slightly annoyed that I didn’t just go on already and walk by. He wasn’t threatened or menacing, and he knew that he was along a pedestrian path, having acted out this scenerio nearly every day with timid tourists or aggressive alpha dads since much of his existence. I felt he preferred that I don’t turn this into some “thing” but just carry on by. And so I did, really fucking cautiously, hugging the outer edge of the trail, ready at any moment to leap and run like hell. Once I got to center mass of the parallel reptile, I did indeed leap forward and run past anyhow to assure my safe escape. Unfortunately my leap did startle the alligator and he erupted in a spasmadic fury of tail and limb, leaping up and back partially into the pond and then pausing, still again but for a hiss coming through his exposed and menacing teeth. I got away and we both went about our day.
I had a chance to redeem myself with the gator community the next afternoon. I was playing my Indian bansuri flute in the delightful little nook behind my camper on the ponds edge. It was that sublime time of day, perhaps ninety minutes before the sunset. I stood there improvising on my flute, playing along with the chorus of sounds around me: the rustling of the palms, the steady squeak and squak of birds, even distant laughter and the drone of a far off plane. Once again, the vibrations of the flute drew the interest of the resident alligator of this pond, a sinister looking one-eyed gator who would instill more fear if only he were a few feet longer. At his length of only five feet, mostly tail, he could at best rip off a hand or foot if he got a good clench on it. He approached the past two days as well when I was playing at the waters edge. Alligators are very sensitive to vibrations, so are the fish who visibly hover by the shore, and a full-sized, bamboo bansuri flute makes powerful yet sweet resonances. Whether he’s just curious or pleased, he finds it worth his time to come have a listen. As he slowly approached, hovering in the water with his limbs and claws extended, gently propelled by the serpentine motion of his tail, I slowly moved right to the waters edge and sat down cross legged. I have a lot of experience with gators and know that they are much more complex and communicative than most would give them credit for. I rank them up there with dogs in theie ability relate to man. I intended this gesture of sitting at the waters edge to be welcoming. I wanted to show both a lack of fear and aggression, an acceptance. I believe my gesture was taken as intended.
Between the solid edge and the open water where the gator approached, there was a border of about four feet of thick vegetation. Approaching directly on, the gator floated right onto this vegetation and came to a stop, suspended in the pond grasses as if in a hammock. The tip of his nose was only about three feet from the tip of my own. There is undoubtedly a mystic power in holding the intimate gaze of a wild creature. You become fully present and the mind becomes silent. A tangibly felt transmission occurs. Hypnotized by the moment such, I proceeded to play my flute. I simply played from my heart, playing the melodies that arose in my imagination, and tried to keep the tone sweet, each note intentional, while holding focus on the gator. I played like this for about five minutes. The music was deep and haunting and like all natural things, it resolved its expression naturally before disappearing again into the silence it arose from. The gator and I sat in silence for a moment. Then he back paddled and floated away.
When I stowed my flute and returned to my van, two different campers sought me out to express their appreciation for the beautiful flute playing. At the risk of sounding conceited, I’ll confess I get that a lot when I play my bansuri in public. But I don’t take credit for it. I don’t believe my playing is the real essence of the beauty, but the tone of this ancient and finely crafted instrument, as well as the emotive power of the timeless and sacred ragas I play. My guru Karunamayi says that the bamboo flute is the only instrument of all earthly instruments that can directly heal and activate the chakras. No other instrument can do that she says. So there’s a reason people are drawn to the mystical sound of the hindu flute, and it is the same reason the alligator was drawn.
I have been writing fiction by the way, and I’m actually quite happy with the modest progress thus far. Only I’m finding that fiction is more time consuming and tedious than journaling, so posting daily fiction worth anyone’s time is probably out of reach for me. But I’ll post a few things I’m working on before I return north. In the meantime, I’m gonna just keep doing what I do, chasing this bliss, and see if any more contemplations of worth find their way to my fingertips over joints and coffee.
One thought on “Finding my flow in Florida…”
I’ve only been close to a gator once and that was enough for me!!! Stay safe!