windows, walls, and the illusion of safety
I suspect that your comment section is going to be folks quoting your writing to you anyway, so I’ll just go ahead and do it too.
“...the lushness of our surroundings became a living temple in which we were quite blissfully engulfed. Tiny worshippers, immersed in the breathing lungs of this sacred earth.”
CHLOE. It’s SO GOOD.
And I’m thankful you didn’t accept the rainforest’s invitation. I’m grateful to have you as a fellow fog-wanderer and delight in basking in the glow of the lamp you hold before you.
“as the spectre of insanity seems to creep, like a fog, into every recess of society” 👏👏 you write so beautifully, Chloe. I loved this piece. Share the wish to escape the human, even as it confounds me when I think how in the abstract, in art, we’ve created so much impossible beauty. ❤️
Really nice photo of that Toucan. I like this line you write: "Mortality is deeply offensive to the ego—but in the moments that I allow myself to feel the truth of just how tenuous “I” am." So true and makes me that much more appreciative of those small moments and find my own patron saint of noticing! :)
How I wish all the world's leaders could read your writing and think about their place and actions on this Earth, Chloe.
As always, your entire post is quoteable. It shifts through melancholy and miracle and is a reminder to do just what the title says.
The toucan is a most majestic bird. I went to Guatemala and Belize in 2016 (?) with Jo and my folks. My father is a huge bird lover and photographer and we were lucky to see a lot of toucans, the same rainbow-billed ones I believe. Incredible things.
Such a vivid and tangible snapshot into your experiences, Chloe, I could almost visualise you and David, "tiny worshippers, immersed in the breathing lungs of this sacred earth."
The daily acknowledgement of how fragile our life is, and the tensions that arise as we try and manage this: I find it allows me to celebrate the little things, now I can add to my routine to also "walk slowly and bow often." 💜
Miraculously stumbled upon your piece.
And humbly, feel seen.
You are a gift.
With profound gratitude,
To spend even one day in a human body on this temple-earth is a gift. I appreciate the way you're able to articulate that truth in a way that's so honest and direct. And there is no better perspective than that of one who has seen a disproportionate amount of death, though you never flaunt the fact, Chloe. I'm grateful for spending most of my 20's as an ICU nurse for the same reason: a clarity about the simultaneous fragility and strength of the human body and soul. St. Mary Oliver would enjoy this piece. Thanks for writing it.
Oh I remember the first time I saw a flamingo in the wild, just last year, while driving in Sicily. They stop there on their way north from Africa and then back. It was truly spectacular. I squealed, as I was on the side of the road and with my husband only. I couldn't contain it.
"David and I both consistently struggle with the incessant pull to abandon ship, to go and live far from the things of man." 🙏⭐💛
Oh wow... Truly magical. Ooooooohhhhhh......
I always wanted to escape to Australia’s northern Daintree rainforest to become a hermit when I was young. It didn’t happen. And I like where I am in life now. But that’s because I found a way to get off the busy merry go round (by retiring) and found a peaceful little village where I feel safe but still connected. I’m a very lucky soul.
Hugs dear Chloe. A vivid, wonderful, inspiring read. Thanks so much.
“…I contemplate the fact that I am not guaranteed the day. Being human is an implicitly fragile endeavour…”
The truth of your contemplation is almost unbearable to face. I find myself going back to re-read it. Not an act of denial of your words. More to cement it into my own brain .To deny it is to hold tight to the fear.
I close my eyes, take a deep breath and open them.
They’re now, all tucked in ,filed away. I know where to find it when it needs repeating (and it most definitely will ).
Acceptance equal to cleansing.
“Lose your mind and come to your senses.”
Thank you Chloe, for graciously offering pure light spoon fed with a smile.
Oh , and thank you for taking me on a trip to the Costa Rican rain forest!
The Toucan! There are colors in it’s beak I’ve never seen before.
Beautiful struggle between society and the remote life, between living and dying, between a civilized world which has begun to look more like a wild and dangerous jungle. I love this, Chloe.
I met those howler monkeys year ago - yeah lots of vocal rage coming out of those little body's... or maybe it's bodies... paragraph 8 is sobering. 🙏🏻 gracias
Your interesting article hit a couple deep chords with me, jungle environment and death. Your hint the jungle is best viewed, as you saw it, behind the protective panes of glass.
I spent 2 years in the Borneo jungle, back when I was young and the jungle was still primitive, before logging and oil palm plantations. The nearest electricity and paved road were 50 miles distant.
It was beautiful and it still had pagan natives with longhouses, gongs, ghosts, and rice wine intoxication.
It also had snakes, (cobras and pythons), Leeches, (tree droppers and water born), flying insects with malaria carriers, hoards of mosquitoes, high humidity and ANTS, the biting/stinging types where you just got out of their way. I saw all these plus crocs and lizards.
I loved it all but wished I had panes of protective glass,.
After a couple months I rode my motorcycle 50 miles, stopped, and hugged an electric power pole.
As to death, we all know we are going to die, but few believe it. That’s how we get through each day, we lie to ourselves with immortality. Now 80, lying is harder but acceptance is easier. Oh I still fib day to day but twice I switched from knowing to believing. The first time was age 34, 2 doctors told me I was going to die. I believed them but was extremely angry, I wanted to draw more of my life’s portrait. A 3rd doctor suggested an alternate possibility that turned out good but I learned how much I did not want to die and it took a few years before I could successfully switch back to immortality.
When 71, I fell into a fire pit and again switched to believing I was going to die but there was no anger, just acceptance. Even in the hospital, when a doctor Ted me I might die, I was nonchalant , except dying at 72 sounded better than 71 on the obit.
Now 80, I think of death as the next big adventure into the unknown. Tomorrow, however, I will get up and live as if immortal.
This bit is just 👌 "but the appropriate response to my fragility is not control—it is humility. Mortality is deeply offensive to the ego..."