Yesterday… in fact all weekend it has been gorgeous weather. Stunning actually. It averages around 83 degrees midday… cool mornings and cool evenings with a steady breeze enough to keep some mosquitoes away. I have been working in the yard for weeks clearing out old overgrown nuisances and raking up the debris… I even put a new Home Depot Special “Bamboo” reed fence around a lot of the yard that has grown thin in the areas the privacy hedge has declined. Anyway… I wanted a bit of a change of pace for this Saturday to shake things up a bit, so I took the scooter to the beach on Saturday morning.
Absolutely stunning!!! The water was refreshing and cool and it was perfect. So we are sitting there for a while enjoying the breeze and the waves… and suddenly off to my left I hear this high pitched yelling. I am looking around lazily for where it might be coming from when I see two guys who look to be about 25 and maybe 18, standing by the waters edge about 70 yards down the beach. One guy, the older one, is in the water up to his shins facing the beach trying to coax the other into the water, and the other is standing at the very edge of the water looking at the ocean. And looking at each other. The younger one at the waters edge who I found out later his name is Michael, was the one yelling. He was not just yelling… but laughing and grinning and holding his hands up by his face wiggling his fingers in pure delight! Every now and then he would get what seemed like a wave of unprecedented joyousness and it would come over his entire body in a wave and his arms would shoot out from both sides and he’d scream and throw his head back laughing with eyes clenched tight. It was amazing to watch. I was riveted. As Michael moved into the water the joy became unbearable for him! Waves were delightful and as he turned to face the beach the sound of his squeals were unavoidable. Just awesome!
And I started thinking about what he must be experiencing. I am not sure if this is autism, or what the diagnosis in clinical terms is. And I am not so sure I believe what is commonly thought of as people like Michael being slower or less capable of thought than the average college grad. I am just not sure… I just think that Michael on that beach yesterday was seeing stuff I wish I could see. He was seeing and feeling and sensing and smelling and EXPERIENCING the moment. And loving it! He was having a crazy heightened sensory overload and I think he was doing exactly what some folks pay all kinds of gurus to achieve. All this money on meditation and enlightenment, when really all you need to do is hang out with Michael for a bit and experience the world in real time.
I had this friend while I was growing up all through High School. His name is Marty and I am not sure where he is at this time being almost 30 years ago. But Marty and I used to sit around in high school smoking pot and hanging out and having pretty deep conversations. And this one night Marty says in absolute seriousness…. and please, we are teenagers in the early 80′s at this point and there was none of this crazy socially acceptable highly defined terms for someone who is mentally “disabled”, we called them retarded. So Marty says “I wish I were retarded. I mean I really do, like if there is reincarnation I want to come back as a retarded person”. And this spawned one of our most memorable (for me) conversations, and one of the most thought provoking ideas of my life where this is not the only time I have thought back on it. It has stuck with me all this time… and he went on to say that if he were retarded he imagines he would have it so good and be so much more in tune. He would have none of the self consciousness a normal person has… no boundaries and overthinking. Just impulse and instinct and expression! And pure love! So much love for all things and everyone… the air and the sounds and the colors…. how wonderful! The Funkadelic tune “Free Your Mind (And Your Ass Will Follow)” comes to mind. Freeing your mind. Your conscience. Letting go of thought…
This made me think of another friend from my childhood who I had lost touch with for decades and then we suddenly found each other somehow… via MySpace or something. Regardless, we were catching up and he mentioned he had three kids, one who has Downs Syndrome. He said it was devastating at first for his wife and him, and that his wife started keeping a blog about her pregnancy after they knew and the entire experience. And then he said something I will never forget. He said “Michelle I swear, if I could have ten more kids just like her I would. You have never known such pure love in all the world. She is unlike any creature I have ever known. I walk into a room and she is ecstatic to see me. To see everyone and everything… and it is pure honesty.”
So you may be wondering how this fits in with a blog about my boy Cody. Well… it is a bit obvious I think. The only other creatures I know that experience everything in the moment are animals. And maybe we do not read animals completely. There are a lot of gaps there in communication, granted. But with Michael there is too. When I waded into the water to offer to take their picture together with the older guy’s iPhone they were trying to communicate to each other to stay still and pose… and Michael just could not bear to put his hands down out of his face. But why would you want him to?!!! That is the biggest SMILE SAY CHEESE you could ask for, right? And with Cody it is his tail… or his kisses… or the crazy bounding dance he does when he is really psyched. And with the cats it’s the bug eyed head spin when they see a lizard on the screen. Or with the latest addition to our household Buddy, the Green Cheeked Conure that screeches a high pitched small bird alert when he is excited to see me.
That is the stuff of life!!!! All of it. We could learn so much as a race by just slowing down a bit… watching the animals, or the special people, or the weather, the moon, the stars, the plants grow, the seasons change, the tides…. and breathe…..
So that is my lesson for the weekend. I would like to say a great big THANK YOU to Michael and his brother or friend, for bringing him into my world for a brief afternoon and allowing me to stop and take note… and thank you for teaching me something. I learned a lot this weekend from you Michael… you know how to live, my friend! You showed me how to appreciate in a new way… to see and experience each moment.
I just could not resist writing about this.
On another note I have decided on the tattoo I want, and where. I got a great inked paw print of Cody’s left front foot. I am going to have it tattooed on the top of my left foot…
To symbolize how we walked together for a time.