We've recently returned from a brief journey to Vancouver, B.C. We went 1) to see Sting and Paul Simon in concert, 2) to visit friends we dearly love, and 3) to renew my impressions of the city, which I had lived in in 1967-68. Our trip was fabulous, albeit challenged by late trains and snow, but that was to be expected. This morning I took time to review that eventful year my first husband and I spent there, fleeing the FBI and anti-war politics of the U.S.
I am currently reading SEVEN WISDOMS OF LIFE, by Shai Tubali, which is the most in depth and compassionate information on our chakra system that I've ever come across. This piece figures into my retrospective.
We landed in B.C. (after being photographed crossing the border by FBI) in August, 1967, and drove to Taylor, B.C., 900 miles north, with our 5-year old son, and a developing fetus safe inside my second chakra. My husband was hired to principal a 4-room schoolhouse that sat on the Peace River, across from a U.S. oil refinery and a few miles north of extensive U.S. wheat fields. The housing they provided was a challenge for me to beautify; the wasps swarmed like flies, and I wondered if I could survive a winter there. But not for long, because the second month of teaching found my husband fired (for abolishing the strap, having a school newspaper; and because he didn't want the 4th graders to be bussed 50-miles into Dawson Creek and home again every day, but the school board did.) We moved in with draft dodgers from the U.S. that had established themselves in Dawson Creek.
I won't go into my waitressing at the only all-night café in D.C., or my husband coming down with double pneumonia. Sufficeth to say, he headed down to Vancouver eventually to find himself a job, and us housing. I won't describe the VW van ride to Edmonton in a blizzard, carrying along the 19 cartons of books we had schlepped from the U.S. But I will mention that we had taken a 15-year old under our wings, Valerie, who was also pregnant, and she travelled with my son and I. We all we took the train down to Vancouver, the warmest city in Canada.
The first apartment was over the owners of the home, who drank and became violent nearly every weekend. That triggered my own experience of living with violence (although at the time I never made the connection) and led to panic attacks. My husband brought home a puppy who was killed shortly on the street in front of our home. And he also brought home the Abbey Lane (Beattles) album instead of food on Thanksgiving.
We moved to another apartment, where we signed a contract not to have a dog, but alas, he found another one. After she was hit and sported a cast, the landlords told us to leave. On to a fixer-upper farmhouse in Steveson, south of Vancouver, that I adored, and we immediately set to painting (VOC-poisoning, nausea, weakness). We also took in a U.S. draft dodger who played incredible classical guitar. He lived with us for about 6 months.
Our second son was born in the spring, and Valerie's daughter arrived five days later. Apparently this co-incidence was too disturbing for the Children's Aid Society, where my husband worked. They quickly decided he was a bigamist, and fired him, much to his delight, since he was yearning for the States. In July, having spent the last of our money, he painted "California or Bust" on the car, and we returned to the States. Valerie found friends to live with, and the guitarist moved on as well.
It all made sense at the time. One thing leads to another (especially if through poverty one is unable to plan ahead). But this morning, over my second cup of coffee, I counted the major events in those twelve months: 5 moves, pregnancy, birth and nursing, 2 dogs, a pregnant teen to mother, and then the return to a country I had easily rejected. As I reviewed, I felt my first three chakras activating. Each day was a survival issue, with problem-solving in place of creativity and the need for substantial power over the onslaughts of life. I lived my life primarily from those "low" urgencies, unable to access the wisdom, communication or equanimity of my upper body. Not to say I wasn't wise, or speaking my own truth, but above all I was focused on survival, on external in-my-face situations.
Food needed to be in the cupboards, prepared and served. Going to do laundry meant loading up the red wagon and pulling it (and child) to the laundromat, through West Broadway's traffic, which is still crowded and intense; or using the wringer washer in the yard, and hanging clothes every day. I smoked cigarettes (to offer a moment of "calm") and drank coffee. No alcohol. And no time out. No "dates" with my husband, no afternoon naps. The closest to meditation I came was the dawn feedings of my newborn when the house was quiet and the morning birds began their inquiries into the day. Luckily my inborn love of beauty and children always offered nourishment.
Truly, I marvel that I survived, let alone my two boys. I cannot fathom my inner world, except to make the best of the next challenge that was surely around the corner. Making do, and thinking our lives would get better with each major decision. But we were on a horizontal trajectory instead of vertical "upward mobility." In fact, we returned to California and lived in a plywood and canvas arrangement on the backside of my husband's family's ranch. Such was the life of a drop-out, fringe family in the sixties.
So this morning I am swimming in an ocean of gratitude for moving through, on, beyond, way beyond those intense years. My consciousness has emerged from chaos to stillness, from survival to manifestation of love, service and devotion. Stability feels perfect. My angels worked overtime then, and now I work for them. These are the blessings of retrospect, and of having time to affirm my journey. Somehow through the years my chant has shifted from "may I be well, may I be happy, may I have peace," to "may all beings be well, may all beings be happy, may all beings have peace."