Monday, January 16, 2012

In the Beginning

In the Beginning

This is a writing about home.  After months of walking around the town, I found my walk to where I can watch the earth spin; such hints of life in the universe, feeling the shadows fill, the way the colors round out to darkness, keep me sane.  I feel us falling away from the sun.  When I think “son of god,” I think only of this.  To me, it is what unites and unifies everything.  All of energy is sun energy.  I write by the power of a burning mass of hydrogen and helium sending waves of light towards a rock spinning around the sun.  The earth, an accretion of heavy metals, possibly expelled during the creation of the sun, and growing in size by colliding with other smaller similar objects, was initially a molten ball of heat and as water formed on the surface, it cooled outer crusts.  These crusts, floating on a sea of lava deep below the surface, emerge through the salt oceans.  And on these crusts and in the oceans, the earth collects, converts, and stores the energy of our sun.  The earth is a history of evolving organisms powered by our sun.  It is in this place, on this moving mass of earth, this time of unfathomable history, I was born, a complicated, growing symbiotic mass that eats sun energy.  I have felt the sun each day for years of my early life here in this little spot of crust at the edge of the Pacific Ocean.  Here, I went to school and converted sun energy into the ability to read and write.  Here, I stored sun energy as memories of friends and family.  Here, through such amazing systems of planets spinning, of water cycling, or carbon converting, I ate, drank, grew, learned, and loved.  If I am a sentient being, I live only in connection with systems of energy so large and complex, I am humbled and in awe of the few years I am allowed to live on this earth and watch the sun set.  If I were to worship anything, I worship the sun.  And my god sits somewhere out beyond the universe, somewhere we will never be able to see, and put into motion galaxies and solar systems that continuously amaze me.  I eat the sun each day, breathe the air, and drink the coolest water and want only the healthiest earth I can possibly imagine because each day is filled by the beauty of time.  I fear how little I have.
            So, after years of schooling, after decades of eating the grains and seeds of the earth, Santa Rosa plums from our backyard, See Canyon Apples, Bell Peppers growing in the alluvial earth of the Santa Lucia Mountains, abalone harvested by my father, fish from Lopez Lake, powering my mind on carbohydrates and proteins, I have tried to learn and understand this system of earth as best I can.  I have failed miserably.  Nonetheless, when I had a chance to do research for my PhD on human and environment connections, I could think of no better place to study than that of my home.  Today, I start a short story, a walk through place and time to try and share my home with you.
Today is December 13th, 2011, Saint Lucia’s Day, 12 days until Christmas, and on the Julian calendar it was known to be the shortest day of the year.  It is a day named for a Christian martyr who heard the word of Christ and gave all of her dowry money to the poor.  When her soon-to-be-husband heard of this, he accused her of believing in Christianity and she was sentenced to death.  When guards came to take her away, they could not move her, she was like a mountain.  Hundreds of men and oxen tried to move her and couldn’t.  They piled wood around her to burn, and it did nothing.  She prophesized to the guards and even when they slit her throat she kept speaking to them.

After long days of storms on the open ocean, the swell subsided, the skies cleared, and on this day, in the year 1602, Sebastian Vizcaino rounded Point Sal and saw the Coast Range emerging from the sand dunes at Oceano.  He named the mountain range the Santa Lucia.

Today, over 400 years later, I am hiking out to Point Sal.  With me is an old friend, no, more than that, he was a neighbor; we shared a neighborhood in common; we shared a lot of time wondering around our hometown together.  He was like the brother I never had while growing up (I have one now, but he is much younger).  I thought I was going to hike alone, but the night before, Chris called me up and said he was in and excited to go.  He had never been to Paradise Beach.
History is strange to me.  We often think of it as being linear.  It has a place where it must have started, and perhaps we think it must all end too.  For my Master’s degree I studied the idea of epic in poetry.  All great epics begin in the middle of the story.  It is called en medius res.  I think they start in the middle because epic stories of ancient history have no clear beginnings.  Some, such as the writings of Homer, don’t even have a clear author because they were oral traditions passed by the light of camp fires for centuries.  For all of humans’ existence, we haven’t known clearly where anything began, but we try to make sense through stories.  The past is a mystery we unravel as the present moves forward.  Somewhere in history, the sun must have started “and there was light.”  And then, the firmament, the expanse of sky, the division of water on earth and water in clouds opened to a steamy hot molten earth and condensed again into clouds and rained again onto hot land and condensed again and the earth must have been humid.  I begin this writing, not at Point Sal, but on a walk towards Point Sal because this is a place where the ocean and land meet, but I can’t magically appear on the beach there.  Nothing begins from darkness except from the darkness of our memory and history.  The complexity of human migration has no real beginning.  However, this is a place where the water cycle converges, the middle of the coastline of the Chumash people.  Bang!  The car door shuts and we begin to hike.

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