Monday, June 05, 2006

Regret

Day five at Esalen, the famous meditation and awareness center in Big Sur. I’m on a personal retreat; alone, doing nothing every day except reading and napping, making art, taking baths in the sulfur tubs, meditating and writing.

Day five and I’m standing naked in the open air shower on the cliffs above the sea after my third or fourth sulfur bath of the day. These daily baths have softened and quieted me. I find I have very little to say to people, which is unusual for my big mouth. But now, standing naked at 46, tan and lean after a week of clean food and silence, I find myself standing across from a handsome young man I’d seen in passing all week, each of us too shy to muster anything past “hello.” Now we’re naked and showering alone above the cliffs. He is tall and tan, dark, curly hair, in his 20’s. I think to say something about the large, round mandala tattoo on his back, but this week of stillness has left me incapable of small talk. I mean to look up at him and gesture our connection, but I look down instead, pretending it doesn’t matter; this nakedness, this attraction, this moment. I pretend this sort of thing happens all the time. Pretend I don’t live three hours away with a husband and two daughters who I will return to tomorrow just in time to drive the gymnastics carpool and spend the rest of the week figuring out summer camps for them.

Through the water I see him looking at me, staring at my body. All I need to do is lift my head and meet his eye. But I don’t. I pretend I don’t see him. And then the moment passes and I dry off and I am back in my clothes and walking up the hill to something else, anything, doesn’t matter, something different that takes me away from the simple surrender of eyes meeting in a shower, naked. Two weeks later and all I can think about is how for one moment I might have looked up and simply met his eye.

20 comments:

dddcupcake said...

i am wondering about the name, "regret." what do you regret? do you feel you missed a connection, a chance to feel desire, a chance to feel? what would meeting his eye have meant, or would it have led to something for you?

snowsparkle said...

i'm not going to smear syrup all over this and devour it like i'd like to. no. this is one to savor, like a subtle tea in a china cup resting in the tall golden grasses of a broad hill at sunrise. yum! your writing is so delicious!

dweezila said...

to DDDcupcake....

Meeting his eye wasn't about what would happen afterwards. I simply wish that I had had the courage to look up in that moment when life was looking me straight in the eye...when I was gloriously naked, literally and figuratively, and just be with myself like that. I was strong, beautiful and I would have loved to open to that.

Deezee said...

I love this piece, fully inside your head, I stood beside you. And I understand the regret...

But this is a beautiful way to reveal the many components of ourselves...

MB said...

Courage. It springs from love, I think. Of which desire is only sometimes part.

dddcupcake said...

to dweezila,
you were owning your nakedness,your beauty- feeling your power in solitude- a rare place in your fully connected and committed life. when i look at younger people, naked, life seems so simple- i think of being free, of having other choices- it is blissfully simple. perhaps by looking down and not engaging you were preserving your freedom.

dweezila said...

cupcake...

i like what you wrote. Maybe so, maybe so. There was something very lush in my silence. I wasn't giving much away. Was saving it for myself.

Dale said...

(o)

erised said...

I wonder sometimes if the reason we don't open to others is that we fear they won't actually rise to the occasion, so we hide instead, and allow ourselves the fantasy that we denied ourselves a moment, or more, of Truth that surely would have happened if we'd only looked up.

For what it's worth, I'm looking at you as much as I can...

Dale said...

Okay, Dweez, I'm answering you in bits. Posting them on mole, what the heck.

Adriana Bliss said...

Found you through mole - fantastic writing. What's interesting is the concept of nakedness, openness, and yet there's the cover of the water itself. Something remained hidden there in the shower by your not looking up, no?

Glad to have found you.

Adriana Bliss said...

Problems posting here...apologies if it's showing up more than once. Found you through mole - fantastic writing.

This post touched me deeply - how sad to be without courage when you are fully yourself. What's beautiful is the truth that there always remains something covered no matter how naked you are. Here you have the water itself as a veil.

Glad to have found you.

Burning Woman said...

oh honey. damn. you just woke up that moment in me. and then the one after it. and the one after that. it makes my loneliness bearable to read your honesty.

la vie en rose said...

ah yes, if only we could stop pretending...the whole world might just open up...

Kathryn said...

i need to go on a personal retreat.

Marilyn said...

I treasure moments like the one you've described. I pull them out occasionally and finger them like touchstones. To remind me of a previous version of myself...in those moments when I need to be reminded that there was one. In those moments when I ponder what might have been...and someday might still be...

kelly rae said...

just found you. what an amazing entry. your writing is so beautiful. i just heard of this retreat center this morning and here you are writing about it. the quiet of it. love that. need that.

fog said...

thanks so much for writing this. you provoked me to think about why i reacted so strongly to your post.

based on my own experience: meeting someone's gaze is far more frightening in a way than allowing your naked body to be seen. meeting someone's gaze is acknowledging them and accepting what their eyes may convey.

i have certainly had moments where i rejected the opportunity to acknowledge another person's attempt to encounter me. they took a risk to do so, and i did not reward their risk with similar courage.

i think the saddest thing is that they took a risk and desired contact; and instead of the world becoming less lonely in that moment, it became more lonely.

depressing: but perhaps we can all learn to look into the eyes of others and give them that very generous gift a little more often.

jack barry said...

yup.... a moment missed.

Anonymous said...

yup... a nice moment thwarted.