Spring '98 Issue 5
Community, Commerce & Consumer Greed
Race & Community on Portland's NE 14th Place
Reflections on Simplicity
A Path To Community
Community Theater by Rebecca O'Day
"It’s that every place you find yourself has wonders to show you regardless of the occasional pelting of the rains of emotions, the winds of change."
She has become my enormous salty Tarot deck. She spreads before me many paths and avenues of reflection. She is the She-Sea who greets me every morning by joining me for tea. She is the Pacific Ocean and she lives just outside my window, across the street from where I live and work. From time to time I need her desperately. I know that she will calm me down, clear my sight and offer up a glimmer of what I should do.
A caustic coastal wind slashed my hair against my wet cheeks and into my eyes. The night was pitch, soundless but for the whipping wind. It seemed that the energy of the whole universe was there in my moment with me. I was swirling . . . fearful, excited, joyful. My own world seemed to be rocked by the pressures of business and personal pursuits. I fell to my knees on lonely, icy stones and felt the hard-soaked sand’s retention of rain pulse into my jeans and quickly turn my legs to steel. I had been feeling discouraged, almost too frightened to go on, one day ready to pack up and flee, the next jubilant about what I have accomplished and come to know about myself and of life here on the “upper left edge” of our country. Listening to her constant voice only and allowing myself to slip out of consciousness, she told me that I too must be constant, trusting in the knowledge of self to just keep on believing. My body swayed, I was on my hands and knees, connecting wholly with the living earth below me. I succumbed to the constant roll and crash of the waves before me, all around me, for me, because of me. I pulled strength from her core and finding my voice I cried out, raged and let go of everything I could put my heart-hands on that was inside of me. ‘Move ahead powerfully, mindfully.’
Life in this tiny community is often gentle and more often humorous. The faces alone of the locals enjoying (enduring?) yet another winter will lift you. And those of our visitors! Priceless!! I have been living here a little over three years. I never tire of sitting in the parking lot of the post office in downtown Cannon Beach to people-watch for a moment as I scan my mail. It has become a ritual. I love watching the teeth-bared grimaces as they rush up and down the steps to fetch their mail and hurry back to their cars oftentimes soaked to the bone in the 40 seconds this errand took to accomplish. It makes me smile, I know this grimace very well. We all talk about it, the weather, for what would it be to live here year after year without bitching about the rain? It used to make me feel alienated. I thought “If you hate it so much, why don’t you move?” . . . but now I am a part of it and catch myself doing it too. But I really don’t hate it, I still love it. And the bitching? It’s actually some of the sweetest sound I have ever heard. You have to listen. It’s more a sharing of elemental consciousness than total seriousness. It has little to do with the weather at all.
Being new has been interesting. Watching the locals’ eyes fly wide when I answered their queries to where I was from, and then, “Why in the world would you leave the weather of Santa Fe for this?!” “I have always loved the rain and am truly enjoying the change,” I’d reply. They all said I wouldn’t last a year and then they would look at each other smugly, as if I didn’t know the password or something. Well . . .
Living here has taught me, no, reminded me, of something I have always known wherever I found myself living at the time. It’s that every place you find yourself has wonders to show you regardless of the occasional pelting of the rains of emotions, the winds of change. These are good things, these winds. I think of all of the people I know here with great fondness. What they do, have done, will do to make it work here. We allow ourselves to live, work and play where others only dream of vacationing. You begin to delve deep within yourself here, you reflect daily as the “good” weather draws to a close on what you will do to get through to yet another spring and summer, another “tourist” season. You learn to trust yourself, to try something new, to become more fully faceted. You agonize over these facets and what you are “becoming.” And yet, it is that you are becoming so whole, so fulI, so able that you secretly amaze yourself. This is also a very good thing. You learn very quickly to keep your ego in check, however. This is a very small community and boastful behavior wilI simply not be tolerated. We are all stars on this stage and there’s lots of room. We can all play.
Life here is a great equalizer, our talents are interwoven tightly, richly, necessarily. We all understand the initial rush that comes as we tread on new turf and put our talents out there for all to see. We keep each other humble through the triumphs and the trip-ups. We are proud of each other. And in the long, misty afternoons, generally spattered by copious amounts of rain and talk of rain, we are warmed and cheered, thankful for the community, the cameraderie of our local friends and family, of our selves collectively.
Spring is riding in small spaces in this winter wind I watch from within my walls. The orange tree in my south-facing window has clusters of blossoms holding a fragrant hint of what is to come. Those slumbering mountains there are working. They smell of a silent promise of the inevitable moist and earthy spring that we will all be blessed with. Preparing for another show.
Rebecca O’Day is the former administrator of SW Acupuncture College in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She owns The Homegrown Cafe and Rebecca’s Attic “Energy-Infused” Used Clothing Store at 3301 S. Hemlock in Tolovana Park, just south of Cannon Beach, 503-436-1803.
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