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Archive for February, 2010

Cutting Edges (or not)

Why not go into the forest for a time, literally? Sometimes a tree tells you more than can be read in books. – Carl Jung

I am entirely out of my league writing anything intelligent about this tropical forested landscape. I only know the names of a few of its plants, birds, and reptiles. I have barely experienced one of its seasons.  I have few stories to tell.  And so, despite the not too distant mega resorts with their Macarena playing juke boxes, for me, this small section of jungle in which I sit is exotic.  The jungle hums with life; a deep sounding buzz mixed with high pitched “beeps” mysteriously rises from beneath the thick grasses and succulent leaves. Neon butterflies – red, yellow, blue –quietly busy themselves among the orchids and hibiscus.

And then, ruckus breaks out in a nearby fruit tree when a family of six Chachalacas precariously perch themselves on one flimsy branch. Although arboreal by nature, these tree chickens can barely fly without smashing into one thing or another. Maybe they are hanging on for dear life. Or maybe it is a case of sibling rivalry.  Avian acrobatics for hysterical birds? Nor can these birds sing for squat but rather they cackle and screech like old rusty machinery. Only in a place like this, I think, would one find such a glitch in evolution.  I am grateful that nature has a sense of humor.

The thatched roofed casita that Joe and I rented for the week is located in this jungle covered hillside overlooking Playa Carricitos in Mexico. While friends and family back in the States are weather stripping and sand bagging their homes, I sit on the patio, nearly naked, watching humpback whales toss about in pale blue water.  I find comfort in the horizon.

As a lover of wide open spaces, the density of the forest unnerves me. It plays tricks on my mind. There are no landmarks from which to guide. No distinct rocks or trees. Only a tangled mass of green. “The forest, dark and impenetrable to the eye, like deep water and the sea, is the container of the unknown and the mysterious”, writes Jung.  This reminds me of the masa confusa – or, the undifferentiated state of chaos – as some alchemists might have called it. To them, this primordial chaos was the formless and shapeless matter from which all creation originated. In today’s psychological expression, it is the unconscious; that aspect of psyche which also buzzes and beeps from the undergrowth of our lives, the breathing roots of our consciousness.  Without it, we would remain cold and detached.

Speaking of our primate legacy, Paul Shepard writes, “It was not possible to see the forest while in it. Once out, we acknowledge the bond by remaining near its edge, cutting it back to the right distance or planting forest-edge growth near us”.

So, I sit at the edge, watching. Steadily, I join up with the whales and dive down into the depths. I sink into the crystal diamond ocean. I lose myself. And, upon return, I dissolve into the clouds and fall back again into the forest, different and new.

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