“There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot.”
Last night friends and I celebrated the birthday of a wild and witchy woman. Many of you know about The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pen, a group of five women authors in which I am delighted to be a part.
Well, yesterday was Ruth Burkett Week’s birthday. Ruth is our passionate, wild, knock-you-on-your-ass sister. Okay, all of The Sisters have those characteristics to some degree, but Ruth is the instigator of those qualities in us. Ruth is the one I call upon for righteous anger when I haven’t yet gotten beyond desolate depression over some slight. Ruth stirs me up, kicks my butt, and sends me own my way into the world.
Last night was a lunar eclipse. Ruth planned to watch it while sipping Captain Morgan and Dr Pepper. Honest to God, that’s what the woman drinks.
The last time I watched a lunar eclipse, I was on a night dive in the Mexican Yucatan. The dive was blessed with sea turtles and nurse sharks and the beautiful, dancing translucence of squid. But the real magic of that night came when I surfaced through a shimmering world of phosphorescent algae.
People are nervous on a night dive, images of hungry shark flit in their brains. Which, on that night, was good for me. While a dozen tourists were plucked from the ocean one by one, happy to have survived the dive, I floated in the glimmer while the earth’s shadow swallowed the full moon. When the boat was full and it was my turn to come aboard, I conned the captain into taking the tourists back to the dive shop and coming back out for me.
So, for almost an hour, I lay on my back, stirred my hands to make angel wings of the shimmering algae and fell under the spell of the ocean at night. Did it occur to me that large, sharp toothed, night-feeding predators lurked in the waters below me?
Was I worried? Not at all. You see Leopold was right.
There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot. Some of us feast on wild things, become one with them, and grow in their possibilities.
Somehow, last night, all these years later, standing on my deck after the party and looking up at the darkening moon, picturing my friend with her horrible rum and Dr Pepper, I felt that Ruth had been there with me all those years ago on that shimmering ocean.
Wild things recognize one another after all. And they’re connected. We’re all connected.