Cotton Humid

he air of thick humidity is like the air of impending doom. Persistent, dreadful and overpowering. It makes your nerves scream for solace. Yet all you get is the sensation of a fresh line of sweat beginning to role, in a tortuously slow bead, down the middle of your back.

No mercy.

Humidity hangs like the clumps of Spanish-moss draped over and smothering the whole plot of live oak trees in the back yard.

Stringy, clingy, sticky, itchy… and thick. I can hear it, feel it, taste it, smell it… and by the sweat dripping from my armpit – hate it.

And to think it’s not even daylight yet.

Oh, what a way to begin a day.

Well, that’s how they’ve begun in the deep south for … I guess since the dawn of time. It’s not changing now, ’cause it’s not changed in all those eons of time. It’s just one more thing about this area you just learn to deal with.

Glorious.

One more reason to dislike living in the south.

Hmm, that sure sounds a might ‘Yankee like‘, now don’t it!

I gather fixings for coffee and listen to hear the clear voice of the mockingbird as it mimics through it’s repertoire of songs. From one solitary bird, I hear the voice and chatter of every bird sound it has heard during it’s short but melodious lifetime.

I don’t need a couple of dozen birds flittering around the yard, I have them all in one: my mockingbird. With a half-dozen mockingbirds I’d be enjoying a whole forest of song birds and not have to deal with the sparrow crap that covers my car each morning: no matter where I park it.

I hate sparrows.

The incredulous fool who brought those filthy little waste buckets over here from England -’cause they missed their melodious little songs. Yeah right! I’d like to stake him over big ‘ol fire ant mound; sure ’nuff!

What a stupid act of imbecilic short-sightedness that was.

On the same par as the ‘too smart’ conservation folks back up my way, in the mid-west, who promoted the planting of an Asian prickly bush called the multiflora rose all over the place. In the name of conservation, touted to be grand ground cover; for anti-wind erosion and extra places for the critters to live. Only problem, the stuff took over!

Seems the ‘too smart folks’ forgot to tell the birds not the fly around and shit the seeds all over the place. Where it grows – and that’s just about anywhere – nothing else can grow or go! Now the ‘too smart folks’ have to pay other ‘less smart folks’ to dig it up and threaten to fine and jail ‘other folks’ if they dare plant it again!

The birds still eat the berries and shit the seeds, so the problem still exists. Why didn’t they just plant the native blackberry bushes? Sure both plants are prickly as all get out. But at least with blackberries there’d have been berries both man and bird would have enjoyed!

Short-sighted for sure.

It seems no matter what we humans decide to bequeath this land we take for granted, we end up doing it more harm than good. The meddling mess-ups, we so nobly refer to as natural resource management, are painfully well documented. It just doesn’t seem anyone in charge ever bothers to read the results. Doesn’t anyone see a connection? Well, don’t they?

I guess not.

But of course why should those poor bastards start using their heads now? What could they possibly accomplish if their actions were actually accompanied by a dash of common sense? Not likely they’ll begin to think to change their current patterns of failure. As it will not likely add one more stitch to the lining of their already over-stuffed, greedy pockets.

Not likely.

Breakfast is over and I just can’t stall the inevitable of the day: cleaning out that cotton patch.

Backbreaking work. It’s hot. It’s dirty. And it’s a bit dangerous in ways people not from the country, nor used to workin’ cotton would think of.

The shade of the cotton plants offer the local rattlesnakes and cottonmouth, in those areas near the river bottom, a cool, shady place to wear off the afternoon heat. A reptilian encounter is not what I need today. I don’t need it any day, but I really don’t need it today. I’m in a mood. A mood where I’d likely kill something and I don’t really like killing snakes.

Not that I mind killing something that needs or deserves a good killing, but snakes tend to do a lot more good for the land- and in turn me- than most folks given them credit. So, I’d just rather let them be and go on my way.

But blast-it! anyhow! Those fool-headed varmints won’t just let me pass, regardless of my intentions. They coil up, ready to strike and just dare me to blast their little pea-size brains all over the cotton stems. And sometimes I accommodate them.

But I still don’t like it.

Well it’s almost time to hit the field. I’ll give it a bit more time; no sense in being too, pushy with the time now.

I like that about the south.

Folks here move to a much slower clock than those who live north of the ‘humidity line’. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I grew up with humidity in the Midwest, so it’s not like I’m unfamiliar with humidity – ’cause I am, familiar! But humidity in the south, well- now… we do it with a whole new vigor toward torture. I just don’t like it… humidity that is.

I really don’t!!!

I don’t like being hot. I like even less being sticky and hot in a dusty, dirty place. ‘Cause when you work in stuff like cotton, you end up feeling like half the junk from the field is stuck to you before you get home. That’s what makes the humidity so bad. You just can’t escape it. And you can’t escape the dirt, either. Humidity sucks. No two ways about it. But cotton humidity? Well, that stuff’s just plain nasty.

I’ve been covered in all kinds of hard work humidity, but cotton humidity is about the nastiest of all. ‘Course I can’t say that with complete authority. I never worked anywhere farther south than these cotton fields of the 31st parallel. As hard as it is to imagine, humidity in the real tropics has got to be worse than it is here.

It just plain hurts to imagine that much humidity.

But I reckon, in all fairness, I got to.

Looking out across the pasture I see those crazy cattle egrets are dowsing for ‘hoppers, crickets and whatever bugs and critters they can gobble up as they sachet across the pasture.

Now, there’s one funny critter: the cattle egret.

Down here, most folks call them and their taller relatives, the white egret, great blue heron and it’s white-color phase, pond skoggins. I don’t really know where that name came from, but it’s not a term-of-endearment. Of that, I am very sure.

Those things make a wretched sound. Sorta like a feller chokin’ on his own blood, as if he’d just had his gullet slit. Nasty! An awful sound. Scares the daylights out of most normal folk.

But… they do keep the ‘hoppers, crickets and critters cleaned out of the fields. Odd, they don’t seem to have a fancy for the boll weevil. Now that’s a shame. Cotton could use a friend in that category.

I’d better get-to- gittin’ on down into that field, ’cause on the horizon, just above that cotton patch, I see the build-up of a huge ‘ol thunderhead. Looks like we might get some rain after all.

It’s been a dry season; dryer than normal. Maybe this high humidity will be worth it’s torture if we get a good rain.

Maybe. However, I’m not totally sold on that notion yet. Reckon I’ll let it on the table.

Think on it.

Judge it later.

It’s time now to go clean that cotton patch, sweat a river, dodge the snakes and watch those pond-scoggins chase the critters in the pasture.

I’d best not forget to watch out for that new electric fence line, neither.
Cotton Humid
Cotton Humid by Les Booth. eLithograph giclee print on archival 90# watercolor paper. Print run of 100 only. Short-story, printed on matching paper, accompanies prints 5-20. Available as extra item.
Available through the OOAK Gallery.
Thanks for visiting.

Advertisements

How 1000 Words Works

The blog, A Thousand Words, is a unique blend of visual and literary art. It has also been a long time in coming; at least to this point.  I’ve had a few false starts, under different names and formats.  But the style and content has remained the same.

I do hope you take the time to look at the art and read the story that accompanies it. It is my hope and pleasure that the work will be appreciated to the point that enough readers will support my efforts so I can continue to create and produce OOAK art.

THE IMAGE

I create images, through a process I have developed over the past 15 years. I have called the process eLithography and the products of the process, eLithographs.

The eLithograph is a computer graphic that is constructed from photographic elements. An eLithograph can be from a single photograph, or more likely from multiple photographs. Some contain traditional forms of illustration in them. The end result is an image which looks more like a watercolor, pen & ink, oil, pastel or serigraphic work of art.

The eLithograph is displayed either as an electronic image, via projection: flastscreen or digital viewer (ie, LCD or Plasma screens); or as in the traditional manner of a printed image on fine, archival, substrate. The stand process for printing the eLithograph is the ‘giclee’ printing; generally from wide-format inkjet printers.

PLACE IN ART WORLD

I do not declare the eLithograph to be a workd of ‘fine art’… at least not at this point in time. There is a vast difference in what I do to produce a piece of artwork and what a traditional artist will do. I consider the traditional artist – the ‘fine artist’: of immense talent. A talent I can perform, but in more limited and painful process that I am able to accomplish via the eLithograph. Hence the reason for its creation.

Only time and the judgement of theviewing/buying public will determine whether the eLithograph is a work of ‘fine art’. But I will not declare such. I make that distinction up front. Now that such revelation is out of the way, let’s get on to enjoying the works produced by the OOAK Digital Gallery.

THE STORY

The short-stories, essays and poems are another unique element of an OOAK Gallery prsentation. The idea is not completely unique now as I finally begin to introduce it through the blog, A Thousand Words. However, if I was not the originator of this idea, I was certainly very close to the genesis. I do not know of anyone else who was doing this when I begin thinking of the process needed to accomplish it, in early 1984, when I created OOAK Designs. And today I know of only two other artists who do similar ‘story-with-an-image’ concepts … and both of them had those ideas seeded through conversation with me. I’ve seen a couple of ‘photo-journalists’ who use the similiar technique of writing from a photo – instead of using the photo to illustrate and event.

So… the short-story, essay or poem you will read that goes along with a given image is written directly as an influence of that image. This makes it a unique part of that visual as well.
OOAK DIGITAL GALLERY

The images and prints of the prose are available through the OOAK Digital Gallery store. Each OOAK print is available as an ‘original’ print and will have 100 prints pulled, through the giclee process, to complete the printing of that image. No more prints – of that exact image will ever be produced again. The print is closed. Prints 5 through 20 will be accompanied by a copy of the prose on matching 90# archival watercolor paper. Suitable for mounting. Giclee printed and illustrated.

Do enjoy.
… akilologos

Low Tide: Parts Make Parts

Prolog
Ma Pek, was my first attempt at melding artistic image rendering and prose into a single displayable entity. This post is provided as a discussion of the process behind Ma Pek.

Ma Pek was produced in the reverse order of how I currently construct the Akilologos art. Personally, I prefer my current process, where I create the image, then write the story. The result for both pieces of art just seems -feels- more genuine and real. Yet, I still enjoy Ma Pek. I may revisit it one day with another image and story – or perhaps a replacement image; there are so many in the story.

But the ultimate test of merit still resides with you; the reader.

Enjoy.

The Image

“Low Tide” originally came from several different images; photographs, brochures … even a calendar. The concept for the image took place while writing the short story, “Ma Pek”. In the story an old fisherman, named Phillipe. Phillipe’s character is mirrored by his lifelong fishing partner, a red boat named, Ma Pek. I could see the image of the boat and its resting partners on the shoreline, fading in the paint bleaching sun, while being the gallery for the moored boats of the “fleet” of today. Though I am an illustrator, by the time I get started I’ve lost interest and the mental image begins to fade faster than the paint on those boats in the tropical sun.

So, a quandry. What to do?

The Answer

The answer is simple, Find images that match what I “see” and use them to build the image. But, how do I do this and what do I do with them? Digitzed images. Either digital photographs or scanned images. Once digitized I can redraw, reform, recolor, enhance color, add-to or take-from the forms to create the image I envisioned.

For some crazy reason I am not distracted nor do I loose the vision though this process. In fact the image takes on a life of its own … sort of like the pictures of Marty’s family in the movie, Back To The Future. Bit instead of fading, my visionary images become crystal clear with each stroke, effect or abstraction added.

The Result

As the image grows, it takes on its own character. That character feeds the rest of the image and the creation process itself. The reward is the final image fulfills the concept and the initial vision. It also allows the reader an ability to view, with me, what I was – in a sense – privately seeing in my own minds’ eye.

The Example

In this example the various areas of the image are labeled to show their separate sources and how they all fit together to build the final visualized image.

Low Tide Image Lesson

Some Pointers

There are a couple of areas I would like to expand on a bit so the reader does not get the wrong impression of either the method or the difficulty in producing an image of this type.

#1 The origin

Each of the “parts” … all items used in making this image have been sufficiently restructured so that the only resemblance to the ‘original source’ image is, what they are: ie, boat, sky, beach, cloud, etc. The original meerly formed the basis from which I built the image and/or canvas. For the most part, my images are constructed from my own original photographs or sketches. However, due to the fact that I do not have the luxury (yet !! ) of expansive travel, I cannot get to all the places I bring to life in the images or stories. Therefore, for those items I rely on ‘other images’ as a ‘temporary bridge’ to get to my visualized image. My work is no more a “copy”than the images made by all the “famous” artists who view life and convert it to canvas, paper or clay; whether in photographs or visual. The result is quite original .. even if the elements were constructed from recycled thoughts and concepts — my visual is still my own.

#2 The building

When constructing shadows, they should not be, as I state on the example, a matter of just ‘dumping’ so much black coloring into a spot. To truly create a believable shadow, you must build it up — shade upon shade — as you would normally do in any traditionally produced work of art, by whatever medium: pencil, charcoal, pastel, watercolor or oil work.

It’s truly a laborious process and very prone either mistake or loss of interest, for those like me who are prone to bouts of impatience.  So, when attempting this type of art, be very judicious in your patience … keep with the ‘slowly-as-it-goes’ routine and you will be very pleased with the outcome.  It gets easier and faster the more you do.

#3 The use

Maximizing the use of textures in certain elements of an image really sets the image – or that element – apart.  Experiment and don’t be afraid.  This is digital – redo is as easy as blinking your eyes!

In Low Tide you will notice a distinct grainy texture in the sky and water portion that is not seen in the beach section. That’s because there is grain in the sky and water .. but NOT on the beach. Now .. hold on you say … “The beach has sand on it — therefore grainy — NOT the sky!”

So what gives? Well, just that — you noticed, didn’t you! That’s the whole point.

Subliminal evocation.

While you were looking at the sky/water interface, and trying to figure out what was ‘wrong’, your mind was looking at the entire image and drinking in the image’s message. Once you figured it out, you didn’t really care because now you saw more that interested you than the manufactured ‘dilemma’ .. Hmmm, pretty sneaky, eh?? Art is as much psycology as it is creativity.

Epilog

Now that you know more on how I did this image go out and build your own vision. Find the ‘parts’, take the time and follow your path to make your mental vision a reality.

Happy creating!

Check back every couple of weeks as I’ll have a new image with tips and commentary.

OOAK

Ma Pek

MaPek

The sun rose slowly on the horizon as the waves lightly lapped at the expanding shoreline. Like insects the small long-legged shore birds swarmed around the foam and surf searching for a morning meal. Each one skittering along the beach in a dueling dance with the waves. The early morning breeze – gone by midday in the steamy tropical environments – lightly lifted the palm fronds with each rhythmic pulse. Each lap of the waves upon the shore was another sultry, psychiatric summons to the senses. As I was inhaling this idyllic scene a movement up the beach caught my eye.

I watched as he made his way from the tree line to the waves, the morning sun – full promise of the heat to come – glistened off his richly pigmented skin. Years of exposure to the tropical sun had given his native brown the deepened tone of gold as it glistens in a setting sun. The deep furrows in his skin were not mere wrinkles, they were the mental storage tracks – not unlike those of a phonograph – recording the years of living and tales lived.

His eyes, though dark with age and tempered with wisdom, sparkled with the strength of youth. Though his hair bore the salt and pepper of age, it still flowed with the charm of a young man in his prime. I could tell he was different- he had been a leader. Even at this distance, he projected the quiet but powerful aura that moves the elements of life… for him and others.

As I moved among the villagers in the open-air markets I enquired of the man whom I’d seen earlier. Yes, they knew him. It only took the mention of where I’d seen him and a short description before I was told glowing stories and legendary tales of the man, Philippe del Pescador. The pronouncement of his name not only produced the smiles of admiration from the announcer, but from those within earshot as well. Then a chorus of commentaries, tales and praise would follow from every direction.

Around the village he was known as “nuestro padre de la pesca”. That is, in his native tongue, “our fishingLow Tide father”. In the height of his day, Philippe was the most prolific fisherman on the Yucatan coastline. He was fearless and formidable. His passion for his work, life and the ocean were unmatched by any. Yet, for all his competitive spirit, Philippe was also a man of genuine compassion and heart. There was not a fishing boat launched from the Isle de Corazon that was not, in some way, made possible by Philippe. His days as the fisherman to match were now history, but his legacy lived on.

In his early days he made friends with both the locals and the foreigners who came to pursue the great game fish of the Gulf: marlin, tarpon, blues and shark. Philippe was the man to have at your helm to find the trophies – he was the man to bet on for success. He was also the man who would keep you from trouble with the sea and who make sure you come home to shore – alive and brimming with tales of adventure that you sought.

He had grown up as young boy fishing with his father and enjoying the life on the gulf. He wanted nothing more, nor asked for it. He was strong in character and deep in his convictions. He pursued fish for a living, but would do all in his power to educate his fellow fisherman and the foreign pescadores in how not to harm them or their habitat: fish were his life in every possible way. He had, on a number of times, lost business because he refused to compromise his principles or ‘his fish’ on the foolishness of monetary gain.

I had to talk with this man … to find out what made him who he was … and to meet such a wonderful example of humanity. So I made my way back down to the shoreline where I’d seen him earlier. But another stood there … a woman. She was dressed in the colorful dress of the locals and despite her age she was a beauty.

I slowly approached and addressed her, “Señora de la buena tarde.” She turned and graciously bowed and replied, “Señor de la buena tarde.” “Pero no soy una mujer casada, yo sigo siendo soltero.” A bit embarrassed I acknowledged with apology, “Perdondeme, la senorita!” She chuckled, quite pleased with the coupe and the fact that a woman of her age was obviously still in possession of what makes young girls … well, young girls! We talked until the sun began to sink below the horizon.

She knew well Philippe … possibly better than anyone in the village. For Philippe was the reason she was still a senorita: he captured her heart but would neither let it go or subdue it. She asked if I would like to join her for dinner. I then asked her, “ Senorita, we have talked for hours and I do not know your name, nor do you know mine.” She again giggled with the gentleness of an eight year old, and told me her name was Juanita Sanchez. I acknowledged her – told her my name and I graciously accepted … knowing there was much more to this story and that I would acquire the details only if I talked more with this lovely lady of mystery.

In her humble little home we partook of tasty corn tortillas, frijoles and fresh vegetables. She even produced cold bottles of the local beer: oh, how wonderful a cold drink is when you’ve been without it for a week! The meal was modest, but had been prepared and presented with the greatest of care and grace. After dinner we sat on the veranda, sipping strong coffee, as I listened to the story of Philippe del Pescador.

Philippe, as the stories told to me by the villages, was a great man in the community. He had learned well from his father. The senior del Pescador was a man of great strength and muy carismático … un hombre de la grandes fuerza y carácter. He was also a good and honest man. He had helped many of the fishermen of the area get their start and then worked to show them how to be successful … and how to maintain the fishery. Philippe was by his side daily, learning all this from his father.

One day during a fierce storm Philippe’s father was swept overboard, lost in the raging sea and his body never recovered. It was a terrible time for Philippe, his family and the entire village: they all had lost their leader.

Philippe and Juanita had grown up together and shared much in common: including their love for one another. They had planned to marry, but those plans were dashed with the death of Philippe’s father. Philippe knew he had to step-in an attempt to carry-on in his father’s place. He also knew he could never fill this father’s sandals … but he must carry on the legacy: that was his purpose in life. This level of commitment did not have room for a family. So, Philippe made the sea his family and the life within her were his children. Juanita was devastated at the loss of her love … but in time she grew accustomed to her role as “mistress to the Sea” … and she and Philippe again were inseparable.

Through the years of fishing and working Philippe had built a good business. But more importantly he’d built the honor and respect of his fellow citizens of Isle de Corazon. The years had been good for fishing and the villages’ livelihood, but Philippe had paid a high price for his success. Juanita and he were never able to broach the barrier between them and his duty to his father’s legacy. Though he and Juanita were never married he took care of her as if she were his wife. He built her the house in which she lived, supplied her with food and money. He did more for her than most men do for their ‘actual’ wives … and Juanita could not help but love him all the more for it. I was amazed … and in awe of the power of the love I was being introduced to. I knew this example would forever change my life … and how I would perceive love.

Their love for each other was immense. In many ways it was far more complete than most who had married and live together in that union all their lives. I began to see that they shared what many have lost sight of … true love of the person, not for the person. They were complete in knowing the other was satisfied in their role and that the greater good was being served: not by just one, but by both.

A great pair of companions: the ultimate mates.

The night grew on and it became quite late. I bid my farewells to Juanita, thanked her heartily for the wonderful evening and for sharing such intimacy with me a stranger. She graciously thanked me for the company and the opportunity to share the wonderful story of the love of her life. She then asked if I would meet her the next day at the boats where we had met that day. She said that tomorrow was a special day for she and Philippe and that she wanted me to be present. I thanked her for honoring me with such a request: I would most definitely be there. I said goodnight and walked into the balmy air of the Yucatan night.

The next morning dawned a bright red all along the horizon. ‘Redat morning… sailors’ warning!”

The old salt rang in my ears as I arose to wash and prepare for the day. It will rain today — it will be day to be watched closely — on the sea: rough weather is ahead. I was very excited; looking forward to meeting again with Juanita and being introduced to Philippe.

My mind raced with questions to ask of Philiippe; of the days of fishing; the famous and infamous people whom he chartered; talking with him about his ethic of the sea – I was so much looking forward to meeting this remarkable man. So much so that I barely noticed the change in the weather.

I was just putting on my sandals when the wind began to pick up. It was light at first, but it was constantly building in force. By the time I reached the beach the palm fronds were no longer merely wafting in the breeze, it was more like they were be ripped from their petioles! I didn’t see how anyone would be able to have any type of ceremony on the beach in this weather … and then I saw him: Philippe. Dressed in his finest, looking to the beach and walking in a straight line, from the last line of palm trees, in that direction.

IT was when he was in full stride, midway from the trees-on his way to the beach- that I saw the group. How could I have not seen them before? There had to be the entire village – all dressed in their best clothes and all around the boat … the red boat … the one I’d seen Philippe standing by the day before. The boat with the name I did not understand … words I did not understand: Ma Pek.

I’d assumed yesterday that it was an oriental name; possibly named by someone who had spent some time in Southeast Asia. I was going to inquire about that name yesterday, but in all the events of the day I’d forgotten. Now that name began to haunt me: along with all these people. What was happening here? In the midst of this storm? I had the feeling that the answer to that question would be intriguing; how, I didn’t know, but I just felt it would. Then I noticed it; or better yet the lack of it.

The wind had stopped. Just as suddenly as it began it was over. The clouds opened and the sun came rushing through. I was just beginning to register all of these strange sensations, when I saw Juanita.

Wow!

Not only was she gorgeous — but, if I didn’t know better I’d say she was dressed in her wedding gown. And just as suddenly as I’d began thinking this … I knew I was right! I was at a wedding! But not just any wedding — it was Juanita and Philippe’s wedding! But why during a storm? I could understand the beach … but in a storm? Was there something special about the storm? Their lives – lived apart, without the fulfillment of a marriage they both desired – was nothing shy of a torrent of emotions. Was this why the storm? Or was there something else? Torrents of questions-searching for answers-flooded my senses. Then before any fulfillment to this could occur, the crowd began to collectively gather in a ceremonial sway.

The crowd that had gathered now formed a circle around Juanita and Philippe. From the land side of the circle came a mariachi troupe playing traditional Mexican wedding music and with each rise in the music more of the people began to sing. Soon the entire village was singing, the clouds were gone, the sun softly shown upon the beach and all was right with the world. A priest appeared and the ceremony began.

Suddenly there was an air of calm covering the entire beach. The people are calm and all are drawing in toward Juanita and Philippe. The air fills with the words of ceremony and the soft sounds of a coastal Caribbean sea shore: lapping waves in rhythm and the gentle breeze known so well to all. The priest finishes the ceremony and Juanita and Philippe look long into each other’s eyes. The look speaks volumes. Years of conversation are being relayed on the most sensual of paths possible: eye-to-eye – heart to heart.

Then they move to kiss. And quietly … in nearly the tone of a prayer Philippe looked deeply into the sparkling eyes of his new bride and says, “Mi amante mas querido, el amante de mi corazon. Mi corazor compitiendo con a usted.. pero digo a mi corazon — ma pek … ma pek.”

There! There were those words: ma pek. The name of the boat. What did it mean? It had to be powerful because tears were forming in Juanita’s eyes. Then they kissed. A short but electrifying kiss. As soon as they parted the crowd began to sing; they cheered, and for minutes they applauded the event all had awaited for years to occur.

The crowd formed a line and the mariachis played as they swayed up the beach and headed out to the village streets. I stood there watching when Juanita … just a few feet away turned and looked in my direction. She smiled and then mouthed those words … ma pek … ma pek. She must have seen my confused look. She smiled then pointed to a spot on the beach where a shore bird was facing a rather large meal in a lively crab. Obviously the bird was tackling a meal that was bit larger than normal. But this did not deter the bird. Juanita quietly said, “Mire allí… the bird is patient. It will not be impatient. It will wait quietly. It will be ma pek …it will be still. And when it is time …it will eat …and eat well. Learn from the bird … ma pek …be still and all will come your way.” She beamed and continued on with the procession.

I stood there; tears forming in my eyes and realizing I had just received a unearthly value in those words. I turned to watch the bird … it was eating: eating well. Have you ever seen a bird smile? I have.

A flood of emotions rushed in familiar torrents of questions through my mind, as I stood there at the gravesite. My mind was laboriously filtering through the emotions experienced in the short time of passing events of the past few days. As I looked upon the faces of the two caskets in front of me I was embroiled in a sea of mixed emotions. Only days earlier I witnessed these two wonderful human beings as they were united in a life-long desire … a life they both had desired for years: the union of marriage. But today, I stood before their now lifeless physical containers incased in emotionless wooded containers: their last physical abodes. I’ll not attempt to question or debate what lies beyond the physical life we so dearly strive to maintain and enjoy. But, I will affirm that these two lived a more complete life in the last days they had together than most live in a lifetime.

I was saddened to have lost access to their physical presence: so much was not explored by me. And yet I sense a value that will only deepen with time; the wonderfully blessed event I have been privileged to have been involved in; having a part in their wondrous lives at all.

I came away with a deeply learned and valued lesson from both … ma pek. In all things … ma pek.

by Juaqin Cay