Thursday, December 10, 2015

By the Sea, By the Sea

Blue is my favorite color - and I rarely try to properly verbalize such undying visual devotion to its many shades; I can only let myself be eternally drawn to it like a Swan to a blue flame. There’s just something about blue that exudes a sense of transmutation unlike other tones (excepting gray & black, the other two sisters that make up the family of my wardrobe palette) among things like elements, eyes, and music to name a few forms. It works on so many sensory levels and can reach me near the deepest of depths.

Today, our film crew for Gehenna traveled to the island of Tinian, a smaller neighbor of Saipan, in order to shoot a transitory scene filled with Chamorran lore, latte stones from the days of King Taga and snare-vine terrain. Tinian is also rich in war history, playing a pivotal role in the terror and defeat of Japan. Once taken by the Americans, Tinian was transformed into the world’s largest air base and indeed, was the loading / launching ground for Little Boy onto the Enola Gay, leading us to red, white, and blue victory.  

My cast-mates and I were given an option to travel by small commuter plane (a ten minute excursion) or by boat (about 1250% longer). I chose the boat. I knew the water would be healing in some way and damn, was I absolutely correct. It wasn’t until 2014 that I remained no longer a virgin to sailing – and to surfing, for that matter. My relationship to the ocean has been virtually non-existent despite living in Los Angeles for nearly five years. What can I say? We foolishly stay away from such beauty at times only because we are not conscious of the ways it can change us. And how can we become conscious unless we go and do and see and learn? As my director and friend, Hiroshi Katagiri, was saying to me yesterday - we cannot do what we do not know; the simplicity of this message being as full as its truth. By not acquiring more knowledge, we will remain where we are instead of progressing forward and expanding ourselves. 

But there I am on the Nombei, a smallish vessel with Captain Don at the helm, various crew / cast / equipment in tow, and an invisible rope from my soul to the vast layers of blue. The twine was already loosely in place, quite thickly so, and the tension was only to strengthen as we pulled away from our port at 7am from Saipan.  

I do not think you, dear Reader, are quite aware of the natural phenomenons that occur around this island life, both breathtakingly astounding and absolutely common among the natives and their smack-dab Pacific position. For example, one can see rain coming from mere minutes away – these (mostly) harmless, wandering showers traverse oft like cloud bandits alongside maritime tracks.  Did you ever imagine such things happening at all times of the day when you live a mainland life? Maybe you had a clue if you’ve been to the Rain Room at LACMA.

Regardless, it was a slow, spiritual burn for me on this trip to Tinian – beginning with an internal warning that Dramamine seemed not strong enough to dispel as my insides turned a tad here, there. Then, a light rain hit us as the sweet sun simultaneously met with the water, brightening the world and breaking the moody gray skyscape.  Humidity be damned because my curly noggin loves a greeting rain. It was as sweet as sugar pie made by my Granny Iona back in the days of Kentucky. Plus - I was armored with a headscarf and hat and sunglasses AND sunblock soooooo…needless to say I was rather prepared.  In the not-too-far distance, there laid a handful of barges – massive, vaulted hunks of metal transporting god-knows-what and helmed by an assembly of (probably) men that harken back to the days of Anna Christie. I prefer to think of them all as Liam Neeson types, their stances more grounded than an ancient Mole god, deeply equipped with a physical earthiness and seamlessly dancing with the tempestuous ocean. I, myself, tried to adopt this sensibility as I moved forward to the bow, where I would remain for the next 90 minutes of the trip. Thank you, Yoga, and other balancing exercises for my liquidity of joints and flexibility of energetic motion. Once I found myself so near to the water – one could neither pry me away with a crowbar nor tempt me with a jar of peanut butter-filled pretzels. I was hooked as if the sea were fishing me.

Thus I see why blue moves me so. Always, the sky and the sea are connected, almost blurred and mistaken for one another, a pair of conjoined twins – one air, one marine; both blue, both vast, both immersive, both rife with mystery; both garnished with white froth that ever evolves and disappears; both caught in a mystically-designed elemental thought cycle, that twin mentality where one knows the other through and through; telepathically tied. 

Eventually I sat, cradled in the life-raft ring on the bow, feet dangling, hat shading, and body rocking like a child to the impassioned sway and churning shush-break of the waves. The intensity of silent words hanged about us all as we sat or stood, contemplative and still, now floating fixtures and attendants to the universe; our thoughts holding tightly to the corners of our minds. When my lids were not shut, I glanced above to see diaphanous wisps of cloud, threads in freehand stripes that mirrored the mellifluous smile resting upon my lips.  Suddenly to my right, a rainbow appeared, complete in the water from end to end. I do not know if I have ever seen one in its entirety and indeed, I wondered if it continued underwater in a full spectrum circle, perhaps as a portal to a parallel world. Maybe a version of me is on the other side - one that is closer to my dreams. Ha! I do not know if I could be closer to my dreams than this – so I am instantly reminded.

Peace. This is truly what peace is.  White Fairy Terns diving and weaving above the surface – they are like doves with sprigs and I am like Noah, ready to start again; a rebirth. The New Year approaches and I am ready to shed skins of all sorts; slyly, obviously, passionately – in all ways that fit all circumstances, but mainly that just fit me and serve me. The ocean, the sky, my dreams, and my loved ones – all tell me that I am on the verge of something new, and I feel it through to the marrow.

Those that I love and are not with me – please know that you ARE with me, carved deeply into my heart and held steady by the glowing life-energy of these magical places.

Once we finished filming at Tinian, we rode back upon the Nombei once again, some newcomers aboard. The resonance of such an experience marked me indelibly and exhaustingly, for I think my soul has not undergone such a laundering in quite awhile. Spirits were higher than Bill and Ted on an excellent adventure.  With a can of cheap, celebratory beer in each hand, our cast and crew all distantly witnessed an incredible block of cloudy gray dominating the sky – and in Mad Max-like fashion, storms churned, blazed and poured just miles away while we safely gazed on.  The elements, the elements. Being so free in the elements is an unmatched thing and I am wildly in love with the world at this time.

Back to Saipan - my fugacious, tropical reality. I have the day off this Friday. I will need it to recover from this painful hug of the universe. We all will.

Looking forward to what comes of Gehenna – so should you be as well. Much love to you as a weekend approaches and the holidays loom closer. Be open, be knowledgeable and be well.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Two Hearts

The other night I was convinced I had two hearts – paired like lungs in my chest cavity.  They are connected, in tandem, both large; yet the heart on my right side is not fully realized. Rather, it is more of a phantom heart – one that can still affect and be affected, but lives mostly from my imagination; present in a Tim Burtonesque way. This is because for two weeks I have had a small space within my right chest cavity – something that I can only akin to a tiny, plastic bubble, not unlike the one you’d obtain with a quarter and inside was a sticky hand to throw on a wall somewhere (or simply gather lint and disgusting debris much to your parents’ chagrin).  This bubble is real, in terms of feeling, and it presses me internally – a hollow nodule mirrored with my true heart. But it lives as if an empty, pulsing space; a kind of teeny, travelling star eeping molasses-like along from the middle of my muscle/bone now toward the back of my shoulder blade as if there were an exit sign flashing above. It reminds me of a veteran stab wound that sometimes acts up, even years after the incident. I was never in such an incident, but I imagine the similarity is quite uncanny.

Am I channeling someone’s pain? Whose? Yet there is something reminiscent of love and of death here. Figuratively here and literally here – as I am in Saipan; an island that has its own heartache from WWII, when the US battled and won it from the stronghold of the Japanese. Another heart, another wound; something purple for war or for when you open me up and see the color that surprises you. An old haunt of the emotional and romantic nature, but also of survival. Is love something one sometimes feel they are surviving? I can relate to that. Most of us can when we think of family, not just of relationships. The double-edged swords that fly during Thanksgiving conversation or simply on the phone. Maybe my second heart is faux for this purpose – so that anyone who wishes to hurt it can unknowingly affect the dummy version – and I am left unscathed. I like that. For when you are clawing through the trenches of Los Angeles industry, there are many aiming for your heart, despite how unprofessional - not to mention wildly unfair - that is.

Saipan certainly has its ghosts. This island, where I am to finish filming Gehenna, has both mystically untainted and extremely dilapidated beauty. Crooked, peeling storefronts, letters and lights missing like teeth, leprosy peppering building after building – yet all surrounded by the fullest, unavoidable glory of nature; the beastly sea, the throne of clouds, the unshakeable sun and endless, endless sky. I have touched upon it all only a little, but the greatness and the history cuts me like a laser-point.  And my hollow nodule pulses as if another spirit rises alongside me, pressing a finger so deep it is tendon-struck through my ribcage; a guide to point out the resonation and to remind me of respect for those dead and gone and brave.

Travel certainly brings out that resonance. (And resonation is defined as "the process by which the basic product of phonation is enhanced in timbre and/or intensity by the air-filled cavities through which it passes on its way to the outside air" - apropos to my living air bubble, no?) And I think, that is what I live for; that feeling. When something reaches you on a cellular level and some Avatar-like worship or inner ceremony begins to stir – complete with electricity of light and warmth of rosewater. It is 5:30am and the sky has not an inch of light, but will crack in a moment. Bells are ringing from a crumbling steeple somewhere. The ocean continues to wave and roar. I am in the middle of absolutely nowhere and yet this is the only place that makes sense for me to be. Here. Now. 

Blessings to this island and its people, to the tumultuous past, to the joyous future and to the rain that so lightly visits like a sweet neighbor who needs a cup of sugar here and there. Let us think of how we can give, rather than take, when within a foreign presence - so that we may disarm it and banner our approach of love and kindness. Let us appreciate, let us absorb and let us find wisdom and beauty among the ruins.  

Here I go down the ramshackle sidewalk and I will let you know the result later on. For now, let the peace of the sea wash over your mind in a meditation - and I pray you find that resonation in your day as well.