Monday, July 19, 2010

On Dragonflies and Witnessing

An unexpected road trip brings unanticipated reminders of Tim.

I took my friend Kristin's book, a collection of her Yahoo 360 blogs, entitled Dirty Laundry & Leaps of Faith. In one blog written after her mother-in-law died, she describes a praying mantis that rather unusually hovered for an hour in her backyard after landing on her young daughter's shoulder. She writes, "It reminded me of a show I had watched awhile back - about spirits who have passed on using animals to visit the people they loved...The spiritual translator explained that the person is not inside the animal or bug, but that they use them to reach out and let you know they are present."

I don't know many things about eternity with certainty, but reading this reminded me of a similar experience. I do know that within days after Tim died, as I planned for his cremation and memorial service by the river, I had two such experiences with a blue dragonfly hovering almost protectively near me. My mind was a blur and I took a break from the rather manic nature of planning and making decisions and contacting friends and family to walk Buster by a lake in the park and calm my mind. A large blue dragonfly seemed to follow us along the shoreline. Later in the week, holding vigil during Tim's cremation which took some time, I stepped outside to sit by a meditation fountain. Again, a blue dragonfly hovered and stayed. It was unusual enough for me
to note. Was this a coincidence or a projection of my mind? It didn't matter - I have taken the blue dragonfly to heart and mind and invested it with meaning.

It is not a story I've told, so when I arrived in Idaho to drop off the Amazon Grandchild for a visit with her cousin, I was startled to see that the Welcome on the doormat was graced with three blue dragonflies.

On the way home, I plugged in the I-Pod and set it on random. It's a twelve plus hour drive straight through and both Buster and I were hot, tired and cranky due to one-lane closures and a drive across Nevada fighting crosswinds, headwinds and dust storms. As we entered California, the topography is suddenly green and fragrant with pine and the random genie settled on an old playlist of love songs Tim had once burned for me. Of the three days worth of songs that I've loaded into that machine, it settled there. As Tim would say at synchonistic moments, "Perfect."

Tim and I blogged on Y360 from early 2006 right up until his death on July 20, 2007. I posted a few more blogs, but Yahoo pulled the plug on that blogging platform later that year, so all our blogging friends, who were such a part of our life, were scattered to the winds. Another loss in a year of loss.

One of Tim's favorite movie quotes was from the movie Shall We Dance? Susan Sarandon's character's speech goes as follows: "We need a witness to our lives. There's a billion people on the planet... I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things... all of it, all of the time, every day. You're saying 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness'."

And so, I approach another July 20 mindful of my promise to be his witness. I offer one of Tim's blogs, one that particularly comforts me as I think of changes and transmutations and light and also gives a glimpse into Tim's mind as he pondered mortality just three months before he died. I also offer a YouTube created by one of our dear Y360 friends, Zee Zee Writer, that beautifully memorializes Tim. Finally, my enduring thanks to another friend, Megs, who preserved his Y360 blog by converting and saving in WORD. The photo that graces this entry is the Tim equivalent of the JFK riderless horse - my visual representation of part of his essence for the memorial service.   I live now expecting to see dragonflies and the man in the moon and knowing that when I remember, for that moment he lives.


Tim's Y360 Profile Statement: "I'm deeply interested in the current state of humanity, from politics to popular culture. We're on the cutting edge of evolution and are collectively responsible for everything. That which we do unto the least of us, we do unto ourselves."

March 4, 2007 Blog by Tim Carroll

Time is a concept by which we measure our delusion. The idea that only the here and now actually exist is commonly and poetically expressed. But isn't this also the case in physics? Einstein's development of the Theory of Relativity ushered in a new conception of time and space, in which the existence of the ether (constant space) and constant time was dismissed.  Einstein demonstrated that the pure moment "Now" exists only at the speed of light. This means that only Light is truly in the here and now.

Eastern mysticism holds that the one Light is all that exists and that the sense of separateness and materiality is the product of perceptions adulterated by the illusion of duality, of time and space. This is far more consistent with what is known about the physics of the Universe than Western religious thinking. The craving for immortality is outward directed, when the available path to eternity doesn't lie in time or space travel; it lies within the Self, in the moment and place that contains all moments and places.

Time is typically thought of in a timeline fashion, the moment "Now" being an infinitesimally precise zero point sandwiched between the past and future. In this framework, it's the past and future that stretch off into infinity, while the present is the almost nonexistent separation between the two. Yet most would agree that only the present actually exists. The past no longer exists and the future exists only in the imagination. The past is actually only a function of memory, while the future represents anticipation.

In human terms, the fastest person has a perceptual lag of at least 1/30 second, meaning that the "Now" being experienced is already in the past. That is as close as a person can get to being in the moment, neurologically. But mystics have reported transcendental states of consciousness in which the present moment is experienced as an overlay, encompassing all time, past and future. This singular, pervasive moment embodies the enormous vistas of poets. Eternity is not all time; it is no time. It is the internal Timewave Zero.

Sanskrit has the same word for both time and death. Time is the destroyer. It is the principle that all things will pass, eventually. But the core scientific tenet that there is never a gain or loss of something, only a transformation, provides a superior context for understanding the supposed ravages of time. Liberated from the seduction of time-based thinking, one sees that all time and space is contained in the only moment and the only place that exist. There is no time that is not "Now." There is no place that is not "Here." The personal, internal alchemy of seeing everything as Light is the key to being where one already is, here and now.


  1. you had me in tears at the witnessing part. It's so humbling to realize that we offer and are offered this sacrifice of love and devotion to one person. That one person holds so much weight - which would be a burden if not given the medium of love. It's such a blessing and such a responsibility and just now at this moment reading your blog, it made perfect sense to me. Thank you. Life can feel so full of meaningless moments - busy-ness. It's wonderful to have some clarity, even if it brings me to tears. You are such a gifted thinker and writer, Cris. Wonderful to read you again.

  2. Kristin - My return to blogging was inspired by you and other friends who write to share what others may deem 'mundane and meaningless,' but what is ultimately LIFE from a unique and sentient perspective. I think you as a fellow Y360 blogger would agree that writing cleanses, informs, amuses and is vital to our health because "That's how we roll."

    This blog reminds me that when we finally met after a year of being blog-buddies, it was reaffirming and authentically familiar. All good.

  3. I didn't know him but my heart aches at the thought of him not being here, somehow. I would've liked to have known him...he looks lovely and kind and adventurous, three of my favorite characteristics. You've written something so touching and heartfelt, it can't help but move those of us who know of loss but perhaps not so closely. Only three must feel like both an eternity and a blink. I cannot remember what happend (will you tell me?) but I know you must miss this person every day of your life. My heart goes out to you, Cris, on this tender, sweet and heartbreaking anniversary. Thanks for sharing such an intimate, beautifully written (both you and Tim) homage.

  4. I was thinking of you Tuesday morning as I drove to the Indian River and stayed until Thursday...

    Yes, still living full out and yes, loving you always!

  5. I was by the river on the 20th; I found it appropriate to be by water. I was thinking about how Tim wanted his life remembered and not for people to dwell too strongly on his passing when a HUGE dragonfly flew over my head and stayed around for a bit. It brought such joy to my heart.