I walked a long ways, shin-deep, in the ocean on Friday afternoon. Though the air and water were cool, the gray skies of the last couple weeks had cleared and the sun was warm. I came upon the lifeless body of a cormorant on the shore, his feathers as shiny as oil in the bright light. I felt he had just passed because I sensed his presence as an absence or a black hole into which I was pulled. I stood with his body out of time.
Earlier in the day I had spent some time writing about my response to David Bowie’s passing. All week I felt surprised at the depth of emotion it had evoked. I can’t explain it, but for me, his death was a powerful activation. It was as if he held light, color, and sound that was well outside the spectrum or frequency of human perception, but since he had left his body I could finally see and hear. (I am not even referring to his body of work–which was prolific and compelling. I’m referring to the music beneath the music, and the color beneath the color.) And yet, as I put my experience into words, it all unraveled. I could see the words on the digital page. I could see that I had assembled a coherent narrative, but the paragraphs were like pockets that could not hold stones.
I mumbled aloud to myself and the dogs, “All my working theories have holes in them.”
I sat a bit disoriented and then thought to throw the I Ching, inviting the universe to comment on my confusion. Hexagram 64 with no changing lines: Wei Chi. The final hexagram of the I Ching. Though one would think that the final hexagram would bring the Book of Changes to completion, ironically, it does not. Completion is arrived at in Hexagram 63. Hexagram 64 is the bardo–that liminal passageway or dark cauldron in which all is possible but from which nothing has yet emerged. The phrase “wei chi” is often translated as crisis, or precarious opportunity. Nothing is finished. Everything is undone.
There really is something to things happening in threes. Perhaps it’s because, as humans, we can be a little dense sometimes. At least, I can be. So, if we don’t get the message the first or second time, reality will go the third round for good measure. But by the time I had broken vigil with the cormorant, I knew the universe was speaking. It didn’t take long for the third message to arrive. As I walked back to my car, a large truck arrived to suck the shit out of the port-a-potty that services my favorite beach. I sat in my car, half-stunned, half-laughing. Even the shit is gone. We really are emptied out, standing on a threshold, between here and who knows where.