Tidal Basin

Germination Detail Part III, by Leslie Shellow

contemplations about what stays in the net

Saturday, August 25, 2012

We are held in something large

When I was twenty-two, I lived on the verdant and craggy coast of Oregon and I studied the animals that lived inside the mud of the slough. When the tide went out, the mudflats glistened -- a globular, thickened mass of sulphur-scented habitat.
Each one of my friends was drawn to this dot of a coastal town because we couldn’t be away from the sea’s abiding pull. So, we lived in deference to the power of nature, which entered our houses at will and grew blackberry brambles across our living room floors. In response, we emptied our houses onto nature’s lawn, placing the bathtub on the bluff under the kitchen window and feeding a water hose down the face of the house to fill the claw foot with hot water. When we bathed, and if we were very still, a herd of forty elk emerged through the wooded barrier separating their forest from our meadow. Out they came, munching on grass and snorting at flies while the aged bull stood guard watching over them.
Those days were full of a sparkled innocence though none of us was young enough to be truly innocent. Beyond the tides of human failures and joys lay the immaculate pull of the Universe’s own creation. We came together over hand-picked meals and efforts to catch glimpse of the orcas in the sound, over knitting and car mechanics and weddings and departures. We joined forces in Frisbee and pool. The Oregon coast enchanted me, the way it whispered in my ear when we were alone, making me its daughter. I learned we are held in something large.
When I left and found myself in  New York City, I felt the same way about the wilderness of humanity. I became a part of a body outside my own. When I stepped one way, the person in front of me stepped the other. We were all a weaving tapestry of destinations and deadlines. When I dropped a dollar, a gentleman picked it up and handed it back. When I carried my luggage up the subway steps, the weight disappeared into the helpful gesture of a stranger holding the other end of my bag. When I danced outdoors, the stars reminded me they had always been there for me in a same but different sky.

We are held in something large.

And even in the suburbs, of which I complain of late, I can’t help but feel the urgency of trees and sparrows and squirrels to mark on this earth a hiding place. I see my own heart grow in its yearning, in its separation from wilderness and constant humanity. This place is a necessary space for me to explore. Without the ability to lean on that which inspires me directly, I must dig into the mud. I see divinity every day in the tug of my own heart to reconnect. Longing carves a channel to be filled. The rush of tidal water I await has its own shimmering quality of anticipation. There is nowhere else to go but toward hope and desire and a letting go of expectations. The reluctance I see in people here to reach out reminds me we are held in something large because its opposite exists. There cannot be one without the other.

We are held in something large.


  1. Thank you for sharing your words about Oregon.

    Letting go of expectations is daunting and hard to be diligent about. We can create them over and over.

    I'm not clear about the last two sentences in the final paragraph. Maybe we can talk.

    1. Perhaps I need to rework those sentences. An example of knowing what I want to say but not expressing it -- ahhh, brain to page interference :)Thank you for your comments!

  2. This part, " The reluctance I see in people here to reach out..." is worthy of much thought. Have people been rubbed into this flatness by modern living itself? Are the plasma screens now valued more than listening to wind in trees and the smell of roses and wet dogs? Those that listen and smell are to be found, in any place, and then cherished. Ah, to walk with you in the woods of Oregon. It might always remain a dream.