It is the waterfall, in the end, I come to for salvation. I've been flogging sadness like a pack animal for weeks now, we've been locked in a death pact, I'll kill you if you kill me. But I didn't want to die after all. My sadness took a breather. Lifted its head and looked at me with its slow-blinking eyes. "I'll wait," it must have told me. "I don't give ultimatums you know."
So I got to keep him, looped the rope around my wrist and let him trail along behind, still following me like faithfulness but only nudging me once in a while lovingly, I'd like to think, but human relations with animals are tricky, aren't they?
Now we're up there at the waterfall. Me and my sadness. I'm just standing at its bottom, no grand gestures like I'll do the next week, no bounding up the hill in my silver ballet shoes to hold my arms out like spread wings, closing my eyes so I can feel the brilliance of the sun sparkling through the part where the waterfall shoots over the edge of the old rock. I'm just standing there and I'm thinking about the zen I've been reading. How hard the waterfall has to work right up there in the spray, says Suzuki, splitting itself apart into drops and it's so much easier when the water is one, one flow and eddy, one pool and current, one being all the way from here to Japan probably, the bottom of Wahkeena Falls out the Columbia to the confluence and out into the Pacific Ocean where it's all everything. Big mind, I'm thinking. Big water.
And that water is sparkling me, now, just a little, spraying gently over my face but most importantly in the breaths I'm breathing in, those drops that are struggling so to get up and over the rock and down back into the oneness, some of them are airborne now and are part of me, I'm thinking of the breathing, inflow/outflow, it's all one, I think, I don't turn around to look at my sadness because I know he'll just stick it out. Go with me anywhere even when I'm letting the waterfall become part of Big me. Big everything. And the thing is that those struggling drops might be working hard but really they've got such joy, you know? They're in me now and I can't help it, I smile, I smile with those drops invisible on my face probably but coursing through me like the way fire bleeds through your veins if you let it.
If I'd let myself look at my sadness I'd stroke him, hold my lips just above his forehead so that my breath was its own kiss, as it turns out you get to keep everything, when I drive home from the Gorge with my vanload of tourists I'm soaring, really, I look up into the sky where an osprey is banking its route over the highway, all my creatures together in their slow dance around me, we're all in this world together now, I blink tears and happiness and I can't wait to touch someone now, bleed my fire and water all over him too. Exhale.
I -- we all together -- have been saved.