photo by Sheri Dixon

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Book Excerpt- "A Reincarnationist's Guide to Graceful Living- Over and Over and Over Again"

I've really had nothing but good experiences with as a self-publishing venue- the books are very high quality, there is no huge up front fee or million-book minimum order, and they are delivered extremely quickly.

So it was only natural that after three text-only books, I'd want to play with the photo features of Blurb- because that's what it's mainly used for- commemorating weddings, family reunions, graduations, all that jazz.

I didn't want to just have page after page of photos, and had always wanted something to have "in hand" that sums up what I've grown to believe over the years since no one religion or faith seemed to line up for me.

The result is this little book.

Inside is a short story- a dream memory- that is still as clear to me today as the morning after I dreamt it- almost a decade ago. So that's what I'm ending my book excerpts with.

Today is the shortest day of the year, and the day Mother Nature says "It's time to start over- the last year is behind us now and every day will be longer and brighter".

As we wind down the human calendar year and wind up over the human Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa holidays, take a minute to give a little nod of thanks to Mom Earth- if she ever gets tired of our abuse and kicks us out of the house, we'll be in deep shit.

Merry Solstice.

Cricket Song

I found myself in a place I'd never been surrounded by people I'd never met. The little town was isolated and perched atop an emerald hilltop; picture perfect and quaint, yet comfortable and real.

Weary from travel, I was welcomed by the locals and quickly found a tiny house to rent, furnished with worn but lovely furnishings and nestled in the heart of a cluster of similar homes. Each house had a small neat front yard overseen by a large front porch and a huge back yard with big old trees and tidy vegetable gardens.

The townspeople all worked locally at trades thought of as extinct in more urban areas- shopkeepers, butchers, farmers, and a contingent of displaced artists like myself who were considered an oddity to be coddled and humored.

This artistic sub-community consisted of a young girl from California with frothy blond angel hair who painted watercolors so ethereal viewers instinctively held their breath lest the subjects blow away, a Mexican matron with permanent smile lines and dancing crinkly eyes whose pottery was so beautiful any food served in it was automatically delicious, a dark handsome gentleman who hailed from South Africa and surrounded himself with woodcarvings vibrating and humming with inner fire, and one storyteller - the woman who gazed back at me in my mirror.

The four of us had been drawn to this place all around the same time and had settled into a easy routine. We tended to take our meals together and took turns cooking for each other, coming together in our strangeness.

As a group we were welcomed by the people who made up the community, and we participated in the events therein- the dinners, the church programs, the concerts in the park and the fairs and festivals. We knew them as individuals and as families, friends and teachers- every one of them tied to this place by history and blood.

As peaceful as we all were here, and as everlasting a feeling there was about the place, there was an aura of anticipation permeating the town, a palpable waiting. It seemed odd to us newcomers, but not in an unsettling way; and it seemed built into the very character of all the townspeople.


But such a lovely place, with the lovely views and the feeling that you could reach right up and pluck yourself a handful of starlight on a clear night. Standing on the peak of the hill, wrapped in a comforter of darkness, the only sound was the singing of the crickets and like the stars, their song was clearer and more enveloping than any I'd heard before.

In this place, we passed days, weeks, months; each of us finding renewed energy and inspiration among these quiet accepting folk.

Then, almost imperceptibly, there was a change.

The waiting turned to subdued excitement.

Everyone in the town seemed lit from within with the knowledge that the waiting was almost over yet it was never verbalized and never questioned. We four newcomers were the only ones troubled by this.

One day our woodcarver was poking around in the attic of his little rented house and he found a book.

A very old book.

That evening at dinner he brought it out and we blew the dust off of it and opened it up. We took turns reading the fantasy within. For although it was written in journal form, most assuredly it was fantasy.

The journal told of a world that had gone mad. Not mad in a noisy violent way, but a more insidious madness; the madness of waste. The human population of this world had spent it's resources almost to extinction and showed no sign of wanting to conserve anything for their descendants. Eventually, the world had had enough. A mist settled over the earth and while they slumbered, every human was transformed into a cricket. It was decreed that the humans and the crickets would walk in each others place for 1,000 years. There the journal ended.

Nervously and feeling a little silly, we checked the date of the last entry.

The end of the 1,000 years was upon us.

Silently we stared at the book left open on the table before us, our coffee cold and forgotten, the sound of the crickets growing louder till it filled our minds. As if from a great distance, we heard the townspeople gathering at the town hall for a community dinner, and we remembered that we had been invited.

It was a community dinner identical to many we'd attended, yet something had shifted and we were not participants, but an audience. As we made small talk and ate of the good simple foods, we each one of us looked a little harder at these people, our friends. They WERE our friends and we were conscious of burning the essence of them into our hearts- how they looked, talked, smelled, felt.

Just in case.

We lingered till the last person left for home, then we returned to our little houses, OUR homes. Although we gave each other the same goodnight embrace that we had shared every night of our stay, this time the embraces were just a little tighter, just a little longer.

Nothing was said.

Except 'Goodnight'.

I was awakened shortly after midnight not because I heard something untoward, but because of the absence of sound.

No crickets. The night world was silent for the first time since I had arrived. Filled with sadness, I fell back into a fitful slumber.

Dawn was grey and the four of us gathered in the square of an abandoned town, our grief stark in our eyes, flashing from one face to the others. Although there were many questions none of the answers seemed to matter much.

Where did they go, our friends? No matter- they were gone.

Why were we still here? No matter- we were, and we were alone.

We four were artists and our sadness would come alive in our art. To report. And record. And remember.

We shared one last embrace, then silently headed down the emerald hill, traveling in the four directions from whence we had come.

Weeks passed, then months, then years.

As if by appointment, a road-weary aged quartet found ourselves once again standing at the peak of the emerald hill, for nowhere else had ever been home for us. None of us was surprised to see the others, and we quietly traveled a familiar road into the unknown.

Our little houses were empty, but clean, and apparently awaiting our return.

The journal was nowhere to be found.

We were dreading the absence of our friends in familiar places, and of course they were not there.

And yet they were.

From every shop and every yard the people of the town smiled at us with calm friendly faces that were ever so dear, ever so missed.

We were greeted by name, as if we'd never left.

The peace in the town was enhanced by a new aura- that of Care.

Care for the earth, care for all that grew, all those who inhabited it, large or small. Nothing was wasted, nothing and no one taken for granted.

Filled with relief and overwhelmed with happiness, the four of us knew that our travels were over. We were truly home, and would leave no more.

The song of the crickets swelled to a fever pitch and my eyes flew open. I was lying in a tent in the woods, my family snuggled next to me sleeping, oblivious to the noise outside and the turmoil inside me.

A dream.

It had all been a dream.

And yet every detail of this tale has stayed with me, in my heart, for a long time now, as fresh as when I first dreamt it.

And I wonder.


  1. Oh my, reading that gave me chills! This is a beautiful, gentle, coming of the spirit. Happy Solstice to you...may Mother Earth forgive us for what we have done to her..;j