Fresh sunlight reaches sideways over the tree-filled mountains into my eyes. The days are getting shorter. The light is lower than is used to be at the early hour I bike down the hill to work.
Later, I’ll pedal home and the sun will have made its swift track around the sky. Now my path is shaded over. I am freed of the burden of the sun’s intensity by friendly, leafy trees. The mountains around me are tall. Not too tall, but tall because some days I dip my toes in the sea and they lift out of that, starting at zero and rising, rising up to give me a view of the whole city from my front porch.
Since moving into my sleepout—a room in the garden of a woman’s house with shared kitchen and bath inside—what I’ve noticed most is the light. Rays ricochet off my bedframe from the overhead light and splay across the walls. I’m startled by the sparkling array of diamonds encrusted on the bathroom sink until my head covers them in mysterious shadow and they disappear.
When I first stepped inside this house I knew I’d live here. Coming over to look at the room for rent, I knocked and entered only to find a statue of Tara, the Tibetan Goddess of compassion stepping out of her meditation to greet me. My landlady Gael led me through to the back garden, which houses my room. As we passed through the main house, a large wooden Ganesh carving looked down at me from its focal point in the living room and Nataraj—Siva dancing the world into existence surrounded by a ring of fire—punctuated the half wall between the kitchen and living room. I knew I was home.
I work long hours and some days take leisurely swims in the river after work. On days off I might walk over a couple of hills and find the beach, a long stretch of spit that can be full of people yet make me feel so small because there’s space for all of us in the soft, pliable sand. I stand against the ocean, feeling connected to every shore and shark on earth.
I go to kirtans and yoga with workmates. I spend most of my money on upcoming yoga retreats. I plan for the future and spend some time each day with my awareness in my body and on my breath and not the running thoughts in my mind. It tingles then. My body—shimmering with consciousness—happy to be thought of by my mind.
When I’m tired, I prepare for bed. Often, I take a few side steps out from under the covered back porch where my bedroom door leads me. Up a few stairs toward the apricot tree, already loosed of its harvest, I can see the stars. I’ll look up at them for a time and then lay my body down and rest, ready for the next day’s light.