Now with eyes that have no home
I see it…
~ Kobayashi Issa
As we sat down to Thanksgiving dinner this year, my young daughter read the origin story for the Agua Caliente band of the Cahuilla Indians, who live in the southern California desert, where we were staying. The Cahuilla believe in ?kiva?a, the basic energy source from which all things in the universe are created.
In the beginning, there were two brothers, Mukat and Temayawut, who emerged from a swirling mass of colors during the universe’s first moments. They formed the earth, the oceans, all the creatures of the sea, and the sky. And they also created the first people. Mukat used black mud and worked carefully, while Temayawut used white mud and hastily sculpted his figures, which were less refined. After disagreeing with his brother over whose bodies were better, Temayawut took his creations and left. It was then, my daughter read, that Mukat’s mud figures came alive and the sun emerged. These people were the first Cahuilla, and lived alongside early beings called nukatem, who had more ?kiva?a energy, and are seen as powerful spirits who appeared in various forms: meteors, rainbows, whirlwinds, stars, and animals. She ended, “It is a story about connection. Connection to the earth, and to each other.”
My daughter’s reading made me recall a conversation I had had with a teacher-friend several weeks previously. In the small-group discussion we were engaged in, she said in talking with me: “I could not even find your eyes.” She had lost connection with me. If she could not find my eyes, she could not look into and understand my heart. That powerful line haunted me for some weeks: “I could not even find your eyes.”
A couple of nights ago, I had dream about this same person. We were in a room, facing each other in a meeting and there was a kind of tension between us; we were not communicating well. Suddenly, frustrated at the impasse, my friend had a kind of an emotional breakdown, took off all her clothes, and drew me into bed. She said: “I don’t know what you’re looking for. Is this what you want?”
I said: “No, that is not what I came for,” and began to list old lovers, as if to explain why I did not need a new liaison. She rolled her eyes a bit and said: “I don’t care about that. Right now, it is about you and me.”
At that point, we entered into a deep and warm conversation. I don’t even remember exchanging words as much as sharing warmth and friendship. About halfway through, another teacher-friend walked into the room and began to eavesdrop. My friend and I looked at each other, as if to say, it would be best to finish the conversation alone. She told my teacher-friend that this was a private meeting and we would need to take our conversation elsewhere. She and I got up and left the room together.
I woke up from the dream feeling warm and utterly at ease. Any anxiousness I had had about the relationship and my possible failings for not allowing people to “find my eyes” simply evaporated. I felt free; it was lovely. Nothing was amiss, in any of it. Somehow, the Cahuilla understood that the ?kiva?a, from which all things are created, is the source of deepest connection. And that it allows the eyes that have no home to find the blossoming spring.