I used to work in a small studio space near 20th and Hawthorne owned by my eccentric friend, Neville. His ancestral home was next door, taking up most of the city block. When Neville retired from teaching, he decided it was time to experiment with the illegal substances he’d read so much about. He talked freely about his discoveries, taking his professors mind into each expanded reality.
Roses bloomed full, red and fragrant outside my studio window. As my evening client wrote my check and carefully tore it from her vinyl checkbook, I gazed out the window at Neville. His hands were gloved as he pruned blossoms from the bushes that climbed the wire fence. He’d left shirt and tie behind long ago in favor of loose fitting cottons. His eyes were full of light, an ear-ring dangled from his right lobe and the smile on his face rested satisfied and deep.
I walked my client out the door, down the cobbled path and through the gate. We parted with a hug and words of appreciation. Then I turned to 70 year old Neville who continued trimming and grinning in his own blissful realm.
What are you doing today, Neville, I asked, enjoying his approach to discovery. Today I’m trying mushrooms, he said, and I’m pleased with the result, very satisfying. I should have done this long ago. Neville’s face shone with round contentment. He was fully present and in the moment without fears, baggage from the past or sorrows.
In that moment, he defined everything I hoped to accomplish with my clients. I found myself envying him. I wanted to trim the roses, I thought. I want to go where he has gone.
Neville performed my wedding ceremony when I lived in The Columbia River Gorge. White flowing robes matched his white flowing hair as he readied himself for our service. Do you need a changing room, I’d asked earlier. No, he replied, I have nothing on under my robe. I prefer it that way, the wind feels so good.
Dear Neville, coming to see me session after session, but always content spiraling in his own unique orbit. His experiments doing more for him than I ever could.