The Beauty of Down...

I've been sleeping in triple layers under four wool blankets...warm cap covered by fleece hood covered by down to warm my naked noggin...knee-high wool socks peeled off only to shower, now permanently misshaped due to wearing with my only pair of shoes...flip-flops. My savior, a sweet down coat that came with its own stuff-sac that was meant for emergencies. Who knew I'd live in it for weeks...even while sleeping! I'm still in Varanasi...could be elsewhere, but circumstances have kept me here. First I was waiting for the arrival of friends from the Bay Area, then I was waiting for the completion of a beautiful jacket that I designed, finding a brilliant tailor to bring it to life (raw silk...lined with wool and more raw silk... with beautiful, embroidered detailing from the edge of a sari)...now I'm here by choice, giving myself a bit more time before heading South.

I've been in an interesting space since the turning of years and decades. Floating...hovering in this spot, feet not wanting to touch ground but unable, it would seem, to take flight. The pungent inspiration that initially kept me here has waned, though it returns in unpredictable spurts. I suspect I've been here a bit too long, losing the fresh perspective of those newly arriving. These narrow alleyways are more than familiar now...my daily routine leading me between the same, predictable spots. I enter my regular breakfast cafe, they smile and give me the signature head wobble...I smile and wobble in return, knowing my meal will magically appear before me without the need to utter a single word. Yes...life here is easy...

I'm living on less than $7 a day. This, even after a ridiculous indulgence of several hours a day uploading pics. At least I'm finally making a small dent in what feels like an impossible backlog of images. The cold weather has made it easy to spend so much time indoors! Thankfully, the sun has started showing its beautiful face again and all of Varanasi seems to be perking up in response.

Of course, now that the temperatures are slowly rising, my puffy, down coat has been replaced by my new, lovely, silk jacket! I had to wait a while for its completion but it was well worth it. It's still cold enough that I wear it throughout the day, feeling rather like I stepped out of an episode of Star Wars or Lord of the Rings!

I could not have predicted the response, but I am continuously approached by people wanting to know where I bought it. I draw them maps or lead them to my tailor in person, telling them to ask for 'Zipporah's Jacket'! It's a new sort of flattering to know that something so simple that came from my wandering mind is catching the eye of so many. At least my distraction during Vipassana was productive! Each time I am approached again I smile...and Dada, my tailor, can hardly believe his good fortune! Already, four replicas are being made. Maybe I should switch professions and try my hand at clothing design! Not likely...but it's fun to imagine for a moment!

Yes...life is good here. I had a tough spell, for the first couple weeks of January...feeling quite lonely and down...unsure of my next steps and where I might want to go. I had moments in which I considered packing it in and heading straight home, but I've somehow managed to stay the course...pulling myself back into the sunshine...warming myself from the inside, despite the frigid weather.

I feel strong in this moment...deeply rooted in my little sunny patch...more solidly grounded then I ever remember feeling...alive...aware and open....watching, again, as my muse rubs her sleepy eyes and begins to play. I wrote a new song a couple days ago...or, rather, a song was written through me, spilling out whole and breathing in the space of only a few hours like a newborn child...like me. (*wink, wink Mom!*....that's a story I'll save for another entry!)

I feel deeply happy...smiling easy...grateful for my solitude and for a happiness that was hard won.

That's the beauty of down...the upswing that always follows...a keen awareness of warmth in contrast with a biting cold...the gentle turning of mouth's corners...downward to upturned...

See what I see...click on this image to visit my Flickr Photostream...