Dr. Cross said to me that you have to find your laughing place. I asked him what does that mean. Have you ever heard the story of Brer Rabbit? Yes but it has been awhile. He tells me the story.
One night dey cach him and tie him up, to make him into stew. But Brer Rabbit only laugh at Brer Bear and Brer Fox. “Too bad” he say. “what do you mean?” ask Brer Fox. “I was goin’ to show you my secret laughing place in a hollow tree,” say Brer Rabbit “Make me feel like laughin’ just to think of it.” “Can’t you tell us which tree?” dey ask. “I can’t tell you where ’tis” say Brer Rabbit. “I got to show you. But you got me all tied up. If you’d set me free, I’t take you dere.” Brer Fox and Brer Bear consider more. At last they give in. Oh, dey keep a rope on Brer Rabbit, good ant tight. Den dey start off, an’ Brer Rabbit lead de way right up to a hollow oak. “Dere ’tis!” he yell. “Dere’s my secret laughing place.” So Brer Fox and Brer Bear peek in. Zippety-zim, out come a swarm of bees, and dey chase Brer Fox and Brer Bear a-howling through de woods. Brer Rabbit, he laugh till he almost choke. “Dat’s my laughing place!” he sing out. So Brer Bear and Brer Fox go home, mos’ unhappy, and dream of trappin’ Brer Rabbit again.
He says where is your laughing place?
I think of William and the day we spent on the mountain behind our grandparents house.
I think too of Clark Reservation.
I have walked these paths many times in the last year. Two, three times a week. My feet step over the craggy rocks, deep rifts in the limestone, grey matter rippled with time. The deep pool and the secret cave where you know a deep deep magic resides untapped, unexplored but it gives you power just knowing it is there. The stillness of the pond it’s reflection of the sky the deep blue universe. The steep steps that lead to the cool stillness or up into the heat of the parking lot. Or here the path is dangerous, but over time you realize it is not as bad as you had imagined. The peaceful places where the knarled roots and soft pine floor are an invitation to breath in the cool silence. The scared place where the electrcal wires run, the damaged earth where the quarry has torn out all things living. The long path away from the ugliness of man’s hand, far from any roadway deep in the woods. The place where the birds play and you slow your walk because the beauty is so breathtaking. The rock where you climb and at the top breathless you encounter God. Thankful. You stop to say a pray of gratitude every time.
Is this a laughing place, where you are protected from that which is trying to get you? From Brer Fox the tricky one? And what are your bees here? Or in another version your briars. What protects you from being eaten? Is it your magic in that deep cave whose presence announces itself in a cool breath on your bare legs.
The rarities of plants, the species that were discovered here in this park, exist perhaps only here. Seeking a metaphor you ask yourself what does this mean. You think of Barbie in her high heels. Here you are in hiking boots, or all terrain sandals, and when you see little girls in sparkling flip flops you shake your head. Will that cutie little boyfriend carry them home? And in this path you know that this rarity of species is you. The difference between denying the depth of your character and embracing it whole. Suddenly the laughing place is clear. Let no one tell you it should be different.
You feel connected to all things. You feel you are at this moment god seated on a lotus that is floating on the warm rocking waters. Ribbit you are a frog, splash the ripples spread and spread across the pond, a tiny microbe is stirred to life and so it goes.
You know it is a deep illusion, like Neo awakening in the movie the Matrix, only you are not connected to vast lifeless computer, illusioned from your misery. You are connected to life. A vast illusion of suffering.
You walk the wide open path home the orange sun setting somewhere behind you. You think of a river, long ago imagined in a deep gorge, each molecule floating as though in a river of stars. Into the ocean the oceans of galaxies. You stop and hold out your hands, your arms are covered in goose bumps and enlightenment strikes you like a gift from the deep abyss.