The Cycle of Life is one of many stories that have spun from Cindy Davis’ novel Zipacna’s Legacy. As an author and psychic, she strives to help adults connect with this sometimes-confusing always fast-paved world. As children, we often have questions our elders cannot answer. We wonder about the person in the corner of the bedroom that no one else can see. Or why something we dream about comes true a day or so later. These aren’t things to fear. They are normal. They are part of your awakening.
Zipacna heaved his school bag into the corner of the bedroom. From under the mattress he snatched his journal and headed outdoors. The sun would be shining for another hour. He didn’t want to waste it doing homework…or yard work. The idea made him chuckle. Couldn’t exactly do yard work in the dark. But no matter, the grass would still be there tomorrow. The fact that he’d be in trouble for not taking care of chores went in and out of his head. Something amazing had happened and he couldn’t be distracted by work.
He ducked under an archway formed by the gnarled branches of a pair of hundred-year-old live oaks. The trees exuded an energy Zipacna could not ignore. He sat on the ground with his legs crossed, sifting gritty sand between his fingers. A leaf glided from high above. It wafted and twirled in the breeze performing an intricate dance toward Earth. As it neared his nose, he snatched it between thumb and index finger. The shiny green surface was laden with fingerlike veins. Brown speckles marred the underside; the drought was affecting the elderly tree. This time of year it affected everyone, including humans, because it meant temps were over a hundred with a humidity to match or even exceed. Never had the intense weather been a bother for him. It was as though he was part of it.
Zipacna laid the journal in his lap and let his fingers caress the mandala design etched into the boar’s hide cover he’d made by hand. Six months ago, he’d used a small sharp knife to carve the elaborate pattern. Thin bands of strapping bound everything together. Stowed under his bed were dozens of journals, begun when the voice first came into his head.
He placed his forearms on his thighs, palms open and turned to the sun, eyes closed in meditation; there was much to think about today. He lifted his chin to the sky and let the sun heat his skin. In part, he prayed for rain that would bring everything, including people, to life again. Practically overnight crops would sprout; birds would splash and flutter in puddles; flowers would bud and bloom as if by magic. Not everything was positive about rain. Rain meant mosquitos appeared in droves, almost angry in their intensity. But they provided food for bats and other flying creatures. The cycle of life was as important to the Earth’s survival as breathing was for humans. Earth’s survival was what a shaman lived for—what kept him breathing.
Rain-meditation complete, he turned his attention further inward. Deep, deeper inside himself, he focused. Breath and heartbeat slowed. Soon the too-familiar voice in his head began.
“I thought I’d find you out here.”
Zipacna popped his eyes open. He cursed and squinted at the tall figure silhouetted in the bright afternoon light. “What are you doing here?”
Chaahk dropped in front of him, mimicking the same cross-legged position. He picked up a rock, brushed the dirt from the smooth round surface and held it up to the sun. His blue eyes gazed with admiration at the spiderweb obsidian embedded into the quartz. An interesting specimen, Zipacna knew, because he found the same rock yesterday—when he was alone, without his half-brother’s interruption.
“You said you wanted to talk to me,” Chaahk said.
“That was three days ago.”
Chaahk flung the stone into a thicket of lavender, rousing a bevy of mosquitoes from under the leaves. “Do you think, I have nothing else to do?”
Actually, no. Chaahk was the laziest person he’d ever met. At twenty-seven, he should’ve been out on his own a long time ago: a job, family, a home. It was never right to voice that type of thoughts; he let them fly away from his mind.
“I don’t have to come running every time you beckon.”
So, he wasn’t letting it go. Zipacna pulled in a breath and pushed it out between his teeth.
Chaahk changed tacks. “Is this about the school?”
Zipacna closed his hands into fists to try and squash the anger. “No, actually. It’s about our store.”
“Our parents said we couldn’t do it. Case closed.”
Zipacna grinned. He brought his fists together in his lap, knuckles touching. “When did their saying no ever stop us from following our hearts?”
“I get that. The trouble this time is we need their help financially.”
The word resounded in his head as his mouth added, “We don’t—”
The shouted warning came again. Zipacna tried to suck the rest of the sentence back down his throat, but it was too late. The words came anyway. “Actually, we don’t.” Damn. The damage was done. He was committed.
The voice in his head went quiet. Too little too late.
“No?” Chaahk’s single word response was spoken with distrust and scorn. “Do you expect money to just rain down from the sky?”
Hesitation and doubt struck Zipacna like a physical force. Why was he being warned against this? For years they’d talked about opening a spiritual shop in downtown Tulum. They would sell charms, gems, dream catchers, and cards—the traditional stuff—but also, they’d offer readings and workshops of all kinds. Things that would help people open their awareness and spirituality. The two of them had plotted, drawn plans, and even gone so far as to build display units. It was all they talked about.
But now, for some reason, Universe wanted to stop it. Which meant something had happened that changed the course of the planned cycle. But what? He waited, silent, but no answer came. It would, though; all he had to do was be patient. For now, there remained a problem: how to stop this from moving forward until he learned the reason.
Chaahk unfolded his left leg and kicked him in the shin with a dusty boot. “I asked you a question. Why don’t we need to worry about money?”
What to say? He couldn’t just renege on this. Not after he’d thrown out the lure about the financing. So Zipacna gave a sly grin, and said, “Because, when you voice your intentions to Universe, you have to let go and trust that what you want will appear.”
For a moment Chaahk appeared to accept the diversionary words. Then he reared back and kicked Zipacna harder. “What the hell kind of crap are you feeding me? Everyone knows that!”
Chaahk flew onto his knees and leaned into Zipacna’s face. The pungent scent of jalapenos puffed up his nose. Think! he told himself. Hurry before—
Chaahk thrust him backwards. His head hit the dirt with a thud that ricocheted back and forth in painful waves inside his brain. Chaahk sat on Zipacna’s hips, pinning him to the ground. The stink of jalapenos came again when he shouted, “Just how much money did you get? And why didn’t you tell me about it?”
Zipacna wedged his palms on Chaahk’s bony chest and heaved him off. His brother tumbled to the side with a feral growl. Before he could launch a new attack, Zipacna leaped up to straddle Chaahk’s waist. Although a dozen years separated the two, Zipacna was far stronger. He had to admit though, Chaahk had a mean streak. And meanness produced intense adrenaline rushes. But long as Zipacna kept his head, he won every battle. For the time being, he decided to relate the entire story to him. Universe would have to figure another way for the business relationship to implode.
Zipacna climbed off Chaahk, prepared in case he yanked him by an ankle. When no further attack came, he resumed his original position only this time kept his hands clenched in his lap just in case. Though Chaahk was lazy, he never shied from a battle. Why Zipacna ever considered going into business with him—two businesses at that—he couldn’t recall.
Zipacna began the story with, “I went to a cleansing ceremony last night.”
Chaahk turned onto his side, hand propped under his chin. This new position allowed Zipacna to relax. No way Chaahk could molest him without plenty of warning.
Contrary to his usual nature, Chaahk waited. So Zipacna replied with, “I met up with Mr. Martinez afterward.”
“Luis Martinez? He’s Papi’s good friend, right?” Interested now, Chaahk sat up.
“Yeah, but I was so excited I forgot that at first. I told him everything we want to do. When I mentioned how the perfect shop just came available, he said there was no time to waste and we should jump on it.”
“That’s when you told him our parents refused to give us any money.”
“Right. And when they said that, it pretty much killed the plan.” Zipacna laughed. “That’swhen I remembered he and Papi were friends. And I got to thinking I shouldn’t have said anything.”
Chaahk shrugged—an awkward movement while in a prone position. “You didn’t say anything wrong—nothing Papi doesn’t already know.”
“No.” He definitely hadn’t thrown any of their parents under the bus. Hadn’t lain blame on anyone. He’d just stated the facts, that if they wanted to open a business, they would be responsible for financing.
“So what happened?”
“Happened?” Zipacna wrestled himself back to the present moment.
“Obviously, you got the money.” This was said with a bit of irritation. “How did you do it?”
“Zipacna! Where are you?”
Chaahk made a gurgling sound in his throat. “Bad timing.”
Zipacna sat up in a hurry. He got to his knees. “I’m out back, Papi!”
“Why aren’t you mowing the lawn?”
He shot to his feet. “I am just getting to it.”
“Good. It’ll be dark soon.”
Chaahk rose. Together they walked toward the house, talking quickly over the short distance.
“Mr. Martinez was quiet a while. I guess he was thinking what to do. Then he asked how much money it would take. I told him we needed about ten thousand for the down-payment and inventory.”
“How’d you come up with that amount off the top of your head?” Chaahk said, then he wrinkled his cheeks and waved his hand to erase the question. “Don’t answer. You always know shit like that. But he agreed to give us the money?”
Zipacna nodded. “There are what he called conditions.”
Chaahk waved again. “That’s no big deal. This is fantastic news.”
News he could’ve heard three days ago. Zipacna didn’t bother adding this information. Their father stood in the back door, his shoulders taking up most of the space in the frame. Zipacna handed his journal to him, said bye to Chaahk, and turned toward the shed.
“What are you up to today, Chaahk?” His father laid the journal on the stair railing and ran a hand through his thinning hair.
“Nothing much. Just heading home to do our lawn.”
This made Zipacna laugh out loud. The sound echoed inside the crowded shed. Really funny, Chaahk. More often than not, Zipacna was the one mowing her grass.
It was uncanny how alike Chaak and Papi looked. Right down to their height and build. As he poured gasoline into the funnel, Zipacna mulled over the situation. Most of what bothered him was Universe’s sudden decision to keep Chaahk out of things. More than likely, it was due to the fact that Chaahk never seemed to be able to hold a job. He’d work a few weeks and find something to fault the company, the owner, or his co-workers. Whenever Zipacna asked about it, he said he felt sure that when the time was right Universe would present him with his perfect future. Right now, he needed to work for himself, to make his own rules. Which, now that Zipacna thought about it, might be the exact problem—something he’d missed. When it came to compromising, even on something as trivial as drinking soda or lemonade, Chaahk wasn’t flexible. It was generally—what did they say—his way or the highway. Was this the reason Universe decided to intervene? Because he hadn’t figured this out on his own? Probably.
The mower chopped a swath toward the house. Papi and Chaahk were still talking, Papi now with the journal clutched against his chest, Chaahk leaning on the stair post. Both were at ease, which was nice. Too often their discussions ended in shouting. Papi was strict, but he wasn’t unreasonable. He had high standards for his two sons, and one kept falling short of the expectations. Chaahk had confided once that he felt guilty over this, but said he had to follow his path, not the one set out for him. Which made Zipacna laugh. Sure, Papi tried to carve a path for Chaahk.
He turned the mower left, and passed near the porch. Papi and Chaahk were still talking. Even up close, he couldn’t hear what they were saying. But the mood was still positive.
Way back when Chaahk graduated from high school, Papi tried to bring him into the business. His plumbing company did quite well. Papi would’ve loved for his eldest son to follow in his footsteps. But, like all the subsequent jobs, it lasted only a few weeks.
Gradually, Zipacna made smaller and smaller rectangles until the backyard was smooth and neatly cut. By the time he finished, both Papi and Chaahk were gone.
He swiped the sweat from his forehead and neck with a towel hanging on the rail. Thanks for leaving it, Papi.
It wasn’t hard to realize that Chaahk’s inability to hold a job was probably the reason Mr. Martinez put conditions on the ten thousand dollar loan by leaving Chaahk’s name off the paperwork. But that raised another question: did Zipacna want to be responsible for repaying all the money? If—when—Chaahk bailed on him, could he manage on his own? Could he handle payroll and employee scheduling, ordering inventory? He felt pretty sure he could. He had spiritual abilities, he had the desire, was smart, and he worked hard. Sure, Chaahk’s spiritual talents were more developed, but his own were growing daily, he made sure of it.
The front yard took longer to do. The house was set far back from the road and the lawn contained lots of obstacles—trees and shrubs, statues and flowerbeds. They were his mamá’spride and joy. Zipacna took satisfaction in keeping them looking nice—not for his mother, for himself. Which was another reason he would be a success. He cared intensely about things, most especially for himself. Which made him a better person to be around—so Mamásaid.
One thing was for sure: Universe’s decision to omit Chaahk from the deal hadn’t been spontaneous or random. There must have been other messages, ones he’d totally missed. But, actually faced with the money that would make things a reality, Universe had to act abruptly. Unfortunately, it came several seconds too late. He had no doubt something would happen to squash things—that was how Universe worked.
Feeling vindicated for having missed the message’s timing, he continued on his task. By now, his shirt was soaking wet, water dripped from his hair and ran into his eyes.
Deeper analysis of the situation produced two answers as to why he kept including Chaahk in his plans. First, he felt bad his brother was twenty-seven years old and had nothing to show for his life. Not that it was Zipacna’s problem or responsibility in any way, shape, or form. It was part of his personality to want things to go right for everyone, most especially family. Second, each time he lost a job, Chaahk said one of these days the exact right job would show up. Zipacna believed in this with all his heart. All you had to do is voice your desires and Universe would set the path in front of you. Whether you walked down the right path was up to you. Zipacna couldn’t help thinking that if he at least pointed Chaahk toward the path, his brother would slide into his destiny without further assistance.
It was nearly dark by the time the lawn was done. Dinner waited on the table. His parents had finished already; they were in the living room talking. He couldn’t make out what they said and bother trying to listen in. He picked up his journal from the counter where Papi left it and went to the back porch. The screen would keep the bugs away. The homemade sage scented candle—that he’d made from the homegrown herb and would be sold in the shop—would provide light so he could write.
Zipacna slipped the pen from the binding and penned the words as they entered his mind. He wasn’t sure what to call what happened during these moments. The voice was inside him, as if it was his thoughts, but the ideas were nothing he’d consciously considered. Yet he was compelled to write what was said.
She looks like an angel. Her name is Jade. She carries the traditional Mayan looks even though her mamáis a blonde-haired blue-eyed American. Her father is my son, Menye.
Zipacna smiled at the words. His son Menye. His granddaughter Jade. He was only fifteen and his family tree was already mapped out. Not just the family tree; his destiny.
The weird and quite inconvenient thing was, the messages didn’t come in chronological order. Today he was being told about Jade as a child, yet other messages had included intricate details of how she would someday take over his school.
Merely thinking the words popped goosebumps all over his body. He already knew what he’d call it:Centro de Educación Espiritual Avanzada. Center for Advanced Spiritual Education.
The school was the second business he and Chaahk discussed owning together. Odd though. In all his journal writings, not one word had come regarding he and Chaahk working together. As a matter of fact, it was quite the opposite. Just last week, he’d written—through whatever powers stimulated what he’d come to think of as automatic writing—that Jade would eventually run the school. No mention whatsoever of Chaahk. Or himself, for that matter. To Zipacna, that meant he would somehow be out of the picture by the time the school dream came to fruition.
Something he hadn’t learned yet was why Jade was to be his protégé rather than Menye. In most families, the son carried on the work of the father. It had been that way throughout history. Particularly in shamanism as it had a strictly male-oriented hierarchy. In all the cleansing ceremonies, initiations and certifications, Zipacna had never seen a female. He had learned not to stress over the answers to questions that arose in his writing. He’d found that, as time passed, all answers became clear. He just wished things could be more sequential. Then they would definitely make more sense.
The screen door opened. His father stepped onto the porch. “Am I interrupting anything?”
Zipacna shut the journal and replaced the pen in the binding. “No, I was getting ready to take a shower. Did you and Chaahk have a good talk?”
His father sat, shaking his head and wearing a small grin. “I don’t know where I went wrong with that boy.”
“He’s not a boy any more.”
Papi gave a chuckle. “Hard to tell much of the time. I wish I could help him find something he wants to do.”
“I’ve tried too.” Zipacna shrugged. “He’ll be ready when he’s ready.”
His father leaned forward, placing his forearms on his thighs. Clearly he intended to say something serious. “He mentioned you were two opening a shop.”
Gosh, couldn’t he keep his mouth shut for a single minute? Zipacna didn’t reply. It wouldn’t be long before Dad expounded on his thoughts on the matter. His response wasn’t hard to predict, anyway.
Now his father leaned back against the flowered cushion. He sighed. “You know why your mamáI had to refuse to give you the money to open it, don’t you?”
Zipacna didn’t want to give energy to negative words—any words—against his half-brother, so he kept silent.
“It had nothing to do with you. I have no doubt you’ll be a success at anything you attempt. Just to double check, I’m assuming you have no interest in coming into the plumbing business with me.”
“Sorry. No. I couldn’t be cooped up indoors all the time. I’d be miserable.”
“Kinda figured that.”
He slapped Zipacna’s knee. “I’m not the kind of father who insists his sons follow his footsteps. The offer was mostly for Chaahk, to try and give him a focus.”
Zipacna had felt a twinge of guilt over his refusal to join the business. Thankfully, Papi’s words chased away the emotion.
“You realize you’ll be responsible to repay Luis all on your own?”
“I’ve given it a lot of thought. I’ll be okay. The town needs our kind of store. It can do nothing but become a success.”
“I know I don’t tell you often enough how proud I am of you.” Before Zipacna could respond, he added, “There was a time your abilities confounded me no end. But
I’ve watched you develop into an amazing young man.”
Not entirely comfortable with the praise, Zipacna rushed to add his brother. “Chaahk’s talents are stronger than mine.”
“The trouble is, he doesn’t take them seriously.” He laughed. “He doesn’t take very many things seriously.”
That was the truth. As a matter of fact, Chaahk often referred to his abilities as burdens.
Papi slapped his knee again. “It’s late. I’m going to bed. If it’s okay with you, I’d like to sit in on your next meeting with Luis.”
“I have no problem with that.” He didn’t say the next words that came into his throat—I’m not sure how Chaahk will feel.
“You coming to bed?”
Zipacna picked up the journal from his lap and followed Papi inside. He spent some time writing in the journal, this time expounding on what happened during the day. As he was closing the cover, preparing for sleep, the now-familiar voice returned to his head. He hurriedly opened the journal and began to write.
Jade’s spiritual abilities will not blossom until her thirtieth birthday.
Zipacna did some quick math and realized he would be long gone into the other world before this time. This was unfortunate because he dearly would have loved working with her. Different from his father, he DID care if blood relatives entered into the family business. But, it was not to be. He read on:
She will come into her talents as suddenly as a tornado forms across flat, dry land. They will perplex her at first. But she will embrace them even more completely than I did. She will go to great depths to educate herself, to perfect herself.
Pride flowed through him at the thought. Sure, he wouldn’t be able to watch her as a physical being, but he could do so from his place on the next plane.
He wondered if Jade experienced the songs and pictures as a child. Possibly she had, and chosen, or been forced to, ignore them. Surely if she’d confided in Menye about them, he would’ve helped with their cultivation. The answer to this would come, as they all did. All he had to do was be patient.
The information seemed to have dried up for tonight, so he stowed the journal under the bed, cramming it between the others. Soon, he’d have to find a new place for them—there were too many.
Later, lying in bed, staring out the uncurtained window, he watched the moon move across the sky, and thought about the messages he’d been receiving since he was a small child. At the time, they came as pictures and song lyrics. Things nearly impossible for a child to interpret. Without a past to go on, how did Universe expect him to figure things out? Not that it grew any easier once the messages turned verbal. They came in bursts that sometimes fed through so fast, he couldn’t write them all down. All in all, what he’d learned over the years was that literal interpretations weren’t what mattered. Nor did he need to recall every word. The important thing was what they meant to him personally. Then again, it would’ve been nice to know about Chaahk before this.
That’s when the little voice in his head—his real mental voice, not the intrusive one—reminded him that, really, he’d known all along and chosen to ignore the signs.
Zipacna and Chaahk worked hard setting up the shop. The sign was attached to the front of the building. Inventory had been set onto the display units. Advance advertising had workshops, readings and healing sessions were almost filled to capacity. Things couldn’t have been better.
Three months passed. Things were going amazing. Chaahk showed his immense knowledge about healing stones and the books they carried on the shelves in the far corner. He interacted with customers, had them laughing and joking with his sociable personality.
One day he wasn’t waiting by the door at opening time. Zipacna didn’t phone to find out where he was. Nor did he stress over it. He was grateful Chaahk had been a dedicated worker for three months.
His half-brother sauntered in the door after lunchtime. Zipacna greeted him with a friendly welcome, as if it was nine a.m. instead of two-thirty. He never mentioned there had been a line of customers practically out the door all day. It sure kept him hopping.
The next morning, the same thing happened. Zipacna phoned a woman who’d applied for a job when they first opened. Thankfully, she was still available. He hired her to cover Chaahk’s hours from then out. Today, Chaahk strolled in fifteen minutes before closing. Again Zipacna greeted him with cheerfulness.
Chaahk laid a black velvet cloth on the glass countertop. With reverence, he unfolded the edges to reveal several pieces of the most beautiful jewelry Zipacna had ever seen: pendants with jade stones, malachite, and identical pearls. Bracelets strung with perfectly matched cowrie shells. And a ring bearing the most amazing piece of chrysocolla in a silver filigree setting.
Zipacna gripped it tightly, the stone’s calming energy so strong it made his fingers tingle. “How much do you want for these?” he asked.
Between customers, they settled on a fair price for the pieces. Zipacna tucked the bills into his half-brother’s hand. “Bring me more when you can. You do amazing work.”
Chaahk, obviously confused as to why Zipacna behaved so calmly, frowned, folded the velvet cloth, slipped it into a pants pocket, and left the store. On the way out, he held the door for a tall thin man coming in, never seeming to notice it was Luis Martinez, their benefactor.
Lips pursed, Mr. Martinez tore his gaze away from Chaahk’s retreating figure and faced Zipacna, who was still holding the gorgeous ring.
“Wasn’t that Chaahk?”
“It was. He brought this.” Zipacna handed him the ring.
Mr. Martinez wasn’t well versed in stones and their healing abilities, but it was clear this one affected him strongly. A grin appeared on his wide mouth; lots of white teeth soon showed. He reluctantly set the ring on the counter and examined the other pieces Chaahk had left.
While Zipacna wrote out price tags for the new items and arranged them in the glass display case, Mr. Martinez wandered around the space. “I have to say, I am very impressed with what you’ve done here. You’ve got a nice variety of inventory. Different from last time I was here.” He fingered a bronze statue of a plump Buddha.
“Thank you, sir.”
At that moment, two customers entered. Mr. Martinez approached Zipacna and spoke softly while the women browsed. “I am a bit baffled to have seen Chaahk leaving the shop. Is he up to his antics again?”
“Sir, I’m not sure what you’re talking about. My half-brother is the same wonderful man he’s always been.”
Mr. Martinez broke into a wider smile than earlier. “My son, I admire your attitude. There isn’t a stitch of animosity in you, is there?”
“Anger is a wasted emotion. It does no good for anyone. When he didn’t show up yesterday, I knew it had begun. Today, I hired a woman to replace him.”
“Good for you. Don’t waste any time.”
Zipacna gazed through the glass at Chaahk’s jewelry pieces thinking maybe Universe had finally presented Chaahk with his future—the cycle of life complete.