Nothing is ever a mistake, not even what we toss into the maw of a waiting donation bin, our acquisitions and castoffs equally important to us in their time;
And aren’t we a part of nature, bright flowers blooming their prolific heads off out there in the garden, then shedding copious detritus once they’re done, the difference of course being that their kind of death contributes to life and does not impinge on the health of the planet by piling up in mountains of landfill;
We also gather people to us in this life, some challenge us, others delight often in the same breath, unexpected, sometimes unwanted, and our responding feelings of joy or sorrow enrich this journey into awareness, as deep as we are able to dive in and emerge, again and again;
Mis-take, mis-step imply we have acted in error somehow, and yet without stepping on your toes in the proverbial dance, we might not have met as fully and honestly as we did and as we continue to do, day by day, year after year, and now, some thirty years later, we can laugh about what others thought the boldest move, the grandest mistake of our lives.
I woke up this morning and Got It, I mean, kinesthetically in-my-bones to-my-soul Got It. All was perfect, the heaviness the damp brought about was gone, and in its place, an incredible lightness of being;
Of course the mind stepped in to save the day, or so it thought, to analyze, compose, order this new awareness, as it were, to card catalog it under A for anomaly, or perhaps label it enlightenment, something it thought it had defined but clearly had no idea, No Idea. For this had little to do with that, leaving the mind floundering, as it were, on the shoals of its lonely self importance;
But you Can be useful, I said whilst mopping its tired, beaten brow, but give it a break just now, I am content; as something deeper recalled the voice of Dorothy, I have traveled all the way to Oz, seen the Wizard, cringed in fear at the flying monkeys, All This Way! Only to discover, Auntie Em, there’s no place like home!
I get that fear is genuine. We have just emerged from two years of it gripping not just people, but countries and the global community as we reacted to news of a pandemic. It became a real test of character and an opportunity to reflect on how we receive information. Are we plugged into media for our news, or are we trusting our inner compass, our guidance, our instincts? Who are we, and what are we made of? Are we so afraid that, in the belief that we are keeping ourselves and others safe, we became as schoolyard bullies? But this post is not about ‘that.’ It is about how aware we are of our own fear, and how we manage it, or at its worst manifestation, how we allow it to control our lives.
Fear is the instinct these bodies were equipped with in order to ensure the perpetuation of our species. All creatures possess it, each to their kind. We react, and the difference between a human reaction and an animal’s is complex. All reside here on this planet, and just because we can eliminate another’s life due to our fear of it doesn’t make it right. Yet many do not even ask critical questions of themselves, though I am quite certain Indigenous people did, and many still do.
Late yesterday afternoon, I was drawn to sit on the steps leading to our front garden area. Daylight was waning, clouds were billowing and amassing as they do this time of year, and after hours in the hot sun giving the bigger trees a deep drink in the midsummer heat, those steps were calling me. As I settled onto the flagstone, something obviated itself in the corner of my vision. My body reacted for a flash, no longer, a visceral startle response, and I did not make more of it, did not escalate it into fight or flight panic. I realize we all have control over this escalation, yet many are like one of those cars that goes from zero to sixty in six seconds. Instinct, fear, panic, reaction. Humans are, as I say, perhaps the most complex species. We are so confused with undefined and unconscious fears that we have driven thousands of unique and beautiful species of animals from this earth.
I realized I had a visitor. Well, hello, friend, I said in a quiet voice. The visitor looked at me with similar curiosity, no doubt, and we sat in silence and allowed one another time and space to adjust. We are both creatures who like our space, I mused, not that dissimilar or unusual in that respect. And yes, this small one possesses the power to kill, as do I. It doesn’t have to define this moment, or any other. After a bit longer, the rattler pulled its head back, not to strike, but to redirect its body into a turn, and it glided off toward the rock wall, making its way slowly, as do I when in new surroundings, as s/he settled under a low-lying shrub for what I suspected was the evening.
Earlier in the day, our dogs were in their large enclosure, and they would not stop barking. Last time this happened, a large bull snake had decided their hay bed was a nice cool place to spend the day. Chris emerged from his shop, and I from the house, as we walked to their yard to determine what was agitating them. As we approached, we heard a rattle. If you have never heard this sound, it is pretty unusual, and unique to the species that claims it. I am small, and I am just as afraid of you as you are of me! Please give me space to determine my next move! There s/he was, curled up in Peanut’s hay bed, eyes bright, rattle erect and vibrating. We released the dogs to relocate to the house, and I spent a moment communicating to the snake that it needed to find another place to hang out. An hour later, I checked and it was gone. Later that evening, I believe it was the same creature who met me in the garden.
This morning, Peanut was again uneasy. Chris walked around the corner of the house and came upon the rattler and a mouse, clinging to the rock wall above it. We had been setting traps and checking all the minute places where rodents might gain access to the inner walls of the house in exactly this corner. Nature knows we abhor killing when there are other options, and now this. I don’t believe I am imagining that the snake appeared as our rodent trap, providing her/him food whilst eliminating some of our rodent issues. Last year, we had rodents chewing wires under the hoods of our vehicles. A prairie rattler, same variety as the one I speak of here, took up residence under a pile of stacked lumber.
I know some might fear snakes, spiders, jellyfish, whatever. All I am asking is that people explore the origin of these fears, and consider the options of peaceful coexistence on a planet already in crisis due to the care-less actions of our species. In the immortal words of Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?”
The longing to be loved is profound,
the soul sings life into being,
a journey not yet taken, yet once
in progress, so often reprising
experience already inked and dried,
fading on paper not meant to last;
The manuscript is not complete,
we are all unfinished works
in the making, and repeating
what once was
brooks little space for a new
unmanifest destiny of envisioning
all we may dream into being
by dint of our own acts and visions;
Be wary of casting others into molds
too snug to allow for expansion,
human proclivity of those seeking
sentience whilst ignoring the limiting
tendency to love with condition
merely what is befitting,
rather than embracing
with wholehearted acceptance
the splendor of a liberated co-creation.
Things will never be what they once were,
yet haven’t these pandemic times been a needed shakedown
of colossal proportions? A viral reminder that sameness,
routine, even the time of a ticking clock are all
human constructs, illusions we have gathered around us,
bright individuated cloaks of security;
still there is no comfort in the thin shrouds
in which we now find ourselves clad, shivering
in our newfound quasi-nakedness, and suddenly
the formerly faceless man or woman pandering
on the street corner seems eerily familiar;
Springtime in New Mexico is a blustery affair,
Stellar Jays flying sideways, Black Vultures swept
up high, then low on colliding thermals, protection sought
in tall Ponderosas, time to gather what acumen they possess
in order to move on, survival keeping them close
to Mother Nature’s bones, and the main difference
between those avians and us is that they sense their
bit of earth and range within the scheme of it,
there is no desire for more, nor longing
for what might have been;
Hubris is the sole bane of the human species, and if Covid has served us well, it has been to level the playing field, teach us in a kinesthetic way the folly of self importance, demonstrating under a magnifying glass how alike we are to the man under the cop’s knee, unto the fears of the cop himself; shaking us down and down until we can see all others within our own psyches, and it is only then that we glimpse how akin we are to what’s outside the bubble of comfort and even how interdependent we are with all of it; a tiny virus has randomly crossed racial barriers, oceans, continents and economic strata to reach into the soul of things and root out our deepest fears, and if we remain strong, grounded and focused, the winds of change sure to blow many off-course cannot penetrate even the sparsest of garments;
And so we wait, cultivating patience where before
it may have been lacking; we live, laugh, love and grieve
with those we have come to know far better in this pause
of shut-down, unmasked in the face of a new intimacy
while we breathe in the gift of life, feeling gratitude
for all we have been given; then it’s back to the Garden,
where we get our hands dirty as we mindfully match pace now
with nature’s rhythms, the inevitable awakening into a season
of buds and bright blossoms; and eventually, in harmony now
with All That Is, perceived Serpents included,
we may finally reap the long-awaited harvest.
The snow pulls free from the pines,
islands of bare ground begin surfacing,
a young fox appears at the bird feeder,
huge flocks of wild turkeys gather
in the field below, males fanning tails
out, ever aware, movement, sound
causing them to rise into crisp blue air,
straining to gain altitude, then gone
up and over the rocky hill where elk
traverse and wildcats hunker down
in their stony caves;
Ice cracks and breaks and the river flows
once again, days warm and thaw, nights
freeze over, mindful walking essential
in this seasonal landscape as we cull
the dead and down for firewood, pile
limbs into giant gumdrop structures,
ready for tomorrow’s torch;
These things I have noticed
since moving here seven months ago,
and what I have learned is to
find the rhythm, meet the day, open
to untroubled possibilities alongside
others simply living out our days
in circadian heartbeats, while the fate
of humanity hangs in the balance
of a dying Order gasping like fish cast
high upon sandy shoals,
waiting for the smallest of neap tides
to once again turn in its favor.
I stand alone, silhouetted
by the dawn, queen of the mountain,
the hill or nothing at all,
tiny speck on a speck of stardust,
endlessly orbiting in a vast,
wide universe, wondering
(do trees and coyotes wonder?),
waiting, I suppose, to rejoin
the human race
after too much isolation,
and where are the invitations?
Hidden, as well they might be,
behind colorful masks
and color-less fears;
Pandemic bringing all of us
into parity with those sequestered
by choice, yet even the monks
of Tibet have their community;
and what, if anything,
have I drawn from an experience
I did not volunteer for?
Me, me, me. The one who scoffs
at self importance in others.
Going back into my journals for the first time in years, I discover it’s interesting to note how clearly I perceive things now, compared to 15 years ago. For all those sheltering in isolation with others they are not quite used to being with 24/7, perhaps these old meanderings might give rise to your own deeper contemplations …
July 4, 2005
Is it fear or is it excitement? Such a question for those of us raised not to expect much or anything at all;
How to be with inner trembling without precipitating an earthquake? Life goes about its business, we are here waiting in the wings for it to happen, whatever that might look like;
Perhaps it is excitement only, then again, maybe fear. But if I don’t know, why label it at all? Say it’s both or neither. But if I don’t sit still enough and listen, it becomes a mantle, then a shroud;
Am I sad or am I angry? Allowing neither, they have become, as have I, confused. Sitting on a powder keg of emotion, I tremble with energy burning inside, steaming my vitals like massive hydroelectric turbines (and we wonder why, by mid-life, we feel burned out);
How to disengage from self destruction now seems bigger than searching for what path to walk or spinning wheels at the scrim of the past;
What an intense awakening! To realize that, at some fundamental level, I lack deep awareness of the benevolent nature of the universe;
Disrupted early on by promises rarely met with integrity, instead, behind the power of the original delivery lay a raw, wounded place in another’s story;
How to unravel myself? I go deeper into ‘belief’ and find it less substantial, and when visiting it again, it seems to strangle less. What emerges is more my own truth.
Last Monday we closed on the lovely property pictured here. We are now in a position of having secured the ground for our future whilst awaiting the selling of the home we have lovingly restored from old Plantation times to its present incarnation. It’s been so much fun, and yes, a lot of work! We never planned on leaving it, so we made it our own, tropical gardens and all. You can view it here.
Still, we might have known better. Living wide open necessitates a willingness to shift and grow, both inwardly but also occasionally outwardly, at least for us. So back we go to where we lived many years ago. The high desert of New Mexico is singularly unique. And we look forward to the variety of topography and wildlife we remember from that time, as well as different opportunities for us both. Aloha for now!
photo credit for all images: Laurie Hilton; last image: Alexander Berlonghi