Tuesday, May 2, 2017

COGNITIVE DISSONANCE


Lately I go to bed with a knot in my stomach as crazy scenes from a narrowly survived future rise to the surface after the lights go out and there is nothing to distract my attention. However, I don’t normally have a pessimistic view of the future. After all, I’ve survived this far and the future hasn’t been made yet and it has a good chance of balancing the past. I do believe that nature works toward balance and there are still a few cells aligned with Mother Nature in our human makeup. However, I’m also aware that things often get worse before they get better and my nerves are weary.

Perhaps paranoia comes in the night, but has it occurred to anyone else that Trump is our “so-called” president because malicious forces wanted him to make naïve and serious mistakes so that an even darker force could step in after he self-destructs? Just a thought!

We have not been without war since WII. Now, instead of a world war, we have wars all over the world. Who benefits, is a better question than who is right. News is now focusing on the Russian connection as if they are trying to make Trump prove that he isn’t pro-Russia. Nevertheless, Russia seems to be benefitting from the internal discord. Does anyone remember the principle, “divide and conquer.” What do our political parties actually represent? Do Democrats and Republicans have more significance than football teams competing with each other? Does anyone even know what these parties actually represent at this time beyond the natural human instinct to engage in competitive games? Most of us outsiders aren’t privy to the rules of engagement.
The blind men and the elephant.

Trump loved being in the news, outraging some of the public and “saying it like it is” for the rest. He loves attention, but is now challenged at every turn and may well be a kind of lackey for the real powers that hide safely in the shadows. The people who voted for Trump sadly recognized the government was not serving them, but they are still loyal to an idealistic propagandized version of America that this billionaire manipulator cannot possibly satisfy. He is riding now on the principles of cognitive dissonance. “People invested to a given perspective shall—when confronted with disconfirming evidence—expend great effort to justify retaining their challenged perspective.” Many of his supporters alter their loyalty to fit the circumstances.

A few minutes ago, while walking through the living room I caught a glimpse of what PQ was watching on TV. It was an old Nazi propaganda film by Leni Riefenstahl on PBS. It is disturbing to realize that people are as vulnerable to propaganda as they were then and history is not an effective teacher, or perhaps no one learns history anymore.  Many intelligent, well-meaning people voted for Trump. I don’t believe he is a Hitler, but he is a deceiver. People wanted someone to fix their problems, the ones they can’t fix themselves having to do with a widening gap between the rich and poor, declining incomes, wars that never end and worsening terrorist scare tactics. They wanted someone who would give them confidence and safety and a stable income but this primed them to be uncritical of a person who had no respect for the truth or anything else, and who fed himself on the energy of their discontent. He was different-- not a career politician and he didn’t use euphemisms in his speeches, but he is a narcissistic snake oil salesman. He knew what people wanted and played to their hopes and fears for his own aggrandizement. It appears to be turning back on him, but is he really the primary culprit here?


The susceptibility of human nature to tough talk and deception is the leading theme in this drama.  Emotion is much stronger than logic. In fact, logic serves emotional desires and emotional desires are what any good salesman addresses.  America tends to be more than naïve about its history, but there is also a cognitive dissonance that comes through as denial. There is a lot of dark stuff in our history and we never were the shining castle on the hill. “Making America Great again” only feeds the national white hat fantasy. To be a nation and society deserving of admiration we would have to have enough maturity and wisdom to recognize our faults, delusions, and shame before karma hits us in the face.  Then there is the issue of who really runs the country. It may not be as hidden as it seems. It is the big money people. This isn’t about being rich; it is about having control of an artificial system that underlies all other systems. It is money, but in a particular role. Money is now cosmic! 

There is a deep insecurity about the money system. It is artificial and it is showing signs of being a Lego stack that has grown so high it is about to tumble into pieces. Money is not real wealth on a real planet. It is an artificial symbolic device of social dominance and control. Perhaps once it was convenient as a tool of trade one-step removed from the actual goods that support life. Control of life support has always been the preferred method of elite control over the general population but there is always a looming danger that the slaves will revolt. This is where deception comes in. It is important that they believe they can someday rise to a higher level and be a part of the elite group or at least live in comfort and respect. This hoax is on the verge of breaking down.

There is a problem with cognitive dissonance, it lives in all of us to some degree, and we are not conscious of the inner contradiction until something forces awareness by putting the contradiction in our face. Maybe its still too close to see.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

MONKEY BARS


The outdoor weather is gorgeous. It’s hard to believe that yesterday we woke up to a white world. Our neighbor's pink flowering tree is covered in heavy wet snow. Spring always feels like a miraculous thrust for a new beginning. This used to make me depressed, this time I’m determined to follow this progression of seasons with a hopeful though edgy heart to the next season.

Spring brings up feelings of my personal spring and what a struggle it was; much like a true Rocky Mountain spring which is always a battle between winter and summer until the tilt in the earth finally determines the outcome. Why was I afraid to leaf out into the activities I loved the most since early childhood? What I do know is that it all began with the Monkey Bars in Vallejo California when I was two-and-a-half. I wasn’t old enough to get beyond the first rung and I wanted more than anything to climb those bars. I gazed far into the sky and to the top of the equivalent of Mount Everest where the older kids looked down at me, and knew they were tremendously superior because they could climb all the way to the top.
Old Style Monkey Bars, now considered too dangerous for kids.

At that time, we lived in government housing so that my dad could work repairing ships at the Mare Island shipyards. When my mom became pregnant and we needed more room, my family moved away from that apartment near the Monkey Bars, and I ran away several times to visit those Monkey Bars. I got a spanking and a serious scolding each time but held it in my heart that I would go back any chance I got. We moved back to Colorado before the Monkey Bar issue was resolved. After the move, I remember looking in every playground for Monkey Bars like those. There were many small ones, but none like the ones I remembered from Vallejo. When I was 26, I finally found some exactly the same in New York’s Central Park. It was vindication that after all those years, my memory of what they were like was accurate.

Since the Monkey Bar setback, I have pursued many skills. The only ones I didn’t master to my satisfaction are those that expressed my heart and soul. I learned to garden, cook, design and sew my own clothes, type, mix cement, finish wood, tile a bathroom, apply wallpaper and paint, take care of horses, dogs, cats and chickens but there was no challenge to my heart and soul involved. All these things were everyday tasks that anyone could do. They were all first rung accomplishments. In fact, I was hiding behind things that came easy. Of course, I drew and painted as well, but was secretive about it. The parental judgement on art was that it was a frivolous self-indulgent way of shirking real work. I drew, painted and read when I wasn’t under surveillance. I was sick a lot when I was a kid, and I suspect that it had to do with having permission to do the things I liked to do such as drawing and reading while recovering in bed. There were many things that were off the table because they didn’t fit our religion or lifestyle—things such as swimming lessons (my folks figured I didn’t need to know much to swim in the irrigation ditch) or gymnastic and dance lessons (dance was considered showing off, immodest and thus against our religion) and of course art.

I developed a lifelong habit of publically going against my true feelings. Well, not entirely. Although I often bought things I didn’t really like for reasons I thought practical or did tasks I didn’t want to do because I felt guilty for doing something that I wanted to do (case in point I almost quit writing this to rake dead leaves out of the garden), what I really did was go underground. I just did everything I felt passionate about in secret. This wasn’t terribly difficult because my family didn’t bother to inquire about things that didn’t interest them.

There are good things even in a bad situation. I quit school at fifteen because I could no longer tolerate the dissonance between my inside suffering and my outside life. Of course, this created a huge uproar at home, but it was a necessary survival move. I waited for the walls to collapse around me and instead I found myself very alone, and very free. I attempted to get back into school the next year, talked my way into high school and succeeded but it was totally empty and meaningless so I walked away and never went back.

My world turned inside out, I began falling into a tube of bottomless blackness. I expected to be doomed forever. I had broken through all the safe boxes in my life and there was nothing to fight and nothing to achieve. To call it a dark night of the soul wouldn’t come close. It was more like being lost in endless nothingness without form, sound or anyone else around.

My folks sent me to a psychiatrist. He sat 20 feet away behind a desk at the other end of his office and I stared out the window. He asked me things such as “what are you thinking when you stare out the window?” I didn’t trust anyone and I didn’t answer because he like everyone else wanted to get me back to school and I knew I couldn’t do that. He once asked me why I hated pastel colors and that was the only question I could answer. I said, “Because my mother loves pastels. Babies wear pastels and my baby sister died and then my mother faded away. Pastel is less than alive.” He said nothing but it caused me to think about the psychological connection between pastel colors and fading away. I checked out books by Freud and Jung at the Library. That was the beginning of my new identity. I was sixteen.

For several months I went down town once a week to this psychiatrist until the day I told him that I felt guilty about the money it was costing my parents since it would never do any good. After that, I mysteriously developed interests in topics that I had never even heard of before. Many years later, some proponents of New Age thought referred to people with this experience as walk-ins. I knew I wasn’t a walk-in, I was a walk-out and that is when I discovered my forbidden self. I read sociology, psychology, history, philosophy all the way back to before Plato, various camps of theology, art history, method acting, the Kama Sutra and Rig Veda and then the Bible from Genesis to Revelation trying to generate the faith I was supposed to have but it blew my Baptist upbringing out the window forever. I read all the depressing Russian novels I could find in the library and forced myself to watch films about the horrors of Nazi concentration camps. I was trying to understand the true scope of human consciousness and depravity. It wasn’t just me. There was something very wrong with the human world.

I went with the existentialists, became cynical, foresaw the overthrow of Batista, knew Castro wouldn’t be America’s darling very long, foretold the assassination of Martin Luther King, and was shocked but not surprised when Kennedy was assassinated. Now and then, I would literally float off the couch and a powerful vision of the coming world from miles in the air would appear. An unseen voice told me that I was acquiring the vision to share with others who would also have these experiences. I was getting the stereoscopic view in order to graduate beyond personal misery. Was all of this another kind of Monkey Bars? The trouble was, with the exception of Kennedy’s assassination I wasn’t yet 18 when a wave of insights and knowledge rushed in like a tsunami. It didn’t create an ego charge because it isolated me from my peers and adults didn’t believe me.

Years later, I got into Red Rocks Community College, took all the hardest classes because I didn’t know any better and maintained a 4.0. It was another transition. Most students were working adults trying to better their job chances and they didn’t dive too deep. Nevertheless, it was my re-entry into society and I had dreams of someday getting a degree in psychology or anthropology, maybe both. However, there was one class that changed my life. Ironically, it was considered a fluff class and was the only one graded on attendance rather than performance and I missed two classes due to a severe blizzard thus lowering my grade point average. Of course, I could have gone to the instructor and explained the circumstances but back then, I was unaware that it was negotiable. Oh yes, about the class, it was on metaphysics with aura reading, the historic background of Tarot cards, astrology, energy paths, divining and many other metaphysical topics. I discovered that I was good at aura reading. I also remember an exercise that momentarily stopped gravity. This was impressive because it was a physical result that I actually experienced. Anyway, this class opened up an unfamiliar world--one that I had been raised to believe to be both silly and satanic.

In the following years, I attended many workshops that could be lumped into the Human Potential Movement, alternative healing and transpersonal psychology. I really intended to become a practitioner because it all helped profoundly on my personal journey. I thought this was my calling and the impetus toward climbing my personal Monkey Bars, but why did I get stuck on the first rung?

Next, I got a job with an oil company during a time when they were not hiring permanent help. It was such a stroke of luck that I worked there five years out of gratitude even though I felt like an alien in the corporate world. Next I went to an alternative school but soon ran out of money and then the school folded. Although that school was an amazing experience, it was one of my first encounters with the fact that idealistic people cannot cooperate nearly as well as corporate sharks.

I got into a very complicated marriage to a man who was bi-polar, and although very psychic, well- traveled on several dimensions and adventurous had yet to touch solid ground on this planet. He knew a lot of people who were involved in the metaphysical world or as alternative healers and I often became their friend after he alienated them. I learned astrology and started practicing it. We went through bankruptcy. Next, I worked for a huge bookstore that was like a whole village of people who didn’t fit into conventional society. My husband had several extreme manic episodes and undermined me at every step. We finally came apart when we moved to Taos, New Mexico. The move was my idea. An entirely new chapter opened and my husband moved back to Denver. We remained friends but our lives took different trajectories.

Taos wasn’t easy. Although I saw my life as a failure and thought I was too old to start over or do anything meaningful, I met interesting people and resolved to use my flickering embers to warm the hopes of my friends. I was always better at serving other people than myself. Taos didn’t allow this. I won’t go into all the dramatic cliffhangers that followed but before long, I was working in a gallery featuring Indian art, living at poverty level in an old adobe and painting every night into the morning hours. I’ve made my peace with unachieved dreams or, so I thought. Then a few days ago, while talking to a dear friend she mentioned that she was considering putting long dormant healing knowledge to work again. This was an amazing revelation because I had been thinking about something comparable but didn’t know how or where to start.

When I approach them, what will the Monkey Bars look like now? For one thing, I’m taller on several levels, and they don’t seem quite so high. I know this would involve letting past judgements and failures dissolve in the acid of transformation. No, I don’t know just how to do this but maybe if I leave the slate clean it will attract content. As the saying goes, “Nature abhors a vacuum.” Perhaps all I have to do is not move away.

To be continued.

Friday, January 27, 2017

LOST AND FOUND

I’m waiting for my name.

At least that’s what I thought.

Then I realized that my name was waiting for me.

The name I sign checks with still surprises me when heard out loud.

It’s a furtive name, given to that costume that hides me from myself.

Where am I?

I’ve been lost so long I forgot I was searching for my way.

Oh yes, where did I leave my vehicle? Parked almost out of sight

It will take me to my name.

Every time I release myself from worry and move into a seemingly more confident stance, there is a trickster waiting in ambush from its hiding place. “Does she really mean it? Let’s find out”. This trickster knows my weaknesses (isn’t that the point).

Do I give in, go back to the submissive business as usual stance, or move forward with faith and intestinal fortitude.  The test comes again and again. I used to assume it was a sign that I should creep timidly into the shadows and do the best I can with shrinking resources. After all, I’ve become pretty  creative with whatever is available.
Hermes/Mercury ruler of Gemini (my sign).
Trickster and God of the crossroads.

I’ve wasted a lot of time waiting for a change in circumstances, so I’ve decided to act as if circumstances had already changed. I’ve planned to concentrate more of my energy on creative thinking and less on juggling bills. After all, I’m not a very good juggler and no matter how hard I try to think of all details, I always come up short. As soon as I discover that I’ve messed up again, I fall into depression and self-loathing for a few days and then decide to push my mood up with a shot of will power and start all over. Yet, the truth is, I’m slowly sliding backward. This is natural I’m not immortal and time isn’t working in my favor. It’s time to admit that I don’t have a fix. I’m tired of running in circles. I’m searching the universe for something new to put in my mind. I’ve assumed it wasn’t already there.  

Today my instincts screamed loud enough to get through the static noise and pointed out that it is stupid to look through the same old mental closet for answers. Trickster is hiding in the shadows waiting in ambush. I think I’ll play a trick on him. It dawned on me that I was still trying to please mom and dad, the teachers and preachers and none of them ever liked who I am. I tried to prove to them all I was responsible and honest, since they valued these qualities highly in theory.  But, you know what? That was totally irresponsible and dishonest. 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

COTTONWOOD ARIZONA


I’m sitting in the sunny dining room of our friend Carol’s house. Outside the temperature is 60 degrees and sunny for the first time in several days. However, the weather isn’t important right now. It has been the total change of energy that invokes healing.  I’m thinking of the meaning of healing as more than a fix for something that is unwell but directed toward whole. Yet, whole is in process and never complete. This world is moving rapidly toward unmapped territory, always in process.

I’ve been watching Gaia TV, reading and doing lots of writing in my journal, not this computer.  Somehow, actual paper and pen are more organically appealing to my soul. I still read real paper books as well. They are physical things that can be touched and handled, and most importantly, I can write in the margins. I always use lead pencils in case I change my mind and alter the comments later. Here in Cottonwood, there is a finishing or deepening of whatever I begin in Taos.  I need both.

Cottonwood is a place where other vibrations leak through my aura and add dimension, color, and substance to the ghosts of perception that may have been haunting my mind for many months  while in Taos. Because of practical interruptions such as running a household, paying bills and keeping appointments ideas are often shelved and forgotten. 

We stay with our friend in Cottonwood, not Sedona although we love to visit Sedona. There is more peace here, and the calm of normality.  Still, I wonder if the earth energies are shifting in broad waves because both Taos and Sedona seem less sure than they once were. Of course, the inhabitants are dealing with more difficulty in managing day by day.   Perhaps a dimensional version of El Nino is moving our way.  I felt rumblings under the earth and then Donald Trump is President elect of the United States, perhaps another Wizard of Oz. While the earth undergoes changes in weather, the political world may also be on the brink of a great storm surge. Time for a change the public decides, any change will do, this is desperation.  Yet this too is history repeating itself.

Our species is hypnotized and under a spell. That’s the only explanation for the loss of even recent memory. Every four years Americans place their hope in a candidate’s promises and their hypnotic phrases seem to gain in power by repetition. Hypnotic phrases can be soothing drugs or stimulating drugs but their feel good effect provides enough satisfaction to keep one from questioning the truth of the phrase. It would seem that the more humans have to lose, the more likely they are to seek amnesia in the pleasant high of false promises. 

Having a great time but miss my kitty
Yesterday, as I approached a checkout stand at Walmart, A fresh faced, attractive young woman in uniform said to the checkout clerk, as she was leaving, “thank you for donating to the troops that are fighting for our freedom.” I suppose there are still some folks that believe that freedom is what our troops are fighting for, but this is one of those phrases and slogans that aren’t to be questioned,  just swallowed for the feel good buz.  There are many such phrases and slogans, such as, “land of the free, home of the brave”, “individuality is as American as apple pie”, or the “right of every man to individual  freedom,” “liberty and Justice for all.”  In practice they  are true oxymorons.  Individuality and freedom are not gifts that a country can give though it’s leaders can attempt to take them away. 

We may hope that Americans will awaken and see the true enemy and recognize that they are looking in a mirror and have betrayed themselves in their expectations.  Perhaps we just signed up for the real test that will sort us out as individuals. We are the country and its flaws and sorrows are ours. 

I just started sorting my thoughts on this topic.  I have been guilty of ignoring the political picture because politics has been an empty word in my experience. However, I’m beginning to see that the overwhelming problems facing the world and our country are the result of not paying attention and allowing greedy, power hungry individuals to rule behind the scenes while their minions  are elected because they can lure us down the yellow brick road with meaningless slogans. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A LONG MONTH

The election is over and so is Halloween. I wonder why I thought of them in the same sentence? However, this is how I write. Seldom do I know what I’m going to write about until I start typing. I paint the same way. No matter how much prep work I do, the images that want to be painted take over. I’m not implying that there is some kind of divine revelation, its more that my unconscious side takes over and I get to learn what is really going on under the surface.

Corey's dog Minnie enjoying outsider bliss.
Right after the election, everything seemed to go quiet, I mean supernaturally quiet, as if the end of the world had happened and I missed the news. Although I didn’t want Trump, I was never really pro Hillary. I’ve never felt so uniformed about what was really going on beneath the candidates’ public personas.  There is now a national disconnect from reality and for some unknown reason, I feel okay about it. Maybe this is because I don’t think we are in for whatever we may have believed to be the inevitable results depending on our individual orientation. Sometimes things have to go wrong before we can look at what might be right with an unbiased mind. What I’m trying to say is that most of us have no idea who is behind the scenes  pulling the strings to make us dance.


In a love relationship, especially when we are young, we project the things we don’t know about ourselves onto the other person, both good and bad. Actually, the sequence is first good and then bad.  Sometimes disillusionment is exactly the right experience.  The trick is not to stop with bitterness and cynicism. After the tantrums and grief, the real revelations can begin. We would all be at our best if we did a restart with the “beginners mind.”

Many things are possible. I can fantasize that Hillary will free herself from the trail of politics and find a different style of service. As things are now, a woman has to take on the persona of male leadership. Perhaps she will find a more befitting path to service.  

Donald’s win seemed disastrous to peace and progress, but things are often something other than what they seem. The absurd fight between parties has stalemated the flow of progress. After talks, contentious arguments and name-calling, nothing changes. Let’s see what happens now.

I don’t find either side believable, “Let’s make America great again” or the belief that we have taken the first move in the end game.  End games happen over and over in history, and I don’t know what would make America great. America is a section of earth with lots of people on it, and it has yet to become the United States.  It isn’t a god, at least I hope not, and doesn’t justify worship.  I saw a demonstrator's sign on the news that said, “Let’s make America kind again.” I’m not convinced America was ever kind without ulterior motives but it’s a much finer goal. Greatness has historically involved a lot of intrigue and bloodshed. It’s quite likely the real road to healthy change is not on any existing political path.

There are many empty slogans and claims.  We can make assertions for our country that would be intolerable in an individual. “Leader of the free world” and, “the greatest nation on earth” being two of them. It was not very long ago that Britain claimed similar titles. I’m not repudiating that America wields a lot of international power, but power trips tend to end badly, and it is morally wrong for its people to be sacrificed to a country as if it were a god.  Perhaps we haven’t yet moved as far beyond the worship of our leaders as we believe. Agnosticism is a good option here. Personal freedom is hard work and requires courage and rigorous self-examination. This may be a social evolutionary step that Americans will be challenged to develop. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

A NEEDED EVOLUTION OF SPECIES



I was driving on Upper Ranchitos a few days ago. That is my old neighborhood and it is an entirely different climate than where I live now. It reminds me of the English countryside with narrow roads and hedgerows only wilder. It has a lot of the old Taos ambiance with its aged Cottonwoods, willows and latia fences gradually succumbing to gravity and age. It is very green with a high water table, rather than the sagebrush covered desert of our current residence. The fall colors have been awesome this year and nature is presenting her finest performance before retreating into drab. For some reason, the beauty of the season inspired thoughts about our human presence on this planet. We can’t remember when it all began. From our point of view, it was just waiting for our arrival.
Taos Pueblo a few days ago.

Then it occurred to me that planet earth might still be in the beginning stages of development. We assume that since it is so old by human standards, it must be wearing out. Yet it’s possible that our species might be an experiment on the way to a creature of upgraded design.  We might even be another transitional species suited to an age that is now passing like the dinosaurs.  It’s apparent that humans in our present condition are not well adapted to the earth. We are not even well adapted to our own interests, which is ultimately the same thing. 

Probably there are cosmic administrators looking on from another dimension or galaxy, possibly far removed from our little solar system attempting to decide if this human experiment is a lost cause or whether tweaking it a bit might still bring success. 

One night in my early twenties, I came home late from a date, went to bed and fell into a deep sleep then  suddenly shot out of bed without knowing why. Progressively I became aware that soaring sparks of fire souring a hundred feet in the air were illuminating my bedroom.  Although still partially asleep, I stood at the west window and watched with reverent awe. It was surreal and breathtakingly beautiful, the ultimate fireworks show. Gradually it dawned on me that this wasn’t the Fourth of July, the Second Coming of Christ or the landing of an alien ship but half an acre of the Silvetti’s house, barn and side buildings simultaneously going up in flames adjacent to our back fence. Their little farm was part of my life since the age of four. We bought eggs from the Silvetti’s and later milk when they added a small dairy farm. It seemed as permanent as the mountains. My familiar reality was experiencing a nearly supernatural seizure.

This entire presidential season has impacted me in a similar way to that fire that changed the landscape and future of our neighborhood. It’s hard to believe it is what it is. Sometimes I watch passively as if what I’m seeing couldn’t possibly be real.  Watching the first of the Presidential debates resembled more a Saturday Night Live lampoon than a presidential debate (Written before the actual Saturday Night Live lampoon).

On the way to Arroyo Seco three days ago.
The man, who exemplifies the worst of America in his exploitation of business, tax evasion tactics, women and media, says he is going to “make America great again.” It’s honestly unbelievable that he wants to do anything other than make himself greater. However, as a manipulator, he knows the slogans that will awaken the fears and hopes of those who feel left out and exploited. Many people seem to have forgotten that change can be not only for the best but also for the worst. In nature, there are many techniques used by predators to create trust in their victims. 

The other candidate is experienced in the ways of Washington and in political protocol. It seems apparent that she is the least damaging choice yet, I find myself without any trust in the system in which she learned to swim with the sharks.  My intuition tells me that the skin covering this system is beginning to peel away from disease and as with most major transformations; it begins with disintegration of the familiar form. I don’t envy anyone who wins this election and I think we must begin to download instructions for an updated version of ourselves from the cosmic source, whatever you choose to call it, God, or the evolution of species. These are just words and concepts in need of a rethink. We humans aren’t doing very well with our present concept of reality.


Saturday, September 24, 2016

RENEWED IN AUTUMN


Autumn always brings up past lifetimes. I’m not referring to reincarnation, although I suspect that this one who wears a certain name over the decades is an augmented identity. Each segment of our journey is a mini-incarnation. If it involves a long trip, this becomes more obvious. I look at old photos of the beings with my name and personal history and notice that they now seem like strangers. Only the core continues on until something surprising comes up and flings me back to a previous chapter of the story. However, I don’t believe it’s truly an accident when I inadvertently open the life book to an almost forgotten page.

I recently came across some old pictures of PQ’s parents, Joe J. and Frances Suazo in the courtyard of the Adobe Inn one winter afternoon a long time ago. It was probably in 1993 or ’94. It carried me to those early months of my life in Taos. Between then and now utterly vanished. I could feel the cold still air and dampness of that winter day and all of my emotions as a virtual Taosena. I was becoming familiar with the daily trip to the post office, the arrangement of goods on every isle of Smith’s grocery store, meeting familiar faces at Café Tazza the only coffee shop in town, the muddy lane to our little casita on Upper Ranchitos, the old video store and the continuous uncertainty of where next month’s rent would come from. Supposedly our olfactory senses hold the longest most vivid memory. Maybe it goes back lifetimes. Back then the nights were very dark and in the black night, the smell of wood smoke took the modern
The last full moon.
world away.  

Added to the overall angst was the dreaded recognition that my emerging self was not compatible with the trajectory of the person who came to Taos with me. We began like two children excitingly exploring a new playground, and we hungrily devoured the local landscapes and cultures. Exploring was always something we did well together, but beyond the initial adventure, our partnership stumbled and fell.

Diane Dougherty’s (now Osburnsen) Adobe Inn was the locus of our/my social life. The future was as open and mysterious as the dark skyline of the great Pacific at sundown. I had no idea of the future, only that it was beyond time and sight. I was in a new, entirely different environment that seemed improbably familiar. I was surprised to be home after a life long wait. There were artists, famous, semi-famous and struggling, writers, world travelers, alternative healers, new agers, traditional pueblo people, local business owners, old timers from the days of Mabel and Tony Lujan, members of old Spanish families, and literally “doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs”. Throw in real estate people and those left over from the hippy days. These last two aren’t as different as you might think. Hippies frequently metamorphosed backwards into realtors and gallery owners like butterflies into caterpillars.

As I explore the heightened reality of that experience, it dawns on me that Taos felt familiar because I experienced it with a self that had previously lived underground like a winter grasshopper waiting for spring. That was the true reason I moved to Taos and until that photo threw me into the freshness of discovery I was unable to paint it in concepts and words. Alas, I nearly forgot it.

Looking back, I see nature at work. For my entire previous life, I tried to fit the circumstances and environment. I found livable environments here and there but something important was always out of sync. I was hungry for a particular light. I would not have been able to name what it was and whenever I came to a near match, I flew as close as possible to its dim light. I was habituated to making do and was oblivious to it. If you’ve never worn a comfortable shoe, you don’t expect to find one but, nature inside as well as outside always knows the difference.

Yesterday on the way to Arroyo Seco, there was a special light on Taos Mountain revealing a rock formation that in twenty-four years I’ve never before noticed. It was slightly to the east of center and perhaps two thirds down, a straight vertical escarpment of sharp jagged stone that clearly stood out from its wooded surroundings as though placed there during the night. Am I ready to see what I assume to be familiar with different eyes?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

SOMETIMES A BREEZE --

Sometimes a breeze, the temperature of the air or a sound in the distance pulls me backward into one of my earlier lives. I’m not talking about life in a different body although I’m not sure there is a great difference. I have experienced many lives in this one body and yet the body has also transformed through the years and the being I presume to call me still claims ownership. Perhaps it is only the chain of linked memories that allows recognition of a self through the many layers of one life. There is also a mysterious observer peering at the world from inside with a record of experiences that are private and unique. Today, a cool breeze and a particular still light proclaim that summer is slipping away. It evokes a tang of sadness, a delicate needle in the heart called forth from this unique time in personal history.
My Upper Ranchitos house 2005,
My soul mate Joe Tiger,only in memory now.
He knows I'm packing for a trip
to Denver and he doesn't want to go.

Early September scenes flash by complete with sky, earth, sound and scent, the cool smoothness of a season’s change. Next, I am at my last house in Denver beginning my afternoon walk through the neighborhood. Trees line every street, tall old American elms and blue spruce. The sidewalks are very old and the houses carry their age grandly. This neighborhood dates to the 1920’s and earlier. Perhaps I’ll walk a few blocks to the big City Park and howl at the wolves in the zoo. They howl back and I feel connected to a world that we both yearn for. Then further back to my childhood home riding my old pony Shorty through country neighborhoods that no longer exist. My dad bought Shorty for forty-five dollars. He was old but still spirited and he had secrets from the past. I accidentally learned while grooming him that he knew a number of tricks and poses. Next is the memory of autumn in my first Taos home. I drove through that neighborhood this morning to avoid downtown roadwork. It is lush; with mysterious tangles of greenery so deep, you can only penetrate them with your imagination. The next scene is this home where I live now. I had just moved here in August ten years ago but already planted flower seeds and shrubs. I bought my first ever patio table and chairs sitting there after work with a glass of wine watching the gorgeous late summer clouds that seem as solid as the mountains they frame, but I feel sad because summer is dying. In life, I’m late to arrival, and my summer is also fading fast.

The sound of our neighbor’s wind chimes takes me immediately to our life in Cottonwood Arizona. Our friend Carol has wind chimes that transport me to a space without time. There is no beginning or end, just the chimes and the sound of mourning doves as late afternoon moves in. Then I conjure the little house we had in Cottonwood. It is five years now since we left that house but I can still feel the air, the light in afternoon and then scenes pop up of walks into the old part of town. There were afternoon hikes on our favorite trails among the red rocks of Sedona when the air was still and it seemed that we had the red dust trails to ourselves shared only by the lizards, and birds.

Now I’ve unleashed a flood. Layer upon layer of early autumn memories rush by like a fast-forwarding film. The emotional upsurge of speeding memories takes my breath away. Perhaps the emotions are so intense because I am in my own autumn season. While driving my stepson to work this morning I fell in love with Taos again. Everything was stunning but quiet with the grand mountain, sun piercing through openings in the perfect cumulus clouds lighting the fields of yellow wild flowers at its base. Why is anything this beautiful so temporary. I must record every sunflower, cloud, tree and shadow to memory. I think autumn is moving in early this year. There are patches of gold on the old cottonwoods and the air is tinged with sharpness vexing the sun’s dominance.

The earth and sun both dance to a rhythm they share, but it seems that we humans are always pushing against natural rhythms. Perhaps numbed by familiar habits of culturally grooved perception we no longer notice the discomforts and contradictions in agreed upon reality. For some time I’ve felt that, everything is in flux. We are living in a cosmos in progress. There is no timeline between first and last. Time evolves with its subjects. Perhaps there was something like the Big Bang that launched creation but that doesn’t answer the question of what creation is. It is not possible for the created to understand completely its source, but we can participate. The best we can know is that we are a tiny, low-resolution version of a piece of the great hologram. As such, I feel a soft assurance.

An absurd presidential campaign reveals a flawed system on the edge of transformation and, we are so new that judgements about the future are sure to leave out portent signs of change. The powerful destructive force of the elements, wind, water and fire show us that we are not in control of our earth home but tools and participants inwardly as well as outwardly shaped by cosmic forces of destruction and creation. We are new here and the mud from which we are shaped is still damp and malleable.

We earthlings are on a ride and we make our vehicle as we go, its flaws and strengths revealed by the demands of the journey. This week I see nothing and know nothing. All of my carefully constructed beliefs and ideas seem very inadequate, a glass canoe facing the rapids. This is not the first time I’ve run out of knowledge or perceptions of what I should know. It leaves me feeling naked in a hurricane but sometimes the environment needs clearing for another go.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

BREATHING DEEPLY


April and May were a fast ride over a rough road with a load of fear, hope and friendship.  Our friend in Cottonwood Arizona invited us to housesit and that was water in the desert. Yet, we were only back in Taos for a weekend when we set off again, this time to Denver. PQ had an appointment with the National Jewish Center in Denver; the premiere medical center in the country for lung diseases in order to update his medical status with the intention of getting him on an active lung transplant list as soon as possible. It was a very productive trip and we stayed with our friend Rachel. It was a delicious treat to spend time with her. We hadn’t been to Denver for several years and it was good to renew the connection. Yet, PQ wasn’t up to exploring Denver because our time at National Jewish was an exhausting regimen of tests and interviews.  

This medical facility is impressive and incredibly well organized. However, we soon realized we should have done this sooner. Dr. Cosgrove put PQ on Ofev, one of two new drugs that slow down further lung scaring and also prescribed a more powerful concentrator that is able to produce up to nine liters of oxygen. Except for the scaring in the lungs and some enlargement of the right side of his heart caused by the heart’s increased effort to get oxygen from the lungs, he is in good health. However, he won’t be on the active list for a transplant until he loses 15 more pounds.  This time he is taking weight loss seriously.  I went on a diet with him because I’d like to lose weight as well. 

Three days after we returned from Denver, PQ’s friend Dr. Gary Arthur came to visit from Laguna Beach California. He came for well-needed R&R for himself, but immediately began working on a plan to raise money for PQ’s treatment and relocation to a lower altitude. He also helped plan a diet and some supplements that would help to reduce muscle spasms from coughing and improve general health. 

All this contact with our old friends was the greatest healing event we’ve had for some time. Our friends
Happy Iris
have been incredibly helpful and have been working together to make the necessary changes happen.Thank you, dear friends for your practical help, and thank you for boosting our spirit with your support. There are results.  PQ’s general well being has improved mightily in the past two weeks. He is still short of breath but his color, positive attitude and life force is reviving. I can now assure all of you beautiful supportive friends that he has reconnected with his combative self. The new drug, Ofev is not a cure but is supposed to slow the rate of lung scarring. Nevertheless, it has a reputation of being hard on the digestive system. Yet so far, it hasn’t caused him any discomfort. We regret now that we didn’t ask for this new drug when it first came out. We discussed it but his digestive system is sensitive and we thought it better to avoid making it worse. However, it might have seriously slowed the progress of the disease at an earlier stage.

While I’m writing this, I’m also feeling guilty and disoriented about having signed up to be a docent for the Mabel Dodge Lujan and Company
exhibit at the Harwood Museum. I’ve missed several orientations due either to their juxtaposition with PQ’s appointments or general confusion about dates due to the constant busyness since we returned to Taos. One of the things I’ve noticed is how insulated our life has become. I just don’t follow what is happening in this town anymore. Sometimes I fantasize living in a monastery where all I have to do is meditate, pray, write, and garden. Otherwise, I’ve almost become reclusive enough to be a monk.

I’ll admit that the stress of hanging on the edge of the financial cliff as a regular lifestyle is wearing on my nerves and yet it is amazing how every time we fall to the bottom, a situation arises where we sell a painting, someone wants a healing from PQ or we otherwise come into just enough cash to get through the rough patch. However, there is never extra for unexpected situations. Something is always waiting in the shadows to leap out and pounce on anything extra. Now it is the roof of the Pueblo House that needs refurbishing as water leaks are beginning to destroy the earthen walls. There are also a number of things that this house in town needs. I must say that home ownership is overrated.

 On the positive side, summer is awesome. It came so suddenly after winter’s gray monotony. Gorgeous summer clouds (New Mexico has some of the most spectacular clouds). I find the skyscape just as amazing as the landscape. On the ground all this green, purple and yellow seems a preview of heaven. Not quite heaven yet however, this morning I noticed hundreds of baby grasshoppers ready to eat the new greens.  Again, I remind myself of the Maybe Story and take note that the flowers in my garden are multiplying just as fast as the weeds. It gives me the courage to put my attention back into some life enhancing order. 

My 74th birthday is coming up soon. I remember doing the heavy work around this house such as shoveling dirt, laying out the sandstone patio and planting trees as soon as possible after moving in with the thought that I would be too old to do that kind of physical work before long. That was 10 years ago and I keep putting off getting too old to do that sort of work because well, somebody has to do it. I’ve been lucky with my health and stamina but now I wish there was time to do more painting, writing and supporting the ideas and events that are always on my mind. As I get older, I truly appreciate the importance of eldership. It is not a time to disappear into the comfort of escapist entertainment, pursuing age defying surgery, or yielding to illness, but to put the crowning touch on a lifetime’s experience and thought. Like a rose, when the petals wither we should prepare to be seed bearing fruit for the future. 

The age thing is a consciousness I’m working on. Inside I feel unceremoniously yanked out of adolescence into now. I find myself imagining a career after years of tedious survival jobs. Nevertheless, I’m very grateful not to be doing those anymore and there is something magical about looking in the mirror at my white hair and lines and then having that image turn around and say “just follow me, I have another world to show you.”