Sunday, July 10, 2011

LEARNING TO LIVE

PQ and I have been in Cottonwood, Arizona one month now. Finally the monsoon has arrived though late, and those huge cumulous clouds typical of the desert Southwest fill the sky. It started with a down pouring hail that knocked leaves off of trees, trimmed the flowers back and filled the patio with water but it was welcome nevertheless. Now it has settled into a shower each afternoon. I have a break from watering the garden and keeping the shades drawn against the sun. And nature is a much better gardener than I am.

PQ on Fay Canyon Trail
We sit each morning on the patio and watch the hummingbirds fight over the feeders, their sentry's perched on the top branch of a mesquite waiting to dive bomb rivals while lizards do pushups on the wall. Now and then we see one of the tiny striped snakes that live under the rocks. A falcon flew by very low and almost touched us with its wings. The Mourning Doves are shy. I watch them waiting in the neighbor’s yard for us to go inside so that they can drink from the birdbath. It’s all very simple, quiet and healing. I watch a drama unfolding. Two large black beetles collide in mid air. One falls to the ground and a lizard zooms in to attack it. They tumble around for awhile but the beetle is too big and finally limps away, but it is probably fatally wounded. Meanwhile a group of ants are struggling to get a crumb of toast torn into manageable sizes and then carry it across the rocky ground. It’s a formidable task but they never give up. Is this any less important than the workers across the street who have been downing a large pine this week, and loading it into their truck piece by piece? The world is very busy and it all seems like a fugue of motion, all sizes and species of beings playing their own part of the earth song and dance.

 In Beauty before me I walk

In Beauty behind me I walk,

In Beauty below me I walk,

In Beauty above me I walk,

In Beauty all around me I walk,

It is finished in Beauty,

It is finished in Beauty,

It is finished in beauty.

 Dine Beauty Way Chant


If I were to categorize this period of time I would say that it is a time of learning to live. I am separating myself from dis-empowering and alienating attitudes and beliefs. Its not about saying affirmations and thinking positive thoughts but instead its about seeing through false beliefs to a degree that I’ve never experienced before. This life is becoming a balanced circle in my perception and I am a part of it standing in the middle of my personal world. Whether I have high or low self-esteem doesn’t matter anymore. This doesn’t trouble the ants. Balance is comfortable like a dance where the dancer and the music are completely in synch. The world isn’t any better, in fact it may be getting worse but the futility and narcissism of fear, worry and despair has been exposed.

Things aren’t perfect. That’s not the point. Maybe there is no perfect. I don’t know how I’ll pay all the bills much longer; PQ has a potentially fatal disease and I haven’t had a decent place to paint for over a year but the moment seems perfect and that is all there is. And this may be spiritual dessert and when its gone bitter medicine may replace it but it’s a taste that becomes stronger and sweeter over time and now I know this sweet taste and use it as a guide. Perhaps this is the key to meaning and to co-creation in the universe. It’s not about struggle and duty but about harmonizing with the life force within and without. The rest must inevitably click into place.

I was brought up to believe that everything of value should be a struggle and that pain was purifying. The world was tainted by Adam's and Eve's fall from grace and we had to put up with it until God destroyed this evil world and took us away to a better one. Although I tried very hard to believe this it never took for me. I won’t go into it here but I now have a completely different way of interpreting the very teachings that were used to make life on earth so ugly.

I’m not fixing my life anymore, nor anyone else’s, for that matter, and I certainly don’t have the power to fix the world. I dance as I go, just as I duck under branches and climb over rocks on a hike. The body and mind adapt to the trail in a fluid and practical way. It’s good to work at the rhythm of season and environment, taking responsibility for what is mine to work with and leaving the rest to God and other beings better suited. Yes, I still have hopes and dreams but they are go-by patterns and I can alter them to fit a sharper view or a more complete understanding without feeling failure. I don’t know what the goal is anyway. It keeps changing and evolving and I like that.

I’ve come to believe that our real work is participation in the magic of incarnation. Creation is happening all around us and we are in the midst of its process. Pain is a sign that something isn’t in synch, and sometimes that our attention needs to be altered, refocused or a wrong turn is asking to be corrected.

. . You never find happiness until you stop looking for it. My greatest happiness consists precisely in doing nothing whatever that is calculated to obtain happiness: and this, in the minds of most people, is the worst possible course... If you ask "what ought to be done" and "what ought not to be done" on earth in order to produce happiness, I answer that these questions do not have an answer. There is no way of determining such things. Yet at the same time, if I cease striving for happiness, the "right' and the "wrong" at once become apparent all by themselves. Contentment and well-being at once become possible the moment you cease to act with them in view, and if you practice non-doing (wu wei), you will have both happiness and well-being.
Chuang Tzu (c.360 BC - c. 275 BC)