Thursday, July 26, 2012


Two ravens are playing with the wind currents this morning. We haven’t had wind this early for some time. Maybe it will actually rain here today, but I doubt it.  Every afternoon huge ominous thunderclouds assemble over us and the wind picks up, strips a few hanging branches from the neighbors weeping willow and flings them into our yard, then moves out to unload somewhere across the gorge. Yesterday and the day before several huge raindrops fell out of the sky, but only enough moisture to dapple the flagstone walk.

We were in Arizona for over a month and each day I checked the weather in Taos to see if my flowers had any chance of survival.  We have been back for three weeks now and the promised rains never came. There are plenty of magnificent clouds but they are all looks and no performance. Nevertheless, I appreciate their magnificent towering display against the clearest blue sky you will ever find.  Taos has the most amazing sky I’ve ever seen.  I can’t figure out what makes it so unique.  It’s as if there is nothing between you and the sky whereas other skies can be quite beautiful and even dramatic but there is a definite separation between observer and observed that doesn’t exist here.

Taos is always wild and living here is a bit like having a pet cougar.   On one side of my house I am picking up the sound of the town trash collector driving into our cull de sac as he does every Thursday morning, (well almost every Thursday, even trash collectors have their feral days in this town) and on the other side is pure Taos wild. 

The wildness that doesn’t yield to human agendas is what I love about this place. It’s also the reason I have to get away now and then.  It can drive you crazy because the wildness seeps into what should be completely human concerns.  I’m talking about more than land and sky, wildness even gets into the plumbing the wiring, and certainly into anything mechanical or electronic.  Your water heater can turn on you just like the pet cougar.

Our water heater just turned on us to the tune of $900.  We were already counting pennies trying to figure out how to augment our quickly dwindling resources to include time in Arizona all the way to PQ’s looming lung surgery, and recovery time after surgery. For the first time since I’ve lived here I decided that I would sell or rent this house if I could get permission from Habitat for Humanity, and then see if I could get a job to supplement our SS. But I made the dangerous mistake of thinking that we had control over our future.  I really should know better by now. Every time I try to be responsible and practical, I end up on my butt.

It’s not that there is something wrong with being responsible it’s just that there is a higher level of responsibility that recognizes that there are forces inside as well as outside (probably these are the same) that are bigger than what your daddy taught you about being grown up and responsible.  Planning is fine as long as you stay loose and acknowledge that there are forces you can’t control and Taos is full of forces that you can’t control. 

People are attracted to places with this kind of fresh wildness but then try to change it to coordinate with the living room drapes.  I guarantee that won’t work here. Spirits, if that’s what we are talking about, can be tricky and unforgiving just as often as helpful.  If you have a karmic appointment with the Taos demons you will never get out of this place. I use the word demons in the ancient sense of being neither good nor bad, just hailing from a place beyond human influence.  Sometimes I long for an environment that doesn’t confront me constantly with unresolved karma. Maybe it would be nice to live in Denver again for a while and work at the Tattered Cover. We would both love to have a little place in Cottonwood Arizona where PQ could enjoy the higher oxygen level and be free of family dramas, and not regularly have fist in the stomach surprises.  However, I know from experience that no one who is engaged with the Taos demons ever gets completely free of this place. It will go with you if you try to escape. Recently, we were in Cottonwood having dinner with several of our friends and then it dawned on me that all but one of us had spent a number of years in Taos. No, we didn’t pick out Arizona friends because we knew they were ex-patriots, it just happened. 

PQ and I have to find a way to bring in money. It was fun while it lasted and gave us time to catch our breath, but my inheritance is almost gone. It’s a delicate issue in Taos because there isn’t very much money to be had here. I’m totally burnt out on the idea of standing on my feet all day selling Indian jewelry and pottery to tourists, even though I’m pretty sure I could get my old job back.  But 16 years of that did some permanent damage to my soul, not to mention the soles of my feet.  I love to write, to paint and to work with people but it’s not easy to turn what I love into income, especially since I wasn’t raised around the kind of people I like to hang with and don’t know the ropes.  PQ is charismatic and gregarious so his mojo helps us out here and there.  Right now, he is watching a shoot-um-up on TV, but being a couch potato isn’t helping his self-esteem or making good use of his considerable talents. This seems to be a waiting time. Waiting for what?  

These uneventful times on the edge of the unknown are perfect fodder for that tricky Mountain.  I sense big change coming. It’s  kind of scary to have no idea what the next step on this tricky trail will take us, not to mention where we will find it, but that now- you- see-it, now-you-don’t trail is how I found Taos in the first place.

Have you noticed how Ravens love wind?  All the other birds find a hiding place to wait it out but the Ravens are doing the avian equivalent of skateboarding on the wind. I knew they were trying to tell me something.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Watering the garden a few days ago my mind drifted to a mysterious ambivalence I always experience when remembering my place of emergence.  Enhancing this was a sudden insight that “watering the garden” is a perfect metaphor for the mental state that resulted in an important insight. Standing barefoot on the earth watering plants in late afternoon brought back memories of the most traumatic and definitive time of my life. To borrow a quote from Dickens, “it was the best, and the worst of times.” 

My question has long been what made this time so dark, lonely, and horrific and simultaneously a rebirth into an entirely new and awesome reality? Then it was as if I was suddenly in the body of a big cat frustrated, confused and angry, pacing back and forth behind bars, back and forth between apathy and rage. The enigma faded out as this image came in.  Finally, I’ve discovered the best fitting analogy for my role in the family dynamics that held me captive far to long.

Tiger in a Cage

I am a tiger in a cage
Pacing up and down
Trying hard to stem my rage
Growling with a scowl and frown

I am a tiger in a cage
Here by my honour bound
Doing my very best to gauge
Just when they will come ‘round

Although my weekly pay is nil
And my hours hard to manage
Because I am their friend I will
Remain the tiger in the cage
by Russel Tanner

To my parents I resembled a tiger caged in the back yard, hidden out of sight but with a haunting presence. They were somewhat fascinated with me but more embarrassed.  There was a twinge of wonder; some fear mixed with disgust and beneath it all a deeply repressed pride.  What would you do if your only child seemed like an alien species? Should this child be pitied, tamed, ignored or reformed? They tried it all. My mother once confessed only a few years before she passed that she always hoped I would eventually get over it, “it” being the way I am.
I tried to avoid scaring anyone but I never got it right no matter how clever I thought I was as an amateur people whisperer.  Now I recognize that I was not the real source of their ambivalence. It was their own disowned repressed life force shaking the cage bars in hidden terror and rage. 


Follow that barely visible path overgrown with weeds. Perhaps someone with authority warned you never to put foot on it. It may lead to a haunted house full of skeletons. If it is your karma to learn about unspeakable family history, you must do this. There will always be an unsettled vacant space in the family soul until someone takes this path. Nevertheless, I must warn you that it isn’t safe to do so. 

Watch your dreams.  Mine were of floodwater raging down an irrigation ditch, crumbling the soft clay banks faster than I could run to solid ground. In many dreams, someone or something dangerous was chasing me. The only safety was on the far bank of a river or ditch but too wide to jump.  However, I had to jump and I always succeeded even while clinging and clawing up the far bank frantically with bleeding fingernails and scraped knees. I would wake up with heart pounding and stomach muscles still tense from the extreme effort.

I had religious dreams also.  I was terrified of the second coming that Christians hope will be just around the corner.  I remember deciding on baptism at the age of six.  I knew it was very important to my parents and protecting my parents from their own doubts was my most important job. Even at that early age, I had mixed feelings. There was guilt because I knew I wasn’t being genuine but thought I had to follow this path that my family believed would save my soul, and more importantly their fragile world. For years, there was a repetitive dream of Jesus appearing on a menacing storm cloud to sweep us up to heaven.  I dreaded this second coming more than eternal fire.

 We were told in Sunday School that it would happen in the blink of an eye. Jesus was only taking baptized Christians, and that included me.  I was terrified with this sentence and resisted it with every fiber of my being. In one dream/nightmare, the power of Jesus ripped me inside out and sucked me into tumultuous black clouds surrounded by a back-light of fire while I desperately clung to earth. As you may have noticed, Heaven became my hell. As I grew older, it was even worse. The beautiful, courageous, creative, movers and shakers of the world were all going to hell and the na├»ve, judgmental and gullible sheep were going to heaven.  Heaven seemed too barren and lonely with only big daddy and his boringly perfect son and followers for company. 

Our family motto was “keep a low profile, avoid criticism and never seek attention.” I hated the role I was dealt but fell into it as a member of a long karmic line. Honestly, though there was more to it than that. I’ve never been able to leave a problem unsolved. That is the real reason I never killed myself or went insane to escape a seemingly impossible challenge. 
That leads to the next insight. While writing this peace it occurred to me that this inability to leave a problem unsolved was the most important aspect of my role in our family.  I pursue intentions like a tiger stalks prey. What was that prey that I was supposed to catch? It was being itself, and I was supposed to catch it for all of us, not just myself. Of course, it isn’t easy to catch anything inside a cage and so my purpose was to find a life beyond the cage. In this process, I’ve learned that even when the tiger is out of the cage it may take a long time before the cage is out of the tiger.

This blog has been a powerful tool in coming out of the cage. As I look back over a fluctuating lifetime, I am amazed at how weakness and strength, positive and negative forces, generate the energy of creation. So many seeming contradictions have morphed into a new level of knowledge. I remember a quote from C. G. Jung to the effect that the dilemma between two opposing forces finds resolution not in the triumph of one over the other but in an invisible third force that accomplishes the resolution at a higher level of consciousness. ( I’ve been trying to find the exact quote without success!)

I see that creative changes in consciousness move out in all directions from a center.  That center may be you and I or any cosmos. It is past, present and future.  We are all operating on many dimensions. When a change occurs for one being on one dimension it rolls out into the multiverse like waves in the sea.  There are many waves, created by many actions, and many of them are invisible changes in the vibration of consciousness. As I work toward my own becoming it also alters the past by changing the effects of that past from destruction to creation.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

There is Rumbling Beneath My Feet--

I can’t feel it so much as know it through some indefinable sense that I’ve never before tried to describe in words.  Bear with me it may take more than one try, but here goes.

Our world is changing! That's a truism. Everybody knows that but it’s getting too fast to feel.  I took many changes both in stride and unconsciously until recently then I woke up from a hypnotic spell to notice that malls are going extinct, newspapers printed on paper are going extinct, as are books and magazines, big clunky low resolution TV’s are waiting in Good Will stores for someone to adopt them before they are euthanized. Landline phones are hiding in neglected corners hoping to escape detection before their owners decide to cut costs, and only a few years ago when I was still working on Taos plaza, some shoppers (usually from Texas) were keeping track of family members with walky- talkies.

 Last year we were still renting DVD’s and I remembered far back to the 90’s how exciting it was when we got a VCR player.  While here in Arizona housesitting, we are downloading  Netflix from my iPhone to the TV.  It is in recent memory that Wal-Mart had a well-stocked bin of Kodak film. Only ten years ago and less, all of these things were doing just fine. Now in the post-historic blink of an eye we can wake up to a different world and you know what surprises me the most. Everyone goes on as if it’s always been this way. I think constant bombardment with new things causes brain overload that leads to overflow. We have more and more but it doesn’t seem like much. It’s as if we have so much coming in that there’s no place left to put it. 

With a mild electronic addiction, I have three computers; one is a Toshiba Laptop now on indefinite loan to the grandkids. I remember the excitement of purchasing it.  At that time, I was doing websites and wanted the ability to work anywhere.  It was light and powerful for its time way back in 2005. I was in Denver just after the sale of our family home, helping mom clear out 59 years of accumulation and move into her new apartment. She had money from the sale and gave me enough to buy a fine laptop with a nice case and wireless mouse, etc. Another is the eight-year-old Dell XP Media Edition desktop that has a wonderful sound system, but I seldom use it anymore. Nevertheless, it has some of the software I use that isn’t compatible with my new computer. I remember the excitement of buying this one also. I’d just sold several paintings and had the money to buy the computer and pay off my credit card; a heady euphoric experience that felt like winning the lottery.

Right now, I’m using a six-month-old Dell XPS running Windows 7 and thinking of upgrading to Windows 8.  I wanted a Mac Book Pro but it was too expensive, especially since I’d have to buy all kinds of new software.  This one is great though, very fast, with some great new features and most surprising for a PC it integrates perfectly with my iPhone. Nevertheless, I can seldom pass a store with seductive electronic gadgets. I have to hold them, caress them with my eyes and fantasize about the fun we could have together.

I used to imagine what a thrill it would be to create and edit movies that grabbed people’s emotions with moveable story art.  Then when I discovered the World Wide Web, I thought heaven had been smuggled to earth. I could find any information I wanted, and travel to many worlds with that little machine on my desk. Sci-Fi stuff for sure. I dreamed of owning Adobe Photoshop and then with the Big Dell I got it. But I haven’t upgraded from the original CS edition. Somehow the importance of having the latest of everything waned. I no longer create new websites because the technology is changing too fast to keep up with for someone living in Taos, New Mexico far from sources of web-tech knowledge.  

 Until recently, I had slow speed dial-up internet, which made it impossible to take online classes, and now I just don’t care. I think the time has come to move in a different direction. Some changes are not real changes just shuk’n and jive’n on a creaky floor thus the rumbling beneath the feet.   It’s all maya in the Hindu sense of mistaking shape shifting for reality.  Although fun, there is an imminent threat to the supply of all those fun things.  After all, they are products of non-renewable resources being used up faster and faster as excitement mounts. And isn’t excitement really what everybody is marketing right now? Smart phones, Big Screen TV’s, self-navigating vehicles, tablet PC’s, and cosmetic surgery are all about a happy fix, just as much as weed, cocaine, crystal meth and more traditional feel goods like chocolate, sugar and alcohol. I’m not saying it is bad to use these fixes with the possible exception of cocaine and crystal meth, it’s just that nobody seems to know what they are fixing or why it doesn’t last.

A long time ago, I learned that substitute indulgences don’t satisfy. Getting a new toy for Christmas when you want a pony never works. Ever fancier cars and mobile phones so full of features and apps that it takes months to learn them by which time they are outdated don’t fulfill anything. But they aren’t supposed to fulfill anything.  They are golden carrots held out to make eternally unfulfilled asses of us all.  It keeps us moving in the direction our masters wish us to go. 

Everyone knows, even if it not stated, that this can’t last and it seems that as oil peaks the showdown with reality advances. Mother Earth is stirring under her uncomfortable coat of asphalt, concrete and housing developments. I think she’s almost ready to shake it off.  What will happen to us then? There are many doomsayers out there trying to scare us, but nobody knows how it will really come down.

I don’t believe that we are alien invaders, although some do, and even if we are there are certain principles of survival extending to the cosmos. It may be that an entirely different set of human abilities will develop. Evolution has come to mean the advancement of the rational mind and conquest of nature.  Perhaps a changing world will result in the development of a more holistic blend of feeling, intuition and reason. Humans don’t usually change unless they have to do so.  Belief that we are above nature, our planet and our fellow beings is an illusion whose time is rapidly deteriorating. We will survive because it’s not entirely up to us, but we won’t be the same.