Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Time is a mystery that has haunted and intrigued me since my third year.   Come to think of it, space or more specifically distance is an equally great mystery. There is an obvious relationship between the two and yet they have an almost yin/yang quality. As a child, standing outside on a dark night, I would look up and around at the stars and wonder if there was anything beyond them. When I asked how far away the stars were, my dad told me they are thousands and sometimes millions of light years away. That was a question about both time and space. What would endless time and space be?

 For a while, I would deliberately sneak out at night to look at the stars while imagining what could be beyond millions of light years, beyond and beyond and beyond until I was too dizzy to stand up. I would stumble inside with my head spinning, intoxicated but glad to be in a world my senses could cope with. 

The past is a time associated with a place that we can only visit in memory. Yes, we can often find the place again but not as it was in the past. However, we wouldn’t be the same person who was there the first time. Time and place are always just beyond reach. Like a mirage, they can never be caught.
Our Friend Miles Merritt Caught
this Mysterious Guy on His porch. A great
Power Sign at the End of the Year

Sometimes the light has a certain quality, or something in the air casts me back to a particular time and place.  It’s odd, because the actual location and its environment may be quite different but its quintessence conjures a memory and it is almost like time travelling.  Realistically of course, that previous place in time is more like a double exposure on an old photo film. The present is always in the background preventing a clear look at the past. Most people look at it the other way around and believe the past distorts the present, but really, it goes both ways. 

This next to last day of the year is dragging down as if the year 2013 has run out of energy and can barely make it to the finish line.  We haven’t gone outside our house for two days. I’ve had a minor flu but I believe that is due to the same end of year drag. It’s as if everything around us is waiting for a switch. Winter is the time for resting out of sight and it really seems that the past week has been a quiet time.  At Taos Pueblo, they make a place for quiet time religiously. Everything human is dormant like the grass and trees. No building projects, loud noises or driving about within the Pueblo walls. This makes sense to me. Although at local bars and homes there will be loud parties with loud music and party noisemakers at midnight tomorrow evening to welcome in a 2014, I suspect it’s an attempt to feel more alive this time of year. 

I almost forgot why I started this story. This morning I woke up thinking about Everyday feelings. I have been through enough days now to know that Everyday is not at all stable but vulnerable to constant flux.  Nevertheless, the comfort of those Everyday memories is real.  They are like markers in direction that keep me oriented right side up during times of rapid change. This morning, the light was just right to create a double exposure experience of now and another time at the start of this day.  But what other time was it that initiated this experience? When I go into the picture, it seems to be a winter day in the mid-eighties. 

I was living with two friends in a large house in Park Hill, an older part of Denver two blocks from City Park, the Zoo and the Natural History Museum. It was a time of personal exploration and growth. I also had the only job I’ve ever had with a decent salary and benefits. I hated the job but learned to live during weekends. I took in numerous workshops and conferences and then decided to enroll in CITP (Colorado Institute of Transpersonal Psychology). Externally that was a mistake. It had similarities to moving to Arizona four years ago.  Both felt perfect, almost too perfect, dreamtime perfect. I didn’t have the everyday financial underpinning to make it work beyond a great start. A theme is emerging to the surface; a lifelong dance between now, then and where I want to be.  

Each piece of time caught by memories and inspired by hope is actually a successful butterfly hunt. You can pin it on the wall as something you want to look at Everyday. Perhaps knowing that I won’t need to pin any more butterflies to the wall. 

 Happy New Year! Just doesn’t cut it. This time space thing is really one of the most amazing mysteries, maybe the number one amazing mystery. Do you suppose the butterfly hunt really stops for us after we go six feet under?  Maybe we have mixed feelings about this because it’s just too big to take in, like the stars in the sky for a five-year-old kid.

2014 Bring it on!

Friday, December 6, 2013


Honest people use no rhetoric;
Rhetoric is not honesty.
Enlightened people are not cultured;
Culture is not enlightenment.
Contented people are not rich;
Riches are not contentment.

So the sage does not serve himself;
The more he does for others, the more he is satisfied;
The more he gives, the more he receives.
Nature flourishes at the expense of no one;
So the sage benefits all men and contends with none.

Reading the Dao De Jing of Lao Tzu was one of my first transcendental experiences.  I discovered it at some point during the terrible winter of my 16th year. It was a true winter inside and out but winter is the necessary condition for re-creation to take place, at least in this hemisphere. However, this personal winter lasted years rather than months. I was alone during the day while my parents and the rest of the human world were at work or school and I remember all those days as dark grey but profound. I went deeper and deeper like the roots of deciduous trees that seem dead throughout winter. All of my leaves had fallen and I died to one life while preparing to spring into another. Of course, at the time I had no way of knowing that this wasn’t the end of everything. It took a long time. I’m still working on it and perhaps it will take more than one body’s lifetime to make it back to the surface and into the sunlight.

Quiet Time
The irony of the name Taos continues to work on my insides. In truth, irony, paradox, enigma, hiding in plain sight is the essence of creation.  No one seems to know where the Name Taos actually comes from and this adds to its peculiar fascination. But, my personal connection to Taos seems symbolic because much like the Tao it ushered in a new dimension of experience.

I’ve lived in Taos for twenty one years now. I find myself looking back to my pre-Taos existence this week trying to bridge divergent worlds together to make a whole.  When I first came to Taos, it blocked out the past to the point that I got lost in old familiar neighborhoods when I went back to my hometown for Christmas. Now I find myself pulling up memories from before the move in an effort to link the gap between past and present. 

Taos still has much of the tribal ambiance even though in some ways it has devolved to a big dysfunctional family. PQ and I are orphans now. We have reached a place in the journey where we are the oldest end of our family lines. It is a strange kind of freedom, almost like a slow freefall. 

Change must come. PQ and I are aware that his lung disease is getting worse and he must make a decision about the real possibility of a lung transplant. We have no choice but to live on faith from moment to moment. We are not middle class people (a rare breed in Taos) with insurance and a comfortable retirement but somehow we make it from month to month selling a painting here, a drum there and a credit card to fill the gaps. He must lose some weight to be on an active list for a lung transplant and he is having some stomach problems that need sorting before a diet will take. I feel thankful for the beautiful life we have had the past four years but we have been treading water.

Now it is time for action. It would be wonderful if we could somehow find a way of living in Cottonwood or Sedona where we feel at home and he breathes easier but then there is the issue of where he would have a lung transplant when the time is right. Right now, his medical records are in Denver. There is no doubt that the University of Colorado transplant center is one of the best in the country. A clear view of the future is impossible and perhaps that is just the way it’s supposed to be.  Necessity requires faith.

We are suddenly deep in winter. All the leaves are gone and life is underground again. This weekend the temperature plunged and the town went quiet, white and inward. The time has come to grow downward out of sight but with feeling and faith. Perhaps we will spring up with new leaves in a few months.  
Mystic Mountain from Spider Road on the Rez

Sunday, December 1, 2013


We went out for Thanksgiving. The place we chose used to have a great buffet on Thanksgiving, as well as Mother’s Day and Easter. Lost forever, I’m afraid. PQ wanted to give me a break from cooking but as soon as we entered the front door, and looked toward the dining room, we saw immediately that there was no buffet. They have a new chef but it isn’t a good thing. The vacant atmosphere and the slightly apologetic excessively polite welcome from the staff did not bode well. Nevertheless, we decided to stay. Why? It’s hard to say, but I’m not sorry. The food was bland, and obviously made from frozen ingredients. It was as if we made an unspoken decision to make a gesture to improve their day. We won’t be back but it was OK. For some reason we left feeling thankful.

Today (Saturday) we had brunch at Doc Martin’s and that initiated a tad more holiday spirit. However, even that was not all it used to be. The eggs and potatoes were nice, but whatever became of that warm basket of breads such as scones, biscuits and muffins that used to come with breakfast. Today, it was just one cold muffin, acceptable but not supportive of the special ambiance of the comfortably venerable Taos Inn.

PQ Across the Table at Doc Martin's
Restaurants are something with which Taos has always excelled. This funky little village of mud has a sophisticated pallet. It is dangerous for a restaurant to ignore this reality. Food, art and music are serious pursuits here. Despite its casual rough-cut individualism, Taos demands cosmopolitan sophistication in the arts, and this includes food.

Now we wait for Monday and normality to make a brief comeback after Black Friday. Holidays mean less and less the more of them I live through. I take just as much as I want of the holiday spirit and no longer let it enslave me. PQ wants to open the Pueblo house for Christmas Eve, and that’s all we plan to do. We will be at the Pueblo for the bonfires and procession from the Church and will welcome friends into PQ’s ancestral home. Christmas Eve at the old Pueblo House has too much sentiment and tradition to ignore. This was always the time of year that PQ had to be home no matter where he lived the rest of the year.

Much of life has to do with making memories. Yes, it’s great to live in the moment, but unless you have a serious brain injury that destroys your memory, each moment will influence succeeding moments. PQ teases me about my fascination with the past. Certain times past both personal and historic are sacred to me. I’ve been reflecting on what this is about. For me, the past is a trail lined with thorns and jewels. There are so many important pieces of life forgotten or abandoned along the way. Those are often missing parts needed to take the present into a better future.

Overall, our culture has no respect for the past. Sometimes I go far back. Time traveling before I fall asleep at night or with coffee in the morning, I collect the pieces of life as if they were bricks for building a home for the soul. This morning, I unexpectedly remembered my life after I dropped out of school. The Denver Public Library was both a temple and a mystery school. I would browse through rows until a magic door was revealed. Later I learned the Dewey Decimal system, but still relied most on the magic of intuition.

The Denver Art Museum and the Museum of Natural History were other temples where I worshiped the spirits that dwelled among the displays. Then there was the Colorado Historic Museum, the old one so much better than its modern replacement. I’m sure the new one is technically more accurate but there was something about climbing the stairs and entering through Corinthian columns into another world that can’t be measured. I preferred to visit all these places alone. Company was a distraction and prevented the magic from happening. These revered sacred places filled in the gaps of my personal puzzle.
Spider Road on the Rez before the mud comes.

My people didn’t have a craving for tribal history. No one thought much about it. Oh, there were brief synopses recited now and then but no sense of ancestral connection to a place. My maternal grandparents moved over a hundred times and my dad’s folks probably scored over a dozen moves. Perhaps in compensation, history and better yet, pre-history fascinates me. Now I’m married to a man whose people have lived in one place over a thousand years.

The past is just one end of a wide-angle shot of history. How wide can one make the angle? I feel that there is no end, just two sides that meet eventually in a circle. Yet, it’s the mystery of what went before to bring us to this place that fascinates. And, maybe some very good clues to dealing with the future are waiting for discovery in the attic of time.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


I’ve been reading Fritjof Capra’s “The Turning Point.” On most mornings, I get up about an hour before PQ and take a cup of coffee and a book to my sacred rocker along with a pencil because I have to write comments and insights as I read. Also, I let the cat out and frequently after reading a few pages, join her, look at the mountain for a few minutes and ask how to put insights and ah haw moments to work. Now, back to The Turning Point, I’ve had a pristine copy of this book for a very long time. I really don’t know how long but the book was printed in 1982 and had never been opened. It obviously dated to before my days at the Tattered Cover Bookstore because their sticker wasn't on it . That means that I was still working at ARCO and probably bought it at Together Books now long extinct, where I often stopped on my walk home (yes, I walked the mile and half to and from work every day in all weather). This was truly eons ago. 

Looking for another book to read last week, since I didn’t have the cash to buy a new one I browsed through my old books and spotted The Turning Point. Of course, I was shocked when I noticed it had never been opened and the pages were turning yellow from age. I came very close to putting it back on the shelf since surely it was outdated after 30 plus years.  After all, technologies that didn’t exist back then are necessities now. However, I decided to look it over for the quaintness it must inevitably contain.  Instead, I was shocked to discover that all the problems it exposed in our techno corporate growth driven competitive world are even truer now than back then.  The one change I can think of is that the wolves now wear sheep skins and talk politically correct mumbo jumbo but they are even more rapacious than they were thirty years ago. 

Maybe we are on a runaway train of exponential consumption and nobody knows how to get off safely. We are tied tighter into the same monster system than we were in 1982.  When I was about 13 years old, I had a horse named shorty.  One day I decided to ride him with a snaffle bit instead of the usual curb bit. For those who aren’t into riding, the rider has a lot more leverage with a curb bit. Shorty decided he wanted to go home when we were about a quarter of a mile away.  He took off for home and I couldn’t stop him. We approached the corral gate at a full gallop and I was riding bare back. I saw the gate coming up and knew that in another second, he would put the brakes on and I would be draped over it. I just relaxed into the inevitability of my fate. I wasn’t injured, not even bruised. Perhaps there is something about relaxing into fate that makes survival more likely.  I don’t think anyone knows how to fix the problems of economy, ecology and ecosystems of all kinds. Humanity has backed itself into a corner and most of the rescue plans issue from the same mindset as the problem. When things really get bad instinct begins to stimulate the creative mind and I don’t believe reason will ever solve these lethal problems.

Mother Earth Dreaming the World, Acrylic on Canvas
The shadow side of reason is absolute insanity and that is exactly the basis of current political power backed by a science that works for the military industrial system. Only feeling can guide us out of this dilemma. By feeling, I don’t mean emotion of the kind stirred up by political issues and propaganda.  Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and now Fukashima haven’t been enough to convince the world powers that nuclear fuel is lethal on a cosmic scale. They are still thinking of ways to make it work. I don’t believe this mentality is something we can fight. Another fight will simply create a more reactive enemy. Fighting is exactly what this mentality knows best. This is one of the reasons I stay away from conspiracy theorists and doomsayers.  I myself have spent too much time contemplating the disaster potential in the modern world. We are bombarded first into panic then numbness by it. The constant news of disasters makes each individual disaster obsolete in a few months.  Now perhaps the most powerful tropical storm in recorded history has swept over the Philippines who only recently experienced a 7.1 earthquake.  Is it the result of global warming and if it is what can I do?

Wu Wei comes to mind. It is the Taoist way of non-struggle and allows the spirit of instinctual knowing and intuition to emerge above the Fray.   I’m always amazed at the way conservative Christians attempt to project the anti-Christ onto one charismatic leader after another when it is obvious that the anti-Christ is the shadow side of our patriarchal leader/savior concept projected onto this or that screen over and over. This must be one of the greatest projection screens in world history seriously dwarfing IMAX. The patriarchal warrior warlord mentality is probably at least 12,000 years old, and we have the luck to live at its pinnacle when it seems to be climaxing like a super nova. 

In the time of the Old Testament, prophets often lived out their prophesies as an example of what was happening to the nation; street theater at its best. We have a situation in which the human mind is back in the pre Iron Age world while technology has developed a disconnected mind of its own that rules us all.  Idealistic terrorists blow themselves up and isn’t it a mirror image of what our society is doing slowly and sometimes not slowly. We recognize the madness in individuals but not in societies especially ours.  I recently ran into a bookmark I scribbled on at the time of the Sandy Hook massacre.  

We are getting the usual scientific myopic reductionist analysis of what was wrong with Adam Lanza, i.e. a faulty brain, but what if he is an example of a cell of humanity acting out its disconnect and lack of functional membership in the body of humankind. I’m thinking holistically. He wasn’t pure evil but a frustrated, alienated creature who didn’t have any place in his environment. His situation is similar to a caged wild animal that suddenly turns on its handler and whoever is in range with explosive rage.  It is the compromised cells in the body that break down first under stress, and if we were paying attention, we would see that as a warning.  

Disconnected information is blasting at us like a sandstorm that won’t quit. There is no way to take it all in and stay in one piece. We don’t know what’s going on next door but we get constant information about what is happening across the world, even though it is filtered information.  Ironically, knowledge becomes more and more specialized. Attempting to understand the world organism by analyzing the parts is not working.  It’s time to put away the microscope and see a bigger picture. The whole is more than the sum of its parts. I hear the avalanche of reality starting to creak and groan at the beginning of its journey from  the mountaintop. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013


This morning the air outside is cold so I’m taking my coffee inside. Autumn is the time of the year we naturally begin shutting the windows and go inside literally and figuratively.  I’m retreating to a warm room to contemplate a new approach to the outside world from the ground up. From the most familiar place in our living room, sitting on the old rocker that lived in my childhood home, then our cabin and finally here. The rocker is probably as old as I am, it has personal history. From the most familiar, I slip into places I can’t see and know nothing about. I mean this literally. Inspiration has been coming from deep beneath the earth.

To me, real power is about presence. It's the energy of knowing that you are who you are, and therefore speaking and acting from your authentic self. It doesn't matter what your work is—if you're a teacher or a nurse or whatever; it is your presence that's the power. It's not power over  anybody else. It's just the expression of who you are. – Marion Woodman

This morning it occurred to me that a vision/dream I had many years ago holds a key to real power. I was actually half-awake the morning it happened and I was still living in the old adobe on Upper Ranchitos:
Several shiny black serpents started coming up through the floorboards. My cats didn’t know whether to run, attack or play with them. Somehow, I knew they hadn’t been above the surface of the earth for eons. This meant that the surface had become so thin that they popped up merely from the power of their vitality. They were very peculiar and alien to this top world. I feared for both them and us living up here, but mostly for us.

I wanted to ignore this event and hoped the black snakes would go back to the underworld and disappear from memory but I knew I wouldn’t be able to ignore the event forever yet didn’t have a clue what to do with it.  Now I’m thinking that you can’t be enlightened unless you’ve got a relationship with the things that live in darkness. Otherwise, It’s just shallow and artificial maybe even denial. And so, I had to meet those serpents, but wished they’d come through somebody else’s floorboard.

Mother Earth in the Sky by Marti Fenton
Our human world has become much like a shell separated from the body of Mother Earth. Eastern Native Americans call this continent Turtle Island. What secrets of life are under the turtle’s shell? Until I saw the shell becoming very thin, I didn’t notice it at all. Now I find myself alternating between clinging to the familiar outer shell and wondering what really is under that shell. So many past familiarities are just that, in the past. Wondering about the state of the world also introduces the question of who am I, if every familiar becomes unfamiliar, and many memories are locked away in a time box with no key. Maybe I have deceived myself for a long time about who I am. Identity is yet another thin shell.  I take that as a good sign.  I am tired of the old self anyway. While my own thinning shell is separating from its body, I’m especially sensitive to other loosening shells in the surrounding culture and time.

Experience is a reminder that when a nostalgia attack occurs a change is brewing. It is a personal necessity to review the past from time to time, the way one would go through closets, garage and tool shed before a yard sale. What forgotten tool might I discover, what is no longer needed, what needs repairing, what is not worth repairing. One of the things I like about getting older is perspective.  All the shells of identity begin to loosen and thin. Moving through the shells becomes easier, unless of course you seriously believe you are who you are in the habit of being.

There are many kinds of shells. Clams and turtles keep their shells but birds discard their shells to face a bigger world. A long time ago, I saw a cartoon in a New Yorker magazine that portrayed it perfectly. An exhausted, wobbly baby bird had just broken free of its shell and the caption read, “Whew! I’m glad that’s over,” but above its head was a larger shell, and another even larger, another above that one, and so on.

Albert E. Brumley wrote a popular Christian song with these words, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing thru. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue; The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door, And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”  

I was raised with the pseudo-Christian prejudice against the physical world. In that world, only humans have souls and all other creatures are lesser beings that exist only to serve our temporary earthly needs. Over time, this philosophy degenerated to include our whims and fancies as well. The earth itself was a dead impermanent platform for deception ruled by the devil. Although the current orthodoxy of Scientific Materialism rejects the otherworldly part of this philosophy it strangely clings to the dead earth part. This includes the license to treat other inhabitants as impersonal objects. If you don’t respect your mother, you won’t respect yourself or anyone else.

The feminine element conceives us in nature. The masculine conceptualizes. The male principle takes us to the moon in clunky machines but the feminine is the moon here, now and always. The impersonal and objective has its place but unbalanced it brings lifelessness. Animals - r - us. We speak of them as if we were from a different world and somehow viewing them and all other living entities from disembodied eyes. We split ourselves in two, one half animal, other half exploiter of animals and that includes our own animal self. If you don’t respect it, you don’t invest in it. Balance is natural. The ruling mechanistic, objective scientific, rational, exploitive mind is far out of balance.   And so, the black snakes come into the top world to remind me that I need them and they need me because earth wisdom must be respected and it’s been a long time since that happened.

This world and possibly the universe moves from imbalance to balance back and forth but balance is the go by. I recently came across Marija Gimbutas and her hypothesis about the Neolithic cultures of Europe, while surfing the net.  There is no proof that these were balanced, non-warlike worshipers of Mother Earth although I believe such a culture existed. Nevertheless, the fact that such a concept arose through the floor of conventional archaeology suggests to me that its time had come. Balance is needed. The competitive, exploitive war oriented world is self-destructing. Time to make peace with what’s under the floorboards. It might save our lives and if it kills us out of self-defense, something better might spring up to replace who we have become.