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.