Friday, December 6, 2013

THE TAO OF TAOS

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