Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Alchemical Retort

I’ve given up depression, my favorite addiction. The revolutionary insight that brought this about was an unexpected and astonishing recognition that there is a choice. I recently discovered that happiness is an immense creative power both personally and as a cell in the body of earth---and that we can choose it.  For most of my life, I’ve allowed outer circumstances and their personal influence to set my moods. How is it possible to be happy in a world full of suffering, violence and injustice? Isn’t it even a justification of evil to be happy under such conditions?

The kind of happiness I’m referring to is the vibrant aspect of peace. In our current world culture, peace seems to be an empty and powerless state and frequently its only dynamic quality is the tension produced by holding disintegrative forces at bay. 

Closely related to happiness is beauty. Our world, and for that matter the universe is a glory of fractal splendor from the sub atomic level to the solar system outward to infinite universes. This is the truth of creation. Our world of struggle, corruption, death and taxes in the tradition of PQ’s tribe and in many esoteric teachings is the middle world.  In this middle world, we have the stimulation of dark versus light, destruction versus creation. It’s so easy to forget (or never know) that dark is the absence of light not it’s energetic equal, yet the tension of contrast is the dynamic of evolution.

I have all the material I would ever need to defend depression as an existential perspective. On sleepless nights, I can inventory all the inherited disadvantages, bad experiences, difficult circumstances, bad schools, oppressive religious background, family dysfunction, relationship heartbreaks and lost hopes.  After many false starts,   I have arrived at old age with nothing tangible to show for a lifetime of struggles and ineffective attempts to extricate myself from the situations and reactions that placed me in a bad starting position on this racetrack called life. I tried many times to turn lead into gold but the alchemical formula was a secret I never discovered—but perhaps it was never a secret but merely unrecognizable in the gloom.  Then I learned that sadness and depression were the very dynamic that kept the alchemical magic from working. Negative produces negative, not gold. 

I no longer feel depressed about the state of the world or the state of the country. I know I can’t change these things that play out over large swaths of time and involve the karma of nations over millennia. I can’t change the massive social storms brought on by this karma known as history, or the weather storms that physically act out our planets troubles. However, I can quit contributing to each hapless drama by succumbing to its mood. It is all too easy to be sucked into a black hole.  

As one must realistically expect with all addictions, I fall off the wagon now and then but there is amazing freedom in the discovery that there is a choice and I’m not just a victim of circumstances with the unfortunate position of being born into this world that is currently unfolding in an extremely dysfunctional manner.

Not only is happiness a life enhancing power, it has a healing effect on the personal environment that then radiates outward in all directions. There are many tragic, horrendous, cruel and stupid things going on around us, and they seem to be increasing exponentially. People without any mooring doing crazy things, corrupt governments, wars, confused and narcissistic leaders, human predators, “fake news”, all contribute to and seem to justify downward mood swings.

Some people respond to both irritants and defeats with anger rather than depression. However, it’s all depression in essence. Men often prefer anger while women more frequently prefer depression but they are both negative moods that lead to more negativity. There is already too much negativity. The reaction to negative experiences with negative responses doubles the negative power base until it is dense, dark sticky goo that entraps everyone who places a foot in it. It brings forth a mental image of the La Brea Tar Pits.  

Along with this discovery, is the revelation that real power uplifts. It isn’t power over someone or something, which weakens and degrades a victim. True power permeates the life force with creativity and healing. This world we live in is the middle world engaged in an eternal battle between dark and light and we are grist for creations mill.   We get a detailed view of our situation when the inner lights are turned on.  There is always the choice of offering ourselves to the illusions of false power or pointing our attention toward an enlightened world.  Whether we know it or not we are involved in creating this world.  Now and then, I remember that our world and the universe are still in the process of creation, and we as cells in the body of earth can be healthy or diseased and thus influence the outcome. 

Depression often hides under other emotions. It can shelter judgement, unfulfilled expectations, loneliness, resentment and unexpressed desires, among others.  Depression is static at best and otherwise a downward spiral. Many people in our manic culture deny that they are depressed and take pills and illegal drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. Others stay frantically busy, or perhaps overeat and oversex. I think in retrospect that I’m thankful that I didn’t deny being sad and sometimes in despair, it drove me to keep searching for the cure rather than a cover up. Behind sadness, pain, despair and rage is an unacknowledged drive to find peace and wholeness.

Saturday, August 5, 2017


We recently learned that our dear friend Carol must move from her beautiful space in Cottonwood, Arizona. Her landlady is selling the house. This news shook us body, soul and spirit. It was more than a place of retreat and special sanctuary. Carol’s extra bedroom was our physical grip on a dream. Cottonwood and Sedona became as familiar as Taos, and in many ways more nourishing and comfortable.

Seven years ago, we rented a sweet place less than a mile from Carol’s house, and moved in. I had inherited furniture that had been in storage and PQ had furniture from his house as well. We had a great time finishing it off with curtains, and kitchen things, and we bought and assembled a complicated computer table that proved that we could work together without killing each other. It was as close to paradise as I’ve been. We hiked the trails in nearby Sedona, visited the coffee houses, met interesting people, and of course, hung out with Carol. She had two friends who were also ex-pats from Taos, and in addition, we met many other beautiful people that became our new soul family.

It became necessary to move back to Taos full time yet we never gave up the idea of finding a way to live again in Cottonwood. We visited Carol whenever we could, which was at least once each season and occasionally she invited us to housesit when she travelled. We truly were as comfortable in her home as our own and without the angst or Sturm und Drang of Taos.  

I can see in retrospect that we came to the Cottonwood/Sedona area at the perfect time.  Everything opened to us and because of that, it is very difficult to let go. I didn’t even know Carol that well the first time I visited. We had a mutual friend when she lived in Taos and although we saw each other frequently, we were usually in a group. It wasn’t until she moved to Cottonwood and I visited on a long ago Thanksgiving weekend that our friendship began to deepen. 

Letting go of the drive down Oak Creek Canyon, lunch at Szechuan Chinese restaurant in Sedona, our favorite hiking trails, Tlaquepaque galleries, and the Old Saddle Rock Barn consignment store where we filled out needed furniture for our little casita and all the many other sustaining memories seems like exile from the Promised Land.  Even so, I must admit that there were signs that the structure of this dream was gradually dissolving.

Not finished and waiting for its soul.
Many people moved away or moved on, and our favorite haunts were also changing. In the meantime, family obligations, personal challenges with health and finances while holding some kind of spiritual center were more demanding. Taos kept our noses to the grindstone on every dimension.

So now, I flash back to remembering Carol’s almost round table where we had so many great discussions in the morning over coffee, watching out the window for wildlife passing through, the hummingbirds on the patio, or getting down to earth with the little lizards and their personal dramas. It was all sacred but earthy. Then there were our traditions: lemon pie and barbecue, or alternatively carrot cake. Even the local Safeway and Walmart became a part of a sacred process.  We could walk in as if we had never been gone and resume life in our alternative reality.

This loss is as profound and unexpected as the sudden death of a loved one and yet it comes with promises of rebirth.  Those of us emotionally involved in Carol’s move are already creating a group spirit within the process. We text back and forth, completing the finishing process while preparing for Carol’s launch toward new horizons. We can’t help but go with her in spirit. 

Now that I’m several weeks into the process, I can see that living in Cottonwood again in a dream future made living here in Taos with its continuous struggles and dramas a motive for dreams of a promised land. For now, Taos is the process of life itself. For months, I’ve also fantasized living in a dream Zen-do for a few months to meditate and re-connect with my natural rhythms.  This is also not a constructive fantasy but a way to avoid mastering the high waves under our boat. However, on the positive side, all these fantasies are there to remind me not to lose my essence. Now must be the time to take on the challenge even if it doesn’t feel like it.

This “moving” (pun intended) event awakens an entirely new set of skills. Change is necessary or the senses, mind and spirit ride an old wagon down an increasingly rutted road.  I will end by saying that our spirit guides think highly enough of us to keep the rut from becoming so deep that we can never change direction.

I’m thinking we elders are shook out of our comfort zones and nostalgic reveries because our job isn’t finished and we need to keep moving toward our particular light, or become useless mummies even if well preserved. It’s not time for heaven on earth yet. Sometimes we only go into action if we must.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


My paintbrush jar is broken; PQ accidentally knocked it off the paint cart. Many of his actions are accidental and that is both a flaw and a saving virtue. There was a sentimental memory attached to the jar. I found it inside an abandoned cabin in the remote Wyoming woods when I was 12 years old during a camping/fishing trek.  It had survived many years and many moves all the way to Taos, New Mexico.Of course, I haven’t painted anything for two years.  It’s hard to get back in the groove and perhaps I’m not supposed to paint the same way. The last thing I painted still isn’t finished. Something didn’t go right and I don’t know what was trying to come in, so it waits in the garage for me to figure it out or do something entirely different.  

I write now instead of paint. They aren’t in the same groove, so I won’t claim writing as a substitute. I rationalize that PQ’s paintings have exotic appeal and sell better, but I know that is a shallow excuse. I walk into the garage and it pushes me toward the door. It just isn’t my garage yet. I fantasize studios where I will feel comfortable and more creative, but that isn’t going to come out of fantasyland anytime soon. So, it comes back to me and my issues with the garage, and painting. 

After I left the little house off of Upper Ranchitos, I almost quit painting. Before that I wished for a space where I could paint bigger canvases than my little laundry alcove permitted. Lack of space has been an issue for everything I don’t do, but maybe those tiny spaces start in my head, my soul, and my sense of not being welcome on this planet. I crowded myself into smaller and smaller spaces hoping I would finally pass the devil’s code. Then I realized that I couldn’t get small enough. My existence requires space and existence is the issue.  “To be or not to be” is always the base question. I’ve been trying to compromise by being an inoffensive little bit. It never worked out. It is essentially an attempt to lie successfully.  There are higher powers I fear offending.
Note that many so-called savage practices continue to survive and thrive in a more subtle form in modern times. As they become subtle, they also become more deceptive.  The Spanish may have convinced the Inca that since God made a blood sacrifice of his only son; they could discontinue the sacrifice of their children while receiving the same results. Now and then, however, it looks like God’s sacrifice may not have be enough to convince Mother Nature, who after all operates on the same dimension as her subjects.  

Sacrifice is an extremely complex topic.  We can sacrifice one thing to receive something else that we consider more important. Alternatively, we can sacrifice something that is standing in our way in accomplishing a higher purpose, or alternatively to protect ourselves from someone with more power, a kind of rental payment for the space we occupy. The cultures of South America seem to have used blood sacrifice to give energy to the gods, because blood was life force itself. It was insurance that the sun would have the power to rise each morning.

My paintbrush jar became an accidental sacrifice. Now it is up to me to discover what kind of medicine it represents. I love the Native American concept of “medicine.” It recognizes that there is an unseen, trans-physical aspect to making things right. Illness is a kind of sacrifice. The body is made sacred through its surrender to higher processes. Yet, it only works if one lays out the stage of encounter as a holy place. Sometimes healing involves allowing the body to die physically in order to make way for another form of existence and sometimes to undo the entrainments that manifest in sickness on this physical plain.

On one level, sacrifice is simply a type of sharing. Animals often bring their prey home to share with family members. I remember mom’s large Main Coon cat named Mickey. He often brought her half a mouse and deposited it in a place she couldn’t miss such as the middle of the kitchen. Blood sacrifices are the most powerful of all because blood represents the mystery and power of life.

Even as a young child, I knew that I was a sacrificial offering.  The biblical account of Abraham’s divine instruction to offer Isaac his only son as a burnt offering to Yahweh haunted me for years. At the last moment, Yahweh conjured a sheep as a replacement sacrifice and saved Isaac’s life. Although I couldn’t pin it down, I knew that I too was a sacrificial subject. My little sister died in infancy and I used to wonder if I was supposed to be the one who died instead.  That event changed everything about my family and I was emotionally on my own from then on.  Mom went into a zombie like trance that she only recovered from after I was well into adulthood and dad kept a somber distance and thereafter preoccupied himself with practical problems easily solved with a hammer, saw or shovel.

Sacrifice has two obvious sides: gratitude and fear. The powerful one who gives can also take away without warning.  While the Inca’s sacrificed their most beautiful children, the Aztecs often gathered sacrificial victims from war and raids on neighboring tribes, and it seems that the Great Sun became hungrier as time passed. The Spanish found it easy to conspire with victims of the Aztecs for obvious reasons and it seems reasonable that colluding Aztec enemies were the hidden key to Spanish victory.
Inca God Viracocha

Perhaps misfits of all kinds are prospective sacrificial offerings. The correctional system is full of people who take punishment for acting out the weaknesses in society. This is not to excuse violent and dishonest behavior but often the person who ends up in jail is the product of a long line of family and social dysfunction festering in the background that goes unpunished.  They take the rap for a whole host of angry and miserable people who are never punished, at least not by the law. There are also many ways of offering a sacrifice and even suicide is often a sacrificial gesture.  There seems to be a primal belief that we humans are not in good standing with higher cosmic powers. One way or another we need to cajole and flatter the cosmic forces to leave us in peace or protect us from our enemies. Yet, who will protect us from ourselves. Those forces seem to be hungry for blood.  The primary question is if it will be enemy blood or the blood of a beautiful child and I suppose that depends on the projected character flaws of our deities. 

This topic unexpectedly took this blog over and I know I’ve opened the door a crack to a very dark room, much more than I can handle today, there is a lot more to learn on this subject. 

Saturday, June 10, 2017


I sense a backward trend. No, there are not obvious indications but I’ve learned that when I begin to feel something insistently and frequently, a new dawn is probably only a few degrees below the horizon.

The frantic race to bring greater and greater technical progress to the human population has reached a dangerous level. Cell phones have so many features that I’ve lost interest in learning how to use all the bells and whistles. There are still other things in life for which I'd like to leave some space/time. As we drove down the canyon on our way to Albuquerque and another showing of “Awakening in Taos” the other day, I was remembering the days when I had no electronic guidance to find a destination only the written address and general road information. As much as I enjoy playing with Seri and asking her questions on my iPhone 7, I can’t honestly say that I do any better at finding locations. It is actually more a game than a necessity.  I’m a Gemini, and I enjoy figuring things out and pushing buttons but I also enjoyed putting my intuition to work and I’ve noticed that when in computer mode, my intuition is turned off.

We drive computerized vehicles that were assembled by computerized robots, and still other computers can interact remotely with these computers on four wheels. The question of how much technology is too much may depend on the individual as well as that individual’s culture and generation, but the race to computerize everything and every function is in full swing. I remember my first computer. I loved it because I type fast but also hit a lot of wrong keys and with a word processing program, I could quickly delete and correct. It could do astrological calculations too and that cut hours off of preparing a chart. I don’t want to go back to calculating astrology charts by hand, partly because math is not my thing, but I remember that the time it took to manually work out the positions and relationships of the planets focused my attention until I became organically connected to the individual chart and the cosmic environment that a client lived within.

On this recent drive down the canyon, I remembered that Mabel Dodge Lujan ‘s first trip to Taos from Santa Fe took 17 hours in an automobile of the time on the then primitive road up the canyon. It takes an hour and a half now (unless my husband is driving in which case it takes an hour and 15 minutes).  I know 17 hours seems like a trial of fortitude, but there is another aspect that we seldom consider. I remember the time I had car trouble in the canyon, had to get out and wait with time to kill for a rescue. I felt the moving air, heard the river spilling over the rocks, and took notice of the insects and lizards scurrying from hideout to hideout in the aromatic sagebrush. In times like this, I realize how little I now experience on this same trip that Mabel took a hundred years ago. It changed her life. I take this trip sometimes several times a month, and although I never tire of it, my senses regard it as a high-speed visual experience. Not so different from watching TV.
Mark Gordon, Producer and PQ
at latest showing of Awakening in Taos

As humans, we are heading down a slippery slope and slicker and slicker technology is greasing the slide. On some level, most of us suspect that this is the case, but it’s an addictive state of mind. The issue is how best to use technology without being used by its marketeers. Seduction is right at the center of the technology age. If you are seduced, it is because someone wants something you have and he/she can’t get it without deception. I suspect the hypnotic transfixion on technical gadgets is designed to keep our attention short and narrow and thus allow little time for depth perception.

I don’t believe the problem is technology itself. It is a powerful tool and its fun, but few of us humans are evolved psychologically or spiritually enough to use it wisely or to recognize when we are being used by our tools and toys. The question is; who owns whom. Devices own many of us, and this is especially true of the so-called Millennials. 

I believe the mind control leaders have hijacked technology.  They are using it to put a wedge between the organic world and we humans. When we become alienated from our connection to the living world and secede to an electronic version, we have lost our souls. For some time, it has troubled me that the heart chakra awaits discovery in a world that values cleverness and ambition but seldom connection . It is always involved in our well-beingness, though not valued in this lickety-split culture. I’ve long believed that those who control our society from behind the stage curtain are originally responsible for this situation. By making sure that the masculine elements of competition and aggression are in control, it is much easier to separate us from our human emotional connections, distort our instincts and encase the heart in a hard steel cover. Masculine and feminine qualities are equally necessary in a balanced world.

I recently received an email from a group that does online seminars and workshops to raise consciousness and promote spiritual growth. The leaders of this organization are admitting exhaustion and frustration about how to go forward. They are reaching the end of energy and resources. Since they are asking subscribers for insights and creative ideas about how to go forward, this thought came up immediately: I don’t join many of these online groups and probably will never join another one.  The immediate thrill of being able to communicate with hundreds, maybe thousands of people with one online connection seems awesome but it’s like tasting a delicious meal but not swallowing. It’s not nourishing.

People need to get together physically and be involved in 3D interaction and focus. Anything else is a teaser and as such is better than nothing is but not completely satisfying and not optimally empowering. I’ve been involved in live groups and still hunger for this, not just workshops that end and you never see each other again, but ongoing groups where all the dimensions of life can be encountered and developed heart to heart. The operative word is development.  I can certainly envision a small group of like hearted people using the shared information of a podcast or book as a springboard but the alchemical power of interactive minds cannot be replaced electronically. Nobody ever imagined that corresponding by snail mail is as satisfying as a face to face relationship even though it keeps that physical contact alive in the senses. Despite the magic of instant contact with people anywhere on the globe--even Skype with a screen view of the person I'm talking to is not a totally satisfying substitute for physical presence.

 I envision people beginning to use technology rather than serve technology. It’s a marvelous tool but a dangerous and abusive master.  We don’t exist to support the economic system, although it’s obvious that the corporate world perceives us as prey. I’m hoping a new more critical Sun will rise on the mass culture of electronics while I’m still in this 3D world.

During the Q & A that followed this latest screening of “Awakening in Taos,” the sense of  family involved in its creation was very strong. My direct involvement came at the very beginning but I’ve loved witnessing the story grow from hatchling to fledgling and getting to know the amazing people involved in its creation. As we sat on stage answering audience questions, I realized that our group is an entity in its own right and this initiated another awakening in my own heart to send out vibes of love and appreciation in all directions. There are two stories here--the one that resulted in well crafted and powerful story on screen and the creation of a team of humans melding their skills, passions, dramas and personal history into the visual soul print of Awakening in Taos. The protagonists of this story have a new life and renewed purpose because of this team joined at the heart as well as the mind.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017


Lately I go to bed with a knot in my stomach as crazy scenes from a narrowly survived future rise to the surface after the lights go out and there is nothing to distract my attention. However, I don’t normally have a pessimistic view of the future. After all, I’ve survived this far and the future hasn’t been made yet and it has a good chance of balancing the past. I do believe that nature works toward balance and there are still a few cells aligned with Mother Nature in our human makeup. However, I’m also aware that things often get worse before they get better and my nerves are weary.

Perhaps paranoia comes in the night, but has it occurred to anyone else that Trump is our “so-called” president because malicious forces wanted him to make naïve and serious mistakes so that an even darker force could step in after he self-destructs? Just a thought!

We have not been without war since WII. Now, instead of a world war, we have wars all over the world. Who benefits, is a better question than who is right. News is now focusing on the Russian connection as if they are trying to make Trump prove that he isn’t pro-Russia. Nevertheless, Russia seems to be benefitting from the internal discord. Does anyone remember the principle, “divide and conquer.” What do our political parties actually represent? Do Democrats and Republicans have more significance than football teams competing with each other? Does anyone even know what these parties actually represent at this time beyond the natural human instinct to engage in competitive games? Most of us outsiders aren’t privy to the rules of engagement.
The blind men and the elephant.

Trump loved being in the news, outraging some of the public and “saying it like it is” for the rest. He loves attention, but is now challenged at every turn and may well be a kind of lackey for the real powers that hide safely in the shadows. The people who voted for Trump sadly recognized the government was not serving them, but they are still loyal to an idealistic propagandized version of America that this billionaire manipulator cannot possibly satisfy. He is riding now on the principles of cognitive dissonance. “People invested to a given perspective shall—when confronted with disconfirming evidence—expend great effort to justify retaining their challenged perspective.” Many of his supporters alter their loyalty to fit the circumstances.

A few minutes ago, while walking through the living room I caught a glimpse of what PQ was watching on TV. It was an old Nazi propaganda film by Leni Riefenstahl on PBS. It is disturbing to realize that people are as vulnerable to propaganda as they were then and history is not an effective teacher, or perhaps no one learns history anymore.  Many intelligent, well-meaning people voted for Trump. I don’t believe he is a Hitler, but he is a deceiver. People wanted someone to fix their problems, the ones they can’t fix themselves having to do with a widening gap between the rich and poor, declining incomes, wars that never end and worsening terrorist scare tactics. They wanted someone who would give them confidence and safety and a stable income but this primed them to be uncritical of a person who had no respect for the truth or anything else, and who fed himself on the energy of their discontent. He was different-- not a career politician and he didn’t use euphemisms in his speeches, but he is a narcissistic snake oil salesman. He knew what people wanted and played to their hopes and fears for his own aggrandizement. It appears to be turning back on him, but is he really the primary culprit here?

The susceptibility of human nature to tough talk and deception is the leading theme in this drama.  Emotion is much stronger than logic. In fact, logic serves emotional desires and emotional desires are what any good salesman addresses.  America tends to be more than naïve about its history, but there is also a cognitive dissonance that comes through as denial. There is a lot of dark stuff in our history and we never were the shining castle on the hill. “Making America Great again” only feeds the national white hat fantasy. To be a nation and society deserving of admiration we would have to have enough maturity and wisdom to recognize our faults, delusions, and shame before karma hits us in the face.  Then there is the issue of who really runs the country. It may not be as hidden as it seems. It is the big money people. This isn’t about being rich; it is about having control of an artificial system that underlies all other systems. It is money, but in a particular role. Money is now cosmic! 

There is a deep insecurity about the money system. It is artificial and it is showing signs of being a Lego stack that has grown so high it is about to tumble into pieces. Money is not real wealth on a real planet. It is an artificial symbolic device of social dominance and control. Perhaps once it was convenient as a tool of trade one-step removed from the actual goods that support life. Control of life support has always been the preferred method of elite control over the general population but there is always a looming danger that the slaves will revolt. This is where deception comes in. It is important that they believe they can someday rise to a higher level and be a part of the elite group or at least live in comfort and respect. This hoax is on the verge of breaking down.

There is a problem with cognitive dissonance, it lives in all of us to some degree, and we are not conscious of the inner contradiction until something forces awareness by putting the contradiction in our face. Maybe its still too close to see.

Saturday, April 8, 2017


The outdoor weather is gorgeous. It’s hard to believe that yesterday we woke up to a white world. Our neighbor's pink flowering tree is covered in heavy wet snow. Spring always feels like a miraculous thrust for a new beginning. This used to make me depressed, this time I’m determined to follow this progression of seasons with a hopeful though edgy heart to the next season.

Spring brings up feelings of my personal spring and what a struggle it was; much like a true Rocky Mountain spring which is always a battle between winter and summer until the tilt in the earth finally determines the outcome. Why was I afraid to leaf out into the activities I loved the most since early childhood? What I do know is that it all began with the Monkey Bars in Vallejo California when I was two-and-a-half. I wasn’t old enough to get beyond the first rung and I wanted more than anything to climb those bars. I gazed far into the sky and to the top of the equivalent of Mount Everest where the older kids looked down at me, and knew they were tremendously superior because they could climb all the way to the top.
Old Style Monkey Bars, now considered too dangerous for kids.

At that time, we lived in government housing so that my dad could work repairing ships at the Mare Island shipyards. When my mom became pregnant and we needed more room, my family moved away from that apartment near the Monkey Bars, and I ran away several times to visit those Monkey Bars. I got a spanking and a serious scolding each time but held it in my heart that I would go back any chance I got. We moved back to Colorado before the Monkey Bar issue was resolved. After the move, I remember looking in every playground for Monkey Bars like those. There were many small ones, but none like the ones I remembered from Vallejo. When I was 26, I finally found some exactly the same in New York’s Central Park. It was vindication that after all those years, my memory of what they were like was accurate.

Since the Monkey Bar setback, I have pursued many skills. The only ones I didn’t master to my satisfaction are those that expressed my heart and soul. I learned to garden, cook, design and sew my own clothes, type, mix cement, finish wood, tile a bathroom, apply wallpaper and paint, take care of horses, dogs, cats and chickens but there was no challenge to my heart and soul involved. All these things were everyday tasks that anyone could do. They were all first rung accomplishments. In fact, I was hiding behind things that came easy. Of course, I drew and painted as well, but was secretive about it. The parental judgement on art was that it was a frivolous self-indulgent way of shirking real work. I drew, painted and read when I wasn’t under surveillance. I was sick a lot when I was a kid, and I suspect that it had to do with having permission to do the things I liked to do such as drawing and reading while recovering in bed. There were many things that were off the table because they didn’t fit our religion or lifestyle—things such as swimming lessons (my folks figured I didn’t need to know much to swim in the irrigation ditch) or gymnastic and dance lessons (dance was considered showing off, immodest and thus against our religion) and of course art.

I developed a lifelong habit of publically going against my true feelings. Well, not entirely. Although I often bought things I didn’t really like for reasons I thought practical or did tasks I didn’t want to do because I felt guilty for doing something that I wanted to do (case in point I almost quit writing this to rake dead leaves out of the garden), what I really did was go underground. I just did everything I felt passionate about in secret. This wasn’t terribly difficult because my family didn’t bother to inquire about things that didn’t interest them.

There are good things even in a bad situation. I quit school at fifteen because I could no longer tolerate the dissonance between my inside suffering and my outside life. Of course, this created a huge uproar at home, but it was a necessary survival move. I waited for the walls to collapse around me and instead I found myself very alone, and very free. I attempted to get back into school the next year, talked my way into high school and succeeded but it was totally empty and meaningless so I walked away and never went back.

My world turned inside out, I began falling into a tube of bottomless blackness. I expected to be doomed forever. I had broken through all the safe boxes in my life and there was nothing to fight and nothing to achieve. To call it a dark night of the soul wouldn’t come close. It was more like being lost in endless nothingness without form, sound or anyone else around.

My folks sent me to a psychiatrist. He sat 20 feet away behind a desk at the other end of his office and I stared out the window. He asked me things such as “what are you thinking when you stare out the window?” I didn’t trust anyone and I didn’t answer because he like everyone else wanted to get me back to school and I knew I couldn’t do that. He once asked me why I hated pastel colors and that was the only question I could answer. I said, “Because my mother loves pastels. Babies wear pastels and my baby sister died and then my mother faded away. Pastel is less than alive.” He said nothing but it caused me to think about the psychological connection between pastel colors and fading away. I checked out books by Freud and Jung at the Library. That was the beginning of my new identity. I was sixteen.

For several months I went down town once a week to this psychiatrist until the day I told him that I felt guilty about the money it was costing my parents since it would never do any good. After that, I mysteriously developed interests in topics that I had never even heard of before. Many years later, some proponents of New Age thought referred to people with this experience as walk-ins. I knew I wasn’t a walk-in, I was a walk-out and that is when I discovered my forbidden self. I read sociology, psychology, history, philosophy all the way back to before Plato, various camps of theology, art history, method acting, the Kama Sutra and Rig Veda and then the Bible from Genesis to Revelation trying to generate the faith I was supposed to have but it blew my Baptist upbringing out the window forever. I read all the depressing Russian novels I could find in the library and forced myself to watch films about the horrors of Nazi concentration camps. I was trying to understand the true scope of human consciousness and depravity. It wasn’t just me. There was something very wrong with the human world.

I went with the existentialists, became cynical, foresaw the overthrow of Batista, knew Castro wouldn’t be America’s darling very long, foretold the assassination of Martin Luther King, and was shocked but not surprised when Kennedy was assassinated. Now and then, I would literally float off the couch and a powerful vision of the coming world from miles in the air would appear. An unseen voice told me that I was acquiring the vision to share with others who would also have these experiences. I was getting the stereoscopic view in order to graduate beyond personal misery. Was all of this another kind of Monkey Bars? The trouble was, with the exception of Kennedy’s assassination I wasn’t yet 18 when a wave of insights and knowledge rushed in like a tsunami. It didn’t create an ego charge because it isolated me from my peers and adults didn’t believe me.

Years later, I got into Red Rocks Community College, took all the hardest classes because I didn’t know any better and maintained a 4.0. It was another transition. Most students were working adults trying to better their job chances and they didn’t dive too deep. Nevertheless, it was my re-entry into society and I had dreams of someday getting a degree in psychology or anthropology, maybe both. However, there was one class that changed my life. Ironically, it was considered a fluff class and was the only one graded on attendance rather than performance and I missed two classes due to a severe blizzard thus lowering my grade point average. Of course, I could have gone to the instructor and explained the circumstances but back then, I was unaware that it was negotiable. Oh yes, about the class, it was on metaphysics with aura reading, the historic background of Tarot cards, astrology, energy paths, divining and many other metaphysical topics. I discovered that I was good at aura reading. I also remember an exercise that momentarily stopped gravity. This was impressive because it was a physical result that I actually experienced. Anyway, this class opened up an unfamiliar world--one that I had been raised to believe to be both silly and satanic.

In the following years, I attended many workshops that could be lumped into the Human Potential Movement, alternative healing and transpersonal psychology. I really intended to become a practitioner because it all helped profoundly on my personal journey. I thought this was my calling and the impetus toward climbing my personal Monkey Bars, but why did I get stuck on the first rung?

Next, I got a job with an oil company during a time when they were not hiring permanent help. It was such a stroke of luck that I worked there five years out of gratitude even though I felt like an alien in the corporate world. Next I went to an alternative school but soon ran out of money and then the school folded. Although that school was an amazing experience, it was one of my first encounters with the fact that idealistic people cannot cooperate nearly as well as corporate sharks.

I got into a very complicated marriage to a man who was bi-polar, and although very psychic, well- traveled on several dimensions and adventurous had yet to touch solid ground on this planet. He knew a lot of people who were involved in the metaphysical world or as alternative healers and I often became their friend after he alienated them. I learned astrology and started practicing it. We went through bankruptcy. Next, I worked for a huge bookstore that was like a whole village of people who didn’t fit into conventional society. My husband had several extreme manic episodes and undermined me at every step. We finally came apart when we moved to Taos, New Mexico. The move was my idea. An entirely new chapter opened and my husband moved back to Denver. We remained friends but our lives took different trajectories.

Taos wasn’t easy. Although I saw my life as a failure and thought I was too old to start over or do anything meaningful, I met interesting people and resolved to use my flickering embers to warm the hopes of my friends. I was always better at serving other people than myself. Taos didn’t allow this. I won’t go into all the dramatic cliffhangers that followed but before long, I was working in a gallery featuring Indian art, living at poverty level in an old adobe and painting every night into the morning hours. I’ve made my peace with unachieved dreams or, so I thought. Then a few days ago, while talking to a dear friend she mentioned that she was considering putting long dormant healing knowledge to work again. This was an amazing revelation because I had been thinking about something comparable but didn’t know how or where to start.

When I approach them, what will the Monkey Bars look like now? For one thing, I’m taller on several levels, and they don’t seem quite so high. I know this would involve letting past judgements and failures dissolve in the acid of transformation. No, I don’t know just how to do this but maybe if I leave the slate clean it will attract content. As the saying goes, “Nature abhors a vacuum.” Perhaps all I have to do is not move away.

To be continued.