A Path

The day after Halloween, I tried to find a new walking route: Larkspur Trail.

Driving around, road construction blocked my way to the senior center, where the path supposedly starts. I wound my way to Pilot Butte instead, where the trail ends.

I still couldn’t find it. So, I started wandering around the criss-crossing dirt tracks along the lower part of the butte, until finding an asphalt path to follow.

The grass vibrated in the breeze, like notes coming off a page. I felt sticks and soft Juniper branches and squished dried berries between my fingertips, and I looked into the sky. I saw bark peeling and felt the sun and wind and saw life, and felt it.

I sat on a rock for awhile.

          

I turned around and followed the asphalt path back, coming across a sign near the parking lot “Larkspur Trail.” I found it, although unexpectedly and from the backside. I was where I had wanted to be, and didn’t even know it.

Sometimes we can’t get to the path, until we are coming back from where we started.

It’s as confusing as it feels, until you recognize that this path is exactly where you are supposed to be, whether it is Larkspur Trail or not.

Then it all becomes completely clear.

 

*(See The Head and The Heart, Rivers and Roads)

Dualities Cont.

Ok, you guys ready to go deep with me? Because we are going to Hell.

But first, let’s go to Heaven.

***

I was praying, asking God to reveal his word to me (this is a long story that deals with a family bible, a lock of hair, books of spells and poems – but also a sign for me to stay and hear the word of God).

So, I finally asked.

Underneath my eyelids, I saw typed words flash.

and

and then (yes, I kind of chuckled at this one)

and then there was light. And it was good.

I ran to my bible and opened to Genesis:

“In [the] beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

The bible opens with a duality. In fact, creation was made in duality. Water and land, light and dark, sun and moon, man and woman.

Those who know me, likely know that duality and contrast is something that has been in my conscious the last handful of years (Everything Changes, Everything Stays the Same and Middle Ground). It continues to dig deeper within me, because it is my creation, and its existence is how I am whole.

Finding the edge, sitting on the cliff, is where I am now. Not jumping off, and not running away, but sitting on this edge and getting to know it. This is where we often find one another, ready to jump or turn back.

Where the dualities meet – that edge – is the “in between” and steadiness I will be exploring my whole life. It is where the ocean meets the sand, where the sky meets the horizon, where I meet the divine.

**

Ok – now to Hell.

Right and wrong, control and no control, choice and no choice are concepts that have been swirling around in me lately like the Barn Raising Dance in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

So, I sat down on the cliff’s edge and checked it out.

Right. Ah, yes, being right and doing the right thing. It’s like skipping through a field of flowers. But, you are always running, always moving, always looking back. There is somehow an element of hurt here. Always worried about continuing to do the right thing and afraid of doing something wrong.

And then you do. You do something wrong and are sucked into the netherworld of fire and blame. There is the vision of what you want – just out of reach – but you can never do the right thing to get it. You can never get what you want and you are doing everything wrong and it is your fault.

That is Hell.

**

In America, I think the definition of success is getting what you want. Here, you are conditioned that you can have ANYTHING you want, and if you get it, then you are successful and you will be happy. (Go Anthropology degree!) But, I choose not to live like that anymore. Want, need, keep, have, get, control. That is my hell on earth.

Which brings us to control and no control. I’m hoping this will wrap up the blog post nicely, but I am not quite sure at this point.

I control because I am afraid. So if I get what I want and try to control it, then it will stay how I want it and I will be doing things right and that will make me worthy of having what I have and everything will stay good (so really, it goes back to worth).

If I don’t take action, if I don’t take control to get what I want, then I am not worthy because I am being passive.

What bullshit. The words even contort around each other in confusion and force and pain.

So, where is the edge between control and no control?

I might have to jump off the cliff a few more times before I find it. But, it’s how we learn to fly. Or, it’s how we learn to sit at the edge. Again, and again, and again. I am just so grateful that I can even see the edge.

THIS IS WATER (If you have not seen this, I would highly recommend it. Or, even if you have, please watch it again.)

Edges into Infinity

 

and then there was light. And it was good. 

A Place Beneath The Surface

Bikram yoga once saved my life. I got really into it, practicing the 26 postures nearly every day in a 106-degree room, and for an hour and a half my mind stopped. I took advanced courses with Bikram himself. Then, everything changed.

I moved to Hawaii. Without a car, there was little opportunity to go to the nearest studio half an island away. I told this to one of my yoga teachers before I left. She said:

“It’s ok, something new that you need will come to you.”

And it did, in the form of scuba diving.

Scuba diving saved me, too. Dropping beneath the waves into a still presence, moving with the surge, and becoming familiar with a world that I didn’t know to be possible.

Then that changed. Scuba diving was also meant to leave my life in its frequency and intensity after returning to the mainland – I didn’t need it like I used to, but I couldn’t recognize it at the time.

Instead of appreciating how it changed the way I moved through the everyday world, I held onto needing the activity to solidify my identity. I started making expectations and goals and demands – I need to dive at least once a month or twice a year, or something like that. When I hung on, it didn’t make room for change, and it ended up hurting other things instead.

I still carry what yoga and diving gave me. They taught me stillness and beauty, showing me a place to drop down beneath the waves. It doesn’t have to be in the yoga studio, or under the water’s surface – it can be at any moment.

It is not so important for me to force doing these activities anymore, but rather to love them whenever they occasionally pop into my momentary life. It’s one of things I wish I had known earlier, but could never have.

I recently got a job that will take up many of my evenings, including the nights of my coveted meditation classes. There is change again in the air, but now, I can recognize it, and open instead of close to it.

What space, what room, to see what will come next. It’s actually rather exciting.

Belonging

 

Holy shit, snow is white.

Snow is white.

This is where my more logical friends, who call my Pollyanna, will say that I’m going a little crazy.

 

Why didn’t the coast guard save the hippie?

He was too far out, maan.

 

Come, take a swim with me.

**

Trees are rooted. They dance, they bleed, some of their wounds never heal, rings of age define their growth. They are life, and life happens around them, and through and on them, too.

**

Snow falls on them, like it falls on the wild brown grass and the stocky sagebrush. Like it falls on the road, and the person walking on the side of the street, and the car driving through time.

It is white.

I hate winter. I started hating winter my freshman year of college in Vermont. When my first boyfriend dumped me for another girl, and I was trying to fit in, and it was -20 every day for a month, and the cold air seeped through my dorm room windows every day, and I couldn’t find belonging no matter where I reached – not at the kegger parties, nor singing to Disturbed with my roommate, nor the snowshoeing excursions, nor the classrooms where everyone had a hand up – not in any places where I thought I belonged.

**

White is my favorite color.

I stood on a bridge arching over a river a few weeks ago. There was ice, and snow, and a searingly cold breeze. I felt my skin prickle and – look at that – I felt. It wasn’t cold or unbearable or painful or thought. It was, just, … felt.

I love white because it is empty and full. It is a duality. It contains everything and nothing.

It is any possibility; it is no different than this moment; it is reality.

**

Every (this) moment is different.

Every (this) moment is beautiful.

Every (this) moment is infinite.

**

Look at that: Today, I love winter. 

**

Holy shit,

snow is white.

 

Snow is white.

 

 

Border Crossings

Crossing borders can be uncertain. You might find a used condom under a bed in a hotel on the Ethiopia/Kenya border, or you might not almost be let into Syria because you put ‘news assistant’ on the customs form (thank you, stranger, who somehow convinced the custom officials to let me in after an hour of discussion. The official ripped up the form and instructed me to put “secretary” on it instead).

Or, it might be reaching your hands to the windshield and yelling “First to Missouri!” or “First to Washington!” in triumph as the car passes over an invisible line.

There are liminal periods and transitioning places and collaboration around borders too, such as the town Kanorado on the edge of Kansas and Colorado, or Calexico near California and Mexico.

We all know borders are arbitrary, constructed to create order over open lands and along rivers.

Our internal borders are arbitrary too, ones that we build from our past to identify ourselves and categorize our lives.

But, they are there for a reason. Perhaps it is so we can cross them.

Something Taken

A few weeks ago, my laptop was stolen. Someone had busted the back window of my parents’ new car, reaching in to efficiently search and retrieve my laptop.

Surprisingly, it was ok.

No, I did not password protect my computer (which I suggest to everyone now as a reminder). I lost five years of my writing, of academic work, of work work, of deeply personal journals, and a digital lifetime of photographs. Yes, I had backups, so all was not lost.

Just a computer,

to someone who needed it more than I. And, to someone who might find something in there that they need, too.

Because the universe works exactly as it does. Thank you.

Dirty Thirty

On the last day of my thirtieth year…hmmm…I woke up, dealt with insurance, took Big Dog on a walk, dealt with insurance again (then again), heard the thunder, cried with it, made a Yumm Bowl lunch, went to the store, went to David’s Bridal to pick up a bridesmaid dress, and now I sit here – writing.

Around the days celebrating our birth, we can feel reflective – what composed the last year, what emerging intentions we might have for this new beginning. Lest we forget, there are always new beginnings.

So this last year – thirty – was an amazing year. It wasn’t the easily AMAAAZING year that we sometimes have, but it was true and enlightening and funny and hard.

The fall bulged with colors on our street – red and green and yellow – mixed with sweat and the fading sound of cicadas.

Thirty, for me, culminated in a Midwest winter with North Winds and crazy amounts of snow. It slapped me in the face – wake up – she said – I did this so you don’t have any distractions, so you can face what you need to face in exposed cold.

And I did, and I still am.

The ice gave way to spring – to green everywhere. Then twisters (change) and fireflies (magic) and wheat (acceptance).

If anything, on the even of turning thirty-one, this last year was a year. It was a big year.

Callings

“Finding your calling” is something I have heard tossed around often in recent years. A calling – something ancient in you, YOU. It can be personal, it can be an occupation, it can be the way you contribute to the world, it can be big or small. It’s different for everyone.

I used to want to be happy in any situation. That was my goal, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t find joy sitting in my apartment, watching movie after movie and ignoring the world, during my first year of grad school because I didn’t want to be there. I couldn’t find happiness despite harsh efforts.

A few years ago, sitting in a therapist’s office in Eugene, I took a different approach. I can’t be happy in any situation, but I can bring love to any situation.

Just this year, I gave space for my calling to emerge. And it’s a simple one – sit in love, now. Remember where you are, now. Love, now.

Photography was a love of mine in high school. People who knew me then still ask about it, a passion that I have long forgotten. I wrote college essays about taking pictures – what it’s like when the rest of the world drops away from your frame. Capturing, seeing, appreciating, understanding truth. I joined a club in middle school of retired photographers and learned the first rule: impact, impact, impact. They guided and encouraged and taught me how to see.

I got scared. There are so many good photographers out there. I got distracted – hello boyfriend, hello college. I worked for the college newspaper taking pictures, and got discouraged. There were people so much better.

So, I dropped it. I started writing again instead. I’m still writing, but that feeling of missing my calling with photography pops its ugly head on occasion.With this blog, I can share both words and images. All the photos on here are ones I have framed.

And, I figured it out, for now. My calling is to write, through the lens of a camera. Each morning I get up, write down the date, a few sentences of thought, and choose a picture from my arsenal to describe in words. They are my daily writing chords.

I will share some of these with you in the future, perhaps when I feel dry from other writing or want to nurse this seemingly forgotten blog (hi mom).

Thank you. Thank you readers and friends, for listening and seeing, with me.

Sailing

This blog post is inspired by the new iPad Air commercial, aired sometime between women’s inaugural skiing half pipe and the epic women’s figure skating final during the Sochi Olympics.

It quotes a Walt Whitman poem, O Me! O Life!

“That you are here – that life exists and identity,

That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse”

 

Here’s my verse.

 

 

A full desert and an empty ocean

Sweeping and falling

While the compass, reliable

Shifts in spinning; Rests in pause

 

Only always

 

 

A Space to Heal

        

My body heard the roots crack as the dentist turned the tooth one way, then the next. The Vaseline on my bottom lip helped the cold tool angle where it needed to, left and then right and then left again.

The crown popped off, as expected, from the second root canal the tooth underwent a year ago. That’s when the pain really started, after that second root canal.

The first root canal was when I was in High School, when my braces maneuvered my jaws so only two teeth touched when my mouth closed, killing the tooth with too much contact, too much pressure, too much expectation.

In trying to do something good for myself, something bad happened.

And it happened again with the second root canal. At a routine teeth cleaning a few years ago the dentist told me I would have to get another root canal eventually in the same tooth – number fifteen.

So lots of money was spent doing something good. The first dentist had missed a root, which continued a low grade infection for the next ten years. The second root canal packed the root, tickling it’s tip to the edge of the sinuses.

But then the sinuses started hurting, and other new pains never seemed to quite go away.

The dentists agreed that the next best course of action would be to pull number fifteen.

“Do you want to see your tooth?” the dentist asked. He showed it to me, with three strong roots of bone and one root of bloody flesh, limp and infected.

I’m babying that side of my mouth now. But the sinuses still hurt. And the tooth next to number fifteen cries in sharp pain when it hits its lower mate, the shock breaking me into tears. Each time making me afraid this isn’t over, that it might just get worse from here, again.

But if I let it, each time the pain could remind me that as much as I think I have control, I don’t. That even though I think this is my fault, it isn’t.

That, maybe, healing doesn’t always look like healing.