Feeding Mystery to the Muse

“The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion” ~ Paolo Coelho

“The public make use of the classics of a country as a means of checking the progress of Art. They degrade the classics into authorities…. A fresh mode of Beauty is absolutely distasteful to them, and whenever it appears they get so angry and bewildered that they always use two stupid expressions–one is that the work of art is grossly unintelligible; the other, that the work of art is grossly immoral. What they mean by these words seems to me to be this. When they say a work is grossly unintelligible, they mean that the artist has said or made a beautiful thing that is new; when they describe a work as grossly immoral, they mean that the artist has said or made a beautiful thing that is true.” ~ Oscar Wilde

“Avoid being brainwashed or controlled by the opinions or attitudes of others.” ~ Steven Redhead

There was another writer at the Thanksgiving dinner table. He spoke of going to visit a publisher to pitch his idea for a Young Adult novel for boys. The woman he talked to asked him about it, and when he told her that it was for boys, she replied “No, we write for boys”. He wondered if he should write for the market or for his own inspiration. I told him about my blog, and how when readership got down low, a few times, I too wondered at that same dilemma. The truth is I do write for myself, and truly hope that it touches someone in some way. Simple as that. This is my playground and workshop. I feel truly grateful for the readership I have – about a half dozen at this time. When I write something I think is particularly good, I do wonder if it had any impact outside of my own mind. Not knowing the answer to that wonder is simply a mystery. Mystery adds flavor when fed to the Muse. And it comes out in future posts, in inspiration, in continued wonder. Just sayin. Hey, thanks for reading here. I like it when you do.

All is well. Goof gloriously.

This too Is a Wonder

“We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.” ~ G. K. Chesterton

“When you get to a certain age you find that other people’s opinions don’t really matter anymore, and you get kind of uncomfortable with your place in modern life.” ~ Noel Gallagher

“We are told we must choose — the old or the new. In fact, we must choose both. What is a life if not a series of negotiations between the old and the new?” ~ Susan Sontag

Mindless scrolling is coming to be kind of a boogie man for me. I catch myself doing it, and it’s like, “Oh, no. Not this again”. I see it’s a drug. The mindlessness of it is the whole point. Like on Facebook – dozens of photos of food do not make me hungry. That says something. But what? It’s just an example, but it is as far as I will go with it. It’s been raining lightly all night. Hovering right at the freezing mark. This storm has not passed, and it won’t until tomorrow. I’m okay with it, except that a cold rainy day is sort of a chalice for me. A quest. A fulfillment of a relaxing influence that does not dump anything toxic into my mind. Sweet. Natural. But no! I finally get the perfect storm and I have to go into Taos to the workday. Don’t friggin call it karma – I tell myself. I will enjoy the day anyway. That Chesterton (what an unusual and refreshing mind) quote provides the key. As dismal as I can get lately, it has somehow opened me up to the wonder, of life, in life, whatever. There are days when this fascination with the actuality of life is pretty much the sole thing that pulls me through the fear and anxiety that I feel out there in the world. No, I don’t resent my not being able to stay home on a rainy day. I could call in but I am still listed as part-time, so sick pay is but a fantasy. The irony is that I have begun writing a book – a slim volume – about coping and management skills for trauma victims, and lo and behold, those skills are being put to the test as soon as I begin writing in earnest. This too is a wonder. Time to prep for work. Tally ho.

All is well. Goof gloriously.

Ubiquitous and Omnipresent

“Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight.” ~ Phyllis Diller

“I wonder why I don’t go to bed and go to sleep. But then it would be tomorrow, so I decide that no matter how tired, no matter how incoherent I am, I can skip on hour more of sleep and live.” ~ Sylvia Plath

“It’s in the morning, for most of us. It’s that time, those few seconds when we’re coming out of sleep but we’re not really awake yet. For those few seconds we’re something more primitive than what we are about to become. We have just slept the sleep of our most distant ancestors, and something of them and their world still clings to us. For those few moments we are unformed, uncivilized. We are not the people we know as ourselves, but creatures more in tune with a tree than a keyboard. We are untitled, unnamed, natural, suspended between was and will be, the tadpole before the frog, the worm before the butterfly. We are for a few brief moments, anything and everything we could be. And then…and then — ah — we open our eyes and the day is before us and … we become ourselves.” ~ Jerry Spinelli

Were it not for the cat I may well still be sleeping. Of course, a hungry cat will not be denied. It’s rare for me to sleep in like that, but I suspect it is healthy, and I intend to keep it that way. It’s the day before Thanksgiving and it seems I am already giving thanks. Yeh, sometimes my aim is a little off – or maybe I should be thankful a good part of the time? Yeh, whatever. So thank you for reading here. I’d write anyway, even if nobody showed up, but it’s better when you’re here. As for the sleep, I have nothing needs doin’ ‘cept a jaunt down to the dispensary to replenish the meds. I can linger near sleep and dreams until around noon tomorrow, when I go help some with the prep for the dinner I will be attending. There will, of course, be imbibe-able fluids to be had. The weather forecast calls for snow, perhaps a lot. That would certainly add to the ambiance of the affair. Until then I can dabble in the Dreamtime. The day is sunny and clear – 24º F. I’m curious as to when the clouds will start moving in. Hopefully it will be before nightfall; I’d like to watch them pile up a bit before they do what they are fixin’ to do. But first, a shower. I’ll hafta make a decision whether to take to route through town, or travel down Blueberry hill Road. Likely through town. As for my inner life – there’s the lovely woman I often think of, the whispering of the manuscript that nestles on the hard drive, like some digital lump, waiting to be indulged, and fear for the future. Not to worry, that fear is pretty much ubiquitous and omnipresent. Nice phrase, right? I don’t know – I like it. It’s trauma stuff, no biggie.

All is well. Goof gloriously.

And A Peaceful Breeze Within my Soul

“At sunrise, everything is luminous but not clear” ~ Norman MacClean

“Our need for language, conversation, and definition goes beyond the wish to put things right. Through words we come to know the other person–and to be known. This knowing is at the heart of our deepest longings for intimacy and connection with others. How relationships unfold with the most important people in our lives depends on courage and clarity in finding voice. This is equally true for our relationship with our self. Even when we are not being heard, we may still need to know the sound of our own voice saying out loud what we really think.” ~ Harriet Lerner, PhD

“Appearance blinds, whereas words reveal.” ~ Oscar Wilde

There’s some serious swirling wind out there. Chance of snow. Gusts over 40mph. A bigger storm on the way. In the immortal words of Captain James Tiberius Kirk: “Sounds like fun”. Happy holidays. No, I don’t think I am being cynical this year. The retail holiday season is simply appalling; not that there is anything to do about that. I went to one of the local supermarkets yesterday to get something for lunch. The thickness of the crowd, and the chaos within the vibes, left me shaking my head upon departure, a serious WTF hovering silently on my tongue. And thus we celebrate. I shall not continue and make this a rant. I just saw a map forecasting the storms that will, it seems, cover nearly the whole nation in the near-future. That’s a little too close to a metaphor for the serious stuff going on in our nation’s capitol. The only thing I will say about that is . . . well, you know how you have to keep sharp implements away from some people? Or forbid others to play with matches? tRump (sic) should never have been allowed to play with other peoples money. That is one pitch-dark dude. As for me – ain’t so bad. I had my monthly psychotherapy session yesterday evening. Going from weekly to monthly has been . . . ummmm, let’s say difficult. I feel trepidation in entering this holiday season depressed, but there ya have it. Pushing depression down into storage until a later date is simply foolish, unless you have no choice. I have a choice. I intend to befriend the beast, then go for a casual walk with it, to get to know it better. Sigh. Poor me, right? Yeh, right. I’d best go out to the car, brave the chilling wind, and assess what kind of battle I will have to wage to remove frost from the windows. Then struggle to wrench myself from the sweet comfort of a nice hot shower. That’s gonna take some doin’. For whatever reason hot showers are often an emotional experience for me. If I let the water spray upon the back of my neck it will, almost without fail, make me weepy. That’s an artifact from PTSD. I told the therapist that I don’t expect the PTSD to go away, ever, but I would welcome that, on the chance that it should happen. Whatever. I’m depressed and emotional this morning. It’s real. It’s a workday. Regardless of all that – I feel a smile and a peaceful breeze within my soul.

All is well. Goof gloriously.

Deep Processes and Micro-triggers

“Trauma, which is stored differently in the brain than memory, seeps out of us as warnings of worse to come.” ~ Anne Lamott

“All of the diagnoses that you deal with – depression, anxiety, ADHD, bipolar illness, post traumatic stress disorder, even psychosis, are significantly rooted in trauma. They are manifestations of trauma. Therefore the diagnoses don’t explain anything. The problem in the medical world is that we diagnose somebody and we think that is the explanation. He’s behaving that way because he is psychotic. She’s behaving that way because she has ADHD. Nobody has ADHD, nobody has psychosis – these are processes within the individual. It’s not a thing that you have. This is a process that expresses your life experience. It has meaning in every single case.” ~ Gabor Mate

Cold November Monday morning. Second cup of coffee consumed to completion. Lap cat. I’ve got a lot of involuntary wincing going on this morning. Active trauma, triggering through “micro-triggers”. A day like this is usually exhausting yet doable. As it is a workday, this activity cranks out trepidation. Poor me, right? We are supposed to take a positive and proactive approach to life – so they say. Yeh, I can do that. But it in no way diminishes what is going on in these deep processes. These are not mental aberrations, nor are they simply bad attitude. Sigh. I feel a heaviness that is not supported by the evidence at hand. Ain’t nothin’ wrong, dude. So chill. This is a physical thing. A physical process that has not a lot to say for itself. Hey, it’s Monday. Thanksgiving Day is Thursday. I’ll be dining with friends, then come home to feed the cat, then hang out as simply two mammals, until I have enough good sense to crawl into bed and get at least adequate sleep. I feel depressed today. I could blame it on Seasonal Affective Disorder. I lay that one squarely on Edison and his light bulb. But there is simply no need to actually lay blame or seek any level of explanations at all. It’s Monday morning and it is time for me to do the morning clean and groom thing, then head on down into Taos for the workday. There I go.

All is well. Goof gloriously.

The Urgency of Sitting Still

“In an age of acceleration, nothing can be more exhilarating than going slow. And in an age of distraction, nothing is so luxurious as paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is so urgent as sitting still.” ~ Pico Iyer

“It was the kind of building that remembered things, deep-down things, things that rode tears into the world, telling them back to anyone old enough or wise enough to know how to listen with their eyes.” ~ Charles Blow

“The death of a parent, he wrote, ‘despite our preparation, indeed, despite our age, dislodges things deep in us, sets off reactions that surprise us and that may cut free memories and feelings that we had thought gone to ground long ago.” ~ Joan Didion

Sometimes I have the feeling that the first true step toward healing is to become and remain present in your life; remain grounded, that sort of thing. I don’t want to get too deep, after all, it is Sunday. These notions are the impetus behind the way I so often begin a blog post, noting mundane features of the morning – cat, coffee, cold weather, et cetera. It is a journey, and if I don’t start from where I am sitting, then who’s doing the sitting around here? That said, it is laundry day. I usually don’t go down to the wash-o-mat until midday. There is plenty of time before then. Through my window I see the crisp morning light, the birds coming and going at the feeders in the little apple tree t’other side of the window pane. The recent snowstorm flipped the switch. It is now more Winter than it is Autumn. And there ya have it. I’ll be sitting a good part of the day. Catching glimpses of juncos and pine jays at work. Keeping an eye on the news. Checking in with the body, now and then, here and now . . . whatever. But boy howdy I ain’t goin’ all Zen and stuff by just sitting around doing nothing but everything. That takes too much work! No way, no how. It’s too much like philosophy. Wah. Better stop before I whine, or simply get all cranky and cynical and stuff. Ciao.

Where Reality Comes From

“Youth can not know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young.” ~ J. K. Rowling

“It is by no means an irrational fancy that, in a future existence, we shall look upon what we think our present existence, as a dream.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe

“There is a certain part of all of us that lives outside of time. Perhaps we become aware of our age only at exceptional moments and most of the time we are ageless.” ~ Milan Kundera

“You get old and you realize there are no answers, just stories.” ~ Garrison Keillor

I haven’t seen the stars in a few days, but here they are again. The snowstorm is what covered them. It’s a perspective thing – we say that the clouds cover the land, but they also cover the stars, should you happen to be looking that way. As a teenager I would climb up top of the roof and lay on my back, stargazing. I was into it – astronomy, physics, science in general. Little did I know that my lyrical poetic side would be stoked by my interest in science and mathematics. Yesterday I was sharing a coupla “back in the day” stories with a young coworker. It struck me that I was like some old man telling stories to a kid. Kid, yeh. My Aunt Juanita was right, you reach a point in life when they all seem like kids. The kid I was talking to yesterday is in his 30s. Yeh, kids. Whatever. Now . . . moving forward. Today’s photograph is of the Picuris range. At the foot you can see the sprawl of Ranchos de Taos and Llano Quemado. The tree front and center is the same Chinese Elm from yesterday’s post. What a difference a season makes, right? So, I’m feeling my age this morning. I could get cranky if so inclined, but I won’t go there. I’m settling into the hibernation instinct, but I can’t really go there either. What with the holiday season looming on the horizon, and impeachment inquiries looming over us all . . . I think it’s enough. The J. K. Rowling quote says a lot, me thinks. Those stories I was sharing yesterday were, are, whatever, memories. I have been told at times that I am living in the past. Spiritual wisdom says that the present is all there is; there is no past or future. So if that’s true, how can anyone live in the past? Just sayin. The accuracy of memories is, without a doubt, questionable, but I suspect that this is merely an illusion created by us humans because we don’t really understand time and illusion. Why does accuracy have to be an issue anyway? As long as the memories in question instruct and comfort in a proactive way the point is moot, as far as I am concerned. My friend Sandy, an indigenous woman from the Bay Islands in Honduras, once said, “What does it matter where reality comes from?”. Yeh, what she said.

All is well. Goof gloriously.

Memories From the Mullet Latitudes

“When time is reduced to linear progress, it is emptied of presence.” ~ John O’Donohue

“The only difference between a young person at the height of their exuberance and a very old person who is frail and physically wasted is time.” ~ John O’Donohue

“You are each born with the conscious knowledge of what has come before. Your brain is far from an empty slate, waiting for the first imprint of experience; it is already equipped with complete “equations”, telling you who you are and where you have come from. Nor do you wipe that slate clean, symbolically speaking, before you write your life upon it. Instead, you draw upon what has gone before: the experiences of your ancestors, back through time immemorial.” ~ Jane Roberts

The blasted heat of the sub-tropical Sun eventually grew tiresome, or, at least, I just became jaded. Likely this feeling crystalized during the days after Hurricane Andrew, back in 1992. Four days without power or phone service. And just plain hot. That’s what is here, in the high mountain desert at the southern tip of the San Luis Valley, that appeals to me: seasons. One of my favorite writers back in the last millennium, Al Burt of the Miami Herald, in his book “Becalmed in the Mullet Latitudes”, put it best when he wrote that Springtime in South Florida lasts for about two hours on a Tuesday afternoon sometime in April. I paraphrase, but it’s pretty darned close. The Mullet Latitudes is a nearly alternate reality where Old Florida still exists amidst the ravages of the new world. We have that here as well. The old world is not at all hard to find here, especially considering that Taos Pueblo has been here for a good 1000 years or more. Succinctly put: I do not miss the heat and humidity. And I cherish the seasons. I mention all of this because of yesterday’s lovely snow storm. Just a few short hours can totally transform the landscape, including the inner landscape we all share. Hurricane Andrew did that too, but in a way spawned of meteorological violence. I got out early, headed on into Taos for some food shopping, and returned home before it all got too bad. Comfort food, nap, that kind of thing. Dammit – it’s what the late great novelist and semiotician, Umberto Eco, called “hyperreality” – what mystery novelist (very funny man!), and Miami Herald columnist, Carl Hiassen, called the Disney-ification of America. Facsimile. Cultural patina. Ya jest git yerself all caught up in the Red Bull, wifi, text message, Siri-advised world. But a healthy snow storm chills all that out for a while. At least that is what it did, does, whatever, for me. You’d have to drag me kicking and screaming back into the parrot-head, Margaritaville saturated continuum of the islands. Dag nab it, Jimmy Buffet, have you no idea what you hath wrought, dude?! Ya went with the facsimile, dude. Just sayin. Anyway . . . it’s time to prep for work. Gotta go out to the car to see what level of sweeping and scraping needs to be done on the windows. Then a quick shower. The past two days have been profoundly restful. The usual morning trepidation about going into Taos for a workday is running low. Lucky me. Yeh, I’m just riffing here this morning. But I’ve had fun with it. But don’t get me started on Buffet, that friggin Cheeseburger in Paradise dude. Send me a good snow storm any day. There I go.

All is well. Goof gloriously.

White Noise & True Blue

“Art is the imposing of a pattern on experience, and our aesthetic enjoyment is recognition of the pattern.” ~ Alfred North Whitehead

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” ~ Carl Jung

“But above all, in order to be, never try to seem.” ~ Albert Camus

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.” ~ Anne Lamott

High mountain desert rain. It is actually raining. I can’t stress enough: this is really friggin exciting! I’ve got perhaps a perfect opportunity to make the best of it. No worries, no resistance. Rain outside my window, gentle white noise order within chaos sort of thing. Trusty cat Rosie on my lap. Don’t hafta go to work today. There are impeachment hearings to watch. Life is good. A stash of a sweet indica hybrid called “True Blue”. It’s intended medical application of anxiety relief and chronic pain management is impeccable. Plus it has a sweet high as well. I stopped by the dispensary, Monday after work. As I approached the place I could see their greenhouses all lit up in golden panels of light. The metaphor did not escape me. There, within the growing darkness of a cold November night, was brilliant light from buildings which house thousands of cannabis plants; medicine, flower, weed, herb, whatever ya wanna call the blessed stuff. Yeh, it’s medicine alright. So is this cat, this rain, this day off from work with nothing to do and plenty of time in which to do it. I find that indica provides what serves as a toggle of time. I can turn time on and off when medicated, with time to spare. Boy howdy, it stands to be a grand day indeed.

All is well. Goof gloriously.

A Fortress of Introversion

“Is it possible to say “It was a beautiful morning at the end of November” without feeling like Snoopy?” ~ Umberto Eco

“But what use is the unicorn to you if your intellect doesn’t believe in it?” ~ Umberto Eco

“The older I grow and the more I abandon myself to God’s will, the less I value intelligence that wants to know and will that wants to do; and as the only element of salvation I recognize faith, which can wait patiently, without asking too many questions.” ~ Umberto Eco

A storm or two looms not far beyond the horizon. Perhaps rain beginning this evening. The metaphorical storm upon this nation is already here, so . . . whatever. Just friggin whatever. The news emerging from the Right Wing perceptual bubble Universe can be infuriating, to say the least, yet I remain fascinated and excited. The story value, that’s what does it for me. As for now, the coffee is all gone. The cat was up and about but she has settled back down onto her paper grocery bag on the floor. She has never been one to enter the bags. She has, from day one, laid upon them. She’s a weirdo in that respect, as far as cats go. Speaking of cats, the animal shelter where I used to work is opening up a combination resale store and cat cafe. Cat Cafe! How cool is that. You go in for a cup of coffee, and hang out with a dozen cats for a while. I’m not one to hang out in coffee shops but I will visit this one on occasion for sure. Beyond all that I feel some agitation within but likely that will pass once I am out in public doing what I do out there before I scurry back home to my Fortress of Introversion. Tomorrow will likely be one of those profound rest days. Still feeling physically somewhat a kilter. But better. Definitely better. Mentally and emotionally I feel battered and bandaged, as usual. I think it serves us well to check in with these feelings periodically. It makes me somewhat squirmy to say that living in the moment is all there is – really, all there is. Who am I to question the Perennial Philosophy? Right? Wellll . . . actually I don’t mind if I do. I firmly believe that Life must be toyed with, in a positive sense, to get the most out of it. In this regard writing is my most predominant tool. Now, it’s time to put the tool down and get to preppin’ for the workday. Later, y’all.

All is well. Goof gloriously.