November 22, 2016
Nogal Canyon Road
Bent, New Mexico
This, then, could be fodder for another book! There are days when I awake to such utter clarity that I must question how and why I live the remainder of my life otherwise. This morning was such a day, waking before the alarm roused me, my abode warm and smelling of the wood smoke from the stove, where last night’s fire still smoldered. My home is heated with but a small wood cook stove but years of doing the same has honed the skill. A few small pieces of wood, albeit in the wee hours of the morning, will smolder through the night and keep the stove, and my living space, plenty warm. I sleep under good blankets also; preferring it to be cool, and the combination speaks to comfort.
I lay still when I awoke, unwilling to break the spell. I have reconvened with my spirit over this past week and the results have been good. I left last Sunday, spent four days in Fort Sumner, the peaceful haven it has become, a night in Albuquerque and then, unwilling to return here went west instead. I spent a night and a day in Datil, savoring the peacefulness and taking a long walk across the Plain. Then, for the lack of a room for Saturday night, I retreated to my Nogal House instead. It was there I built a fire also and bathed before the same, the heat of the stove warming me to the depths of my spirit. The star filled sky restored me as well and when I stepped out the door at daybreak I gave thanks for the stillness.
The peacefulness followed me back to Bent. Having arrived at some great life choices and finding them good I have, in spite of the stress that change always brings, found center as well. If I have known all of my life what the essentials are, and stayed focused on them, the effort of attaining them has remained a struggle. It is so easy to get caught up in that and the frantic demands I have placed on myself sometimes overwhelm the purpose. If there is a touch of that at the moment I am still closer to my goal than I have ever been and once I have moved my camp, as I have decided to do, I will fully enjoy the accomplishment.
If last year was defined by a continual struggle so this one will be defined by change. I lost my father, after a prolonged struggle, in March. By mid June I had quit my job, severed a relationship and then returned to the job I was leaving. Having regained my freedom and my perspective change was inevitable and having realigned my efforts I am now sailing forward. Why it is so difficult to make choices which are best for ourselves has always posed a challenge but having made the effort to do so I will not relent. I am already being rewarded and again been reminded that serenity is the most essential factor of my happiness. Having aligned my focus on that all else has fallen into place.
Affirmation comes in many ways. I was visiting with a friend this morning and she was telling me how in the past she had been obsessed with the attainment of material things. She has since turned her back on the same and instead focused her attentions to her happiness, much as I have. I shared with her some insight into my upbringing and how my father’s desire for wealth came at the cost of personal happiness. She commented, “That must be the reason you have chosen a bohemian lifestyle and the desire for simplicity.” I affirmed that, but also shared how I have challenged myself in so many other ways, seeking adversity in order to maintain my strength only to find, belatedly, the flaw in that as well. Perhaps in retrospect, it has served its purpose, as I am strong, but I will pick my battles better going forward. I no longer need to affirm my strengths and have proven them to myself.
Instead I pose a new challenge. Going forward I will task myself with the goal of staying on course with things I feel are most meaningful. If I have never cared to direct my life by the judgment of others so I have shaken the demands of conventional wisdom. By definition a Bohemian is ‘a person who lives and acts by a different set of conventional rules and practices than the average person. The word evokes the romance of a wanderer’s life.’ I have certainly fulfilled this, choosing the lifestyle before I defined it but living it faithfully to one degree or another from the start. If I have deviated in order to meet the demands of parenting and the ensuing responsibilities of adulthood so I have reached a point in my life where I can realign that focus solely on myself. If not now, when?
Sometimes I feel as if I am the last of the Bohemians, but I need only look a short distance to find another. I see it my friend as she too bucks convention and she and I have affirmed to one another the wisdom in having done so. There are others also though sadly it remains, for the most part, a singular pursuit. My friend Colin affirmed this years ago when he explained that we have become like the whales in the ocean and the interference is so great that we do not always hear each other’s signals. Instead we impart our wisdom on each other in passing, living and doing as we wish with the knowledge that others will learn from our actions just as we learn from theirs. I have little need for approval but the affirmations are most welcome! At the end of the day I would rather retreat to my bus and build a fire than to mingle with the crowd, I prefer the peacefulness of my solitude. Instead I will share the wonders I have found in the practice, the waft of the wood smoke, the twinkle of the stars and the understanding, again, that serenity is the greatest gift we can obtain. You cannot put a price on that.