Authors Note: It seems that January 31 has always been a good day to write. It continues to do so! The archives say it all.
January 31, 2017
Fort Sumner, New Mexico
Day Thirty One 2017 Small Fires
There is something I need to do for myself. I see where it is extremely important that I begin this practice and to follow that path hereafter. I have already done myself a great disservice and sacrificed that which I have always deemed essential by not making a practice of it. I need to do this not only for my happiness but to preserve the very core of my being. If I do not begin now I am in even deeper trouble than I already am and it will become increasingly difficult to heal myself. Not that I could not risk it, I have already been assured that I can be healed, but it would be foolish to attempt that.
I need to go to the desert each evening, or whenever at all possible. I need to find a good sitting place, somewhere out of the wind. Perhaps there is an arroya somewhere, in fact there is and it is close by. Whenever possible though I need to go a bit further, someplace away from town where I will hear no dogs or people; that too is important. This is much of the problem, I can ‘always’ hear the dogs and the traffic, though the dogs are the worst. I can live with the train, it is somehow so transient, and so a part of the whole of things that I can even get some thrill in its passing. The train is ok, but I cannot seem to cancel out the rest. I will have to drive a mile or two out of town but that’s ok, I have time enough for that.
Once I find this place I will have to gather a little wood, but that too will be easy. The kindling will come from the smaller branches and weeds and there is mesquite everywhere. I will collect a few larger branches and build a small fire. If there are any sand burrs nearby I will burn them first, always. With the effort completed I will sit and watch the flames, casting an occasional glance towards the sky so as to not miss the sunset. Though I won’t stay so long that I will need to pick my way back in the darkness I will stay long enough, and I know it will be difficult to leave. I will be mesmerized by the peacefulness and the fire and I will find my self restored to my true self. It will change everything in the moment I begin and for as long as I continue to return it will bring other changes also.
The sad part I that I have known this all along and as with so many other things I have not done it. If I ponder my health and my happiness daily I also ignore it more often than not. It isn’t that it is not important to me, for it is, it is that I allow myself to become so distracted I just forget. I have forgotten much too often and I see now where I might become so forgetful as to never remember, or to make the small effort to begin the practice. It is just a small fire I am speaking of! I would be so foolish not to build one.
January 28, 2017
Motel Century 21
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Day Twenty Eight 2017 What If
There is always a good reason to ask what if, and to then weigh the possibilities it has to offer. What if I had decided all those years ago to marry some dear sweet fellow who would have been so happy to have me for his wife? Would I be sitting in a cozy little house somewhere with all the comforts of home wondering about all the hardships I had avoided? Or would I be pining for all the great adventures I might have had? Somehow, knowing myself for who she is I can imagine that even if I was content I would have some ‘what if’ to ponder as my nature seems to lead to the same.
Have I ever been satisfied with my lot in life? Yes, most assuredly I have, but I have also thirsted for more as often as not. Even when I was working for NM Tech, which was one of the most glorious experiences of my life, I wanted more of the same! I can as easily state that if I had found the way to accomplish that I could well be sitting somewhere in that deep canyon wondering what I was missing by not being somewhere else. Still, if there is one lament that carries through it would be what if I had all the time of each day to consider the same rather than having one or another commitment to fill it instead?
To be quite honest I would be trying to think of something else to do. There will always be something which requires my attention and effort as it is my nature to stay busy. Still yet, I would spend a lot more time walking and exploring, riding my horse and seeking out the happiness I so desire to make a constant in my life. For that same reason I will make every effort to find the time for a lengthy walk today, as much for my pleasure as for my health. I have neglected my activity for much too long and even if I still have the energy to get moving my body has suffered terribly. If I am not fat I am still quite heavy and thicker in waist and leg than I can tolerate. My body and spirit are the two elements which suffer the most when I am over committed and I have certainly pushed those limits.
I have been walking every day as I finally realized I have to. Yesterday afternoon after the test session ended I did the same and found a good path for the effort. I walked a good ways and then stepped off to the side as the moment required it. I slipped into the shelter of the bushes in a shallow drainage and laughed to myself as I sat there. Something in my feral nature allows me such respite and my nature changes immediately. That the path was well traveled and in the heart of Las Cruces, NM also gave me the appearance of a homeless person rather than a ‘nature lover” or seeker of peacefulness. Such are the assumptions of the city dwellers. I could care less and instead see the humor in the same. I also see the beauty immediately and it sees me.
I sat down on the lip of a drainage for comforts sake as it offered a good place to do so. For the most part I was hidden and I sat quietly and observed my surroundings and listened for the quieter sounds of nature. The breeze moved through and rattled the leaves on a small cottonwood that stood within my view and in that moment everything was transformed. Instead of being a quarter mile from the interstate and bordered by a highway I was again in some distant canyon in the Plains and the wind was playing through the aspens. The soft rustle was mystical and the sun reflected off of each leaf as if some magic spell was being cast, as it was. I was mystified and quickly reminded of how much I miss such moments. I require so much more of that same magical beauty which is so readily available but equally out of reach when we fail to take pause. What if all I had to do was to take pause??? What then? I should ask for nothing more.
January 24, 2017
Motel Century 21
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Day Twenty Four 2017 Balance
How then does one maintain their balance between necessity and pleasure? It seems the necessity will always rule, as it must. Without the essentials we have no means to live and prosper and there is little room for play if our needs are not met first, nor the comforts to do so. Even I, who lives so simply and has, for the most part, provided well for myself, at least by my own measure, finds it difficult to break loose as I would wish to. Having done so completely in the past I have a clear measure also, I know what freedom tastes like and because of that I suppose I yearn for it as much if not more than anyone else.
Still yet, there is so little to complain about when I consider the challenges I have faced to attain these means also. I have had my freedom, in great measures, and I would not trade it for any sort of wealth or other pleasures, but I have struggled as well. Where others may have chosen a far less challenging path I have wandered more than one wilderness in my life before I found my balance also. Convention failed me at an early age, before I was even prepared to make the choice, though I also embraced the alternatives. It left me with the same measure of choice which I have treasured, even if at times it was also quite daunting. Who would have ever thought a person could have too many choices to chose from, or that the same could appear as a gaping void rather than an opportunity?
I have little envy for those who have lived more structured lives except perhaps that many of my peers, who chose that path, are now beginning to retire. I might have done the same if I had lived differently except that I took those opportunities early instead and am now making up for them. I may well have to work a few more years and will always, for as long as I am able, have to support myself for the most part. I am quite fine with that, there are many things I can do to meet that demand, and without punching a clock in the process. For the moment I am employed and grateful to be so, but I would love to have more freedom, as always! Hah, my faithful followers have heard this all before, it is my favorite whine!
It is the balance I am still working on, and having so recently taken a step in that direction, so I am trying to realign my sights on the same. Having a week away to go to school, when I might well have stayed at work to deal with the many necessities of the moment, is what brings it all back into perspective. If I have always been driven to achieve my immediate goals I am still much that same person. The flurry of the past few weeks is never clearer than when I remove myself from the same and I have to pace myself better going forward. It is simply not my nature to do so! All the same I will make the necessary adjustments because I am not being fair to myself and I am no more capable of bearing that level of stress than I have been in the past.
Instead I reflect on the peacefulness and serenity I discovered when I stepped off into the wilderness some seven plus years ago, and how quickly it returned me to the balance I had been lacking. When I drove over the Organ Pass into Las Cruces last Sunday night I recalled the same and how the glow of the city lights below me stood in such stark contrast from where I had been just days before. I had little desire to return to them, even if I also looked forward to seeing my associates. I have been making this same drive every year for seventeen years and cannot recall missing a single one since I began my Water/Wastewater career. It was here in so many ways that I began that journey! There have been so many changes since then! Now, as I work my way through the fifty eighth year of my life I have to reflect again on where I really wish to be and how I can best arrive there! It is that same peacefulness I seek and I am close to it for certain, but need to balance my life to reach it as well.
Driving in from Fort Sumner, and summiting the pass, I found again that deep desire for the stillness of the wilderness. There is something in my deepest nature which thrives on that, and the lack of distraction which comes with it. Certainly there are things to capture my attention, but they are simple things, the sun and the sky, the wind and the rain………
Without those, and the opportunity to embrace them, and the lack of interference with that interface, I am lost to myself, no matter how productive I might be otherwise. This is an essential part of my existence which I have understood about myself from the time I was old enough to consider such things. I have remained true to that promise I made to myself to never allow anything to interfere with that either. I just simply need to keep it balanced!
All is well with me today!
January 22, 2017
Fort Sumner, New Mexico
Day Twenty Two 2017 Not Even
I am on a mission today as I have work to do before I leave for Las Cruces, which is now a five hour drive instead of two from my previous digs. I also hope to stop and trim my horse’s feet, and say hello to him. If I spent little time with him when I was there we did see each other and I have been absent now for nearly two months! So it was that I dashed across to my studio to grab my dry jeans before I even sat for my tea. I was greeted by the cool morning air, noticeable in my light jacket as I declined to bundle up, but also by the beauty of the day. If I admire my surroundings routinely there are some mornings which bring me to a stop as it did today. The clear blue sky would have been enough, broad and uninterrupted from one horizon to the other, but the stillness was stunning also. After a windy night full of the shaking of my bus and the rub of the tin skirting which I have yet to secure completely, the peace was amazing.
I realized that I have not even had a chance to explore and appreciate the wonder of my new surroundings, not even! Between work and frequent storms, all which of the latter seem to fall on the weekends and holidays, I have for the most part been confined in doors. My nature is to be outside, even in the wind, but the days have all been too short for that and I am anxious for an adventure. Of course today offers the opportunity for that, and I would surely go walk if I had the chance, but driving will have to suffice. Instead, I should make every effort to depart in a timely fashion that I might go walk somewhere, even if just off the side of Highway 20 as I head to the west. There are more than one dirt roads out there which I might turn down for a moments respite and I would be remiss if I didn’t do so.
Today then is a good day for me to take pause and enjoy what I have offered myself! Having been afforded the rare freedom which I have made my mission in life I would be a fool not to do as I please. I have, in spite of my devotion to myself, also been over devoted to my responsibilities and too often busy myself completely. It is a pattern I had tried to avoid from my youth and yet here I sit within it! If I have one failing it is the tendency to routine, to a fault, though as with my writing I weave into it my favorite pastimes also, I just don’t allow enough time for them. Coming here was with the explicit purpose of reversing that trend and now, even if there are things I need do, I must also attend to that commitment. In fact, of all the ones I have made, it is the most important of them all!
How is it that I so often overlook that necessity? Even with the thought of what I wished to capture in words this morning fresh in my mind I nearly sailed right past it! Of course I am on a mission and need to finish preparing, but my words have always come first. I don’t regret dashing out the door into the brightness of the dawn but then I nearly went further. I was tempted to grab an armful of wood but told myself it could wait. I came inside and started to organize my travel pack and stopped myself again. Thus I sat to write, and am happy to be doing the same. I even built a fire for the same purpose so I could relax and enjoy it. I had thought to work a few hours this morning but aside from one thing I promised to do I am going to wave much effort also. This needs to be my day and the drive will give me ample time for thought. Not that I don’t devote enough energy to that but there is always more to consider. If I have danced around my future plans for too long I also need to formulate something of the sort to work towards, even if I am quite content for the moment. Or not, perhaps I need to focus far more on my immediate necessities, such as taking the time to enjoy the present! If I have a failing that is most likely the worst! I have made plenty of plans for the same but they always seem to have to wait, again the reason I came here. So far I have filled the extra time quite fully but still have so much to do!
I look outside on the clear blue sky, even as the wind resumes its efforts. The fire falters as I neglected to stoke it so I add a couple more sticks, frugal with the wood as I will be up and about soon enough. I will finish my tea before I rise and promise to be mindful of myself today, and every day hereafter, as I should be. There is nothing more important than that if I consider the bigger picture. I am here to live my life in the richest manner possible and I need to make every effort, both work and play, meaningful. I sometimes tend to overlook that, we all do, in the rush of meeting our own expectations, as well as those of others. I am as guilty of that as anyone, in spite of my devotion to myself! Once again the perspective I have of being a solitary person reflects directly back onto me, there is no one else to blame. Am I going to allow myself to forget that? Not even!
January 7, 2017
Fort Sumner, New Mexico
In the end
The air is crystalline and the silence is as deep as the cold. There is a stillness which comes with the frozen air which cannot be captured in words or even feelings. It is instead a sense of things, an instinctive embrace of the unknowable. You become an integral part of the whole rather than a separate being. It is as if you too are frozen stiff as the blades of grass and the frost in the air and are as unmovable as they are. It is only in such instances when our spirits can truly soar for we are removed from the physical and instead become the celestial beings which we truly are. Our bodies become but a vessel for the experience, separate from anything of what we are truly comprised of. You might question how this is so but how else can we soar on the wings of the raven as he passes silently overhead, the whoosh of his wings silenced by the peacefulness.
I have felt this so deeply that I can summon it from my desk here in front of the fire, though it begs for me to join it. I may well have to take my truck and drive out on some snow covered two track to relive it. I may even have to go now, before it slips away and I reawaken from this dream memory which has returned in full force. I am in fact far distant from my desk at this moment and have no desire to break the spell. There are some things we cannot even put into words, and yet they burst forth in torrents onto the page. This then is true poetry, spontaneous, joyful, leaping across the paper, or screen, with the same exuberance as a child running across the yard!
I keep a picture on my wall of a small boy leaping, captured in midair as he runs. He reminds me of the joy of life itself which returns to me now in an instant, negating anything else that might intrude upon it. How else might one share such a feeling or experience, except to put it to words, by ones’ self. I can retreat to it in an instant by simply looking out my window at the snow covered prairie. I have to ask myself what else there is I need. There are no words, for that.
I think this is what I love the best about the plains, even more than the mountains. There is something about the endless sweep of the earth with so few interruptions which carries my heart to new heights. Just days ago I was looking at a picture a friend had posted and thought of the same. There were two cowboys with their horses, and a small fire, sheltered in one of the many small draws as one finds on the prairie. There was a trickle of water behind them, much as can be found here so close by. I told him, “I wish I was there.” He replied, “You already are.” I considered that and realized that in fact, I am. As with so many other wonders of my life I tend to forget those things. They are not taken for granted, they are simply a constant. I am there, as close as I have been in a long time. Better yet, I intend to stay!
There is a reason God put me on this hilltop. He has, once again, elevated my spirit. There are then, words, for that. Thank you and amen!
January 2, 2017
Fort Sumner, New Mexico
2017 Day Two
It is only fitting to name this entry Day Two though I have to say it has the makings of a doomsday journal and I hate to set the prescient for anything of the sort! Not in my life for certain but we are in uncertain times above and beyond that and there is much reason for concern. Ahh but I could continue and use factual evidence to support it. There is unrest worldwide and reading Time Magazine last night only reinforced the reasons for vigilance and preparation. With Donald Trump (yes I did vote for him) at the helm our nation is set to change the entire order of the world, not just our own country and never have the words, “New World Order” held such ominous possibilities! If I am not politically correct or one to be overly observant of the process I do pay attention and should be aware as it affects me as much as anyone else. That I have situated myself in a reasonably secure place is good and no matter what happens I can likely survive here. Still, there is reason for concern.
Doomsday, or a drastic change in the stability of life on this planet as far as humanity goes is a fascinating subject for me, and I would gladly chronicle the changes if I had the time and inclination to do so, but time would be a ruling factor. Given my many interests I may not capture the events of the future as I would wish to, either factual or fabricated, though I could create them freely if I had the chance! No, not unless things truly take a turn for the worse, or in my case for the better, where I would have the time and energy to embark on such an effort. It is tempting for certain, I would devote many hours of each day to such a task if I had the chance and will entertain the same, though I would have to realign my priorities for certain. If I thought it could be saleable I could well pursue it but I have come to believe the mainstream readers are of a different sort than myself, or perhaps not?
I gaze out my window at this moment, the Plains and the railroad tracks in view, my extension cord waving lightly in the breeze as I have yet to wire my bus, and ponder my perspective. Just yesterday, after I spent the afternoon working on the completion of my studio, and savoring the results, I gained a fresh perspective on my living quarters. I suddenly realized, as I perused my current dwelling, that I had recreated a previous one with simply more space and embellishments. In 1979 I purchased a 1959 Ford ½ ton pickup in Spokane. Washington for $300.00. Within a few months, with the help of some professional gypsies I might add, I had constructed a camper on the bed of that truck from materials we scavenged from the dump. Quite the camper it was and I dubbed the truck Rocinante, after the one in Steinbach’s, “Travels With Charlie.” I lived in that truck until 1987 when my first son was ready to be born and I bought a fifth wheel trailer so we had more room to live.
What that I am not living in a similar dwelling, my bed laying in the same direction and the walls paneled with wood. I have more room but the layout is the same, the wheel wells boxed in for storage and even the windows by the bed are at the same angle. So is the feeling, the warm cozy space, the utter simplicity of only my immediate comforts. Even the mobility, though far from the freedom of the old Ford which I drove thousands upon thousands of miles, still exists as it is on wheels all the same. My lifestyle doesn’t differ much either, though I am far more settled than I was back then and have every intention and desire to remain where I am, as long as I am happy. The point being is that I can and will leave if I ever feel the want to do so! I have intentionally kept the same lifestyle as I had from the start, less the years I happily devoted to parenting, and I am satisfied with the results. In direct perspective, aside from the retirees who follow the sun, few people choose to live as I do, though the parallels are in so many ways the same! Of course that crowd, with a few exceptions, would squirm at the comparison, but they would never read my stories anyway!
So it is that I toss another piece of wood into the stove for good measure, the day being cooler than yesterday and the warmth a welcome addition to my space. If I was so distant from my happiness just a few weeks ago, now I am restored and there is a lesson for all of us in that discovery. As I realized how well I have replicated one of the true joys of my life in this dwelling, so I have learned another lesson by doing so. Just as with my Nogal House, where I have surrounded myself with all the essentials of my happiness, I have done the same here. I felt displaced when I came here to stay, living for two weeks in the motel but I was almost immediately restored when I moved back into my bus. In the end it brings to mind how much I take for granted and at times I discount the value of what I have created in my life. I imagine there are few who would take any real interest in the way I live but then I realize that in all actuality, especially in such uncertain times, it could well be the opposite.
So it is I greet the New Year with few worries or concerns! All of my immediate needs are fulfilled and I have the assurance going forward of the same. I want for so little right now and once again my time is my own in a manner it has not been in years. I have deliberately pared my life back down to the very basics and I have every intention of keeping it that way. Now is the time for myself, for a garden and my horse, my art and my writing and aside from my job, so little else if I can help it. I have to get a fishing license and I need to go pick up the little boat I bought and find a trailer for it. I would like to find some land somewhere but I am in no hurry either. Just as I so recently rid my life of the constant crisis I had allowed to intrude on it, neither am I eager to complicate it any more than I have to. It is a good time to sit still and enjoy what I have before I do anything else. What a great way to greet Day Two of 2017!