October 28, 2017
Bohemian Grace II
Three Rivers New Mexico
How is it
I once knew
When the free wind
Both my path
And my purpose?
How is it
Of my life
To make me a prisoner
Of all my own failings?
I never needed more
Than a five dollar bill
To make sure I had dinner
And something to drink
And carried water
As my staple
I had a tarp
And a blanket
I made my bed
And there was nothing else
I even cared
Life was so simple then
With my backpack
And my staff
And there was no debt
I am grown now
But I am still
The same woman
I was at that time
With the dreams and desires
I have harbored
For a lifetime
And an equal desire
To set myself free
From anything else
That could change that
I could almost
(See archives, October 28, 2015 If I Started Walking Now) LOL
I am having another revelation. That is a very nice way of saying that I am in crisis and there will have to be a change! I will not crash and burn in spirit, I am too resilient for that, but my finances are in shambles! If it was not a planned destination neither have I done very much to stave it off. Now my phone has started to ring and there is very little I can or will do to address it. Not now, not yet, though in time I will have to acquiesce.
For the moment I am having a revelation. It is not that I am not aware of my failings or my requirements but rather that I am as focused as I have ever been on addressing them. There is no recourse, this is the only path I can follow and find success, on my terms. If I have been a slave of my debts for years, and will remain so, is also irreverent. What I chose to do with my life, from this moment on, will include them.
Should I give that a moment’s notice. Yes, certainly. My debts and responsibilities have ruled my direction for the beginning of my travels. They have defined the course of my life from the first credit card I owned, and for all of the years since have done the same. That does not mean I haven’t lived as I have chosen but they have also reined me in. They continue to do so. In the very same breath there is this. I have freedom of choice! There is no rule, no law, and no debt collector who can change that, even if they think they should.
The revelation is, ‘I need to find the path away from this and remain on it’. If I have been trying to do the same for all these years of my life so I have failed to find the course. If I am as close as I have ever been to doing so, it is still an equal distance. I have remained to this day my own worst enemy. That the challenge has been unchanged is also my own fault, and all the required resources are at my fingertips. If I am also making a concerted effort to address that is still not the answer.
The answer is that I must remain focused on my goals and make them my first priority. I am, even at this moment, more concerned with my circumstances than I am with anything else, and that is unacceptable! I can sit behind my gate and find the serenity I require but the moment I pass through it, or even glance my bills, the challenge remains. You would think I had the ability to change that! There is nothing that says I do not!
Today is my day. I may have committed my time and effort to someone else’s needs but the day is still my own. The solutions to my problems have all remained the same but my approach will differ from here. If there has been a failing in my life now is the time to find the answer. As with my resistance to certain things I have discovered repeatedly that if I stay the course the outcome is assured. It always has been. For some foolish reason it is always easier to focus on the problem rather than the solution. It is time to change that in my thinking or it will always remain the same.
If I have always tried to keep it simple, so it is. I live a wonderfully simple life and there is no reason not to continue. In fact, I have chosen to make it even simpler, less my debt. I have only added to them by the very act of not paying, but it is a start! Shy a few improvements and repairs there is nothing else I need, but for a pair of jeans or two. Even those will have to wait. Today I will take a deep breath and consider all of the options and I will vie for the best. I learned that lesson a long time ago and must once more apply it. Back then the statement was this, ‘Better to put things in order and keep them that way rather than continually trying to make order of chaos’. It was an awesome revelation. It is time to do the same, today.
Looking back but so little has changed!!!!!
January 30, 2011
Vera Cruz, New Mexico
For Michael Swickard
One Hundred Years
I slept past the early light this morning but still arose before the dawn. The darkness had already fled in the face of the day but the sun had yet to clear the peaks. This is the time of mountain shadows, when the glowing orb climbs the slopes to the east and casts their shadows across the rolling hills, receding quickly as the day the begins. It is also the time of day for the train to pass through Carrizozo, its rumble rolling across the flats and reverberating off the mountains, audible in spite of the ten miles that lay between us. Too, it is the time for the coyote to howl and they don’t disappoint me. This then is my welcoming committee and I am glad to be home!
A friend reminded me of something that is an integral part of my life and yet an anomaly to him and so many others. It seems incongruous to write about it here at my desk with my trusty laptop humming softly, even if I am warmed by the woodstove crackling beside me. I washed my face with water that was heated on its top. No, even the wood stacked by my desk does not negate the modern flare of my existence yet the first reflections of the day radiate his comment. “You live as close to how they lived 100 hundred years ago as anyone I know,” he said. But what about the generator in the shed? So what if I have a windmill, a water tap in the sink and nowhere else in the house and still burn kerosene and candles for light, there is a highway out my door!
Ok, but there is this. I drove in at 9:30 pm last night, having stopped to visit my son and his wife, and yes, I took a ‘real’ shower there for it was late and convenient. I arrived home after a weeks’ absence and the house was cold as the woodstove. I lit a lantern and before anything else I opened the door to the stove and knelt before it. I crumbled and twisted some paper as I learned years ago from a Mescalero friend’s father, though not nearly as precisely. I recalled him for a moment for he is gone from us now, demon alcohol won that battle. I then threw in a few handfuls of bark and woodchips from my kindling bucket and carefully selected some smaller pieces of wood from the pile. I gently stacked these above the nest of kindling and made a teepee of sorts and then, sacrilege, but it was late and cold, squirted some kerosene on the whole of it before I lit the fire. Purist I am not but they had kerosene one hundred years ago, didn’t they?
The beauty of all this is the rapid burst of flame and the way the wood soon crackles in the stove. I made a roaring fire, throwing in a few larger sticks once it was going, a chunk of pinion and even an odd shaped but solid chunk of walnut I was waiting to use. When the eve is late and one wishes to go to bed there is a need for an immediate bed of coals to carry the fire thru the night and I was well on my way. It’s a good time to char the creosote in the stovepipe as well though one must be careful, ‘This is how we start a chimney fire my friends!’ could be the title of this chapter. About the time the stovepipe started clanking I knocked it a few good blows with a piece of wood, listened to the rattle of the crisp tar falling to the fire, shut the damper and the vents. I then stepped outside just to be sure there were no flames shooting out the pipe. I have set the pipe on fire before……….rather frightening, but all was well this eve. A good hot fire once a week and there is little to worry about. My wood is all dry and the walnut burns clean.
By the time I went to bed the house was getting comfortable and the flannel sheets on my bed, though still chilled, warmed quickly. Another mountain dweller gave them to me years ago and he knew the value of the gift. One hundred years Michael? That would be 1911, perhaps you are close. In spite of the availability and the presence of all the modern conveniences, my laptop being one concession, the chainsaw the other, you’re close. It is quite deliberate you know? I need this, more than I want it, it is a requirement for me and as easily as I am distracted I might lose everything if I didn’t have it. Yet it is a function of place and mind more than anything else. Electricity would not change it much, and might almost be welcome as opposed to having to run the generator. Even running water and a shower would be a pleasure but………..the place and the fire, they must remain.
Last night I went to your birthplace my friend, even though it was dark. I was startled and then comforted by the light that glowed on the table. I wanted to go in but it was late and I was tired, or else I would have. If the key had been in my hand I couldn’t have resisted. I stood there in the darkness and then sat on the porch and took in the stillness. It takes five minutes to drive up that gravel road from the highway but aside from the glow of Alamogordo some forty miles to the south one could be a million miles away. There are so few lights there, yet enough to draw comfort from. It is good to have a neighbor but above all else there was that sense of ‘place’. Though the desert is forbidding the house is a home and a sturdy shelter in spite of its age. The appeal of its history compliments my way of life and the utter silence and solitude of where it sits is priceless.
One hundred years, there in Oscuro as with here in Nogal the time is greater than the distance, though one is safer there. The land is forbidding enough to limit the encroachment I am seeing here. As much as I love this house it is doomed. There will come a day that it will be nestled here on the hillside amongst more neighbors than I can bear. I can already hear a dog barking and the coyotes cannot drown out the sound. If I grew old here I would, as I already have, become an anomaly just as the old farmhouse on Carrizo Canyon became. It was crumbling with age as the dwellers held onto their legacy, and bulldozed in the end. I hope that doesn’t happen, at least for one hundred years. I’ll be gone by then!
Long ago I recognized the things I would require in order to maintain my sense of self in this modern world that has somehow always been alien to me. I am a gentle soul, blessed with intellect but damned by the need for simplicity. Turmoil robs me of my serenity and I have a tremendous need for silence and peacefulness. At this very moment the windmill turns. I can hear the soft clang of the loose fin on the mill but it is a comfort and the water is filling the tank. I may run the hose to my garden as my garlic grows through the winter. The stove crackles a bit, this means that I am warm and my tea boils gently on its cast iron trivet. Yes, the laptop hums as well, an Orwellian contrast to the otherwise primitive surroundings, but it saves my words. It is a worthwhile compromise, don’t you think?
There is a lesson in all of this Michael and I must thank you for bringing it to my attention. We tend to overlook certain things in our solitude. One hundred years. Aside from my laptop there is little else I have that couldn’t have been had that long ago. My hairbrush might have been silver or ivory with boar bristles. I’d love to have one of those! The ceramic glass I drink my tea from might have been made from the same tin as my tea pot. That’s ok. The wood would have been cut by axe or saw, but then perhaps I’d of had man for that. A woman such as I would have held a high value in those days. Now I am an oddity………….So be it, I love my life! My desire for interaction keeps me from slipping away all together. The more primate world has no need of my intellect, nor can it appease it! I have struck a balance and the ease of doing so is stunning. It has made it possible for me to not only retain my clarity but allows for the time to savor it. It makes a person wonder. Just what is it we have gained in this last one hundred years?
October 10, 2017
Vera Cruz, New Mexico
No Life of Luxury
It occurs to me I have been a bit selfish in the sharing of my thoughts. I have suggested paring down, being selective with ones efforts and pursuits. I have encouraged leisure, and the absence of full time employment. I have herald the pleasures of doing so. If I have shared the challenges I have still drawn a picture of a favored life where I can, at least momentarily, live as I please. I have found much happiness in doing so. All with the aid of some government support mind you, but I feel I have earned it also. If I am to be quite honest it is true, I am as content as I have been in years and have no desire to change anything for the moment. Still yet, it is no life of luxury and I am getting behind on my bills.
If I am trying to make a point it is this. I would encourage everyone to take a break, or at least a breather. The greatest lesson I have learned in these past few months, one I already knew but had forgotten, is this. The greatest pleasures of my life are the simplest ones. If there are a plethora of material things I could spend my money on it is the leisurely moments which bring the most happiness into my life. It is waking early and not rushing to rise. It is sipping my tea for an hour rather than pouring it in a to-go cup. It is staying here by the fire until it gets too hot, and writing for hours if I wish to. It is knowing that the day is my own to do as only I wish, and that tomorrow will offer the same. It is like the weekend, all week long.
I spent lot of money these last six years, and now I have none. I spent fifty dollars on gas yesterday, filling gas cans and my truck, fuel for the generator and the chainsaws, and a few gallons for the 1970 Jeep my son and I just bought for $300.00. The Jeep started and ran great and I even got to drive it, with a piece of wire to run the throttle, thank you. I had twenty dollars left for groceries and spent it all. I returned home and cut wood until dark, thrilling at the effort and accomplishment, and made back my gas money. I grilled a chuck steak in the dark and coaxed the woodstove back to life in spite of the north east wind coming down the stovepipe instead of drawing as it should. I was lucky enough to have a fire, and not smoke out the house. There are times it is quite the opposite! I went to bed tired, and happy.
This is no life of luxury, but it is a life of my own. Today, as yesterday, offers me a plethora of choices. Certainly there are things I need to do but I can choose when and how I will accomplish them. At the top of the list is a means to survive, especially when the checks stop coming, which they will, soon enough. This will prove up the value of my efforts, or the lack of instead. My aspirations are few for the moment, and my necessities are fewer, a contributing factor for certain. If I had to pay rent or make a car payment I would sink before I swam, but I do not. That too illustrates my selfishness, I have so much less necessity than most people, even if there are still bills and debts I must pay, and pay them I will. If I lived in a big fancy house, or even just a nice house, instead of my shack, things would be different. That I am comfortable as I am has allowed for all the other niceties I enjoy, freedom at the top of the list.
What will I do today? I will complete my final edit of my book and realign my efforts to publish it, in whatever form it takes. My queries have gone unanswered and the hope of finding an agent had become a genuine challenge. Could I find one if I continued the effort? Quite possibly, but nothing is assured, and there are many shorter and more conventional books waiting in that que. My book will have to make its own path, and I will be the decider. I also have a plethora of short stories and insights which need to be amassed into a marketable collection, something which sounds like work but also needs to be done. If I am to make it on my own it is these sort of efforts I must apply myself to. Having done so much for others it seems that would be easy, but it is not. I can always go cut wood, and it would be the easier choice, even if it is genuinely hard work. The return will be immediate.
This is no life of luxury, but it is the life I have chosen over everything else. There is no turning back the clock, and the lessons were worth learning, but I am grateful to be home. If I have aspired to live as I am now, I wish I had a better foothold. That will be my challenge going forward, to make it a good, and lasting one. I have already dug through the easy stuff, now I need to get to the grit. My talents are many, my needs are so few, and my time is all my own. What a wonderful recipe that makes! I can sit beside the fire and listen to the wind, knowing I will be safe and warm no matter what the winter brings. If I had been more frugal I might have less concern, but it got me where I am. There is much to be said for that. If I had spent my time and money differently I might have put myself in a place I could not escape from. Instead I am here.
Don’t try this at home unless you are certain of it. Before you toss it all to the winds take stock of what you have. You will have to find a rundown shack, as I have, and make yourself at home. You will have to count on a friendship and a fair degree of trust to do so, and to live with the understanding that at the drop of a hat it could all quickly change. I have no guarantee that I can remain here, but I hope for it to be so. You will have to cut a lot of wood also, as it is all there is to keep you warm, and hope the winds will be kind to you. It is only on the coldest days that they are not, then you will have to throw out the fire, as the smoke will be unbearable. Most importantly, you will have to be content to be frugal, and to live your life on the simplest of terms, without any luxury at all. You will make your own luxury instead, the last bowl of hot water from your bath, those extra minutes of rest, the warmth of the wood stove, the flicker of the fire, and the freedom to choose how you wish to live.
It is the freedom which you will desire the most, but you will also have to fill it. There will be no pressing demands on your time, the choice will be your own. You will have to choose between sitting still and quietly or making things work as they should. You will have to resist your own laziness, or do without. You will have to grab the chainsaw and cut wood to stay warm, and to pay for your gas. You will also have to clean the globes on the kerosene lamps, and keep them full, as you will need them. There will be a day when the generator won’t start and you will need money to fix it. Money will always be scarce, unless you get out and make some. That can be tricky also, because you will not want to go to work. You have to make yourself work, and be creative enough to make it pay. I hope I have now made that clear. It is no life of luxury, but it is certainly a good one.
I have to mention this also. You will have a chance to watch the ravens while you finish your tea. If you are lucky you will see them land. They will fly in together and the first will settle on the crest of the hill, landing softly in the dirt. Her partner will drift a little further, and land in the yuccas, and turn his back on her. She will wander around in the broom weed, as if looking for something. He will sit quietly, as if standing guard, or perhaps indifferent to her curiosity. They will stay for several minutes. You will look down to write about them and when you look back they will be gone. For a minute you may even wonder if they were ever there, or just a figment of your imagination. You will have plenty of time to consider that. It is just this sort of freedom that is priceless. Such a luxury.
October 4, 2017
Vera Cruz, New Mexico
I am stepping away. My friends will laugh when they read this and say I have stepped away a long time ago. This is also true, except, I came back. I came back from the wilderness six years ago and stepped back in, and stayed. I stayed as hard as I could, in spite of the challenges which later evolved into the very struggles I had tried to avoid. And still I stayed, the money was good and the logic was strong. If I stayed another year, or two, I would be free of debt and I could return here, or somewhere like it. If I stayed a year after that I could make up for the wastefulness of the previous one. One more and I would surely reach my goal, even if I was miserable. Sometimes what seems to be the right thing to do can be so very wrong.
It can go on for a lifetime like that, if you allow it, which is why I avoided it in the first place. I waved any and all effort towards the ideological comfort and stability I had been directed towards before I ever left New York. I wanted none of that because I already knew where it would lead. I watched a lot of people follow that road and I was being herded towards the same and wanted none of it. Nobody seemed to be very happy and in so many cases it was worse than that. My own parents had proven that to me very early on, in spite of the luxuries that surrounded us. There was a lot of misery under the roof of that redwood T ranch house on the corner lot, even with the Fiat and the Country Squire Station Wagon in the garage and the thirty foot boat on the Hudson River, lots. I fled to the tent in the back yard every chance I had and at night I stared at the stars through the skylight in the spare bedroom and dreamed of distant hills. I left for the west when I was seventeen, and stayed there.
I am stepping away. When I was dismissed from my job four months ago there was some measure of concern for my future prospects, and there still are. My unemployment benefits will run out the end of November, weeks before Christmas. I know how that works, I came back from the Grand Canyon that same time of year and could not find a job. The same could happen this time, but I am far more prepared as I can watch it coming. If I am already living on shoe strings it will be tougher without the weekly checks, or not. My woodpile should get me through the winter even without adding to it, though add to it I will. I have my house in better order than I can ever recall and I can and will be writing and doing my art. This time I am prepared to step away, and have no plan to return, except when it is necessary. When I cross that line it will be with intent and purpose and I will just as quickly return to my present simplicity.
What is it I mean by all this??? If I have left you in the dark I will attempt to explain. Those who know me understand. I stepped away many years ago and lived for years with a backpack and a camper, used in equal measures. I slept as often on the ground as I did in the pickup bed with the homemade shelter above it. I lived very well, and as simply as possible. Most of my meals were cooked over an open fire and I hitchhiked thousands of miles……….I then took a hiatus to parenthood, though I walked the edge then too, never quite settling into conventionality, though I certainly worked at the same. When my youngest moved out I soon departed also, though I continued to work. Soon after that I found the job of a lifetime, just as I had begun to teeter, and for two more years I stepped away. When I returned to necessity I gave it my all, which brought me to the present. This time I won’t go back, unless I have to, but I am going to do everything I can to avoid it! I have difficulty even imagining an offer that would change my mind, though perhaps such does exist, somewhere. New Mexico Tech as a field technician, yes, but that is so unlikely. I think that to sit in an office again for forty hours a week might kill me. I have no intent of finding out.
I am stepping away into simplicity, such as I have always wished to do. If I have been a minimalist of sorts, I am working to perfect that. If I have no need or use for something, I will no longer keep or covet it. If I am going to stockpile it, it will be wood, and good to burn or build with. I will keep my trucks as they each serve a purpose, and I will need them. I will tend to my immediate needs and not borrow any money, though I will pay my debts. If they are what has led me to such struggles they are also my own, and somebody trusted me to allow that. I would not have much of what I do if I had not had that option, and I am grateful for the chance. If I spent some of it foolishly, I take ownership for that also!
What am I going to do with this time and freedom and so little else? I am going to live my life as fully and richly as is possible, given my limited means. I am going to wake early and lay still to savor the peacefulness, and the freedom to do so. I am going to get up and build a fire and write about my life. I am going to cut wood and come summer grow another garden. I am going to retreat into the simple joys of life well lived and treasure every moment of having done so. Now that I am so aware of the alternatives I am going to do everything I can to preserve the opportunity to choose. And I will succeed because I know how to do that! If I was such a good worker in the conventional sense so I can apply the same energy and ability to my own preservation, and perhaps even excel in the effort. There is nothing that says I cannot!
As I was from the start I am more afraid of the known than the unknown. I know that if I go back to work as I have in the past that I will be very unhappy. I will miss the quiet calm of the dawn, the hour to write, sipping my tea and gazing out my window. I will miss the quiet clank of the woodstove as the coals burn into flame. I will miss the sound of the wind as it brings the storms and I will yearn for all of the same. I will have to leave here each morning at daybreak, or perhaps even leave all together, as there is so little work here. I would spend my weekends trying to keep up with the woodpile, and very little else. I would gradually decline as I was trying to do before.
Or I can flourish! I can wake with the sun and watch her walk the hills, or as I am today watch the clouds roil over the mountaintops. I can boil my tea and sit beside the stove and share the hopes and dreams that are becoming a reality. I can put my life in order and keep it that way knowing that the will of heaven has blessed me with the opportunity to do so. I can take all the gifts and talents I have amassed in my lifetime and put them to their highest use, and share them as I do. Millions of people got up this morning, drank a cup of coffee and joined all the rest on their way to work. Even now the traffic is still snarled in the cities across the country as they all rush off to work. My trucks sit cold in the yard and I am at my chair, looking at the mountains. If you offered me a million dollars to rejoin them for another ten years I would tell you no. I made a third of that in the last six and have so very little to show for it, except for having returned here to stay.
I have barely passed the gate for the last three days. Sunday I just went for a drive, revisiting the dirt roads and the mountains of my past. I have covered all the leaky windows and the woodpile is progressing. I am writing every day, as I have always wished to do, and my leatherwork sits in arms reach, already in the process. I will venture out today, after I cut some wood, and take care of things I must, nothing more, nothing less. I can accomplish more from home than anywhere else. I am planning my future, one day at a time, and for now it is all I am concerned with. I know that I am lucky, and more fortunate than most. I have the talent, ability, materials and willingness to provide for my own means. I also recognize my means are few, and limited to necessities. I do not own my home, but I can live here, and in a manner most people would not choose. I am ok with that, I stepped away a long time ago and made that conscious choice. It has served me well. As I step away again I say a word of thanks for having the chance, and the willingness to do so. Wish me well.
October 3, 2017
Vera Cruz, New Mexico
A Change Of Light
The light has changed. The sun has shifted its angle as the earth spins towards winter and now rises, and sets, further to the south. The transition reveals itself quickly, as now when I step out the door, I no longer look to the north but rather am blinded by the rising sun. It transitioned so quickly I was somewhat alarmed, as I pay attention to such things. It moved that far in just three days, when I was traveling. Too fast. The passage of time is almost frightening and even as the year comes closer to its end I am so aware of the transition.
The light inside has changed also. I covered windows yesterday, and opened another. If I have battled a draft in my sitting place for years so I discovered it yesterday. In fact, the entire process was humbling, to say the least. If I fixed windows when I first arrived here, some fourteen years ago, I have done so little since. I had caulked all the glass, or most of it, as the original seals had dried and gone. I also hung curtains and blinds and called it good, rarely moving the blankets as the blinds could all be opened. Only recently, on a walk around the house, did I note that the board in the window of the back room was warped and out of place. This explained the cold breeze which had led me to cover the doorway.
The recognition also led me to peruse the remaining windows and days later I covered the one in the bathroom. As I bathe from a bucket it is essential I block the drafts and it was an easy, and comforting fix. Yesterday, after a week of wind and rain, I addressed the others, starting with the back room. After I covered the outside with plywood I came inside and sealed it with plastic. Later I tacked a better blanket over it also, after I had removed it from another frame. Motivated, I approached the kitchen window which has lost half its glass. I see now how all the windows are failing, as they will with the passage of the years. If the wood framed glass was fragile when I arrived it is also beyond repair. I can only cover and patch from here and the issue will remain a problem.
So it was I perused the gaping hole of the top window pane and considered my solutions. I covered it with tin when I first came home, lacking any other materials, it now needs to be sealed. I opted for the styrofoam from the bus, the blue stuff, and cut a fitting piece. I secured this with nails and duct tape and then covered the whole of it with plastic before I replaced the blind. One more draft well stopped I might say. I thought to end there but the endeavor wasn’t done and the materials were close in hand. I moved to the living room and raised the blanket on the north wall window. Though the glass was all intact the bottom frame was a good inch above the sill, raised some many years ago and long forgotten, but for the steady draft come winter……I was embarrassed for myself, and quickly closed it. That draft has been incessant and if I am sure some part of it comes from the attic this was the major source!
In the end I resealed the glass and hung a blind, leaving the bottom portion open for the moment. Perhaps I will cover the window later in the year, if I must, but for the moment the light is exquisite. I have the same light and view as I do with the door open, less the draft and the flies! I then went to my room to fix the leak I know is there. The one window which opened easily is crumbling at the frame and some of the upper glass is gone or broken. If I have patched and covered it in the past, this one more frequently than the rest, it needs a good fix also. Having learned the value of the Styrofoam I cut another piece and repaired it for reals this time. I also hung another blind, making for a better perspective on the room itself, and a job well done.
I have two windows left to work on. I will finish caulking the glass today and cover the bathroom window from the inside. I may well do the same with the other one in my bedroom which I have yet to inspect. The effort has already been rewarded and the house was warm this morning, with but a few coal left in the stove. I feel more comfortable inside also, knowing I have contributed greatly to the comforts I require come the colder nights. If I had all but deserted my post some six years ago, so I have returned to stay. Given the freedom to do so I have spent more time here at home than I have in so many years, and made good use of it. The much needed cleaning and repairs has made me feel more comfortable with myself, an essential factor of it all.
I need to reflect on that for a moment because the transition is important. One of the first things I did, after the initial cleaning and organizing, was to delve into my possessions. I rearranged my storage first, out of necessity, and even there separated the things I no longer needed. Then I came inside and started the same, cumulating the effort with the sale in Capitan. I got rid of so much! What was once a full room of stuff is now a quarter of the space, and even that will be reduced by half before I am done, or even more. So much of it is just ‘stuff’ I no longer have the need for, visually or spiritually, as I am far more complete. I also have no desire to carry it any further and even if I chance to remain here there is no reason to keep it. I feel unburdened by the absence of the baggage I kept for so many years, and never even used.
All the repairs and the wood cutting have offered an equal return. Part of it is simply having the time to do the work, but there is more to it than that. I am looking closer at my life rather than just plunging forward. I am learning a stillness I have never perfected, even if I am so often in motion. Being unhurried is so much a part of that and I need not go anywhere if I do not want to. As with yesterday, I have not! I may do the same today though at some point I must exit the gate and take care of other things. The less distance I venture the better, at least for now. I also have so little cash, and spend none of it when I am here. As the wind begs to rise I am eager to finish the windows and cut some more wood.
Soon enough there will be the requirement to do other things and to bring in some semblance of an income. It is another reason I want to do these things now, before other necessities take the fore. It is why I have never had the time or the willingness to bring things in order as I am. I have always wanted to fix the windows, and to cut all the big wood into usable pieces. I am so inclined to have things in order, and yet too often left them otherwise. Now is my chance to change that, while not getting caught in the effort either. I want to do it all at my leisure, and am trying to take my time. I am also learning an extremely valuable practice. It is one I discovered on my own but days later had affirmed in writing. I am learning to be selective, and to do the things of the greatest importance first! I have always tried too hard to multitask and failed in the effort. My list has always been a page long, and it still is, even two, but there is a shorter one also. I am learning, in this time when I can, to prioritize and do one thing at a time instead of overwhelming myself with many. All the others can wait!
So it is I wake and write before anything else. I have a very simple routine when I rise and I follow it each day. I wake, start the fire and heat my water, and breakfast. I get dressed, make my bed and step outside to say my morning prayer, greeting the day as I should. I then wash up and pour my tea, and eat my breakfast as I reflect on previous words I have recorded, before I write those for the day. In the course of an hour thus I begin my day. I have also been editing my book, thirty pages at a time and I am nearly done. Once that time is free I will have more for other things, and I have considered that also. As each essential is completed, the cleaning, fixing, wood cutting, I will have time and energy for others. The sorting can wait for the moment, though I have taken to doing one box at a time to perpetuate it. Once it is done I will be relieved!
There is a lot to this also. Once I finish the current, essential efforts I will then finish my camper and studio, both which require some creative efforts. The camper is my release to freedom, and also an essential alternative for travel as I will save money and have my own space. I will truly enjoy it, as I already have. The studio will fulfill another dream and make my artwork a greater pleasure as I will be able to lay it out as I wish, and leave it there! It will be conducive to even greater creativity. Once that is completed it will free the time for the application of my efforts towards my greater good and with any luck lead to additional freedoms. I will also have more time to write and with any luck can make that pay.
I am not sure I have ever had a better plan, or one that in so many ways has perpetuated itself. The practicality of it is in keeping with my deepest nature, the one I have superseded for too long! In my never ending quest to meet the material demands of my life I have so overlooked the obvious, from my favorite place to be. I was so concerned with the resolution of my debts and the desire to purchase land that I became too obsessed with the effort to see the obvious! I have lived, and thrived here before, I have just never been able to get ahead. Now that I have the most essential things I need, trucks, the camper, tools and materials, it is time to come to roost! I have a pile of leather, kilns, am awesome sewing machine, and ample time and talent. It is time to put them to use, and I am looking forward to the practice.
I have created aversions to things as I have gone through my life. I have been afraid of being too alone, of losing my spontaneity and the joy of my writing and artwork. In order to avoid that I plunged myself into my work, even though I feared the sacrifice I had to make. I now know that was a mistake and if there is a greater aversion to that than anything else, so it is leading me to alternatives. I also have solutions, now that I have sat still long enough to see them. I am going about this in a methodical manner and seeing things clearly for perhaps the first time. If I went off to work frantically I was also amassing the tools to avoid that. I now have everything I need, including my time for the moment. If I knew I needed to be still I am now back in motion, but walking far slower than I was. I am taking the time to observe, think, and resolve, something I don’t believe I have ever done in quite the same fashion. If I was not asking questions, or looking for answers, it seems they found me on their own. I have grown wiser with the passage of the years, something I had yearned and hoped for in my youth. I so very grateful for the same.
The light has changed with the passage of the seasons and the earth is now tipped at a slightly different angle. As we again near the solstice of the winter the weather cools to cold. We are driven to prepare, to stock up for the longer nights and shorter days. It is as important as ever for me to do so as this could be a long, lean winter, or perhaps not. Never have I had more time to consider my options, nor the resources with which to decide. If I am unemployed I am also confident I can survive here and make it through the winter, even with scanty resources. I have plans I have yet to put into action, but they are there if I require them. I have artwork in the process, and a wealth of talent and materials to draw on. Most importantly, I have a new found focus which requires I tend to my own needs before anything else, which will lead me to far better choices.
There is no need or desire to rush off to another job, anywhere, even here. There were opportunities to do so and I waved them. I will not ignore my debts, or seek to be set free from them, but they will require patience. So far I am holding my own, even as I am getting behind, but it will all be ok. For today I am going to be still, once again. I will finish the windows and work on the wood pile. I will think about my camper, and pull out some wood. Maybe I will go to town for water and sand off a few boards, I need to do some router work. There are even a few in the process I could so easily complete. Most importantly, I am not going to get in a hurry or put any pressure on myself. The absence of that has been most inspiring! I have a short list I am working on, and intend to stay on task. There has been a change of light, and one of the heart as well.
September 30, 2017
Vera Cruz, New Mexico
Golden Morning Sun
I woke early this morning, before the alarm I had set to do so. My mental clock seems to still be in tune, even if I haven’t worked for months. I suppose I should be hurrying also, but it is still raining and the show doesn’t start until 10:00. It is seven thirty now and only a fifteen minute drive, but I will be brief.
I had no plan to write this morning but I couldn’t pass it by. It was twilight when I woke so I lit the lanterns. This would have been enough. The soft glow of the kerosene flame is so lovely and something I rarely see these days as the generator suffices. I was glad to have cleaned and filled them and lit them with pleasure. Still yet, dawn came quick and by the time the fire was crackling in the stove the sun began to rise. Its golden light outshone even the glow of my lanterns.
I was out the door as fast as that, my shirt half buttoned and camera in hand. Still yet, the essence if the light was something no camera could capture, even if I caught the essence of it. That the broom weed has that same golden cast was nearly its equal. That wasn’t it though! As soon as the sun crested the hill it caught the rain drenched clouds and cast a light rainbow in the sky. As it rose further so did the brilliance of the refracted light and rain soaked as I was, I remained spellbound, unable to break the spell.
It is this beauty that feeds my soul. If at times I am a bit too alone, a lot too broke, even if I take ownership for both, never am I in the absence of beauty. It is the essence of my morning prayer, the thanks I send forth for the wonders which surround me. If the lengthy presence of the clouds and moisture are a little worrisome, given that we live in the high desert, so they are glorious as well. If they bode for a long hard winter, all the more reason to rejoice for the moment. The grasses have greened again and the added nourishment will be a blessing for all that depend on it.
I woke to golden morning sun, the blessings of the universe. I watched a small rainbow turn into a double crescent across the valley, and rejoiced in the spectrum of its color. I look even now on the rain drenched sky and the soft green glow of the grasses, and I know it is good. I have said my words of thanks to the Great Spirit and the universe, and know that I am blessed. Life, after all, is very good today! Ixehe, thank you!