March 18, 2018
Caballo, New Mexico
By Nature Serene
By my own nature I am serene. There are those who know me who would argue that, and I can see why. In my day to day existence there are many moments I am far from serene. I am reactive to my environment, driven in my pursuits and in almost constant motion. I have trouble standing still, I need to occupy my mind if I am idle for any amount of time, I stay busy, always. Still yet, I am serene. I wake of the morning in perfect stillness, my mind tuned to the coo of the dove, the call of the goose, or to utter silence, if I am so lucky. I can lay still for an hour if such is availed to me and even drift back to sleep. Left to my own devices I can then write for hours, uninterrupted.
Why then this sometimes frantic nature?? I have dreamed, and so often lived, in the absence of that. I have retreated to my Nogal House and spent days in such peacefulness. I have wandered the wilderness, for days, and even weeks at a time with no distractions, and found true happiness. I have sought the same in every waking moment when things were otherwise, and found it so difficult to maintain. I have allowed the very virtue of necessity and dedication to tip the balance, while still maintaining some sense of the same. I love my work and approach it with true devotion and seriousness, but the hurdles seem all but insurmountable at times. If I recognize the reasons I have yet to find the solutions. I am bound to try once more, as I am happy to be where I am, and the serenity I require is also in my reach.
How so? I saw it yesterday even as I was weighing my options of leaving. It is closer here than elsewhere, and the intimacy I have established with it remains, even at a distance. I need but gaze to the northwest and it surrounds me. I need but make a thirty minute drive and I am there, and it is also closer than that. Each and every canyon and cliff seems to emanate the same energy, each rock on the sandy ground reminds me of its presence. The connection is powerful, and viable in every sense of the word. If I have also found it elsewhere it is closer here. It is something I require and in recognizing that I also see the need to strike the balance so that I can stay. The serenity must carry over into everything I do if I am to succeed. It is the one thing I have too often failed to do and if I cannot accomplish that here, neither can I do so elsewhere.
Perhaps I should have titled this, ‘Another Life Lesson’, as that is most certainly what it is. There have been many of those along the way but this is as important as any. Having had a week off and stepped away from all but my own requirements, I have again found center. I have so quickly restored the sense of balance I depend on, along with my inherent serenity. It is inherent, I was born with the ability and desire to exist in that very state of being, and have worked towards it for my lifetime. I dreamed of the solitary cabin in the wilderness from the start, and sought it ever since. I have lived there often and have the same here and now. My bus is the epitome of that in so many ways for I need but drive off into the desert or the forest and I am there. I have done so often enough! Even where I sit I am in walking distance from the lake and can see its glimmer out my window.
Why then the disruption? My work place is serene enough also, when I am at Clancy! I can drive but minutes from the office to my own peaceful spot. I can climb the stairs to the old block building and leave the door ajar to the sunshine. I have a view of the old town, squat houses, trees and narrow streets, and I am alone to do my work. I can sit there for hours sometimes with no interruption, yet I am minutes from anything there is to do. I am productive there and have already made a strong contribution, though I have yet to see the results. I need to be patient on that count, and have been counseled with the same. I need to learn to disregard the perceived failings of others, and be grateful to sidestep that also, while having the good sense to not criticize. That in itself would be wonderful, and the learning curve has begun. I also need to ignore the inertia and instead perceive it as an opportunity for me to excel, if such will be allowed.
That then is the issue, and I feel stifled. Having lived alone for so long I meet my own needs and requirements head on, and address them. If there is an issue, I identify it, if it is broken, I fix it, I make lists, and then follow them. I want to do the same here but it is far from that easy, and there are many other people involved besides myself. I am eager for results, but they too have their own agendas. I just got here, they have been here for years. I move quickly, they walk slowly. I have questions and ask them, they are slow to reply. I need to be still, keep doing what I do best and leave it to them to carry on as they will. It will either work or it won’t but if I shatter my serenity in the process, or theirs for that matter, the whole thing goes to shit. It is up to me to step up, not them, and if I fail it will be my own failure, not theirs. The moment I blame anyone else for my own unhappiness, as I have already done, I lose the path I should have followed.
I am, by nature, serene. There is no reason I cannot step forward into each and every day with the cloak of serenity wrapped around my shoulders. One would think that would be so simple, having made such a suggestion, but it is not. It takes true strength and character to allow any slights or challenges to slide off of your shoulders and to consider them from a distance. If I have attempted to do this in the past I am just now really starting to consider it objectively. If I can do it in a given moment, why not put it to practice. Just as I have set my mind to a healthier diet, in mind, body and spirit, so I need to apply it at work as well. It needs to be twenty four seven and 360 degrees, not just about myself. If I have already restored a healthy aversion to candy and donuts, why not to frustration and resentment? There is no room for any of that in my life if I am to be truly healthy and happy, and no reason why I should not find the means to have it.
If I am so smart let me begin with this! If I am the first one to make light of my own philosophy then I should also be the first to act on it. I have long proclaimed that one of the best things about being alone is that one cannot blame their unhappiness on anyone but their selves. Well…………doesn’t this apply to all things? If I am to not take anything personally then I should also view others from that same perspective, and leave them to their own devices instead of expecting anything from them. If it is to be done, I must do it myself, and I am also getting paid for the same. If it is theirs to do, then I should allow them that also. If it fails to get done it will be on them, not me, and I have plenty to do as it is. If I have learned to not only find problems, but to also find solutions, so I should do so, with no regard for what others could have or should have been doing. That is not my concern, nor in all honesty for me to judge. I have been so busy asking why others have not addressed the things I see need to be done that I have failed to balance myself in the process. If I am to stay this is the first thing I must do. I am by nature serene, and I have done just that.
March 14, 2018
Caballo, New Mexico
For Antoinette, Nurse supreme!
Ha Ha. I wrote a note to myself and posted it on the wall where I cannot miss it. I fasted it to a magnet with a screw. The symbolism is clear, the note says “DIET, BODY, MIND, SPIRIT”. The screw says that if I do not abide to my own advice, I am screwed. Funny, but not. After yesterday I have a very clear perspective on my personal does, and don’ts. The meanings I have chosen to attach to the experience will serve to confirm my purpose.
Ok, friends, brace yourselves if you care to listen and if not you are forgiven! My writing has always been a ‘me first’ affair from the start though I have also tailored it to sharing. I write because I must, because the voice inside my spirit begs to be shared and expressed and the page has always been there to receive it. When I say shared I mean it in the truest sense of the word, not just because I need to record it. It is because I feel, deeply, that we have all been given a gift of insight and in the exchange of that we gain an equal measure of wisdom. As I have made many misjudgments in my life, but also had some enlightening epiphanies, I shall continue to share them both. Don’t say I did not warn you!
So I had to get two molars pulled yesterday. My dear dentist of many years begged off as he knows from experience the challenges of pulling my teeth, he has done one. That ordeal lasted nearly an hour, or what seemed to be, and involved a grinder. Enough said. So this time I opted for anesthesia, but I did not have anyone to stay with me so I decided on nitrous oxide. If I wasn’t looking forward to any of it the memory of the last time I had ‘laughing gas’ was favorable. When the time came I sat back with but a mild intuition that it might not be a favorable choice, but who doesn’t get worried at the dentist? Then she turned on the gas………….
It only took a few seconds before my thoughts became fractured. I went with it initially, but then it became chaotic and I quickly realized I was venturing into forbidden territory. Verging on panic I removed the mask. I informed the nurse, in a voice that was oddly distant from my own, that I couldn’t handle the gas, even as the panic continued to escalate. She convinced me to put the mask back on by telling me she had to give me oxygen to assure I wouldn’t get a fierce headache. I breathed that in until I felt calm and quickly removed it. I will be forever endeared to her strength and consideration as she walked me back to sanity, and then some, as she and I found much common ground in the process. I was sorry when the conversation ended, and also quite focused.
The ensuing procedure wasn’t much more fun, but went quickly, though I think the doctor was accustomed to his patients being sedated as he was far from considerate. But this isn’t about the dentist or the teeth, it is about me. The need to rationalize the experience stayed with me, and it is meaningful enough to capture. What of the chaos that so frightened me as the gas pervaded my thoughts, and why did I immediately descend into a state of near panic? I initially blamed it on past, drug induced excursions into madness. Twenty six years ago I freed myself from a two year hiatus from reality, but the experience will remain with me forever. If I was, for the most part, a weekend warrior, I still suffered from addiction. That adventure took me over the brink on more than one occasion, though miraculously I survived intact, to the best of my knowledge. Having achieved a successful career since then I have to be assured I m reasonably functional!!! I do believe, in that brief excursion at the doctor’s office, I revisited the boundary. Having learned to put order into chaos and to keep it there I have no desire to ever cross that line. That said, even if I still harbor a fascination for the peyote ceremony, I have decided now I will never attempt it! Though my spirit is strong, I may not have the resilience to make that journey.
You all can bail off here if you wish to but I am inclined to share this!!! If I so often write of such things and never publish them there is also a lesson here. For a moment I encountered chaos, in the fullest sense of the word, as the gas wreaked havoc on the order of my thoughts. If I have done my best to retain my spontaneity, and the ensuing innocent trust equated to the same, I am also very structured person. I require order in my life to function, discipline to survive, and purpose to remain on task. Though I still struggle to keep that in balance I believe for the most part I function well, though I am more driven at times than I wish to be. Age is teaching me how to temper that and I am reasonably successful. Yesterday’s lesson brought it further into perspective and I am trying to capture that here.
Might I have allowed the gas to make me laugh rather than the ensuing tears? Could I have allowed it to take me for a moment knowing I would return less two teeth but uncaring about the method of removing them? Perhaps, but if I could do it again I would prefer the degree of consciousness I suffered through. Truth be known, even if I have little desire for any sort of intoxication, I will avoid the same going forward and haven’t even touched my pain pills. Ibuprofen will have to do! The lesson is clear enough. If I have functioned well in a state of clarity for years perhaps I have over done it to of late as I have struggled to rejoin the workforce. If I am, to a great degree, happy with that outcome, I have also pushed up against the boundary of balance. Yesterday, briefly, took me over the edge. I returned enlightened by the journey.
DIET, BODY, MIND, SPIRIT. Having decided now is the perfect time to go on a diet and shed these fifteen pounds which have been haunting me, it is also time to attend to all my other needs. If I have always tried to focus on body, mind and spirit I too often get sidetracked, and suffer for having done so. I am not so far off track but yesterday left me feeling fragile enough to feel the need to center. I have already done so, as I did sitting in the dentist’s chair afterwards, ready for all that was to come. I saw it through gracefully, with a firm grip on the chair! I awakened today with that same resolve.
In my life, maintaining my balance is essential to my survival. If I have always been aware of that it has never been more critical than it is now. I will be sixty in July. If I am not yet old, neither am I young, and I am beginning to feel the warning signs of age. If I can expect to live at least another twenty five years, and possibly more given the longevity of my family, I want to enjoy them! So it is, even as I firm my resolve on one end, I will loosen the constraints on the other. I will lighten up and try to relax my approach to my work and responsibilities while honing in closer on myself. I will eat better, walk more and rejoice in the joy of my life, though the latter is already a constant. If I am mindful enough, there is always room for more, and the less I worry the more time there is for that! Having conquered chaos for the most part, perhaps I can loosen the constraints there also, and maintain order in a calmer fashion. It is well worth a try, I can always alter the approach.
This then is a lesson for us all, if you have borne with me to the finish! I think again of the nurse who stayed the course for me yesterday. I thought her a bit tough at our meeting, abrupt and professional, with a coat of armor as well. So quickly I found myself relying on that strength, a role she must play far too often. She then gave more of herself than I would have expected, something I will often do myself, a seemingly rare trait in this modern world. She not only calmed my panic, she then led me back to my strengths as she shared the story of her own, while taking the time to hear mine also. She did not have to do that! I hope she will chance to read this, so I might return the favor. It is something we could all do a bit more of, though being selective is important. This is much the reason I write, so I need not pick and choose!
For Antoinette, “Relax girl, it will be ok!!! Those struggles you have faced have made you who you are. Those kids, they will grow strong and survive, as you have done. You are their rock, and even if they battle your discipline, they will reflect it as adults. I know, for mine have done the same. Your job??? I hope they pay you well because it asks a lot of you, but we are lucky to have you there. Stay strong, but take some time for yourself also, it gets easier in some ways, but tougher in others. You made a friend yesterday, and gave her much insight. God bless you girl! If you ever need anything let me know. I made it, and so shall you! Thank you!”
To my friends and readers: Thank you for being there to share with, and for staying the course!!! Cheers!
March 1, 2018
Caballo, New Mexico
The Poetry Returns
The poetry returns, bouncing joyfully across the page. Hand written, it is new and fresh, finding life on the pages, of a one dollar composition book, with pages sewn to the cover. If I have written the same, since my childhood, there is always a new discovery, and the wonder of the same. It arrives of its own volition, and is fleeting as well, so must be captured immediately, lest it be lost. I am carrying the book, striped black and white, everywhere I go.
So it is the poetry has revived itself. If I so dreaded to go back to work that I waited until the final moments to do so, I have also found happiness. If I was content to be in Nogal and Three Rivers, I was not fully settled. The uncertainty was challenging, but no more than the thought of being someplace else. I feared the forty hour week and the required transition as much as I did the quest for an alternative, though in so many ways I was happy to do so. The ultimate choice to let time take its toll served me well and I have found a good place in the end.
The poetry! It has come and gone with the years. It returned in full force on the Plains, and the canyons not so distant from where I am. It slipped away as just quickly, returning again, and then fading over time. It came back again just days ago, the smile of a traveler, the strum of a guitar, and a train song……….its own form of poetry in word and motion. If he intended to touch my heart he did more, taking me back to a time well before the present, and many joyful thoughts. I felt I had to return the same and when I told him I wanted to hear another train song, so I penned my own, for him. I left it is his hand as we parted.
I feel as if pieces of my heart are being returned to me here, one at a time. It isn’t that I have lost anything along the way. It is different than that. It is that one thing has taken the place of another, as was necessary to survive. As thoughts and emotions shift some get pushed back, and buried away. The joy and laughter of youthful exuberance, and innocence, makes way for greater seriousness. The spontaneity is channeled into dedication, and purpose. The love and laughter to perseverance and the occasional companion.
I have not lost any of it and the strengths I have developed along the way have served me well! If I have found resilience so I have grasped every joyful moment and experience and not only captured them in words but in spirit and kept them close. I thank God I have them to reflect on and it is those reminders which bring them back to life, and to the fore of my experience. There is no need to lose them but rather a clear requirement to breathe life back into them on a routine basis. Just as one opens the door to a woodstove and brings life back to the coals while adding new fuel to the fire, those joys are all the same. The poetry returns whenever one allows it to, we need only a subtle reminder of its beauty.
So it is I went to the Dollar Store and found a small composition book like to ones I had as a child. It is the prefect vessel for my poetry and I have titled it Footnotes, in honor of the travelers who have inspired it. In making the transition back to a full time employee I had to keep my hand on something tangible to create the needed balance. In my heart I am a free spirit, ever the gypsy, and would have it no other way. At the same time I am still a professional, and in order to achieve the goals I have set I am still willing to apply myself. There will come a time when I will be no longer willing, or able to do so. It seems it may come sooner than later, but my skills, and my willingness, are still very present. I am finding a reward from this in as much of a spiritual means as I am the financial. I will willingly stay the course for so long as this is true. The poetry has returned, a sign for me that all is well. I can ask for nothing more.
Train Song (For Stray, the fellow sitting on his pack with the red beard)
I wanna hear
Another train song
The music of the road
The heartbeat of a memory
From days long past
The tempo of the rails
The whistle of the wind
The rhythm of the highway
On the road again.