Archive | August 2019

BOOK LAUNCH

 

I AM SO EXCITED TO ANNOUNCE THE PUBLICATION OF MY FIRST BOOK, “IF NOT NOW, WHEN?” I WILL BE READING SOME OF MY ESSAYS THIS SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE ADOBE PALACE BALLROOM (NIKE BAR) IN CARRIZOZO, NEW MEXICO, AT 7:30 PM. I WILL ALSO DO A BOOK SIGNING AFTER THE EVENT. PLEASE JOIN US FOR THE ART WALK FROM 6:30 PM TO 9:30 PM.

IF YOU CANNOT ATTEND AND WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE A SIGNED COPY OF MY BOOK FOR $15.00 (plus postage) PLEASE MESSAGE ME HERE OR ON FACEBOOK AND I WILL RESPOND IMMEDIATLY.

THANK YOU FOR FOLLOWING MY PROGRESS AND MAKING THIS DREAM A REALITY! MORE EVENTS TO FOLLOW SOON!

 

 

Just For Today

Camper door

August 25, 2019
Nogal House
Vera Cruz, New Mexico

Just For Today

Just for today I can be still. I woke early as always but lay quietly, and dozed. I watched as the sun made her walk across the mountain slopes, and felt the cool breeze on my face. I am sleeping in my camper, as often as not, for that very reason. I am as close to the earth as I can be, unless I slept directly upon it. Instead I have safe shelter, a comfortable bed, and the immediacy of nature, all within my reach. If I have lived that way for years, this is the ultimate luxury, and I wonder why I didn’t figure it out sooner. For years I camped in the back of my truck, in relative comfort, but lacking a few conveniences. Now I need but walk out the door, and back through another, and I have every comfort I require. Once I have the solar hooked up and a gas stove I can go wherever I please, and will do so every chance I have.

Just for today there are no worries. Certainly I could conjure some if I wished to, as I am profess at the same, but I will not. I am not even greatly concerned about things for the moment, as they will wait for my attention. Tomorrow will arrive soon enough, with all of the usual things to attend to. Instead I will live today for what it is, a glorious late summer day, clear sky, a light breeze, and all the possibilities it can hold. What more can I really ask, or hope for? I am free to do as I please, and have the means to do what I must. That I will put my hands to some art work is a given, and perhaps later wander forth somewhere else. Or not. I am content with my own company also, though it is important to mingle on occasion. Life is good.

I lay still for along moment this morning before I arose. The air was still, and the morning light exquisite. I thought of all the times I have rushed to wake, to go to work, to do all the things I had to do. All of that was necessary, but the single goal I have pursued for so many years was the absence of the same. All I have ever wanted was for my time to be my own to fill as I saw fit. I have given away so much of that, even if it was for a sound purpose. Now I have stopped, taken pause, and reconsidered. I do not want to go back to ‘work’ though it will take a similar effort not to. I will have to be dedicated and diligent should I wish to succeed. I am doing my best to accomplish that. The rewards have been immediate, and just for today, I am still. May all of my tomorrows bring the same.

Body, Mind, and Spirit

Indian PaintbrushNovember 2, 2009
Nogal House
Vera Cruz, New Mexico

Body, Mind and Spirit
My feet found the mountain paths yesterday and led me far and high on an ancient road I had not found in previous journeys. I often set my direction for my walks, pointing myself to the places that beckon the most, but as I often allow the mountains and the canyons to guide me. I have walked these hills for years and am familiar with the sacred spots where people before me worked their flint, stood guard or made camp. So I am with those who carved and pecked their art into the stone, a sign board for all who came after them. I cannot ever fancy myself being the first wanderer to find these places, but also know I am one of few who frequent them on a regular basis.
I found myself straining at the first steep ascent, having not climbed in weeks but rather taking a few more casual ventures down the arroyos I had never explored. My time has been well spent on other ventures but cannot replace the elation of attaining the higher haunts. They are well worth the effort of the climb and even the strain has its returns as my muscles recall their uses. I find the strength to persevere and in but a few minutes have the added vigor to climb the next hill. I find that our bodies, as well as our minds, given the chance and the determination, have a phenomenal ability to rebound from inertia, given there is a sound foundation to return to! Having climbed these hills, having even run up the slopes, it is simply a matter of making it past the nominal effort to find that selfsame vigor of the past. My heart speeds up, my lungs expand and my muscles stretch, soaking up the added oxygen and giving me the strength I require. My mind suddenly finds the greater depth of perception, perhaps from the adrenaline but in equal proportion from the concerted effort that is missing in more casual pursuits. Something greater is required here, another doorway flung open onto a far broader perspective, literally as well as figuratively as I turn to gaze back across the Vista del Valle Ranch!

I have often pondered how it seems such a challenge to apply myself to the things that are the best for me. There are dual reasons for this; the added effort, the denial of more pressing need such as work vs. play, the ease of taking the lesser task over a greater challenge. There is always the temptation of immediate gratification and it is so easy to slip into the comfort of inertia and put off such things for other days. In time it becomes easier. Yet for me there is always the nagging sense of loss and the absence of the genuine elation that can only be found through the genuine effort to achieve some greater goal. Though on the short term we can appease ourselves with some simple pleasure nowhere in that will we ever find the lasting reward of the purer pursuit. Even as I can wander down the arroyo and find the pretty stones left behind from the torrents of rain I can never see over the high walls of the wash to the horizon.
Perhaps for some people simple satisfaction is adequate, but not for me. I fancy myself to be amongst the thrill seekers, but in rhyme and reason more than excess. I need not feel the rush of a plunge from great heights, no more than the adrenaline boost of risking life and limb, but challenge I require. I want to test my muscles, my wind and my mind. I want the heightened awareness to kick in as I climb a steep rocky slope, to watch where I place my feet and my trust, be it mountain or highway, where my instinct alone can guide me. I want to hone my skills, physical and mental, to where they can serve me best, so I can make a flash judgment and have it be sound. There are the same opportunities to address these desires as there are to placate them. As always, the later be readily in reach while the previous will be something to work towards. Such a sad state of affairs that we have learned to cater to the lesser of the two. We even condemn those who make the other choices to being seen as “over achievers” or extremists of one sort or another, non-conformers, for the lives of those who decline the higher pursuits pale in comparison to theirs.
I cannot afford the risk of inertia at this point in my life, for I have reference points to look back on. There have been times when I sought and allowed myself the thrill of the instant pleasures, and I have lived to pay the price. In fact, I believe that having done so makes it even more difficult to attain the goals I have set for myself. My resilience was weakened, the very fibers of my nerves and wit stretched beyond their capacity, and the horizon widened further than the limits of sight. Just as once we have allowed that extra layer of fat cells to form on our waists and thighs, those same voids refill quickly once they have been emptied. I believe our minds do the same, and once the vessel has been stretched any input slips into those empty spaces before it reaches our senses. We must ever reach for a greater height to replenish that. Can it be restored? Only if it remains full, if the effort is a constant, so those spaces, and that muscle memory, are continually replenished, and the voids are never again emptied.
Years ago my mother pointed out to me someone who had worked to achieve a great deal of muscle mass, biceps, pectorals, etc. She explained that having increased these muscles to so great a size this person would have to devote the remainder of their life to maintaining that state of fitness. Otherwise, she advised, it would fall to flab, having been increased beyond its normal boundaries. How well I have learned this as years of hard work kept me slim and fit and those behind a desk allowed the flesh to soften. Even as I gained few pounds the flab outweighed my muscle and my clothes grew taunt as the muscle became soft. I regained that fitness last summer, with no small effort either, but have promised myself to never allow the rebound of such excessive bulk. This means I too must work hard the rest of my life. Such a requirement is a small price to pay for the returns, for even as I must apply such a discipline to my physical activity, so it replenishes my mind as well! For me the pleasure is tenfold of the pain, for to lose my strength, to relinquish the fitness that has been restored would be to surrender my mind, body and spirit. That is far too great a price to pay for even a moment’s pleasure!Indian Paintbrush

Suddenly

SUDDENLY

August 19, 2019
Nogal House
Indian Divide, New Mexico

Suddenly…….

And then suddenly
I arrive
At this place
Where nothing else
Matters
But my own sanity
And completion
Where material things
Are irrelevant
Except for the fact
Of the immediate
Necessities

Of course
One must have lived
A similar
Existence
For the better part
Of her life
To truly have
The freedom
To exercise
This
Though there are others
Who have not
And still defected
But the principle
Of
No harm
No foul
Then
Comes into play

Even then
If one has
So few
Connections
To conventional
Wisdom
To direct
Their course
There are still
The necessities
Of ones’ own
Moral compass
There are debts
To be paid
And commitments
To be met
But something inside
Of me
Has severed
And the approach
Will be altered
Going forward

What is more
Precious
Than the satisfaction
Of ones
Deepest
Desires
So long as
They are rooted
In sound judgement
What else
Is more important
Than the simple joy
Of true happiness
And serenity

In my case
There is no other
True need
Nor desire
To be filled
And the chance
To just
Find stillness
Means more
Than any
Material wealth
Or gain
That can be offered

Suddenly
This all became
So clear
A brief rain
On a cool
Summers day
The soft howl
Of the wind
Off the mountainside
The utter silence
Of the moment
Here
On the hillside
In utter solitude
The brief absence
Of necessity
Or distraction
Suddenly………..

Focus

 

August 15, 2019
Nogal House
Indian Divide, New Mexico

Focus

I brought things back into focus yesterday and will make every effort to keep them there. I woke well as a result of that same effort. Yesterday it was the wind that ordered my thoughts, today it is the stillness which followed it. That and the rain, and one such as the earth has begged for all summer. This was the true monsoon rain, arriving late in the day after threatening from early morning. The clouds cloaked the mountains at dawn, and then circled and built through the day. I watched them from the ranch, sitting on the tractor, for eight hours. They built and circled, turned the southwest sky dark grey, moved east, and built again. Ironically, the true storm came in from the north and moved south, threatening for an hour before it let loose.

If I danced all day with that storm, watching and waiting for it to come in, I also misjudged it in the end. I am working on my friend’s ranch mowing the fields, and I thought sure it would catch me on the tractor, but I was close to my truck. It takes likely ten minutes to circle the field I was mowing, so there was no worry. I have done this before, and I might get damp, but not soaked. The fact is, usually the lightning will make me flee before the rains ever come. I have been in that same field when the lightning struck so close that the cows ran. I was close behind them. That never came yesterday. Instead I finished the field and even thought about moving the tractor to the north end of the ranch, but decided against it. By then the sky to the north had turned dark, and the storm gathered in earnest.

Instead I drove my truck along the two track north, to check the one crossing at the arroyo before I moved the tractor to that far field. This arroyo, or some branch of it, dissects the entire ranch. This particular crossing is steep on the edges but sandy on the bottom. Of all the crossings it is the one that stays clear, but it is best to be sure, as the banks could wash out there as anywhere else. It is also far easier to reach and return from by truck. If the old Ford tractor is resilient, so it is slow, and if I needed to turn back I would lose more time, and maybe even get wet. So I drove. The crossing, as always, was passable, though I had to use the four wheel drive to get through it, as the banks are soft and dry, or they were! The way the rain came through made the arroyos run last night, and it might merit yet another inspection today.

I turned back after the arroyo and crossed it to the south with the storm still building behind me. The rain was close but I spotted a dead pinion to the east and drove across to inspect it. As I pulled up I spotted a deer antler laying nearby, and laughed joyfully at the discovery. It is always a gift to find a horn, but after the years spent on the Apache Reservation in search of the same, the find had even more meaning. I took the horn to be a blessing, on myself, the day, and the choices I had made to arrive there. I might have waved the extra effort, I might have returned to the tree I was already cutting on, I might have just gone home, but I didn’t. It was already five o’clock, I had mowed for eight hours, but I still chose to cut wood instead. Following past experience I took a moment to look for the other horn, small as it was. The two forks told me it was a young buck, and the horn was already turned white, so it had lain there for at least a year, if not two. If they so often drop both horns close together the other was likely gone, fodder for a porcupine or some other creature, searching for salt. Whatever the cause, the other horn was nowhere to be found, but the brief search was joyful all the same. Even after a day in the field, simply being outside is a joy in itself, and a pleasure in every sense of the word. Failing at the effort to find the prize, I returned to the tree and sharpened my chainsaw. If the storm was building fast, it was still several miles away.

I cut wood for a good hour before I felt the rain drops, but I savored the cool breeze also. I perused the sky, and kept at my work, even as the thunder drew close. I was on a slight rise, but the lighting was far off, miles yet to go. Finally, it began to rain, softly, but gaining strength. I stacked the wood I had fallen and gathered my tools. Even as I stripped off my chaps it began to rain in earnest, though not heavily. By the time I rolled up the truck windows the drops were steady and I started to hurry a bit, given that the road would get slick by the gate. I have four wheel drive, and it was engaged, but the road is risky at the end. I crossed through the brush to the two track I had followed north, and turned back to the south, stopping at the tractor to close the hood as I had left it open to cool. When I had driven north there was still a chance I might have moved it to the other fields, and would have fueled it if I had. By this time it was pouring rain, and enough to soak my jacket through in seconds. I laughed at myself, and recalled the knowledge that rain represents those who are passed from our lives, and returning to see us. I knew who it was in a glance, and welcomed his presence, he who I hunted horns with for so long………..

When I reached the mowed field I stayed to the grass to keep from tearing up the road. Just an hour ago I had taken a picture of the old two track to show it had finally grown in, and did not want to disturb it. Besides, the grass isn’t as slick, and the field was still dry enough to cross, even as the rain began to soak in. I made the gate in style, even if the dirt was already slick, I had minutes to spare. The gate was different. I paused a moment to peruse the storm and it gathered strength immediately. I laughed again, as I knew better, and it was pouring when I exited the truck. Of course it took a minute to straighten the chain also, long enough to get soaked, and even my pants got wet. Back in the truck, I opted for the heater, and recalled my thoughts from the morning, that the wind sounded like winter. It won’t be long now!

I drove out to the highway slowly, enjoying the storm. The mountains were cloaked in the haze of the rainfall and I thought of the blessings it brought. The ground is scorched, and begging for moisture. The field was dusty when I mowed, and just a dull green from the broom weed, with the grasses laying low in waiting for this storm. They will green now, and reward me for my efforts with a late crop of pure grass, and the weeds a fine mulch. If the rains continue it will be better yet, and this storm, late as it is, was still a good sign. We have a few weeks yet, and maybe the monsoon will stay. I admired the small horn as I headed home, its surface smooth and soft, and a little darker on the bottom. It has a few deep scratches, perhaps from a scrap or two, a rambunctious young buck so it seems. Perhaps I may see him one day, though I will never know if it is him for certain. Maybe I will find the other side, or better yet, this years’ sheds, if I am so lucky. I am home, back at the ranch, and cutting wood, and I am focused. And quite blessed I must say! Life is good when we allow it to be. Such is my focus.

Just Today

Just Today

August 4, 2019
Nogal House
Indian Divide, New Mexico

Just Today

There is just today. I have no need to contemplate yesterday, nor to worry about tomorrow, though neither are far from my mind. The fact is, there is just today, to live, to breathe, and to find some sense of harmony in my life. This seems to be such a simple task, viewed from that perspective, but is also a challenge. That simple harmony I speak to is not always so easily attained, as valuable and precious as it is to my very existence. It also needs to be a greater priority than I have allowed it to be, and I would like to focus on that going forward.

What a perspective to view this life from for a change; ‘Just Today’. If I have ever decided to make this perspective an active part of my life, it has never appeared to me at quite this same angle. I live each day as fully as possible, as I have professed to live my life as well. The premise of living each day as if it was my last has always guided my choices, in hopes that I will have no regrets should I find my time is done. In my youthful travels this was a constant incentive, now it is even more critical and yet not always an immediate consideration. My goals have superseded that and the willingness to sacrifice my immediate happiness for the attainment of some greater sense of freedom somehow became the priority. Now, there is just today, and that same sense of freedom I have worked towards is as immediate as that. The choice is mine, as it always has been.

My dilemma is this; I have plan for the day which differs from what I might chose to do otherwise. I am gazing up the hillside and thinking I should go for a hike. I am as close to the wilderness here as a stones’ throw, it is just across the fence. The mountains touch my yard and the slopes rise from here. I can walk, as I always have, up into the canyons or seek the higher slopes, and have done so often. It would be a pleasant way to spend the morning, and there is a soft breeze to cool the air. Then there is the ranch, where I have planned to go, and which offers a nearly equal solace. I can go start the tractor, mow the fields, and savor that same cool breeze and the miles long views from my perch. It also takes less effort, though I need the exercise also. Either way I shall be content, though the latter is the most practical choice. If I am thriftier, as I have so often been, I will bring my chainsaw. I will cut a few pieces of wood before I come home, and the satisfaction of doing so will be worth the effort. I will get some much needed exercise, and the return, come winter, will be even better.

It is my good fortune that I have two choices which will both fulfill my needs. In fact, it will be best to leave it at that, so far as my plans go. Rather than complicate things, I would as soon keep it simple, just for today. The temptation is to look past that, to bring in the goals of the past and the prospects of the future, but neither applies for the moment. When I chose to walk away from my job I left a lot of things behind me, much more than the immediate challenges which turned my heart towards home. Not that those goals are not still on the horizon, but the approach, as well as the priorities, has been altered significantly. There is no reason to be concerned about how that will play out, at least not for today.

I am free to choose how I will live the rest of my life, including just living each day as it comes, which may well be the preference, at least for now. If I was to define one goal I have worked towards, it has been for the opportunity to do just that, with no other distractions. All I want to do is live for today. The requirement that I find the means to sustain that has never been a concern, as I am good at such things. The bigger stuff, not so much, but I will find a means to deal with those also. Each day, that has never been much of an issue unless I get to worrying about tomorrow, which is such a waste of the present. Perhaps that is why the thought of setting a clear destination has always been so daunting, I am too busy with the present moment to look that far ahead. I may just be better off not to do that, at least for just today. I should let the challenges come of their own accord, not create more in the interim.

Just for today, there is money in the bank, work to be done for which I will be paid, and plenty of materials to work with. If I simply stay the course I have been on I can go sell some artwork, collect some money and pay all of my immediate bills, without tapping into my meager reserves. If I could do that every month I would be fine, and the opportunity to do so is there, for today and every one beyond that. When I narrow the perspective down to that I have so much less to be concerned about, and I am much better off to do so. I have struggled with the long term prospects for years, and just for today, I will take pause. If there are stumbling blocks, they are still too distant to see, and they will arrive soon enough, so why hurry them?

At day break I faced the east, the mountains and the rising sun, and gave thanks for all of the blessings in my life. I was rewarded by the gentle touch of the breeze upon my skin, and the brightening of the sky as the sun tried to break through the clouds. I breathed in the fresh morning air and thought about how wonderful it was to simply be alive to greet another day. I looked out on the beauty of the mountains and the sky and thought about all of the blessings that surround me every moment of my life. Just for today I will do my best to simply remain in the moment and savor the fact that I am here to appreciate it. I will walk forward into the ever present beauty of my surroundings, and remind myself of all the things I have to be thankful for, which have remained such a constant in my life. I will leave the past where it belongs and not worry about the future. Just for today.