May 8, 2020
Indian Divide, New Mexico
I went to town yesterday. Whoohoo, but really, all the way to Ruidoso, twenty four miles away. So what? No big deal except that I haven’t been much further than ten miles from home since mid-March and before a few days ago that was just to Capitan and back for necessities. No wait, I did go to Three Rivers once, but that was weeks ago. A few days ago I ran to Carrizozo for ice just because I was closer to there than Capitan, but I have avoided that place too. Carrizozo is at the crossroads to the world with Highway 54 being a main artery from Mexico to Canada. When I went into the Dollar Store there (safer than Allsups?) the kid at the register had no mask or gloves and I wondered if he was brave or stupid. Maybe both? I wore my mask and sanitized my hands after I was done. I won’t likely go back for a while. The folks at the Capitan store go back and forth on the masks and sanitizer but they are also a little more isolated. Still, I see license plates at the grocery store from all over the country and I am always cautious and try to get in and out quickly. I’m not nervous, just mindful of myself and others! I socialize outside as much as possible and don’t even go in my son’s house. Just saying.
My caution was affirmed yesterday, or at least I feel like it was. The gals at Walgreens were all masked and gloved and the pharmacist even sanitized her gloves before she handed me my prescription. I’m good with that. At the same time it heightened my wariness a bit. I have been very cautious and quite aware of the seriousness of this pandemic and their attention to protecting me affirmed that. I waved any other stops in town and it was with some relief that I pointed my truck back towards home. I have finally found that I can negate the tendency to dwell on the concerns when I am safe at home and I need no more reminders. There are enough reminders when I talk to my sister in New York or hear the news of the passage of people I know to keep me attuned. I made the mistake of looking at a map of the cases in the country today and that just made it worse. The highlights on the east coast are terrifying, and they should be. The sparsity here is a blessing, but it could radiate over time as well. I am happy to stay here.
So I came away with a new perspective on my life, at least for the present time. If I have always been grateful to have this place to retreat to I have dug my heels in deeper yet. If I have gardened before I am now gardening in earnest. If I have always been something of a survivalist I am now devotedly so. When my garden takes a hold as it is now trying to do in spite of an ongoing battle with the pack rats it will flourish. If I can get my water from the well to storage I could nearly lock the gate. I’m not ready for that, and have no desire to do so, but it is good to know that I can. I may even get a few chickens now that meat seems to be taking a hit. I bought my last steak for a while and that was a splurge, or more of a knee jerk reaction. There were two to the pack and I am sated from half of the first. Perhaps I will make jerky out of the other and nibble on that for a few weeks. I am already providing for my protein with other things anyway and I refuse to pay $9.00 or more for a pound of any sort of meat. I’ll go kill some if I have too!
There is more to this than that though. I don’t venture out very often but I do on occasion. I enjoy my solitude but like to socialize. I have spent more time alone in the last few weeks than any time in memory. I suffered a bit even, and had to really sort through my life, but I learned a lot. It’s funny but my routine now is very much the same as it was before this all happened but my appreciation of things is greater. I am approaching my art with a new vigor and creating things more mindfully than in the past. I’m not selling anything and I am going to have to get more creative in that effort, but my joy in the effort of creating it has redoubled. That means a better product in the end and I know it will sell going forward. The approach I am taking also fulfills my spiritual needs in a wonderful way. If I have always enjoyed doing art it is now a necessary part of my life. I look forward to the time I spend creating and brings me a brand of happiness I have been missing for too long. My garden and my other efforts are also more enjoyable and rewarding. Something has shifted yet again in my life and I won’t change that going forward. My appreciation for all things has heightened in equal measures to my reverence. I know that I am blessed and want to be as worthy of that as I possibly can. It will also take more effort to make me venture out even when the constraints on my travels are lifted. I am content to stay here.
I wonder what our lives are going to look like six months from now. Who would have thought we would ever even have to entertain that question. Two months ago that would have been a much different perspective. It is almost mid-May so that will put us in November. Scary. We will be going into another winter wondering how bad the ‘flu’ season will be. If our distrust of the flu vaccine has always been there we may or may not have yet another to choose from. We will be afraid to take it and afraid not to. We will ‘want’ to stay home. We may all have an array of color coded masks to match each mood and outfit. We will all probably have one that says ‘STAY AWAY’ by then for the people who still want to get too close and are by nature the least cautious. It will be a new measure of respect that there will be those who acknowledge our desire for caution and that others will want to push the envelope, literally. If you love me you won’t insist on a hug or a handshake. Go figure! Sadly, some of the people I most want to hug do not understand why I refuse to do so. What a difficult thing that is. I find that I have to hug my son but even that is risky!
I am wondering about the future but the reality is my life has already been altered, as has everyone else’s. I did not enjoy going to town yesterday, except for the drive and the one new person I chanced to meet. She was cool! An energetic young lady with a big aura of joyfulness. I had stopped to inquire about a water container and we ended up talking for 20 minutes. What a joy that was after such limited interaction I have had of late. In parting she told me, “I want to be like you when I get older”. That my friends, is one of the greatest compliments I can ask for, and it is one I offer to others on occasion also. I word it differently, given that it is so often directed towards people of advanced age. I say, “I want to be like you when I grow up”. Hopefully I get to live that long! My point is this, I do want to live that long and I want to do so joyfully. I see now where my approach to that will have to be woven into this new perspective I have.
I want and need to be social and will put more effort into that. But, I am also going to fill my time alone as richly as I can and that requires a degree of mindfulness that I am learning to create in greater volumes than in the past. I am not stuck at home. I am home, and I am most grateful to be here. Sure, it is remote and isolated and at times I have wished to be closer to society as a whole, but not right now. I am in the safest of places for the moment and no matter what happens it will remain that way. Even if another wave of this pandemic, or some other, should roll across the country, I’m pretty safe. If I have to close my gate at least I know that I can, and that I will be secure and comfortable behind it. I also know that in and of myself I can fill my time with rewarding pursuits. I can do my art and I can pen my words, even from a distance from everyone else. I also hope that I can find the willingness and ability to market those so I can sustain myself without having to venture too far from my doorstep. In all of the years I have lived here that has never been more appealing than it is right now. It just took a little perspective to remind me of that