Archive for the ‘moving’ Category

wide open

January 19, 2019
One of the regular sites I go to has an editor that ends his weekly round-up of madcap news stories (all political because that’s where the crazies most regularly perform) with an excerpt from something he’s reading.  He posted this a week ago.

“To be a good human is to have a kind of openness to the world, an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control, that can lead you to be shattered in very extreme circumstances for which you were not to blame. That says something very important about the ethical life: that it is based on a trust in the uncertainty, and on a willingness to be exposed. It’s based on being more like a plant than a jewel: something rather fragile, but whose very particular beauty is inseparable from that fragility.”

from The Monarchy of Fear: a Philosopher Looks at Our Political Crisis by Martha C. Nussbaum

This week he had a quotation from Hunter S. Thompson.
“We are turning into a nation of whimpering slaves to Fear—fear of war, fear of poverty, fear of random terrorism, fear of getting down-sized or fired because of the plunging economy, fear of getting evicted for bad debts or suddenly getting locked up in a military detention camp on vague charges of being a Terrorist sympathizer.”
You can see the drift.  I think fear provides the terms of courage, but we can’t deny ourselves the chance to talk about the fear not only for healing trauma but more importantly in the off chance that there are people who need to see how life works from the inside-out.
Since the horrific holiday I endured many small kindnesses have been bestowed upon me  I don’t mean to diminish the significance of all of them by sharing a story of one in particular that ended up being … perhaps … a gift I wouldn’t have accepted if I’d understood the terms in advance.
Without dredging up the murky details, I needed another vehicle and a person in the middle of the week without almost no advance notice possible to get me out of the house I’d been renting.  If I hadn’t met a former NPS co-worker in a grocery store parking lot on Christmas Eve, I would have been out of luck.  Furloughed by the government shutdown, near by, and still harboring kind thoughts of me from our brief time working side-by-side in the late summer of 2017, Chris had assured me he’d be there when the time came.  And he was.  However, in circumstances he would never have allowed himself to get into, given his overall conservative, if not downright timorous nature, he couldn’t help but feel that his vehicle loan & mediocre stacking assistance also required a large portion of advice on how to live my life going forward.
This attitude had been seeping out in the short time I’d rushed around packing and shifting my few belongings into his truck and my car.  But it was when we finally got to my new apartment and I offered to buy him lunch as a thank you that he pronounced his final act of largesse.
“You can thank me by never talking about this to people,” he answered.  “If you meet a man, don’t start talking about court cases and suing your landlord and this and that.  He’ll label you as a ‘drama-mama’ and stay as far away from you as you can.  Just forget about what happened and put it all behind you.”
What I had endured in the almost three weeks since an alcoholic landlord had gone to the magistrate and secured an emergency protective order against me based on lies he wasn’t required to prove deserved more than this.  I hadn’t required my former co-worker to sympathize – I had friends who were there for that – just to help me move with a minimum amount of judgment.  He had fallen short, and I felt bad that I was unable to be 100% grateful for the little he’d been able to offer that I had indeed needed.
After he left, my thoughts were now not only oppressed by the recent reign of terror but also that this person was sincerely convinced that by counselling me to keep my mouth shut he was doing me a favor, one greater than providing a truck.  That this person had been witness to another instance of my being bullied out of a job the Autumn we worked together and that he was currently furloughed due to the government shutdown — another manifestation of the bullying now in full ascendance everywhere — made it more dispiriting.  His advice distinctly implied that I was drawing these unfortunate events to me by my behavior and that to stop them I must never speak of them to anyone.  Was there no possibility of making connections in this increasingly hostile world that were based on solidarity against the oppressors?  Did we all have to cower in fear, hoping the storm would pass over us and devastate someone else — hopefully someone we didn’t know so we could pretend we “deserved” our near-miss?
Well, the mind, if cultivated assiduously, is there to find or create some form of survival mechanism, whether it’s a tattered life raft or an elaborate long-range escape plan.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that I wasn’t required to buy into the fear he was shoveling.  Buying into it, in fact, was the one sure way to make it grow bigger, stronger, more dangerous.  Testifying about the fear, about the trauma, was one avenue to finding out who was willing to stand beside me and say “Me too.”  It was a way to remind others hiding in the dark places of their mind, in the most depressed moments of their — and our nation’s — lives, that it is because of fear that we are able to express faith and hope and courage.  To be, in essence, a human being, one still capable of openness and trust, the only species I’m a card-carrying member of and the only species capable of creating a way out of this mess.

A trick of light

April 28, 2018

a good omen

A post I wrote years ago was about rainbows.  A friend had given me a crystal pieced out from a chandelier, and when the sunlight hit, small rainbows would dance across the surrounding surfaces.  On sunny days, Bandit would tire himself chasing them; on cloudy days, he sit morose, troubled for a reason he couldn’t quite identify.  My post ended with the proclamation, “yes, Bandit, there will be rainbows.”  It’s a phrase I’ve thought of again and again over the many years, cloudy and sunny.

In this beautiful location where I’ve been privileged to nest for almost 7 months, the same crystal, hanging from a east-facing french door, has brought me many rainbows.  That I have struggled with many demons during this time of solitude is an understatement.  Yet each time I see those bouncing dots of refracted light, I think of Bandit’s joy, which for me represents a total commitment of being in the moment that is the gift of incarnation.

George and I will be leaving today.  We will be going to a place that will challenge us both in ways we currently cannot imagine.  I am hoping, for both of our sake’s, that we will find strength in knowing that even during our lowest moments what is best in ourselves and in others is also present.  Last night’s lovely rainbow over the Potomac seems a good harbinger for our new adventures.

 

 

Double rainbow

August 5, 2017

I’m scheduled to give my first (and only) Evening Program at Bandelier’s amphitheater tonight which means it will be a long, long day.  If I decide to come home afterward, once I’ve successfully managed to dodge the elk and mule deer on the road over the Jemez Mountains, I won’t fall into bed until well past 11.  Then I need to get back on the road by 8:30 for Sunday’s shift.  I did manage to get some sleep last night but was awake by 4:30.  Combining a persistent low level exhaustion with the fact that my Evening Program isn’t anywhere near completed as I type this, I think it’s safe to say that a very interesting day lies ahead.

As I prepare to wrap up this part of my life and move back to Virginia, so many thoughts/plans are running through my head.  Adding to all of the usual miseries of relocation, over the past 45 days or so, my car has been having issues that have only within the past 2 days been diagnosed:  a leaking head gasket.

I have a rental car reserved for my cross-country drive, but there’s a part of me that thinks the leak is not too severe since the car never overheats.  So I’m going to try one more fix:  a product that seals leaking head gaskets.  Sure, one issue that’s inspiring me to try one last fix is money, but I also have this feeling that this car & I are not quite at the end of our relationship.  Arguably silly, I’ll agree, but I’m just not one to buy into our disposable culture.  Plus I tend to anthropomorphize inanimate objects; it may be a genetic thing:  to this day my mom acts as if she coax her car into lasting longer by not driving it often.  As if one can bargain with a car!

So this morning while I’ve been researching the gasket lead and repair possibilities on-line, I’ve also been roasting a chicken for the week ahead.  (the best recipe https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1015182-marcella-hazans-roast-chicken-with-lemons)

As I was walking in and out of the house, running the car engine, noting the white smoke blowing from the tail pipe, checking the fluid, etc., the tantalizing smell of a roasting chicken filled my adobe’s airy rooms.  The sun struggled to rise above the bank of clouds hanging low in the east as a few sprinkles fell.  Standing over the car engine, coolant in hand, I looked up and saw a double rainbow.

My thoughts have been busy unpacking that dark closet full of all the things that could go wrong, and I’ve forgotten to appreciate all that has gone, and is going, right:  a job here and one awaiting me in Virginia, long-time friends who are looking forward to seeing me again, more adventures on the horizon, a black cat who manages to hang on regardless of what happens next, a sweet little home, a car that (still) works, money in the bank to cover (some) emergencies, a chicken roasting in the house, and much, much more.

Just as that double rainbow – just a simple trick of light – has reminded others of what holds their lives together, it arrived to arc across the New Mexico sky and remind me.  It won’t make all those dark problems, today’s and tomorrow’s, go away, but it does tell me I have the strength to endure and the capacity to enjoy.

Summer’s end

September 27, 2016

I think this is my favorite moon phase:  past last quarter, earthshine illuminating the new moon cradled in the old moon’s arms.  Before dawn I can bundle up and push out the door to see the stars of Taurus, Orion, Gemini, and now Leo rising, while the cat, whom wiser, more careful owners wouldn’t dream of letting loose in Yellowstone, joins me excitedly, muttering goblin-like joyful meows.

Pretty much all I know of where I’ll be in a week is that I will no longer be here.  I have received many gifts this summer, all of which will take up no extra room packed away in my car.  Even if it’s years until I return to Yellowstone, I know that the next time I do I will be comparing the woman I was before I arrived to the woman I was when I left.  Since kindness, patience, love, and wisdom are the only qualities I’ve ever valued deeply, having added to my capacity for each this magical summer, I leave much richer than when I arrived.

aspens at Lehardy Rapids

aspens at Lehardy Rapids

the luckiest

April 27, 2016

My lower back is aching again.  This might be due to the apartment’s sagging mattress, old enough by now to have earned a college diploma, or maybe drinking an extra cup of coffee each morning and a few beers to smooth out the edges around sunset are taking their toll on my besieged kidneys.  Whatever the cause, I’m hoping I’ll get to the end of both conditions before my sacrum takes it upon itself to relocate as it did last November since every one of my sorely tested capacities will be summoned for what’s ahead of me in the next 3 weeks:  relocating to Yellowstone National Park.

When I moved to this tiny bedsit, I boasted it would take only a day or so to leave.  Inadvertently I set myself up for another lesson in how ego can trip you up since that boast didn’t account for the possibility that when I did depart 30 months later, I would only be able to take with me what could fit in my small sedan.  Still, despite the tasks of trying to cull the little I have, drive 4 days across country with my cat, and then cram into my deteriorating grey matter as much information about Yellowstone and compose interpretative tours in my first 2 weeks, I don’t expect to receive anyone’s sympathy.  One day, this stage of my life will be behind me, and I will have stepped onto another, one I managed to fashion in the face my deepest doubts and strongest fears.

When I thought about putting this news on my blog, I couldn’t think of anyway to announce it that would have much relevance to anyone other than a far-flung friend checking to see what I might be up to.  And maybe that’s how it will remain.  The other night, however, I dined with a friend who is facing yet another incident reminding her of how unsuitable her boyfriend is as a life-partner and how she needs to start building a life separate from his.  I listened to her self-recriminations and remembered how hopeless I felt all winter long as I sent applications off into the void, not sure whether a single one of them would be read by a pair of human eyes.  I had recently read the journal entry I’d made after applying for the Yellowstone position, and I shared with her how anxious and fearful I had been.  “You’re going to be scared every step of the way,” I assured her.  “And you can’t let that stop you.”

Every creative act is a risk, and every risk is terrifying and exhilarating, energizing and debilitating, elevating and humbling.  That such extremes exist within ourselves and in the natural world doesn’t seem surprising to me at this moment.  Yellowstone, here I come.

Nomadic Property Management: This must be the place

November 3, 2013

I’ve stopped counting the number of times I’ve moved. Not thinking about moving is the best policy.

Aside from all the agony and all the losses, moving has given me the chance to create in some incredible spaces. The view from my ex’s Salt Lake City apartment, for instance, perched high on the western hills of the Capitol, is as easily conjured as his smile. Would I have been so besotted if he’d lived in a musty basement, willing to switch from my sweet 1 bedroom in the high desert of Southern Utah?

With no additional evidence beyond past experience, when I learned I would be required to, argh! move again, I did my due diligence: memorizing craigslist postings, querying friends and acquaintances for any leads, working to stay upbeat after touring the down-scale rentals with up-scale rents. Mid-September, nothing was looking feasible, so I put a deposit down on something barely feasible even with the income from an additional, imaginary job. Good fortune was riding with me when the agent forgot to bring the lease and was obviously too scattered to get it in front of me quickly.

That weekend, the unsigned lease for the too expensive place in my in-box, what I’d really been hoping for arrived – a lead. It arose in the quarter I’d expected it to, an acquaintance I’d formed only recently but fortuitously. His mother knew a woman with an empty in-law apartment. Would I be interested?

I didn’t know the woman, only vaguely knew the area, didn’t know the rent or whether she’d accept cats, but I already knew I would say yes. The universe was letting me know I was going to be okay.

More than okay, and more than just me. My new home ranks as one of the most charming apartments I’ve lived in, situated on grounds as beautiful as an English landscaped park. My two cats, Bandit and George, have landed in paradise, a mere door separating them from their cozy home and the great outdoors.

Although the apartment is tiny – more correctly labeled a bedsit – the grounds are a second, vaster room, providing horizons when I’m looking for perspective, as well as sunsets, sunrises, the moon and the stars. It is here that I’m continuing my attempts to be a better person, do something constructive, and step lightly.

My luck in finding this spot has been so overwhelming that there are stretches when I forget to feel gratitude. Or, more specifically, I forget to allow the gratitude to squelch the flares of anger, hurt, and resentment that other encounters ignite. Deceit and discourtesy have disturbed my balance as have decisions others make to further their life goal’s. The ten thousand things. I’m afraid the luck is making me lazy too. Why strain to change the course of events when what’s coming for you will arrive in due time?

I suppose my life will be composed of such questions, lingering discomforts, and a few bright moments of unclouded joy. Maybe that’s why I keep enduring the moves. Because there’s nothing like the experience to rouse you to the quest of searching for where you belong, ending with that moment when you look around and know that the world is your home.