Posts Tagged ‘Justice’

creatures and habit

Well.  Monday really WAS a pretty uphill, perhaps even truly awful, day, wasn’t it?

Getting in touch with the reality of how we all suffer and experience pain is probably not anybody’s first choice of what to do today, but there it is.  The feelings we have, what we think about things- all such a mystery in terms of Other People.  So when someone, Another Person, does something we find unexpected and shocking, everything gets thrown up into the air.  It’s amazing that it takes the pain of experiencing that to show us that we really are all deeply connected.  Obviously I am referring to the death of Robin Williams and the rolling heartbreak that has followed. A brave soul, continuing a journey that we can no longer see.  It’s not hard to understand.  It’s just hard to live with.

Then we have Missouri.  Jesus God, people.  How long is it going to be before people finally wake up and smell the coffee in this country?  We have a militarized police force which, in many areas, doesn’t  even do things like respond to burglary calls or do basic protect and serve stuff.  I watched apologists on PBS saying things like, well, smaller municipalities don’t have this issue (of police beating and shooting unarmed civilians).  Clearly, they haven’t been HERE, because if they had been they’d know that the police in these parts often shoot first and forget about taking the names.  A former mayor of Ferguson said in what seemed almost word for word lockstep with George Wallace that they really had tried to recruit African Americans for the police department but those people just wouldn’t come to the Academy- it was hauntingly familiar language to what we’ve heard forever about why inequality (which is an inadequate word for this stuff) persists.   There was some talk about how surprised people were at seeing the tear gas and shooting and unrecognizable authority figures in battle dress taking aim.   Again, I just had to wonder where they’ve been for the past fifty years.

Another opportunity to take a deep breath.  The only thing for it is to keep trying, I decided.  Keep putting love first, and understanding.  When I’m thinking in the old way, it’s frightening looking out at the world.  When I come from a place of letting go and taking in to let go again, it’s still frightening but at the same time the possibilities are visible.  Dimly, yes, but visible.  Non-violence takes a long time, as the Dalai Lama remarked.  A good bit of non-violence resides in not adding more fuel in the form of one’s own negativity, fear, and opinions to whatever is swirling around us.  Fuses are short all around, which means we need even more to make the effort to see the common threads in things and try not to set them on fire.  Today’s challenge.

the search for equanimity

At the end of a rather long, sticky, malaise-ish day, I found myself watching an ancient temple being blown up in Iraq by the Caliphate Installation Crew.  This made me think that perhaps the tide is about to turn.  The people, who have endured unspeakable, unnameable, unthinkable awfulnesses all over that part of the world for so long- those people may finally be at a point of saying, LOOK HERE PILGRIM.  YOU’RE FINISHED.  YOU GOT TWO SECONDS TO GET YOUR RAGGEDY ASS OUT OF TOWN.  Or words to that effect.   Finally it gets to be simply too much.

I’ve had this (what I think of as a bit of a) fantasy for a while.  It involves the sheer weight of the evil in the world toppling itself over and crumbling, from its own rottenness.  Even though the Partner looks at me when I say things like this in a, poor soft headed thing let’s get her a HAT sort of way, *I* think it’s kind of like a martial art where you use the energy and strength of your opponent against him without overly exerting yourself.   It has been so easy to leap to judgment, have opinions about all this stuff, because after all.  Evil is recognizable.  The situation in Palestine is beyond travesty, and just like so much of that part of the world, stems from the business/corporate/political lines that got drawn after the World Wars by the “winners”.    The War Against Terror?  The whatever-it-was in Viet Nam?  The apotheosis, if you will, of petroleum?  It is really too easy to afix blame and add yet more anger and intemperance to the mix.

So there we were yesterday, sweltering and covering our faces because of all the smoke from the fires, just pondering all this.  A moment of sliding downhill, thinking about groundlessness and in that particular moment, that thinking having a rather “why bother?” cast to it.  If indeed there is nothing to hold on to, no comfort, no overt “reward”, why do we practice?  Because.  Once you start, you have to continue.  This is true of meditation, life, gardening, keeping your nails trimmed, everything.  The headlong plunges we all take into unproductive thought patterns are just signs to pay a bit more attention.  The difficulty I was having, in part and as always, had to do with just what does one do to shift things in a more positive direction?  Living in the United States one automatically is inundated with propaganda about (among other things of course) religion, which includes the apparent diktat that Israel can do no wrong.  Yet I observe Israel pretty much doing unto others that which was done unto them.  Easy to place blame there.  At the same time, all that oppression and corruption on the other side?  Doesn’t leave them in a sparklingly spotless place either.  I live in a country that really does, in fact, do a lot of very incredibly rotten things.  So there we all are, yes?  Is this about pointing fingers about whose hands are dirtiest?

No.  It’s about realizing that we all feel  and want the same things.  Period.  This is the only real immutable truth- we really are one.  Even those at the tip of the social pyramid who seem to think only of destroying everything in their paths.  Things in nature are good as they are without manipulation and technological “advances”.  Time, as I decided yet again this morning, to put the stick down and lift up the heart.   When things look awful outside of you, they’re probably a reflection of how you feel inside.  Simplistic but true, even insofar as it extends to things like dust-rhinos under the table, and definitely as it extends to wanting to shoot someone.  The pressure of this time, which is intense, is all about things needing to get on a balanced footing before we all tumble irretrievably to destruction.  I have a hard time believing that the human race really is this stupid- that humans cannot look at what is pulling their strings and refuse to cooperate in the perfidy any more.  Then you get to the fun part where you get to do the cooperation joyfully.  More on that, I suspect, to come.  But perhaps the simple thing of putting a smile on one’s face and feeling it is a good start.   The next big thing is about how Doing Nothing isn’t as easy as it seems.  I’m sure it all fits together though.  Somehow.

do unto others

It seems simple enough, really.  But it turns out that doing unto others as you would have them do unto you doesn’t always work seamlessly.  Sometimes the others don’t seem to be paying attention, and sometimes our own motives aren’t as clear to us as they should be.  It’s not so easy to know why you’re here and what you’re supposed to be doing.  Just because YOU use your turn signal, right? doesn’t mean that the idiot in front of you even knows they have one.

But, as Sherlock Holmes said, once you remove the impossible whatever remains, however improbable, is your solution.  So, the fact that the world and my little existence both appear to be tottering on a sharp and ragged edge isn’t coincidence.  The fact that it can take years to understand things enough to perceive patterns and move forward properly is not a deterrent to development.   The hugeness of what is before us just IS; our job is to work on recognizing that.

In that vein, one thing that has been requiring practice is understanding what it is I “do”.  It doesn’t fit in to the mold, really, and it is evidently really easy for people to dismiss.  Not to mention where it sits on the economic totem pole.  But that may be the actual salient feature.  Right now it looks to me as though people who do things that actually help move things forward (thinkers  and problem solvers of all sorts) don’t always get the financial rewards. Investment bankers get the rewards at the same time as they bestow the kiss of death through over-production.  But you do these thinkings and solvings because you must; it is what you are, what speaks to you no matter what and makes you act.   Somehow, that is always enough to live on.  The other day I understood something about my work that had been a mystery to me for several years.  A pattern about how energy moves through the body and what variations of it produce revealed itself just like that (well, not “just” like that), and a knotty problem seemed amenable to resolution.  It was striking, not least because I actually remembered it later and it made sense. It made me think that really, it IS enough to do one’s work consciously.  It’s like you’re working on your own part of the thread that goes through everything, making sure it is bright and beautiful and untangled, knowing that the design or form of it is beyond, perhaps, your understanding, but that it does exist and you have a responsibility to it.   There’s no recognition perhaps, no comfort in it all really, but there is a kind of exaltation- of knowing you are actually really alive and however unyielding the circumstance, you are in a dance with it.  That dance is what matters, how you do it and whether or not you step on a lot of toes, jab your elbow into people, or move in time to the music and let it be the guide.

Panic is a pervasive feeling right now, many things are changing and not working in their accustomed ways.  Panic, though, is an invitation to slow down and look.  In some illnesses, for example, nights are terrible times.  The breathing becomes almost impossible, the air and the darkness blend into a sort of fire, and a person can become terribly frightened.  And panicky.   At just such times it is really imperative to, essentially, sit yourself down and shake yourself off.  There are always things you can do to restore enough balance to stop creating an ever deeper hole- physically there are points on the forehead that when pressed, remove blockage and pressure in not too long a time.  Getting to a point where you can see what you’re looking at means everything, even if that everything is as evanescent as a bubble.   It’s a question of motivation, perhaps, and at this time we all need to come from that deeper place of love and understanding in order to reach a proper enough motivation- a lever, you might say- so that we can indeed move the world.  We continue to work on it here.

 

incursions

I suppose it had to happen eventually.  The deer simply could not take it any more, not one second, no sirree.  They’ve been somewhat restrained, but let’s just say we are now markedly flowerless and top branchless in the vegetable garden.  The fencing in the back was a bit crumpled as well- we’re thinking that’s where they jumped out.  The Partner is busy, as we speak, arranging a more formidable bank of deer fence and netting.   The little darlings ate the purple silk off our corn, too- probably washing down the potato flowers.  I have often thought, seeing their seemingly infuriated (judging by depth) hoofprints outside the fence, that one day there’d be a deer who would not be deterred.  It’s interesting in a way to review the various pestilential scourges we’ve endured here.  Veritable Legions of flies!  Not to mention: The ants! Swarming through the yurt at 3 am in the days when we were still sleeping on the floor.  The crickets! Stuck in the insulation and singing their hearts out between 3 and 5 am.  The scorpions! Just…never mind.  The snakes! Gah.  Then there was the LOCUST INVASION.  Indeed, I think it was just last year but who can remember for sure?  We were driving up Highway 5 from the bay area, and there were literally so many grasshoppers flying through the air we had to pull over in order to sluice the windshield off so we could see at all- there was a viscous muck all over.  I struggled with myself over a couple who’d been obnoxious, rude, and bad drivers, in a BMW convertible with the top down.  Part of me thought:  Finally! Just deserts.  The other part thought: EWWWWW.  Nobody really deserves that.

Then again, what DO we deserve?  We had a dual head explosion the other evening, the Partner and I, upon learning that in essence, the U.S. has paid for Israel’s dome of iron or whatever it is missile defense system.  Meanwhile, there are many of us here in this country who could really use some freaking help.  How is it that this country can give billions away to Pakistan and other places, and a great many of its own citizens are living in poverty because the corporate entities on whose behalf the whole thing takes place have moved their production and business elsewhere, excising  jobs with surgical precision.  I ask you?  I also found myself shrieking a bit incoherently when I heard a CEO say that US corporate tax structure had to improve or they’d all go somewhere else where it was “fairer”.  The corporate entities in this country may APPEAR to have a large tax burden, but wait!  There’s more, because in every area those taxes are offset by loopholes and rules and things that mean, essentially, these large corporate entities PAY NO TAX AT ALL.  Take Pfizer, for example.  Those poor, poor, devoted people slaving away to provide healing for the world- so what if their profits are in the billions.  They simply should not have to contribute a thing more.

It’s hard to know how to proceed.  It is true that if you want things to change you have to experience said change.  This involves challenges and shifts in behavior.  Nobody really likes this.  I think it is fair to say that the Partner and I have for the most part put our “money” where our mouth is.  We live simply (to put it mildly).   We eat local food- of which, sadly, there will be less because: DEER.  But that only introduces us to the fact that life is always changing, it is not going to be the same, and that applies to everything across the board.  The whole system is so skewed right now that it almost seems no part of it can remain for positive change to happen.  For example.  We don’t eat much meat, but we do eat it from time to time.  We haven’t been eating beef because….well, because it doesn’t taste like beef anymore, and God knows what’s in it or in what horrendous circumstances it existed.  We even live in a place where cattle are raised; still we can’t get any decent meat for the most part.  We went shopping yesterday and in a moment of throwing things to the winds, actually bought a small steak.  From New Zealand.  This is hugely against everything we usually do, but apparently that atavistic longing for STTTTTEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAKKKKKKKKK was overpowering.  The thing of it is, the steak was wonderful.  It tasted like steak, wasn’t astronomically expensive, cooked like a real piece of meat.  But how can it be that we must buy something from another country, a long way away, to get something decent?    Especially in view of the fact that they’re probably eating US meat in New Zealand- trade agreements and all. This is precisely the sort of stuff that must change immediately if there is to be any hope for any of us.  I for one would like to see a world for people and not petroleum.  I would like to see a world where human beings took their proper position in the world- not one of domination but one of cooperation coupled with self reliance.    The world gets very small at times when what is both reasonable as well as unreasonable is discarded and what remains is placed out of reach.  Decisions can be hard to make- or else any ability to make and act upon them is so remote as to be moot.  In any event, we’re having vegetables for dinner- our deer don’t eat chard it seems, but we do, so it’s all good on one very small level.  Now, for the rest of the world- remember? Think globally, act locally.

There IS always a way, and this is important to remember right now.  We can do this.

dominion and caliphate

Jeeeeeez, Gentle Reader.  It’s hard not to wonder which is going to happen first:  Armageddon, Apocalypse, or Return of Common Sense to Small Portions of the Planet Which We Hope Will Continue to Arise and Also? Happen Really Soon.  The common sense, I mean.

We have here what looks to be like the shaping up of another religiously inspired world catastrophe.  The Inquisition, the Crusades, the wars between Shia and Sunni and Catholic vs Protestant- none of those, apparently, have been enough. Not to mention the joy bringing aspects of colonialism and imperialism on older spiritual traditions.  No, ISIL, or ISIS, or whatever they call themselves to distract you from the fact they never show their faces, aim to re-install the Caliphate now.  We’ll be whizzed, in that event, back to the 7th century.   Here in the U.S., the Supreme Court seems to be a sub fusc organization whose only purpose is promoting the Dominion, which is the Caliphate spelled with a Christian syllabary.  Again, whizzed back to the 7th century- if we’re lucky.   It might be even further back than that, given the propensities of the Dominion’s advocates to support positions that were probably felt to be retarded in the stone age.

I have really just about had enough of this crap. Money is not the Ultimate Reality.  Corporations are not people.  Women ARE people. Children and elders are people.  People need food and water that isn’t poisoned simply so someone at the top can make money (research Tyson Foods and Unilever if you think I’m even kidding.) People need work that sustains them.  Capitalist values degrade everything they contact and establish a world view that if you aren’t “rich”, you aren’t successful, it’s all your fault and besides, you’re probably not a good person anyway.  Inequality is the actual name of the game. ( Unfortunately Communism did not cut the mustard at all, and the drawing board seems lost as far as such organizational matters go.)  Religion is about external authority and being told what to do in a maintained posture of fear.  In the 21st century it seems to me that it’s way past time for people to sit up and get their heads out of the paper bag.  Then again, when they do that it’ll probably be just in time to throw up into it.

But on to a more important topic: futbol.  We’re pretty convinced at our house that somebody just might have put a curse on the Brazilian team.  They had been behaving rather badly up to the game with Colombia which was execrably officiated for the most part in Brazil’s favor.  Just at that point, about say, 60 minutes into the match? we’re thinking somebody strangled a black chicken.  Because after that game? Brazil couldn’t do doodly.  Karma is an interesting thing, really.  It would be nice if it could catch up to our  C and D friends mentioned above before they do any more damage.

Here is part of a poem by a woman named Kate Compston, which I read this morning while trying to shove the roaring dinosaur head back outside my brain,  where it belonged:

“…..show me the movement I must take

toward a wealth not dependent on possessions

toward a wisdom not based on books (Ed note: books are still good things!)

toward a strength not bolstered by might

toward a God not confined to heaven

but scandalously earthed, poor, unrecognized…..

help me to find myself

as I walk in others’ shoes…..”

We live in hope, of course, even when we are out of sorts.

begin again, again

It’s been quite the few days, Gentle Reader.  I had to do something so difficult for me that I had real doubts as to whether or not I really could do it at all.  It involved looking very objectively at a situation, my part in it, and the bigger picture, making a decision and taking action.  All of which were challenging since they involved to some extent what Clarissa Pinkola Estes refers to as “the stinking wound”.  Funny how far down in you those things are, isn’t it?

So I did what I often do at such junctures: read the Dalai Lama, and Pema Chodron.  I realized I had never properly understood the slogan “Abandon all hope of fruition”- naturally being from a western culture I interpreted that, long ago,  in a drastic end of the world sort of  way.  The truth of it is that since everything really IS impermanent and shifting and temporary and AC/DC and all the rest of it, there really isn’t a fruition to be hoped for, beyond perhaps what happens naturally in one’s garden.  The concept of fruition is attached in a way to one’s sense of Self and Ego.  This really has to be let go of.  What is yours does come to you.  And then? It leaves.  And something else comes.  During all this you stay flexible and open.  Try not to be too predictable- which means not falling back on your neuroses for the most part.  See how easy, right?

I saw something else, too, which has a bit to do with my work.  I had been having pain, and a lot of it, in a place on my body that is pretty much smack in the middle of the gall bladder meridian- the hip.  Today, post action, there is no pain.  One thing the gall bladder meridian relates to is decision making.  Clearly, I was having a hard time and I had the pain to prove it.  Today, though? After making that decision at last, the pain is gone.  I guess you might say it was all a demonstration of what my teacher said long ago: every ailment relates to an attitude.  Our thinking and energy really do create and drive our physical reality.  You can, indeed, make yourself sick.  Or, well.  This whole experience allowed me to see that up close, and gave me a lot more insight in terms of assessment of my clients.  Since I do believe we are here to learn, I guess it means this was all worth it.

Now, we’ll see how tomorrow goes.  It has been over 110 at our house for over a week.  We can only keep relatively cool using an evaporative cooler.  Which uses water.  Tomorrow is a holiday here (4th of Jul Lies? anyone?) and our landlords are turning the water off.  To do plumbing.  Themselves.  ON A HOLIDAY.  Dear Gentle Readers, send Positive Plumbing Thoughts our way.  Or there may be mayhem.

Understanding

Here we are again, Gentle Reader.  Not without incident, naturally, but hey.  That’s how we roll.

So, futbol!  It’s quite a revelation to see, on the one hand, the clearly absolute Oneness of all of us, and on the other, the visible results of colonialism and imperialism on the world’s populations, the separation and jingoism, as my friend B. called it yesterday, between countries in competition and all of it stirred up and poured over the world in a semi-frothed condition.  Soccer is a strange combination of politics, history and time, incredible individual physical conditioning, and of course totally Byzantine rules.   I remind myself that rules for sports were developed by….participants in the patriarchy, shall we say? so it’s not surprising that umpires and referees and officiators everywhere, in their exercise of their particular power, can splay and redirect a game while enforcing the aforesaid rules.  Anyway, watching all this soccer is like a crash course in all of that.  While watching grown men in shorts run around chasing a ball, I think about everything that happened to get us all here.  It is also interesting that while I can watch the games without Knowing the Rules and Why Everything Happens and enjoy them nonetheless, the Partner is constantly trying to understand those same Rules and feeling he’s missing something by not knowing them all.  This has, of course, mostly to do with our respective sexes I think, but it’s still interesting.

Which is not to say that I am not enjoying it all a lot.  In fact, I’ve moved into full fan status.   The handsomeness!  The salsero Colombian team!  The Iranian Goalie!  OCHOA! The American Goalie!  Messi!  Watching Germany and Ghana play was as wonderful as watching France and Switzerland was awful.  Etc.

Again one’s attention is drawn to the what of all this.  Until lately, I had absolutely no idea that there was so much sport on U.S. television.   It’s either sports or “reality” for the most part, with alligators and frontal nudity, spots of gunfire, arguments and reconciliations and jokes forming the “reality”.  Bread, in short, and circuses.  An enforced short attention span, and relentless commercialism.  I suppose what’s really bothering me is that I can no longer just….lose myself in something, feel at home in the world.  There is always an overarching awareness, something in the air, that says the seemingly “normal” appearance of things is actually not so, and not so at all.  It is as though things are shifting before our very eyes, and we don’t really know what we’re looking at.  (I certainly don’t.)  It seems so often that the very things I love so much are vanishing before my  eyes (like, uh, courtesy? and polar bears? and affordable housing? viable oceans?), yet the endless output of media and society seems to say, everything is just fine.  But it isn’t fine at all, really.

I don’t know how much all this has to do with my own orientation in time, and the practice of knowing that Death is always present.  Things change, as they need to and must, things die and others appear.    Perhaps it is a sense of your own mortality that finally sinks in and gives everything a sharp and poignant edge, even as it blurs the edges and distinctions of things at the same time.   So much rides on what we decide and do, and on the other hand, nothing at all rides on it.  Life is like a huge clock with sweeping movements and innumerable elements, and our job (I guess) is to keep our little elements going in the right direction without much of a compass.  People can go through a lot, and endure a lot.  But there is always a cost, and it can be difficult to look dispassionately at the story and see that overall, balance is maintained.   And things do have to die, one way or another.  Maybe that’s why we watch sports after all:  the possibility of joy and triumph is always there, as is the equal reality of loss and despair, right in front of you.   Macrocosm in microcosm.  You see the effort and work, the element of luck and the fact that sometimes no matter what someone does, they don’t win.   Sports rules are wacky because they’re about trying to impose someone’s idea of  concrete order on something like running water or a windstorm.  I suppose governments could be seen in that light as well.   Maybe this is all more of a question about how rules should, in fact, be made, and what kind.   This has clearly been an item of concern for the last couple of thousand years- even Moses came down off that mountain with more rules than anyone would put up with and had to pare his list down- you can see how well we’ve done with that, too.  For now, then, I guess this is the task.  NEW RULES.  Where shall we start?

Cooperation

We were talking about cooperation the other morning, and compromise.  Compromise is like basic chemistry- it can work brilliantly, or it can blow up in your face.

I was thinking about compromise as a helix-like progression.  The proper compromise, made from a place of integrity and openness, can create the environment for progress.  On the other hand, as the Partner pointed out, there are things that should never be compromised.  It is these latter things that lead to the undesirable, burnt results.

When you just go through a day now, there are plenty of opportunities to see all this in action.   From Vladimir Putin to driving on the freeway, it can seem like one big test of fortitude- how long can you go without exploding?  Things get complicated unnecessarily, and quickly.  It does seem, however, as though the operating instructions for things have been completely changed- or maybe it is that they have actually stayed the same.

I was reading an article about what is referred to as “rape culture” this morning, and the point was made that many in today’s world don’t seem to really understand what sex is.  Since many don’t seem to understand what food is, I guess it isn’t all that surprising.  We’re becoming totally removed from all the things that are truly real about life as a human being.  There isn’t, once again, a cause and effect relationship perceived- as in, what you do implies a choice and there are consequences. Wear a see through blouse, girls, and it sends a message whether you think it should or not.   I think this goes further than actual physical rape although that is definitely front and center.  It goes to, directly, things like racism and bullying as well, since the meaning of the implied message is, and has been for a few thousand years, defined by the dominant culture.  As a woman, I may think I can wear or say whatever I damn well please, but the historical realities of women’s lives really ought to inform my practice- as, indeed, they have done.  There have been improvements, to be sure, but the basic concepts have not really shifted.  This speaks to  the fact that we are in a racist society as well.  We really, honest to God, ought to be waaaaaay WAAAAAAAAY past thinking that skin color means anything beyond being an immediate physical attribute or characteristic.   Just as we should not define anyone by what sex they are.   Yet here we have a society in which racism and sexism are entrenched parts of the operating system, and people have the silliness to act surprised when nasty things surface from nasty people.   It seems to me we have compromised our common sense in these situations.

We have compromised, our culture has, our ability to think about things for an apparent “safety”.  The pretend umbrella of material goods, the you’re OK if you stay within these lines, supposedly offers happiness to those who sacrifice their awareness and thought process for the promise of not feeling unpleasant things, like fear.  Or having to do things like compromise with those who are perceived to be “other”.  Like, you know, with women or black people or poor people or people who just disagree with you.  It’s easy, these days, to just assume “they” aren’t on the same level as “you”, and you definitely know better, right? If you just stay inside those defined lines you get to do whatever you want, it seems.  Or that is how people behave of late.  Once you let go of your true self respect, though, I think all bets are off.   If you don’t respect yourself, you don’t respect anything else- like other people, like the land you live on, the water and air you need….all those things.  Corruption and degradation set in.  What I don’t get is the short sighted shooting oneself in the foot aspect to all this.  We may indeed have enough coal for the next 300 years.  We may indeed silence people by violence, intimidation, and discrimination.  But the results are going to be, and already are, catastrophic.

For today, once again I find myself balancing between feeling love and hope, and a deep foreboding which I managed to forestall by the usual means (spicy caramel pears, from ROOM FOR DESSERT.  Our motto is pretty much, if you want dessert first, go ahead.).    I think I have compromised many of the wrong things up to now, and there is some work to be done.   I’m sure it is possible, even if I am not at all clear about what it will mean in the future, this reclaiming of meaning.  It’s a bit scary to be born, after all.

here comes the sun

For a few days, anyway.  I have been, at last, completely occupied with weeding for the past couple of days, and as usual am dumbstruck by the elegance of its restorative beat.  Gardening is one of those things, I think, that you either are REALLY into, or you are REALLY NOT.  As I looked out onto the weeds and trimming and detritus and mud and whoknowswhat (squishy and yeughy wormy things)  in the garden, I thought, uh.  Really?  I’m doing this?  AGAIN? Am I nuts?

And the answer to that, Gentle Reader, is yes to at least one of those questions.  My couch-oriented-of-late muscles welcomed the pull of the familiar labor, the back appears to be deciding not to go out,  and the overwhelm I felt at first has turned into a huge feeling of grateful relief.  The task spoke to me, relieving me of any decision making.  Just pull those weeds…yes! right there! then around this corner.  Each plant greeted me and seemed to shake itself off and grow bigger right then and there upon being weeded and trimmed.  The toads urged me on and Tyrant spun through the air.  And then?  The piece de resistance.   

Yes, indeed.  Because there right in front of me, revealed by the weed removal, was any gardener’s dream.  Tomato plants, right there, sprouted from the zillions of last years tomatoes that somehow landed in a seed dispersing sort of way.  All different kinds, all over.  And?! BEANS.  The chartreuse/purple bush beans, some of them, fell into the dirt in September-  sort of an experiment which I promptly forgot I was undertaking.  (This year I really am keeping a gardening journal.  Really.) We now have the beginnings of a good bean and tomato crop, plus potatoes and a lot of bok choy.  And hollyhocks and nicotiana coming up like crazy.

As our lives are currently constructed, neither the Partner nor I really experience routine ability to feel satisfied about  the actual chores we do, because it is all so Sisyphus-ian.  Sometimes it seems we are in a story by Annie Proulx. (In other words: Grim.) We are constantly restacking the rocks, like Milarepa and Marpa the Translator.  But of course, just as in the old story, this turns out to offer just what is needed because:  In such circumstances you either adjust to doing the task each time as a fresh experience- kind of like how a dog chases a tennis ball- or you become non-functional.  So, we are now seeing at last the beginnings of the coalescence of…this new and different life we have.  Things have a shape, our existence has a curve and a limn to it, and when I saw the newly cleared garden, I distinctly heard everyone say: We’re here! and we’ll feed you again this year!  Isn’t this amazing? and don’t forget the strawberries!  All this was even before the Partner saw the wild turkey who seems to have taken up residence in front of the yurt, and the Extremely Handsome Mr. Mourning Dove with his rather large harem.

This was accompanied by another realization, one which has come after what feels like decades of armed struggle.  This is about how one deals with fear.  Fear has been a huge part of my consciousness, process, everything, for ever.  Apparently I arrived with some trepidation to begin with and life gave me the full course on being scared, frightened, afraid, terrified, endless free fall.  Finally, I got tired of it, especially after gaining a tiny foothold of perspective on my brain chemistry, and thought- no more of this.  What I see now is that very often, the fear we feel is fear of feeling fear.  Right?  The anxiety rises and suddenly there’s that old familiar watermelon in your chest ready to explode.  If at that moment of awareness you can realize what is happening- that you’re afraid of the fear- it can begin to turn around.  You don’t really have to do all that weird stuff and sink into those hellishly awful moods (or whatever variant of that iteration happens).  And as you go forward into everything that life presents, eventually it becomes clearer and clearer that yes, shit happens.  A lot.  But being afraid of what might happen does nothing except cramp your style since it obliterates any ability to think critically.  You can be in a warrior stance- which is calm and aware- rather than a combat stance- which is hypervigilant and involves poor breathing- and get to the point of saying: Well.  Who knows what might happen? I’ll do my best.  Of course that means that everything the inner critic is bullhorning into your ear has to be put on hold, and the intrusive thoughts that burst into your head like cars into plate glass windows have to be viewed as pictures and not instructions.  I bet almost everyone has had what we’ll call murderous impulses in the course of their lives- the issue is what you do with how you feel.  It isn’t easy, but it IS a worthwhile goal. Weeding helps, as it happens.  So does remembering that we are all on a very short, long journey and lots can happen, the road can be in any number of conditions, and we ourselves may be variously in excellent condition or in a body cast.   The tests are the same, regardless, and the point may be to realize that our opinions about what things mean may need to be jetissoned like too much luggage.  We can meet life’s challenges pretty much no matter what, if we choose to.  In any case, here we are and the more we can connect with the truth of ourselves as human beings, the better we’ll do at whatever we do.  I must say, the garden really DOES look nice.   And, in somewhat related news, The Hummer Ranchero situation seems to be at a point of detente.  Even if it did involve a veritable ring of ripping chainsaws roaring around the ridge at dusk in response to a particularly jarring tune, still, diplomacy has, for the moment, prevailed.

What we’re planting

Spring is arriving.  It seemed improbable, and given that every year we’ve been here has been pretty much completely different even while adhering to constant weather extremity, I still found my heart lifted at the sight of the fleeting pink haze covering the oak trees.  Now they’re leafing out in that absolutely splendid new, unique green color they have.  It’s like watching energy coalesce.  The hummingbirds are en masse, gale force, and one of last year’s cabbage plants appears to have become a perennial.  The snow covering the top of Mt. Shasta leads me to hope we’ll see it pink in a sunset soon.

We’re still in a quiet sort of planning stage.  I realized the other day that it’s really no wonder we’re both tired.  We got here in a state of moderate traumatization and have worked like dray horses until this winter.  Events then conspired to deliver a mental knockout punch which allowed, or presented requirements, for a physical stoppage for a while.  I realized that the Partner’s constant admonition to just STOP made total sense.  When you run around, constantly doing….you’re not in balance.  Eventually the doing stops as your end of the teeter totter crashes to the ground.  You may, as I did, wriggle around thinking you’re still upright but eventually the truth reveals itself.  You are not upright at all.

I saw, then,  just how much this whole experience has both changed me and brought out the deeper pieces that were previously underwater.    It’s shocking how much I didn’t see myself for what and who I am, but that is part of being human apparently.

We made a choice, coming here, or perhaps it would be better to say a preliminary part of our bigger choice was made.  We wanted to leave the city, and lo and behold it decided to spit us out as so often happens.  It was a bit premature to my mind in terms of planning and readiness but, you know, come out big or stay home.  I firmly believe that fate or whatever you want to call it had a HUGE part in our finding ourselves here.  Especially given that we’d never even HEARD of it til we moved here.  Excitement, yes?  The reality of living a much simpler, less electrified and more rural lifestyle, has shown us both things that have been surprising, largely because it has confirmed a great deal of what we both, albeit separately, had always thought deep down.

A lot of that is political of course, because the personal is pretty much always political.  I have never believed, and still don’t, that money is a mark of success and goodness.  I don’t think we need to eat tomatoes in the dead of winter here, but I also think? that since we live in a state that produces a huge amount of food for the world that we absolutely SHOULDN’T be eating things out of season that come from halfway across the world.  Why don’t we eat our own food and call it good?  This idea has its roots in what I think is a more truly democratic process, and not a process that has investment bankers and corporate lawyers at its heart and as its prime beneficiaries.  You work for the good of the whole, not the few.  That whole includes everything, includes treating the earth like your brother or sister.  In a way the shift we made really was political.  It was us saying we want to be free, we want to think for ourselves, and we want to work for the common good by, at the very least and to start, reducing our carbon footprint and stewarding whatever land we occupied, along with taking some responsibility for the food we eat.

This has rather thorough-going ramifications.  I reject many things now that people I am close to accept, and it is an interesting, and slightly frightening, thing to see how those differences get navigated.  It is easy for people to dismiss someone who lives the way we do, not in a house and in parlous economic setting, living in a way as our 19th century  ancestors did.  It is easy for them to think we don’t know what we’re doing or talking about.  But I think we do.  This bridging of the gap, this allowing the light to be shed on the entire room, is important.  We cannot continue, in this world, to do things the way we have been doing them.  Energy, resources, population, the seeming total inability to live in peace with each other, and the relentless placing of money at the top of everything all the time- it isn’t good, it isn’t sustainable, and I don’t think you need to be a rocket scientist to figure this out.  Speaking of which, I read the NEW YORKER article on the ITER project myself.  It left me both encouraged and anxious.  There isn’t all that much time, and it is late in the day to let one’s ignorance of how the world really works be a guiding light.  Simply because one is comfortable in this world, or benefiting from its works, is not a good enough reason to remain silent and inactive anymore.  You just have to see things for what they are, no excuses.  It isn’t that complicated to set things right, either.  But it is like healing.  Anything is possible but not everyone is capable.  I mean, really.  What if all the rest of the world said, for example, to Putin: KNOCK IT OFF VLADI.  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  Or they kept capitalist ideation out of agriculture altogether, including ALL the kafuffle, from marijuana, corn, Monsanto’s seeds, to toxic chickens and not labelling GMOs.  I saw some apologist for the powers that be discussing the trade talks between the US and the EU, especially pertaining to food imports.  If the food is safe and nutritious for Americans, it’s good enough for Europeans, he said.  Of course, the evidence- if you choose to look at it- shows that the food the average American eats is far from safe and in fact splats them firmly on the disease conveyor belt.  How hard would it be to take the beneficiaries of our current system- the petroleum industry, don’t kid yourself- and say, jeez guys.  You’ve got enough money to last until kingdom come.  Lighten up, literally.  You ain’t running this game anymore.  We’ve decided to LIVE.

That is my hope, anyway, and my further hope is that the Partner and I are walking the right path, monsters or no.