Water Moods

sky-clouds

 

 

 

 

 

 

I often visit Oak Creek Canyon in the summer to dip my feet in the creek at Ensinoso Falls. Because Oak Creek is spring fed, its waters are always breath-stoppingly cold, a welcome refreshment on a summer’s day!

This year because of the Slide Fire, all of Oak Creek Canyon is closed to visitors, so I drove to the East Verde Valley to encounter Wet Beaver Creek instead.

When I arrived the park was deserted. The camp host was nowhere to be seen. Even his hammock was empty!

host-home

The camp cat gave me a sniff before she deserted me for better pickings elsewhere.

camp-cat

As I walked down to the Creek, I spotted first one abandoned sock:

one-sock

Then two more, nestled like wooly caterpillars among the rocks:

two-socks

The sound of water roaring, roaring, roaring, told me why no one was sun-bathing today:

swirling-water

The heavy monsoons upstream had caused high waters, swiftly running, muddy, churning. No swimming today in the floods:

branch-in-water

The currents pushed against logs, turning them over in its eagerness to move forward, and the water knife-edged into white water:

edge-of-water

Where the water eddied, it created not ponds for wading, but entire lakes:

lake

In side pools, the shadows reflected in water holding its breath for a moment:

reflecting-pool

And in one special place the foam had created a pattern as clear as a thumb print:

thumb-print

If you visit a place with expectations, you may be disappointed.

If you visit with an open mind, the world can be full of surprises.

What’s on the tube?

old radio

Sometimes ideas arrive in your life at exactly the time you need them.

Several nights ago I was reading Voluntary Simplicity: Toward a Way of Life That Is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich by Duane Elgin. He describes how the commercial medium of television has profoundly shaped our culture.

Television stations make their profits by selling advertising, and advertising is bought by corporations to sell their products. And where does that leave us?

Elgin says that it creates an impossible double bind for viewers:

“People use the consumption levels and patterns portrayed in TV advertising to evaluate their levels of personal well-being, while those same consumption patterns are simultaneously devastating the environment and resource base on which our future depends.”

Strong words. But they led to me ponder my own relationship with television.

When I was growing up, we had an old Zenith radio prominent in the living room. My sister, brother, and I would gather around it in the evening while my mother cooked dinner and afterwards we’d return until bedtime. I learned to tell time by when Sergeant Preston and his dog Yukon King arrived at our house.

TV didn’t appear in my life until 5th grade. I have a clear memory of the kids (and grownups!) gathering at a neighbor’s house to catch the first snowy black and white picture. I remember wondering what all the excitement was about—it didn’t seem like such a big deal.

My child, of course, grew up in a very different world. She learned to read by watching Sesame Street and had favorite friends in Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.

TV gradually grew to be a constant background in my own life as well. That started to change about 15 years ago. Maybe the content of programs shifted or maybe I did. But suddenly the commercials seemed louder, or perhaps there were more of them. Elgin in his book estimates that people now may see an average of 35,000 commercials in a year. That’s a lot!

I found, too, that as more and more channels became available the content seemed to be degrading. Was it the garbage in, garbage out mentality that dictated what writers were creating?

Plots became simpler and sensationalism blossomed into an explosion of violence and sexual content. The definition of G-rated had come a long way from that first view of Elvis Presley’s hip gyrations on the Ed Sullivan hour!

And so, when I moved to a smaller home several years ago, I took the opportunity to take a break from television. I did miss it at first. There were blank spots in my living, especially at night when I got home tired from work, wanting to zone.

At first, I kept up with my favorites—Downton Abbey and House—via computer streaming. I compiled a list of 100+ must see videos on NetFlix. And I’d go down to the video store and rent a half-dozen of the latest at a time.

And then, another shift occurred. I discovered when I traveled, I no longer turned on the   I entered the hotel room. I was out of the habit.

I found to my disappointment that most of the ‘bestsellers’ at the video store were eye candy. Oh, they were full of sensational images and loud decibels but, as Shakespeare once said, “Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” I seemed to cycle in and out of the NetFlix membership. But that, too, is fading and I find that I am not missing it either.

So what has replaced it? Yes, I’m back to radio. Only this time it is the new and improved Internet version. I have discovered Pandora, which is the audiophile’s dream come true. It custom designs a radio station that just plays the music you like (sans commercials, no less).

I started out with my old favorites: Cat Stevens and Simon and Garfunkel, with a bit of Enya and Clannad thrown in for good measure. But the software allows you, in addition to hitting the veto button (I don’t LIKE that song) to also say, OK, give me a bit more variety. I find lately that it is sneaking in some very fine guitarists and vocalists, often from Indie bands that I didn’t know about. And I like it!

I also have returned to reading. Some of it is also popcorn—the latest best sellers and mysteries. But in addition, I find I am reading a variety of other work. In the stack right now is  a  photo-essay on Bamboo, Pablo Neruda’s poetry, a book on good writing (of course!), a book on conscious eating, and Duane Elgin.

Although I don’t feel deprived, I recognize that the path I have chosen would not fit everyone.

But I would offer, in this season of mass, albeit desperate commercialism, that you monitor what your children are watching, absorbing, and digesting from the TV fare? And I challenge you to become more aware of what is entering your own world, as well.

I submit that the primary world can be infinitely more interesting than the shadows on Plato’s cave wall.

Push and release

800_6365

800_6365 (Photo credit: binkwilder)

Ever take personal training at the gym? The trainer ignores all your moans and groans, loads you up with free weights and says, “Push, push, push” and then when you’ve pushed ’til the cows come home and your tongue is purple, they say “release.” Feels pretty good, right?

My week is like that. Monday and Tuesday I work really hard seeing clients. Push, push, push. Hard use of emotional energy. Then Wednesday comes and I say, “Ahhh.”  I also teach classes for my local university online. I work really hard Monday through Friday, answering emails, grading papers. When Friday night comes, when I have pushed through the week, I can finally say, “Ahhh.”

We need both the push and the release. I had a  friend several years ago who had a terminally ill partner. She devoted her life to keeping him alive: doctor’s visits, alternative treatments, special diets. Even though she knew the ultimate result, she couldn’t stop pushing. Push, push, push, with no release. My heart when out to her, and I crossed my fingers that she’d survive after he passed away. There was no release built into her 24/7; she couldn’t afford it, and her own well-being suffered as a result.

One of the most demanding Olympiad events is the biathlon. The Scandinavians excel–they ski at top speed for miles and miles, then stop and shoot for marksmanship with a rifle that they’ve had slung over a shoulder. They have measured the physical ability of these competitors: the best in the world. They are able to go from the adrenaline rush of high-speed skiing to the absolute calm of marksmanship, in other words, the push and release.

I like to go visit the beach; do nothing but walk the sand, feeling in every core of my body the push and release of the waves crashing against the shore.  We originally came from the ocean. I am wondering if the push-and-release instinct is hardwired into our psyche.

If so, we need to pay attention to what our body needs. Physical or emotional exertion, and then that relaxation release when we reach the end of the required effort. We need it; we crave it.

Push and release. Breathe. Repeat.  Ahhh!