Falling apart and coming together

Out of plumb

This ramshackle house, about to collapse, with not one true-square corner to its credit, is how I wake up some mornings. Out of plumb, not syncing with the world I find myself in. My jokes don’t seem funny, even to me. My cat purrs and bites me at the same time. I stub my toe on the sidewalk edge I have stepped over hundreds of times before.

And then I have to stop and breathe. I’m fine. The world is fine. We will all make it through this life, together.

     Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real, you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.
                  ~The Velveteen Rabbit~ 

My bucket’s got a hole in it

bucket got a hole

I found this old bucket in a Gold King Mine back lot. For those of you who haven’t been to Jerome, the Gold King Mine is a three-acre graveyard for all things mechanical: old ice cream wagons, belt-driven band saws, trucks and cars and tractors that are slowly melting back into the environment, one rust chip at a time.

What fascinated me about this arrangement, attached to a working windmill by that pipe you see, was the fence down the middle of the bucket. It provides much-needed water to two critter enclosures, neatly dividing the water between them, share and share alike. And the burros seem to like it just fine that way!

To love and be loved is to feel the sun
from both sides.

~David Viscott

 

Who ever said life would be easy?

Agathla Rock

I’d looked forward to seeing the immense rock on the Navajo Reservation near Kayenta, Arizona. I wasn’t disappointed. This volcanic monolith rises over 1500 feet, straight up.

Agaathla Peak, meaning “much wool” in the Navajo language, is so named because of the tufts of deer and sheep wool caught in its sharp rock edges and deep crevices. In the summer with the thunderheads building, there is nothing more beautiful. The eagle was lagniappe.

Then I got to wondering. Had ever anyone climbed to the very top? If I asked a Navajo wise man, he would probably look at me as though I’d lost what few brains I had left and shake his head. “Bilagaana,” he’d mutter.

You’re probably on the right track if it’s uphill.
~ Anonymous ~

 

Having new eyes

barred shadows

In the hot Arizona summer, any point of shade is welcome. Here, the barred shadows represent a wooden arbor overhead, providing more an illusion of shade than actual shade itself.

But instead of looking for relief from the sun, perhaps I can appreciate the beauty of the precise latticework echoes and the way they transform once again when they hit the brick walk.

Layer upon layer the world reveals itself to us, when we pause to look closely.

The real voyage of discovery consists not of seeking
new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
~ Marcel Proust ~

Blowing in the wind

mountain grass on windy day

The question is not what you look at,
but what you see.
~ Henry David Thoreau.

I encountered this dry bear grass waving in the wind that always seems to blow near Flagstaff, Arizona, on a hot summer day.

The grass became a metaphor for the winds blowing through my own life.

Sometimes we bend to life’s winds, sometimes we resist. The important thing is to remember that we, unlike the grass, have a choice into which directions we grow. Through mindfulness of the forces we encounter everyday, we can decide when to yield and when it is wiser to resist in order to build a richer life experience.

The usefulness of not–How empty space becomes powerful

Red Rock sedona

“Thirty spokes
 meet in a hub
Where the wheel isn’t
is where it’s useful.”
~Ursula Le Guin, Lao Tsu, Te Ching

 

I am working my way through Ursula Le Guin’s translation of Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. She had loved this classic epic, and learned Chinese so that she could portray the work from a more feminine, less patriarchal, perspective.

Le Guin’s Tao is not a book that you can skim through, and I relish that in our frenetic Internet environment.

This morning I came across a passage describing the “usefulness of not,” the concept that what is put into the empty pot is more worthwhile than the container, or the way that an empty house is enriched by its inhabitants.

Wind can be such an empty space. What it touches will change visually and perceptibly, yet the wind itself is invisible.

For instance, I once lived on a hill above the mouth of a canyon. Each morning before dawn the air was still, holding its breath, waiting. The sun rose, dusting the red rocks on the canyon walls with light, and the wind started to move.

It touched each tree in a different pattern. The young bamboo outside my window shifted in the sunlight, each leaf dancing to its own rhythm.  At the end of the yard, a cypress and the old junipers were measured and deliberate in their approach, their branches ponderous in the wind’s wake.

The wind sound had an ebb and flow, like the ocean waves, only slower. It gathered momentum far away in the canyon, mixing with the murmur of the creek, low now after the winter snow melt. And then it gathered speed like a train rushing to make its next destination, roaring towards me.

Birds caromed off the wind’s currents, banking like a race drivers entering steep curves. Their flight accelerated in the wind as their wings became billowing sails. The sunlight glinted off their bodies before they disappeared against the backdrop of dark rocks.

Higher in the sky, the wind current divided a flock of bluebirds, then pushed them together once more, in a symphony of theme, motif, and recapitulation. Ravens lifted to greet the morning sun, their heavier bodies braced against unexpected currents.

And then the wind gentled, having had its morning gallop, and the life around me settled to a morning peace.

Our lives are like the birds and the trees, blown off our planned course by currents we sense, but cannot predict.

Sometimes it may be wise to suspect the obvious that we see and rather embrace intuition of what we feel.