Viewpoint

I’m at a roadside park just off I-94 overlooking a part of the Badlands called Painted Canyon.

The sun is setting to my left. It highlights the layered colors of the sprawling valley below me in intense blues, fiery reds, bruised purpled, living greens and a hundred shades of grey and brown.

The clouds are lit from within on a background that slowly shifts from pale blue to a deep violet capturing all the colors of my imagination.

Just past the edge of this vantage is an ancient juniper with dark berries. Balancing on the edge of its sparse limbs a meadowlark sings. In the distance a red tailed hawk circles.

At my feet are perfect yellow flowers that iridescent green bees suckle at. Ants clamber in the deep grass, carrying supplies to stock their underground metropolis.

A child’s balloon floats by me. A red island drifting on a cool breeze. Dancing with the invisible.

In the distance a child cries. Another laughs. The incessant sounds of man, the murmuring chatterous monotony of high and low and hushed and shouted tones and nearby traffic and all their smells, sweet and masked and dirty, are all broken, drowned in a profound silence that has no name.

Standing at the fence that keeps humanity at bay, separate from the world we were born into, is a young couple, giddy with love, arms wrapped around each other, smiling, content, joyous. Their love shines so brightly that it adds to the glow of the setting sun. A stranger takes their picture, hands the camera back to them with a “You’re welcome” and with no more than a quick glance into eternity and a shrug, walks quickly back to their car. They have someplace to be. An itinerary. A plan. They will miss so much. Too much.

I take in the sight and am filled with a deep peace, with the miracle of this moment. It is captured within me and I am captured within it and it lives forever.

Not in the past. Not as a memory, now, because Now is all that ever exists.


Image by J M Greff

Seasons Gratings!

Christmas is over. Thank the gods!

I have something to admit: I have a problem with Christmas. Not an objection, I like the idea of families gathering and sharing, I just don’t have that, not for many years. and it’s become a problem. An issue.

I don’t know when it started, a long time ago, but every year now for a few weeks leading up to the day and building exponentially like a nuclear reactor going offline unexpectedly (except far more predictable), I deal with a pretty severe depression. By the time the day arrives I want to lock my doors, block the windows, turn off all the lights, and disappear silently into a bottle.

It’s a battle. One I usually lose. This year was no different. I tried. I really did. I meditated and read only optimistic news and reached out to family, but the meditations only made me aware of the underlying self pity, the good news made me feel left out, and family stayed out of reach.

How about that? Me. The Bohemian that spends his spare time learning, practicing, and writing about mindfulness and acceptance and gratitude and love. Depressed.

The thing about problems, problems like seasonal depression, or loneliness, or loss of self worth, or whatever, is that absolutely no one is immune. No one. The Christ faced his demons in the desert, Buddha constantly battled with Mara, and I deal with depression that lights up like a Roman candle with the first Christmas song played over crappy speakers in some back road gas station Santa will surely pass by and grows into a raging forest fire that chokes the life out of me and leaves me in ashes.

Okay, maybe that’s a little melodramatic, but also probably not so far from the truth of how it feels, but it’s also not my point.

My point is that everyone, absolutely everyone, deals with something and while I am neither the Christ or the Bhudda I have been given the very same tools to deal with those “somethings” that they were.

And one day I will learn how to use them.

Wait for it…

Today I’m grateful it’s passed and accept that I still have things to learn.

Depressed Bohemian, indeed.

There’s something funny about that image. I’ll throw it in the fodder file to use later. A gift to myself.

Long Nights Moon

Today I woke to this gorgeous nearly full moon illuminating the clouds from within and was reminded that even in the darkest days there is light.

I took some time to contemplate the shortness of our own days, the divine spark that resides in all of us which lights the darkness from within, and the eternal promise of life renewed, and I silently expressed my gratitude for every second of light and life I am given as well as for those inevitable periods of darkness that make the light so much easier to see and appreciate.

Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. The sun will remain low on the horizon for three days before rising back into the heavens. The nights will be long and cold.

This solstice is quite rare because it is accompanied by a full moon that brings with it positive change and pleasant and welcome surprises. The next time we will witness a full moon on the solstice is 2094.

To make it even more special it will be followed by the Ursids meteor shower on the 22nd and 23rd. I have no idea when this triple crown will happen again but I don’t imagine it will be any time soon.

It is quite literally a once in a lifetime event so I hope you take the time to bear witness and celebrate in your own way.

Tonight I will celebrate publicly. I’ve been invited to a Christmas party hosted by one of the companies I drive for that also happens to be a company I have contracted with many times over the years and was an employee of until last year. It will be a comfortable gathering among friends.

Tomorrow night I will honor this time privately by writing down my hopes and fears, my joys and sorrows, and release them all in fire and an offering of the ashes to the wind in gratitude.

Sunday I will connect with friends, family, and Beloved to reaffirm my presence, my promise, my commitment, and to thank them for being in my life.

However you decide to celebrate or honor this sacred time I wish you a happy and blessed solstice!

These small hopes I carry

hope
 
 
“The shortness of our lives prevents us from undertaking long hopes.”
– Horace
 
 

To make it through another day with a smile
To lay down with gratitude
To laugh as often as possible
To share whatever I have
With whoever I can
Are held aloft
Against the crushing weight of time
Against the relentless tide of life
That creeps like a hidden assassin
Just out of view
They are held up by faith
Learned in patience
They are the air I breath
The blood in my veins
The whisper I offer to the wind
The never fading kiss I press against your lips
I have no enduring hopes
But to love
and be loved
To hope for more than that
For more than I can experience in this moment
Is folly
To hope for more than this moment
Is vanity
To lose hope
Is to give in to the ceaseless tide
Is to be crushed by time
To live with hope
However small
Is what makes my short time here
A miracle

 

Past Present

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

How bright these lights that shine now. Here. In this moment. Blinding us between staccato strikes of darkness that seem to last forever.

Each flash highlighting a simple frame, like a silent movie lit with the phosphorescence of an atomic blast, melting the film it is remembered on and leaving only hallucinogenic traces in the impenetrable darkness that follows, relaying an entire history in the nuclear ashes of our memories over a cup of coffee shared in lament.

Each flash an anchor to any given moment that we revisit again and again until it defines us. Until we use it to define ourselves to others.

A moment of passion. Of fury. Of compassion. Of hunger. Each playing out in fractional tales that seldom, if ever, follow the lines of the acts laid out in steady progression, to ultimately mythologize the story of our lives.

And we, faithful fanatics of Life, believe the tale that plays, act after act, each read after played, and believed as if written by the hand of god itself.

But they are lies.

It is our adherence to these false memories, these golden calf we cow-tow to with learned and obedient humility, that rob the true essence of their meaning.

We are not the sum of our experiences, the memories of which we redirect to fit the image we carry of ourselves, we are the sacred being that stands now at the burning edge of reality, creating life as we wish it to be, or living, true to form, blindly, those maligned memories meant only to keep us beating on the shores of yesterday.

It is always a choice.

We can choose to live in “almost now”, that sleight of mind, the mirage of now we allow to be influenced by the past, as Observer, or we can choose to live on that burning edge of Now, here, mindfully, in each moment, created second by second with an understanding that what we believe to be true is most often contaminated by who we believe ourselves to have been and, instead, to see our Self through the eyes of the Divine as Creators because this, whatever “this” is, has never happened before, whether it be that moment of passion or of fury or of love or simply opening the refrigerator door.

None of it could have happened in any version of the story without you.

I choose Now.


Image by Jana.

Mixing it up: Full Moon – Time in the Womb – Giving Thanks

November 23 brings another full moon and with it comes impulsiveness and anger. Not a good mix.

Solution: Be mindful and compassionate.

Well, that was an easy moon to explain so I’ll move right on to the good stuff.

Here we are at the beginning of a new year so it’s time to set intentions for what we want the coming year to bring.

“New year?” you say.

That was part of what I didn’t cover in my Samhain post so I’ll cast a little light now.

In many ancient beliefs the new year begins not at spring but just before the dark of winter.

That may seem strange to many of us. We often view the little death of winter as an end times. But the old view is more alike to a time in the womb. The darkness before the light.

In that view it is a time not just to survive and hold out until “life” returns, but a time to prepare for the life we already have. The life we will be born into come spring. A time to gather what we need to face that birth. To nourish so we can flourish.

So winter is here and while the work I am doing for a living tends to evaporate for a time, and in that way winter appears to reflect the more modern thinking of winter as and end, I have learned to be grateful for this short hibernation.

It is, for me, a time to replenish my physical needs, to further my spiritual needs, and to explore and redefine my intentions. A time for me to catch up with all the inner work I am forced to put off the rest of the year and to focus on my goals.

Yes, my financial state becomes… uneasy, this time of year, but this winter is providing some unusual opportunities that I am deeply grateful for.

My employer has set me up in a park model trailer that is quite comfortable and he is not charging me rent.

I have the opportunity to return to Mobile before Christmas and to help some very good friends I have come to think of as family with some remodeling in exchange for room and board and a little pocket cash.

While I haven’t made a ton of money up here because of the weather I have made enough to make some headway with my plans for the website and will have covered almost all of the expenses before heading south for a month or so.

I will be in Mobile, Alabama during the coldest part of the year up here and have a boss that will cover my expenses to return, and if next year is anything like this year turned out to be I can expect to make enough in one last season to focus the next twelve on writing.

I have replaced my unreliable Rodeo with a low mileage minivan with enough room to return north with everything I left behind that will make a good trade for something larger next summer. So when I leave here next fall everything comes with. No more leaving my life spread across two thousand miles.

Long story short; I have a lot to be grateful for and this short rest before the long haul is just what I need.

Silence

There is a silence here. A silence in the air. In the ground I walk upon broken with heavy boots leaving the slightest crackle of lightest snow snuffed little by little with each step as my path hardens into firmest ice.

Above me a sky of photograph blue spreads so far I can see the curve of this incredible planet I call home.

Big Sky. Yes. No denying that moniker. I’ve seen many skies and Montana has the biggest skies I’ve ever seen.

Early winters are the norm here. I guess I forgot that having lived so many years just east of the natural weather break the Badlands provide. Here, there is nothing to stop the winds amplified by unimaginable miles of rolling hills meeting high plains.

So here I am. At the edge of what I knew facing the experience of what I will know.

Sounds familiar. Sounds like Life.

Unless we live under the warm blankets of comfort, never venturing out to explore what we may yet know, we fortify ourselves. Build walls.

We in-experience.

To never step into the cold, the blizzard winds that tear at us, each frozen tear of the Universe itself falling from heights we really can not imagine like an infantry of icy pebbles, or grains of purest sand that burn our feet with impressions of the memories of worlds that left them, is to never experience the gift that life is.

How fortunate I am that the Divine, both furious ice and flame, has put me here to see with eyes and feel with hands what those with only the machinations or extrapolations of minds may express or experience through words.

I hope my words suffice.

Personal Update – November 8, 2018

Surrender isn’t the same as giving up but it sure can feel like it.

The insurance adjusting never paid off. Thousands of dollars, 6 licenses, 32 certifications, over 600 hours of training, and I never worked a single job. Some things just aren’t meant to be.

I’ll take what I learned there and try to apply it somewhere else but in order for me to do it right and to continue pursuing my goals to turn to writing full time I need to be able to support myself and can’t do that alone on the substandard wages I made in Mobile.

So I came back North to finish out the season hoping I could make enough before freeze to at least pay off the debt I created trying to change careers and bank some to see me through winter, but it’s not happening. Freeze came early. The season is pretty much over.

Unless something unexpected happens I have no choice but to commit to driving truck for the full season next year. The man I am working for in Montana is providing a comfortable trailer rent-free as part of my pay so saving money will be easier.

I’ll head back to Mobile for a few months when I know for sure the work season is over and return in the spring.

I was optimistic and hopeful when I moved to Mobile last year and while I’m not giving up on my goals I can’t help feeling like I failed even if it is just a temporary setback.

But that’s just a feeling and I am neither defined nor controlled by it.

I will make the best of what I am given and keep moving forward no matter what.

Always

60344B31-3E08-4201-89AA-FFF58CAD03E6.jpeg
Love
Is all that matters
It wakes me in the morning
Sets me on my path
Gets me through my days
Keeps me warm on coldest nights
Sends me miles from nowhere
To somewhere
Makes a home
Where a dream rested
Makes a life
Where hope is tested
Makes me full
When I’m hungry
Heals me
When I am unwell
Welcomes me
At all hours
In all places
In all ways
Whether I travel in the company of passion
Or reside in the solitude of self
Whether desire is by my side
Or the isolation I abide
It is always with me
Love
Once given
Remains

Winter

3B69A930-D6D4-4CED-8E13-397620B70B3C

 

I was not dead then
I gathered life
Like wheat at harvest
I shed the seeds
That flourished and bloomed
I breathed the sweet air we all share
Bathed in the life giving glow of the Moon
Swam in the endless sea of light
Traveled months of darkness without fear
Sensing all I was a part of
With awe and gratitude
No, I was not dead then
But I am so much more alive
Now