Skip to content

Posts from the ‘journey’ Category

Offerings: “I am grateful for what I am and have.” HDT

I collect stones, driftwood, shells, etc. It’s not an easy thing for me to resist bringing them home. But I have discovered that if instead I make an offering with them, and record that act, I am less inclined to acquire and more inclined to “let it go.” After all, how much do we need? And of course, some of those rocks are quite heavy.

IMG_20190529_130536843

I actually took all of the rocks you see on this ledge home with me. In the back of my mind I kept feeling gluttonous for that act. Finally, I went alone and gave them back from whence they came.

This second time, on my way return to the car, I spotted this boulder.  I held in my hand a lovely, palm-sized red stone I had picked up after replacing all the others.  I am a rock cleptomaniac. Should I take home my hand-held stone?  Should I leave it in this quiet place? 

” I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. It is surprising how contented one can be with nothing definite, only a sense of existence. Well, anything for variety. I am ready to try this for the next ten thousand years, and exhaust it. How sweet to think of ! my extremities well charred, and my intellectual part too, so that there is no danger of worm or rot for a long while. My breath is sweet to me. O how I laugh when I think of my vague, indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment. ” Henry David Thoreau

Moon Lit

“Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake”– Thoreau

Mythical sirens called.  Compelled to follow, I drove alone through the night toward Vulan, Dark and JA volcanoes where I parked in the outer lot, empty until my arrival.  I was exquisitely and cautiously alone; a warrior is always alert.

Leaving safety behind, I climbed through an opening in the locked, metal gate and walked along the moonlit trail, a somnambulant hypnotically urged forward.  The vast open plain spread out before and behind, hushed but for the soft whisper of wind through the sage.  I thought perhaps I might witness something magical, something magnificent even.  Nature often rewards our efforts when communion is our purpose.

Through a haze of fairy-book wonder, I looked up.  Magic had already taken hold….luminescent orb!

IMG_20181218_193101640I stopped to watch a shallow stream of clouds pass over the moon.

The slow current flowed north to south along the western rift edge of the Rio Grande River Valley.  The moon danced in ether, bathed in a billowing diaphanous dress, a glowing sphere of mystery. Perhaps this nomadic community of water vapor had coalesced from the earlier heat of the day, or maybe this mystical mist had been conjured for my eyes only; a pleasure I was witness to contemplate.

Me, my moon shadows, and the sweeping sky above, humbling in its boundless grace. I laughed and twirled around whispering, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

The intention had not been to actually climb one of the volcanoes.  The walk from the outer parking lot measures more than a mile and a half to the top, not a long hike during the day, but under moonlight one’s footing is always tenuous.  Plus, it was very cold.  I would return with wind in my face.  Yet, JA rose closest in the distance, a darkened silhouette, an old friend calling me.  An old cone calling an old crone.  I could not resist the summons, so I set out to climb the narrow jagged path to the crest, stumbling, sometimes tripping, but determined.

The top!  My reward (as if the sky were not enough): a dazzling, sparkling, display of city lights far below toward the east, toward the Sandia Mts.  Bewitched, I laughed with delight and twirled around again, arms outstretched, hooting and howling my “barbaric yalp,” no false faces necessary when only the gods were watching.

Cautiously, I tread across the ancient caldera and soon found a windbreak. Here I turned toward the stone, hugged the jagged wall of lava, literally hugged it…cheek to rock…forehead pressing cold, aged pahoe-hoe.  Silent, standing perfectly still, I swear I felt JA’s heartbeat against my own chest. Here I met with eons and millenia, with this 125,000 year old rock and a primordial sky.

Back around to face the east, I leaned against the lava while looking up at the night and nestled in for a prayer.  I thought of Thoreau’s good friend Emerson who said it better than I.

“Standing on the bare ground…all mean egotism vanishes…I am nothing;      I see all; the currents of the universal being float through me.”

I understood my wee proper place within the warp and weft, the fabric of the universe; I wept with gratitude. How fortunate am I…are we?

Sentient beings on a beautiful planet!

Vulcanized: Thrown into a Fire

“Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.”    Henry David Thoreau

The path I tread over and over again these days is very narrow, very crooked, very jagged.  It leads me to that which I am in love: volcanoes.  Well, not just any volcano, and not so much the lava spewing caldera (though I have dawdled in awe near such a one) but rather the five or six volcanoes sitting in a southerly row on the west mesa of the Rio Grande rift valley.  

 

I do not visit as often as I would like.  I would live on one of these ancients if I were allowed.  JA, Black, Bond, Vulcan, Anam Cara (soul friend), all beckon, ...a tiny hut would do, a one-room cabin like Thoreau’s, or a simple cave from which to safely watch the weather unfold.

Power dwells here, along with peace and possibility, but also danger.  Tread nonchalantly at your peril.  This rattler is but one example of the many inhabitants: 

Startled on top of JA

But where you might find hell, you might also find heaven.  The noisy world of the city is replaced by silence…..the air sometimes so still, so serene…where solitude, ceremony, and insight sit side by side by side.  Come!  Walk with reverence. You will see (Carlos Cataneda-type ‘seeing”) not only visual wonder, you will see what wonder is and what can be.

What wonder is: the diversity of our planet.  These critters can all be found on one volcano…Anam Cara.  They are various bugs of the beetle variety.  Wonder-full.

What can be:  the image below begs you to imagine…

As the earth rotates counter-clockwise away from the sun, I give myself over to the swirl of the planet, orientate to the dance, and feel myself moving…a speck on the edge of this great sphere, grasping my proper place in the immensity of that which I am part.  Feeling, also, my connectedness to the universe and to infinity.  

Sometimes I climb seeking the full moon, and try to catch  the rising moon in my hands, 

 

 

 

 

 

then release the setting sun with breath.

If I stand on a volcano and wave my arms, I might produce the “butterfly effect” sending new winds, new events circling the earth.

If I stand atop a volcano and shout, “Take care of our planet!  Take care of our beautiful home,” I might change the course of fate.  It is right that I should consider these things both heavy and light, light as a beetle’s wings and as calamitous as human demise.  Vulcanized.

Chasing Water…Finding Flowers

IMG_20160710_125206709_HDR

Rio Grande del Norte Taos, NM

Gradually, the village murmur subsided, and we seemed to be embarked on the placid current of our dreams, floating from past to future as silently as one awaked to fresh morning or evening thoughts. Henry David Thoreau

How blessed are we who can ride these currents, swim with the fish, dance in two mile high gardens?  Gratitude, humbled by the scope of nature, and the gift we have been given.

IMG_20160714_154838805

Clarity on the East Fork, San Juan River, CO

You there! Mingle in the mountains, waltz with the wind, float the rivers big and small.  Give yourself over to the current…cooling your skin wetting your soul.

We went seeking relief from the heat.  North! Taos, Pagosa Springs, Durango.  We went seeking water; we are Pisces by nature, if not by birth.  We will ride most anything down a river, including our will.  Lacking flotation devices, we often take up a mask and snorkel.  64 degree water is difficult to swim, but still possible.  These things are not without risk; though most people shy from physical discomfort.

Why…why not bear witness to universal truths using all of your senses?

Time is but a stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. It’s thin current slides away,
but eternity remains…(hdt)

Inhale slowly, smell the rain-soaked mountains, truly see them.  Stick your finger in a sun-dappled columbine and taste.  Sh-h-h-h, listen to the breathless wind call out while birds and bees sing their rejoicing!

Feeling acutely aware…the rivers, the mountains, the air we breathe come from almost forever.  We live here but a moment.   Let’s be OK with that!

 

IMG_20160716_143704258

 

The Unbearable Darkness of Seeing (Part 2): The Light Side of the Moon

“What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.” Henry David Thoreau

Though I have posted a couple of photo collages, I have not written my blog since January 2015 when I was body slammed by circumstances beyond my control (see Unbearable Darkness…Part 1 and before that Points of Convergence).  My belief system, my ego, my career all collapsed in a crumble of lost dreams and what I then felt were false “signs.”  Life kicked the chair out from underneath me, and I found myself wondering how, where, or even IF I fit in.  I was despondent.

Gratitude It took two weeks of mourning lost opportunities and employment before I could even begin to feel as though life were worth the effort.  Soon, my friend Louisa invited me to participate in a 100 Day Project.  Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I decided to feel and express gratitude for all the good fortune I had received.

Augury Four days into my gratitude project (keeping a daily journal about the people, events, and things for which I give thanks), after he spoke at a UNM climate change rally, I met Dr. Bruce Milne: Director of the Sustainability Studies Program at the University of New Mexico.  Many people had told me over the course of two years that I must meet Dr. Milne for he and I shared a goal of sustainable lifestyles as a way of life.

Ironically, following on the heels of my Unbearable Darkness and false signs, upon introducing myself and quickly outlining my skill set, Dr. Milne said our meeting was a “sign”… the answer to a prayer he had sent out to the universe.  He described his prayer to me along with several other auspicious signs he had received just prior to my introduction.  As he spoke, I saw the sparkle of a tiny, joyful tear in his eye, as if to say, “The universe does deliver what we pray for.”  Turns out, he had wished for someone with exactly my skills (along with a minor in Sustainable Studies) to help him transform two of his dreams into reality.

Had his prayer changed the course of my life?  When, exactly, had he sent out that prayer? Did the fate of my true path require the collapse of an alternate destiny?

Gratitude Dr. Milne had also been deeply engaged in expressing gratitude.  To that end, he had developed and written “The Method: Mindfulness and Gratitude Practices to Achieve Personal and Collective Sustainability.” How’s that for Points of Convergence?  He wanted his text transformed to a book. Thus, a month after my world collapsed, I was hired by UNM’s Sustainability Studies Program (an alternate dream of mine) to help create a book. Additionally, through our collaboration, we brought Indian scholar, environmental activist and anti-globalization author, Vandana Shiva to the University of New Mexico where she beautifully encouraged a sold out audience to believe, “We are all seeds of creativity.”

…the answer to someone’s prayer.  Giving up on signs and no longer believing in fate, I had become someone else’s sign and fate.  One has to laugh.  By helping to  bring gratitude, peace and most importantly, light, into my community, I had allowed light to shine in my heart again.  Thus continues, the Circle Game.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Points of Convergence/The Circle Game

“The universe is wider than our view of it.” –Henry David Thoreau

Has this ever happened to you?  The answer, or that thing you’ve been searching for, was actually right there all along? You passed by it many times, but you did not “see”?  At least not immediately. DSCF1606But then, once you truly opened your eyes, once you zoomed in the lens and found your focal point, your vision became clear.  You had to laugh!  Laugh at yourself for being such a blunderhead. Laugh at the universe for playing games with you.

Do you see it?  The town’s name?  My blog: searchingforthoreau?   The town I have been passing through for weeks now.

DSCF1602Henry David Thoreau, one of my heroes, gave a great deal of his life over to communing with nature while transcending the material world.

I give as much as I can!   (Who hasn’t said that before?)  I could do with less.  I could give more.

Yet a man (or a woman) has to eat.

Plus, I love the classroom, a petri dish of human interaction where tremendous growth and change can take place  It’s always a grand adventure.

During my search for employment to get paid the bread, to buy the bread, it was necessary to travel to Crownpoint, NM a number of times.  To and fro my friend and I would go, across the vast landscape, in awe of the majestic scenery.DSCF1605 - Copy

Dreams and vows and lives converge…

One Dream: to live with Native Americans, to learn their ways. Many years ago my family immersed itself in the way by way of the of the cowboy and Indian genre on television shows.  We couldn’t get enough of them…shows that featured the wild west.  Who to root for? Simple for me. Who to pretend you were while playing with the neighborhood kids?  I played Tonto. I played Sacagawea.

I Vowed:

“Honor all with whom we share the Earth:
Four-leggeds, two-leggeds, winged ones,
Swimmers, crawlers, plant and rock…”DSCF1548

“Regard heaven as your father, earth as your mother, and all that lives as your brother and sister.” –Navajo Proverb–

I wanted to walk that path as closely as a white person is able. I found Henry David Thoreau when I was sixteen and understood: this nature-loving white man’s words and ways would help me hold the Navajo ethos close to my heart.

   Points of Convergence

100_7233 Destiny or Chance? Fate or Coincidence? What’s your take?

The desire to teach again, to live the Navajo way, to live like Thoreau: with nature while writing about nature (both human nature and nature nature) found me creating a blog, but also interviewing for a position on the faculty at the Navajo Technical University. The Humanities Dept Chair showed me around the campus.  We walked and talked and at one point we watched a huge bird, silhouetted against the sun’s own sky, swoop up and over an escarpment. Prof. Tallant confessed, “When I die, I want to come back as a bird, a raven to be exact; they have attitude and altitude.”  I quickly responded, “Me too! If I get to live again, I want to return flying, like a keen-eyed hawk.”

In the bookstore 2 hours later:  On a jacket and on a sweatshirt hanging on the racks, on the T-shirts folded neatly on shelves, I saw the NTU mascot, the university spirit animal.  One of the T-shirts proclaimed, “We are the flying hawks!”

I will be a flying hawk…reincarnation through teaching.  Very interesting, you must agree?

Not until I was back home in Albuquerque, recalling my wish for reincarnation and the flying hawks did it all connect…I have been passing through Thoreau twice a visit.  I will be teaching literature and writing to the flying hawks of NTU. I will continue driving every week through Thoreau on my way to Crownpoint, driving across (and soon exploring) some of the most magnificent expanses of nature a heart can hold.  Henry David would have much to say about that!

Destiny or Coincidence?DSCF0425

“Not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations.” –Henry David Thoreau

Taos Dreaming…”Live the life you have dreamed.” –HDT

More than ten years ago, in July of 2004, I still lived in a glen by a creek that runs through Mink Hollow, near Highland, Maryland.  Mink Hollow was a magical place: a river ran through it, a forest surrounded it.  We danced.  Lovely, you say? Indeed!  Sadly, familiarity breeds, for me at least, a bit of the wanderlust. Which is why on Wednesday, July 14th, 2004 I found myself solo camping in Taos, NM after my first year of teaching high school.  I sought the southwest knowing I could easily find solace, knowing I could truly be alone; seeking, like Thoreau, to get “to the essential part of me.”  I needed a salve for the knocks and bruises accumulated during ten months spent butting heads with 130, sixteen year old students. I had learned and felt so much!

Sitting on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Rio Grande Gorge in 2004, I wrote this in my journal:  “Forgive me Mink Hollow for wanting anything, any place, other than you.  100_4615I do not understand this longing for the long view, but it feels so very palpable.  Sitting at the edge, here at the gorge, or on a mountain top in Magdalena, seeing the gold and green overlapping mountain ranges before me,100_5961 or the layers of earth revealed through infinity, I am filled with a lovely peace…the, I am truly  “home” kind of peace.  Here lies heaven: the smell of juniper and pinon; the rattle of snake and cicada, the whispering trees; the glorious blue sky yet more vivid juxtaposed against white clouds.

I am entranced…………..

To have access to mesas on the weekends, to be able to set out with regularity to the mountains…higher,  and higher still…where silence has a sound… 100_5602 100_5614To call New Mexico home would be beyond my most imaginative dreams…the senses in perpetual, delightful overload.

I cannot paint a true picture using only words; regrettably: my poetic palette lacks the range. Hopefully, photos and words metaphorically wed to help you see. How does one with mere syllables exalt mesas? or mountain peaks? or high altitude streams?   Instead…I return to breath, I bow.  I praise.  I listen to my soul’s longing.” 100_5648

Seven years after that journal entry, I moved to New Mexico. I found my Walden.  I call the wild places home.  Some nights you may see me running with the wolves!

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” –Henry David Thoreau

%d bloggers like this: