Solitude

 

 

 

Day in..day out my life feels the chink of the whittler’s knife.

A little bit of “doing” falls to the floor at His sure carvers hand with each stroke taken.

After awhile the emptiness in me becomes the substance;  the main event

And I’d want it no other way.

That’s not really true- many times I long for levity and ease, projects and adventure with others of my ilk.

Solitude is my freedom.

My safe place.

The tree of Life.

I feed my mind constantly with TED talks and books and film and….and….

Inspiration seems to arrive only after layers of knowledge, information and images are laid down in a huge sedimentary aggregate

Which gets fed into the circular and swirly digestion

Occurring within my particular solitude.

Often I think not a damn thing is happening .

And what is my purpose after all?

These are bad questions.

They are constipating at best.

Most of the time, like this morning on the plaza

If I just give myself over to solitude

It heaps my coffers up with gifts.

I suppose it’s not really solitude when surrounded by all  manner of folks milling about

But I was in a funk and feeling bored in my aloneness.

A little boy and lovely mother came walking near  me.

I had been watching a very blonde little girl in expensive frilliness assaulting pigeons with confident bombardment of white bread bullets.

The approaching African American mother and child were taken aback when the white girl charged them and paused to hand the boy a slice of bread then swiftly ran back to her personal pack of pigeons.

The boy was a sensitive child and hid behind his mother.

She gently showed him how to tear the bread and give it a good toss to gathering birds.

He tried a few times but was frustrated at his feeble toss.

He wanted to give up.

His mother spoke gently and held his tiny hand to ensure a good throw.

A glittering bird came and ate it.

The boy’s body opened into a bloom of success and excitement at the result of his actions.

Again and again he threw the bread.

Ten minutes later they left the portly birds and I felt the privilege of witnessing the plumping up of a little boys’ confidence in himself.

All I did was surrender into space and be drawn into life happening.

It doesn’t feel insignificant to me.

I smiled and rolled on.

Be Quiet

detail of sculpture,ceramic,wire,wood

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I have been somehow drawn to a Native American woman selling jewelry on the plaza.

She is perhaps in her 80’s, sits alone on a store’s stoop a full block away from the Palace of the Governors portal

Under which sit close to 100 Indians who have driven from far-away teensy-tiny towns 

To participate in the daily lottery which decides who can stay to sell work.  All others turn around and make the long trip home and try again another day.

It is an extremely lucrative affair as there are many regulations ensuring buyers are purchasing authentic Native American work

Not produced in China.

The old woman sitting alone captivates me for a number of reasons;  her fortitude-showing up EVERY day no matter the weather.

I began waving to her a few months ago as I passed across the street.

Sometimes she’d acknowledge me..sometimes not.

One day I saw her in Starbucks at the table next to me.

Cathy: “Hello.  There is something about you that feels special and I always enjoy seeing you as I pass by. My name is Cathy”

Lady:  “I’m Rose.  I started the whole program for Indians to sell their work under the portal but it got too political and so I left.”

Cathy:  Incredulous, I wait for her next words..

Lady:  “You know…you don’t have to wave at me every time I see you.  You can just notice I am here and OK and I can do the same.  You don’t have to wave.”

My experience with Native Americans is that their tolerance for my anglo TRYING TO CONNECT feels like wasted energy and fairly base.  Turns them off.

Following this exchange the lady and I barely connect at all; barely looking at one another and definitely no off-putting gesticulating.

To me, it feels lonely and not satisfying.

And yet…with time I am settling into the quiet recognition she is trying to teach me.

I am learning to contain my white-girl overtness and feel the sacred beneath.

I am letting myself be taught.

You Are Me

monoprint, 30×22

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Suffering is the great equalizer.

It really is a pisser

But it truly is the thing that moves humans from “me”

To “we”….

Back and forth-  me, we, me, I see you, me, you are just like me, me, Oh yeah- I know that one too.

I have seen that often the eyes continue to carry the gravitas of current, post or by-proxy suffering.

I have it, Emma has it, the old man selling from his street cart has it.

Trump doesn’t have it.  He’s escaped so far.

His eyes are dulled by confusion but that’s not the same.

He is comfortable in his separateness and makes decisions from there.

You can’t watch a movie or read about suffering and have your DNA really shift like the in-the-flesh kind tends to do.

When people approach me I can tell who has some sense of personal suffering;

Assistance is offered instinctively..

Like a prayer or blood donation.

This is how the suffering ones heal..

We reach for others.

Without thinking we reach.

We do it over and over

Because it is the very best way to heal everyone; ourselves and other.

Lots of those burdened by wealth have avoided suffering

For awhile

And that is a shame.

The suffering smell bad to those unfamiliar with the rigors of rising.

Nobody signed a contract to rise again after a bout of suffering.

We can always choose.

Eyes dim in the turning away from suffering.

Souls too.

There is a cost to avoidance.

A weird and rare light comes to the  ones who actually dance with suffering;  Christopher Reeves, Roger Ebert, His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Suffering is not a bad thing.

I have learned/am learning that in the middle of it..if I remember there is only just the present moment

I can get through pretty much anything.

And am so very much richer for it.

In the middle of it I hate God.

I mean, like REALLY!

She blasphemes…

But afterwards when I extend my hand to another and feel her soul get washed in the relief of “not alone”

I see the wisdom.

Can I put “soul washer” on my resume’?

What’s Worth Fighting For?

 

 

Rolling ’round recently I was feeling the effects of the heat and my fading chi.

I entertain myself by asking revealing questions: “What, Cathy,  is worth fighting for if your energy reserves are so low and you had to pick three things?”

“Well…(I answer to my captivated self)

EMMA comes to mind first off.

Then THE QUALITY OF LIFE I ENJOY (creativity,security,peace,connection,beauty)

And then there’d be my HEALTH..which allows my presence of mind..most valued of all.”

It is pretty revealing and important to focus in on what we value

And many ways to fight for the privilege and likelihood of their presence.

Newly hatched Great Horned Owl chicks are now in the park I take EMMA to in the evenings.

I like to go looking under the tree which hosts their nest; bones and feathers of ripped and torn prey the owls have enjoyed lie spread beneath the noble pine.

My friend sent me the photos here which are so gorgeously raw in the primal ways of nature in survival mode.

To protect what we value we can choose to attack or pull back into invisibility-mode , remain hyper-vigilant in extreme self-care or confront the subject.  

Or we can do nothing and risk using up our precious and decidedly finite energy on insignificant dalliances and eventually wonder where that dripping gift of life juice went while we weren’t really paying attention.

 

 

 

Georgia and Me

inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe’s “BLACK DOOR” series, ceramic,earth,bone, 30x30x4″

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I attended a lecture this morning hosted by THE GEORGIA O’KEEFFE MUSEUM by a woman who served Miss O’keeffe as librarian, housekeeper, companion and eventually caregiver as she became blind.

To hear her tell it, O’Keeffe was quite the toughie; prone to acerbic delivery in conversation and the non-mincing of words.  She was a challenging broad, shall we say.

We most often hear of Georgia in her prime , modeling unfettered independence sans family and expected norms of behavior

As she gifted the world with her way of seeing; lifting and shoving us all off the comfort of our familiar.

During the lecture I became self-reflective listening to this woman’s stories of Georgia aging often without grace;   frustration, bitterness uncontained, not so friendly or even less welcoming than her healthier days.

Access to grace is very hard won in the company of pain, fatigue, dissolution of body, mess and overload of general living stuff.

These things I am beginning to know.

Used to be that even when I was overly tired or weak I could always pull up grace enough to ensure my intimates worry about me was eased and a conversation could be had without the back round screech on the blackboard I could hear in their minds, concerned for my welfare.

Sometimes I sit here and Grace is cruising around town in her cherry red restored convertible Thunderbird with the top down miles from me.

I know not when she’ll return.

She never follows my orders.

This is when things get a bit lonely as I have very few I trust to visit myself upon when overtaken by our inevitable corporal dissolution.

I pull the covers over my head.

You think you’ll not be touched, I know.

It is a surprise how primal and naturally gritty and inconvenient just below the surface of normal we are.

The greatest gift those who love me can offer is   S…P…A….C…E…

With no judgement.

And the knowing that all we each can count on is change.

I might be nicer tomorrow.

Or not.

Or I might be.

And that would be nice.

For everybody.

My comportment is now quite unreliable.

It is what it is.

If you see me without a painted lip you’ll know to perhaps steer clear.

If I hadn’t the juju to pause and apply…I likely don’t have it for you.

The Camo Men

detail of painting

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Santa Fe celebrates July 4th by hosting a gargantuan pancake breakfast on the plaza put on by the city.

Think doughy and haphazardly flipped disks on chalky paper plates.

The din of human dining takes place amidst the trash of a throw-away culture.

Watching the men set up for tomorrow’s event just really heavied-up my heart.

I knew the busker who often sings so friggin’ badly in the early mornings will be displaced.

I am challenged by his attempt at entertaining yet he pushes out these crude lyrics with his emphysemic throat, extremely tone deaf,  day after day destroying my peace.

Me, me me…..

While the pseudo celebration of independence is marked in one way by incomprehensible amounts of ingested  undercooked batter

My vet friend with the shitty voice awaits a chance to sing to us again after the partying is all over.

Singin’ for his supper, he does.

I am quite sure his closet only contains camo.

He bugs me so much and I hate that he does as he is so broken.

And alone.

With few giving him the time of day.  

Including me.

My low-down life in my trusty wheelchair allows me the privilege of up close and personal contact with many of the challenged souls trying so hard to re-enter normal

After they went away to some god-forsaken place and put on their boots and walked out to serve us each morning

By braving the scariest of the scary in the name of freedom.  Ours.

How the hell could you not break?

How could you see what they saw and keep all your ducks in a row?

Could any of us sing in tune having lived through bombs and sanity blasting visions of lifeless friends crumpled just beside you?

They need us now.  They need us not to turn away from their weirdness.

Please join me in helping to do something for the broken among us.

Eye contact, a dollar dropped, a real smile…even proximity.

Reign in your judgement (this admonition to me) .

Look the broken camo -men in their brave, veiled and wounded eyes

And drop your head silently in gratitude for the freedoms we still enjoy

Which come at such a cost.

We never really thanked them.

Then eat your pancakes if you can.