Just (Don’t) Do It


"THE RIDE",  monoprint,  1995,  22" x 30"

"THE RIDE", monoprint, 1991, 22" x 30"


I used to thrill over a long 5 hour drive to Chaco Canyon.

It is the archeological , deep high desert remains of a remarkably sophisticated group of Anasazi Indians.

I went there many winters ago by myself just to have an adventure.

I had just arrived in New Mexico and was still walking around with my mouth half open in awe at the enchanting unfamiliarity of it all;  indians and adobe and big sky…  the whole thing.

Stupid to go there by myself but here’s a story I got out of it..

I walked,  and looked and walked and looked and SAW!  THERE,  ON THE GROUND!   A broken piece of pottery from the Anasazis!



And I picked them up.  Gathered each one I saw as a treasure.  I took them.

And continued on my day.

Around 3:00 in the afternoon I started my long drive home.

I was driving faster than usual because of my excitement over having such a GREAT day.

Nothing/ no one in sight.

Suddenly I lost control of the car and slid down the ditch.

I had TWO flat tires……………

Ok,  single woman.   Dusk approaching.  Indian country,  not mine.   Not good.

I had a long time to sit there and think.

And what came to me was this:

I was getting a lesson in how NOT to behave.

At ANY TIME and not just within a sacred site  (which Chaco canyon certainly is).


Without even a wink of a thank you or moment of gratitude or acknowledgement that just because I find something(pottery),  it now becomes mine.

When I realized this a great peace came over me and so I knew I was correct in the realization.

I,  (in my innocent new New Mexicanness) hurriedly and like a spastic child,  threw the treasures back to the desert with a pitiful  “I’m sorry”.

At that moment a red truck came over the horizon.  I saw it’s dust long before it got to me and had plenty of time to wonder who was in it..

Turns out it was an Indian family.   The man approached me and I told him what happened.   He spoke to his wife in his language for a moment and came over and began taking off one of the flat tires.   He said he would take it out to the road to get it fixed.  He said he asked his wife if she wanted to stay with me but she said no..   (big surprise)

He then walked off toward his red truck with the tire and turned back to me and said: “Thanks for the tire”.

I looked at him and said that I had to trust that he would return…

They turned around and left.

ps..  the road was 15 miles of dirt away..

And so………. I waited.

I was in the hands of the gods but I hadn’t had too much respect for them of late so I really didn’t know if I had too much grace to count on.

I’m telling this story today because I got another,  more benign lesson in the energetic aggression we all practice with one another especially in hard times such as these..

I won’t go into the specifics but it was essentially the same thing:

I wanted something and in the wanting became deeply unconscious.  My desire overrode any modicum of the GRACE OF CONTAINMENT I usually try for.

I find that if I am responsible for keeping my energy contained then I tend not to slime other people with an almost violent sense of getting any place in me that feels at all EMPTY,  FILLED immediately.

I see that we do this with gossip,  eating, giving unsolicited advice , making assumptions, indiscriminately adding to our personal ‘ownership’  (me with the pottery), looking for agreement  (illness challenges, money, job loss etc.) and just carrying the very American attitude of ENTITLEMENT.

The guy actually DID return with my tire and changed out the spare and put on the fixed one and I was set to go.

I had  (still have)  such an immense gratitude toward this hero of mine.  I sent him the above monoprint as a sort of weird white girls attempt at a thank you.

I learned more respect for the seen and unseen and I am challenged to carry my self with high regard for my own beingness and that of another,  sentient or not.

I learned that humans are NOT top dog all the time. We would be smart to acquiesce to the presence of ‘OTHER’ in humility and the spirit of open-hearted exchange.

This translates into real life by trying to move through my day inside the gratitude for my existence and the effort to not make more work for others by unconsciously sitting down at a metaphorical table, uninvited.


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