The Salve of Other

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Down on the plaza today

Feeling sooooo good.

I seem to have made it through another winter.

Back to my full time job of professional voyuer

I sat with Emma on my lap and a latte within reach.

It was mid-morning but few humans were around save the Native Americans setting up their wares for the day;

Dignified, constant, quietly contained.

A low and grumbly noise got my attention.

It came from a “camo-man” (my word for the plethora of discombobulated vets carrying the weight of war for us all).

He was quiet in his delivery of some language known only to him.

His body moved strangely.

Not dangerously.

I wheeled over and handed him a five dollar bill.

Not looking at me he took the cash and reached to barely brush my hand with his own

And walked off.

I truly felt steeped in Grace; his slight touch so full of intent and a host of other things that silenced me with their power.

One of the most challenging aspects of my health situation is the necessity to be so body-centric, so dense in paying attention to my physical body.

I must be so CARE-full

Im each micro-movement

In order not to fall on the floor or into the vacuum of a death spiral.

I must take pills, struggle with dressing, bathing, stay functioning in my home and work and community with dignity and balance.

All of this I used to do without a cloying effort but now must micro-manage energy; both psychological and physical, to show up in the world the way I wish to.

The call to action I had with the “camo-man”

Took me out of my self-centrism.

For a moment

It was WE…outside of time.

I forgot about “me”

And “he” also vanished

And there was just the numinous “We”.

How easy it is to forget who we are outside our personal pains, frustrations and concocted stories.

These things are not “us” at all.

We must reach beyond our bubble.

Or be very aware when a fellow reached forward toward us.

It seems God lives inside the extension outside our (little “s”) selves.

To Settle the Soul

“LIGHT”.5×4′,m/m

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The first crocus pushed through as harbinger of better days.

It is more of a challenge to enjoy long threads of “better days” in Winter.

I asked a friend to be my meditation “accountability buddy” at the beginning of February.

Structure helps me keep my word to myself;

“Monday- yes, Tuesday, yes”…. we traded this way via email for two weeks.

Suddenly, some thing got me and I recoiled from confessing to my friend that “no” had entered the arena.

The silent backstory in my troubled mind was bordering on cruel;

I’ll bet you know it well.

I’m not entirely sure that when the crocus begins to wake up and have the urge to move all the dirt balls and worms out of it’s way to reach the nourishment of light

That it does so without a number of rests, pausing to do whatever ( laundry, dinner with friends, get a facial?), and maybe even some time in stasis

Where the direction toward Life is unclear.

Can I love myself a little?

Be gentle in my requirements for success?

Maybe just begin again as I am ready

And leave the jaggedy tailings of mind fracking

By the side of the road?

Easy does it, Cath.

Enjoy the ride.

It’d be a shame

To turn any more precious moments over to The Judge.

He is so fucking fat.

THERE ARE CROCUSES COMING.

The Soulful, Sonorous Sounds of David

“EVENING”,11×11″,m/m

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I love David.

I actually am IN love with him.

When I hear the salve of his soundings

It feels like honey in my heart.

DAVID ATTENBOROUGH’S voice has just the right combo of gravitas, innocence, awe, humor, wisdom, silliness and nobility

To allow me immediate rapture regarding any damn thing he says.

Today, that thing was the brand new BBC PLANET EARTH II series. (link is to NETFLIX listing)

I just watched the first episode on ISLANDS

And reveled in the advances technology has made in the ability to capture Nature in such glorious intimacy and power.

Here it is: BBC PLANET EARTH II narrated by my guy: David Attenborough.

Use it as the perfect buffer to whatever-the-hell-it-is we are living through these days.

KOMODO DRAGONS FIGHTING! SLOTHS LOVING! PENGUINS SINGING!

No pretense…sigh.

(except that horrible bird that pretends to be something he’s not and steals the eggs from the mother bird out gathering nest material and then he EATS them slurpily..)

The Sacred and the Profane

detail, monoprint

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I may be the last person on earth to have seen the film BAD SANTA

But last night was my night to actually laugh A LOT in that rare, ugly and involuntary way;

The kind that hurts so good.

Now, this film, with Billy Bob Thornton is pretty much in the profane lane

Until you get to the end

Which is worth it.

I love to swear.

I find it extremely therapeutic

And a medicine I rely on

In these times of woe.

During the holidays in Santa Fe it is a challenge to meander down the sidewalk without getting slimed by someones’ family drama having escaped.

Emma looks askance at me when I swear

But I experience an immediate cleanse, physically and emptionally

And then can come back in to enjoy the holiday festivities.

My coarse exclamations are as bad a girl as I get

And so I enjoy them thoroughly when they appear unannounced.

My God.. I could be a heroin addict or thief

But I have settled in on unapologetic cursing.

I feel these exclamations must be brought forward with commitment.

No question mark at the end, boys and girls.

Say it and be done!

After such a clearing the nativity is fully populated and all the candles are there in the life-sized menorah on the plaza;

The lights are blessedly lit and my heart returns once again to an un-contracted state; open and primed to receive the gifts of the season.

Here we go—moving from darkness once again into the light.

Nope…and Yes


detail of painting

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Aging is really shitty.

And not.

The other day I had a memory snafu the likes of which scared me to death.

This morning I ran into a female friend who blasted me with her opinion that all the sexual abuse victims voicing revelations hidden in pressure cookers for eons were, in her reality, just out for attention and money.

My tolerance level is at its lowest point.

No.

Nope!

I cut and ran from my friend.

I did.

Never did that before.

I used to have more Grace and room;

Space for differing opinions, values and humanness I might find prickly.

Aging and illness has given me a great gift of boundaries.

My physical body immediately registers energetic DANGER and unceremoniously steers me clear.

With the acute registration of “NO!”

Comes an equally insistent knowing of when and with whom to exhibit a hearty “YES!”

Yes to space and beauty and undefended connections.

Yes to nature and prayer and Emma and soul-polishing books and film.

Yes to eating well and rituals that keep me comforted and warm.

Yes to giving back to and investing in those who continue to support my well-being.

Yes to learning cool stuff and musing about big questions.

Yes to leading the kind of discriminating life that only comes with age and illness.

It is only by saying a definitive and hearty “NO!”

That I can even begin to know what and who to say a true “YES!” to.

Essence vs. Extra

I feel flat in the midst of the turning seasons.

The Summer heat, sense of easy expansion of my energy, stretched out daylight, fabrics like linen and silk, fresh colors of white and pink, exclamations of birdlife and riotous blooming

Shift

To naked trees, involuntary contracting of muscle and mind, dark and frosty chill, vacant garden rows and lots and lots of puffer coats; mostly black.

I know, I know….

So much important work going on under the frozen earth as root systems rest and rebuild and we all hunker down in our dens.

My nervous system is tattered from the long summer of tourists standing in their great width and weight, middle of the sidewalk with heads hang-dogged seeking the security of GPS.

I am powering down and it feels flat.

Rolling down the road today with Emma in her usual spot at the prow of our ship

She relinquished her ever-forward gaze

And turned that beloved face up to me a number of times.

She was feeling nervous about various canine appearances along our way.

She looked up at me with her clear, trusting, present and glittering black eyes

Just to check:

Everything cool? Any need to guard you?

I say: ” Hi Em..Everything’s ok. Good dog..very good dog”.

My heart slows with the medicine of her pure goodness and beauty.

More and more I live inside these seemingly small moments of reverence for life.

Tiny soft furry breathing on my lap

Or her front leg reach mixed with jangling up and down dancey head movements during dinner preparation.

As my heart plumps to bursting I remember these little church moments and take that awareness into the world.

That man in Starbucks jumping up from his comfy seat to run across and get the door for me before I even get there…the purity of this act feels the same somehow.

The bright red chile ristras hung recently on the plaza were the essence of red; indescribably deep and rich.

The feelings I am after have no names, really.

Because reducing them to language is missing the point.

Crafting a life of ESSENCE and not EXTRA is what I am up to as we enter this season of excess..

Here is my front porch winter offering inspired by Scandinavia’s inherent appreciation of less-is-way-more...

Purpose

Apologies for my extended silence.

If I don’t have anything to say, I don’t.

I have been shifting with the season.

In order for new stuff to come in the old has to die off as we all know but I never like it while it’s happening.

Like the leaves, my energies feel brittle and warm from the advent of composting.

I acted as sounding board for a friend conflicted in his decision-making process whether to stay in Santa Fe and continue in business which has been a challenge for the past year

Or to return to his familiar life back east where his income was safe and he knew exactly what to expect.

He was freaked out because he is pushed to the wall time-wise with head and heart battling it out.

His bottom line ended up being “PURPOSE” and deciding what that is for him; recognizing his unwillingness to live the remainder of his life without it.

Putting words to our purpose feels important.

For me, the diminishing capabilities of ambulatory living and even two hands to count on have forced me to welcome the heat of my own leaves which have fallen; on the composting trail to new and fertile soil.

Dirty, messy business to face the need to shift from one identity to the next.

I might say that my past and pre-MS identity and purpose was that of an artist bringing beauty and interest into the world.

Today, I understand that to merely exist with as much awareness and appreciation as I can muster

As well as be a reflection for the miracle that is us

Is my purpose.

Really the same thing I was doing as an artist

Just not “in form”.

After all is said and done

To BE…to exist

Is enough.

I wish I felt more kindly toward that pesky “composting” part though….

A work in progress we are.

I don’t remember Spring every occurring without the “dying to be re-born” part.

Do you?

Yuk. and Yay!

Who We Are – Who Are We?

hand-painted silk

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A good friend sent this video to me this morning.

I want you to watch it.

I think it is important to see girls and women dancing and keeping their attention WITHIN themselves (zero eye contact with watchers);

None of their fierce, sexy, wild yet contained life force leaking out looking for any kind of approval.

So sure of themselves they are as they stomp and dip..arch and invite..say NO! and then YES!…then NO!

Then Yes.

I am still learning how to harbor my own authenticity

Without shame or hesitation or constant questioning of myself.

So often when I feel raw power coursing through me I pause and look around trying to decipher if I am being perceived as some kind of oddity.

Being an artist served me so well as it was just me in the studio; me witnessing me- very entertaining at times!

Learning ourselves as we truly are with no cultural or familial overlays is hard work.

It is so important to have models of what feminine power can look like.

I gather examples as I go along.

Of course these examples will be different for each of us

But learning how to say a definitive “NO!”

And a really good “YES!”

Just with our bodies

Is a really good start.

Keeping an Eye Out

detail of painting,m/m

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Rolling downtown I pass a bank of windows; eternally sparkling clean.

Who works here? I have wondered… recognizing a level of integrity gleaming in the midst of, shall we say “other”.

One day a lovely woman about my age ran out the door flagging me down.

“I’m Sheri. I see you pass by here so often and wanted to introduce myself”.

We had a spirited conversation and since then, as I pass her window I turn to wave and she does too.

So fun to expand my community in these seemingly little ways

That aren’t so little at all.

Bladder infections are visited on my weary physical self on a pretty regular basis as a pesky MS related take-away.

Needing to get out of the house yesterday I pulled my remaining energy together and ventured forth.

Approaching Sheri’s window I lowered my hat brim and scooted by without my usual acknowledgement in her direction as I hadn’t the inclination nor energy to bring up cordiality.

Today I had enough juice to resume our greetings and she emphatically held one finger up asking me to pause and wait.

She came outside and knelt down in the heat to even her eyes with mine;

“Are you ok? You didn’t seem ok yesterday. I needed to check on you.”

Instantly I dropped into the safety and comfort of having been seen and registered with curiosity and compassion by another of my species sharing minimal history.

This felt miraculous to me.

I told her so.

We basked in the incredulity of the gift of communion in a surprise visit to church on a Santa Fe back street one day in September.

Nature is the Antithesis of Illness

monoprint,30×22

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I try to keep the energy of my home clean and clear as best I can; clutter, emotional drama, too many colors and textures, unfinished projects and piles of “stuff” all lend density and heaviness to the vibe.

Flowers are insta-clearing agents for me.

They are extremely vital to my well-being and I adore arranging carefully chosen blooms.

Candles and especially the scent and smoke of sweetgrass help hoover out the sneaky slimeyness (sp?) bound to find entry sooner or later.

Sometimes Emma stands rigid on my bed barking at the empty corner of the room protecting me from things only she can see.

My tolerance for staying put indoors is two days which really is pushing it.

I get weird.

My brain curls into armadillo-mode and starves.

Even with all the consciousness I put into “keeping house”

The moment I close the door behind me bound for the plaza or some other adventure

I become light;

Brain unfurls into an un-armored friend and I move from my heart into the world.

Thoughts of pain and weakness and struggle,

Boredom and isolation and severed threads to Spirit

Fly off me like flinty scales

As I lean in to the fresh innocence of a day.

I have a friend in Texas waiting anxiously for what may be the ravages of a full blown hurricane.

Nature has many costumes in her armoire from ferocious to tender.

She demands we must bow to her risking everything if we don’t.

The fact Mother Nature is so much larger than us seems to allow the petty contractions I experience in my physical self to shrink in the light of Her pure and untainted energy.

Suddenly, I don’t feel the identity of “sick or pained or weary woman.”

A slow tear slides down my cheek in undefended humility and gratitude.

I roll on.

Free.

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.

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’?

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.

 

 

Proximity

I sat down today at my table next to a black man who was sitting at his.

I hadn’t the energy to look up and greet my new neighbor as I normally would.

My wide brimmed black hat acted as a societal shield; eyes hidden from view.

The temperature is 33′ and snow fluffed its way down on my exposed roll to town.  It is almost June.  I dressed optimistically and my nerves are all trying to pull as deeply into the far recesses of my interior as I realize my sensorial receptivity with MS is far more acute than regular folks.

I keep my compass tuned to “normal” until something like this temperature assault reminds me otherwise.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC kept me company at my table as I apologized to emma for the putrid weather.

I couldn’t warm.

Been out of pain pills 3 days now.

Jaggedy and generally a mess I just wasn’t friendly to anyone including self.

The black man sat stoically with no apparatus or book to hide in.

I snuck looks from under my hat.

He was so still and quiet; somewhat worn but did not exude suffering or need.

I eventually found  a passible body position and  my flesh moved into borderline warm.

Heartbeat slowed and my nerves smoothed.

Hat brim remained dropped insuring seclusion.

I kept feeling the stillness of the man next door.

He was far more interesting to me than reading about fossils or climate change but I stealthily kept the ruse of reading going as I studied him.

Folks around us asked for entry codes to the restroom, settled crying babies and slurped while complaining about the snow.

Eventually, I collected myself and braved connection with the still man; “Would you like to look at this magazine?  I am heading out.”

I suddenly saw his weariness was really loneliness.  He pulled up his radiance and gave it to me as he said just a short: ” Yes, indeed. I would.”

That was all we had together.

But it changed us.

Once again..communion at Starbucks.

Amen.

The Leavings of Love

painting on wool flannel, 6’x6′

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I have found that for me-

Any Love I have ever had the privilege to experience;

Be that in communion with human, animal or mineral

Is still very much alive in me.

If I feel deeply into the variety of ways I have been touched by Love

It seems like I have had my giant Crayola coloring sticks in hand and whatever my beingness needed in all it’s pesky genius unconsciousness  was conjured by me and delicately drawn into form, endowed with hue and tone and particular energy-  all imagined by me.

I interacted with that picture I created until my own needs were met 

And then a great rain washed the markings away leaving the shadow of the thing and either a whiff of the scent of communion

Or maybe the full on perfume.

I don’t desire to see my ex-husband  again in person as I have not the ballast to remain in love with myself around him.

Yet, there is love there still.

I had a mother unskilled at mothering.

Recently, I uncovered the very alive love between us hiding under my unresolved bitter blame and disappointment.

She has passed yet this love has the quality of organic substance; the ocean of which we are a wave; utterly and deliriously neutral.

In my experience..the leavings of Love are immutable…indelible.

I have loved trees and canyons; my ardor these days moves toward a particular globe willow.

It doesn’t feel that different than my love for my friend or good dirt or my own Self.

There is a sense of hierarchy but I’m likely mistaken.

What I speak of is not “happy” love or “joyful” love or really any label-able type what-so-ever.

It just is.

And seems to stay alive in me; either growing or remaining as is.

It  blossoms with attention, intent, reverence. 

Neither a gladiator nor wall-flower..

We are in it, of it,

It.

 

 

Girlz

 

detail of painting

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My girlfriend came over the other night with sushi and wine.

Her partner was off playing poker .

We were slightly giddy having so much fun;

Like two youngsters pulling something off on unknowing parents.

I sat there with her and felt the adventure, safety, pleasure and communion

Of two good friends building a fort together;

An adult fort with wine and raw fish.

Dim light and confessions.

I just love being an adult!

This  does not mean I have thoroughly matured.

My friend is smart.  Beautiful in her wide and capable leadership capacities.

She is fed by beauty.

Considers vulnerability a necessity for the role of warrioress-in-life.

Which she is.

When we are together there is a satisfying mixture of creativity, tenderness, capability, revelation, a tinge of sadness that comes from not needing an anesthetic to ward off how rugged is the world,

Fun, authenticity and freshness.

I say something like this to her: “I feel unsure of myself as I write my blog from such vulnerable and imperfect places sometimes.  I wonder what people must think and feel embarrassed in my exposure of self.  Then, on reflection I am quite sure if I am feeling or experiencing something I am pretty sure I’m not the only one.  I have to think there is solace for some in this.”

My friend keeps her interested and appreciative eye on me .

I am seen by her.  Truly witnessed in all my transparency.

Wine and raw fish….perfect.

 

Investment

detail of painting

___________

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Fairly soon following my diagnosis of MS a very good friend divorced me.

She said my burgeoning needs were “..pulling on her” (this after I asked if she might go to the hardware store for me).

The break-up email said she still wanted all my fun stories we shared but not the other “stuff”.

I really was devastated by this and responded that I felt she was way more invested in my health situation than I was.

She agreed.

Our friendship was irreparable.

Sometimes we don’t even realize what we are invested in.

We are invested in where we put our attention most.

I used to be heavily invested in a poor sense of self esteem.

Deeply confusing anger and disappointment were my bedfellows.

I was too fucked up to know how to love and care for animals or even be with young children then.  They always knew.

My art career, freedom, being nice, attractive, connected to Spirit,  fairly ‘normal’, safe(having a back door at all times), avoiding conflict are some places I put an inordinate amount  of energy in the past.

I now give energy quite differently.

My attention goes toward Emma, creativity, fostering peace, keeping my body running best I can, curiosity about human nature, space, stellar friends, remaining authentic, gratitude and remaining in the present.

We are invested in where we put our attention most.

When I remember how many years I have put into knowing my own neuroses well enough to have the power to let them be more in the back round (never do they go away altogether) and not the drivers of my life

I heave a weary sigh.

I have put so damn much of myself in the bank account called “get healthy”.

But I did.

And I am.

Truly a life’s achievement.

A very fine investment.

Investing in worry over my state of being;  things I can’t do anymore, all the ways my life has changed in soul-searing ways is not a good investment.

What’t the return on that?

Black moods and being a magnet for dark energies of  all sorts.

Emma is snoring here on my lap.

I put my attention further on her and feel her warmth on my thigh, the mini tail wag of  a dream, her trust in me to choose my company to digest her dinner, her sleek white softness. 

Feeling my attention she wakes to lift her head and check to see if I am still here.

Some dividend.

For A Father

 

 

A lovely couple from Dallas approached me in the plaza to ask about my hat.

They both wanted the exact same shape I wore and I guided them to the location of the shop as I continued mesmerized by the flashing pigeons at my feet.

I received a call later in the week from my friend at the hat shop wanting to get a photo of my chapeau and correct measurements.

In the midst of our ensuing conversation surrounded by the best of the West in the way of both custom and ready-made fine felt and straw headwear at O”FARRELL HAT COMPANY (my handsome friend Scott measuring for a custom hat with the weirdest piece of equipment ever!)

Three strapping young men walked into the shop.  They took up space in a big way.

The tallest one went directly for a work-of-art hat displayed prominently by itself on a stand at the desk.

It was embellished with very detailed scenes of western life over 1/2 the surface area in a breathtakingly intricate way.

In his broken English the young man asked the price as he grabbed it by the crown and Scott gently showed him how hats should be picked up by the brim.

The guy puts this great hat/crown on.

He stands taller and poses for his silent friends to shoot a photo.

I saw pride, adventure, courage and maybe a little bit of fierce resolve.

But I could have made that up.

“We are from Ukraine” he says.

Coming to the end of his English he slowly took off the hat and placed it with care back on it’s stand.

He reached in to his jackets inner pocket and pulled out something which he handed to Scott.

Like a wave of heat the three men were there …and then quickly gone.

Scott showed me what he had been mysteriously given.  It was a brass medal which had the patina of age bearing a curious insignia.

We both felt something of significance had happened.

I asked if I could research the medal.

It is, in fact from the 1950s and used to be attached to the beret of a Ukrainian Special Forces paratrooper.  The Ukrainian trident national emblem is displayed on the disk.

Why did this strapping young man in the company of his friends give this object to Scott and just disappear?

Since The Ukraine has been such a hotbed of conflict for so long I had the thought that the medal originated with this man’s father as it dated from the 50’s.  

If I were to pick a representative for what visitors unfamiliar with the United States might think FREEDOM looked like it might be Scott; dressed in his cowboy vest, fine  hat, mysterious , quiet renegade attitude and all else marking him “epitome of Western guy”.

What if the Ukrainian man’s father dreamed of freedom?  Visiting us here where we enjoy freedoms unknown to most?

My mind weaved a story that the three guys had finished their stint in the army and came here, to the States…to the West.

The young man gave the best representative of freedom; Scott, his father’s medal as a way to honor his Dad; making sure he did indeed get a chance to visit the U.S. and feel the salve of being free. He chose Scott as the final landing place of this treasure.

This is my imagined story and I am a romantic.

Whatever transpired it felt mysterious and was clearly an important mark in time for  the young man/men from Ukraine.

And me.

On Spirituality and David Lynch

 

 

“LAYERS”, 5’x5′ painting on wool flannel

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I’ve been talking a lot about God it seems.

A good friend asked me recently to describe what spirituality is for me.

You know you REALLY know something if a simple explanation  just rolls off your tongue and the other person’s eyes go wide and they say: “OH YEAH!!!! OF COURSE! How could I have not known this?  So simple.”

Not.

Well… I talked for maybe 10 minutes and stopped as my friend began to twist his eyes in a knot and almost break his forehead with wrinkling up in confusion.

I could not describe my experience well enough to transmit the essence to him.

How could I explain?

Mentioning PEMA CHODRON and JOSEPH CAMPBELL are choices I made in the beginning.

Their experience of living in the Sacred seems similar to mine.

Still, he asked me:  “I want to know what YOUR experience is, Cathy.”

Frustrated, I kept ruminating on the subject and came across this tiny bit of a film (4 minutes) called MEDITATION in which the film director DAVID LYNCH speaks very briefly on the subject at hand..  click here.  This snippet is from the full length film MEDITATION streaming on NETFLIX.

You can tell he knows of which he speaks as it takes zero energy to access his words and grok the thing.

I thought since God was making more of an appearance here of late you all should have a clue what that is for me.

A Dog Named Lavender

untitled, 36×24, m/m

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Cruising yesterday I came upon a marginally sane seeming older gentleman

In deep conversation with Lavender, his soft brown companion.

Hearing this dog’s name slide from the character on the other end of the leash made my day.

Lavender is a boy first of all…

In my own disability isolation I have caught myself being that weird person I remember scoffing at

Not too long ago;  intent in out loud communion with a furry non-human.

More and more I could care less if people hear my renditions of “OLD MCDONALD HAD A FARM..

..AND ON THIS FARM HE HAD A DOG-GONE SPECTACULAR DOG NAMED EMMA…EE YIGH EE YIGH OH….”

I am unsure of when the tipping point happened for me to enter the world of white -dog -middle -aged -woman -land

But I never want to go back.

I watched the wierdish guy and his friend Lavender

And I was quite sure no party or book or music or human could hold a candle to the heart-plumping privilege

Of a dog constantly reminding him of the simple, pure, innocent, intelligent, silly, soft, loyal parts of his own human self which get so covered up in muck.

I just love how much of my life these days literally IS church…

Nowhere to go.

Just the act of paying attention gets me there.

Really, there is beauty, I find in everything…with very little work I might add.

If we had no duality, which I confess I am currently squirming under the weight of..

I’d never get the full-on pleasure from my encounter with Lavender.

It was worth the suffering it takes to disengage and detox  my soul from humanity in the throes of seismic shifting.

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