Walking the narrow edges of fractal pathways requires an ethics of compassion, footsteps chosen or constructed with kindness and care. Yet I am frustrated in all directions, still scenting the air for those elusive golden threads, the sweet spots of thriving that are at once so fragile and strong. I cannot help but believe in them, although I trip over them so seldom now.
I wonder how I can sometimes be so discouraged by contexts that show little tolerance of complexity and nuance; and yet so yearn to express provocative bluntness.
My intellectual hubby sent this comment to me today in a slightly different context, but it resonated with these deeper concerns of priority, discernment, focus, and compassion for myself as well as others. The uncharacteristic mushiness of it is tempered beautifully by the hint of menace at the end.
Always returning again to Kierkegaard, trying to swim beyond resignation into courage.
The Hester Site was a major campsite used by Middle and Late Paleo-Indian and Early Archaic peoples between 9000 and 7000 B.C. The major activity at this site was the manufacture of chipped stone projectile points and tools for hunting and butchering of wild game. In the Early Archaic Period these site activities continued as stone tools used in wood working and processing of wild plant foods were added to the tool kit. Repeated annual occupations created intact stratified deposits which have proven of great significance in documenting stylistic changes in stone projectile points over time. These tools were the keys to understanding the chronology of Paleo-Indian and Early Archaic cultural periods over a large area of the Southeastern United States. The site has the potential to yield significant information on how and when the Southeast was settled, lithic technologies of the earliest cultures, and the chronology of distinctive tool types.
Hester Prynne is the protagonist of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter. She is portrayed as a woman condemned by her Puritan neighbors. The character has been called “among the first and most important female protagonists in American literature.”
Them as You Speak
To sway an audience, you must watch them as you speak. ~ C. Kent Wright
Language most shews a man: Speak, that I may see thee.~Ben Jonson
Image of Desert Sands, Footprints
Only one set of footprints in the sand, not two. Note: This saccharine poem has always irritated me, but it’s the first thing I think of.
Free association –> solitary path, hermit, marks left behind, history, tracks, simplicity, retreat, danger, beauty, ancient, wandering, projections, spirit journey, the desert of the real, remains, scorpions, heat, vultures, white sage, fire, survival, reflection, stone, hieroglyphics.
Quotes that resonate:
“To the desert go prophets and hermits; through desert go pilgrims and exiles. Here the leaders of the great religions have sought the therapeutic and spiritual values of retreat, not to escape but to find reality.” ~ Paul Shepard, Man in the Landscape: A Historic View of the Esthetics of Nature
“A thousand fantasies / Begin to throng into my memory / Of calling shapes, and beckoning shadows dire, / And airy tongues, that syllable men’s names / On sands, and shores, and desert wildernesses.” ~ John Milton, Comus, A Mask
“Night poured over the desert. It came suddenly, in purple. In the clear air, the stars drilled down out of the sky, reminding any thoughtful watcher that it is in the deserts and high places that religions are generated. When men see nothing but bottomless infinity over their heads they have always had a driving and desperate urge to find someone to put in the way.” ~ Terry Pratchett, Jingo
“I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams…” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
“WIDE, the margin between carte blanche and the white page. Nevertheless it is not in the margin that you can find me, but in the yet whiter one that separates the word-strewn sheet from the transparent, the written page from the one to be written in the infinite space where the eye turns back to the eye, and the hand to the pen, where all we write is erased, even as you write it. For the book imperceptibly takes shape within the book we will never finish. There is my desert.” ~ Edmond Jabès
“Where is my oasis? Too far from
here for me to crawl with these
dead legs, refusing to co-operate
Hands and fingers clawing uselessly
through the grains of sand…”
~ Kiera Woodhull, Chaos of the Mind
“An afternoon drive from Los Angeles will take you up into the high mountains, where eagles circle above the forests and the cold blue lakes, or out over the Mojave Desert, with its weird vegetation and immense vistas. Not very far away are Death Valley, and Yosemite, and Sequoia Forest with its giant trees which were growing long before the Parthenon was built; they are the oldest living things in the world. One should visit such places often, and be conscious, in the midst of the city, of their surrounding presence. For this is the real nature of California and the secret of its fascination; this untamed, undomesticated, aloof, prehistoric landscape which relentlessly reminds the traveller of his human condition and the circumstances of his tenure upon the earth. “You are perfectly welcome,” it tells him, “during your short visit. Everything is at your disposal. Only, I must warn you, if things go wrong, don’t blame me. I accept no responsibility. I am not part of your neurosis. Don’t cry to me for safety. There is no home here. There is no security in your mansions or your fortresses, your family vaults or your banks or your double beds. Understand this fact, and you will be free. Accept it, and you will be happy.” ~ Christopher Isherwood, Exhumations
“Within minutes my 115-mile walk through the desert hills becomes a thing apart, a disjunct reality on the far side of a bottomless abyss, immediately beyond physical recollection. But it’s all still there in my heart and soul. The walk, the hills, the sky, the solitary pain and pleasure—they will grow larger, sweeter, lovelier in the days to come, like a treasure found and then, voluntarily, surrendered. Returned to the mountains with my blessing. It leaves a golden glowing on the mind.” ~ Edward Abbey, Beyond the Wall: Essays from the Outside
“Is it possible to write a poem or are these words just screams of outlaws exiled to the desert?” ~ Dejan Stojanovic, The Sun Watches the Sun
“She also told me it wore down her spirit to live in the desert landscape that was parched by midsummer, to plant a garden each spring and struggle to keep it alive past July.” ~ Ursula Hegi, Hotel of the Saints
“You have wakened not out of sleep, but into a prior dream, and that dream lies within another, and so on, to infinity, which is the number of grains of sand. The path that you are to take is endless, and you will die before you have truly awakened.” ~ Jorge Luis Borges
“Where you come from is gone,
where you thought you were going to
never was there,
and where you are is no good
unless you can get away from it.
Where is there a place for you to be?
Nothing outside you
can give you any place, he said.
You needn’t look at the sky
because it’s not going to open up
and show no place behind it.
You needn’t to search
for any hole in the ground
to look through into somewhere else.
You can’t go neither forwards nor backwards
into your daddy’s time
nor your children’s if you have them.
In yourself right now
is all the place you’ve got.
If there was any Fall, look there,
if there was any Redemption, look there,
and if you expect any Judgment, look there,
because they all three
will have to be
in your time and your body
and where in your time and your body
can they be?”
The combination of nicotine withdrawal, chantix prescription medication, and the increased attention I’m spending to my own state of consciousness is all creating very strange thought-storms. I know that all of this will pass, and I know not to believe any of it or even to take it that seriously. This is where training in observing your own thoughts and emotions is very helpful.
Yes – I’m bracketing for my own protection, but there is no reason to spiral down as though any of this were real.
I know, I’ll miss that. A lot.
Then the voice is MY voice. I can’t reproduce the entire chant that got me home, but I fell into a sing-song negative rant. I tried to let the thoughts be spoken to help release them. Here’s a little sampling of what I remember – it was a constant stream…
(reee-me-owwwww, morphing into a deep double-sound chant, then) yah yah yah, nee nee, LAAAAAAA!
You don’t even know a thing
You don’t even know
ALL THAT WORK FOR NOTHING
NAH nah nah nah nah
Cuz I’m a girl, ain’t it
Blue collar RISING
SICK of it
SICK of HATE HATE HATE HATE
Sanctimonious self-righteous corrupt asshats!
Wadda ya think you’re gonna do about it?
YEAH, just be the crank, just be the crank
I shall wear purple? PURPLE?
Like royalty, like PRINCE?
What does it matter?
What’s the damn point?
Why do I even waste my time?
I don’t have the energy.
So tired, can’t do anything.
DO DO DO DO – la – DO DO DO
You are such a stupid little shithead
No imagination at all –
Dumb suburban undisciplined scatterbrain
Dumb dumb dumb dah dah dah dah DUMB
All that money wasted
All that reading just to be alienated
All that curiosity just to be faced with
Yeah, yeah, FEM FEM FEM FEM
fem fem fem fem
fem fem fem fem FEM FEM fem fem
Everything’s a mess
People don’t really like me
I can’t keep my house clean
I have so much to do
I’m so TALENTED –
I’m so INTELLIGENT –
I’m such a waste of air.
WHY do I try?
I could give up like a ZEN MASTER
and back away and escape SUFFERING
and bathe in LOVE LOVE LOVE
But I hate those indoor voices
TOO DAMN soft! FAKE! FAKE!
Compassion! Yeah – TRYING! TRYING! TRYING ALREADY-YA!
Turn down the critic!
Turn down the intellectual!
You’re PUTTING US OFF…
OK – NICE NICE NICE NICE NICE NICE NICE
Then I can be WRITTEN OFF
Underestimated, then I’m
NICE NICE NICE NICE NICE
OH “YOUR” so SWEET!
I’m NOT SWEET!
I’m an ALIEN! A LEGAL Alien!
WEIRDO, different species.
Must be me.
Must be MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.
So yeah, it took about 45 minutes to get home. It had been a trying day. The tears that followed restabilized me, and then I waved my arms up vaguely toward the clouds, as though some God(esses) would shoulder my dark side for me.
Still – the benevolent deities did do a nice thing. My son had lost his key in the bushes, leading to a series of issues and problems – but I got out of the car, walked over to the general area and walked right to the key and picked it up.
Key. Got it.
I’m not the stoic kind. I’m checking in with people I trust as an early warning system in case things need to be adjusted and I can’t see it. My mind is going places without me – but this too will pass.