If you sit long enough, you'll see the clouds moving, slowly (for once the winds are still), and then you'll hear the trees talking.
It's a nice way to spend a birthday, but I don't think I'm going to be very contemplative. Too many distractions, too many people wandering in. I can smell the scent of bergamot from the massage oil. A few hour ago, I was at Betty's Day Spa, nearby, getting a birthday massage from an adorable young man. The desk staff apologized that they could not offer me the Memorial Day Weekend Specials (well, I did wait until the last moment), and asked, tentatively, if I would mind a male "therapist." No, I didn't mind. It was short, but good hard pressure and I felt very relaxed, and pain free afterwards. That's a good thing.
Now I'm trying to figure out the "slow travel" concept that M has been espousing. I think back to last Monday. I was in Arroyo Secco, eating Taos Cow ice cream and watching the water and the mountain. I had just delivered the Dia book to the nearby school, and I had the rest of the day to myself. I thought, I'll sit here and experience this well-loved place. M says that slow travel is about using the senses, letting the experience unfold. So, I listened to the sounds of people talking and cars passing. I noted the smells of water and earth and exhaust and cinnamon, the taste of the ice cream. I thought, I will immerse myself, as M suggests.
|There's nothing better|
Than eating Taos Cow ice cream
By the arroyo.
A young man with dirty fingernails, wearing a coverall, walked on the other side of the stream and sat under a curled-over clump of grass and brush. The curled foliage created a perfect circle, and I'd already taken a picture of it, when I first sat down. Now he sat in the hole and said, "You can take the picture if you want, as long as I'm not looking at you." I'd had no intention of intruding on him with my camera phone, but I took a few more pictures of him, sitting in the hole: it seemed expected. Then he said, "You know, people complain about guns, but there's more harm done with cameras and cell phones than any gun." I thought, oh brother, a Noble Savage.
He walked across the stream and joined me at my picnic table, carefully not sitting directly across from me. A stilted conversation began, mainly him talking and me watching him and nodding now and then. He said he worked in Oklahoma, and that he had been working on a construction site up north....Colorado? Oklahoma? New Mexico? Not sure where, he was being cagey. Then he said he made people nervous, because he did such good work and expected the same of others. Hidden behind the large brown tinted sunglasses, his eyes seemed to be looking straight past me, and he spoke his abrupt sentences, none leading to the other. He had the social graces of an autistic loner: clearly he wanted to talk to someone, but just as clearly he didn't know how.
I sat there, with my long grey-white hair blowing the the breeze. I slowly finished my Tao Cow ice cream, savoring the taste and texture. I wondered what he saw: a grandmother? A retiree? Someone without connections? People my age don't usually travel alone and they don't usually strike up conversations with random young men. But then, there are people my age who do just that, M for example.
When I left I offered him the $1 day-old pastry that I had purchased on impulse. "I would like you to take this off my hands. I bought it on a whim, and find that I don't want it." He said, "Gladly," and "I don't have anything to offer in return." I said, "Your company was enough," and walked to my car. As I backed out, I watched him unwrapping the butter croissant. I don't know if he was hungry or not, but since he'd said he had to scrounge in the car seats for coffee money, I guessed he might be.
I think there are a lot more random people in the world than one would expect. I don't usually see them, because I'm not often in those in-between interstices like parking lots and rest areas. When I travel, I'm with fellow travelers who have a destination, a goal, money, home. I don't travel with nomads, although I have been watching L and G's nomadic adventure with interest and a little envy.
Now, as I sit at the Nature Center, I feel like I may be turning into a nomad. I don't feel grounded, and I don't have patterns in place. Or rather, the patterns don't seem to support me. They aren't comfortable. I have to think about them. When I wake up thinking I want to sleep a little more, my brain won't let me: it starts planning the morning, the day, the week. But it's not a happy plan, it's a compulsive one. "What are you going to do today," G asked this morning, and I didn't know. I knew I wanted to do something contemplative, something solitary, but what? In past years I went to Ghost Ranch and walked the labyrinth and climbed Castle Rock. I had people with me, or I didn't, but I was some place where I could think, where there was no sound other than birds and wind.
Here, I am not in that solitude. People come in and out of the room, talking to their children about the creatures on the other side of the glass: "Oh look, see the turtle's head sticking out?" "Look at all the hummingbirds. How fast their wings go!" "Oooh, ducklings!" When they aren't talking, the clicking of this keyboard is deafening in the silence. I'm writing as I think and it's very very fast and staccato. It feels intrusive, and I wonder, what is the point? I'm not watching the screen, but am watching the clouds and the birds and the sunlight glinting on the water. It does not feel contemplative, though. It doesn't feel like I'm absorbing anything. I'm just taking up space, breathing up the oxygen, adding the the carbon footprint, munching on mint M&Ms and cashews. There is nothing healthy about this. I am not "slow traveling," I am not in the moment, and I am definitely not figuring things out.
I was going to write about right the qi gong healing experience from earlier in the week, but I find I don't have anything to say. Foreign energies. check. Dead soul who had been with me for 11 or 12 years? Weird. The need to have some sort of meditative practice that will build up my aura or energy shield so that the foreign energies cannot impact me like a body blow. Same practise, different explanation.
Actually it makes sense that I should be lacking in the energetic aura: a lack of energy is what I complain of most often, and a lack of focus comes next. If I am dealing with all this parasitic energy, no wonder I am distracted and exhausted all the time. But, is that really what's happening?
Another turtle has come out to the log, algae streaming from his shell. He pokes out a green tipped head. So Prehistoric looking.
It's the next day, and I have been thinking for the past 24 hours about where I am, and why I am here, and what I want to do with myself. I feel static and stale. I want to just go somewhere, but why and where? The nomad life is beckoning, but at the same time I think, what about my commitments? What about earning a living? I can't just take up and go, I have people depending on me. These are not new thoughts. This is a squirrel cage.....I want my own space. I miss having my hammock in Portland, and my dog and cat joining me as I read. I miss having friends to call and visit and go on walks with. I miss the life I created back then. I don't have a life here. Or rather, I do have a life here. I just don't have the energy or companionship that I had there. How do I get them back?
I am on the verge of tears as I type, and I don't know why. What do I want?
I thought I wanted to walk every day and take pictures and write haiku and then come home and refine them all. But when I get home and look at all that is written and photographed in the world, I realize that I have nothing to offer, nothing to share. My work is just as small and boring as the mind that produces it. I don't know what I want to do, but this is not it.
As I sit on G's bed, keyboard and iPad propped in front of me, I watch the round automatic vacuumer bouncing around from wall to wall. How does it know that it's covering all the territory? How does it decide where to go next? It doesn't seem to be a matter of hitting walls and angling away from them. It comes into the room, and wanders around, then it leaves again. Eventually it will decide it's done, and dock itself back in the living room.
I feel a little like the RoomBa, bouncing around my territory until I get tired of it and go home to sleep.