We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Daily archives for October 4th, 2017

Behind the Wilderness is Paradise

Fall                                                                           Harvest Moon

east of edenBehind the wilderness. Everett Fox is a Jewish scholar who did a translation of the Torah into English while preserving the Hebrew syntax. He  made some startling word choices, too, such as in this verse: Exodus 3:2 “He (Moshe) led the flock behind the wilderness–and he came to the mountain of God, to Horev.” Behind is such an interesting choice.

As our discussion went on last night in the first night of the second Kabbalah class taught by Rabbi Jamie, he referenced the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the garden. When they were gone, having eaten from the tree of good and evil (language in this interpretation), God installed an angel with a flaming sword to protect the entrance to Eden and the tree of life. The very language which allowed Adam and Eve to discern good and evil, or, to create it (!), now guards the pathway back into Paradise.

Here’s a leap, and one I made last night. Behind the wilderness is Paradise. The wilderness itself is language, is the angel with the flaming sword, protecting the entrance to Paradise. How do we get behind the wilderness? Behind language? Language, in an uneasy marriage to our senses, conceals and reveals. It reveals our sensations, our thoughts, and functions as a river flowing from prehistory to today, carrying in its waters the sum of written human culture. But. That same uneasy marriage also conceals what lies behind the wilderness, what Kant called the dinge an sich, the thing-in-itself.

eden-garden-of-god_1920x1080Behind the wilderness is the God who is, as Fox translates later in this passage: I-will-be-there howsoever I-will-be-there. It is this God whose messenger Moshe saw in the bush that burned without being consumed. This God’s name, a verbal noun composed of a mashup of past-present-future tenses for the verb to be, does not reveal. It conceals. It means, it does not describe. The messenger in the bush speaks for the vast whorling reality in which past, present and future are one, all experienced in the present and as part of which we are each integral, necessary and non-interchangeable.

A Moving Experience

Fall                                                                            Harvest Moon

This post is for my buddy who’s about to embark on a third phase move. I told him I’d go back through my notes (posts) and see if I could find helpful ideas. This is a very edited sequence, from near the first notion of moving through arrival in Colorado. They’re fragments of longer posts, all from the year 2014, starting roughly in April, when we decided Colorado was in our immediate future. The bold first word indicates an entry.

Two main ideas in here (IMHO) are live in the move and move stupid. Live in the move means, stay focused on what needs to get done, not fantasizing about the future or agonizing about the past. Move the process forward, don’t stew. Move stupid means that the tsunami of decisions, actions, even staying focused takes energy and makes you, at times, dull. Don’t beat yourself up over mistakes, differences of opinion, problem solving. It goes with the territory.

We used A1 moving, a Stevens Van Line company and were happy with them. We also used a local outfit, SortTossPack, that helped us develop a strategy for eliminating things, then helped us pack early. They took items we didn’t want to move and sent them to their consignment shop. We made a little money from that and got rid of things that were in our way.

Here are the fragments. They end in December 2014:

Since making the decision a little over a month ago, we’ve made concrete step after concrete step, each one headed west toward the Rockies. And each one makes a bit more excited. Living in the move, instead of Minnesota or Colorado, has let me go with the process as it flows, allowing my daily actions to flow with it, rather than struggling against difficulties. So far that seems to be working fine.

William Morris has proved helpful as I make decisions about what to move to Colorado and what we want to sell or donate. His principle, have nothing in your home which is not beautiful or useful, sound on its own in my opinion (and one I’ve honored in the breach for the most part), makes wonderful sense when sorting through, say, crystal.
All of this living in the move means staying in the flow toward Colorado, realizing where the energy naturally goes at this stage and following it. Putting our shoulders behind work at the time it needs to be done means we use the momentum of change to our benefit. Easier than fighting against it, trying to push things to move faster. Then the momentum of change works against us.

Both of us have experienced moving/gardening fatigue this week. Living in the move helps, but it doesn’t eliminate the stress of so many decisions large and small and the feeling of hanging over a precipice neither able to fall or retreat…

It’s a relief to share these feelings, to know that your partner has the slows as well as you. Of course, that’s the definition of a good relationship, sharing the journey, the ancientrail of marriage.

This is a chance to prune my work over the last third of my life, clear out the branches that have grown across each other. Take out that large branch that flourished then died.

 

It’s the decisions that slow me down. And the memories. And sometimes the memories make the decisions hard. Sometimes not.

 

Interesting. I’ve been living in the move. Too much. Pushing to get stuff packed, get the exterior work, house and grounds, underway, looking at movers and thinking about storage. Pushing. Turning on my phone and my jambox, listening to country music, Porgy and Bess, the blues, Coltrane while I fill boxes. Stuffing my life in liquor boxes, slapping on red or green tape, some packing tape, stacking them up. In the move. In it.

 

A weariness has affected both Kate and me. I think I know its source: the move. We’ve pushed in several directions: decluttering, packing, fixing up the house… Yes, we’ve chosen this. And, yes, perhaps even more important, we’re trying to pace ourselves. Which, btw, I think we’ve done pretty well. But the pace has been constant. Add in the growing season and four dogs. You get the picture. Not to mention that we both have had our medicare cards for more than a year.

 

SortTossPack

Kate said this morning that she had surreal moments with the move. Me, too. We both work along, packing, getting other matters taken care of but the move itself feels unreal, as if a mirage.

 

Saw an ad for Army Strong. Well, I’m move stupid.

 

When there’s a lot of details to sort out in something, I focus, a form of move-stupid, and become almost affectless, plowing through things I don’t like to do, but things that stand between here and there.

 

Our process continues to serve us well, keeping us just ahead of looming deadlines and schedules. It’s been a joint effort all the way.

 

Back to packing this morning, but the heart’s not in it. It’s not a reluctance to move on, not at all. Rather, it’s a weariness, evident today. Push, push, push.

 

The trick is to just stay in the moment. Let the day’s packing be sufficient there unto.

 

Packing takes a toll in these last days. Not sure why, but each day I spend a good deal of time packing really wears me out. Not physically, but emotionally. It’s not resistance to the move itself, as I’ve said here before, rather I think it feels as if the packing has gone on too long.

 

Things feel chaotic, not out of control, but easy to tip over in that direction. Then, there’s the I can see the other side from here feeling and things tip back into balance, or as much balance as this part of the move allows…

 

I don’t know whether the speed is good or bad, probably neither, but I do know that once the decision was firm, the desire to execute it swiftly grew. At the same time we have wanted a measured pace, one that allowed us to pack easily

 

Today packers will finish up what we didn’t get done or didn’t intend to get done. Tomorrow, too, if necessary.

 

This is, for me, a difficult stretch. Lots of strangers, lots of activity in the house, details. Unfinished business that has to get done by a deadline. Yikes.

 

Decisions now are summary. Yes, that goes in trash. No, we’re going to put that in the trash, too. Trash wins all ties.

 

The sleep deprivation demon has come out to play the last couple of nights. Wake up for any reason and, wham! … Just like that your mind is awake and generating a list of things you hadn’t even considered up to that point. How energetic of you, mind.

 

I’ve noticed, more in recent years, that physical activity which had once been, if not easy, at least doable, taxes me, makes my muscles quiver slightly. Weakness like this has a similar effect to sleeplessness. A doubled effect in this instance. The lowered ability to do work-decline in muscle strength-also affects my sense of maleness. I’m weak, unable to do (fill in the blank), and therefore less of a man. Do I know this is nonsense? Intellectually, yes. Politically, yes. Emotionally? Not so much.

 

We had help, lots of help. Two different companies helped us pack. Various individuals helped us get our property ready for sale. Realtors have helped us find this house we have now and are helping us sell the one in Minnesota.

 

And always packing. List making. Lots of communicating, mostly with each other, but with wider family and friends. E-mails, phone calls. More packing, always. Up to the day the movers came and finished the packing for us.

 

So many decisions, big and small. Working out how to live in the move rather than constantly projecting ourselves out of the present and into the future, so tempting, so damaging.

 

A major goal of living-in-the-move as an idea was to tamp down the holds and let the anxiety leak out in controlled doses.

Legacy

Fall                                                                              Harvest Moon

A friend is moving and he had me going back to the entries in Ancientrails made during the seven month process of our first deciding to move, then executing the move. Here are two that struck me:

From October, 2014

Going to lay down the broadcast in the vegetable garden and the orchard this morning, then mulch. Kate and Anne planted next year’s garlic crop while I was in Colorado. With no additional effort then, the new owners will have apples, pears, plums, cherries, currants, raspberries, gooseberries, strawberries, rhubarb, asparagus and garlic from their orchard and vegetable garden. In addition they will have daffodils, liguria, monkshood, many varieties of Asiatic lilies, iris and hemerocallis. Clematis, daffodils, tulips and fall crocus will IMAG0683bloom, too. Wisteria, lilac, bushy clematis and snakeroot put fragrance, delicate and sweet, in the air. They will have three different sheds in which to organize their outdoor life and a firepit for family evenings. There are, too, the separated plantings of prairie grass and wildflowers that bracket the front lawn, providing habitat for butterflies and other wildlife.

In addition the property has about 1.5 acres of woods, including a morel patch that shows up in the late spring. With the inground irrigation system this is a place for a person with an interest in living closer to the earth and harvesting the literal fruits of such a lifestyle.

 

From June or so, 2014

Today and until I’m done I will be packing the study in which I work every day. That means the sorting will get harder, green tape boxes outnumbering red tape ones. Probably by a lot. It also means the confrontation between time remaining (in my life) and the projects (intellectual and creative) that keep me excited will come center stage. I’ll try to sort out the ones I feel I can fruitfully engage over the next 20 years from the ones I can’t.

That means I’m considering active intellectual and creative work at least into my late 80’s. That feels like a stretch, maybe, but one I believe my health and potential longevity justifies.

Let me give you an idea of what I have in mind. Complete the translation of Ovid’s Metamorphosis. Write at least four more novels. Write essays or a book on Reimagining My Faith. Write and read much more poetry. Write essays or a book on matters related to the Enlightenment, liberal thought, modernism. Write essays or a book on matters related to the Great Work. Include in this work considered attention to Asian literature, art and thought, especially Chinese and Indian. Continue regular art historical research and write essays about aesthetics and particular art/artists.

Why? Because I can. I’ve no evidence so far that my thinking is strikingly original or unusually deep, but my intellectual maturation has taken a longer time than I imagined it would. So the best may yet be ahead. Or so it feels to me. Under any circumstances such work will keep me alert and focused.

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