Ikigai gone

Fall and the Full Sukkot Moon

Each morning Orion is a bit further to the west, hunting must be better on the other side of Black Mountain. That’s where he’s headed. This morning the full Sukkot moon lit his search for game, hanging in the west over the northern most peak of Black Mountain. Seeing Orion, Cygnus, Draco in the early morning sky makes me joyful. Visiting old friends each time I go out for the newspaper. A reminder of how non-earthcentric our galaxy and the universe are.

Trying to reach down inside, find an ikigai. Hard right now. My usual pattern of working daily on a novel or the garden or fire mitigation has disappeared. Not been seen for months. Yes, I get Ancientrails done each day, and I’m glad for that, grateful I have the early morning time.

Rabbi Jamie talked about loneliness in his erev Rosh Hashanah sermon. Embrace it, David Whyte counsels. Lean into it. What I’m experiencing is not the same as feeling alone, lonely, but I sense I’d do well to lean into this defocused state. It’s similar to loneliness in that it involves distance, but in this case I’m not feeling distance from others, but distance from a self I’d come to appreciate.

I’ve chosen, so far, to feel uncomfortable about this. Why aren’t I getting anything done? Why has my writing stopped? It’s not like I don’t have time, I do. But when I have time I could use, I wander around, not sure what comes next. Sometimes I paint. Sometimes I read articles on the web. Sometimes I read a little. Could read a lot more. I say I want to.

What if instead I decided to go with the schedule I have rather than the one I want or think I need? What Self would emerge then? Taking the pressure off to be something, someone else? That would be the wu wei move. Let life be. Flow with it, don’t force it.

My old Tao Te Ching teacher, I took a series of online Taoism classes several years ago, says forcing things is a Westerner’s style. When I read that, I thought of my choosing to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing, end them. Guess I’m a Westerner.

Actually, I’m more bi-cultural. Strong forcing, yes, but also a willingness to let things take their course, to emerge, to flow with them. Right now feels like a wu wei moment. Perhaps for a good while.

Consent Given

Fall and the Sukkot Moon

“…he who displays himself does
not shine; he who asserts his own views is not distinguished; he who vaunts himself does not find his merit acknowledged; he who is self-conceited has no superiority allowed to him.”
from Chapter 24, Tao Te Ching, Legge translation

As far as I know, Lao Tzu was not aware of Donald Trump. Still, you gotta admit, he knew him. So does George Will, “Donald Trump, an ongoing eruption of self-refuting statements (“I’m a very stable genius” with “a very good brain”), is adding self-impeachment to his repertoire.” If you have time, I recommend Will’s opinion piece in today’s Washington Post: The spiraling president adds self-impeachment to his repertoire. It’s at once hilarious and damning. A masterpiece of the genre.

In the same issue of the Post seventeen special prosecutors during Watergate say Trump has committed impeachable offenses. Also in the same issue is a recounting of Trump’s amazing, stupefying sermon to his congregation of red-hatted worshipers.

He called Ilhan Omar an America-hating socialist, then went on to denounce the entire Somali-American community. He heralded his recent executive order which gives cities and states the authority to refuse without their express written consent any refugee or immigrant resettlements. He recommended the crowd “speak to their mayor.”

Frey replied immediately on Twitter: “Consent given. Immigrants and refugees are welcome in Minneapolis.” The Minnesota I know well and love.

From the Warring States Period of China to today a person only committed to themselves is unfit to be a leader. We’re in an unusual crisis. This is the Presidency of our country made venal. Such a strong argument for the warning inscribed over the entrance to the Delphic Oracle in the Temple of Apollo: Know thyself.

BTW: if you’re wondering where the illustrations have gone, I’m experiencing a Word Press glitch on uploading images.


Fall and the Sukkot Moon

With Kate’s 8:30 appointment in Denver yesterday we got to drive in rush hour during the season’s first snow. In our Minnesota tuned experience Colorado drivers, natives and sunbelt immigrants alike, have never learned the art of driving on snowy roads. We crawled down 285 with folks clearly frightened by the white stuff.

Had a near ditch drop myself going down Shadow Mountain. At the very bottom, on almost level ground, going about 30, I skidded toward Shadow Brook. Corrected just a bit, teased it back toward the other lane, slid across the road almost, then got it straightened out. Lucky no one else was coming. Heart pounded a bit.

As I drove some more, I began to really like this all-wheel drive. It’s more sure around corners and helped me pull out of the skid.

Made it to the appointment on time. Barely. An hour and fifteen minute drive. Normally forty-five.

Guber had some encouraging things to say. At last! First, the bleb on the c.t., the new one, which he showed us while trying to toggle images between two competing programs, he thinks is part of her scarring process on the left lung. May it be so. A new c.t. in early November will provide more guidance. As physicians say, it will declare itself. “If it stays the same, it’s scarring. If it gets bigger, it’s not,” he said, “But I think it’s scarring.” To his eye it was the same in two images 5 months apart.

Also, he felt confident Kate could handle the lung biopsy. When asked if she might need a ventilator, he said, “It’s possible. Not likely, but possible.” Kate. “Would I come off of it?” “Oh, yes.” He was sure. That’s the biggest concern we both had.

Though there will be another c.t. scan and a visit to the pulmonologist, Taryle, we went ahead and scheduled the lung biopsy for November 18. Finally. After it’s done, a definitive diagnosis will spell out which drugs may help her. Get her some life back. A long, slow process. Too long, too slow.

We got about 4 inches of snow. I’m gonna wait on the solar snow shovel. 50 later today, 14 right now.

When I went out for the paper about 5:20, Orion was higher to the right, moving toward Black Mountain. The air was cold, crisp. Reminded me of Minnesota, as did some of the driving yesterday. This storm has moved on to the Plains and the Midwest. Enjoy, you guys.

Seeing Dr. Guber

Fall and the Sukkot Moon

Kate had a much better day yesterday. She decided to conserve her strength for the appointment today so we missed Yom Kippur. The parking at CBE gets problematic on the High Holidays and walking much distance creates breathing difficulties for Kate.

On to Harvard this morning. Harvard Avenue that is. Denver has a small cluster of streets with names like Yale, Vassar, Bates, Cornell, Dartmouth. In or near them is Denver University and Iliff Methodist Seminary. Also, Porter Adventist Hospital and its campus with the offiices of Dr. Gruber, the cardio-thoracic surgeon.

Kate’s seeing him for a consult on the lung biopsy and assessing the new nodule found on her lungs. The lung biopsy involves taking many small samples of cells from her lung tissue. Diagnosing what kind of interstitial lung disease she has depends on the relative amount of scarring (not treatable) and inflammation (treatable). It also allows pathology to look at the specific types of cells.

Once diagnosed she can get treatment and a prognosis. The problems? Well, taking the samples collapses the lung. This means a chest tube to reinflate it. The chest tube is painful even after the anesthetic wears off. There is also the risk of pneumonia and/or ending up on a ventilator.

Here are some positives. Kate’s in much better physical shape overall than back in May when Ed Smith put the feeding tube in. She’s had a prednisone burst which improved her breathing and made her feel better.

Then there’s that new nodule. Will require a biopsy, too. How to do it? That and whether she’s fit for a lung biopsy is the purpose of this consultation.

Just to add a bit of interest the temps dropped wildly from yesterday. And there’s snow! 15 degrees right now.

Unmatched? Yes. Great? No. Wisdom? No.

Fall and the Yom Kippur Moon

Great and unmatched wisdom. A supporter named diGenova has termed the House impeachment queries regicide. Refusing to comply with the House call for witnesses and documents. This is a dictator fantasy league with only one player. And, unfortunately, he’s our President.

My guess? His advisers, whoever they are today, have told him that he can win a faceoff with the House because the dispute will head to the Supreme Court where conservative justices are in the majority. If I’m right, and if the impeachment process goes to the Supreme Court, I think he’ll lose. Valorizers of the Constitution, that sacred writ handed down from the mountain top like certain tablets, cannot allow a breach of the separation of powers like the one Trump wants. At least I don’t they can.

Not sure we’ve ever had a crisis like this one.

Days of Awe

Fall and the Yom Kippur Moon

This is a day of fasting, prayer, and repentance for Jews in all places. Yom Kippur. The holiest day of the year, one when the soul is bare before the Self and all creation. Asking and seeking forgiveness. Putting in the past wherever you fell short. Cleansing for the year ahead. The Day of Atonement.

Kate and I will probably go to services this morning though we missed Kol Nidre last night. She wasn’t feeling good.

It’s been a tough week or so. Again. Her feeding tube has been giving her fits. Leaking. Since it’s now her primary source of nutrition, any hassle with it is significant. And, her shortness of breath seems to be worsening.

We see a cardiac-thoracic surgeon tomorrow morning to plan both her lung biopsy (which she dreads, understandably) and how to assess the new nodule that was found during her last c.t. Not a pleasant prospect, either one.

I’m dog paddling these days, trying to keep my head dry. I work out, cook, shop, do the laundry, dabble with gouache. This doesn’t sound like much, I know, but in the times between these activities I have no motivation. Frustrates me a bit since I have other things I want to get to: fire mitigation, revising Superior Wolf, starting a new novel, getting back to sumi-e, going to classes at Beth Evergreen. Some day soon.

Fall and the Rosh Hashanah Moon

Kep in the loft

Worked out yesterday. Was sleeping really well, really well. Until. Cold noses in my face. Yes, Kep. Yes, Gertie. A yip from Gertie. Kep jumps up on my legs. OK, OK, give me a minute. Forces head back onto pillow, hopes the dogs will disappear for about fifteen minutes. Nope. All right, all right, I’m getting up. Geez. 4:30. Right on time, but no slack for a tired dad.

Rigel, “Who, me?”

Kate had a dentist appointment in the morning. We took Gertie and Rigel with us since it’s cooling down up here. I drive because her ability to walk very far has diminished. I can put the car as close as possible to the entrance. She came out with brighty whities.

requires moving 5 tons of river rock. 10,000 pounds.

We’re scheduled for an absurd temperature drop on Thursday along with some snow. Hope the cold and snow calm down the extreme fire conditions we’ve had for the last month or so.

The CBE Mitzvah committee may help with my fire mitigation. My energy level for doing it is low. My desire to get it done is high. Susan convinced me that she might find some folks willing to help in some way. Here’s my e-mail to her after we talked:


How I feel most days.

I needed your directness. It’s tough for me to ask for any help, ever. I know, I know, I’m a guy. Partly that. Partly, too, I want to do as much as I can as long as I can. It’s about love.

I promise when I wear out, before I wear out, I’ll give you a call. Right now I’m really fine. Except for that fire mitigation stuff.

It has surprised me how much having people out there that care matters. As you say, just knowing that is so much.

I’m pretty self-reliant, one of those blessing and curse sorta things, but I’ve always needed friends and community. Beth Evergreen is both. And, more.

So, gratitude to you, to your committee, to the ancient path that breeds such caring folks. We’re in this together and that makes all the difference. Really, not rhetoric.


Fall and the Rosh Hashanah Moon

Årsgång, The Year Walk. According to Swedish folklore, the year walk was a method of divination in which practitioners would, on either Christmas Eve or New Years Eve (I’ll bet on the Winter Solstice, too.), sit in a dark room with nothing to eat or drink until it was night. Then they would set off into the woods with no technology, no flashlights.

As they wandered, they would have supernatural encounters (lots of supernatural entities in the Northwoods.) In one case they would place themselves far enough away so they could not hear the cock’s crow, not eat or drink, and not look into any fire the day before the walk.

After they set off, they would walk until they came to a road. When morning came, they could see funeral processions, including their own if they were to die that year. The village field beyond the road would show if the crops were to be good or not. They might see, too, if a fire was going to break out in the coming year. We could use this info up here on Shadow Mountain.

If we didn’t live in the mountains, I’d be tempted to try this. However. Cliffs and ravines. Oh, my. The Year Walk fits well with my winter solstice night vigil, even though I rarely make it through the whole night. Never thought of divination, but it would be interesting to try. Must have been pretty scary.

In the dark woods with no light. Even with no cliffs and ravines nighttime woods have many obstacles. Fallen trees. Undergrowth. Ponds. Marshes. Perhaps the occasional nocturnal animal. Add to those the supernatural and it would take a hardy or desperate soul to take a year walk. Wanna go?

There’s a cheap, six dollars, video game based loosely on this idea. I bought it. I’ll let you know about the game.