We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Reenchanted

Beltane                                                                                  Mountain Moon

kilauea fissure 7, opening on May 5th

Kilauea fissure 7, opening on May 5th

Still fascinated by the eruption of Kilauea. The Leilani Estates, houses bursting into flame, residents standing dazed by their vehicles after evacuating, monster movie scenes like the one below, show humans as do many Song dynasty paintings, small and insignificant next to mountains and rivers.

Listening to residents of the Leilani estates describe the shock is a lesson in reenchantment of the world. There were expressions of grief, of course, and bewilderment. All knew this possibility existed, but, like residents of flood plains and the wildlife-urban interface (us here on Shadow Mountain), hoped they would be spared. The lure is beauty. Always beauty. We take risks to live in beautiful places.

At the Columbian Exposition

At the Columbian Exposition

Some said things like, “Well, if madame Pele wants the land…” “Pele goes where she wants.” There was, in these remarks, no irony that I could detect. No wink, wink, you know what I really mean. The native Hawai’ian’s faith in Pele, given witness by the offerings at Halemaʻumaʻu Crater and numerous legends and dances, has, at least partially, reenchanted the Big Island for haoles (non natives). Whether they believe in a real, physical goddess or not, probably not, I sense the feelings of awe and the mysterium tremendum et fascinans that Rudolf Otto associates with the numinous, the essential components of the holy.

What’s happening at Leilani Estates is similar, perhaps the same, as my experience here on Shadow Mountain when I came for the closing on our home. The three mule deer bucks in our backyard, curious and welcoming, were mountain spirits blessing our move. I knew it while standing there with them, present with them in this new, strange place. It is not, in other words, that the numinous has disappeared from our encounters, only that we have unlearned how to know it. The reductive nature of scientism, that attempt to totalize our understanding with numbers and equations and laws, and the restrictive arrogant nature of religions certain that they know truth, has blinded us to the numinous.

numinousReenchantment has a precursor experience, a moment when we embrace the awe and the mystery, a feeling that we each experience, perhaps even experience often (childbirth, death, sunrise, the greening and flowering of spring, a snowstorm, bitter cold, blazing heat, the vastness of the ocean, love), but a feeling we have allowed others to reframe for us. The laws and beauty of scientific understanding do not explain away, as many assume. They are descriptive, a language of their own about the world in which we live. But they have not stripped out awe and mystery though men like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens insist on it. Empiricists, fed by scientism, want to suggest only through data and analysis can we know the truth.

numinous universe-2Or, the experience of the Celts and the Roman Catholic church is instructive here, one faith’s certainty can leave no room for the numinous anywhere but in their dogma, their rituals. Catholics built churches over Celtic holy wells. They deployed words like heretics and blasphemers and pagans to undercut the authority of the old faith. They appropriated Celtic holidays by turning Lugnasa into Lammas, Samain into All Saints. Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism says it well, “It is not the seeking of God that is the problem, it is the certainty of those who believe they have found God that is the problem.”

We can learn from the residents of Leilani Estates. We live in a wild universe, one well beyond our capacity to either control or understand. When we can set aside the certainty of others, the narrow thinking, and open ourselves to awefull and wonder of wilderness home, then we can know the ordinary holy, the secular sacred, the profane faith of those whose revelations no longer come from books or laboratories, but from that wilderness itself. That is reenchantment, that is reconstruction, that is a reimagined faith.

A Dark Mystery

Spring                                                                       Mountain Moon

death book of the deadSuicide. A dark mystery. It closes off communication, denies explanations. Though it seems cruel to me, the Roman Catholic prohibition against suicide puts a moral weight on the individual’s scales. Says, wait. Pause. They see it, clearly I think, as self-murder, but there is no nuance in the stance. No admission that life sometimes becomes a heavy burden, heavier than can be borne.

Among people I know, I know of two suicides, one a software programmer, an adult, and another, recent, a young man with apparently psychotic tendencies. I also know, closer to home, of an instance of suicidal ideation. That’s the difficulty, it’s so easy to proceed from considering suicide to a brash act, a momentary lapse in judgment that becomes tragically permanent.

Death Pendant_with_a_Monk_and_Death_-_Walters

Pendant_with_a_Monk_and_Death Walters

I applaud the hot lines, the counseling centers, the encouragement to see a person slipping away and to do something concrete about it, now, before nothing can be done. I’m also sure that no number of such services and attitudinal shifts will stamp out suicide.

The French existentialists posited suicide as the ultimate moment of human freedom, choosing how to die expressing a final raised fist against the crowd, against ennui, against the absurd. And, as an instance of individual choice, I agree. It is this stance toward suicide that carries forward into the debate about choosing death when a terminal illness allows for no hope.

Death remains the barrier about which we all wonder and about which we have no reliable information. Is it an extinction level event for the individual? Or, is it merely a passage way to a different mode of existence? How about reincarnation? I have no idea. I do know that our body returns its star dust to the great pool where it will resurrect in some other form.  I do know that though the dead no longer have agency, they can continue to influence life through wills, through creative work, through those they affected.

isle of the dead, arnold brocklin

isle of the dead, arnold brocklin

It is this profound and blanket uncertainty that gives death and, by extension, suicide, their fearsome reputation. Yet it does not need to be so. As I read recently, every generation finds entirely new clerks at the grocery store, politicians in office, farmers and factory workers, scholars and dancers. Death itself is not an uncertainty and in that intransigence gives away its secret. Death is not abnormal, in fact it is a perfect example of normal since it affects 100% of humans, of all living things save for a handful. That which is normal is just that, normal.

No one, to paraphrase Garrison Keillor, is above average when it comes to dying.

OMG

Spring                                                             New Shoulder Moon

anxietySurprising, sophisticated, jawbreakingly awful sign on a conservative church sign board: “Anxiety is just unbelief in disguise.” If you live in Christworld, there is a certain sense in which this appears to be true. If only your belief were strong, you would need have no worries. Look at the lilies of the field.

However, assume for just a moment that your metaphysic is wrong. Then, this sentiment is cruel. It doubles up the anxiety for those of us who are anxious, a whole big bunch of us*, by adding weak faith to the angst we already feel. And, even if God is watching out for you in a way totalizing enough to assure you in every situation, punishing anxiety as weak faith is not going to move you closer to faith. The opposite. It will push you deeper and deeper into the slough of despond.

Now, what’s funny is that I saw this sign on my way to The Happy Camper, the dispensary just over the Park County line near Bailey. Picking up our regular supply of thc, a sleep aid we’ve been using for a while now, is a monthly or so trip. Why do I need it? Anxiety is a bitch goddess who demands sacrifice as soon as my head hits the pillow. Has been true to a greater or lesser degree since high school.

Anxiety is not as much of a problem now as it has been, but the long established habit of chewing over the day once the lights are out has become a regular time for my brain to turn on, consider relational or political or philosophical matters. A habit I’ve been unable to break.

sleepFriend Tom Crane sent me a book, he does that every so often, “Why We Sleep,” by Matthew Walker. This is an excellent review of the latest in sleep science and daunting as a result. Sleeplessness has drastic health ramifications, enough to make the favorite yuppie mantra, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” ironic. What I can’t understand, and Walker says the same, is the lack of attention the medical profession gives to sleep. Many of us are desperate to get to sleep. And by desperate I mean desperate. Yet the help offered is often better sleep hygiene, a good idea, I practice it, doesn’t do the trick for me though. If help is offered at all.

I hate to add this idea to all those others out there, but this is a NATIONAL CRISIS. Especially for those of us in the third phase when sleep becomes harder for a variety of reasons.

SleepDeprivation3We have elaborate protocols for people with pulmonary issues like COPD or emphysema, cardiac issues of many nuances, joint replacements for tired and painful knees, shoulders, hips; but, what do we have for a part of our lives that constitutes a third of our time use each 24 hours? Yes, there are sleep centers, but they’re not on offer often and besides it seems that cognitive behavioral therapy is the current gold standard. Problem is not many CBT folk specialize in sleep and we’re certainly not referred to them anyhow.

It’s enough to make a guy lose sleep.

 

*Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year. Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment.  AADD

Regress to advance

Imbolc                                                                             New Shoulder Moon

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.”
– Anatole France

melancholyThe last letters of the Hebrew alphabet now have renderings in sumi-e, lying on my table ready for quotes and the chop. A member of Beth Evergreen last night referred to me as an artist. Oh. I thought he said audience. Artist is not a word I’ve ever associated with myself so my brain heard something else. A revealing moment. How others see us is not always, perhaps often, not the way we see ourselves.

An obituary on Terry Brazelton had this summary of a major finding of his research: “Development does not occur on a linear path, with each skill building on earlier ones. Rather, it unfolds in a series of major reorganizations in which children temporarily regress before mastering a new developmental milestone.” NYT

Well. That explains melancholy, at least as I’ve experienced it. There’s a plateau effect, then a hesitation, a pause while the psyche incorporates a new way of being, one probably not available to consciousness at the time of the pause. Since it’s inchoate, the reorganization seems like a regression, a stutter. The mind and the body both slow down, awaiting something they don’t understand. Result: melancholy.

 Van-Leyden St. Jerome in his Study by Candlelight (1520)

Van-Leyden St. Jerome in his Study by Candlelight (1520)

If you’ve read my posts over the last month or so, I think you’ll see what I’m talking about. My psyche had moved on, already aware that I needed more tactile moments in my daily life, already aware that it was time to resort my priorities based on a new constellation of possibilities made real by our move.

Last night at the shabbat service a rabbi friend of Jamie’s gave a short reflection. She had us consider an unusual moment in the Torah when the former Hebrew slaves remembered fondly the foods they had in Egypt. Using this seemingly inscrutable nostalgia for a time of bondage, she suggested that during transitions, a time of instability, wandering in the dessert for example, we often want to return to the stable state we know to ease the anxieties and uncertainties of a transition. Thus, when faced with a period of eating manna during an often frustrating movement toward the land promised, but not yet reached, even slavery seemed to have its charms.

That nostalgia, I think, is the root of melancholy, a hope that the past can ease the upset of the present. The psyche knows that’s a false hope, a trap, but is unable to articulate why. So, stasis, moving neither forward nor backward, which the ego interprets as negative without knowing why. Really, the moment is gestational, a new way awaits its birth. Not back to Egypt, but on to the promised land. Not back to the life of forty years in Minnesota, but on to the new life developing in Colorado.

 

 

 

Experiencing Joy to Learn More About Joy

Imbolc                                                                           New Life Moon

joy chauvetBefore we got to Beth Evergreen yesterday, we stopped at Safeway. Kate had a fun idea. She would buy bite size Almond Joy candy bars and have them for everyone. While in the store, she also found some yellow roses and bought enough to give each person around the table a flower to take home. Though she had to settle for full size Almond Joys, the idea was still there and the flowers were a gentle, beautiful and fragrant memento of the time together.

Kate’s idea for teasing out experiences of joy over a lifetime worked well, too. After she began the afternoon with a chant/song of her own devising, Kate led us in a Hebrew blessing for torah study. She explained how to use her chart with single digit, adolescent, and adulthood as columns.

joy of cookingWe then spent an hour plus in an energetic sharing, each person picking one instance from each column. The responses were as varied as the people in the room and the time frames to which they returned while filling them out. “Getting my pilot’s license.” “Grandchildren.” “First kiss.” “Traveling alone, being alone in a strange place.” “Throwing rocks up so bats would follow them down.” “Playing hide and go seek.” “Having sex and finding out you’re not pregnant.” The general tone was joyful, celebratory as we both learned more about each other and got to share in each other’s joy.

When everybody had offered their experiences, I asked if we could use that content to try to define joy. How do we know joy when we see it, feel it?

flowcsikszentmihalyiHere are several words and phrases offered: Joy requires authenticity. It has a definite physiological, embodied component. Joy flows; you can’t hoard it; it’s contagious. Joy mixes awe and gratitude. Many people identified natural settings as joyful. Joy is transpersonal, often involving connection, (I would say intimacy.) with animals, other people, places. We get outside of ourselves, beyond ego, become one with whatever causes our joy. Being with children, especially grandchildren. Constant learning is a source of joy. Degas. Joy is transformative. Joy ignites gratitude. Joy is quiet and internal; happiness loud and external. Joy is a choice.

We skirted the issue, for this afternoon, of the links between joy and sadness, joy and gratitude, joy and generosity. For another time.

We ended with deciding on a practice. A few shared theirs. It was a bright moment and made more joyful for me by sharing the leadership with Kate.

 

Handout on Joy

Imbolc                                                                       New Life Moon

This will be given out at Thursday mussar after we’ve completed Kate’s exercise about joy in three life stages and discussed how our experiences might help us define and seek out joy.

Joy   joy brown

Joy    joy brown

 

“Yesterday, Rich and I sat down and had a short chat about it. Is Joy a verb? Is Joy an emotion? Is it a state of mind or being? And it got me thinking.

What if joy is the energy of life? And what it if manifests as a persistent yet invisible glow or aura that emanates from us at all times… sometimes it’s bright and sometimes dim. The more mindful we are of it, the brighter the glow / aura becomes. We can certainly sense when someone is joyful without them telling us, right? We sense their joyfulness even if they don’t speak (is that charisma?) The Dalai Lama emanates joy. I’ve never met him but I imagine he is joyful even when he is sad or ill (which he must be sometimes, right?) But how can you be sad or ill and still be joyful?

Maybe joy is not a state of well-being, but simply the state of being, period. Not physical, not mental, not emotional, just the fact of being alive is joy. Life is joy. Do trees glow? Do animals glow? Do we feel joy in the forest or in the presence of others? I think so.

My practice is simply going to be to focus on life as joy. Living as joy. Separate from all other things… including pain, sorrow, anger, jealousy. Let me know if you see my glow… because I’ll be looking for yours.”      Ron Solomon, by permission

joy japanese ivory sculpture

In Everyday Holiness Alan Morinis discusses the middot of simplicity. He identifies three levels of simplicity: acquiring less, becoming happy with what you already have, and nothing more to need. This last level, he says, sets joy free in the heart. “Released from craving and the relentless pursuit of more material satisfactions, perfectly content with what is, the heart bubbles forth with joy that is its potential and natural inclination.”

Marilyn Saltzman found this quote by the Dali Lama: “We can experience happiness at the deeper level through our mind, such as through love, compassion and generosity. What characterizes happiness at this deeper level is the sense of fulfillment that you experience. While the joy of the senses is brief, the joy at the deeper level is much longer lasting. It is true joy.” “The Book of Joy” by Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama

A few synonyms from Roget: delight, gladness, rapture, exaltation, exhilaration, transport, abandonment, ecstasy, rejoicing

OED: Joy, sb. (substantive), 1. A vivid emotion of pleasure arising from a sense of well-being, or satisfaction; the feeling or state of being highly please or delighted, exultation of spirit; gladness, delight.  2. A pleasurable state or condition; a state of happiness or felicity; esp. the perfect bliss or beatitude of heaven; hence, the place of bliss, paradise.  Joy, v. (verb), 1 To experience joy; to find or take pleasure; to enjoy oneself. 2. To feel or manifest joy; to be glad; to rejoice, exalt.  3. To fill with joy; gladden; delight

Imbolc                                                                              New Life Moon

Kate, costumed for Purim

Kate, costumed for Purim

The full new life moon had a cloudy cover as it rose in the east yesterday, a halo. Driving back from the Purim celebration last night it was moving west, though then in a clear sky, Orion visible nearby. This morning as I came up to the loft it sat near the horizon, visible only through under the branches of our lodgepoles. This bout of melancholy began under the waning Imbolc moon, grew stronger under the first days of the new life moon and now seems likely to be gone during its waning. Maybe a month total. As these visits go, not too bad.

Fellow melancholic and friend, Tom, called yesterday and we talked about the gremlin’s energy sink, its dredging up of old emotions, its general sucking out of life’s marrow. We both have long acquaintance with it. And, long experience does yield some perspective, a hint of how it will probably go. For me, the down is matched by an up, a safer version of the bi-polar depression to mania swing. The up has not come yet, but I can feel it on its way.

grandio-elite-greenhouse-featuresA couple of things have come into focus over the last few days. One, I need to work more with my hands, with my body. Now that the turmoil of our first years here has begun to subside I’m missing the garden, the orchard. Not just the growing, the plant care, the flowers and vegetables and fruits fresh out of our soil, but carrying bags of compost or digging or moving bee hives, tending to the raspberry patch. If I don’t do this, I can get stuck in my head. Not the only part of me I want to nurture.

Two, I need to read more, be quiet more. Meditate. I’ve been reading novels, as is my habit, and I read news of all kinds on the web, but I need to shift my reading diet a bit to include more philosophical, theological non-fiction. Example. I began re-reading, as I mentioned, David Miller’s, The New Polytheism. That’s the sort of work I’m talking about. It sends sparks off in so many different directions.

A few possibilities for more tactile activity. Kate and I looked at a greenhouse made by an outfit called Grandio Elite. I’m not interested in the very laborious work it would require to garden in the rocky Shadow Mountain soil. But, in a greenhouse, yes. I miss working with the soil, with plants. And, we could grow plants in the greenhouse and put them outside in containers during our short growing season. Green thumb Kate grew tomatoes here last year. Not easy.

alephs and a mem

alephs and a mem

Finally got to working with my brushes and ink, rice paper. Still a really, really long way to go before I have any true facility with it, and that’s a good thing, lots of practice required. My presentation for the kabbalah class, unveiling the Hebrew letters, will be certain letters drawn with these ancient Chinese tools and a line of poetry congruent with the letters deeper meanings written below it. Here’s a couple of alephs and a mem.

Hiking, of course. And to that end, more new workouts. Though. Got a new workout Tuesday and my left quad and bursa have complained a lot. Gotta figure out what caused that. Still, these workouts give me more strength and balance, continued ability to be in the world with my body.

20180301_064843And the reading. Oddly, the deeper my immersion into Judaism, the more my interest in Taoism increases. So. Diving into those books, some online educational material. Also, Reimagine. Reconstruct. Reenchant. Material on emergence. James Hillman. Magic and reenchantment. Reinvention of the sacred. The auld Celtic faith.

These things seem to have traction and will be a significant departure from the immediate past. A balancing, or rebalancing, of time, of attention. An outcome I expect from melancholy. Underway now.

Moody Blues

Imbolc                                                                       New Life Moon

mood ringAs melancholy begins to lift, where does it go? Does it go back into memory, added to a store of melancholic episodes over a life time, each one different, unique, becoming part of the polyvalent stew that is our psyche? What triggers the end or, better, the gradual tailing off of doubt? Of the heaviness? Of the stasis? Where do all those moods and temporary inner states (and, they’re all temporary) go? Do they just float up into some neuronic cloud, then get washed away through the body’s toxic cleansing processes?

Psychic moods are more important than we realize and they’re little understood, little discussed; but, these colorations of our inner world directly influence how we react to others, to events in our lives. A positive mood contributes to resilience, to the ability to take in an insult, large or small, and respond in a constructive manner while a negative mood can take an insult as devastating, catastrophic.

moodsI’m not talking here about depression or anxiety or mania, serious and long lasting mental states; rather, I’m talking about fleeting, sometimes changing moment by moment, atmospherics. Joy. Sadness. Glad. Mad. Eager. Reluctant. Energized. Slow. Crisp or dull. They come and go like the lenticulars over Black Mountain or the high white mare’s tail cirrus. Sometimes they crowd our mind with the darkness of a thunder head or roar through us like a tornado. And then they go, pushed away by a high or low pressure system, perhaps a psychic La Nina.

moodphases

moodphases

Some moods last a bit longer. Melancholy is one for me. I can feel it beginning to leave, pressed out, as it usually is, by a renewed sense of purpose; yet, right now that renewed purpose is not clear. That means the melancholy cannot fully go because its reason for emerging has not been resolved.

Still waiting on the outlines of the new life melancholy seeks. It starts out, I think, with dissatisfaction, usually inchoate, not yet conscious, about some aspect of my life. And, I think, further, that that very inchoate state is what develops into melancholy. A sort of psychic brake gets pressed as the mind tries to grasp both the dis-ease and a route forward. The melancholy lasts as long it takes for the reordering of life’s energy into a new way of being in the world.

 

 

A Very Jewish Weekend

Imbolc                                                                            New Life Moon

Silhouette of hiking man jumping over the mountains

Silhouette of hiking man jumping over the mountains

In psyche news. The heaviness seems to be gone, that drug down, want to keep going down feeling. When I’m in it, my soul seems more attracted to weight, willingly binding itself to a fall. The heaviness is a major physical clue to melancholy for me, a way I know to check for other signs. Its absence does not mean the melancholy has lifted, but does usually precede it. May it be so.

A very Jewish weekend. On Saturday we attended bagel table, an informal sabbath worship with conversation and, you guessed it, bagels. The presenter this week though wasn’t Rabbi Jamie, but Rabbi Evet of B’nai Havurah, a reconstructionist synagogue in Denver proper.

A congregant of Beth Evergreen, loved and respected, a mensch, had died suddenly, just that morning. The conversation about his death after operation for a malignant brain tumor was hushed, shocked. When Rabbi Evet started the service, the conversation quieted, but the looks, the feeling of it was still palpable. She stopped the service and had us focus on his death. It was a powerful moment, one in which what was being suppressed got lifted up. People told stories about Jeff, about what he meant to Beth Evergreen.

Evette_Lutman2-350x247Rabbi Evet teased out characteristics from those stories after a bit and suggested that a way to honor his memory was to figure out how to put back into our little community the attributes lost by his death. His smile. His willingness to help. His commitment to education.

Steve turned to Marilyn and said, “Marilyn, I really appreciate everything you do here. We don’t say those things out loud while people are alive. Maybe we could.” And, later, after the service was over, Marilyn came up to Kate and me and said, “I want to tell you both how much you mean to me.”

“And you to us,” I said. “Through having met you and found Beth Evergreen, we feel like we’ve finally moved to Colorado. This is our community now.”

“Makes a difference, doesn’t it?” Marilyn replied.

“It makes all the difference.”

Lev_Poster_LBI meant that and this experience with Rabbi Evet illustrates it. Beth Evergreen is a place where the heart and the mind both get their due. In fact, lev, the Hebrew word for heart, is also the word for mind. There is no other word for mind. Mind and heart are lev.

On Sunday we drove over to North Turkey Creek, up Peaceful Hills to Meadow View Road. The occasion was a new member/prospective member gathering at the home of Dan and Kristin. 40 or so folks, some board members, Rabbi Jamie and Tara, folks I knew and many I didn’t gathered around, yep you guessed it, bagels and lox and fruit and veggies.

The energy was good. There were little kids and older adults, all milling around, getting to know each other. I enjoyed the time. As is now usual for me though, I felt a sense of relief when we left and I got outside, to the quiet. Like the candidate event at the Friedman’s a couple of weeks ago I can hear in these settings, but it’s hard and stressful. I don’t always notice the stress until it’s absent.

 

 

 

Staying Open. Paying Attention.

Imbolc                                                                       New Life Moon

Got up late today, around 8:30 am so I’m writing this after noon. Feels a little weird since it’s usually dark outside when I work on Ancientrails.

South-ParkColorado-Fishing-MapKate and I went to Aspen Roots today. Jackie tints and cuts Kate’s hair, cuts mine and trims my beard. She’s a good lady. Learned today that she taught her son fly fishing. Her father worked for Eagle Claw and started taking her fishing when she was five. Can’t be too many sons who’ve been taught fly fishing by their moms. Right now he’s logging and had a nasty accident when the saw cut through his boot and into his foot. She hopes he’ll become a fishing guide.

Coloradans and the snow. There were flurries last night, some periods of heavier snow. So most folks stayed home from mussar vaad practice. MVP. Geez. I find myself saying this every once in a while up here: “If Minnesotans didn’t go out when it was snowy and cold, they’d never leave the house from November through March.” It’s definitely better to have Minnesota conditioning for Colorado winters though than, say, Florida or Texas. Both state contribute their share of new Coloradans.

Melon choly. Still ripening though not as pervasive. I’ve not felt this, as near as I can recall, since Minnesota. A certain heaviness, a certain I don’t really feel like getting out of bed. A gray veil.

Bee-guyMy best guess as to why now is a little odd. First year we were moving in, orienting ourselves. Prostate cancer, too. Second year Jon’s divorce, my knee replacement and then Kate’s first bout we identified with Sjogren’s. Since September though Jon moved into his new house. He’s calmed down, a lot. Sjogren’s and its effects, while not pleasant, are at least known and we have strategies to cope with them. After a year plus with the knee, after p.t. and now several different workouts, the knee has no pain and functions, for the most part, as it did before the bad arthritis set in.

So we’ve had since September to adjust to a Colorado which is no longer introducing us to new medical or familial dysfunction. We have friends and a small community now at Beth Evergreen. Rigel doesn’t have liver cancer. Joe and SeoAh are doing well. The grandkids ask to come up here. Things have calmed down, life has tilted toward the positive side of the scale.

Now what? That, I think, is the cause of the melancholy. What do I do now that I’m finally here in Colorado without serious distractions? Are elements of the Minnesota life germane here? Some are clearly not. The Sierra Club scene was disappointing. Sheepshead, too. The Denver museum scene is dull normal. Gardening and bee keeping seem too daunting here, at least for my current energy level and financial resources. (I’d garden in a decent greenhouse, but $$$$.)

agencyWhat is mountain life? Colorado life? Life in the arid West? For me. Sure there’s reading and writing and thinking. The Great Wheel. There’s family and Beth Evergreen. Good jazz. But how does it fit together? What’s the coherence? Where is the tao of this moment?

Apparently my psyche decided that the way to answer these questions is to slow me down. Push pause on the recent past. Let stuff bounce around a while, let different parts clang into each other. Such slowmo has often preceded life changes for me, sometimes after a period of guided reflection like the Ira Progoff Journal Workshops. Sometimes just after time passes. Staying open. Paying attention. Waiting.

May 2018
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