We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Posts tagged work

Moon Over Black Mountain

Spring                                                            Mountain Spring Moon

1428323496098Snow last night, not much but enough to coat rooftops and give the moonshine a reflective surface in the back. The moon hung directly over Black Mountain for a couple of mornings. Here’s a fuzzy (phone) photo taken from the deck off my loft.

An odd phenomenon with shifting my workouts to the morning. I get more work done in the morning. Then, though, the afternoon, late afternoon, seems to drag.

This will become my reading time for work related material. Right now I’m studying germline gene therapy for Superior Wolf. I’m also reading an older historical fiction piece called The Teutonic Knights by Henryk Sienkiewicz. Written in 1900 it is a great read. Sienkiewicz was prolific, author of many other works of historical fiction, including Quo Vadis. The Teutonic Knights have a role to play in Superior Wolf,so that book is work related, too.

I count Latin, writing and reading to support them as work, as I do gardening and beekeeping. Some people would count these as hobbies, especially the gardening and the beekeeping, but for me they represent the non-domestic parts of my day and have done for many years now.

At least for me a day filled only with meals, leisure reading, volunteer activities, shopping would be lacking a contrast, the contrast provided by labor with a forward progression, aimed toward an end of some kind. As I wrote before, I’m learning to detach myself from the results of this work, but that doesn’t deflate its value. Hardly. Work remains key to a sense of agency, a sense that does not come from merely sustaining life. For me.

Mentioning work, Kate made me a spectacular wall-hanging with vintage Colorado postcards.

Eternal Tru Luv

Lughnasa                               Waning Artemis Moon

Kate’s at work.  Two months almost to the day after her hip surgery she has returned to the Allina Clinic in Coon Rapids for her last four months of full time practice.  I anticipate a successful evening and final four months for her, having seen a remarkable recovery in terms of her day-to-day pain.  The hip is wonderful, the back’s pretty good, the only clinker right now is her bursitis on her left hip.  Still, compared to the awful weeks just prior to her surgery, she’s a different woman and it’s great to see.

Having her home full time, practice retirement, helped us see the possibilities in the next phase of our life together.  We’ll manage our gardens and our orchard and our bees with greater ease, two persons engaged from the start of the growing season.  We’ll have time to go into art galleries, out to lunch, just wander around more.

Other people must find the one who gets them, around whom they can be their authentic selves, I’m glad to say I’m among them.  And that the experience is reciprocal.

Eternal tru luv, as we used to say.

A Wild Man

67  bar rises 29.61 0mph SSW  dew-point 62  Beltane, cloudy with broken skies in the west and south

                 Waxing Crescent of the Flower Moon

Freud said life focuses on love and work, with death a constant presence.  Not a bad summation.  When love and work go well, life becomes flow, a stream of activity, purposeful and engaged.  If love goes well and work does not, both suffer. If work goes well and love does not, both suffer.  Daily life may exist in compartmented locations work at the office, love at home; but, the psyche does not know these compartments.

Wherever you go, there you are.  An old AA slogan, and an apt one.  A person close to me is having trouble at work.  The often contradictory demands of more production and more customer satisfaction have ground them down and created a situation of anxiety.  The psyche does not know just work, so this person suffers from sleeplessness and angst.  They find themselves spread on the Promethean boulder with the vulture of expectations tearing at their flesh.  The solution that works best for them manifests itself in trying harder.   More shoulder to the wheel.  More nose to the grindstone. 

But.  Letting go, releasing the grip a bit might produce more pleasing results.  Easing up,  relaxing and focusing on the work itself, the joy that lead them there in the first place might help, too.  In this person’s case love does not suffer, at least as far as I can tell, but the pain they suffer comes home.  I know that much.

Just realized this morning that I leave for Joseph’s graduation in one week.  And I just got back home a day ago.  Geez. 

Woolly brother and cowboy artist, Jim Johnson, has an ongoing project he calls The Wildness Within.  His meeting is coming up next week and he sends along three questions to get the meeting started: 

1.  When was the first time that you remember thinking about the wildness within you?

2.  Who or what are some of your wild influences:  people, places, things that are active in your life today?

3.  Have you ever had the urge to run naked and not cut your hair?

I e-mailed him back with this much answer:  I have run naked and not cut my hair.  Ah, the sixties.  More than once, in fact.  Amazing what a little LSD, psilocybin or mescaline can do for the inhibitions.  There was that time at the University of Chicago…

Jim’s project is important.  It goes to the heart of much of what I do, too, though I approach it in a very different way.  At bottom wildness is the natural, the unfettered.  The Tao as it moves through and in the 10,000 things.  To contradict what I said above both love and work constrain the natural.  As core elements of civilization, love and work are the ties that bind us to cultural expectations.  Thus, love restrains sexuality and work restrains unfettered, impulsive action.        

So, in one sense, to ask Jim’s questions is to ask what urges you to break loose from the invisible, Lilliputian threads of norm and morality?  This is, or can be, a frightening question.  Any tendency to cut away culture’s silken web can, like the spider’s prey thrashing, bring the venom to you, result in the wrapping round you of a cocoon that binds your every movement. 

Wildness, in the radical sense of natural, is the Tao.   Taoism teaches conformity to the temporary conditions created by the movement of heaven, that is, the creative engagement of the Tao, yin and yang in pulsing, creative action, action that races through us and through the elements of the world around us.  Thus, Taoism teaches conformity, not to culture, but to wildness, the unrestrained press of nature against anything that would constrict it, channel it, dam it.

These are hard words.  It is easy for the weight of culture to act as a hammer against the anvil of the day-to-day, flattening and shaping the Self until it becomes an obedient tool, rather than a creative force.

In reply to Jim’s first question, I answer the first stirrings of the over against, the for Self and against expectations.  These happened for me around junior high, or perhaps before, when I resisted Mrs. Thurston, our elementary school principle, who came around during the lunch hour, “Have you eaten all your peas, Charles?”  Or, that time with Mr. Gross, when at the age of six, I answered his, “I don’t allow Democrats to ride in my car.” with a request that he stop the car, at night, in the country.  I would get out.  Or, perhaps even further back, when my parents were told I would never walk again, that the polio meant I had the life of a cripple ahead of me.  My little body, so young and so wild, so unrepressed by parental or medical expectations, said, No, I learned to walk once, I can do it again.  And did it.

As to his second question, wild influences now, the first and strongest is the Tao.  The second is Kate, who allows me, encourages me, to follow my Self wherever it leads me.  The third, or is it the same as the first, is my Self, who draws me along in its wake, prodding and pressing.  Another way to say this is living into my Buddha nature.  Another wild influence, with long, strong currency in my life is the radical approach to politics, to day-to-day life I began at a conscious level in the first years of college and have followed up to this day.  Emerson, in that vein.  Thoreau.  Muir.  The Romantic poets and novelists and painters.  The Hudson River School painters.  The Symbolists.  The Pre-Raphaelites.  The Arts and Crafts movement.  Art itself.  The phrase Ars longa, vita brevis.  Rilke.  Rumi.  Hesse.  Ovid.  Goethe.  Lear. 

May 2018
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