Who. Are. You?

Lughnasa and the Lughansa Moon

Saturday gratefuls: Yet more rain. Cool nights and mornings. A not so bad day for Kate. Derek. Shrimp and gnocchi. Re-reading Jennie’s Dead. Urge to paint coming back. Tom and his focus for our Sunday gathering, Ancient Friends. The Watchmen on HBO. Recursion by Coloradan Blake Crouch. Writing. Oil paints. The Loft. Kep’s howl. Rigel’s deep bark.

Tomorrow morning we Ancient Friends: Tom Crane, Paul Strickland, William Schmidt, and Mark Odegard will follow Tom’s lead. His prompt starts with the Campbell quote and ends with one. My preliminary thoughts on answering it come after.

The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are
― Joseph Campbell

Tell us about your life:  

First: What are the gifts and talents that you have uniquely combined in this life to be you?

Then: What are the experiences that you have had which contributed to your unique life story.  Experiences are physical, such as travel or work, intellectual, such as learning, and emotional, such as joy, grief, empathic connection?

And in summary, what is it about your life that causes you to smile?

“As you proceed through life, following your own path, birds will shit on you. Don’t bother to brush it off. 
Getting a comedic view of your situation gives you spiritual distance. 
Having a sense of humor saves you.” 

― Joseph Campbell

What makes me smile: Dogs. Little kids. Kate being smart. A Shadow Mountain night sky. Seeing the mountains from Denver and knowing we live there. Driving into the mountains after going down the hill. Joe and Seoah. Ruth and Gabe. Walking into the loft. Seeing Kate at breakfast. Travel. Art. Art museums. Seeing my buddies and family on Zoom. A long stretch of nothing on the calendar.

Gifts and talents uniquely combined: Some intelligence. A drive for justice, fairness, no matter where. A willingness to take personal risks in the pursuit of justice and life directions. A love of reading, of learning. A passion for horticulture, for Mother Earth, for being a husband and parent, for being true to my values. A good speaking voice and public presence. A certain facility with words. The ability to commit. To persevere. A capacity to own my failures, to rectify mistakes. A willingness to let go and become new. A deep capacity to love. A strong body. (awareness of this came late in life) A love of the strange, the novel, the other.

What are the experiences that you have had: Being born in Oklahoma and raised in small town central Indiana. Polio. A close extended family with lots of cousins. Mary and Mark as siblings. Curtis, a distant father, and Trudy, a loving mother. Her death. Wabash. First year Philosophy, Logic. Embracing the liberal arts ideal. Critical thinking. The 60’s! Being part of the culture shaking change of the movement, having a leading role in it in Muncie. Running, and losing, for Student Body President in 1968. Trip to Canada for anti-draft league pamphlets. Seeing John Cage and Marcel DuChamp on stage playing chess in Toronto. Diving into Anthropology. Learning its way of viewing culture. Not applying for a Danforth Fellowship. The GRE’s. Refusing graduate school. Sex in college. Moving to Wisconsin. Then, Minnesota. Judy and the Peaceable Kingdom. Community Involvement Programs. Raeone. Alcoholism. Treatment. Stevens Square Community Organization. Fighting large corporations like General Mills, Control Data, and Sandoz. The West Bank Ministry. Ordination. MJ Hedstrom. Party politics. Helping unseat a long time Hennepin County Commissioner and nominate Paul Wellstone. Organizing, with many others, Jobs Now, the Philanthropy Project, the grandmother Ministry. Taking food to A.I.M when they occupied Wounded Knee. Organizing Sin Fronteras, M.I.C.A.H. (the Metropolitan Interfaith Coalition for Affordable Housing). Various consulting jobs. Working with the James Tillman anti-racism seminars and analyzing the YWCA in terms of racism, then analyzing the Tillman seminars. Writing nine novels. Learning Latin and translating Ovid. Developing and writing this blog for fifteen years. Finally meeting Kate, my first sober relationship. And my best one by far. Our dogs, gardens, meals, love. 17 years of St. Paul Chamber Orchestra concerts. Leadership Minneapolis. Meeting through it Lonnie, Stefan, Paul, Sarah, and through Stefan and Paul the Woolly Mammoths. 30 years plus of men’s friendships in the Woollies. 12 years a docent and guide at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Switching from economic justice work to climate change politics. Managing the Sierra Club’s political work for two years. Three Ira Progoff workshops. Result of the second one: moving to Colorado. Taking Ruth, when she was three, to the National Stockshow. Loving the Rocky Mountains, their wildness, their thereness. Finding Congregation Beth Evergreen. Reconstructing Judaism as an affirmative place for my own reimagining faith journey. Kate’s long illnesses. The very scary time in September and October of 2018. Prostate cancer. Surgery, then recurrence. Discovering Asian art, Taoism, China. Going to Singapore, Cambodia, Angkor Wat. Seeing Ephesus, Delphi, the Panama Canal. Circumnavigating Latin America with Kate. Eating in Pizzaro’s former home in Lima, Peru. My trip to St. Denioll’s in Hawarden, Wales. Kate and mine’s wonderful honeymoon, three weeks traveling north from Rome to Inverness, Scotland. Building my own library. The mountain spirits who have visited when I needed them. Living on Shadow Mountain. Discovering the West. Covid. Trump. Deep angst with both. Leaning into the future, now, always.

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