The Winter Solstice of Our Madness

Enter the Darkness

Enter the Darkness

“Darkness within darkness – the gateway to all understanding.”
Tao Te Ching

The Universe, in its eternal wisdom, cycles through Light and Darkness, year after year, century after century, eon after eon. In our human experience, this has always been and, in our hopes, always will be. Light gives way, inexorably, to Darkness and, in equal measure, that Darkness always yields to growing Light. Today, December 21, 2012, is the Winter Solstice – the shortest day, and longest night – of this cycle. In this night of greatest Darkness, the Light begins to return. It is a Darkness we must embrace.

For many, the Winter Solstice of Our Madness occurred on Friday, December 14, at an elementary school in a small New England town – the kind of place we like to think embodies all we love about ourselves as a nation. And it does. But that day, a black maelstrom of madness and heedless weapons of death ended the young, bright lives of more than two dozen small children and young adults, and exploded our delusion that this kind of Darkness can be overlooked – that it should not touch us, that its existence is an aberration, that this kind of thing is somehow visited on us from somewhere else – that this Darkness is not really “ours.”

Each time, we look for reasons; we try to “understand.” We want to reassure ourselves that this kind of thing can be explained by some particular set of circumstances, if only we can find them. We look for some individual responsibility, some legislative solution, some counter-attack, some set of moral rules that – if only everyone obeyed them – would assure us that this kind of thing could never happen again. We look at each incident as an exception, isolated from all the others… Because we insist on trying to ignore the fearful Darkness that we, ourselves, have allowed to become a subterranean part of our culture – unnamed, and unacknowledged. And the unacknowledged only grows in its destructive power.

All children know this Darkness, and we once did, too. Children are quick to cry out that there are monsters under their beds, hiding in their closets, and banging on their windows, with fangs and teeth and claws. Their instincts are right. And the children call upon us to help them dispel those monsters. And we do. The wise among us do not deny the existence of the monsters; we tell our children how to render the monsters powerless, how to make them go away… And how we can do it through our own will and wisdom, and no way else.

Acknowledgement does not – and should not – suggest powerlessness; it suggests only understanding of what is. The absence of that acknkowledgement is what makes us powerless. This Darkness IS our own, and it will not be ignored. This Darkness is the living hell of the mentally ill, thrown onto the streets or into the arms of families who have no tools or support to adequately help them. It is the Darkness of irresponsible greed, and consequences be damned, of those who promote the relentless sale of almost incomprehensible weapons of death, for their own profit, to anyone. It is the Darkness of our tacitly agreeing to live in a culture that isolates us from each other, that tells us, in a thousand ways, that someone else is more likely our enemy than our brother or sister, our parent, our grandparent, or our child – that we are each responsible only for ourselves, and for no one else – that the others don’t matter. It is the Darkness of our being told that we are somehow “exceptional,” and destined to be better than others, and our so often failing to remember that it is cooperation, and not competition, that allows us to thrive. It is the Darkness of our thinking that we need no help, nor should we be expected to give any. It is the Darkness of our believing that there need be no Darkness, at all, ever, at least not for us…

But the truth is that the Universe is equal parts Darkness and Light, both always moving toward growth and life. On this longest and darkest night of the year, let us sit with our own Darkness, acknowledge it, and then begin to move ourselves, together, by our own wills and the grace of the Universe, once again inexorably toward the Light.


Stuff: Part One


This is some of our Stuff… I’m not quite sure what this is all about, this ridding ourselves of so much of our Stuff… But it’s been going on for almost two months now – drawer by drawer, pile by pile, shelf by shelf. And I’m thinking about it…

I can look back on a sequence and confluence of Events, although being able to name these Events sheds no light on what actually caused them, what they might mean, or how, in retrospect, they seem to have joined forces with the Universe and led to this. Logically speaking, it began when we had to remove a newly-defunct and empty oil tank from our basement. There was a lot of Stuff in our basement – all very tidy, but THERE. The tank couldn’t be taken out until a path was cleared. So that was the first thing the Universe presented, and my good man got right on it… And ordered a dumpster. (As I’ve mentioned before, having a dumpster is every woman’s fondest dream, no matter what you may have heard about red convertibles and pelts of dead animals.) We began filling it up, with two-by-fours, empty paint cans, leftover floor tiles, scraps of carpeting, broken snow shovels, empty cardboard boxes, and so on.

In the middle of this, my husband went to visit a good buddy in Colorado, whose sweetheart had just come to live with him in the house in which he’s lived for his entire fifty-ish years, full of his Stuff, his parents’ Stuff, his son’s Stuff, and more… Much more. Sweetheart arrived armed with a small book by Karen Kingston called Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui/FREE Yourself from Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Clutter Forever. ( My husband – whose intimate familiarity with any Oriental spiritual practice is equal to his personal experience with breast feeding – was miraculously hooked on the entire concept… And we already had a dumpster. We were apparently ready for this. Who can “explain” these things? Sometimes – probably all of the time, actually – the “right” time comes without our really knowing it, and we realize that we are in the hands of the Universe.

That same week, I was in Idaho with a very dear GF, who left her expansive Long Island home a year and a half ago, moved herself, her sweetheart, and Splash, the Wonder Dog, into a thirty-four-foot RV, and has been happily living in it ever since, all over the northern half of the Western Hemisphere. (See my earlier post, Eight Days at Blackwell Island.) She used to have quite a lot of Stuff; now she doesn’t, and she’s more than fine with that. I liked it, too.

So those are the Events-That-Took-Place. But what was really happening? For twenty years, we’ve been pleasantly and regularly accumulating Stuff. We’re not particularly hoarders – except, maybe, for my collection of more than a hundred plastic souvenir snowballs; have to ‘fess up to that… Overall, we consider ourselves pretty tidy. We make our bed almost every day; we dutifiully and punctually recycle every possible thing; and rarely does a dirty dish sit in our sink for more than an hour. (I guess this makes us QUITE tidy, actually.) So why have we now suddenly found ourselves seriously compelled to rid ourselves of so much of our Stuff, and right this minute?

One of the most intriguing things about Kingston’s little book is that it addresses the reasons we accumulate our Stuff. “Just in case” is first on the list, followed by all kinds of other motivations like self-identity, status, territoriality, using a ton of Stuff to bury feelings of insecurity, and so on. No amount of trying to convince ourselves that all those magazines really should be neatly arranged on the coffee table is ever going to trump any of these emotional powerhouses – especially if we’re not even aware of their existence.

Instead of thinking of this as some reiteration of perpetual “tidyng up,” both of us began to consider how we really felt about our Stuff. What had each of us, without much thought, brought to our shared life from our individual former lives, living in different places, with different people? What were we hanging on to for no reason other than the fact it was there, and we were used to it? Were there things we’d never really liked in the first place…? Indeed there were. Major life transitions – divorce, moving, death – often necessitate this sort of reconsideration of Stuff, but this was coming from none of those. It was coming from the great Somewhere Else…

Interestingly enough, we started with the bedroom – the room where we spend that third of our lives, where we are most intimate in every way, and where, each night, we release ourselves to the still, dark, and mysterious unconsciousness of sleep and dreams… The most private place seemed the best place to start. We considered every item in that room, one by one. We switched closets. Bags of clothing we hadn’t worn for years went to the thrift store. I finally confessed to my husband that I’d hated his alarm clock for twenty years, and we got a new one. I told him I never really liked his nightstand, either – or my own. He kept his; I got a new one. Three paintings that no longer meant much of anything to either of us disappeared by mutual agreement. It was a fascinating project – especially for two people who pretty much thought they knew everything about themselves, about each other, and never kept secrets from either…

We’ve worked our way through desk drawers, bookshelves, file cabinets, kitchen cabinets, piles of things that had sat on the stairs for years, waiting to be transported to some long-forgotten destiny; overburdened horizontal surfaces all over the house; the linen closet (Why did we have almost two dozen adorable little guest towels, when we hardly have that many guests in a year, and, surely, not every guest needs his or her personal and unique hand-wiper…?); two china cabinets (Five sets of wine glasses? Four corkscrews?); and even my studio closet – an Ali Baba’s cave of treasures and trash of stunning magnitude. I had to really work my up to that one… And I began to seriously ponder the fact that I had chosen to make the unseen part of my personal “creative space” a repository for anything and everything of mine that had no place else to go. I had stuffed away quite a lot, without even thinking about it… The hidden clutter may be even more nefarious than the Stuff that’s right in our face.

So what are we doing with all that Stuff that we didn’t consider dumpster fodder…? My sometimes-awesomely-brilliant husband came up with the idea of a holiday “Good Karma No-Tag Tag Sale.” We’re having a two-day party, and giving everything away. Free. Whatever it is. No matter how “good” it is – things that were once “good” for us may now be “good” for someone else. The choices weren’t made on the value of the objects themselves; they were made on the value of the connections we have with them. Whatever’s left over will go to that same thrift store, just in time for the holidays – theirs and ours.

We had the dumpster for almost six weeks – until we realized, with a newly-familiar combination of chagrin and enlightenment, that even the dumpster, like so much of our other Stuff, was threatening to become a permanent fixture in our lives, simply because we had gotten used to it. So we called to have it finally, filled to the brim, taken away. We weren’t here when they came to get it, but we’d already said goodbye to all of it.

For those of us whose lives have allowed us the great luxury of being able to accumulate so much, it takes quite a bit of time, energy, and conscious thought, to move toward a state of greater emptiness… But that seems to be what it takes, if that’s what we want. Ask any Zen master. Ask yourself.

“We are not committed to this or that. We are committed to the nothing in between…whether we know it or not.” John Cage


The Clock… Notes on a Momentary Respite in a Long Journey

There are, at the moment, three items on my bedside table: Modern Spiritual Masters/Writings on Contemplation and Compassion, edited by Robert Ellsberg; an eighteen-page instruction manual for the Brookstone “Tranquil Moments Advanced Clinically Proven Sleep Sounds” machine; and the “machine” itself. (Yes; I know the Buddha is there, too; either I’m not counting the Buddha, or I always count the Buddha…) If the juxtaposition of these objects does not hint at a body and spirit in transition, then I don’t know what would.

The “machine” is, almost incidentally, an alarm clock – a ridiculously expensive alarm clock, since that feature seems an extraneous addition to a menu of sixteen different Clinically Proven Sounds, created by Experts, to lull one into blissful rest, a fine meditative state, or relief from anxiety and stress. (Perhaps a thoughtful reading of Modern Spiritual Masters would do any or all of the above, without the need for the eighteen-page instruction manual. That thought, itself, should be cause for some contemporary contemplation on my part, now that I think of it.) But an alarm clock I could love is what I was seeking, and – so far – this one seems to be doing the trick.

The arrival of this device on my bedside table is the momentary culmination of a search I have pursued, albeit intermittently, for almost twenty years. At the moment, things are looking – and sounding – very promising!

My husband, “B,” came to our twenty years of cohabitation and marriage with an alarm clock he’d already had for at least ten years. For more than thirty years, he has been very attached to his clock – secure in the reliability and trustworthiness of this small and homely, plastic LED-screeened, device, after his own series of relationships with numerous analog, digital, and clock-radio combinations, and any number of other things in life, which had disappointed him by failing to live up to their promises. It is “only” an alarm clock (no aromatherapy, rising dawns, or soothing sounds included), but that solitary task it has performed without fail, time after time. For this reason, B’s clock has earned – and held – his deep loyalty and affection.

However… His clock performs its sole duty by aggressively presenting its own rendition of the sound track from the shower scene in Psycho, morning after morning. I have never liked this about it. B doesn’t seem to mind being jolted at least semi-awake, hitting the snooze button, and falling right back to sleep, only to repeat the process several times, as often as not. This works for him… But it has always seemed kind of ridiculous to me. Either you’re getting up, or you’re not. Being assaulted into semi-consciousness, again and again, is not the same thing as consciously and deliberately “awakening.” Like so many couples, we are wired somewhat differently, and have learned, for a sufficient part, to live with those differences for almost twenty years.

Over these years, B has been both generous and gracious in trying to satisfy my periodically-expressed yearning for a gentler approach to leaving sleep and greeting the day. He got me a combination “gradual dawn” and aromatherapy device, which included several sound options. Unfortunately, it looked like a tacky plastic ziggurat; I didn’t like fooling around with the smelly little beads; and its version of “morning bird sounds” was a pale rehash of the real birds that get going around 5:00 in the morning here. Then followed the Zen alarm clock, which I wanted desperately, and which was really quite lovely – and very promising. However, after a relatively short period of time, its LED display slowly disappeared into irreversible invisibility… Evidently following some inner Zen directive of its own.

In our recent and ongoing effort to shed things that no longer serve or please us, the Alarm Clock Issue reappeared – this time addressed by me with renewed determination. A few hours of web research on my part disclosed this machine – a veritable Maserati among alarm clocks, purveyed by Brookstone, the indisputable prime source (along with Hammacher-Schlemmer) of all things electronic, complicated, beautiful, costly, and generally completely unnecessary for sustenance of the average human life, even here in Fairfield County, Connecticut. However, it had an absolutely lovely set of chimes to ease one into wakefulness, and that’s what I wanted, accessories or no accessories.

B agreed to give it a try, with the mutual understanding that, if he hated it, back it would go. (I would, in that case, get earplugs.) It arrived yesterday. Disconcertingly, there were few “tranquil moments” involved in the set-up and initialization of the thing – from opening the box itself, to installing the button battery with the Lilliputian screwdriver (which we happened to have, thanks to previous experience with sophisticated electronic devices and their requirements), to figuring out the sequence of buttons to push and hold for two seconds to activate one function, and five seconds for another. With repetitions of the Serenity Prayer, and one dark period of a few minutes where we were convinced that “it isn’t working,” we got through all that; set the alarm; and chose a “sleep sound” for the night that seemed richly appropriate: “Unwind.” (It was a clock, after all…)

When we got into bed, I hit the button, and the Clinically Proven Sounds began… In only moments (evidently the “tranquil” ones for which the machine is named), I had melted into a complete and utterly blissful state of limp relaxation… And we were both soon “sound” asleep. This morning, right on cue, mellow chimes gradually eased their way into our consciousnesses. The first word out of B’s mouth was, “Success.” I could hardly contain my joy. Reliability and grace seemed not mutually exclusive after all.

Ridding oneself of something one really doesn’t like much is usually a piece of cake. Ridding oneself of something to which one has long been attached – for whatever reason – is another story entirely. In truth, we’ve both been attached to B’s little clock for all these years – he, for its fidelity; me, because it’s his. But we were looking, now, for something that might not only be dependable and reliable, but something that was lovely, as well – something that we truly liked – not just because we already happened to have it, or because it worked and we were used to it, but because it offered the promise of bringing new pleasure and grace to our lives, in an area where we had long, and somewhat thoughtlessly, just accepted the status quo, the “it’ll do”…

And what better place to try for something better than in our daily awakening? If it has to be a machine, let it be a fine one.


Democracy or Fear: Pick One…

Because we can’t have both.

The elections are over – mercifully, and millions of dollars later – and one side won most of everything. We have shown ourselves able to speak, after all, as a nation of diversity, and of some responsibility, some generosity, some compassion, and some good sense. And we voted by the millions, as the democracy we are, and were always intended to be.

And, although that is over, the fear mongering is likely not. It will continue – because it works. Democracy and fear are incompatible; they cannot coexist. The mongerers know this fact very well. Democracy functions only when citizens are reasonably fed, housed, educated, informed, productive, confident, and relatively unbowed by fear and want. Frightened people do not make wise decisions, even about their own welfare; often they can make no decisions whatsoever, and will do just what they are told to do, because they are terrified. When we are afraid, we feel powerless – whether we actually are, or not. This is just how most of us are: Human.

If you want to control people, do everything you can to keep them ignorant, poor, and deathly afraid, as much of the time as possible. THIS is the real reason the oligarchs want to gut government assistance for education, nutrition, welfare, job training, medical care, and other social programs. It has nothing to do with “fiscal responsibility”, or “reducing the deficit”, or “reducing the burden on our children and grandchildren”… And has everything to do with keeping as much of the populace as possible in a state of hungering malleability and civil impotence.

The chronically poor have real and legitimate fears: Legitimately afraid they won’t have enough to eat, because they so often don’t. Afraid they will have nowhere to live. Afraid of what will happen to them if they get sick or hurt. Afraid someone else will take what little they do have. Afraid their children will have no chance to live in conditions other than those in which they struggled to grow up. Afraid they are powerless. Afraid their lives mean nothing. (If this election did one thing, I think it did much to convince hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people that they have more power than they knew…)

But how to instill this kind of fear into the “average”, middle class, or even well off, members of our society…? The people who’ve pretty much been feeling they’re basically okay? That’s the ongoing challenge of the One Percent. They’ve got a few ideas, and they almost worked this time. At least almost half of us are apparently willing to give those ideas another try.

A natural disaster, or an incomprehensible act of terrorism, can be a bonanza here… 9-11. Katrina, Aurora, the BP Gulf oil spill, Sandy… In these situations, everyone is reduced to a state of near-equivalent deprivation and fear, at least temporarily. (Read Naomi Klein’s excellent 2008 book, The Shock Doctrine/The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, for an impressive summary of this kind of “opportunity.” She was on to something, even then.) Barring the availability of either of these kinds of events, the most common, and historically effective, tactic is to Invent An Enemy – an Other – and make it very clear that the Other is a real, imminent, and pernicious threat, about to destroy the very fabric of our society, starting by aggressively assaulting everything in which you believe. Nothing has to be rational or proven about the Other; it just has to be presented as an ominous danger, to you, personally. If that gay couple next door is allowed to marry, what’s to stop YOUR children from wanting to do the same, no matter how you feel about it? If that woman who was raped can get an abortion, what’s to stop the Other from making you have one, too? If that lay-about moocher on the other side of town, who probably wasn’t even born here, is given food stamps and a break on community college tuition, who knows what she’ll be asking for next – and how much of that will come out of your pocket? And – good lord – what if the Other insists that you’ll have to register that third AK-47 you’re planning to buy at the upcoming gun show? Keep the veiled innuendos great, and difficult to disprove. Provide plenty of “documentation,” even if you have to resort to recirculating six-year-old pieces of satire you found on the web, as new and factual. Just repost them, again and again, to as many people as possible, with the subject title, “IF YOU CARE ABOUT AMERICA, YOU MUST READ THIS!!!!!!!!!” Truth is for wimps. It’s the goal that matters. And that goal is to engender fear.

Make sure these dangers are kept continuously in the forefront of public consciousness. (It helps to have a good bundle of newspapers and other media outlets under your control for this – but all that takes is cash.) Intone ceaselessly that things are even worse than anyone can imagine, and that the threat has never been greater. Never allow the legitimacy of the danger to be questioned. Make sure that as many people as possible feel PERSONALLY threatened by the behavior of people they don’t even know, at all times, even if – and perhaps especially if – their personal lives are, in fact, not really threatened at all.

The threat of the Other flourishes in either a genuine, or simply perceived, culture of deprivation, oppression, and terror. Democracy, on the other hand, can thrive only in a society of confidence, adequacy, personal empowerment, and the assurance that there is truly “enough” for everyone – a society in which we are confident that we will be given help when we need it, and can give help to others when they do.

The truth is, there really IS – or could be – enough for all, but not as long as some of us insist that it is our “right” to live obscenely at the top, and others of us can be abandoned to live abjectly at the bottom, where we are deemed to deserve to be. It is highly unlikely that the One Percent will abdicate quietly, election or no election, and there is no reason to expect them to do so. Even they are well aware that their tool box is emptying rapidly… But the Fear Hammer is still in there, and I think we’ll still be seeing a lot of it. It’s about all they have left.

So… We have a choice: Democracy or Fear… But we can’t have both. Pick one. And pick wisely.


This Nation is not a Corporation…

No picture this time, friends. Bear with me! I had vowed that I would avoid “politics” here, which was kind of crazy on my part, because that’s just what I’ve been obsessed with for as long as you may have been, and tomorrow we may start to get some idea of where we’re going. (Sandy left me, and much of the East Coast, with very few communication outlets for at least six days and, for many, more days to come. And many of our fellow citizens have lost much more than their ability to communicate…)

Our country is changing. The world is changing. We will either accommodate ourselves to these changes, and work with them, or we will become the newest “Third World Nation”… A nation whose laws are drawn to benefit multi-national companies, and their shareholders; whose land is raped for their profits, and not ours; run by a government who fears and loathes at least half of its citizens, and considers them (us) to be slackers and ne’er-do-wells; a country where a small minority of wealthy people live in walled compounds, surrounded by an angry, hungry, and uneducated populace, many of them armed and dangerous; a country whose government works to legally impose its “values” on the majority of its citizens. This is not the America I’ve ever had in mind, and certainly not the one I’d like to leave for my granddaughter.

These things are the absolute antithesis of what the founders of this great nation had in mind. The great premise of “America” has always been that we are a nation of citizens, not servants of some corporate entity. We are not here to create profits solely for others; we are here to benefit ourselves, and our fellow citizens, and our descendants, and we expect our government to reflect our wishes. Does anyone remember the British crown and its East India Company – the original “multi-national,” whose strangling grip our founders refused to endure? It strikes me as incredibly ironic that our current Tea Party, apparently so in support of letting Big Business escape the chains of “regulation,” is named after an event that was about exactly the opposite. THAT event was about our refusal to have our lives run by a corporation, its CEO, and its shareholders, to our own detriment.

So, IMHO, we don’t need a CEO for President. We need someone who understands that we are part of a global nation, as well as our own; someone who knows that we are one nation among many, and no more, and no less, exceptional than any other; who understands both our strengths and our weaknesses; who understands the strengths and weaknesses of other nations; and who is aware of our common humanity. In short, we need four more years of the President we have now – Barack Hussein Obama… Because he represents the nation we are, and the nation we were always meant to be.

Eight Days at Blackwell Island

Kaliento Behind A Short Tree

Two great friends, their laptops, and Splash, the Wonder Dog, in an RV (that’s us, above) parked in northern Idaho for more than a week… What could possibly happen? For the action/adventure crowd, there probably wasn’t much. But, if you’re someone who considers napping, writing, walking, talking, and eating, to be legitimate “things,” as I do, there was plenty going on. And that was the whole point.

Bets–my fine, refined, elegant, and all-around lovely and beloved friend–has been a “full-timer” in her rig for more than fourteen months, traveling around North America with her sweetie and her dog, staying as long as she wants, anywhere she likes, considering the weather, and barring medical emergencies and/or necessities, which have cropped up–and more of those than any of them had anticipated. Her decision to do this, her success in doing it, and her love of doing it, are a source of fascination and wonder to me, since my own current journey has been pretty much physically situated at home. But we are similar pilgrims, and it was wonderful to have time together as our voyages continue.

She drives a 2010 Ford 350 pickup truck, hauling a thirty-four-foot fifth wheel trailer. And that’s a BIG TRUCK. As it happens, she found her Big Truck while visiting me in western Connecticut. There we were, two seriously middle-aged women, walking into Colonial Ford, Truck Division. The sales people looked slightly bemused; finally, one of them, with an audible sigh, rose from behind his desk, and asked if he could help us. “Yes,” said Bets, in her most elegant and refined voice, “I’m looking for a truck–a really big truck.” That got their attention. And, thanks to Sal, a salesman who obviously takes both trucks and women very seriously, Bets got her truck. A few months later, she was on her way.

It was only eight days that I was a visiting “RVer,” almost three thousand miles from home, and, although we didn’t actually GO anywhere, I think I got a little taste of it. (No; it wasn’t the “Thelma and Louise” thing, and I knew it wouldn’t be. Those days are well behind both of us.) As an RV Tourist, I observed a number of interesting things:

First, it should be noted that all RVs are painted with grand swoopy designs, often including a “sunrise over the mountains” motif, sometimes with an added eagle or the occasional coyote head, in no more than three of four colors: black, grey, taupe, and beige–all on a white background. You will never see azure, or celadon, or burgundy, or–god forbid–coral. No political statements, not even this time of this year. No advertisements. No refrigerator art by the grandkids. Occasionally, you may see the names of the owners, and their pets, on the front doors. (“On the Road With Ralph and Anna, the Switzers, and Little Coco,” for example.) Many of the trailers themselves have names, such as “Adventurer,” or “Cimmaron,” or “Montana.” I saw nothing called “Key West,” or  “South Philadelphia.” Evidently, they are named for the dream, not the origin. My personal favorite was “Luxor”… As in the temple, I presume.

Somewhere out there I imagine a single graphic designer charged with trying to make large, horizontal, refrigerator-like objects look like they are NOT large, horizontal, refrigerator-like objects. In my personal opinion, that individual has been far from successful. The whole idea of “RV camouflage” I consider to be an exercise in futility. In comparison, the trailers of most eighteen-wheelers, commercial buses, and even rental U-Hauls, are an exhilarating symphony of graphic imagination and capitalist exhortation. Twelve-foot-high ice cream cones! Forty-foot-long, exquisitely rendered, fields of fresh produce and smiling children holding glasses of milk. Little Debbie, bigger than life. Peter Pan! A real missed opportunity for self-expression (or at least the making of a few bucks for travel expenses), it seemed to me.

The rigs arrive and depart very slowly, almost as if they’re trying to sneak in or out without being noticed–which seems silly, given than they are sized from large to enormous, and that the attempts at camouflage have been so unsuccessful. There is a lot of attaching and detaching involved in both arriving and departing. Anything detached upon arrival must be re-attached upon departure, and vice-versa. These things are too many, and the execution of them too complicated, for a first-time visitor to really comprehend.

Often a rig would pull in, and a couple of people would jump out to do all that detaching and attaching. Then they would disappear into their rig, and not be seen again for days. Lights would go on in the evenings, and off again in the mornings, but nary a living soul could be spotted. (I was assured that things are much more communal in warmer weather.) These people evidently do not have dogs. It fascinated me to think what they might be doing in there, hour after hour. But I was a visitor, and curious about all kinds of activities that are probably none of my business.

On the other hand, those who do have dogs are out at least twice a day, and are a very convivial lot. Sometimes four or five will clump up together for a pup-fest. All dogs are discussed according to their breeds (small white dogs are especially popular), their behaviors, and their barking frequency. The dog walkers are big on waving hello, and don’t mind being seen in the mornings, out unashamedly in their pajamas and slippers, carrying the obligatory plastic bags. My impression was that, as a group, RVers, in their fluid and ever-changing communities, are often more cordial and responsible neighbors to one another than are some in my absolutely stationary one.

There was much to learn: the difference between the “grey water” and “black water” tanks, and the requirements for the disposal of the contents of each. How to measure how much is left in your propane tanks by pouring hot water over a gauge on the exterior. The great advantage of a pull-through site–no backing up and maneuvering required. An entirely different meaning to the term “hook up” than the one currently in adolescent usage. The existence of “workcampers”–RVers who travel around and work temporarily, maintaining an RV park, in exchange for staying there. The fact that it’s perfectly reasonable to put your clean clothes next to the kitchen sink when you’re getting ready to take a shower. The fact that it’s possible to have a very full life with a daily infusion of mail, bills, and catalogs arriving at your door. And the amazing realization that exactly four plates, four cups, and four glasses, are all the dishware any two people ever really need.

Obviously, I was having a wonderful holiday with a dear friend, and so was only tangentially involved with some of the “real life” stuff that must inevitably be handled: haircuts, doctor’s appointments, dog grooming, truck repair, family responsibilities, itineraries, banking, and so on. But, with the ability to be clear about what you need (Bets has long been incredibly good at that), and with a cell phone, a laptop, and the absolute confidence that there are good and capable people everywhere, those things get handled.

I began to question the point of all the “stuff” we have at home in Connecticut. And, “coincidentally” enough, my husband had just ordered a dumpster (every woman’s secret desire, no matter what else you might hear), and had begun cleaning out the basement before I left. When I got home, I found he was also reading a book called “Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui.” (And this is a man who has been absolutely fact-driven, as long as I have known and loved him.) Evidently, the Universe will have Her way with all of us, in Her own good time…

So I came back to Connecticut, and Bets headed down to Reno, to work full-time until the election with OFA, helping get out the vote. Guess that makes her a “workcamper” for Obama. Yay!

We won’t all make exactly the same kind of journey she’s making, but we can sure as hell get ourselves in the move, each in our own way, to live our lives exactly as we believe they are meant to be lived. And, while were at it, let’s put the pedal to the metal, and move FORWARD!

The celestial clock ticks ever onward, and we’re all on some highway or another.


The Elephant

Sometimes the Elephant IS the Room


   I’ve been thinking about this for some time. There are still a lot of unanswered questions in my mind about the current GOP candidate for the Presidency of This Great Nation. 
   Yes; he’s been hounded to show more than two of his Federal tax returns, and has held fast to not doing that. We’ve given up on that. (Shame on us.) He’s been asked about what exactly he did at Bain Capital; not much information there, either. Did Bain “create” jobs, or destroy them, under his leadership? Or both? Was he still involved with Bain while he headed the Olympics in Salt Lake City? Not really clear. Maybe yes; maybe no. Did he vote in Massachusetts when he was actually a California resident? Could be; could not be. Maybe he really did live in one of his son’s basements for a while… We seem to have given up on knowing quite a lot about this person who promises so much, so glibly, and so vaguely.
   It has long seemed to me that this is a man who would really rather be doing almost anything other than going out there, sometimes even amongst the forty-seven percent of us who are, in his opinion, indolent slackers, shaking hands and holding up the babies of people he doesn’t even know, for heaven’s sake. Why is he doing it? What’s in it for him? There must be something.
   Here are a couple of thoughts… He’s doing this because he’s had a lifetime of success ferreting out businesses that can be stripped down, made to look financially promising, and then selling them at a great profit for himself and his partners. If that’s what he does, and does well, then the many States of this country must look like the greatest plum of all. Just ready for the taking, and the stripping, and the selling, one by one, to whomever makes the best offer.
   Or, he’s doing it for his faith – to legitimize his historically-persecuted Church in the eyes of the nation, and the world, at long last. This is, in my opinion, the Something That Dares Not Speak Its Name – the elephant that may be the actual room. I believe that his faith is very important to him. But he won’t speak about that, either. If his faith is driving him, we deserve to know that. It matters. It would impact his governing, if he’s serious, and all of us would be the subjects of that governing. The beliefs of his faith would be legislated to rule the lives of all of us – maybe slowly, but inevitably.
   When I am presented with someone who will not, or cannot, speak about what matters most to him, about what he holds closest to his heart and soul, I find myself facing a cipher, an unknown quantity. And this is not a person I would choose to lead my country, or myself. Anywhere. Ever.

Scared Sacred

Scared Sacred

“Scared/Sacred… Just move a few letters, and it all makes sense…”

That came to me from somewhere. Is it really that simple? It might be. This is where I’m starting: Not really knowing, but doing, anyway. Moving around the A, the Alpha, the beginning. And, right now, that’s all I know.

This blog began its birthing at the Blackwell Island RV Resort in northern Idaho – a long way from my home base in Connecticut – in mid-October, 2012. But its gestation period has been a long one, borne along by the urging of loved ones, and by my finally getting tired of my own excuses for not doing it. Those excuses have been many; some of them I’m sure you’d recognize. I’m good at finding or creating excuses for not doing all kinds of things. All those excuses are still quite near, looking over my shoulder, hoping they still mean something. They no longer do, and that makes all the difference.

So far, so good.

This is the beginning of this blog, but it is far from the beginning of my lifelong journey from being “scared” to knowing the “sacred.” Now that journey has brought me to this vast internet of unknown and untried opportunities, skills, possibilities, challenges, and whatever else might be out here… Of course, I’ve dabbled around in it a bit for years, but this is different. And it’s a little scary.

It’s also very much sacred. It’s my belief that we humans are charged with experiencing and sharing with each other at least two very important things: Community, and communication. Celebration and concern. Our parties, and our souls. This is the path of Spirit… On the web, as everywhere else.

I’m taking what I like to think of as the “Star Trek Approach” to blogging: “…to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where [only several million other bloggers have] gone before…”

A few things you may expect to find here as time goes by: more drawings (mine); photographs (also mine); demons and little monsters (mine – and maybe yours); opinions about everything from politics to spirituality and morality to being a woman to growing older to loving oneself and others (not only my opinions here, but those of others who move me, as well); travel stories; some funny stuff; links and books and other blogs I like, and hope you will, too; and whatever else may crop up as this blog gets its own life going.

Let’s see what happens – that’s the whole point, isn’t it?