Tuesday, February 7, 2012

PRACTICE


Last week PQ and I had a talk about our life expectations and hopes. These talks usually begin over the morning coffee. The reality of our age comes up now and then. Here we are after all those lost and scrambled years trying to understand what we should be doing with our remaining time on earth now that we are finally together. Of course, I don’t really believe in lost years. All experiences can be re-formatted and recycled. I often remind myself that suffering the results of confusion and wrong turns creates enough heat to turn lead into gold with the right attitude.

PQ's New Painting
"The Visionary"

It is the chosen stance that makes the difference between being broken to smithereens by life and the alchemical effect. Not that I don’t forget this every time I feel I’m on a path that starts out as a beautiful sunny walk through a lush landscape of flowers, butterflies and singing birds only to lead into heaps of formidable boulders beneath darkening storm clouds. Inevitably, the path disappears entirely and I realize I’m at yet another dead end and can’t recall which turn got me to into this situation. In retrospect, I often recognize this latest dead end was another tricky masquerade by the magical crucible. But, you see, that’s the way it is. If I recognized the trap, it wouldn’t be effective. Full participation is a crucial ingredient. Of course, it always makes me feel like a fool, when my sense of misdirection leads into an angry, pitiless canyon of bouncing boulders. Only at this magical moment is the key revealed; the prime matter of the alchemical formula.

The “Fool,” number zero of the Tarot, the place where everything begins. We all know fools who make the same mistake over and over, and just don’t get it. That’s not what this is about. Almost, but not quite. This is about well thought out, careful decisions made with good intentions. The only thing missing is the awareness that one can’t distinguish the landscape murals on the walls of one’s own house from the real world without a cosmic kick in the behind that sends one through the wall. A real Fool can’t help it. He/she is a child of the universe returning home. Moreover, each homecoming is like the first.

So where do we stand now? Three years ago, we moved to Cottonwood, Arizona ostensibly for PQ’s health but also because the place was calling us. It’s not that we don’t love Taos, New Mexico. It will always be the “Sipapu,” our Place of Emergence. Arizona is an extension of what we are together, although I can’t rationally explain it. The move to Arizona was wonderful but short. We had a place that was not his, or mine but ours. We loved our new friends and reconnecting with old friends, the expatriates from Taos, setting up our own home with bits of all our happy connections and hiking the red dust trails, doing a song and ceremony at the end of each hike and enjoying the magic of a new skin. Sadly, right off the bat our truck had a heart attack and required an expensive transplant, and the perfect plans to rent our Taos houses to cover costs in Arizona came apart due to unforeseen circumstances. We had a forced move back to Taos after nine months, quite a bit poorer than before the venture began. Even plans to bring our furniture back fell through and we had to sell and give away most of it. We haven’t given up. It’s still going to happen although we don’t know how. This time we don’t have the resources to do it on our own.
The Fool, or 0 card of the Tarot

We are now in our second winter back in Taos. Last summer I got my garden back to its former health; PQ has had more time with his kids and grandkids, and because of us: two of our friends from Sedona have discovered that they needed to be in New Mexico. We have become more involved in a film project on Mabel Dodge Luhan and PQ’s great grandfather Tony Luhan than would have been possible had we stayed in Arizona. I can’t find a decent place to paint here in Taos so I began writing instead. It turns out that I really needed to bring my thoughts into life and light after years of secluding thoughts between the dark covers of my journal. I still feel exposed and vulnerable but it’s as refreshing as skinny-dipping.

Last week PQ realized that now is the only time to awaken to his medicine heritage. Dad’s bag of medicine articles have been waiting quietly in his studio at the Rez house for several years: waiting for nothing in particular. PQ has long known the ritual significance of each item. After talking about it, we realized that stepping forward on one’s own seems full of challenges. What will his medicine be like; will he disappoint or challenge Dad? Since this discussion he has been rising every morning at 4:00 am, the time of day when the spirit world is nearest, to do medicine. Here is the realization that this is it! We are the older generation now and no one but our own spirit connection will authorize us. This time of life isn’t any laid back restful enjoyment of previous accomplishments for us. It’s another step off the cliff. We are just old fools.