Saturday, July 26, 2014


There are hidden superstitions that bind the soul and I’m becoming aware of a number of things I’ve fantasized doing for a long time while hoping that someone else would make them happen. I was sure that if I tried to do it failure would certainly ensue. Now that I think of it, failure is a probability for new ideas, but that isn’t a good reason not to try. Many good ideas fail when first tried. Generally, it takes more than one sketch to get a new painting just right.

Yes, in my younger years, I was discouraged and shamed for my dreams and hopes, but I think the real problem was that I believed that this was only about me, a kind of negative narcissism. I believed that good ideas couldn’t work in the real world if I was their representative. It’s amazing how often I have really wanted to see something happen and eventually someone did give it a go. Usually, I was critical because it didn’t fully embody my vision and thus failed in my sight because it wasn’t a full featured model of my vision.  I’m embarrassed to admit this. Critical hindsight is safe and thus often smug. 

I personally believe that we are each here to carry forth the evolutionary purpose of our ancestors. The future calls back to us as a guide. The ancestors may have gotten it wrong too, and likely did, but even if they were a success times change and with time needs change. I didn’t come here to struggle with the basics of life as my parents did but that is what I’ve done. This is a pattern and a pattern isn’t the same as an archetype. In reality, it is the dead end for any evolving pathway.  
Milda and me at Mabel Dodge House this week.

I have long wanted to be a member of a network of visionaries who see beyond the immediate social/political issues and wish to bring society up to speed on how to be a functioning participant in planet earth’s reconciliation with her human delinquents.  This means that we must embrace the reality that we are all indigenous people.  So-called Western Civilization continues to build displaced space stations called developments that function like a skin disease on the planet. Of course, this disease has spread far beyond its place of origin to infect the entire planet.  I won’t go into the exploitation of natural resources and the destruction of habitat. The important point is that most of us are slaves to a system that has overtaken us bit by bit and essentially over time made indentured servants of us all and requires enormous effort to resist. Most people have way too much on their daily plate, to get cosmic about the cause of the situation.  But, we dreamers need to stay in touch and support each other.  Sometime very soon, we will be necessary.

Another vision I’ve imagined as desert for the soul is an interactive gallery.  Shortly after arriving in Taos it occurred to me that people need to use art more like our ancestors did, i.e., as a magical contact between species, time and dimensions.   We can only imagine how the cave paintings at Chauvet, Altamira, or Lascaux were used but I’m sure they held a lot more power than the average gallery dispenses. In fact, art, ritual and natural cycles were never separate in the minds of our ancestors. Most indigenous cultures don’t have a word for art (or religion) because it is part of their connection with life and the source of life.  Perhaps my imaginary gallery would be a place where visitors could talk to the artist and each other, play drums and flutes, ask questions, share insights, find art, music, books and videos and above all meet artists. Perhaps they could also schedule private consultations with medicine people, get background information and sign up for local tours. Let’s go further and offer coffee, tea and local delicacies. It has been a disconnect from the start of my life in Taos that local coffee shops and restaurants don’t offer horno bread, biscachitos, prune pies and other local foods. They may be found at Taos Pueblo, but rarely in town.  Why should the tourist trade be only about an exchange of money? Most tourists don’t come just to give us their money but because they want to touch the spirit of Taos. Admittedly, this spirit has gone underground in the recent past but perhaps that’s because Taosenos have become more modern and cynical.

I worked in a gallery/shop on the plaza for just shy of 17 years and spoke to many visitors.  I remember that it was a quest of a spiritual nature for many people.  I usually directed them to the pueblo, told them when the next public dance would occur and then sent them to a local bookstore, or a place where they could find some history such as a museum. Often they asked where they could meet a native person and if I knew a Medicine Man. At that time, I could answer affirmatively on all counts. Alas, by the time I retired from retail on the plaza, very few visitors asked those kinds of questions. Until the recession hit, they were more likely to ask about how to find an agent to pursue investing in real estate, or about the local ski slopes.

The interaction of spirit and beauty seekers with Taos is a delicate issue, which is part of my reticence to jump into the issue. The Taos Pueblo people are extremely secretive about their beliefs and ceremonies, and the local Spanish people regard Anglo (anyone not Spanish or Indian) tourists as members of an invasive species on the verge of a takeover.  Both have their reasons for feeling as they do.  However, the rest of the world needs some of the old ways back if it is to survive, and those who have kept it in their hearts for hundreds if not thousands of years need for the others to get on board if they are to have a future. Of course, I think some of the Pueblo people believe that survival in the future world is not as important as maintaining their fidelity to their original purpose.  For the dominant anti-culture I have this thought: visit places like Taos as if your life depended on it, and look beneath the sometimes off putting surface.  Real knowledge is never easily procured.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


I usually don’t know what I’m going to write when I start a blog entry, and today is no exception, but I do know we are  like a stagnant pool shoved over its banks by a flash flood from the storm up stream.   Obstructions that had us immobilized are suddenly floating down a new stream. Sometimes I forget that many of my problems are the result of low expectations.  A long time ago, I learned to ask for little, expect little, and deny dissatisfaction with the way this turns out. The past week has crammed a year’s worth of action and a lot of reminding into a few days. The secret is a new energy entering our life in the person of Milda Vaivada who has been staying with us while she searches for her own place in Taos. 

Milda and PQ on the Trail
To say she is a powerhouse is putting it mildly.  The transformation started on the morning after we met her with an energetic walk down a trail that we had been thinking about exploring for the past year, but PQ wasn’t sure he could cope with it so we put it on the shelf. Simply walking through Walmart was taxing enough. Milda and I walked for two miles down and two miles back, while PQ joined us for the first mile. I knew the way back would be uphill and worried that he would be finished for the rest of the day after walking back. However, he was just fine even though his legs hurt from unaccustomed use. For the past two days, he has been chatting about new ideas with non-stop excitement, and usually he’s out of breath after a few sentences. 

I’ve been troubled by how I was letting myself slip into humdrumness, but felt stymied. The truth is I was bored with Taos and my life. The post office, Walmart, the grocery stores and occasional visits with friends was about the extent of our action. I didn’t care to walk in this neighborhood, which I don’t fancy beyond our pleasant little yard, and the rest was getting harder to see with fresh eyes. Eyes can be like weathered glass windows gradually clouded in grey film over time.  PQ and I were in the doldrums waiting for a chance breeze to fill our sails.  Worst of all was our depleted imagination. We both wanted to paint again but were intimidated by a garage full of stuff. This stuff came from mom’s house, our Arizona house, and the recent rental of the reservation house and seemed to be breeding when we weren’t looking. Painting in the dining room even with a drop cloth resulted in splatters of paint in places we (read I) don’t want paint to be.

Our new friend has all the exhilaration of someone discovering a new planet and it is infectious. This was a dry summer and suddenly the monsoon rescued us all from mummification. I don’t believe in coincidences, so an energy block must have lifted through all dimensions.  With our friend’s assistance, we have a new storage space at Hinds and Hinds and the content of the garage is moving out to make space for art. This is a longtime fantasy/wish. Besides, we are getting in shape lifting all those boxes. Even PQ seems to be thriving with the extra effort. I think it’s a subtle sin yet very dangerous to be stymied by something as simple as a garage full of cluttered resources rendered demonic by their bulk.
PQ Jamming with John Carey Band at Taos Mesa Brewing

I generally receive intuitive information on upcoming changes, but my humdrum Baptist upbringing often clouds intuition with doubt.   In addition, there is an ego component to this.  I hedge on taking a chance in believing my intuition just in case I’m deplorably wrong. Honestly, I promise I’m working on this silly attitude.  PQ doesn’t have this hang-up. For $70 a month, which we didn’t have last month, the space problem was solved, and taking that chance has resulted in seeding several more income upgrades. Getting one major obstacle out of the way miraculously opens the gate for everything backed up behind the dam.  Now here come the rapids.  But that'S OK, a few days of rest and we can get back on the boat.