Tuesday, October 14, 2014


In the early 80’s I worked for Atlantic Richfield in Denver during the oil boom. Every day I walked the mile and a half to work from my apartment in Capital Hill.  Work began at 7:30 am two and a half hours too early for my metabolism.  I was sleep deprived the entire five years of my employment but the walk downtown was precious time to meditate and visualize before I had to walk through the door of a skyscraper into the manufactured environment of 17th street. One day I remember the skyscrapers and asphalt  gradually becoming transparent and I could see and smell the dirt, buffalo grass and chamisa underneath.  It was like a double exposure. It made me feel freer and I held that vision for a long time.

So what does this have to do with Columbus Day? Well that artificial world concealing the dirt and grass that supports it would never have existed if Christopher Columbus had been unsuccessful. It was the extension of a disease that was beginning to overtake Europe. He never made it to the mainland of the new world and always believed he found a new route to Asia. I guess we credit another Italian, Amerigo Vespucci with that but there is no doubt that he was the first symptom of an unstoppable disease.   I sometimes wonder if the sci-fi movies about alien invasions and catastrophic epidemics of incurable viruses from other planets isn’t about the deeply buried guilt of the vanquishers. 
Typical Idyllic Image of the Arrival of Columbus

In real life, there is no one-way victory. The defeated have a special power over the victors that will never go away until acknowledged, or if in denial eventually to worm its way through the body of the apparent victors until it consumes their vitality.

Some in the Italian community were very upset by Seattle’s decision to rename October 13, 2014 Indigenous People’s Day. However, the Norse discovered North American almost 500 years before Columbus. I wouldn’t be surprised if other discoverers are awaiting discovery.  Of course, people have been here a long time and unless someone discovers that inhabitants of the Americas discovered Asia instead of the other way around, then ancient Asians are probably the true discoverers of the Americas.

Italian-Americans are deeply offended," Lisa Marchese, a lawyer affiliated with the Order Sons of Italy in America, told The Seattle Times. By this resolution, you say to all Italian-Americans that the city of Seattle no longer deems your heritage or your community worthy of recognition.

From the other side

Councilmember Kshama Sawant was clear about why activists pushed for the city to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the same date as Columbus Day.

The 15th-century explorer “played such a pivotal role in the worst genocide humankind has ever known,” Sawant said, referring to the decimation of the Native American population in the decades after Columbus.

When I was a schoolchild Columbus was unquestionably a hero. Also, it was another day off and that was the most important thing. I’m glad that the hero status of Columbus is under reevaluation although I must say it was in many ways braver for him and his men to take off across the sea in 1492 than for today’s astronauts to travel to the moon and beyond now. But, it worries me that the mentality has not changed that much and bravery isn’t good enough. I do believe humans need to evolve to another level beyond cosmic thugs before colonizing any other planets. The lessons are beneath our feet in the earth and sky we hide with our big buildings, contraptions and smog. I do pray and hope that humanity begins another level of discovery, the discovery of respectful and balanced relationship between our neighbors and us.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


It’s hard to believe that autumn is here again. The older I am the faster the earth spins. I remember photographing a beautiful view of the Valarde valley this time last year and it seems only weeks ago. But, I keep talking about how time flies. I need to move on. Maybe it’s because I don’t feel like I’m making any progress, just getting more wrinkles while spinning my wheels in the same spot. Autumn moves in slyly. One morning I notice the air is crisp, the sky is deep blue and the grass is losing color. This year we didn’t celebrate San Geronimo day at the Pueblo. PQ’s son Corey is living at the Pueblo house now and doesn’t like the disturbance. He checked into a motel for two days to avoid the crowd.  We didn’t have the resources to put on a feast anyway and it just didn’t seem worth the trouble to fight the traffic just to see the pole climb.  I feel a bit guilty and also troubled by my loss of interest in the doings of both the Pueblo and the town of Taos.
The High Road to Santa Fe Yesterday.

I’ve wondered, am I bored or am I depressed?  I’m not sure which it is, but feel Taos losing its luster. There is no doubt that the art scene has become static and tourists no longer spend as much money as they once did. Maybe more Taosenos are staying home as we do, or maybe we don’t see them because we don’t go to art openings or hang out at local bars and coffee shops as we used to do.  We went to Lenny Foster’s Living Light, 25-year celebration last week and it was great to see old friends and find Lenny’s beautiful gallery doing well. Almost like the old days, but not the way it was in the 80’s and 90’s. I’m thinking that Taos is going through an autumn season of its own. Just as with nature, there is that gradual loss of color at first, and you wonder if it is just your perception or if the fading is real. Yet the sky is still brilliant, and the mountain remains awesomely impressive overlooking the valley. No, this isn’t about nature or landscape, at least nothing visible. 

Yet perhaps it is nature that is behind these changes. The world is in constant flux. We humans almost take for granted that we are observers of nature and fail to notice that we are part of nature. The loss of habitat and the high maintenance of our hi-tech world affect internal environment as well as external environment. As the technical world, surges toward an undefined pinnacle there are already signs of spent vitality. Is it possible that the destruction of Atlantis is a story repeated cyclically? It may be about our future as much as a cautionary tale from the past.

I wonder if anyone else finds it paradoxical that so much amazing technology is channeled on the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc., and on a more dangerous level, there are the amazing technologies of hacking and war. Yet human interaction on a soulful level seems diminished. I hope it is just developmental autumn.  Alternatively, call it the use of higher powers for lower ends, which is also a definition of black magic. Somehow, the development of human consciousness and moral responsibility has fallen far behind the development of human technology, in Buddhist terms, “the monkey mind” rules.

After autumn comes winter, so it’s too soon to look for new life. However, it’s a good time to prepare the soil for the spring. I have nothing to go on but intuition, since I’m not sure what to plant.  There is always concern for PQ’s health. We want to be in Cottonwood Arizona but patience must rule. There are unfinished things here in Taos such as recent family issues that require our presence, and PQ has an appointment with the hospital in Espanola that we are anticipating. The fine doctor at the Indian Health Clinic here in Taos is retiring but he set up this appointment for PQ. It is about a new drug for Pulmonary Fibrosis given on experimental trial. This is good news because this drug has recently become available in Canada and India but isn’t supported by insurance here in the U.S.  It is far too expensive for us Taos folks, so this was an extraordinary surprise. 

I did a reading for myself using the Russian Gypsy cards, and as usual, it was very insightful. Sometimes an objective take on one’s situation brings a new perspective. I don’t usually talk about them but these cards are not easy to find although I’ve had this deck for close to twenty years. They are totally different from Tarot cards, more specific and practical, less dependent on interpretation. This particular deck is personally attuned to me. Only occasionally will it deliver for someone else. I only use it if I feel brave enough. I’ve literally never had it fail, although sometimes it seems contradictory until something happens that clears the apparent contradiction. This time the message was more symbolic and subtle but from it I recognized that false modesty keeps me in the shadows. It is largely avoidance of criticism or rejection and thus fear based. Holding back one’s knowledge and abilities is not unpretentiousness but inappropriate self-interest.

 Here is the reading (much shorter than a typical reading but very effective):

Angel in second position: Reconciliation will give you joy. Reconciliation with the part of self I’ve shelved and reconciliation with Angelic message, i.e. neglected abilities and knowledge.
Crayfish in second position: Coping with fate. Listen attentively so you can correct whatever you have been doing wrong even if your pride will be hurt.
Bread in third position: Having received something don’t forget those around you. Share what you have with others. I now recognize that this isn’t about material things but knowledge and insight that I usually keep to myself.
Moon in third position: Delay in action will work against you. Time goes by and you get old. Make decisions and put into action. Be subtle, peaceful but determined. Avoid friction.

I do hope the message goes all the way to my core. After all, I am a part of the world that needs to move forward, and yet it is surprisingly difficult put away habits in perception and judgement. I suppose its about the fish who doesn't see the water.