Saturday, July 26, 2014

THINKING BIG OR NOT



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.