Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Walt Whitman in New Mexico

O to speed to where there is space enough and air enough at last!

To find a new unthought-of nonchalance with the best of nature!

To have the gag removed from ones mouth!

To have the feeling today or any day I am sufficient as I am!

To be lost if it must be so!

To feed the remainder of life with one hour of fullness and freedom!

Walt Whitman “Leaves of Grass”

Two days spent at Truth or Consequences New Mexico, at the River Bend Hot Springs, where I can sit to watch the Rio Grande flow before me (I can jump into the Rio Grande if I so desire), and I can pull out one of the 5 books on the bookshelf in the common kitchen area, Walt Whitman, and open it to read the above.

How unhappy I’ve been, for so long! To be lost if it must be so………….sounds good to me, as I sit by the river. The Rio Grande, the Big River. Last night I sat in a hot tub listening to the river go by (as, they say, Geronimo himself did in this very spot, an odd distinction) sat and watched the stars come out. To sit by the “big river” and watch the immensity of stars in a New Mexico sky, well, that gives one some perspective. How fortunate, how incredible, the miracle of being sentient! And then waking up this morning and discovering Walt Whitman’s long ecstatic celebration of body and nature.

I’m not sure at this moment in time I have any great and universal thing to say about art, the Goddess, or metaphysics. So I’ll just write about what’s on my mind as I toddle down the road right now, which is the healing of my body and spirit, and the need to just open to life. Rivers are fine with me, at this moment, all the identity or purpose I need.

I’m thinking right now of some dreams I had this winter. I don’t dream often, and so when I do dream, I consider it a significant “heads up” from the unconscious realms, and ponder them carefully. Not long ago I dreamed that I was drinking beer, and suddenly realized was full of bugs – it was infected. It was Mexican beer, and the label said “Rio Negro– black river.

As I see my 6th decade leering at me from just over the hill, I've been working this past winter to make way for a new weaving. I've been depressed, and an effort to help my emotionally troubled brothers has proven both futile and toxic. Constant contact with their habit of negative thinking and addiction has reinforced these qualities in me - after all, we come from the same roots. Drinking “Rio Negro” beer. Taking in Rio Negro spirits. In the name of love or duty, by force of habit, constantly taking in familial negativity and fear, generating it myself and infecting others..........sound familiar? Well, that's what therapy does.......helps a person like me to begin to do some unravelling as well as weaving.

That dream informed many of the choices I am now making, choices to change my circumstance and notions of responsibilities to my family and to myself. And so here I go, in search of a new home. It's a lonely feeling, but it's what it is.

Dreams are so fascinating. Not long after the “Rio Negro” dream, I had another vivid dream.

I’ve watched a lot of tv this winter, and find I'm very out of touch with whatever popular culture is. One program that I watched is called “Lost” – an interesting premise for a TV show about a group of people who are wrecked on a mysterious island with all kinds of psychic as well as physical anomalies. Sadly the show fails to do much with its fascinating premise and very engaging cast (it just falls back to formula violence every single time). Never the less, some of the characters in the show lingered in my imagination, even after I decided it wasn't good for me to watch the darn thing. My favorite character was “John”, a 50 something man who is a kind of explorer and mystic. As the drama unfolds, many of his mystical explorations – and his presumptions - lead him and others into both danger and madness. But there is also an earnestness and candor about this character, a kind of “faith”, that made him my favorite in the show.

In my most recent dream “John” was growing fins on his arms!

I'm no expert on dreams, and admit that my discipline of recording, remembering and deciphering dreams has been long remiss. Still, I have had many times when they were valuable to me, and even occasionally prophetic. Dreams are read, of course, in very subjective ways, like an internal (and increasingly responsive) language of hieroglyphs that one must develop a relationship with.

Using Jungian reasoning, I think John represents an “animus” figure. And the good news is, he’s growing fins, he’s learning to swim, he’s gaining the means to see into the watery depths of our mutual psyche……….an inner empowerment I find hopeful indeed!

I sit here before the Rio Grande, the Big River - with its flash and dazzle, its eddies and swirls, its depths and sparkles and kingfishers and swallows sweeping over it in search of tasty bugs……….I sit here and laugh. I laugh, the river laughs with me.

It’s enough. It’s more than enough. I let Walt Whitman speak the words today, and I, like him, celebrate the gift. Sometimes its good to be "lost".

“All truths wait in all things,

they neither hasten their own delivery nor resist it,

they do not need the obstetric forceps of the surgeon to be born

the insignificant is as big to me as any

(what is more or less than a touch?)

I believe a leaf of grass is no less

than the journey work of the stars.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Not only is *it* enough...

*You* are enough...

Reminds me of a Mary Oliver Poem:
Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Mary Oliver