I have been trying to write lately, but my heart just isn't in it, to be honest. I've spent a lot of years being a caretaker for my mother and brother, and feel disoriented now, not sure of what is next. Everything I've been doing mostly concerns, well, being a caretaker in one way or another. Now in a short time my brother is gone and now my mother. I am disoriented.
It's been said by many before me, but here I am saying it as well - "what now?" Which is, from one perspective, a fortunate state of being, that state of "not knowing". I wish I could put on a backpack (like my friend Zoe at 68 did this past summer) and just go off on a walking pilgrimage, allowing World to open me again and take me much further. My feet, I know, would lead me where I need to go, each day, each present moment. Well, maybe that will happen sooner than I think.
It is difficult to re-invent oneself at 65, but that's what we're continually being called upon to do. Maybe it's hard at any age, but in ones 60's one senses the precipitation of calcification, and not just in ones bones. I jolly well know what I have to do - walk into the future and not the past, be grateful for - well - absolutely everything.
I think of that quote from Picasso when he was in his 90's. An interviewer asked him, after such a long and successful career, what he thought was his best work. He thought for a minute and then responded: "The next one."
"I, the Song. I walk here."
En route to L.A. I stopped at a place I've enjoyed over the years, a hot spring campground in the desert west of Phoenix called Tonopah. I have always revered the healing powers of hot springs, as all early peoples before me have as well. Franklin Roosevelt once visited the springs at Tonopah to help his polio. This visit I learned that they were trying to sell the place, as the land on the other side of the hot springs (a matter of maybe 40 feet) had been sold to a corporation involved with chicken farming, which meant, of course, inevitable pollution of the waters, stink, trucks moving in and out, not to mention the suffering of thousands of caged birds.
How is it possible that I live in a world where people even think of doing such a thing 40 feet from a healing hot spring? Where beauty, healing, community, not to mention the spirits of place.........have no meaning at all, just destruction and profit? I can't fathom it.
So......something better than to close with that. We are never alone, and I just opened yesterday a book that for some reason I hauled along with me, a book I bought at the Native American museum at the Smithsoninan 5 years ago........to the exact quote and page below. The Author is speaking of the Navajo people. Spider Woman speaks.................*
".............If you "borrow" (a horse, land, a place) do you inherently bless (it) , or do you impose? Most communication by white society has seemed more like imposition than blessing. In this light, it is interesting to note that while westerners closely associate communication with "freedom" the Dine associate it with "responsibility" or "accountability".
"If you lie, the gods will know" one elder told me, "so why lie?" . As we discussed the matter further, she explained that one was responsible to the gods for what was said. Responsibility and accountability are virtues to be modeled in living and in the arts.
Given this full time responsibility, there is no separation between art and life. Both bear the responsibility of sustaining a divine rhythm and message. So art is not made to be enjoyed later, as in a gallery or recording. Rather the responsibility to be fulfilled, and to be made divine through art, is realized within the act of creation.
In Witherspoon's words, "Beauty is not to be preserved, but to be constantly renewed in one's self and expressed in one's daily life and activities. To contribute to and be a part of this universal ho'zho' is both man's special blessing and his ultimate destiny."
Cooper, Thomas W., A TIME BEFORE DECEPTION - Truth in Communication, Culture, and Ethics, Clear Light Publishers, Santa Fe, N.M. (1998), p.148