Saturday, December 9, 2017

The pilgrimage of life is seldom like the movies


Dream Genie
In one of my favorite movies, Jeremiah Johnson, the ancient wisdom keeper Bear Claw Chris Lapp watches the progress of the beautifully ignorant Jeremiah as he deals with the wilderness in his pilgrimage to become a mountain man. After a long series of trials, Bear Claw gives him the ultimate accolade when he says, “You’ve come far, Pilgrim.”

I like the idea of being a pilgrim, of being on a pilgrimage, although that carries with it the idea of a destination. When I think of my journey, a few-days short of seventy-two years, I marvel at how far I’ve come but still wonder where I’m going.

My earliest memories begin in the north woods of Washington … living in a tent. My dad, actually my step-father, my mother having ended her marriage to my birth father shortly after it began, for reasons she would never … or could never … reveal, was a DIY kind of guy. So, as we lived for six months in a large, Army-style tent, he built the garage for the would-be-but-never-actually-happened house. My few memories of that time include seeing grass grow up through the floor and hearing wolves howl when my dad went off to work and left my mother and me to deal with the immense, lonely darkness.

Jeremiah wanted to be a mountain man and he followed that certainty through trials long and challenging, gradually becoming what he imagined. When Bear Claw meets Jeremiah for the last time, he asks, “Were it worth the trouble?” Jeremiah, by now grizzled and worn, mere grunts, “Huh! What trouble?”
Joyce Wycoff, age three

Certainty is easier in movies. 

My own path, or pilgrimage, seems to be more a long series of dead ends, marked by signs saying, “Try something else.” But, at each turn, there was a token, a gift, a learning, something revealed. When I look at the only known professional photo of my childhood, I see that same beautiful ignorance of what lay ahead, of who I would become, am still becoming.

I am grateful for the gift of a long and healthy life which has given me time to peel back so many layers of this endless onion, discovering light and shadows never imagined. 
Writing this in the Mexican village of Ajijic, I'm on my way to Lake Bacalar, known as the Lake of Seven Colors, where a friend and I will stay in an Airbnb home right on the lake ... with two kayaks to explore all seven colors.
I still shiver at the wonder and beauty of it all.  
Lake Bacalar (Photo credit and info)
Behind my garage of a house in those northern woods, there was a filbert orchard with mounds that called to me. My memory of them is that they were tall and I could climb up to the top of them and see forever. I imagine that three-year-old child, trying to see further than her own height would allow, sitting … alone … on those mounds, and wonder what she was thinking and feeling.
I wish I could reach back and tell her that all will be well, that some day she will be in a beautiful, friendly place, where she is often alone, but never lonely. 
About the image: "Dream Genie”

My dreams have been active lately, and, as usual, I wonder from whence they come. Sparks for this image came from a stunning piece of Chihuly glass work seen with a friend at the Clinton Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, another beautiful piece of glass seen in Tlaquepaque, Mexico, and a piece of wall art found here in Ajijic, Mexico. Bits and pieces meld together into one message.

Favorite bits from the movie, Jeremiah Johnson:

Movie Clip: Bear Claw meets Jeremiah

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

That wicked wisp of judgment


Grasping at Smoke
This morning I awoke in a dream 
with a message writing itself 
on the screen of my mind 
in grains of sand. 

I cuddled my warm center
letting the words flow 
in a staccato dance. 
Words and pauses. 
Two words. 
Three words. 
Two words.
No clauses nor modifiers. 

Too short and abrupt, I thought. 
I’ll have to go back later. 
Revise those words 
into more elegant phrases. 
And, with that thought, 
that mere wisp of judgment, 
that moment of logical awareness,
came a breeze 
that scattered the grains,
scrambled the words.

I folded myself into a tighter ball,
repeated the only words still clear,
searched for the source of the flow,
trying to bring it back.

Gone. 
 
Leaving only the faint tracings 
of a message that might have been.
Leaving me yearning 
for that whispered connection,
Leaving me grasping at smoke. 
 
 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

A bucket list item and a ticking clock

My haul from the book fair
Today I did something I’ve always wanted to do, but never, ever expected to do it in Guadalajara, Mexico. I attended a really big book fair … as a matter of fact, the second largest in the world … right after the one in Frankfurt, Germany. Who knew?

Loved this play on words
700 authors from 41 nations and countless publishing houses spread out through Expo Guadalajara, offering nine days of non-stop presentations, readings, lectures, activities and BOOKS!

Today was the last day.
Click here to watch the ending of one of my favorite "Twilight Zone" episodes.
It reminded me of the "Twilight Zone” episode: Time Enough at Last. Henry Bemis is a henpecked book lover who finds himself blissfully alone with his books after a nuclear war. He is in heaven contemplating endless reading until, in typical "Twilight Zone" manner, he breaks his glasses and is condemned to spend the rest of his life surrounded by books he cannot read.

A friend and I were surrounded by thousands … millions? … of books and a ticking clock. Where to go first? We did our best, as you can see from the first picture, and then made a plan for how to approach this extravaganza next year: multiple days, a nearby hotel room for naps, and más dinero!
 
Site of the first purchase.
A thousand activities
Lots and lots of people
I don't know why they were here but they seemed to be having fun
I shopped till I dropped.