Traveling in the Present

4/7/17

“The role of the traveler today- like the role of any artist who treads outside the bounds of mainstream cultural imagination- is to be a storyteller of new possibilities, and most importantly of all, a messenger of hope.” Simon Yugler -Travel Alchemy

Traveling has a very special alchemy.  It gives me the freedom of being outside my normal day to day and places me right in the present; a much more pleasant and freeing place to be than my past or future. It helps me really know what I don’t know and I am relieved of the pressure of pretending to know. Travel gives me hope about humanity and expands my world by leaps and bounds.

There is a spirit among fellow travelers that says, hey, we are on the same road, at least for a moment. We share some unspoken part of being human. It’s as if we know in our bones that our ancestors and the many ancestors before were nomads, or travelers with a yearning to know more, learn more, see more, typically in search of food.  As travelers, we are trying on a nomadic life, sharing our stories, enjoying company with strangers in the strange lands where everything is somehow familiar, everything is new and we are looking for food, gas and perhaps a connection.

Traveling gives me the opportunity to widen my vision, open my eyes, feel the air, smell the atmosphere and take the opportunity to slow things down enough to see that every moment can be sacred, a little, tiny journey in itself. I see things I like and things I don’t. I hear things that hurt my heart and other things that grow it. I find atmospheres that sooth my soul and others that make my soul curl into a tiny ball trying to protect itself.

Now that Henry and I have arrived in Evanston, the traveling becomes something else.  It becomes the contrast to “on the road” traveling.  It is discovery and finding the places the fit us.

Evanston is a city, like every city, where you are expected to know, know what lane to be in for the turn you are about to make, which streets are one way, or where to park to go to the grocery store, what the customs are around leash or no leash for Henry, even when the law says leash and all kinds of everyday things. The expectation of a city is that you know what you are doing at every moment.  “Knowing” is how not to get in the way of anyone’s rushing and the very important business of getting to the next place or meeting, or appointment.  When I get it all right, I avoid the glances at my license plate and then at me, that clearly state that I am a foreigner here. The angry, dirty stares that say, “Oh, right, you are from California, of course, you know nothing about being here. You idiot, learn the roads here!” They don’t know I grew up here, I own this place.  Grant it, I have to relearn landmarks and roads, but I belong, even if my license plate says I don’t. At least my license plate says I am pretty cool.

At the end of the day, we are two tired travelers. We’ve arrived. Henry lays with his tail curled under in an attempt to achieve the fetal position and stop moving just to go inward. I have never seen him curl up so tightly. His eyes are bloodshot and I imagine he feels as I do, a sensation that we are still hurtling through the air, on the road at 60-80 miles an hour.

 

Tired Henry
Four Dogs Tired

I have been trying to tell Mr. H no more endless car rides for a long time but he just doesn’t seem to be listening.  It is as if he is saying, I am too tired and I’ll believe it when I see it.

 

Today The Mojave

4/3/17

“The transition from the hot Sonoran Desert to the cooler and higher Great Basin is called the Mojave Desert. This arid region of southeastern California and portions of Nevada, Arizona, and Utah, occupies more than 25,000 square miles.”

Wikipedia: The Mojave Desert (pronunciation: /mˈhɑːvi/[5][6] mo-hah-vee) is an arid rain-shadow desert and the driest desert in North America.

Henry and I left Needles, CA this am, drove through the deeply beautiful lands of a rain-shadow desert, The Mojave, on I40 and arrived in Gallup, NM this afternoon.

At some point on the 5+ hour drive, I became overwhelmed with the amazing and varied landscapes of our country.  I was awed by the multiple layers of rust, golds, pine greens, and sky blues as they textured over and around the Mojave, its mountains, and rocks. As the tumbleweed blew erratically across the highway it seemed to have avoided the paint brush and just remain a dry beige. (Note I said highway, not freeway and that’s how you know I’m not in CA anymore.) The rocks that look carefully painted, are between 1.7 and 2.5 billion years old, and I am a small speck that has a large impact on something so ancient, so grand, so beautiful and so precious.

Between awesome, stunning views and thoughts of responsibility for taking care of what was all around, I was overcome with apprehension over what we have done to our planet? What are we doing?  We have plants and animals in the mountains, deserts, streams, waterfalls, lakes and oceans depending on us. Depending on us like a baby depends on its mother’s milk. Again, what are we doing? Who do we think we are?  Most importantly, the question is, what am I doing, and what is right for me to do?

I believe we are stewards for the plants, animals, and humans of these lands. Dictionary.com . Steward, [stoo-erd-ship, styoo-] the responsible overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving:  New regulatory changes will result in better stewardship of lands that are crucial for open space and wildlife habitat.

Sometimes t can feel like the earth is bleeding. As I drove along, it seemed as if I could feel its yearning, its desperation for us to recognize its power, and know how dependent we are on it and how absolutely necessary its thriving existence is for us to just breath and live.

I know I have done some good things for this earth and I know I haven’t. I know my mother was right about using natural fibers like cotton, linen, silk, wool, and cashmere, not just because they felt good, but because they were natural to human living. I know my mother was right about minimally using man-made medicine so there is less to contaminate our bodies and less to throw out and contaminate the waters and all who drink it. I know my mother was right and I know there was a value that says we need to take care of ourselves, we need to take care of the land, and we need to take care of everyone around us. I know she was right.

What would it be like if I could allow these lands to be something sacred; something that I let in enough to change me, rather than always being about me changing it, expecting it to accommodate me, make me happy.

Then Things Seem Inevitable…

“First things seem impossible, then improbable, and then inevitable.”  Angeles Arrien

Angeles was a cultural anthropologist who took indigenous rituals and traditions and taught how to walk the mystical path with practical feet.  She gave more than permission to live a life of following what has heart and meaning.  In fact, she encouraged and expected it of those who studied with her.  She gave me roots in the learnings about treating life as sacred.  She taught the work of listening deeply, going from medium to slow, saying what’s so when it is so and asking, “What’s learning ya?”

I have set things aside in my life because they seemed impossible and I was afraid.  Then I went through a phase in my 20’s when being afraid meant I should just do it, whatever it was. And that led to some really stupid and risky choices, so stupid they aren’t worth giving attention to here. Then I had a family and I took being afraid as something to pay attention to. I heard fears as coming from my inner knowing, speaking to me and guiding me in my mothering and “wife-ing” and in my work as a psychotherapist.

Now, single with grown kids, and collecting social security, I am back to looking at what seemed impossible, a move to Chicago.  With the realization I wanted a change and wanted to move, the move has gradually become inevitable.  And, now with the rental of my home for a year, the mess of boxes, bubble wrap, and sorting, with bags labeled “let go”, this move has become inevitable. As my father said when I moved to CA, “What do you have to loose?”  The adventurer in him could say that with the deepest of confidence in me.  The confidence I am drawing on again, for a road trip back to Chitown.

First things seem impossible and I am sure they are.  Then they seem improbable and then with a push from here or there, they become inevitable.  When I get out of my own way, possibilities seem to show up and say, “Hey, notice me”

Hygge (prounounced Hoo-ga) 3/7/2017

http://www.visitdenmark.com/hygge

  • The Danish meaning of hygge. Hygge is as Danish as pork roast and it goes far in illuminating the Danish soul. In essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge.
  •  Hygge, is a Danish word roughly translated to English as coziness. As the Visit Denmark site suggests, it might contribute to a happier life. Making life intentional has something to do with Hygge. My personal feeling about Hygge is something about slowing down, paying attention to what makes you feel cozy, at home, staying with what has heart and meaning and making daily life sacred.

Making life intentional has something to do with Hygge. My personal feeling about Hygge is something about slowing down, paying attention to what makes you feel cozy, at home, staying with what has heart and meaning, and making daily life sacred.

I have always had a very close connection to Denmark and my friends there.  I didn’t really know why, but seeing the video on Hygge on the Visit Denmark website, gives me an idea of my connection to that culture.  I got to the site by way of someone who writes about their sacred journey.  It is a bit religious and that is not my bent.  But she offered up the link to “Visit Denmark” and I found Hygge. Who knew?

I can hear my Danish friends laughing at my pronunciation of hygge, having once been told I sound too perfect when learning to say Bussen gabte, which I was later told, means the bus yawned. A phrase that is so handy for travel, or really anything I am doing, anywhere, really!

Those were wonderful days, learning how to say Bussen gabte while attending European clown school in Blue Lake, California. Carlo Mazzone-Clementi, was the master teacher (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlo_Mazzone-Clementi), and being there introduced me to some of the most creative people from all over the world.  I was totally drawn to the students at the school who were from other lands and attached myself to the Scandinavians.  They just seemed the most sane, even at a clown school.  My attachment to one woman, Josefine, was deep, we were sure we were somehow related.  Our relationship has endured, even with just a few visits and travels with our families, over many miles and waters.  Being with my Danish friends and our families being together makes me feel full of Hygge. 🙂 .

 

 

 

Thank You Mr. Rogers

“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”  ― Fred Rogers, The World According to Mister Rogers

As I have been packing up my house for this experiment/journey, I found my copy of The Atlantic with Mr. Rogers on the front of it.  I also found books by Mr. Rogers that clinical psych students have given me over the years because they knew how I admired Mr. Rogers like my hero. To top it off, in my sorting and  packing I found a toy that when you press different buttons you hear Mr. Rogers’ voice saying, “I like you just the way you are.”  Or, “You make each day a special day. You know how, by just your being you.” And, of course, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.”  It was a perfect thing to find.  It made me think about how I am going about this journey as an experiment and how that gives me room to just accept everything as it is, including myself.

What if every piece of this journey was sacred, and each step or action or thought was done with such attentiveness and acceptance that the meaning of each step was a whole journey by itself ?

 

Listening

“To hold something sacred means valuing something enough to let it change you.” Vijayendra Mohanty

This is an exploration, an experiment; my experiment.  It started with the experience of more doors closing than opening and the realization I didn’t want life to feel so hard.

What if it was Sacred is about change and the unpleasantries of knowing what I need to do and the work it takes to listen to that.  It’s about listening to the quiet voice that says this is the right thing to do even though you are full of anxiety.  Do this even though you will shock people, do this because it is the freedom you long for.  Because you know that deep down it comes from the very wisest place inside you.  It is the constant voice that always hangs around the edges of each idea, of each action and reaction.  And, it says, listen to me, listen to Me. It offers up possibilities that seem completely impossible, crazy, absolutely out of the question. And it talks in whispers getting incrementally louder until it is screaming at me. Do something. Do It. Just do it.