Monday, January 31, 2011

Moving Through The Forest

My wife and I, along with Chica, our two-year-old Doberman, recently went on a hike, hoping to find, what we’d heard to be, some spectacular waterfalls on Pilot Creek in El Dorado County, CA. The trail began just a few minutes from where we live, so without a considerable drive to get to the trailhead, we were able, instead, to spend the better part of our day enjoying the hike through the forest, and eventually lunch and relaxation at the river and falls.

It was about a five and a half, or six-mile, round-trip. Part of the hike was moderate in nature, and part was more difficult. The last quarter mile down to the river, the toughest section, was very steep, and to make it even more challenging there were a couple of large trees down across the path. They’d recently fallen, most likely the result of a winter storm. The trunks were still fortified thick with large limbs, leaves and tangled branches. Because of a drop-off on one side of the trail, and a steep hill on the other, there was really no convenient way around the trees. We had to crawl through them on hands and knees, wrestling with the density as we made our way. Chica, of coarse, went through first, delineating the path of least resistance for us to follow.

Chica is very protective by nature, and living in a rather secluded place in the mountains, it is one of the reasons we chose her particular breed for companionship. It’s been both enjoyable, and quite remarkable, to see the expression of her nature, her attentiveness, and her concern for our wellbeing. She is always ‘on duty’, and feels compelled to know what’s going on around us at all times. Our hike out to the falls was a preeminent example of how seriously she takes her job.

From the beginning of the hike Chica ran out about fifty yards ahead of us, and then would circle around one side, come back to the trail about fifty yards behind us, and then head out the other side, only to appear about fifty yards up the trail in front of us again. She ran a wide perimeter for the entire hike out to the falls, and back. She crashed through some very thick forest and brush, and some very steep terrain to investigate lingering scents, to maintain her vigilance, her guardianship of those she understood to be in her charge. As I mentioned, the hike was about five and a half or six miles for us, but she must have covered twenty-five or thirty by the end of the day, maybe more.

What Chica was doing was not reckless, or frenzied self-indulgence. She was, in fact, carrying out what, by instinct, she knew to be her responsibility. It was an innate response to our vulnerability in the forest. She worked a pattern that would ensure that no harm would come to my wife or me, that no threat, man or beast, would come between her and us. She was doing a job, prompted, and driven by, her nature, the absolute core of her nature, and she took the work very seriously. Chica would come back to us when we called her, but also checked back in with us every couple of minutes even when not called. She worked systematically, and kept her full attention on prevention. It was, obviously, quite fulfilling for her, and quite satisfying.
It was also quite endearing.

Watching Chica throughout the course of the day, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the responsibility parents have to safeguard their children in today’s world, a responsibility not only to know where they are, but also to manage who, or what, gets into their lives. I found myself thinking that if every parent took an instinctual approach to their children’s welfare (like Chica has with her protection of us), rather than a relative, and compromised approach, it would be a very different, and much less painful world for the kids to embrace. It is the parent’s commission to set up a perimeter around their children, to run a pattern of protection, as it were, to ensure that no harm would come to them, that no threat, man or beast, would come between the parent and the child.
Some are quite adept at the practice, some learn along the way, and, unfortunately, some just don’t want to be bothered.

There are many beasts not of the two, (or the four) legged variety. With our cultural addiction to Television, Cell phones, the Internet, Video games and such, young people have a pretty perilous terrain to navigate through these days. The parent’s protection gene tends to get worn out, or at least worn down, pretty quickly. But parents must go the extra mile, they must find it within themselves to be vigilant, to be alert, to be sober, to be adult. Even when they don’t feel like it.

Life is a forest, of sorts, and the forest doesn’t really care what happens to our children.
I wish I could send Chica with every child moving through the forest.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Poetic Awakening

It was dark outside, in the early morning, the very early morning, before dawn, before wakefulness, before nature had yet come to life, or the mountain taken its position of grandeur in the greater assemblage that is the Sierra Nevada.
I sat in warm water, in wet comfort, while shivering cold and frost blanketed all that was not sheltered by immersion, as I was. All that was not encompassed by, protected by, 102 degrees of separation. A welcoming tub. A figurative womb, if you will.

Quietly enmeshed in the process of selective rebirth, I watched humbly from the deck as the contrast of dark earth and a tranquil, gradually lightening sky played itself out like an old black and white movie, calmly, slowly, but confidently, developing a brilliant and exceptional script. It was not plodding in any way, or accidental. It was purposeful. It was deliberate.
Being part of the emergence, part of the awakening, I waited. And I watched. I was an extra, a stand-in, a bit player, really, in the grand scheme of things, in a plan that was the enhanced intention of a fine director.

The trees, and the mountain, stood strong, stood sturdy, silhouetted, coal black, cold and foreboding against the rising heavens. Against the possibility, the probability even, of redemption. I remained transfixed, spellbound in the grip of its magnificence, and its dramatic splendor.

And then, vaguely, faintly, as if a mirage, the slightest touch of pink, wanting, waiting, to kiss the distant horizon. Inaudibly, cautiously, but eventually touching the sky like an adolescent boy might contemplate, and then realize, a reluctant first kiss with the young girl sitting next to him at the movies.
As I remember, he would have sat through the remainder of the film with an erection pressing hard to be relieved.

I finished my tub as the sky burst forth, flamboyant with color, the mountain gradually clothing itself for the day in traditional shades of green, yellow, brown, orange and red.
Awakening again my sense of the poetic.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Where My Fingers Go

I don’t really feel like writing this morning, but I thought I should kick off the New Year by writing. Because writing is a practice, and a discipline, it’s a good thing to do even when I’m not feeling particularly inclined. However, since I don’t actually have any interesting thoughts for you today, I decided, instead, that I would just start typing and see where my fingers go. I know, if my fingers go where my thinking goes, that could get me in a lot of trouble. But, what’s a little trouble among friends? Right?
Maybe what I have to say will prove to be interesting to you.
And maybe it won’t.

I don’t really know.

Like the rest of you, I’m still trying to figure out this whole ‘life’ thing, whether consciously, or otherwise.
But one thing I do know is that every life is different, but equally important.
And every time of life is different as well, for each of us.

One kind of has to figure out one’s own life, one’s own path. Besides the application of our own personal experience, and the wisdom gained from it, the best any of us can really do is to take the wisdom and experience of those who’ve walked the road ahead of us (ancient, or otherwise) and apply some of the more meaningful, and useful, lessons (of their experience) to ourselves, wherever, and however, they best fit. Some of it will fit fairly well, and some of it will be a little baggy, or just a bit too tight for our liking.

Some things will not fit at a certain time of our lives, but will at others. And conversely, some will fit at certain times, but not so well at others. It all depends on timing, psychic metabolism, and how we happen to be living at the time. We gain and lose spiritual, and intellectual, dimension in life just as we do physical weight. Maybe the biggest decisions we face in life are in just deciding what to keep, and what to discard from our proverbial closet.
And when.

I dress myself in what fits. If it doesn’t fit I don’t leave it hanging too long in my closet wishing that it would. I like to save the closet space for what I can actually wear.

What fit in 1967, 1975, 1985, 98, or 2010, whether it be social, political, religious, or ideological, does not necessarily work for me today. I will keep the parts that continue to make sense, and eliminate the parts that don’t.
Today has never been here before, and I have never faced life with the same degree of accumulated knowledge, wisdom, and experience as I face it with today. Even yesterday I was a day short of what I have now.
The same can be said of each of us.

Every life is different, but equally important.
And every time of life is different as well.
What we do with that accumulation of living is our own choice.

And that, friends, is where my fingers have gone today.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

My New Years Revolutions 2011

* This coming year I resolve to overlook any major disagreements I might have with anybody, and concentrate, instead, on all the petty little differences.

* I’m going to be good to my feet this winter.
I will change my socks twice a day until I run out of socks. Then I’ll borrow some from my neighbor until he runs out. By then it should be summer, and I can begin going barefoot again.

* I will not look anyone in the eye this year when I’m talking to them.
It just makes people way too uncomfortable.

* It seems that my songs make people uncomfortable also.
So I will only write songs about cars. And girls.
In bikini’s. On the beach.
Or for the more mature among us,
rides, bitches and ho’s.

* I will disregard the flooding of our skies with chem-trails, the gathering storm, if you will, choosing instead to accept the ‘weather modification’, and the poisoning of our air, soil (crops), and water as proof that our beloved government is just trying to save us all from the indignity of old age.

* I remember a song from 1968 (MacArthur Park), with lyrics that said “. . . Someone left the cake out in the rain. I don’t think that I can take it, cause it took so long to bake it, and I’ll never have that recipe again. . . . .”
I’m going to leave a cake out in the rain this year, to see if I can take it.
Just for the hell of it.

* I will no longer express my thoughts. I will not express any opinions about honesty, courage, ethics, morality, politics, religion, society, celebrities, reality shows, or social networking sites.
Fortunately, honesty, courage, ethics, morality, politics, religion, society, celebrities, reality shows, and social networking sites all speak very clearly for themselves.

* I will formally establish the Cult of Spiritual Illumination (CSI). I will be its guiding influence, and only member. Meetings will be held in my own head, in random places, and at random times.
I will donate all the profits from my seminars, workshops, and CD’s to a rehab facility for former members. I will be the only former member.

* I will not evaluate, appraise, opinionate, weigh, assess, critique, or exercise deductive reasoning in any way, about any thing.
Then I will not be judged for being judgmental.

* I will compromise every viewpoint in order to achieve a respectable, acceptable, and non-objectionable, blend of relativity.
Something we can all live with.

* (For you Pop Culture aficionados) I will make my best effort to watch the new Oprah Winfrey Network every day of the year. Us ‘regular’ people can never get enough of the kind of guidance, and balanced perspective on life, that we can now get daily from the obscenely rich, who know our struggles, and, of course, our pain.
After all, Oprah did make her own toast once, two years ago,
when her dietitian, her chef, her secretary, her maid, her butler, her chauffeur, her personal trainer, her manicurist, her beautician, her food taster, her errand boy, her masseur, psychotherapist, and all their backups, were given the morning off to go vote.

Actually, I believe she has her own toast flown in from Paris now.
But, hey, that’s beside the point.

* I will no longer encourage our culture to rise to a level of self-respect.
After all, there’s no money in that.

* I will give leaders ‘the benefit of the doubt’. That is, I will continue to doubt them and they will continue to benefit by my detachment and inaction.

* I will no longer divulge my personal secrets, and guilty pleasures.
I will only disclose yours.
And, of course, your choice of fruit.

* I will quit calling for the elimination of pretension.
That would require the elimination of politicians, celebrities, celebrity wannabe’s and, of course, ‘spiritual’ leaders.
God knows we couldn’t live without these pillars of virtue.

* I will only offer advice when it is not asked for.
People only ask for advice when they don’t really want it in the first place, and have no intention of taking it anyway.

* I will only take advice from those who admit their failures.
Only they know how they got there.
Everybody else just pretends to be successful,
since success is the main criteria by which people like to identify potential friends and associates.

* This year I will encourage social climbers to keep both feet on the ground.
Except, of course, when they’re groveling on hands and knees. Then I will encourage them to keep two hands, both knees, and the toes of each foot on the ground.

* This year I intend to let sleeping dogs lie,
rather than insisting that they sleep standing up.

Footnote: For those of you who don’t read my blogs, could you please forward a short text, or email, to let me know that you’re not reading?
Then, when calculating my readership, I can take the six billion, 890 million, 597 thousand, one hundred and twenty people currently living in the world, subtract the number of people who say they’re not reading, and be confident that everyone else I have not heard from is continuing to read every word I have to say.
I can then solicit advertising deals for my website based on that number of readers.

Disclaimer: Any resemblance of any of these comments to people who are either living or dead (myself included) is purely coincidental, and is not intended to be reminiscent of, or an indictment of, anybody that I know, or do not know.
Or anybody I used to know.
Or might one day know.
Or might never know.
In either my former life, in this life,
or the next.

Wishing a remarkable and unusual New Year to all of you.