9. Alive Inside a Mountain of Cloud!

WHEN DID YOU LAST EXPERIENCE A JOY OF NO SEPARATION?


Blog 9: October 5, 1996
—I close my eyes and I feel clouds envelop the mountains around me. They are inside of me. The stones turn to red and then pure white. I scream out to the mountains and become a part of their mass. My hand runs along the curves of the pines, the yellow leaves of autumn’s trees; along the back edge of the furthest mountain peak, inside the crevice where green rivers of trees run; along the distant blue horizon and the stones below my crossed legs.

If all connection is about recognizing the space between my hand and this place—and knowing that the space in between can be any distance I make it or don’t make it—then the separation between ourselves and this world is an illusion. When I am in awe of the beauty of this place, I can start to be the energy of light that forms this all and makes it beautiful. I see how this energy of light is connected to me, and that we are not two solids, but two liquid matters flowing like a river into each other.

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I open and close my eyes as Richard and I sit at the top of the Sandia Mountains—the same mountains that called me when I was driving through Arkansas (although it took me a while to realize that this was the place, and not a mountain in LA). We feel the utter peace of being here, 10,000-plus-feet above sea level. Then, we drive down curving roads, slowly, listening to every note of a Maria Callas recording. The past and the present are melding together—the mountains are as much home to me as the familiar sound of Maria Callas’s opera my father used to play throughout the house when I was a child. It brings me back to my creative passion as an artist. Art and nature. The land and music connected. It is so great to share this moment with Richard. No talking, just driving a snail’s pace down this mountain of clouds.

WHEN DID YOU EXPERIENCE A JOY OF NO SEPARATION?

8. SLOW DOWN, YOUNG LADY!

WHEN DID YOUR HUNGER & DETERMINATION PUSH YOU TOO FAR?

Blog 8: Early October, 1996—Richard tells me it may take a shaman, a medicine man, two years to calm me down. It seems his way of warning me of the dangers of my full energy—the danger of trying to direct the flow too much. I do feel fairly out of control, and yet, I seem calmer about it than I usually am. Maybe it’s because I’m still here in this quiet place of Albuquerque. Or maybe, it’s because I’m dancing all of this energy out of me so I don’t run off to the next place so quickly.

Just a few days ago, it seems, I was in my living room at Judith’s place, stretching before dancing in the morning. I placed my right leg up above the fireplace to stretch my thigh, and then I heard it—a loud popping sound. I had never heard such a sound, but it definitely came from my leg and groin area. I put my leg down, tuned into what had happened. I was strong, didn’t feel much. But knowing that something was wrong, I decided to go for a run, to test out what had happened. I seemed okay…for now.

During the following days, I danced, ran, and did what I wanted to. After all, I was young and felt what had happened didn’t fit into my life’s plan. I wanted to dance, so I did. And when I began to feel sore in my right groin, my housemate Judith (who was also a massage therapist) massaged that area to release any pain or constriction before dancing. Richard may have been right about me calming down. It would take a lot more than a temporary injury or a shaman.

Around that time, I also wrote a story about power…about driving and driving, and then coming home and feeling the pain of my past, the pain of what I cannot have, the pain of being human and limited by a body that carries this vehicle of imagination. There’s nothing that seems to feed this hunger.

WHEN DID YOUR HUNGER & DETERMINATION PUSH YOU TOO FAR?

7. An Indigenous Longing

How long will it take for our indigenous selves, lost so long ago to the empire of greed and power, to come home? There’s anger among indigenous people—especially among those who grew up with a sense of what it’s like to have an intact relationship with the earth—of what white man (or people of European ancestry) has done to them, to our shared home. But there’s also anger and deep grief that I and others I’ve met carry because of what we lost so long ago, and long to return to—that indigenous part of ourselves that has also been blocked from coming home to more sustainable ways of living on earth. So, the journey continues… img_1514[1].jpg

Blog 7: End of September, 1996—As I write letters to the East, to the land I left behind, I feel fear in my stomach. What is this fear? Is this heavy feeling my doubt, of being entrapped by the past? I feel disconnected in my writing, yet I want to write “I love you” all over the page. This New Mexico land, the Spanish music, and this desert   sun bathe me in contentment. But I feel frustrated because I can’t touch this contentment, I can’t get any closer to it, and I don’t know how to express this.

Last night, I had a dream about running around and not accomplishing a thing. But then I saw a Native American man who abruptly interrupted my dream. He appeared like a flash of light following me, trying to speak to me. There was no escaping this man’s face. There was an immediacy of someone following me, and no matter how many directions I placed my attention, he was there tapping me on the shoulder. In my dream, or maybe it was in reality, I abruptly sat up. The man appeared inside an old photograph, rough on the edges, blurry and lighter in the inside. I sense he’s been trying to catch up to me, follow me, and only at this point did he break through. It’s as if there’s another level of awareness that exists and I can’t avoid it.

Despite my dreams and several attempts by native people to break through and speak to me, I continue moving fast, carrying the old ways with me. I drive around New Mexico, up north toward Taos, where I sleep under stars only to be awakened to a high-pitched cry coming, perhaps, from a fox. I retreat into my tent and feel my civilized fears heightened inside these wide-open New Mexican lands. Maybe I’m not as free as I wish I were. I am here, though, waiting for a miracle, for God to speak—for bushes to suddenly burn and for some prophetic spirit to jump out and show me the way. I am waiting for insights, for clarity to understand my power and the earth’s gift and power that holds me. But I’m moving too quickly to hear, even in my dreams.

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR OUR INDIGENOUS SELVES TO COME HOME?

6. Dancing in the Desert

WHEN DID YOU LAST LET GO AND DANCE (OR PLAY)?

Blog 6: End of September, 1996—I’m in the middle of New Mexico. I wrestle with restlessness late at night after days of looking for work and a place to live that’s more creative or affordable than staying with Judith, my current housemate. My challenge is not knowing how long I’ll be here in this desert city of Albuquerque. My plan was to make it to the West Coast, and here I am, rerouted!

While I’m looking for home, I meet Richard, a local New Mexican I begin to spend time with and date. He’s quirky—very smart, and spiritual, but quirky and a bit awkward in his skin. I like him, though.

I also meet Eric, another unique character. I discover him at the university’s student union building. He’s singing opera to piano accompaniment, and when he’s done we both gravitate toward each. He loves dancing, he says, and I love opera and singing. Within minutes we walk back to his house, with him practicing an Irish accent, and me completely convinced he’s Irish and not from his hometown of Philadelphia. He tells me he came to the desert to heal from his stepfather’s death, and, of all things, to discover his Jewish roots in a place dominated by Spanish Catholic and Native American influences (although, I later learn there are Sephardic—Spanish Jewish—roots deep inside the earth)! When we get to Eric’s small rental, he puts on some old, scratchy records, and we bounce around the house like monkeys dancing our hearts out.

I also encounter Victor in the street. We pass each other, and I ask him if he dances. He tells me “yes” and we go to a local club. I have all this energy from the East Coast, and from New York City specifically, and I seem to attract people like Victor to me in this sleepy city.

While I enjoy dancing out, I miss taking dance classes as I had in NYC. In the mornings, I stretch and then start dancing African Dance to a drumming CD before eating breakfast, and then I join classes at the university. But I battle between being still—reading Alberto Villoldo’s shamanic travels through Perú on Judith’s porch in the dry and warm September sun—and dancing all of this excess, restless energy out of me.

What I do know is that it’s integral for me to be creative. When I am, my energy doubles itself and vibrates with a need to create beauty. I have so much to give, I feel. And this energy I carry is so much bigger than me.

WHEN DID YOU LAST LET GO AND DANCE (OR PLAY)?

5. Stopping for Peace

WHEN DID YOU CHANGE YOUR PATH UNEXPECTEDLY?   

Blog 5: September 21, 1996—Spanish poet Antonio Machado once wrote, “Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar,” (wanderer there is no path, the path is made while walking). The truth of these words became reality shortly after I arrived in Albuquerque, New Mexico in the fall of 1996. I was passing through this sleepy city on my way to the West Coast, but my path changed as I listened to the still breath inside the high-desert air.

“Go on,” I told my friends when I visited with them in Santa Fe. “I’m staying for a while in New Mexico.” My travel companions, Jane and Geri, bid me farewell as they set out for San Francisco to build a new life. I drove down to Albuquerque, to a sense of peace awaiting me, along with vast emptiness. “I’ll meet up with you soon,” I said. “I just need a bit of time in the desert.”

Now, it’s one day at a time—or at least I tell myself, as I stay in New Mexico, uncertain of what is next. Life is about getting over addition—addiction to the way I’ve learned to live disconnected.  I don’t know anything, I realize. This is all. I surrender every day and yet each day I feel moments of yearning for something more.

I hear a woman on a radio show talk about the earth and finding God. I almost tear up. Pachamama, mother earth, is tired and her children are losing her, I feel.

Then at night, I dream that the wife of our portero (the man who maintained our apartment complex in Spain as a kid) comes to me and says, “You’re back. I waited two years.” (I had visited New Mexico briefly two years earlier). I wake up with a sense of awe about NOTHING. It’s like waking up every morning to a lover and an ease that I have never felt. I see where I belong for once. I am home. My challenge is to keeping coming home to the home within the home, because home isn’t in one place, but inside different layers of places and spaces. All the possibility is here because I am in a place that nurtures me.

In the morning, I sit looking out the window, out at the front yard, and I feel like crying again because I experience peace. My body is curled up inside this earth. I feel mother holding me, and I know there is love, great love inside me here.

WHEN DID YOU CHANGE YOUR PATH UNEXPECTEDLY?

Caminante, son tus huellas              Wanderer, your footsteps are
el camino, y nada más;                      the path, and nothing else;
caminante, no hay camino,              wanderer, there is no path,
se hace camino al andar.                   the path is made by walking.
Al andar se hace camino,                  Walking makes the path,
y al volver la vista atrás                     and on glancing back
se ve la senda que nunca                   one sees the path
se ha de volver a pisar.                       that will never trod again.
Caminante, no hay camino,              Wanderer, there is no path—
sino estelas en la mar.                        Just waves in the sea.

–Antonio Machado

4. Middle of Nowhere

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN A PLACE WHERE TIME STOPPED?

Blog 4: September 18, 1996—It’s a strange feeling to roll into this city of Albuquerque in the middle of nowhere, and then sit here, on the sidewalk of the main street of the university, looking at the mountains that hover over this place. They are beautiful. This scenery is spectacular, but I wonder what people do here.

I wait on the sidewalk for Judith—a friend of an east coast friend—to get back home so I can stay with her for a few nights of rest. My travel companions went up to Santa Fe, New Mexico’s main tourist city one hour north of here. Meanwhile, I speak to a Spanish-speaking man who is selling Mexican items to a store owner. It’s nice to hear his accent. Reminds me of Spain.

Judith meets me and shows me her house. She tells me about her life, of how she lived two years in South America. It’s comforting to be welcomed by someone who seems an older version of myself. As evening arrives in a light rose sunset over mountain stone, I begin to feel increasingly moved by this land and place. I feel at home and yet am confronted by this dizzying feeling of being too isolated. A part of me misses the rat race, or more specifically a place where people are driven.

Albuquerque reminds me of when I traveled to the interior of Argentina, to small towns near the mountains where time stopped and only candlelight lit up our nights. It almost seems too easy being here—so peaceful that I have no reason to build tension in my life. Yet there’s something attractive about tension, about the need to create beyond what’s already given to us in the beauty of the land and sunny weather.

As the sun goes down, a gentle breeze blows into the house and onto the porch.  I wonder if people dance in this place like I did in New York City, or whether they all go to bed early. An airplane flies above, modernity echoing against the quiet pavement. From the intense, heavy, purposeful place like New York City, where I had lived, this is still quite a shift, and I’m ready.

Or at least I think I am.

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN A PLACE WHERE TIME STOPPED?  WHAT WAS IT LIKE?

3. Freedom in the Land

Blog 3: September 18, 1996—It’s an ocean out here—the wind blowing through open fields in Texas as the cicadas scratch their way through the long grasses and overgrown yellow flowers everywhere. The flowers dance in the wind, their inside brown bellies bobbing back and forth. Stillness sits below and there’s a solid truth in this land uncluttered by billboards and ornate houses.

The field around this one is barren, shaven down for a new crop. A muddy stream of water runs down a dirt path with big tire tracks along it. There’s nothing here, it seems, but everything. I cringe at the idea of reaching the west coast, where billboards mark a civilized society—a place where constant sound and distraction make it hard to really listen.

Yesterday, before black filled the skies and the sun’s so-called “magic hour” arrived, I cried tears of Spain, of the mountains of Argentina (my father’s homeland), of America’s vast land. I could feel layers of my body speaking to me of its life in two lands, two places. I felt I would never belong to one place, that the land, omnipresent across borders, grasses, mountains, deserts, and continents, belongs to us all.

Like many indigenous cultures still understand, this land, wherever we are, is home (I remember the story of a native man who was asked, while in prison, what it was like to be imprisoned. He responded by saying that he was free because he belonged to the land, even in prison, and then went on to ask the white man what it was like to be imprisoned, to be so separate from the earth and life).

I can do battle. I can do so many things, but in the end I need to return home to the land, to a place where I can hear myself and the immensity of my deep connection to the earth.

WHAT MAKES HOME ON EARTH FOR YOU?