Grackle & Sun

Archive for the tag “impermanence”

Morning Meditation

I was feeding the horses one morning when I saw this stump in the ground.  I went kicking around the stump and found that someone had, at some point, tossed several big rocks around it—probably when it was still a tree leaning over the paddock fence. Now they were half buried in the dirt and covered by tall grass. I began to dig them out.

What is it that makes a person meddle with things? What is it that gives us the desire to put our hands on nature, rearranging, ordering, moving and creating? I’ve long been captivated by the simplicity of balancing rocks, warmed by the familiarity of the form and message of inuksuks, and indelibly inspired by the art of Andy Goldsworthy. I am fascinated by art made from the most natural of materials. And so I lifted each rock and began to balance them on one another on the surface of the wood.

I was clumsy at first. Impatient. I stacked, the rocks fell. But after a bit, my hands understood the weight and heft of them. They began to call out their placement. Unmistakably.

The rocks speak. That is what my gut tells me, how I understand my interaction with this form and matter. Matter and spirit.  My cynicism argues, is it really the rock communicating its balance point? Or is it my small mind powering down and allowing intuition to hum into action, to pay closer attention to physical details? Is it my brain finally shutting up that lets me listen, to concentrate on a deeper level? Or is this a rare moment of experiencing the connectedness of all existence? Yes. Yes to all those things. That is my answer.

As I stack the stones, I move beyond my animistic awareness to the complexity of what is actually happening in front of me, what I am participating in:  balance. I move carefully, minding my breath, my posture. I am balance to create balance to have balance returned to me. That is the gift of stacking the stones: the act of balancing the external form creates balance within.

This exercise was so satisfying as I worked at it, that I told myself I would do it everyday as I waited for the horses to finish eating. I would explore all the different ways those same rocks could be balanced. But then after the last rock was placed, I stood back and thought instead that maybe I would not do this every day. That I would only balance the rocks when they fell down. In part, this was out of curiosity to see just how stable my structure was. To see if the balance achieved was precarious or sound.

And in truth, I liked the stack and didn’t want to take it down. Now, a month and a half later, it is still standing. Through the snow, rain, thunder storms, strong wind, and with horses galloping by.  They remain balanced as though some force stronger than physics holds them in place. Not that I think that, physics is enough for me, I am just amazed that I got them to stand for any length of time. So now I contemplate taking the rocks down, or going out to the field one morning and finding them on the ground. The magic dissolved. The lesson transformed. Now instead of balance, I contemplate impermanence. :)

 

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So. Many. Things.

Hello, friends!  Just a quick word about life, the universe, and everything.  This last year has been generous in offering up life lessons in So. Many. Things.  First of which is not getting attached to one’s plans.  I often imagine that other people my age probably really have their act together.  But me?  I’m a pretend-to-fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of person.  Not because I think it’s fun or romantical, but because I suck at a lot of grown-up stuff like understanding insurance benefits, online banking, and filing things where I have a chance of finding them later.  Or, you know, filing things.  And as much as I’d like to say otherwise, I’m not so great at doing that whole life planning thing.  So, if you’re in any way like me, you’ll understand this bit:  you know those times when something Important comes up and you get all disciplined and you decide to make A Plan?  It’s a big deal, right? You think you’re being smart and feel all responsible and mature because you even wrote out a pros and cons list and used a calculator an shit.  You make a for realz bonafide Plan.  You are ready for action! But then just when you feel solid about the path you’re about to step on, the Universe slams the door in your face and says, “Ha!  Let’s see what you do now!”

So, what do you do?  Do you fight or do you go with the flow?  Do stick to plans stubbornly or do you change them easily?  My course this year has been to contemplate the impermanence of all things–including my seemingly awesome plans–and to go hunting for another door.  Or window. Or air vent.  I’m not picky.  Lol.  Anything is better than being stuck.  I’m finding that not infrequently, it’s better to make your plans on an Etch-a-Sketch instead of with a sharpie–it’s easier to accept the changes and begin again when things get shaken up.  And often, if you’re open to it, even better things come along.  I’m not even going to pretend that it’s been such a gracious process, because it hasn’t.  It has been filled with stress and anxiety and doubt and more stress.  But I would like to think that I have at least been gracious in seeing that I have much to learn.  And, I don’t know, maybe that I’m getting a little better at all of this.

Here’s the digs:  We are in the process of moving from St. Louis to the farm in the Ozarks where I grew up.  So many things converged cosmically to make this happen, that I can’t even begin to explain it all now.  So. Many. Things.  It has been a hard year.  Really, ridiculously hard.  But the light at the end of the tunnel is bright and beautiful.  The end result will hopefully be a wonderful win-win for us, and for my parents who still live on the farm.  We will get to be in the country and be some kind of farmers (which we’ve been wanting to do forever) and my parents will get loads of help so that they can relax and travel and do things that people do when they’re retired and not trying to manage cows and sheep and chickens and horses—you get the picture.

However, unlike we originally thought in one of the first variations of this plan, we will not be able to move to the farm at the end of spring as we’d hoped.  This change has to do with unforeseen local school district policy issues and getting our kids into the school where they want to go.  So, we’ll be moving into town not far from the farm.  It so happens that my sister has an awesome house for rent there, and will be in need of a tenant at that time.  How crazy is that win-win? It was not what we’d planned, but it is now looking like it will make for a better transition for everyone.  Kids get a good school, we are close to jobs and the university (more upcoming plans…), and we’re still close enough to the farm to help out regularly.  And then when the kiddos graduate, we can talk about moving out there full-time.  See?  This never would have occurred to me.  Thanks, crappy school district rules!

Oh, but there’s more!  Another situation involving someone’s recently herniated disc opened a door for me to consider moving to the farm right away so that I can try to be of help while someone ignores common sense and continues to work like a man half his age.  My dad is made of awesome win, and I can only hope to be as fit at 75 as he is.  Even so, there is much work to do, and I am happy to lend a hand.  So I gave my notice at work and last week moved to the farm.  I would like to make a brief aside here to say that my coworkers and boss were amazingly kind, understanding and wonderful.  I am very thankful for having had the opportunity to work with them all.  More lessons learned this year.  To be honest, this move has given me a much needed chance to catch my breath, to put energy toward things that are earthy and good, and for the first time in a long time to be tired at the end of the day because I worked hard, not because I worried hard.  It is a gift.

Here are some gratuitous farm pictures:

This is the view from the front patio overlooking the lake and the ridge of trees that encircles most of the property.  It makes a bowl of sky that I have a hard time looking away from.

Here is an artsy photograph of a wheelbarrow full of dried perilla and grass that I pulled out of the raised bed garden where my mom wants to plant an abundant crop of cilantro next year for making fresh salsa and sofrito.  Mmmmm…sofrito.

Ronin is learning how to be a farm dog.  Ronin loves being a farm dog.  Ronin loves to chase sheep.  Dre does not like searching for sheep that got lost because they freaked out and ran away from a big black dog.  Dre especially does not like looking for those sheep in the middle of the night.  For hours and hours.  In the rain.  Dre is working to teach Ronin not to chase sheep. :P

So, that’s what’s going on in my corner of the universe.  I miss my kids and my husband, but am happy for a good internet connection and that we’re close enough to drive back and forth on weekends.  I am getting into the swing of doing chores again and learning the ways of livestock.  My muscles are sore.   I do not tire of soaking up the beauty that is all around me here.   I am thankful for our wonderful family and friends, their generosity, kindness and support, without whom this move would not be possible.  And I am thankful for open doors.  I won’t have any dyeing posts for a while–my dyeing tools are boxed up for now, but I anticipate getting them unpacked in the spring.  Until then, I’ll try to entertain you all with stories of my mad greenhorn farming skillz.  Lol.

Live happy, go graciously.

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