Stairway to Nothingness

What should you think about when you are taking a walk?

Same thing as what you should think about when you are drawing a picture, cooking a meal, watching a film, reading a book, meditating a thought, solving a puzzle, eating an apricot, climbing a tree…

Nothing. Nothingness. Blankness, obsolescent, solitariness,

stairway to nothingness…

In yoga, some say the final resting pose is the hardest pose to achieve-the one where your whole body relaxes into the earth. Your face feels supple and you can feel the earth turn.

Nothingness.

What part of the walk is hardest to achieve?

Your brain will recognize: Tree, leaves, path, fence, car dirt, building, person, grass….

But even these thoughts will be clouded with other thoughts that are personal but really guys, universal. That means everyone: These range from thinking my shoes are too tight to will I wear shoes after I die?

Don’t become disappointed with yourself for not ‘enjoying the walk’ or getting maximum benefit from it. Somehow, and this is not a secret, your words will leave your brain and you will just do.

Undoubtedly, you will come to and think I’m doing it!  And this will disrupt the process. But that’s okay. It happens, let it go.

Remember that the process is one that you can only open the door to. The infinite external stimuli will do the rest.

So the hardest part of the walk to achieve…

It’s the moment when you can feel the earth turn.

(Photographs courtesy of Miss Blondie 2012)

A Philosopher’s Hideaway (Wisconsin Part 3)

Deep in the woods of Wisconsin, somewhere between the birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder and that of Caddie Woodlawn, sits a house in the trees.

To reach the first level, one must pull down a particularly heavy ladder and climb past a nesting mouse.

But first you will have to dodge the poison ivy that has surrounded the house, seemingly safeguarding it from unwelcome visitors.

Once you have arrived in your hideaway, set up camp before the sun goes down, and marvel at the sublime simplicity of your abode.

Carefully make your way to the very top level, the “crow’s nest”, where you are as high as the tops of the trees.  

Once you have made your treehouse into a tree-home, head for the lake and take a dip, or glide through the icy blue waters on a canoe.

Before long its time to head back to the treehouse and kick start the evening with a little dinner and dancing thanks to a handy and powerful little bluetooth speaker .

But there isn’t too much time to celebrate, soon darkness will fall and the coyote packs will howl. Gather around the dwindling coals for s’mores and horror stories from the grave!!  Gather your scary story inspiration from the photo you saw in the small town diner where you lunched before you embarked on your adventure.

You know the one I’m talking about, that diner that sits on a lonely road right outside the woods…

After you survived a night in some of the freshest air around, pack up and have lunch on the lawn of a small park, before heading home.

Your soul is quiet and calm after such a trip so enjoy the ride home back to your everyday life.

Take that tranquility with you wherever you go and never forget the night you spent in the canopy of the Wisconsin woods.

Death of the Visitor From Space

Guess who showed up again.

It was the visitor from another planet!

This guy sitting alone, seems massive, even to me who seems infinitely bigger than him.

When we first met, he never hopped away from me or acted scared and eventually strolled off to another part of the yard.

Does this guy eat spiders? I wondered.

He seemed to have a cobweb mustache.

No, I learned that he is a herbivore, hence the jaws made for chewing.

I wouldn’t see him again for another 2 months, when he had made his way to the backyard and was sunning in the apparent safe haven he had found.

Unbeknownst to him, since his last visit a cat had become the newest member of our household.

The birds that came for the buffet in my yard had figured it out quickly.

All, except for the brave hummingbird, who still hovers dangerously close to my cats jaws, which were not made for chomping plants.

I have tried to keep my cat relatively an indoor cat, but can’t bear to keep her inside when we have such a lovely yard. Despite, my desire for the cat to feel somewhat free, I still dread that day when she will drag in a lovely, beautiful bird, and I will have to deal with the carnage.

A silent thank you I will have to say to the cat who will proudly believe she has brought me a gift. Or maybe she will just play with and torture it, only to grow tired when the fight leaves the bird.  I will have to finish it off so as to cut short the suffering.

Will I do it? Will I have to courage to break the little bird’s neck? Will I hold it against the cat, humanizing the experience?

Well months have passed. The birds still visit the yard, less so than before. But they seem to have the upper hand on the cat. They go to the tops of the trees, visit the feeders, and squawk and scream wildly at the cat.

She stews and her tail shakes.

She imitates the bird’s chatter as her whiskers vibrate.

Once she got so fed up, she leapt for the bird feeder. The bird swooped away from the tree to the top of the fence and danced left and right, singing happily as the cat hung from one paw.

As for that hummingbird, I once witnessed a scene, that might explain why it hasn’t found its way into the cat’s mouth:

As usual, the hummingbird hovered around with the cat no more than a foot away. As the cat cowed down with her backside wagging, readying the pounce, a huge crow flew past the yard cawing loudly. The cat stopped and backed off. Still the crow circled again, making its presence known with extreme sounds of warning emitting from its beak. Since that day, it seems the cat has never gone after those low hovering beauties. The bird kingdom is certainly more powerful than we can imagine.

Either that, or the talk I gave her about how sad I would be if she killed a hummingbird worked.

So the birds seem to fend just fine for themselves. They have must have bigger things to worry about then a scruffy little house cat. But the cat, she gets salty from time to time. And despite myself I wish she could catch something to satisfy her primal urge.

SO…

when the visitor from another planet found himself safe in the backyard and leapt through the air in fabulous gusts of confidence, I did not rescue him from the cat’s attentions.

I have to let nature run its course. Besides he looks like he is made of armor, maybe he can withstand the cat’s curiosity.

Little did I anticipate the horror that the cat would bring to the visitor for the next 2o minutes. She did it slowly, and the visitor put up a good fight even as it lost its limbs one by one. Finally he quit hopping around enough for the cat to forget about him and casually go to the next thing.

Meanwhile, the visitor was dying slowly in the sun, left with only one leg.

This was it, my big moment. Time to finish off the job. Gotta do it, it’s the way it is.

I stopped short: Maybe he’ll make it and go on to live a good life, grow his legs back, or maybe a bird will come right now and eat it, continue the cycle of life.

My mind denied the inevitable killing, thinking of the most unlikely of scenarios, soon after thankfully my brother in-law came in from work and asked me how I was doing

As I paced around in my apron trying to act natural, he walked in the door and took off his jacket

“Oh, I’m fine. Good good, yes…how are you?”

Good, a little tired. (puts his briefcase down)

Oh that’s fine, yes work, right…THERESaGRASSHOPPEROUTSIDEWHOisDYINGINtheSUNtheCATKILLEDITandiKNOWitsJUSTaBUGandIHAVETOKILLITtoSTOPtheSUFFERINGbutIDIDNTdoITandIWASWONDERING…(wanting to continue with ‘if you could kill it. Just squash it or something no big deal’ but the voice got lost into the pit of my stomach dropping down the esophagus, and the words only mildly echoed out.)

(Smiling a little but serious nonetheless.)Where is it? Why didn’t you kill it? Where is it?

I lead him to the site where the grasshopper was.

Everything spinning through my mind at this point, I knew I was acting crazy, more like weak, making such a big deal in my mind about this event of death. I should be fine with death by now, I’m an adult.

Similar thought goes through my mind when I am digging the guts out of a chicken.

A scientist, my brother-in-law, showed me how to most efficiently clean the guts from the chicken and would do so with an almost surgical aire about his tactics.

Oh yes I see, I thought the chicken is a body after all and I’m simply removing its lungs, heart, kidney. . .okay I got it now! 🙂

I tried to go with it but I found that just to get through the process, I had to tell myself that I’m looking at a mash of the garbage meat within this meat that we have to eat to survive.

It was not really an animal, okay it was an animal, but then what?

 So I continue to just rip out the garbage meat as fast as possible and try not to think of it beyond getting it done…

Okay, can you please get me something to kill it with? He asks, interrupting my frenzy of thought.

I turned and buzzed somewhat frantically around the house, looking like a Bond character in 007 for Nintendo64. Where am I supposed to find a weapon for killing this suffering visitor?

My mind went immediately to the machete.

“The machete should do?” I called from the kitchen as I peeled a page from the notebook sitting on the table, knowing I would offer that and a shoe but not admitting it just yet.

I see him from the window considering it. (I told you this visitor was big, armored, strong, stoic, leaking no blood and his leg was a foot away-in its striped glory and teathery flesh.)

No this will do, he takes the paper and shoe, and with analytical coldness combined with an evidently beautiful faith in God, he smashes it and lifts the paper with a gentle smile to marvel at the smashed body and guts. He bleeds green. http://thereaganwing.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/predator-the-revelation-of-st-arnold/

Yes, he did in fact, his blood looked exactly like that of the Predator.

THEN…

A few weeks later I get wind of a tragic event at my cousin-in-law’s house up north an hour or so. Two of her three cats were ripped apart by raccoons. One of the cats was pregnant.

Images ran through my mind of the time (17 years ago) when fellow campers captured turtles and decided to keep them as pets.  They left them in their box, so in the morning a massacre scene was born to haunt my life ever since:

Every soft part of the turtles had been strained through the raccoons’ teeth and their inside were left stringing from the shells and forming a labyrinth of cloudy, mucousy red and blue all over the site. Blood and guts, everywhere.

They had wanted to trap the turtles for their own pleasure, but ended up giving the raccoons a free delicacy. Don’t turtles have enough to worry about?!

The cats similarly had their heads and backsides ripped off.

I imagined in horror, of cleaning up what was left of the cat you had gotten to know beyond human terms.

We only have one cat now, but he is terrified, something frightened him terribly, said the cousin, shaking her head and looking beyond me.

We knew it had been raccoons but she meant something else by her statement, and I imagined the event through the cat’s eyes.

FINALLY…

A few days ago, I picked up an old educational psychology book called something like Fantasy and Feeling in Education.

I read about how these teachers designed a summer program for kids in order to study the best ways to get through to children; essentially educate them more thoroughly by incorporating feeling into the education.

The theme for one of the main lessons was centered historically on indigenous people of the circumpolar region. They mapped it out, executed, and changed it according to what their observations told them:

First

They told the children mild facts about how the people depended on the seal meat, skin, fats, etc, in order to survive. They told them how families lived together and they had to travel from place to place.

Then

They showed them a graphic video of a seal being harpooned through an ice hole.

Blood and resistance everywhere.

Based on observations after the lesson, the teachers had decided that they successfully showed them the death scene and contained their feeling into a more critical, scholarly approach, so they could continue on to the final part of the plan.

Lastly

They told them about the infanticide and senicide that was part of the people’s past.

Among other illustrations, they were shown a video in which grandma was left to die, the one they had seen in the other video, the one who had bumped her head on the igloo causing the baby to delight in a fit of laughs.

The children were to contemplate their situation and think constructively about their own.

Of course the students come up with too many questions for the teacher to address logically with the time thing and all getting in the way. So the teacher designs a box for the kids to drop in all their questions, so she could give each one the time it deserved.

Until the next lesson, time for one question was allotted: “Why is the baby who has a whole life ahead of them have to die over another in the family”

The teacher said that in order to come to terms with it herself she had to keep seeking facts that could explain phenomena. For example, she told the class that she found out that they never killed a baby if it had been named.

This gave her some understanding, which in turn gave her some solace.

It seemed to me that the teacher was hoping that by gaining more knowledge about things, the children could only increase understanding, and this was the only way in which to effectively channel their feelings. There are no answers really, but only questions and musings.

This is the lesson  that I consistently arrive at: Keep on gathering facts and observations so that I can have a peaceful and fruitful understanding of life and death.

I look forward to the day that I can bring down the machete over the head of the visitor from outer space ending its misery when there is no other choice.

Well for starters, at least I can rest easier learning now, upon further investigation, that he is(was) indeed a straight herbivore, and as you can see, he was getting dangerously close to my garden…

The cat extends her paw before undergoing the hunt

P.S.

Scene transcript: The Darjeerling Limited (2007)

– He’s dead. He’s dead.

– He’s dead?

– The rocks killed him.

-You’re bleeding like crazy.

FRANCIS: Peter! You okay?

-I didn’t save mine.

-(panting) What’s his name?

(animal bleats) (bell tinkling)

And We Rely on Each Other!

Do you have a friend who in most ways is the exact opposite of you? I have one of those, and even though we disagree on almost everything, she makes me laugh regularly,and I make her cry with a moving rendition of Islands in the Stream, so it works well enough.

But in truth, its more than that. Most of all I know that if I needed her I know she would do anything in her power to help me. That trust in a person is rare, but a gift of the highest degree. I wonder how we go to that point of trust, and I think in a way it was always there. Sure, we have let each other down on numerous occasions, but somehow we always found our way back to each other.

Can you say that someone in your life would put you first? If so, take time every day to be thankful about it and look to them for inspiration.

A person who is giving reminds you the only way to dig yourself out of a bleak existence, is to turn away from your own worries and help others.

No matter what you do for a living, what you do for the day-to-day, without love for your fellow-man, you will have very little.

My friend the dog-person and I the cat lady, appreciate one another’s difference, though we don’t always understand them. She brings out the lumberjack in me, and I bring out the artist in her. Last summer, she took me on a kayak day trip where I faced my biggest fears. Let’s just say that at one point I found myself horizontal in my kayak inching through a drainage pipe filled with lake spiders and their webs. It took me about 10 minutes, and her 30 seconds, but she waited for me, cheering me on.

That same year, we renovated my family’s entire house. Our family was up to our necks in insulation, paint, wood, and tools we never knew existed. In exchange for some hot meals and a peaceful place to rest, she was right by our side until the very end. Furthermore, by way of the craft room we built, she discovered that she was a very talented sculptor and muralist.

We are apart now and we miss one another’s company. The little stuff like stopping by to walk the dogs at the park are lost to distance between us.

But the world gets so crazy, and we are just trying to get by doing the right thing. No matter the distance, we  both know there is someone out there who is carrying a candle in our name.

The time we spent together, sniffing the air along the lake, riding out to the country for a raving hoe down, and watching the sun set over the hills, were what we needed to face the separate worlds we live in today. I’m glad I was paying attention to those little moments, because the peace in my heart remains, and I will always be thankful for that.

A little taste of our nostalgia, my friend’s week in Wisconsin. Now you know why I call her the lumberjack:

The Lumberjack plays with her new toy

The Lumberjack is also a cyclist

The Lumberjack is a soccer goalie, you can sometimes see her playing at midnight!

So thanks friend, for the memories, and those to come.