I just got back from a trip to Crested Butte and I was thrilled to experience the beautiful wildflowers and striking mountains surrounding the town. Crested Butte is the crown jewel of the Colorado Rockies and the wildflowers are saturated with color. Blue. Orange. Red. Purple. White. The colors stand on their own and don’t apologize for being so flamboyant, but are best appreciated in bouquets still rooted in the earth. The mountain sides seem brushed with color, a lavender swipe there and a yellow swipe there. My phone was “click, click” with photos, but I was also very conscious of keeping my focus on the 3 D beauty right before my eyes and the memories I was creating. Susan, my best friend and traveling companion, and I were a little affected by the altitude. At almost 9000 feet, Crested Butte is about 4500 feet higher than Fort Collins, so we did have a bit of Rocky Mountain High. ( couldn’t resist)
We spent a night in Fairplay/ South Park—yes that South Park! After dinner we went down to the river to watch the sunset and check out the views. We were very excited to crash a housewarming party! Well it was really a beaver dam-warming party and they were working like you know whats. We watched them glide through the water and carry branches in their mouths to their dam construction site. Beavers are actually pretty big and these measured between 3 and 4 feet from the tip of their nose to the tip of their broad tails. We hoped they would slap their tails in the water to warn each other of our presence, but apparently we were not threatening. One of the beavers decided to take a rest on the shore and we rushed (quietly)to get a better view and a photo. Of course the beaver slid into the water as soon as we got closer. The beavers put on a show that was better than T.V.. Meanwhile lots of fish were jumping out of the water and the sun was setting. We slept well that night.
Where were the best hiking trails? The locals had lots of ideas and just as many different directions to the same trailhead. Throw in afternoon thunderstorms and things got more complicated. One late afternoon we decided to go for a walk and headed to the edge of town to a gravel path and just kept walking. “Green Lake Trail” the sign said and this was the “Just go to the end of this street.” the locals told us about. We weren’t looking for it but we found it! The trail thru the forest was breathtaking and we were so grateful for the quiet beauty. Yes! And I almost forgot, I saw a bear in the trees as we were driving down a mountain pass!
Sometimes I just want to throw the fish I catch back in the water and ask for another that is more to my liking. If I just keep fishing I will catch the “big one” many times in my life. My bait is perseverance and hope.
Threatening or welcoming, depending on my mood and inspiration, the blank page begs to be filled with paragraphs of inspired writing. Sweating bullets, but not sweating the words I want. I love words, and vocabulary was my best score on all standardized tests. How boring to use mediocre words when there are awesome words to use. He’s “nice”, but how about he’s “pleasing” or of “good quality. Nice is just “nice”. So how do I write? One. Word. At. A. Time. Teasing, demanding, and cajoling my brain and imagination for the perfect word. As we all know perfection is unattainable, so a “good enough” word is indeed “good enough”.
The tongue pierces deeper than the sword. Hazrat Ali
There is one realm where words often fail: emotions. I am “angry” is not the same as “makes me want to hurt other people”. Whoever first said: “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”, was obviously not in touch with their feelings. Instinctively, people protect their bodies when they sense they will be hurt physically, but words attack too quickly and blows to the heart can strike without any self defense. Words can be lethal weapons when used to injure another or a relationship. We can all remember a taunt from a bully or words a lover used to end a relationship. Some words are so loaded with pain or venom we don’t say the whole word like the “n”word or the “c” word.
Love is just a word, but you bring it definition. Eminem
No matter what language “I love you.” is spoken in, the heart translates and cherishes the feeling of being loved. Words can encourage and comfort when giving up seems the only option. “You can do it. I’m here.” may be words that keep someone on the road to their dreams. Iconic speeches have moved our nation: “Four score and seven years ago our founding fathers ….” or “I have a dream….” both directed citizens to love each other and fight for what is right. Before these words were spoken so elegantly, they were composed and written on a piece of paper. Words are powerful, double edged swords so thinking before you write or speak is better than having to eat your words and wash them down with regret.
So sentences are words strung together, a piece of cake right? A subject and a verb and off we go. Not so fast! Some days I don’t feel like talking let alone writing. Maybe I just don’t have anything to say, so I write about “not writing”, or having nothing to say. I write angry. I write sad. I write happy. I write bored. I just write. Writing is good exercise for my imagination, I create pictures in my head and find the words to paint the picture. Some day I hope I am inspired to write a masterpiece.
“We could sure use the rain.” I am a farm girl and I heard this many times growing up. Colorado is in a drought now; I hear this wish for rain almost everyday. Even the snowpack has been low for years. Personally I wish for a sprinkler system so dragging the hoses out to water will be but a distant memory. Who needs green grass? The dryness has its own rating system: red flag warning, conditions are ideal for fire combustion. Just recently an entire forest, the San Juan National Forest was closed to the public. No hiking, camping, fishing- don’t even think about it. That is high fire danger on steroids. People in Fort Collins talk about “The Fire”, the High Park Fire in 2012. Hundreds of acres of forest and many homes were burned by a fire that was fed by the tinder of a dry forest. I watched the flames jump from tree to tree from the “safety” of a position on the opposite side of a large reservoir. World wide, famine caused by drought has cost the lives of millions of people.
The scorched brown fields, forests, prairies, brush and lawns are all thirsty for water. Can’t even spit. A lightning strike, a campfire not extinguished and FIRE. It feels like the dirt is brittle, ready to crumble to powder. Human beings are about 60%water, we can get dehydrated like the fields and lawns. When it’s so hot, 100 degrees by Thursday, I have to force myself to keep chugging water. I remember this story and parable: In hell the dipper for water has a handle so long that poor souls can’t get the water to their own mouths, but they can bring the dipper to other’s mouths and give each other water. Such a visual for me, and even in hell cooperation is the key. I hate to see people spraying off their driveways when water is so precious, use a broom. Think of the poor people in hell!
Dried fruit is yummy, but dehydrated humans can be in a world of hurt. Headaches, dry skin, shallow breath, orange pee, sleepiness, no tears or saliva and heart palpitations are all symptoms of dehydration. I think of all the tears I have cried in my lifetime, a river of tears, and I wonder how I ever refilled my tear reservoir. When Roger died there were many times when I was sure I couldn’t cry anymore, but I was wrong. How odd that grief feels dry and brittle, but on the outside it’s all wet with tears.
In the West, here in Colorado, most of the time we have dry heat and water evaporates in a short time. Winds dry the earth quickly and also fan the forest fire. The wind whips the fire into a frenzy and drives it across the landscape. This morning I was angry and I stoked that anger by thinking about my resentments. My anger moved into areas not really connected to my original source of anger. I tend to cry when I am angry, but I think sometimes my tears put out the fire of anger too quickly. Anger scares me, it burns, so I throw the water of my tears on it. I don’t want an angry forest fire, but sitting around the campfire may be just what I need. Of course,I will remember Smoky Bear and put out my campfire when I leave.
For a long time I’ve wanted to visit New York City —before I rode off into the sunset! My best friend Susan and I just returned from a week long trip to New York City. Cross that off my bucket list! I’m still processing my experiences with the many sides of New York. I explored New York as a tourist and a greenhorn. I saw it, heard it and felt it. I can hear my English Comp teacher assigning a paragraph of descriptive writing.
So hear goes…. Noise. Lots of noise. Horns honking, sirens blaring, the engines of cars and buses almost stacked on top of each other as they crawled through the streets. Only a masochist would drive in midtown Manhattan. Below this surface noise, underground is the subway. More noise. The train has a low and loud chugging sound as it rolls in to a stop and people rush off and more people squeeze in. Moving people from place to place is noisy.
A see of humanity! At first Susan and I saw only chaos, but after a few days we began to see the patterns and the rhythm of New York. Complicated choreography is a good way to describe the sidewalks and public transits; some how everyone gets where they are going. It took a bit of observation and practice, but soon Susan and I were dancing with the New Yorkers. Basically head down and dodge and weave! We even progressed to the dodging between cars move. Hiking in New York City only happens in Central Park.
Stinky! What were those bags of trash doing on the edge of the sidewalk? They looked like mountains but they stunk. Figured out (of course) that there were no alleys to access so garbage trucks came down the streets at night making the trash disappear. The many food trucks spread the smell of good food. The street grates belched stinky steam. Saks 5th Avenue did not stink!
Sunshine through skyscrapers creates an unusual quality of daylight. It’s hard to look straight up to see the sun and to keep walking. A forest of skyscrapers blocking the light. Fifth Avenue is filled with huge holographic billboards and are almost blinding to the eye at night. They are all screaming “Look at me!” We were under their spell. I felt the vibration of the street acts, music and more people moving this way and that.
You learn a lot by traveling with someone. Susan and I have travelled together several times, but New York’s craziness really highlighted how differently we navigate from point A to point B.The temptation is to redefine “different” into the right and the wrong way. I look at a map, get it in my head and take off, Susan uses her phone and google maps and tracks her journey. And this is walking not driving! There were a few cracks in the sidewalk before we reached acceptance of each other’s differences in navigating. I knew I was never lost if Susan was chugging along a few steps behind me, yes even our walking paces don’t match. I love you Susan!
New York was such a foreign country that I wished I had packed my comfort zone. Returning to Fort Collins, I breathed a sigh of relief to see lots of green and hear the quiet. This is my comfort zone. I am familiar with the streets, restaurants, and shopping; the sidewalks are my domain. And of course my family and friends live here. My travel to New York reminds me how different the world is and how life experiences shape us. I had to face my fear of not always knowing where I was, or what to do. Grow, or else!! Susan grounded me, she was home to me right there on the city sidewalk. Lady Liberty welcomed us with open arms.
I talk to myself. A lot. My thoughts narrate my life, “breaking news” stories about the events of my day. Thoughts are not “facts” but they aren’t really lies either, maybe we could ask Trump what to call them. We think thoughts because we are humans, and humans are cursed with self awareness. ”Dogs don’t “think”, but it sure seems they are smarter than a lot of humans I know. What scares me is I believe most of what I tell myself!! My self- fulfilling prophecies never seem to lead me to happiness.
Very little is needed to make a happy life, it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. Marcus Aurelius
It seems to me that thoughts are tyrants. This is the way it is—I am a loser, not smart enough and not that pretty. There is no bipartisan vote, the party in power, founded in my childhood, votes strictly along party lines. All the negative feedback and traumas in my life have control of my headspace. I need to begin questioning my assumptions… like erasing a blackboard and starting over. I can evict the damaging messages I give to myself and create some space for self-affirming messages.
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein
When I think of Albert Einstein I think “Wow, give me some of his thoughts to think!” Einstein was a daydreamer and it is reported that he could visualize his theories first and then put words to them. My thoughts can get in the way of my experiencing. Thinking about eating a good meal is not the same as eating it! When I am engaging in obsessive thinking I am not “experiencing” the moment, I am wasting my time “figuring out” life instead of living it. Creative thinking is the mind at play in the moment. I want to play more!
Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t ….you’re right. Henry Ford
The little train that chanted “I think I can, I think I can.” made it up the hill. I doubt the little train would have got up the hill chanting “I can’t do it, I can’t do it.” I was able to quit smoking because my mind was truly made up, no discussion allowed. My thoughts served me, not the other way around. The truth is I can talk myself into good behavior or bad behavior, so choosing my thoughts carefully is a heavy responsibility. Exercise is good for the mind and the body and so is rest. Self care can promote “I Can!” Are you a cheerleader for yourself or are you booing yourself?
Thinking: the talking of the soul within itself. Plato
Leave it to the ancient teachers to define thinking in such a profound and true way. I like the word “soul” much better than the word “brain” especially when photos of the brain illustrate the word. That still quiet voice that tells us which way to go and what is truth must come from the soul.what do you have to say for yourself?
Think about it!
What are the chances that a couple of thousand years from now someone will stumble on this IPad and proclaim that it’s data and history are the tenets of an ancient religion? I wouldn’t bet on it. Perhaps it will be viewed as an artifact of a technological era long past. This week, Tyler and I went to the Denver Museum of Natural History to see The Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit. It was incredible to see the Hebrew writings on bits of papyrus that had survived over two thousand years. Clay jars, carefully placed in caves, preserved some of the writings. The damage to the scrolls as they were reconstructed ( scotch tape!) is the real tragedy. The scrolls contain the early writings that were the basis for the Jewish faith and the Old Testament. My IPad is so pedestrian and my searches for “short hairstyles gray hair” and “constipation” will not change the course of history and neither will my blog posts.
What will be the artifacts of my life? What traces of my existence will remain? The piece of fur found during excavation will be determined to be synthetic and man-made, perhaps from a stuffed toy animal. This is Steve Alvin, the stuffed bear that Roger named, and loved to rub against his face as his dementia progressed. They will uncover a small tiled sign with pieces missing and they will translate it to “Dinker”. There will be no explanation for this strange word, but of course this was Rogers nickname for me. A single heavy glass swan will be found and it will be decided this swan was one of a pair. That is how they are manufactured and live, paired for life . The strange wrought iron primitive deer, was this a totem? A shard of beautiful yellow pottery, a single piece that is uncovered two thousand years from now. A paper towel holder?
Here today, gone tomorrow. All of my “artifacts” are meaningful to me and they represent pieces of my life. What will they mean two thousand years from now? A lot of nothing, I think. Here today, here I am, today I am here. May 21, 2018. I want my life to mean something, I want it to matter that I lived. What is my legacy? I won’t cure cancer or become President ( maybe?) or write the great American novel, so my legacy won’t be in the headlines. What about a legacy of love? Those people I love will go on to love others and I could be part of the unbroken chain of love. A quiet but powerful thread into the future. Artifacts of love.