Things change whether we want them to or not. I recall that turning twenty-one could not come fast enough and that sixty is coming up too quick. What’s that about? Winter is too long, the weekend too short. Curiosities perhaps or a clue to something else going on. Giving our attention to change around us is different than wanting things to change. Placement of our desires in the path of change can put us right into the path of an oncoming change we might not be an advocate for. On the other hand we can make it even worse by reacting as things swing back and forth. The basic idea of the thing is to watch as the world does what it does and try not to get in the worlds way. We can go in the direction we feel best while appreciating that even that isn’t good enough sometimes. Creating a fictional character asks of an author to figure out how a character reacts to change. Our best choices are not necessarily our first choice. Sometimes it is choiceless. What is extra is our reacting to change. Here is the high art of change. You train yourself not to get too excited about things going your way and not too bummed out when they don’t. Sometimes we exaggerate our influence upon change. Often we have not influenced the changes at all. A seasoned loser is in some ways entered the fray with an advantage over a consistent winner. If on the other hand you see yourself as being just along for the ride, in the audience, going with things as they are instead of how you wish they would be… well, I am wondering out loud. I don’t know I’m convinced of the thing. What say we do our best, hope it works out, but learn to accept the fact that things can’t possibly always go our way…
Our stories are in part understood by our finances. We see people on the way up, on the way down, remaining where they are, stuck where they are, ending up where they are because of where they’ve come from. I was in a campground in Montana, down to my last hundred dollars when a backpacker hiked into camp down to his last dime. I shared supper with the hiker. I’d imagined I had it pretty tough until I met him. He wasn’t worried. He had arranged to help buck hay for a rancher for wages. Figured he’d eat good food and get along fine for a while with that work. I wasn’t as comfortable. I figured I’d use every dollar of what I had to get back to California where I hoped to do more work as a street performer. After that meeting I stuck to just working for tips out of my hat for some years. I’d come to think of it as the best path.
Into the mix of changes comes mortality, birth- life- then death, then………..In some belief systems there is the notion that after death comes rebirth and after rebirth another incarnation and that this incarnation is part of many former lives and that we’ll likely be born again. I have a hard time buying in on this idea, but I have no difficulty seeing that after this version of being here that there are going to be other versions of being here even though I might not have the pleasure of a really fabulous human mind to play with in the next visit. We know that we know we are here and we can think about being here and reflect on the idea that it will end. Perhaps we come back as a tree and its hard for me to get my mind around the quality of a trees consciousness, whether it knows that it knows….I’m here in Seattle for a memorial for Hokum W Jeebs… his work as an eccentric musician is part of my second novel, Bankrupt Heart, and in this one sense Hokum’s life extends into the future in an absolute sense. And so we can view end in the strict sense of the word as having a final point, or we can see it to be a movable feast, that in another way nothing ever ends, things continue on and on and on……..
I was not blessed with
patience. I don’t know many who are. It isn’t that I am that eager about it,
enthusiasm only goes so far. Altering where we live can be scenic, but it isn’t
change. We take our baggage with us. We take our bodies and minds too. I need
infinite patience when negotiating my hall of interior delusional mirrors while
sneaking up on my thinking and introduce my thinking to the idea of changing
the way I see something. I seem to bog down on that game. That’s when some
voice deep inside urges me to wait just a minute, slow down, let me get my head
around this. I don’t seem to be aware that this is supposed to be negotiable,
might be it isn’t. Maybe, my lack of patience isn’t anything. Maybe, it’s just
another version of me wanting it to go my way, and my dislike for things not
going in that direction. Our behavioral grooves are formed over time. Some of
what we are is born into us. Patience is a con of a kind. Altering our seeing
things means we expand our experience of being alive. Fresh eyes, new skies….
“No need, got one right here.” The old
guy’s coffee pot was spouting a fierce jet of steam out of the door as his
stove put the heat to an old stainless percolator. The aroma spilled out into
the clear air. He came down the steps with the pot and two cups hooked onto two
of his fingers. Placing the cups down on the picnic table between the two
trucks, he poured out some coffee. It was thick, dark, strong black coffee of a
kind brewed by men with an appetite for things that had a punch to them.
A vein of arid land extends
north from the Great Basin Desert in Eastern Oregon until it ends just north of
where I stood in British Columbia.
Traveling south on the empty stretches of Highway 395 will take you through
empty and wild lands, there are places where if you look the eye can see out
over a vast desolate yet thriving place. The open space changes you. You feel different
about space. You are provided a scale you can use to measure your soul. When
you are on the West Coast and you are in Seattle,
San Francisco, or Los Angeles you would not know this alternate
reality exists. I ran a dirt road ninety miles toward White Horse Ranch in Eastern Oregon. It was two-wheel drive, but rough, at
best I could roll at maybe 20 miles per hour. Eventually I landed back on
pavement in Denio, Nevada. I spent two days parked out in the
desert with my toolbox out tightening all the nuts and bolts that had rattle
lose while cutting across this piece of the American West. Denio is a one
building town. Housed in that building was the saloon, the general store, post
office, and gas pump. Nothing much happened while I was there. Few cowboys rode
in on horseback. A few more came in their Ford pickup trucks. I go back when I can.
Nothing there, still something about it changes the way I see things.
“The jack bolted and was out well ahead before the dog had even got up to speed, and once the animal had put twenty yards distance between Jasper and his mortality, the dog gave up and broke into a trot and watched the animal tear into the wilds for its life.”
Since all of life is change, and all of change is life it sometimes turns out to be invisible for those of us looking for change. Change isn’t everything it is made out to be. It consists often of defining moments. Some of our moments we place in affirmation, some in the negatory column… What deck of cards, what hand, what circumstances are you dealing from this week? Some days we say bring it on. That’s one idea. Some days we say give it a rest. If you rest in some part of the center of your life, and you could go north or south, east or west, to the heavens or below to the earth, you can go forward into the future, back into the past, you can into yourself or outbound into the exterior…….. these are the ten directions………..N/S/E/W/ up / down/ future / past/ inside of self/ outbound/ or right where you are…….the present moment…..
If you have been following along you’ll have noted that I have
placed a particular accent on change. I am fascinated by changes directional
nature, that it is by one dimension bound to time…going from present to future…we
can’t change the past we are it seems doomed to repeat it. I am also interested
in how change can be a bully. It can intimidate, it can harangue. Change can
shatter. Change is constant our awareness of change is not. The people that
gain my greatest attention seem to come with spine, put shoulder into it,
resist nonsense, and are capable of articulating the reasons for the course
they intend to take. If you haven’t noticed reason is not fashionable. We do
life by way of force. We don’t seem to be guided by this ability to look at the
whole playing field. We are not enacting change based upon the biggest frame of
all frames. It appears we are hijacked by some sub-frame. The less than best
choice forces less favorable outcomes, at the expense of the many for the
benefit of few. The game has an end.
Among the greatest achievements of my generation is how little we have done. In California where I live we are in the midst of building a new bridge that will link the Oakland, California side of the San Fransico Bay with San Franicsco, California. In the middle of this sits Treasure Island and Yerba Buena Island. The bridge we are replacing is a cantilever affair that is insufficient when put up against an earthquake. On the other half is a suspension bridge that is more likely to withstand an earthquake. My generation seems to be a bunch of moochers, we literally are living off the past and not all that interested in creating a robust infrastructure for the future. Instead we are tied in knots about all manner of things doing with doing things and thus we resist contributing to the future because right now is so dang vital to our present moment. It is the most profound form of insanity…because soon an earthquake will hit here and we will have to fix the damage and we will have to reckon with the fact we did not set aside sufficent funding for this predictable event. Instead we ate our seed corn in this present moment fixation with what? This blog is not just a report on change it is about reporting on the insanity of not embracing change…sometimes we must wake up to the reality that nothing we were born into is about what we are living in and what we will leave to our children. High speed rail, big collosal bridges, super highways, new more advanced electrical grids………….maybe this is what we are supposed to be leaving in our journey of being here….otherwise why go visit the pyramids?
We can be changed. A good sail on a warm day, that can change a person. If we do something for a long time it will have an impact on us. It becomes part of something we reference. We talk about the things we learn and those lessons are often the result of the experiences we’ve had. Still some changes happen that instant, in that moment, we are better for it, and right now. Some of what we do has a longer time line. And then of course we might go in search of one thing and discover another thing we didn’t know we would find there. Most all of us attempt to bend the storyline in our own favor: get out of the hot sun, meet the girl we are interested in for a drink, go to the movie we are interested in, avoid the speeding tickets, and when we see our doctor hope for a clean bill of health… Sailing is surprising. Things come up you could never dream up. Wind increases, waves grow steep, docile sea conditions become wild, then wilder and then the recreational sail you imagined becomes a journey demanding attention, focus, skill and precision. More than once my boat has taken me to places I didn’t want to go, put me into a bind I didn’t want to be in, left me humbled. People who claim sailing is boring strike me as funny. An breezy afternoon on San Francisco Bay will change that after just one stout gust….