Monday, December 16, 2013

Time of the Long Night Moon

Downtown Ashland, Oregon in December snowstorm. Photo by Mark Arinsburg
Over a week ago, we had an unusual snowstorm that dropped 4-6 inches on the floor of the Rogue Valley. We are accustomed to snow in the mountains, but that amount of snow on the valley floor is rare. Temperatures fell to 4-6 degrees for several nights. Snowplows were unable to make a dent in the icy snow.

Even attempts to strew cinders on the dangerous surfaces did not succeed, with cinder loads sticking together, making them useless. Road conditions were quite dangerous for 5 or 6 days.

Schools were closed, and if they could people just stayed home.

Not a Christmas tree, but a festive jungle cactus
What in the world is up with her?
It was very beautiful though, as this photo of the downtown area shows. It was a good respite to stay at home for 5 days. Finally, there was a thaw, and everyone started to move around in the world again.

I've lived in the Ashland area since 1977, except for 4 years spent in Portland in the mid 80s. I never consciously intended to stay here that long. It just happened. I love it here. It is familiar. I have many longtime friends and connections. Yet I am feeling that it's time for a change.

I bought a house 2 1/2 years ago, a place I call the flower cottage. For years, I dreamed of having a house like this with a beautiful flower garden, and I have been enjoying living here. My younger daughter did a beautiful job painting the walls when I first moved in. It was such a loving gesture on her part. Still, it is feeling like time for  change.

Here we are at the end of year holidays. It will be full moon in two days, the "long night moon." I'm a Buddhist, and now that my kids are grown, I don't much celebrate Christmas. But it is the darkest time of the year, and that darkness calls out for some ornamentation to offset the long nights. So I found a few festive objects to decorate the jungle cactus in the kitchen, and that is my version of a Christmas tree this year.

I'm going to put my house on the market in January and I am planning to move to Baja. I want to be near the ocean. I want to be in a different culture. In letting go of the flower cottage and moving to Baja, I want to create a lifestyle that is simpler, slower and more affordable.

I have some friends in northern Baja. They are a large Mexican family who have grounded a meditation center in Ensenada for many years. I am hoping that they will help me find my way past the gringo ghettos. I have to learn Spanish. I keep telling myself it will not be that difficult, because I know French. But really, I have to get with it.

I wonder how I will dispose of the many beautiful objects I surround myself with. When this seems too impossible, I remind myself of all the beautiful clothing, chairs, tables, houses, pets, and lovers-- not necessarily in that order--that I have enjoyed and left along the way. Like the orange wing chair I had when I was 19 and lived in NYC, or the blue and white checked gingham pinafore I loved so much when I lived at Cherrymont in the Pennsylvania countryside. Or that thick beaver coat, which was so warm and stylish. I won't get into the lovers at the moment, though the beaver coat reminded me of them somehow.

Accumulating and dispersing. I've already started to take books off the shelves in order to donate them to the library. I will have to be careful not to try to dismantle things too fast. I want to keep the ceramic pomegranate from Italy and the bright blue butterfly. But many things will get passed along to be enjoyed afresh by others. This time of life is a time of letting go. It's good to practice letting go. I am looking around my house and thinking of who among my friends would enjoy certain objects and implements.

 I just read an article about hygge, which is pronounced  HYU-gah.  Hygge describes a way that people cultivate happiness in Denmark, which is considered one of the happiest countries in the world, despite the fact it is so cold and dark in winter. They seem to have a good thing going, so I thought you might like to tune into some of the ways the Danes cultivate their happiness.

Hope your holidays are full of happiness, warmth and love. May this coming year bring beauty, delight and richness of all kinds into your world.

Monday, December 2, 2013

New moon contemplations

Two small figures made of Herend China from Hungary circle a small Tibetan prayer wheel on the mantel

It has been so long since I've felt inclined to share here in any real way that I feel I should be opening the door with a big grin and yelling, "Honey, I'm home!"

Sometimes I learn by eliminating what I do not want. This has been the case recently. I joined the Ashland Chamber of Commerce a couple of months ago, with the encouragement of my business consultant. I am not placing any blame on him. His job is to help his clients move forward with their business. And he is very helpful in that regard. I have enjoyed working with him for the past few years. He has a lot of wonderful qualities. It's not about him. It's about me.

It found it instructive to attend Greeters meetings on Friday mornings at 8:15 and experience the manic and usually sincere energies of such a varied group of humans, all doing their best to make a good impression on each other and also make a living.

I am humbled by what I've experienced there. I feel for all of us, all of us human beings. And there were some magical and delightful moments, not only when the energetic gal in a red evening dress jumped up on the bar during the meeting she sponsored. That was dramatic enough but it was just as sweet to see how people engage each other with humor, props and stories. I was moved to see each of us present ourselves. Every one of us is uniquely marvelous. And it has been my long belief that we are often reduced to confining ourselves by the circumstances of our lives. Attending the Greeters meetings brought that up for me. 

Then I agreed to advertise in a wonderful paper here called Locals Guide. I like the fellow who runs it. I appreciate his philosophy and his qualities. He is a real sweetie. But the closer it came to my interview being featured in the paper (something I was paying for), the more uneasy I felt.

So I had to bail out. I felt very bad about leaving him in the lurch. I did leave him in the lurch and I am not a person who makes a habit of that. While all this was happening, it occurred to me at long last that my heart was really not in it,  really not into promoting my various talents and skills in this way anymore.

I have done it for a long time, and I am weary of it.  I began to think, "Maybe I should just drop it completely." It being the many unfinished creative projects and services I have been concocting for the past 5 years. The musical revue, the individual coaching work, the workshops.

The prayer flags in front of the Tashi Choling temple make a beautiful sound in the wind

I think my passion for shifting the paradigm on aging is a version of saving the world. Of course, it will be great when the paradigm on aging shifts to a more positive one. That's not what I am talking about though.  As you probably already know, thinking he or she can save the world has a certain fairly immense amount of egotism to it. But leaving that aside, the question of egotism, my heart was just not in  it anymore. I was burned out. I had lost the joy and inspiration, and was just slogging along as a responsible adult often does.

Too adult, too responsible. Fortunately, there are many other people who care about shifting the paradigm, so it is just fine if I shift my own attention. And I am.

I am re-imagining the ways I engage in Sage's Play in order to include my own growth and pleasure in the equation.  I am letting go into a new field of experience. And this includes a certain amount of change, loss, and uncertainty. I'm okay with that.

New moon is the time in the lunar cycle for new beginnings. New vistas. Am I retired? Have I dropped out? Stay tuned....