Friday, October 10, 2014

In the Midst of the Mystery

Full moon over the mountains, 3 Sisters, Oregon

I Looked Up

I looked up and there it was
among the green branches of the pitchpines -

thick bird,
a ruffle of fire trailing over the shoulders and down the back -
color of copper, iron, bronze –
lighting up the dark branches of the pine.

What misery to be afraid of death.
What wretchedness, to believe only in what can be proven.

When I made a little sound
it looked at me, then it looked past me.
Then it rose, the wings enormous and opulent,
and, as I said, wreathed in fire.

                                                                                 --Mary Oliver

People are telling me that they want to follow my adventures. The ones I will supposedly be having when I start traveling. What about the adventures that I am having right now? My homeless, car-less woman adventures.  I am walking everywhere and also taking the bus, which makes me feel I am in a new town, rather than one I have lived in since 1977.

A beautiful moment during Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal's teachings at Tashi Choling.
It's slower moving around this way. You have much more opportunity to look at the sky and the clouds, what's growing in people's gardens, kids playing ball. Everything seems a lot more immediate. Today I got lost. I was on my way to get some bodywork. Two words: Beth Heller. She has long experience and combines Feldenkreis and Aston patterning work. Amazing, subtle, effective work.

Anyway, I was on my way to that appointment, walking up a steep hill and apparently I made a wrong turn. I saw a man who was polishing his truck. He looked like a good guy and I said, "Excuse me, can you tell me how to get to Peachy Street?" He must have thought I looked like a good woman because he said "Oh, you're a long way off. Let me give you a ride." I was happy to accept and he got me to the appointment on time, and in good company.  When I thanked him, he told me with a smile, "No good deed goes unrewarded."   He was a real mensch.

Later I ate some sushi while I waited at a bus stop at the south end of town. I wrote some poetry on a receipt from the grocery store. On the bus, I met a woman who lives in Estes Park, Colorado. Turned out she taught at Eagle Rock School, where my daughter attended high school. This doesn't happen when you are in a car.

I don't think of myself as a traveler, though I have been to a few places, including Japan, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico and various states in the US. For the past few years I have been telling myself I have to get out and explore the world a bit more to see if there is another place I might live more affordably. I am very fond of Ashland, Oregon and it feels right to be taking a break.

It is hard for me to imagine living away from Tashi Choling, the Tibetan Buddhist center I helped to found many years ago. Especially as I age, I want to have the companionship and friendship of others who are on the same spiritual path as I am. And their support at the time of my death, which is an important time. Speaking of adventure! Wheee! Nothing can match death for adventure, except maybe birth.

As Mary Oliver says it is wretched to be afraid of death and to believe only in what can be proven.  I have never had much problem with the second part. I don't think I am afraid of death, but I would prefer to die in the midst of my spiritual community. So is it likely I will relocate to Mexico? Probably not, unless I find a congenial place where there are other Tibetan Buddhist practitioners, which there are in Ensenada, Cholula and Mexico City, according to my current research.

Why does everyone equate travel with adventure? Is it because we become so accustomed to living our everyday lives in our familiar environments that we lose the crisp and surprising qualities that can occur in travel? I think it must be that. And we are longing for new vistas, new peoples, new dances, new foods, new and strangely wonderful landscapes. These elements, we feel, will teach us new things about ourselves. I'm sure it is all true. As Danny Kaye once said, "To travel is to take a journey into yourself."

I will be in Guanajuato for Day of the Dead. I know only a little about this ancient holy day. Maybe that's good. I know it is about honoring the ancestors. That could be enough to begin with. I can learn more.

I know very little Spanish. Since I like communicating, that makes me a bit nervous. I will learn some Spanish. I can learn more.

Mi siente muy feliz!

Yes, and probably I will meet a lot of other people learning Spanish, too. Who knows who I will meet?
Hopefully, some of them will be marvelous.

I know absolutely nobody in Guanajuato. That is bound to be interesting. One reason why I am taking this trip is to challenge my limitations and stretch my imagination. So no problem not knowing anybody, right? Right.

A street in Guanajuato
I will be staying at Aunt Lucy's Guesthouse. Did I choose Aunt Lucy's Guesthouse because the name sounds so comforting and reassuringly friendly? Well yes that was part of it.

I am waiting to see whether Aunt Lucy is around my age. I have a hunch that she is.  She speaks no English, but everyone says that is not a problem.

Here's one person's comment: "Aunt Lucy was very kind, always helpful; we spent hours talking about each other's life, she is a well educated person with lots of knowledge, she's a life counselor, in just two days that I stayed there I really feel affection for her, I felt like home. I give her 20 out of 10, without a doubt the best part of being in Guanajuato was to meet her."

So this and other similar comments make me feel that I am going to be settling into a good place in Guanajuato for a month stay. And that's grand.

It's past the autumn equinox, and in the northern lattitudes the light is decreasing. What will it be like to be that much further south in the winter season? I am looking forward to finding out.

I will be in Guanajuato in November and Oaxaca in December. I want to find a beautiful beach place for January but so far everything I see is beyond my budget.  I am hoping I make some good connections in that regard once I am in Mexico. Or if any of you readers have any ideas, do tell.

Last but not least in any way , how wonderful that the 17-year old Palestinian woman Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize! It is a good reason for women to dance around the fire. May peace increase throughout the world, and may it begin within me.

1 comment:

  1. What a thoughtful post -- about your contemplation of moving from Ashland to Mexico. I moved to the Vancouver/Portland area about a year ago and find it so very expensive compared to KY where I previously lived for six years. I believe that you are certainly going about your search in the right way instead of hopping into it as so many older folks do. Smart move to stay in the area you are thinking about for awhile to give it a litmus test. I love Oregon -- I've lived here before but as a senior the prices might eventually drive me out too? Love that you honored that brave young girl at the end of your post -- great that she received the Nobel Prize! Also your two quotes were wonderful! --- barbara.