Mom is where the Art is

   Many years back now, I reviewed Vision Quest leader Trebbe Johnson’s lovely book, The World is a Waiting Lover, and, in interim years, I’ve watched Trebbe’s emails go by inviting people to go out and bring beauty to the broken places they know of, to bring the unguent of tender love, humor and creativity to their favorite booboo’s on the face of Mother Earth. 

 In recent years, though, a deep dark night of the soul, has seen me consumed in healing the broken places in my inner-cape and ability to parent my own self, to the degree that reaching outward was still an urge, but not a sustainable endeavor in my dismantled, broken state.

 As I approached the second anniversary of my mother’s death, which always lands within days of Mother’s day weekend, I was strolling an arroyo in the foothills of Albuquerque, and inspiration struck at last.

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I came upon this throne, halfway up the bank of the gully and too perfect already to be anything but someone else’s creativity–and I thank them for their act of heavy lifting and love. It’s a stark and stoney lounger, but with a view of the summer sunrise above the mountains and the houses privileged to nestle up to the Open Space.

So I made a date with myself to rise early on Mother’s day and pay homage to The Mother and all mothers: to bring the beauty of soft mother comfort to this beckoning site, to this whimsical wink and smile of concrete– probably a man’s doing– faded but waiting there for a woman’s touch.

In my head and heart, I was a mischievous Snow White, whistling while she worked, every homemaker, making a house a home, humming with tender amusement.  Daddy’s and daughters, doggies, joggers and strollers made their way past as I worked.

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It took mere minutes.  I got out the camera and began recording my handiwork. But something felt sterile still. 

I felt in my own body for the answer. I needed to sit down. I crawled up on my newly adorned sculpture and nestled in.  I took in the view and a few calming breaths; I fluffed the pillows; and I noticed I was alone.  The sun was getting pretty strong, but I rested back into the support of the mother and waited.  Eventually, along came a trickle of people, among them a young fellow named Mike, who was kind enough to lend, not only his hand with some quick photography,  but also his obliging lap dog, Jester, to make the scene complete!  Thanks to them both! DSCN1114

This was to be an act of ephemeral, guerrilla art, alas, as I’d borrowed the pillows from a housemate’s couch. So, soon enough I gathered up the textiles and left the skeleton with just a memory of our game of dress up, shared only with Mike, Jester, and a handful of other passers-by.  Next time, I’ll bring pillows dedicated to the cause, if someone doesn’t beat me to it. I rather hope they do.

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Upshot, Rimshot (Gauri Story, Part III)

Ahhh. I’m starting to get it, now.  It’s so poetic. Long has the influence of Shiva been a driver in my life. In fact, after two months in an Ashram devoted to both the Divine Mother and an incarnation of Shiva called Babaji, I treated myself to a little statue of Nataraj, the aspect of Shiva dancing the universe in and out of existence, a perpetual, cyclical dance of creation and destruction. The purpose of this little Divine dervish was to place it prominently on the dashboard of my car, Gauri. (Gauri is one of many names for Shiva’s consort, often known as Parvati, though I did not make that specific association with Parvati as much as with her aspect as white mountain goddess.) For the next four months, I rode around inside Gauri, gazing at Shiva.  Gauri, or Shakti, is the feminine aspect of the Divine–she is the manifest, form, energy, the physical universe ( as well as its container, the void). Shiva is the potential, the idea, the impulse, the power, the mover.

“Yes, yes, Michou,” you say. “Reel yourself in. What happened with the car?”

Okay. At the end of our last episode, our heroine had just left Gauri at Collision One. I’m sorry; even that is poetic. Here we have this dance of Shiva, with universes and planets and people and ideas all careening around colliding, even as they are part of this absolutely perfect and unfathomable Unity….

But anyway, with the car so stowed, my attention turned to chasing down all the details. A near two week phone call campaign commenced to track down the elusive officer who reported having my license plate.  I began the ongoing mop-up after the breach of my email, which required wiping the computer, and then tracking down what was lost in the process. And I generally watched this and other bureaucratic pursuits dominate the next week, and noticed myself descending into an enervated malaise.

Soon enough I realized that, in addition to all these worldy disruptions, I was now entering the gravitational field of  the anniversary of my mother’s death, which, the previous year, had plowed a swath of stupefaction through my life about a fortnight wide, with its “epicenter” being Mother’s Day weekend, which coincided with the May 14 death anniversary. This acknowledged, I just stopped trying to even pretend composure, competence or contentment. I just let myself be cranky as any two year old who shouldn’t be expected to play grown up with cops, hard-ass insurance adjusters, and the like!  That of course made it easier to do so when I had to.

By week’s end, it looked like the final repair parts would be in by the following Monday, and, for better or worse, I might have the Subaru back by the end of the following week. I redoubled my efforts to recover that rear license plate, now that it looked like I might actually need it. And by mid week, after handily earning my Squeaky-Wheel Scout Badge and filling up my 108-Ways to Creatively Love Anyway stamp book, I had at last received a call from fabled (and apologetic) officer Matt Hannum; and, once assured that I my car had been recovered, he had kindly delivered the plate to my door. I confess, after all the build up, his arrival felt rather like that of a dashing knight, as he was a quite adequately handsome young fellow. (Though, I do have to say the steeds of the Albuquerque Police force look more like Holstein-Friesians-colored sharks then regal and noble steam-snorting stallions.)

Empowered now with the the ticket to drive my car legally again, I inquired into the progress at Collision One. Word was that the detailer’s best shot had not been able to adequately attenuate Gauri’s unfortunate slaughterhouse bouquet. They were investigating costs of removing carpets and replacing all upholstery. Uh-oh. Thus ensued a couple of days of phone triangulation which, diagrammed, would look like an awesome, 11-point-bounce billiards move, and gave me the opportunity to appreciate how little I appreciated the humorless and patronizing insurance agent assigned to my claim, and how much I appreciated everyone else in comparison.  When the phone flurry stopped, it had been decided that poor Gauri was to be declared a total loss under the biohazard provision. Oy.

What a Yo-yo ride.  It really began to sound like a 21-century urban retelling of the parable of the farmer, his horse(s), his son, his son’s leg, and the army, with the villagers as the Greek chorus of Yeah, Awww, Yeah, Awwww, Yeah. Awww, and the farmer all along simply saying, “Maybe.”       Don’t know it? Here’s a link or two:

http://www.whatilearnedwhen.net/parable-of-the-chinese-farmer/

http://users.rider.edu/~suler/zenstory/maybe.html

So today, for better or worse, the deed is done.  I went to Collision One, and there was Gauri, such a dignified specimen of 1997-Legacy-hood, gleaming white and matronly in my gaze, fonder for the absence.  I noted pangs of regret about some sort of imagined disrespect for consigning her to salvage for just a bad smell. They’d left her doors wide open in anticipation of my arrival, so the smell wasn’t really that bad. Another pang.  I mentioned it to the guy, and he was kind enough to reassure me, not only with his words, but with his expression and energy, that I could be assured it had been much worse –baaad– when he first opened it and drove it today.  I thanked him for that.

All that was left was for them to extract my after-market stereo and remove that front license plate from the rear. I rescued three surviving CD’s from the visor, my Ganesha from the front bumper, my jumper cables from the tire well; and it was over. I signed the little red case folder, handed them my key and left the Legacy behind. I noted also, in this final meeting, a second linguistic hint about this story’s gifts and teachings. Opposite the word Legacy on the Subaru’s rear flank was the imprint from the car lot from whom I bought her. Umberto’s. Umber: from the Middle English, shadow, something that, though having no substance, follows us around, created by our own mass (thickness, heaviness).  Of course, according to the lore, only those alive have shadows, and the latin root umbre actually meant earth.  But I figured that these positive aspects I could embrace in what beckoned me from the rear of my rented Corolla, whose Utah plates were emblazoned with the iconic red stone arch and the slogan Life Elevated.

I’ll take it.

And so, I drove off, admiring and applauding the pregnant clouds rupturing along the Northern ridge Sandia Mountains. It might actually rain here in drought-land, I thought, wash us all clean.  The heaviness now was in the air, and welcome.

Epilogue:

Later it did rain. And in that euphoric ease and beatitude that the wake of any torrential rain squall brings the negative-ion-deprived desert dweller, I drove home relishing each crisp, curt splash of my my tires scoring a puddle.

I paused at a corner, where the street sign read Faith Court, and the Church sign ahead reminded me, all too aptly, “It is not for you to know.” (Acts 1:1 11).

(And moreover, Ascension would be Thursday at 7!  But not to worry, Sunday school was still be held at 9 and 10 am Sunday, so someone would still be here.)

Yes. It is not for me to know. I can see much, but how little I know for sure is the only certainty.  And I find myself in my life at the intersection of Faith Court. In this court, haplessly, habitually, I keep objecting and evading as I ply and plead my case, making as if God is on trial here and I am the plaintiff.  But this chambers is really nothing but an advocacy for Faith. Perhaps the Court of Faith is better envisioned as a sport court, a venue in which I cultivate my skill and muscle of Faith. Life is a contact sport, and Faith is the ground rule.

Sublime Days…though inscrutable; so, the mind squirms and spits like a pinned cat. Yet,  ineluctably, despite the warped lens of mentation, Evolution will have its way. She will have her way. Dance Nataraja dance.

Nappers, Hackers…Laughter, Knackered.

The Car Story (Part II)

Once again I’ve been reminded that I quite enjoy using the bus system to get around. It strikes me that it is a microcosmic analogy of my experience on Planet Earth, riding around, surrounded by curious specimens of my kind, mirrors of myself, and yet alone, apart, anonymous– even when there’s interaction. It’s so obvious, in this situation, how every moment is a choice of love or judgement, with or against (consciously or not). And I watch compassion flow freely, even while another faculty of intelligence in me might be bristling, categorizing, inventing back-story, etc. 

So this fine Saturday, I left the rental car at home and rode the bus to the fair grounds, not for cotton candy and a good greening on the Tilt-a-whirl, but for a psychic fair, a lift of another sort. I walked through rows of stables for livestock to arrive at a building of booths for Light-stock: healers, crystals, art and hand-made instruments of all description. 

I mentioned the car theft to several people, curious about what spin it might receive in this new-age crowd. There was lightness and humor, but cars is cars; the conversations were generally prosaic. I did notice that I was looking forward to a new car and actually stated to a couple of other former Legacy owners that there is a heavy- belliedness to that car for me, rather like a bottom swimming fish. I was looking forward to lightness. Interesting name, then, Legacy: something received from the past. Uncannily apt, considering that this car came to me amid the throes of a dark passage in which all the sins and wounds of the fathers (so to speak) unwind from my being in a shamanic pageant of lugubrium.

Upon leaving the fair, I decided to buy a lottery ticket, for grins and experiment. And so I did, several, because the lady in line in front of me was radiating the good juju of just having won, not a jackpot, but a happy sum. Then I sat waiting for the bus; I hadn’t even gotten around to visioning what sort of vehicle I might buy with a windfall, when my purse buzzed, and, upon answering my phone, I was informed that my vehicle had been found. Could I get there in half an hour? I didn’t know. So the decision was made to tow and impound it. Too bad. That meant waiting until Monday and paying a tidy sum. 

What was remarkable, though, was the depression that swiftly descended. I found myself likening it, for some reason, to a post-partum comedown. I don’t want to be ungrateful, and this could, I suppose, have been unrelated to the car–the cashews I ate, the processing of healing work I had at the fair, the energy of the weary travelers  around me at the bus-stop. But there was a sense that all the past and all about my life that that Legacy represented, the Heaviness, had landed again in my own Belly. And this was nothing but thoughts. I had not seen the car yet, had yet to encounter all the signs of intrusion, disruption and perfidy that I might find upon inspecting the vehicle and its contents, or lack thereof. 

Having come from a New Age fair, of course, I pulled down a beam of light for both the car and me, to clear away unnecessary, outdated pessimism, and I decided not to know what to expect; I made the choice to leave the possibilities open. 

I wrote the above paragraphs before recovering my vehicle. I resume the account now on May 1,  two days after reunion:

Monday morning came, and I made all the calls required to turn all the far-flung tumblers, and with my old friend Bill at the wheel of his own Subaru wagon, we set off to liberate Gauri (car’s name) from where she was dug in at Duggers towing. 

The sun was strong on this summery spring day.  As we walked toward the car,  we could see no egregious damage to the exterior—a good sign. And I could see, even from squinting distance, that camping items I’d lamented losing far more than the car were there piled in the rear hatch space. Save for the camera outfit, pretty much everything of worth to me was there.  I allowed myself what will have to pass for glee in my over-extended state.

Time to inspect the inside:  I opened the door. The rear seat was a-tumble with items belonging to other parties—probably at least two other parties— I’m guessing possibly both “perps” and “victims.” The repulsion factor registered relatively low for a beat or two, until I was blown back by the smell. It was only for a moment that I could assume that this was from the leavings of the fruit and veggie groceries which had mostly returned to me the day after the theft. No, something once alive had been rotting in here. I could see no intact bodies in the mess, but I could see spillage (at first only on the carpet near the front seat, later more widespread). Yeesh. 

I opened all windows and doors; I soon discovered a T-Bone steak sealed in plastic behind the driver’s seat—sealed, not the culprit, but a clue. One steak does not a proper Bar-B-Q make, so I had to assume there were still more.  We found them later in a leaking black -plastic yard-debris bag, Officer Martinez and I, when he came to collect the evidentiary items (not belonging to me) from Exhibit A – formerly known as my back seat.

I’ve run into so many jaded APD employees this week. But, there is something bonding about enduring the aggressive smell of putrefaction with another; that stench is a force of nature.  And after removing the dusty box packed with fantasy paperbacks, the lady’s purse, the sundry clothing items, a CD binder of video games, and that aromatic sack of carrion from my car,  Officer Martinez allowed, “This really is unfortunate; I’m sorry.”

Other curiosities greeted me during my inspection of the interior.  There was broken auto glass on the floorboards and seats, although none of my glass was broken– again pointing to Gauri having had a bit of a Patty Hearst adventure through multiple crimes.  The current stereo was still installed in the dash (with the previous cassette deck, which I’d stashed under the seat, in the car’s jumbled contents, too.)  And then there was the kitchen-sized garbage bag full of sealed plastic packages of what looked like coffee beans. My uninitiated imagination only feebly attempted to envision what new meth-lab fad this might be used in concocting, and then I just relegated it to mystery and comic relief.

We found one of my Colorado license plates in the car, amply smudged with fingerprinting dust. Bill and I put it back on the rear bumper, although it lacked registration stickers.  I still have not been able to track down the rear plate. Someone in the APD has it, I’m told, but whoever does has yet to return my calls and messages, more than a week on. 

The next day, before I’d even reeled myself back to my body from Astral wanderings  —Have you seen my license plate?– George L., The Estimator!, was arriving to get his whiff of the action.  By mid-day, appraisal in hand, I’d given custody of Gauri and her formidable “aura” over to a detailer/body-shop, to be restored to a condition and aroma more befitting the stately Mountain Snow Goddess of India.  All that remained of the week’s bemusements was a pile of gear in my room and the blood drippings on the driveway.

Perhaps I should have paid more attention when the sacred string around my wrist, affixed there for Divine protection at an October Navratri fire ceremony,  had come off in the shower that morning…rather like my voodoo virus protection expiring. While this car episode had, after a week, rendered me a little manic and weary, it was another development that corroded my good humor far more.  Just before retrieving the car, I’d discovered that my email had been hacked, my computer, apparently, compromised. 

A suspicious message “from Yahoo” inspired me to call a number I found on line for Yahoo support.  I had to strain a little to understand Hammed’s English as he confirmed my suspicions and sought to determine the nature of the breach. He arranged a Teamviewer session, which enables them to remotely fish around on one’s computer. I only allowed it because I’d had a legitimate Geeksquad employee do something similar years back.  Hammed found all kind’s of stuff, which he showed me; some of it was so personally eerie, he really couldn’t possibly have planned its precision and impact on me.  I wish I could relate that part without mentioning people who must not be named.  It was only when he suggested referring me to a technician, who, for only $99 for this and $79 for that, would remedy this problem for now and for the life of the computer. I put on the breaks, debated with guy about my suspicions and insisted on going for a second opinion first.

The next morning, my friend Steve related a similar fraudulent episode he’d had recently. So I called an independent Mac Specialist. He said that Yahoo is a free email service and has no tech support.  Other computer folks at the Apple Store and elsewhere confirmed that this is more and more common with Yahoo users.  Apple store folks helped me a lot. But then the next day I had to get yet more help from another computer wiz friend to clean up the messes their help left.  I’m still mopping up. 

I confess that, as much amusement and phenomenal Grace as I’ve seen this week, it’s definitely been one of those “Stop the planet I want to get off” weeks, which I’ll hope means I’m nearing a breakthrough in this Star Child’s “Stop the World I want to get off!” life.  These are times when must Love as widely, deeply and often as we can,  yet we cannot be attached to anything.  And at every place we are attached– to things, to people, to ideas, to perfection, to our status or external identity — it seems more and more likely we’ll attract just the experience to illuminate our illusions and graciously Dis-illusion us.  In my estimation, this is like dental work. The longer it’s avoided the worse it is when it comes. And the fear of it makes it worse. And the pain must be allowed, but, submit and it passes; the less resistance, the less suffering. 

This week’s events were not about what looked like on the outside for me. They were about where these experiences lit me up, shined a light on my hidden fears, assumptions, biases, judgements of self and other, where I can still believe myself vulnerable, worthy of punishment rather than love, less than whole.  These are the wounds we all have, and as we heal these festering wounds, the abscess in the collective consciousness heals, and everyone’s load lightens; everyone’s truth shines.    That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it, until and unless that attachment, too, must be surrendered.