Without Agenda, Excerpt from Chapter 2 – Turquoise Interlude 1968

… Following my heart without agenda, after saying goodbye to Yvonne, I climbed into Bob’s colorful bus and we headed north along the Rio Grande. “I asked the creator last night to bring me my soulmate,” he told me again later that day, as we drove past Arroyo Seco, a tiny town above Taos. That was when Taos only had one stoplight. Arroyo Seco, of course, didn’t have any and most of its roads were unpaved.

At 7,500 feet in the lower mountains, near the end of the bumpy dirt road, we arrived at a sunny meadow filled with sunflowers and corn, where Bob had pitched his tipi.  His buffalo rug still covered the floor. His two homemade wooden bowls were simple and organized. His fire pit was small. He lived in the now.

We slept on the buffalo hide rug, cooked over a fire, and washed his two bowls in the shallow stream, which ran through the meadow.

The days were filled with outdoor adventure. I remember hiking through a high desert sagebrush-filled plain and then descending a tiny, winding trail through more pungent sagebrush, and climbing down large rocks to an abandoned hot-springs on the Rio Grande River. In the crumbling ruins of a former healing retreat, on the sand by the water, naked in the sun, Bob and I tanned deer hides, smoothing and preparing them with rocks and softening them with cow brains until they became smooth and pliable in the heat. We washed ourselves in the springs and made love on the steaming stones. Later we hauled the tanned hides back up to the rocks and across the sagebrush to the blue bus.

Bob’s long hair and beard softened his face. Brown red hair shone in the sun, hanging down as he worked on his engine, contented and methodical, as if he had all the time he wanted, as if his way of life followed this path of the present.

At a friend’s meadowland in the foothills above the tipi, I took acid and wandered around the low mountains without my clothes, admiring tall shady pot plants, feeling the grasses and the close, clean sun on my skin, breathing the thin air. The bordering piñon forest was soothing and inviting, the ground soft and giving.

Bob and I walked with friends up the mountains above Arroyo Seco in Indian land to a secret waterfall and we picked wild mushrooms in the dawn, in this land of enchantment, the motto written in red on the yellow car license plates.

Through Bob, I met the current young locals, many of whom lived in abandoned adobe houses whose owners wanted them occupied. It was cheap and easy to live in Arroyo Seco and Taos in 1968.

I stayed there, enjoying life without electricity or running water, seduced by the New Mexico slowness of life, for two weeks instead of one. The high desert enfolded me, opening me to the new possibilities.  …

©2020

I Took My Teardrops – Excerpt from Part II When the Moon Dances – A Memoir of Becoming the Oldest Generation

…She still did not say one word. I sat with her, anointed her with oils, and stroked her hand. Yesterday, when I recited a poem to her, I kept wanting to sing but did not know what. Today I just sang. I sang my shamanic power song that I had journeyed for and received last year. “Heyalo, heyalo, heysu, heysu, heysu, hiya, hiya, hiya la, hiya hiya hi.” I sing it when I feel I need power. Then I sang some more, calling on the spirits to help. Did Mom respond? Or was that just wishful thinking? I let myself cry, and on impulse I took my teardrops and wiped them on her hand. I started crying more and put my head near her chest. It was then that she lifted her hand and hugged me and started stroking my hair. She is here. She seemed to be trying to push herself up, so I said, “If you want me to move you, raise your hand,” and she did. I told her about the nursing home and that she might go there or go home, depending. But either way, I told her, I would get to spend more time with her. She looked like she was trying to talk. She put her fingers to her mouth as if to move it. Instead of leaving, she has started to come back. Dare I hope?

©2020

A Hint of Dance – Excerpt from Part II When the Moon Dances – A Memoir of Becoming the Oldest Generation

… I spent most of the afternoon with Mom. The “classical” music concert downstairs was not what I expected. They played a kind of rock music on tape until a movement therapy instructor came. She put on light, almost classical, taped music and led the residents in movement. As the music flowed into her, Mom’s fingers began to tap to the rhythm, all she could do, all she could pull from her damaged body.

Then Mom started to lean forward, unsupported –a great and big improvement. I whispered in her ear, “Dance with your arms.” With her eyes still closed, her atrophied body subtly swayed with a hint of dance escaping its prison. …

©2020

Reflections at 75

Who am I now at 75, my long white hair with still hints of brown, my body still dancing, my fingers typing. My heart finds compassion connecting to the ones who seek help in my psychotherapy office, and in the yurt where we gather for the shamanic journey circles I lead, and to the students I dance with, teaching them Flamenco and what I learned on that path. Wisdom grows.

I am blessed to still have a passion and work to do before I die, before I pass from this mortal life and this body I still love. The passion becomes an urgency as I know mortality in new ways, the gift of elder-hood, the pain of losing a father. 

My tangible legacy will be the books I write –may they guide those who seek, and entertain the curious. 

 

©2020

Die or Get Off the Pot – Excerpt from Part II   When the Moon Dances – A Memoir of Becoming the Oldest Generation

December 22, 1996

…I remember when my Grandma Annie was in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s, almost comatose and not eating, it seemed logical that she felt ready to die.  She should have been able to just stop eating if she wanted to, but they wouldn’t let her. Voluntarily not eating is a withdrawal to death that seems non-violent and makes sense to me.

Now I wonder about Mom. Maybe it is just her time and we are forcing her to stay alive by feeding her. But, what if she can recover? When do we respect her choice and when do we decide that her choice is incompetent and should not be honored? What about the Eskimo elders who traditionally went out into the snow to die? I believe in the right to choose a conscious death. I wouldn’t want to be kept alive against my will. The question remains: when do we “let” Mom choose to eat or not to eat? I don’t know if there are answers.

Today has been difficult –is this my new normal? I feel so discouraged. I thought, “I’m bored. Now what?” Going to the hospital twice a day for what feels like nothing is getting to me. This afternoon I stayed with Mom a long time, hoping for at least one word or at least a sign. It’s kind of like “die or get off the pot.” I’m angry that I am bored. I’m angry about a lot of things now. I know this is a stage of grief – the anger stage. I accept it intellectually. I feel it now, strongly, when I write, alone with my thoughts. When I am with Mom I get caught in hope or in wishful thinking. Now the anger wraps me like a heavy blanket. I need to write it down, although I should go to bed so I can wake up to more of the same routine. How tiring –both the anger and the hospital visits.

©2019