love

but is it harder to leave someone behind, or be left behind?

because it’s hard to take that leap. could you do it? when not really anything is wrong, or there’s anything bad, except for some small voice inside of you saying that “this isn’t going to work”? if you could, would you? when you know that some differences are too great to be set aside or reconciled, some thoughts so ingrained that you won’t turn them over to see if the grass is greener on the other side? and because maybe it is easier to be left behind. maybe you don’t have to wonder always if you made the right choice. someone else will make that choice for you, and really you don’t have to do much of anything except mourn.

if you did do it, would you at least have had your honor? would you at least have had something to stand by with grace, with dignity, would you have respected yourself for listening to some voice inside you that for all you knew could have been wrong? would you be more comfortable knowing that you ran away before letting it run its course, before something terrible happened, before you ended up hating each other?

you can never know the odds. if you don’t play, you never win.

what I know now is that if you don’t do it, and you know that it’s probably going to end, and then it does end and you’re the one left behind, and you’re sobbing and shaking and food doesn’t taste as good and then you get over that and yeah it’s okay but there’s a hollowness to your heart and you feel a little emptier, because you are a little emptier, a little less full of love, a little less rich in company, a little more bitter, and even after that, when you can look back and smile and think fondly of the memories and the bad times seem to melt away, even after all of that, after the end, what I know is that your heart beats a little quicker when you wonder why you didn’t trust that tiny voice inside of you, what was it that made you stay, why couldn’t you own up to the truth of the matter? and did the good times outweigh the bad? and did you gain more than you sacrificed? and did you learn more than you knew before? was it really worth it? when you are hollow, you will think that it was not worth it.

all we do in this life is the edge of a moment. you can look back and you can look forward and you can look at the moment right now, but it doesn’t matter. none of that matters. I can’t say what does matter, I think it’s different for everyone.  I can’t say if anything is worth it.

for me, love matters. love is worth it. and even if we never speak again, love happened there, and we were happy.

practice

Like anything else, it is a practice. Surrounding yourself in the moment and allowing all else to fall away. So, what is it that you want? Focus on the seconds passing just now. The breath in and out of your nostrils. Think only of the tension of your muscles, the blood moving through your body. When you let all other moments go, you begin to realize that life lies in this single moment only. And in this moment, what matters to you? Do you want to be happy? Do you want success?

What does success mean to you? Is it never having to worry about money? What does that mean to you? Is it never having to worry about having enough money to have enough food to eat? Or is it never having to worry about having enough money to have enough things to fill up your voids? Is it never having to watch someone you love suffer? Is it never having to see anyone suffer? Does your happiness rely on protecting others or on being protected?

Uncertainty surrounds everything around us. The only certain in life is that the body you live in will perish.

How will you nurture your soul in this life so that it may continue on to the next? How will you nourish it?

Caroline

Sweet Caroline… My heart hurts so much. I don’t know if it will ever stop. I know that you’re watching over us all… But I just want you to be here with me so bad. I can’t believe we didn’t even get to say goodbye.

She wrote the verse to all of his dreams.

I remember listening to this song with you… I remember you Caroline. I miss you so much. This world is so much dimmer without you. I just can’t think about anything except for you. And my heart is so full of sorrow. I love you Bunny.

Facelessness

I’ve thought a lot about what it takes to kill someone in the past few weeks, since the incident. There have been multiple shootings since then, in Las Vegas, in Oregon, in Seattle…If you search “shooting” on Google and click the “news” tab, such a multitude of different shootings comes up that you would have to look hard to find the one you meant. It is sad and shocking. I’ve never really thought of murder as being associated with madness, which we tend to do in this class. I think it is biologically very possible for us to kill because, biologically, we are meant to care first and foremost about the survival of our individual genes. Animals kill each other in the wild often, over mates, food, territory, etc. We live in a world where laws govern and restrain our animal instincts, so that we may be the “civilized” race that we believe we are. I am no anarchist, but of course the government will cause a lot of problems. We will be naturally inclined to act out against rules that are in place to restrain our rights in light of the rights of the person next to us.

This is not to excuse murderers but to question what it is that compels us as humans to want to join their ranks. And what can we do to quell the horror? I mentioned facelessness in class and I think it is an incredibly powerful thing.

When I walk around campus, I tend to look people in the eye. I’m sorry if I’ve done this to you and it made you uncomfortable. That wasn’t my intent. I often think about when the population of humans was much smaller. We organized into smaller towns and we knew our neighbors’ birthdays. I think back to this time, not so long ago, and it makes me sad. Why can we not acknowledge each other’s existence? Valuing life does not come easily, but acknowledging that it exists is the first step. Are we all so self-centered, so caught up in our trivial pursuits that we have lost sight of the bigger picture? I imagine taking someone out of a different time, like with a time machine or something, like let’s say out of the 19th century sometime, and dropping them onto our campus. Don’t you think that person would be appalled that no one offered to speak to them? Nodding hello to the people you pass may get annoying, if there are a lot of them, but to me that is the only sane option. I mean we are intent on denying that anyone around us deserves our recognition. But why? We could be missing out on so much. Starting a conversation with someone who sits down at your table, or is the only other person in the park, does not have to be a burden. It takes so little time and uses so little energy. So why are we absolutely opposed to doing so?

Many say the most important key to success is connections. That is very valid. Being in the right place at the right time and knowing the right people is extremely important to garnering success in the modern world, because let’s face it: hard work alone will not always suffice. You need a little bit of luck. But do people just expect these connections to magically appear? Do people expect the three people they socialize with to somehow turn out to be those connections, magically, out of a sea of tens of thousands? Put your faces out there and get to know the ones around you. Allow people to know yours. I’m not saying we should learn each other’s faces to take advantage of them. I’m saying that getting to know the people around you will benefit you much more than it will do you harm. In fact… It could save your life.

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So many things on my mind!

I just finished studying for one of my finals, for my favorite class this quarter actually, and there are so many thoughts swimming through my mind now, I can’t sit still.

Sometimes, when an animal bites me, I bite the animal back. I was the privileged, brief owner of two beautiful bunny rabbits last fall – the most wonderful bunnies ever, Lady Macbeth and King Richard, who are now hopefully happy in their forever home – and I had no prior experience with bunnies… I took them to the vet and picked up all the pamphlets, and researched rabbits online extensively… and called our local bunny shelter with questions at least once a week. They were pretty unruly rabbits, but I really felt as if they grew so affectionate for me, and I worried about them and loved them as if they were my children. But when King would bite me, I would bite him right back. On the ear or on the back of his neck. I was never really deserving of the bite; I think he would just do it out of fear. So I guess I just bit him back to tell him, yes, I can bite too, but I don’t want to hurt you.

I never really thought about it until I read We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, in which Rosemary describes how her instinctive route to express her displeasure was to bite someone. I have always been a biter – I actually have a stick ‘n’ poke of fangs under my ear because of it – but I surprised myself when my first instinct to King’s strong bunny teeth was to show him my strong human teeth. Because when I was with those bunnies (just like when I was with my dog, my cats, the horses) I knew that they were listening to me, that they understood me, and so I would tell them about my day, and ask them about theirs. I have always hated the language barrier between myself and the animals, but now I’m not so sure I need to.

Harvey’s description of the communication between animals and people, animals and plants, people and stones, stones and the elements, in the context of an animistic worldview, is enlightening. He describes the ways in which language as humans perceive language is really just a way that our tongues have learned to bend the wind. This is fascinating to me. Especially as an aspiring English teacher. There is communication between all things – something I have heard so many times and never understood.

I confess I still don’t understand. What I know is that I need to get out of here. I want to experience the world and find my forever home. I want to be able to understand the wind and what it is telling me about the rest of things. I want to understand when the bird is chirping to chirp, and when the bird is singing for a mate. I want to be able to distinguish between the rustle of different leaves and sit with a tree for days, exchanging wisdom and hearing the tree’s ancient breath.

I am hyper-aware how nonsensical this sounds to so many. But to me, there is an undeniable connection between all living things, and insisting on denying it will do us serious harm. Within that connection lies the meaning of my life. I want to know. Can you show me?

King & Lady Lady

Missing Tradition

“American society (like any other) has its own set of unquestioned assumptions. It still maintains a largely uncritical faith in the notion of continually unfolding progress. It cleaves to the idea that there can be unblemished scientific objectivity. And most fundamentally it operates under the delusion that we are each a  kind of “solitary knower” – that we exist as rootless intelligences without layers of localized contexts. Just a “self” and a “world.” In this there is no real recognition that grandparents, place, grammar, pets, friends, lovers, children, tools, the poems and songs we remember, are what we think with. Such a solitary mind – if it could exist – would be a boring prisoner of abstractions. With no surroundings there can be no path, and with no path one cannot become free. No wonder the parents of the Eskimo children of the whole Kotzebue Basin posted the “Inupiaq Values” in their schools.”

-Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild, “Tawny Grammar” pg. 60

This is part of the reason I cannot imagine living in America for the rest of my life, and part of the reason I believe, even though many profess to be revolted by the American-Southern culture, they cannot help but find some sort of old appeal in it: our inherent lack of tradition and the reality that when we ask ourselves, “What is our culture?” we cannot really answer the question. I expect a lot of younger people now would call our culture Kanye West and Coachella. To me that is ridiculous. There is no familial bond in those things, there is no filial piety. The roots of our culture lay in guns, germs and steel (to reference Diamond) and in the massacre of the innocent. No wonder my heart calls me to the far East, where I feel the pull of traditions and a culture hundreds, thousands of years old. Older than myself, older than my knowledge. My spirit yearns for the bond of a people… A shared, bonded, collectivist society, rather than the heart-wrenching, exclusionary, selfish individualist society that I live in. But I know that even when I find it, I will either have to work very hard, or wait very long, or perhaps never, no matter what I do, truly be one of them. There is hope for my children.

“It is appropriate to feel loyalty to a given glacier; it is advisable to investigate the whole water cycle; and it is rare and marvelous to know that glaciers do not always flow and that mountains are constantly walking.” (61)

Mammoth Mountain 2010
Mammoth Mountain 2010

The Spirit Buck

“Why not?” McCaslin said. “Think of all that happened here, on this earth. All the blood hot and strong for living, pleasuring, that has soaked back into it. For grieving and suffering too, of course, but still getting something out of it for all that, getting a lot out of it, because after all you don’t have to continue to bear what you believe is suffering; you can always choose to stop that, put an end to that. And even suffering and grieving is better than nothing; there is only one thing worse than not being alive, and that’s shame. But you can’t be alive forever, and you always wear out life long before you have exhausted the possibilities of living. And all that must be somewhere; all that could not have been invented and created just to be thrown away. And the earth is shallow; there is not a great deal of it before you come to the rock. And the earth don’t want to just keep things, hoard them; it wants to use them again. Look at the seed, the acorns, at what happens even to carrion when you try to bury it: it refuses too, seethes and struggles too until it reaches light and air again, hunting the sun still. And they-” the boy saw his hand in silhouette for a moment against the window beyond which, accustomed to the darkness now, he could see sky where the scoured and icy stars glittered “-they don’t want it, need it. Besides, what would it want, itself, knocking around out there, when it never had enough time about the earth as it was, when there is plenty of room about the earth, plenty of places still unchanged from what they were when the blood used and pleasured in them while it was still blood?”

-William Faulkner, “The Old People,” Go Down Moses

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