Tatanka, 2

Seven of Thirty

The human was folded. Scottish folded on Irish, on English; Apache folded on Hawaiian; country stock folded on city elite and female on male. There was no part of them you could call one thing. Still everything wanted to be one thing. From one place, of one single idea was the goal. And the ideas chased all others away, wanting to be the only thing on the plate, even if starvation ensued.
And the folds refused to merge, to become that next thing.

Dakotas carried names. They called these the black hills, and they called those the badlands. In older times, before the Europeans swept across with their heavy trudging tools and animals, making lines that crisscrossed the horizon, before then, they called it meat pack. The muscular piny ridges were filled with deer and elk, wood for winter fires, and water. It was a homeland, a place you returned to. And you called it something trusted, something loved.

But nothing named endured down in Picking Bulls belly when he thought of the land. This land he crouched on now, farther West, farther south, was larger and older than largeness and oldness. Instead, he could feel the earth pulling him to depths in his soul where words seemed a burden. Balance was all as he sat hunched in the grass, looking out on hills, invisible. In his breath and the smell of the clinging soil he kept his feet. The air around was fluid light, carrying only the responsibility of barrenness.

Jesse had laid out his weapons and his coffee in the teepee that morning, blessed blades next to brewed beans from his friends in the south, the gps node lying black and bean like next to his cup. He sat on his haunches on the buffalo blanket next to the low tray where she sat the tools, back erect and breathing. When he’d opened his eyes from meditation, she was gazing outside.

“Don’t let yourself get too cold.” She admonished. “You’re too old for cold. And the boys will need you for calving when you get back.”

He’d left her with an embrace, come to the southern edge of the hills with the smell of her hair fading too quickly.

Everything seemed beaten down here. The sun and wind had risen and fallen in twisting conflict over the rolling surface, leaving stubborn scars. There, where the hills curved up and the trees finally found purchase, there he sat waiting, the scrappy forest behind him and the plains laid out before him to the south. It was a natural demarcation that gave him some solidness, unlike the openness of the plains giving way to escarpments and wind carved arroyos farther south. He knew that was the only direction to go, either over or under the beast.

It lay across hundreds of kilometers, between mountains and river, a force fed structure of rail and highway, a giant snake. Kilometers wide and tall, sunrise to sunset, it framed the world and carried man. It’s large multi storied arches and walls leaped across the landscape, moving all types of vehicles and housing that living mass of people growing from, and supporting, it’s powerful limbs. They were apart. They were overarching, and they were lost.

And beyond them, to the south, where the lands layers thrust up in rustic colored lines from tales of eons and floods long past, there were geologic cycles that coursed and flowed as sure as his blood through his veins. The wind would call his soul out there and tell him of times past, an alluring whisper, until he could feel the earth begin to flow. Long ago he learned to yearn for this communion like nourishment.

So he would cross over into those poorer badlands. The visions would come and, in tears, he would give himself up. Whether the message they gave him to bring back imparted death or life he did not know, only that his people would follow.

When the shadows tilted east, and before he began to walk, he retied his boots and wondered whether he should clear more cactus this year. He needed to plant a larger crop of potatoes. Mouths were finding their way into his teepee.

Old Dreams, New Ways

Six of Thirty

I’m a COI (Child of the Interpreters), goes along with the Children of the Interpreters, goes along with every bunch of rugrats who didn’t fit in to one side or the other, by bloodline, looks or pocketbooks. And we belonged to parents who, trying to pass on their wisdom and culture and love, found themselves creating some type of mixed table, admonitions flavored with exceptions, plates and forks from wherever the universe spilled out, and food like Indian tacos and government cheese. Technically, you couldn’t call fry bread traditional. I know, but who cares.

jakeI don’t believe in nations. I don’t believe in blood. I don’t believe in separations.

Throw us all in there together. We’ll survive. And the people who believe that there is some kind of purity that needs to be preserved will just have to put up with our loud music, with the comings and goings, with our new ways of doing things.

Because this is my old dream, it’s not about old ways, it’s not about before the white man came, or before the slave years, or before that time in the desert. It’s about no disparities. It’s about no lines, no laws that separate, no fences to keep the others out. And it’s about not being on this side or that side of the tracks, of town, or of the river.

It’s about not having to worry about being good enough. That’s my old dream.

The things those old gods remind us of, yeah? And new science too. That’s old. Like just figuring things out is something new, right? So here’s my new way: Fuck all the rest of that shit.

And I know this could be read by some white apologists as befitting their argument. Fuck that shit too. Because colonialism was a thing that happened. Slavery was a thing that happened. Fixing that isn’t about being good enough. It’s just about being good.

We’re all good enough. Now, let’s do that.

Walking into the woods

five of thirty

“I went into the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Thoreau

poolThe A1C was high.  To a diabetic, that’s a hard line.  This week’s efforts were good, with three eleven mile bike rides, two swims. Still not getting my food right.  I know that’s more important than the exercise. Working on it though, have some buffalo broth in the crock pot.

The yard is in disarray.  It’s rainy enough and still warm enough, that I can’t keep up with the mowing. It’s time for cutting back and cleaning up leaves. It’s time to let things go.  All the while I’m moving into  a winter training mindset – so from the being out of control end of summer splurge to the point of dealing with harder weather. I’m getting ready to answer the wet darkness and hours of boredom with physical effort.

It’s easy to get scared of this phase -the rebuilding.

Last years goal setting and achieving are past.  The days of letting go are past too.  I guess somehow they roll together.  Can’t come off of sustained effort without some type of off season.

But that sports and season analogy only goes so far.  When we’re talking about building habits, then the off season can’t be a hedonistic off season.  All the effort that went into not doing, or having, or consuming things turns back on itself.  The energy stops being about constraint, about not doing. It becomes doing, it becomes hunger. I let it run. I do what the fuck I want to do.  At some point, some year, when the issue is building habits to carry one through life, then the energy during building phases shouldn’t be about “not” having or doing, it should be about layering in the cool, healthy and happy skills.  Note to self.

But we all know the cyclist who gains too much weight in the off season, the athlete who gets too far out of shape. Where’s the balance?

At the end of the day I do what I want.

Yes, it’s the kind of “I’m going to eat all those strawberries” kind of want. On the edgier side, it’s even “I’m going to drink all that beer” kind of want. I do it. Many do. At my age the main weaknesses are fried foods and ice cream. Owning that is something I’m learning. Maybe too much.

There’s a status that goes along with the ability to just fucking enjoy yourself that comes from resiliency, being unaffected. The status of the unaffected: You relax; you get curious about what’s around, maybe chuckle at the reactions of the uninformed. Nice, yeah. But when the status is tied to consumption, to unbalance in the self. Maybe it’s not really unaffected. Maybe it’s too much.

Too much, because there’s a entire other part of me that loves being in control, that loves quiet strength and elegance. This is the side of constraint. I want that side too. And the displayed power of striding through the world, taking and doing what I want, needs to be balanced. It needs to be framed with the inner power of a equally strident conscious choice to not get lost to ecstasy, to pleasure.

And as I write that, I know there’s screams going off all over the place. People will feel the need to say “life is for living! Life is for enjoying!”

Time for a note, to say I choose to not get lost to ecstasy, or pleasure, is not to say that either is good or bad.  It’s not to say that I don’t. It may be closer to saying I’m not going to turn left all the time just because it feels good. Sometimes I need to turn right because that’s where I need to go. Sometimes I need to turn right to know what that feels like. But more importantly, the message I’m trying to convey here is that I need a steering wheel. I need the gears, and cogs and hydraulics and electrical current and struts and bars … all the pieces that enable either turn to happen.

Once I have that, I don’t really care about making any kind of judgement on the relative merits of being hedonistic or being Spartan. I’m both.

Which direction I turn, towards a mind blowing pleasurable experience, or towards the control that’s needed to achieve anything else I want (and mainly in this regard I want self protection or improvement) … which direction I turn is really irrelevant. I need a steering system. I need to be able to eat when I want, drink when I want, meditate and be quiet when I want, run, climb, swim, bike, fuck, snuggle and cross a fucking desert, when I want.

When you’re dealing with illness, and life starts limiting you, that stands out sharply, with edges that cut. I want choice.

What that takes is to sometimes hold back, definitely to hold back from self destructive tendency, and to sometimes let go. Sometimes I have to run off cliffs to find them – just not twice.  This isn’t hard stuff. It’s what they could’ve taught us in junior high.

Tatanka – Chapter 1

(four of thirty)

It’s Picking Bulls.

Muscles tensing, machine chirping, lights from city slipping into a shadowed room and the bed.  Legs wrapped in blankets and each other, the girl moving away in sleep as the young brown skinned warrior rises from sleep and reaches for the sound.

“It’s Picking Bulls”

“Yeah, so how’d you get this address” he asks rolling over to get a smoke, checking the girl in the bed as he quietly reaches down to a rifle laying below him. touching it.  It’s ready light begins to glow.The gray light of day seeping into small curtained windows.

“You should look out your window.”

Leaning a little, Michael slips the curtains, seeing past the balcony and a shadow of street, until across the constant movement and brown melt of snow he finally spots Picking Bulls at a coffee stand. Back home they call him Pick. Here he stands, between customers and traveled way, coffee in one hand, phone in the other, looking up, looking back.

“I’m sorry I have to kill you, brother”

There was something in the voice, something prayer like, then he just stops, waits, His gaze, the dark eyes, broken by others moving between the two. The street alive.

“What? I left” The young one, Michael asks, waking up now, sensing the danger of them, of the elders, of the tribe reaching out, He glances at the door, where his clothes are as she stirs.

“to where?” Pick asks, “This is the spirit world. Doesn’t make a difference if it’s the miles or planets, you know that.”

Michael looks at the ceiling. “yea, and I opted out.”

“white man’s ‘out’ got in your brain somewhere. I get it. Let’s you feel like a man … free.”

Michael can see his face moving in the sliver of vision between the curtains where they settled as he let them go. The lines of thought seem to wrinkle on Picking Bulls forehead as he stared up at a camera’s eye for a moment and then directly across the street  at Michael’s window.

“Murder will change things though. so that there is no more out. The elders are all together now, across the world “there is no more out.”

Now the young man, exasperated, says, “yea, well fuck. I just did what you all were too weak to do.”

“Maybe. You know I look at these prospectors, these steaders, around me in this oversize excuse for a town, and I ask myself do these people love their mothers less than we? Probably not. You and me were lucky to have place, to have tribe. Doesn’t make us more right, just lucky.”

“This isn’t about being right or better. I’m not here for that. It’s just maintaining the line. That’s my job. And your job now is to get ready to die … do it standing up, without hurting anyone else.”

Michael says “All by yourself, for something you don’t even know about.”

Pick’s voice is still on the phone, but Michael can’t see his face anymore.

“If it’s not me than it will be someone else,” the voice says. “Come out. I’m sorry but come out. I will carry your soul home. My shoulders are broad”

“You’re an old man!”

The older warrior chuckles, “that’s more like it. Come on out. There’s a triad park across fifth street. They let me borrow it from time to time. I’ll be waiting.”

He disconnects and through the window, the streets noise swallows every trace of him.

The Harder Thing

Three of Thirty.

Two months of feeling sorry for myself – enough.  reset to ought.

170 for the Hilly. This one is about goal setting and hard things as much as it’s about moving through the world with arms wide open. The Chilly Hilly is a bike ride of 35 miles, all hilly, in February. Need to have a loose light body that’s resilient and strong.

21 weeks from now. 32 lbs and 10 lbs of muscle gained.
21 weeks. Add 25 miles. With hills.
21 weeks. Max out the facial softness and the healthy metabolism.

Max out the cold training.

What am I talking about?

Hot Yoga.
Swimming.
Biking and Hi Intensity training.

Do the hard thing. Do the Chilly Hilly. Possibly fail? Yeah. But learn from it all. Learn from the effort. A long time ago, my Aikido Instructor said something like “It’s all training.” He said it in an inclusive way, like all life is training. I rejected that. Still do.
Life is for living.
But now, I’d say what he said, with some nuance. Yeah, it’s all training – in hindsight. Laughing and loving while your going through it, that’s living. That’s staying soft. That’s how you break through hard walls. Learn from the path, but enjoy the path.

Be soft. Be present.

All that to break through. Break through the myths. And the myths of hardness are as much about that being false, as about the idea of being all that. The idea that you’re going down a wrong road is a myth. Being a guy and doing hard things is fucked up they’ll say. But that’s wrong too.

You could say that the false male myth is one of hardness, one of goal only. You could say.

Instead what it needs to be about is progressive iterative and cyclic moves towards a goal. But the goal is softness. The goal is open arms, strength resiliency and love.

Staying content with the cycle itself in order to maintain balance, maintain health, sometimes just maintain.

At some level I want to say it’s about not caring. That’s not quite it. It’s about staying relaxed while going through the work. It’s about that being the achievement. And in staying relaxed, to keep caring and feeling.

My Nutritionist said most of what I’ve gained was inflamation. Some fat, yeah I know.

Right now: 201 lbs, glucose 131. Tomorrow the numbers start.

Tomorrow, you suck. I know. Let it go.

I feel fine. Just not good. So, time to go. Time to get to good.

Right now, my biking is at 11 miles (last week did 16). Cycle that up to the Chilly 35.  Slowly.

And if I’m going to really be writing. If this is supposed to mean anything, then I have to say: diet-wise, switch to fat, cut the carbs, stay loose, move gently but move.

That’s what breaking through walls is. Staying soft. Staying. Sticking. Sticking with it. Never giving up.

Never giving up on yourself.

A Little Bit of Crazy

Two of Thirty

mars_atmosphere“Need to Science the shit out of this.” -The Martian

I’m not going to get this right.
Not with the amount of time I have and the amount of science it’s going to take. I’ll fill in the pieces later, keep moving; fill in the colors later, draw lines now;
flow to that part of the brain that is tracking now.
Yeah, that’s what I’ll do.

Ever seen the dervishs? They whirl. The drummers drum. The church choirs sing, and the monks meditate. The charismatics speak in tongues. The pagans trance. I’ve been many of these.
And I’ve been an engineer and a scientist.
There’s a reason to take your mind along a path of Faerie, or along the story line. It’s because our higher mind isn’t made for shifting. We don’t change our minds very easy. And that’s a good thing.
I need to pour energy into getting through whatever task is in front of me. That takes being single minded. But ideas only go so far. Every piece of reason or driving logic we have that gets us through the day needs to be parked in order for the neurons to clean out, for the growth along other pathways to happen, to reveal more. Yeah, that’s one thing.
To learn more. To learn more than just the steps of the task before me, I need to be able to shift sideways.
To let go, too, I need to be able to disengage from the task, the line of thinking. Whatever it is that challenges me in the day. That’s the thing that’s keeping my mind going. It’s keeping me away from sleep. It’s keeping my cortisol levels up. When I was younger, that cortisol, I’m sure, was mixed with adrenaline.
I can say it was from PTSD. There, said. But, I want to say it from the standpoint of a symptom of a condition, only. And that condition is present in many, and to some degree or another. Saying that for a reason. Because the diagnosis isn’t the story. It’s not the end. It’s not even that interesting. Let the size of it go.
Then I do drumming, singing, speaking in tongues, meditating, whatever as a way to shift sideways, step back, break through the hard crust of that bad medicine.
Shit happens. You work through it, step sideways, take care of what’s needed and move on. And the moving sideways is this ecstasy thing. Oh yeah, you can do it with some booze or some bud, but that just stops the firing of the pathways, it doesn’t relax into new ways. And it does it, too often, at the cost of carbs (and all their side affects) or at the cost of other social ills (not what this is about). So yeah, you can R&R your way out of it.
But it you’re stuck, poor (like a college student), committed to the point of “not going anywhere” or for any other reason not able to physically change the world or routing enough, then it’s the ritualistic ways of ecstasy you need: meditation, dancing, drumming, and on to poetry and music. I’d even throw some hypnotism or cognitive therapy into that mix, except I’m not that smart.
Oh yeah, I’ve heard surfing too. I guess it depends on what you have.
It helps me get away from my monkey mind, jumping around in my my fiery neocortex, or up out of my lizard brain, a slower rhythm of not enough thought. And I’m sure it gets me away from the mouse mind too.
The Christians have the three, Father, Son, Holy Spirit – or closer to home, body, soul, and spirit. The neopagans have the talking self, younger self and Deep or God Self. In evolution it’s lizard brain, mouse, then monkey mind.
It’s more than likely something more than three. It ain’t one. We, and life, are made up of so many parts, it’s ridiculous. Whatever we have to do to just chill out and let that be, that’s a good thing. It’s a practice I want to have in my pocket.
In my pocket, though. Contained. I won’t over glorify anything. Prayer or meditation may just be mindfulness, trance may just be focus, and ecstasy? Well it’s where you find it. But find it you must.

Heart Like a Wheel

leavesOne of Thirty

How many days into autumn are we? Seems I started seeing the leaves fall a while ago. Now it’s October. Back when I was falling in love it was before the spring, When the green was starting, but short of the official okay of a date. It wasn’t April 21st then, like it’s not September 21st now. It’s October. We’re past the heat. Then, we were before. Any day I expect to hear the sound of leaf blowers. I think I have a rake in the shop.
Never liked the sound of those blowers. Never liked the harshness of it. At least around my house, things should be done by hand. The leaves that had done their duty should be met with some kind of honor of exertion. Yes, and honestly, I like the feel of the ache in my shoulders as I wade into the effort. I like the feel of the handle in my hands.
These days there’s a good chunk of people who don’t believe in rakes, who don’t believe in love. They’ll point out how it never lasts, how you’re blinded to peoples faults, how childish it is to dream. They’ll say you shouldn’t rely, you shouldn’t give up, you shouldn’t … you shouldn’t. And when the summer comes, they’ll tell you you’re tricked.
Still, you suck up the sun, lay on the beach, open up your arms and let it take you all in. Regardless of what they say, you still do it. It’s because this stodgy goo that is our everyday perception wants to jump. It wants to move and dance and fly, to be away from this sameness, to hunger for the other -and feed.
They’ll say there’s more than one, that it isn’t just the heat of the sun, but the smell of the flowers -just like in the greenhouse – or not the warmth of the day -just like what you can get from the fireplace. They’ll say that to be balanced and healthy you have to enjoy everything.
But more than anything, they’ll say that, once again, you’re wrong. That to be normal and healthy, like everybody else, you have to do what they say. Don’t love.
But These leaves keep falling.
Wrong doesn’t matter. Wrong doesn’t care. Wrong is it’s own kind of glory, like those leaves. They did their duty, with no one telling them it wasn’t worth it. There’s cycles to this. Giving into what you want, letting go of all the should-of-beens, it’s kind of all the same thing. And with each pull of the rake the body remembers.
It’s like those nightmares. Have you ever had those nightmares where you’re falling and there’s nothing there to catch you? The kind where only dying is at the end. And if they last … yeah, I know, crazy. If the terror lasts, right? But if they last, if you let go of the fear and turn in your dreaming eye, … if you can do that, you’ll find
… you’re flying.
And the seasons turn and the wheel creaks. It’s the cycle, it’s the circle of things that we’re made for … not to measure up to someone else’s description of better or best. And the honor and attention that we give to these falling bits of ourselves, and the thrill of the wind tearing it all down in a sudden … all of that required a beginning.
“If you’re brave enough, often enough, you will fall.” – Brene Brown
And the leaves are everywhere.