Tuesday, March 26, 2013

On the Majesty of Mountains

It is hard to fathom the mountains. And that they move, slowly, without notice. But that's what happens. And it's humbling.

I grew up in Tucson, Arizona, with the Catalina mountains out my bedroom window, looming large beyond the foothills. Now, in Brooklyn, I am in the shadow of The City. It can be so daunting, what man can build with his own hands, how possible it is to be so productive, the proof right there in the awesome bridges and towering buildings, in all manner of high-speed transportation.

And, so, I return, as often a I can, to the mountains. And I am humbled, once again. I remember there are forces far greater than any of us. And it is strangely soothing. There is only so much I am responsible for.

In Joshua Tree, where I've come with my family, strange twisted Yucca brevifolia dot the desert landscape, sprouting up amidst the scrubby brush, in amongst the eery rock formations. They are apocalyptic to be sure, these "plutonic intrusions", signs of inevitable irrepressible change.

The geologic explanation for these impressive sculptural piles hurts my brain, some chemical combination of molten lava, arid climate and rains that occurred 100 million years or so ago. If only dragonflies could talk, the stories they'd tell.

As my children scurry along the rocks, rendered against their largess like ants, like characters from
Land of the Lost, I find my heart race. It is only a matter of time.

And in that moment I am forced to forget all the worries back home, to forget that I brought the wrong shoes, or that the wheel came off one of our rolling bags. Everything else falls away besides gratitude and the realization that to walk on this great Earth for even a little while is a gift, a spectacular gift we can not take for granted.

Plates shift, fault lines spread slightly and we are not in charge. But we can try, in our own small way, to recognize beauty and maintain it, to build bridges where we can, between places and people. We can walk with wonder through deserts and forests and the fine cities built by man's own capable
hands and we can stop to say thank you to the Powers that be, to the great and merciful forces that make it possible.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Resolved: Try

It is Jan. 2, 1:42. The resolutions are still not made.

I am inspired and annoyed by the many aphorisms littering my desk.

A wrinkled fortune cookie paper suggests, "Be the labor great or small...Do it well or not at all!"

Yes. Thanks. Next...

A set of cards I've kept around forever offers up in bold black: "DANCE as though no one is watching you, LOVE as though you have never been hurt before, SING as though no one can hear you..."

Good. Great. Will do.

If I search around, I will find so many pieces of paper that attempt to help me be my best self. Then, of course, there are many packages of gold stars that mock me, unopened ones with large, medium and small and many, many opened ones with only smalls left.

Is this the year I'll finally try kick-boxing? Should I go back to Bikram? I think I might have some sessions left. Running leaves me cold, but could it be The Thing that gives me the discipline I need to get back at that yet-unfinished novel?

There are many therapists' numbers among the pile of cards I've collected, a bill for one along with the insurance form unfilled out. Who is the Other Insured? Is that me, the patient?

Day 2 of the year and I am still hopeful, optimistic if only a bit confused.

What do I really want if I could have it this year, lucky 2013??

I put the question to a barista friend, what his resolutions were, and he just shook his head.

"I know you...you want me to talk about myself, and I don't want to talk about myself."

I love a challenge. I forced the issue and made him think about it aloud.

"I need to come up with something I can do every day...Running, no, that's stupid. I won't do it."

"I know," I agreed. "You have to actually be able to do it, otherwise you set yourself up for failure. You really have to believe...all those people who do the marathon, they have to believe in the end goal, that it will really do something for them."

He looked alert suddenly.

"Maybe I will do the marathon..."

I laughed. "Maybe you just need the bigger goal to make the running seem worth it..."

"Maybe," he said.

It is early days, luckily. We have time to decide what the year has in store, what we want it to be. I do want to do what I choose to do well, I want to dance, love and sing to the very best of my ability. I guess the thing I need to do is try.

What do you want to try??