September 19, 2014

Well, Joseph Campbell… ?

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I woke up at 1:30 this morning thinking about those things that we all, whether we’re working artists without a secure income or not, toss and turn over. Every one of us has something that wakes us in the night. I reached for my kitty, Tobey, who always sleeps with me and, as if the room had sent out a silent shiver, the other cats arrived offering their support.

At 3:00 I decided to get up. Turning on the bedside lamp, I put my feet on the ground, careful not to step on a soundly sleeping Kelee (see previous post A Three-Legged Man of the West). I lit a fire in the wood heater, and by 4:00 knew what I needed to do. I got in the car and headed over to Hand Artes Gallery where Kim is living for the winter (see previous post Living in an Art Gallery). He’s usually up by then and I knew the lights would be on if he was.

There’s a place on my 3/4 mile long dirt road where I can see the gallery sitting parallel to it, but I couldn’t tell if it was lit or not. Holding my breath and coming down off that last rise, I saw it: The kitchen windows glowed, shining like honey-colored beacons. Drawn to the light, I drove in, parked, and walked into that warm, old, farm kitchen without knocking.

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Kim took one look at me and said, “Coffee?”

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I think we all know that in times like these there’s really nothing to be said. But I said it anyway. And Kim answered me with this: “But you have options.”

The ground shifted under my feet, a kind of tectonic slide rumbled and clanked in my psyche, and I FOUND myself in that warm kitchen. It may sound entirely too simple, but I remembered who I am.

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Before anything else was said, I noticed the boots warming on top the stove…

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… the mugs standing ready, the french press brewing…

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… Kim, washing up some dishes, admiring an old cast iron skillet as he’s putting it away. He’d bought it when he first came to Santa Fe from an old guy long gone now. He told me about the man and his shop and I thought how rich life can be when the things we keep, the items that continue with us, have stories…

… and I remembered that all of these, these simple beauties, are available to us whenever we take the time to look; when we stand still, inside our bodies, long enough to see.

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I started taking pictures–because I am meant to preserve the stories, to document, in words and photos, an on-going portrait of the simple, beautiful, artful lives we are living up here on the High Road to Taos, in this small village of Truchas, in the mountains of northern New Mexico; living our lives as though time stood still–because I simply must. And it is important.

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Kim asked if I’d like to go get the dogs and take a walk on the land grant in the dark. Absolutely. We went to my place, still lit from my leaving, and gathered the dogs.

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And after awhile, standing out there silent in the dark, the dogs gone to their own explorations, I remembered that before Kim, this is where I came on these dark nights of the soul–out here in this black forest, lit by stars or moon or snow or nothing–I would regain my footing here, I would remember who I am. Under these vast heavens I would feel my part in it all. I would remember my “place in the family of things” as Mary Oliver so beautifully wrote in her poem, Wild Geese–just as in that kitchen on this morning.

Kim had his own work to do today and I wanted to write to you, so I drove him back home to the gallery. And on my return, I was gifted with this stunning sunrise.

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I stopped along the way to grab pictures because I wasn’t sure if it’d still be happening when I arrived home. Sometimes they’re gone in minutes.

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But this one waited for me and gave me this, which I took as a sort of thumbs up from the universe, a kind of celebration, welcoming me home, back to self.

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I began this morning challenging Joseph Campbell and his immortal words, words I’ve held as true for so long: “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.”  “Well, Joseph Campbell,” I wanted to scream, “… where are MY friggin’ open doors?”

But I realize, now, I’m standing in them.

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Love to you all,

Jeane

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