Tag: New mexico

It’s a Big Country, or Those Pink Plastic Flamingos are Looking Real Good Now

I just got back from Arizona where it was both a pleasure and a relief to hike without snowshoes, pat green plants and feel the sun on my bare skin. The severity of this winter in Massachusetts was grinding and I didn’t even realize how beaten down (and weird) I was becoming until Richie and I left it. After a few days of hiking in the stupendously gorgeous red rocks of Sedona, my paranoia about what Mother Nature was planning to inflict next dissolved and my sense of confidence, not to mention perspective, reinstated itself.

We watched hummingbirds flit amongst the cacti and, at an outdoor café, laughed when magpie stole a packet of sugar off a table, then ate it in the nearby tree with sparrows scarfing up the leavings. I picked up a lemon that was on the sidewalk. A lemon! On the sidewalk! Fallen from a tree, just growing there!

Naturally, after a few days of this Eden, my thoughts turned to the people who winter down here—snowbirds, the ones we hardy New Englanders like to scoff at.

I scoff no more. Now I think they’re onto something. And what’s more, I’m starting to think that RV’ers are also onto something. We stopped at Whitewater Draw, a spot in the desert near Bisbee where Sandhill cranes gather. Next to the oasis,  a sign at a dirt parking lot informed us we could camp there for free for up to three days. A few RV’s were already parked. How cool is that? You drive your home around the country, park places, plant out the pink flamingoes and lawn chairs, watch the cranes come and go in the sunrise and sunset.

I remember talking to Dario Pegoretti at an early NAHBS when we were both taking breaks, and we jokingly planned a commune in New Mexico with all our frame-building friends. The idea still appeals to me, only now it would be RV’s. We could all drive around in our RV’s, park together in a wagon-train circle, ride bikes (for the cyclists), have a writing prompt session or two (for the writers) and generally have a ducky time avoiding winter.

What do you think? Am I just getting old or is this a ReVolution?

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Do You Know Who You Are If No One Knows Who You Are?

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I am in New Mexico right now and went hiking at Ghost Ranch yesterday. I got to talking with a lovely young woman who works and lives there and she told me how the solitude at the ranch–so longed for in her life–was almost overwhelming in the winter months. Having no distractions forces you to face yourself.  Our conversation reminded me of this earlier post I wrote and so I’m re-posting it here (with a new image–a watercolor I did en plein air at Ghost Ranch.) Hope you like it.

What is your role at this time in your life? Can you state it, in one sentence? When an editor looks at a manuscript and can’t quite make up her mind about it, she asks the author: “what is at the core of the story?” If the author doesn’t know or can’t relate it succinctly, then that is the basic problem with the story. It’s the same with our lives. If we can’t tell ourselves, in one sentence, what our role is, how do we know what our story is?

Knowing our role is the center of our actions. If we know our role, our actions naturally and easily extend outward from that knowledge. If we don’t know, our actions seem erratic and confusing, to us and to everyone else.

You find your role by self-reflection.  It’s an activity that involves no one but you. It’s just you and you—non-twittered, non-face booked, non-social media-ed.  The only way to get to know yourself is to meet yourself and you can’t do that if you are constantly reacting to someone else’s idea of who you are.

Do you exist if no one tags you? Do you count if you don’t post? Who are you, essentially? Take away all your labels: friend, parent, lover, child. Take away your media: face book, twitter, tumblr, etc. Drop all these like a cheap suit. Now stand there naked. Who are you? When you can answer that, it’s time to get dressed again.

Not knowing is scary; I’ve been there. It’s a dark place with no stable ground. But if you can do the hard work of facing yourself, answering your own questions, not letting others tell you who you are, you will find your stable ground and it will be always stable, since you have found it for yourself.

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