Archives for the month of: June, 2009

Today Chris and I took a small, late afternoon adventure out to Discovery Park, which is called Lawton Park on Google Maps. Funny story about Lawton Park: it’s named for Henry Ware Lawton. He’s (a) the guy who caught Geronimo. Discovery Park is I guess kind of inside Lawton Park which is named for Fort Lawton. Inside Discovery Park is Daybreak Star Cultural Center, a Native American center. Back in 1970 several Native Americans succeeded in invading and occupying the land there, and eventually it seems that the city gave it to them for the center. Crazy old world, this is.

Here are a few pictures from our walk.






If you look very carefully in the above picture…Chris and I were walking, and I heard something, and then I saw it. I stopped Chris and whispered look. And just there, in the brush…an Ewok!

A few posts of this blog have been entirely composed of pictures, because I haven’t been able to articulate my feelings and I felt it was best if I waited rather than bumble around in the dark and hit a desk and end up just cussing for a while. It’s been a couple-three weeks though, and I think I’m starting to get ahold of some things.

First of all, the bison. Growing up I spent a great deal of time and energy insinuating myself into Neopagan and New Age circles. The first non-Christian, alternate religion I experimented with was the Rainbow Path–Ed McGaa’s telling of the Lakota/Dakota/Sioux spirituality. This was my first lesson in “Beck Really Likes Ceremony and Incense and Sparklies/Is A Crow”. This was also the first time I encountered people who would tell you what their spirit animal was, and who professed great admiration for the “buffalo”. I was at the time suspicious as to the depth of their thinking, and given that I was thirteen, that’s probably a meaningful statement.

So, for over half my life I’ve heard an awful lot about the wisdom of the buffalo and how important the buffalo is, and on and on. I remained as skeptical of the truth of these statements as I did of the research capabilities of these folks. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t appreciate bison, as much as it seemed that bison were being appreciated for shallow reasons. Bison were the oversized, Woody Allen glasses to go with the cute vintage dress and tights of too-easy Native American spirituality.

And then I went to Yellowstone and saw my first bison. It was the second day that did it. We drove around a turn into a valley, and there were several bison walking on or right alongside the road! We drove past one bull, I think, and he was about six or seven feet away. On the other side of the car one was even closer to Chris, and he heard it huff and sigh.

This time and one other, I got to look a bison right in the eyes.

Once I was talking to my sensei, and he was saying how you had to be inhuman to kill whales and dolphins, because all it takes is one look in their eyes to see that they fit a certain definition of human: they have intelligence, they play, and they have compassion and probably a capability for rage and vindictiveness. You look in those eyes, and if you are paying any kind of attention, you relate to this creature.

Years ago I was fortunate enough to be able to swim with dolphins. I can’t actually swim and I was terrified of getting into the water. You see, if I get water up my nose, I immediately panic and inhale hard. I’ve nearly drowned thrice–as in, one time I saw a tunnel of light with figures at the end. After a mighty battle with myself which consisted mostly of being firm about taking my time and not freaking out about freaking out, I did get in the water and I played with two dolphins. At one point I felt their tails brush my legs and I immediately knew that they were so strong they could break my legs and not even really notice.

It was the same with the buffalo but different. I didn’t get the sense that if only I could speak the language I could have a great conversation, as I did with the dolphins. I did get the sense that this creature was a really good Taoist. It knew eating grass, roaming, mating. It knew defending other bison from predators, and it knew being silly as a calf. And I don’t think it was really concerned about much else. So by me, a really good Taoist.

Before I finally begin to tell everyone about Yellowstone, and the rest of our journey, let me first say a couple things about attachment.

As we were packing up and cleaning out the apartment in Huntington, I became what I can only describe as drunk on nonattachment–or at least, what I thought was nonattachment. And I was so happy about it. I threw out so much of my stuff, and gave away more than that, and left some things not really thinking I’d ever see them again. Of all the things we’ve stored in the basement of my in-laws house, the only thing I really want back is our signed copy of Coraline, because Neil Gaiman drew a nice rat in it, and I miss that rat.

So I got rid of all my furniture. All my kitchen appliances, and I admittedly fought for my rice cooker. I brought one sturdy backpack full of books, and thought hard about my choices. What ended up making the cut? The Taoist Classics, American Gods, the Graveyard Book, Cyrano, a Mennonite seasonal cookbook, the Tassajara Bread Book, The Last Temptation of Christ, Lord of Light, Lord Demon, Moby Dick, Don Quixote, a collection of essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson, our Anniversary Book, The Little Prince, Monkey, my travel journal, the Art of War, and the Artist’s Way. Almost all health food, even if some of it is the equivalent of broccoli: both delicious and nutritious.

Then in Kentucky we had to stop again. This time, I thought, this is going to be telling. What we throw out here will really say something about what we’re attached to. I threw out my baking dishes and mixing bowls, some bags and sweaters, my spices–curry powder, savory, Chacherie’s, everything. Lots more. Chris said it was about one and a half Skinny Younger Sisters worth. And this time there was no one to give things to. There was nothing to do but throw it all in the dumpster.

At the time, I was so relieved that the car was driving better that I didn’t really have any other thoughts or feelings about throwing stuff away. I wished I could have gifted it, but I was just so relieved that we would make it across the country.

So now we’ve lived in Seattle for almost a week. How has all that sainted, unattached feeling worked out for me? Here’s what I miss: Chairs. More than my bed or even my spices, I really miss chairs. The books are nice, but I can’t read for very long lying on the floor or sitting cross-legged. I can cook pretty well with a pot, a knife, and a cast-iron skillet, but eating on the floor is not the funtime hit of the season. I’ve seen pictures of the Dalai Lama’s rooms in Dharamsala. He has this really neat chair, wood with cushiony bits and just a little carving, as I recall.

And this is the point at which I go, “DOH! Middle path!”