Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Unexpected Abiqui

Elizabeth Gilbert's book, Eat, Pray, Love, touched a part of all of us that longs for deeper experiences and adventures.
We started ours camping at Abiqui Lake in really rural Northern New Mexico.  We found this place, as such places are often found, by complete accident.  We're pulling our 12 foot vintage travel trailer and needed a place to camp near a monastery that we would be visiting in the morning.    Over the next three days I would be dragging my family through some of the most beautiful, unusual...and sacred (?) destinations Northern New Mex has to offer.  This wasn't how my trip was originally planned, but as I researched my original area of intention, other areas started rising from the landscape of red cliffs, seas of sage brush, mystery and legend.  They were all so compelling to me, so close to each other and the opportunity for more travel before winter socked us into our little mountain village seemed so remote, I wanted to see them all and after checking mapquest and figuring out routes it even seemed least to me.  My husband, Darren, would need a little more convincing.
Fortunately for me, I had an ace up my sleeve.  I had just spent the better part of a month entertaining Darren's family.  They're great people and I'm growing quite fond of them, but still, a month?  He owed me big.
And he knew it well enough that he agreed to be primary caregiver to our rambunctious two-year-old on this adventure, leaving me free to play writer/researcher.
All of these places have a certain amount of spiritual significance, some more than others and some more to others than to some.  Our destinations included:  Christ of the Desert Monastery, a benedictine Monastery with a modern penchant for going green for ecological as well as savy economical reasons; Ojo Caliente, where the Hot Springs heal the tired and weary adn the resort offers yoga and archeologically guided hikes through ruins of ancient pueblos; Chimayo, steeped in legend, mystery and the magical side of Catholicism that believes in miracles; and El Rito, a rock climbing haven that draws climbers from all over the world, some of them with their own strange magical realism spirituality.
But for now--we are camping at Abiqui Lake, on a small bluff overlooking the lake and the Chama valley, near the Georgia O'Keefe Ghost Ranch, in full view of the flat top mountain featured so prominently in much of her work.  Her home wasn't too far from here, though the lake wasn't here at the time.  I think she would have liked it, but I wonder how it would have effected her work and how prominently it would have figured into her interpretation of the desert.  On second thought, maybe she wouldn't have liked it.
The Lake is rimmed with rock cliffs and spoked with rocky side canyons, some making for private pool areas like the one my family and I swam naked while the sunset.  "Nila get tummy wet?"  Across the valley, higher cliffs can be seen, red, beige, pink, off in the distance, but not so far that the red beige cliffs didn't display spectacular details in the shadows.  Those rocky layers that always remind me of temples somehow.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Owl Watched Me From the Tree

This is actually the first time I've ever used a blog and I'm just trying it on, so to speak, trying to see if this "look" is right for me.  I was told that I if I really wanted to build a career in writing these days, then I desperately needed to get a blog going.  I'm rather proud of myself.  I thought I was going to have to get a whole new website going and everything and that would be complicated because I already have one website that hardly gets any views.  Well, that's me being cynical and it's not quite true.  I've had enough views that I'm the second website pulled up when you do a two word search of the subject...which I'm not going to share right now because I'm still not sure how public this is, how many people might actually view it, etc. we need to be paranoid about the internet?  That's a good title for a story and one that might actually sell...I might need to look into that .  Right now, I'm using this blog as merely a vehicle for my stream of consciousness writing.

I used to be a writer.  and I used to be a good one.   In college, my professors always made me feel like they expected great things from me and I'm afraid that up to this point, I may have disappointed them.  Right out of college, I didn't try to set the world on fire.  I concentrated on rock climbing and yoga.  Course, I'm in one of the hardest towns to find a job if you're looking to set the world on fire, but as it turned out, I was lucky.  There was one firm that offered experience that would open doors in a direction I might actually end up walking and I was very fortunate to be able to get a job with them.  Very fortunate, because otherwise, I'm not sure what I would have done.  I had no real ideas and no money to help move me out of this fabulous little mountain town, yet I held out hope that something would materialize...and it did.  malcolm gladwell would refer to my experience as opportunity intersecting with preperation.  Of course, according to his Outliers book I need to log 10,000 hours before i become really, really good at what I do.  I wonder where I am with that?

Anyway, that one job with a corporate entity turned into 7 years of valuable education that I got paid for.  It also helped me clarify what I want and don't want.  I don't want to work for anyone else.  I don't want a boss.  It doesn't suit me.  At some point in my life I began to think of myself as more of a subcontractor with my jobs.  i didn't believe my employers owned me...and it seems that most people think that they do, on a subconcious level, if no where else.  i found this rankling.  I found it stifling and something I couldn't live under.  At my last employment, I worked directly for the CEO and didn't appreciate anyone else telling me what to do.  I don't like being told what to do period.  Tell me my objectives, tell me what's expected of me and I will get it done, but don't ask me to fetch your slippers or get your coffee, unless you plan to return the favor.  We're equals after all, right?  Fortunately for me, my employer felt similarly or realized that I would do a great job if you just stayed out of my way.  Unfortunately, this also meant that he kind of dropped the ball on helping me develop, but at the same time it was good because I learned to develop myself during this time.  this didn't always translate to me developing talents beneficial to the company, but it did help me a great deal. I focused a lot on self-improvement, and on yoga.  I believe I needed to focus on these things at the time because I had a lot of healing, buiding and rebuilding to do after the life I had had.  Now I feel like Humpty has actually been somewhat put back together again...and even improved.  may sound vain, but maybe more like the Bionic Woman.  I've been through so many transitions, burnings, etc. that I have often felt the universe picked up my battered remains at some point and said, "We can rebuild her, make her faster,"  And from there the universe set to pulling and pushing and molding to now I sit here trying to scrub the rust off of my writing muscles and set them to work for me.  Then end for today.