23 August 2011

The Day I Cannot Shape

My sister and her husband travel deep into Chihuahua, to Mata Ortiz, to import clay pots. These new vessels echo ancient traditions of pots shaped long ago. Collectors seek them. We have one, and it’s beautiful and fragile. I'm proud of my sister's enterprising spirit. I'm proud of the pot. I like to show it to guests.

I work with my body. I can still forget it’s fragile. I do Tai Chi to be limber and sense a gentle healing. I know the people and technology of the medical arts and sciences can analyze and diagnose, and together we can mend my cracks, dis-eases, and strains.

I love some with whom I have strained relations. I know others with diseased bodies. I possess cracked objects. We all feel cracks and strains, and dis-ease, which the promise of medicine, science and technology, can no longer mend. People dear to me die. I am humbled. Am I prepared for technologies that cannot mend?

The abundance of resources with which I am blessed permits me to shape change, which will come. Am I prepared to let go of my resources? I know my material things will not last. I see the passing of my possessions. Am I prepared someone new does the ways of an old tradition in a new way? Am I prepared to accept a new day I cannot shape?

21 August 2011

Scaling Down

I like our house. We live in it and with it; we’ve nested. The house and grounds feel spacious. The grounds are open but private. The grounds has trees, which provide a screen and offer shade for the house. We’ve shaped its interior and its shaped us. We have rooms for us and for each of us. The house has old things, borrowed things, new things, and some blue walls. The house often has beautiful interior light.

We’re contemplating a move to a new residence, a de-nesting to a new nesting. It’d be a smaller, less costly nest, suited to wading into our diminishing productivity and increasing austerity. Our left-brain bullet points are numerous; the numbers are persuasive and seemingly to our future benefit. It’s a contemplation now but in a few weeks a contingency? We could not downsize and live with all our possessions. I could not nest with all my possessions. All of them and us wouldn’t fit. My right brain is mulish about all of this.

I possessed two rooms in our house, transformed them. In turn I was transformed and we were transformed. The imagining and thinking of voluntarily giving our house up, my rooms up, deconstructing them and the time, talent, and labor put into them, is shocking me. I’m shocked at the thought of losing our home, my house, my rooms, our objects in our rooms. My objects in my rooms. We wouldn’t lose them, they’d be packed away, but they all won’t fit in the new nest. I’m possessed.

Possessed I rob myself of my inner freedom and my freedom to act. I hobble myself. Do I want to be hobbled by my possessions? No. Are my possessions the same as me? No. Do my possessions reflect me? Maybe a little, but like a metaphor, they break down quickly. Is what I do with my things a reflection of me? Yes.

I’m biased to action; I pray the consequences of my actions will be my possessions. But by my possessions I keep myself from doing.

I like our house, our nest, my stuff. I feel mulish about scaling down. And I'm a little frightened too; the uncertainty!

17 August 2011


Once upon a time I was walking a path. I stumbled, I fell, and I was in a dark place. I couldn’t see. I was scared. After ages I figured I’d fallen into a cavern. I couldn’t get out and I felt forgotten. After a long time I did get out. I needed a lot of help to get out. There were people and dogs. I didn’t like it. It was awful.

The very next day I was on the same path watching the white clouds in the blue sky. All of a sudden I was at the bottom of the hole. I knew where I was. I’d been there yesterday. But I couldn’t get out. I didn’t know how to get out. I got cold and shivered. I got hungry and I felt tired and lonely. I couldn’t see. I cried. Buddy heard me.

And the next day I was on the same path. I fell into the same hole. Again! I remembered how to get out. I looked up, and I called, “Buuuuh-Deeee.” I waited. I looked up and I could see bright sunlight but then my hole seemed darker. I couldn’t see. I called “Buuuuh-Deeee.” I listened then I called again, “Buuuuh-Deeee.” I whistled. After forever I got tired. I got cold and shivered. I felt lonely and I didn’t know what to do and I said, “This is the third time.”

“Wooo, wooo, Roofff!” Buddy heard me and brought help.

Thursday I walked again. Buddy was with me. I threw a red ball and Buddy brought it to me. I felt happy with Buddy. It was sunny, and Buddy was running with the ball. He stopped and started baying and barking. “Wooo, wooo, Roofff!” He stood still, barking. I kept walking,

“C’mon, Buddy.” I said.

I remembered my hole. I remembered I’d fallen it, and I got closer and I even saw it. I remembered I was afraid and confused and sad in there, and Buddy was barking, and I turned around, and, I fell in again!

“I know the way out now,” I thought with pride. “I can do this.”

“Buddy! Go get help.”

“Wooo, wooo,” he bayed. Roofff!” Buddy stood looking down at me.

“Buddy! Get help!”

Buddy barked and barked for a long time, and got tired out and looked at me from the top my hole. I got tired and the light got dark. I got hungry. I felt tired and lonely and sad. I couldn’t see. I cried myself asleep.

“Wooo, wooo! Roofff!”

I looked up; there was Buddy and in the light.

Buddy was barking loud!

“Rufff, Rufff!”

I heard, “Hush dog!”

“Well, Saint’s be praised! So this is your cavern hole?”

And then, “Willis MaGee! Wha’-tar-ya doin’ down thar in the dark place?”

Mr. O’Connell got me out quickly. He brought Buddy and me home for apple pie. Buddy eats apple pie. I was surprised. Mrs. O’Connell said, “Now, don’t ye go down that path agin. We’re tarrd of fishin’ ye out.”

“Buddy‘ll get me out,” I said.

“Don’ be smart-mouthin’ me with ye malarky, Willis MaGee. T’sure, Buddy shines to ya, but ye try that path again, and . . . ye may have no apple pie!”

Saturday I saw my hole from a ways off. Buddy and I were walking and playing ball. Buddy started barking, “Roofff, Roofff!” I felt proud I saw my hole. I wasn’t afraid. We got closer and Buddy barked.

“Yes, Buddy, I see, I see. Shhhh, shhh, shhh.”

I walked to the edge, brave, Buddy barking a fury, “Rufff, Roofff, Rufff!”

“Hush, Buddy,” I say.

I look down in my hole. I get dizzy. I wobble and weave, breath fast, and in a flash, I start to tumble.

“Ouch! You bite me, Buddy?”

I didn’t fall in.

On Sunday Buddy takes me on another path.

10 August 2011


I dreamed.
Saying goodbye, or, you saying goodbye, we were;
So many there, a thanksgiving,

but still,
I not wanting the change, again, after an again,
from an again long ago.

I weep . . . 
you fade . . . we apart.

Oh dear . . . where did you go?

“All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change.
There is no way to escape being separated from them.”

07 August 2011

Each Obstacle is a Blessing

I work outdoors. I do lawn care with push mowers and maintain gardens. I like the labor; it's exercise, often it can be difficult. My work is a natural; it comes from within. It’s spiritual. It calls for determination, a strong back, and a creative spirit.
I find creativity in the mow. I earn simple income. I study to learn so to grow so to provide knowledgeable service to customers.
I encounter obstacles.
  • Customers don’t care for my knowledge; please cut my lawn for the little I think I should spend.
  • I’ve little ability to price; customers hold price power.
  • Some customers fail to pay any price.
  • Price is not correlated to difficulty, terrain, area, grass height, work volume, or labor's value.
  • Price links to geography: near-west and west prices aren’t north and east prices.
  • I’m physically just able, especially in the heat, to keep up with demand.
  • I’m unfamiliar with how it feels to work with a person whose work is to help me work.
  • I cannot pay a person what their labor is worth; customers hold price power.
  • I’m emotionally weakened by mechanical breakdown; both inhibit my resiliency and flexibility. I don't like to admit it.
  • My machines are simple, my mechanical knowledge simpler; my ignorance and inexperience is costly.
  • My 1986 Ford F-150 was inexpensive to buy but is costly to run. Gas is the largest operating cost.
  • Knox County and the City of Knoxville, to advertise on my truck, require commercial tags, so it's taxed. Equipment is taxed. Gross sales are taxed.
  • My micro-business is undercapitalized relative to operating costs.
  • A customer’s mistrust is the biggest obstacle I encounter.
  • Every day there is an obstacle to work around, over, or with.
Each obstacle is a blessing.
Obstacles are necessary for success because. . , as in all careers of importance, victory comes only after many struggles and countless defeats. Yet each struggle, each defeat, sharpens your skills and strengths, your courage and your endurance, your ability and your confidence and thus each obstacle is a comrade-in-arms forcing you to become better…or quit.” - Og Mandino