Casa Portola Loquat-9

On the street where my grandmother lived, there was a loquat tree. Into that tree, it seems, I climbed each and every day on my walk home from school. Of course, at the time I did not know anything about loquat trees, only that the tree was smooth barked, low branching and free of thorns; the fruit were sweet and somehow still had a zing, the meat on the fruit was like peach (I didn’t know about peaches then, this is a comparison I can only make now, for the benefit of the reader), and that the large smooth seeds were easy to separate from the fruit and spit out. The light fuzz on the outside of the fruit brushes away easily with a light rub between the fingers, and if you eat it with the fuzz on anyway it adds a hint of bitterness to the flavor and makes the texture more complex on the tongue. I must have eaten pounds of these small fruit every year.. My grandmother, who surely saw me loitering in the tree down the crooked concrete driveway that led to her house from the street, used to admonish me not to swallow the pits, or I’d have a tree sprout in my tummy. I don’t know that she ever elaborated on this, but I was sure it would lead to a very serious tummy ache, plus – the pits can be sizeable – so I don’t recall ever trying to swallow any.

Eventually I changed schools, and no longer walked home to my grandmother’s house. Later still, I moved from Rio de Janeiro to Sausalito, California, and the tree I used to love climbing in so much never crossed my mind again. Never, that is, until Roxanne and I went to visit friends in Los Angeles, and there, lo and behold, they have a loquat tree right on the pitch of their front yard, on a hillside that faces  west.

That was four years ago. I ate from the tree till my teeth were yellow and my stomach told me it was time for a short break (I went to take my fill at least twice a day, for the entire time we were there). This summer, we returned to visit our friends there again, and again the loquat tree was laden with fruit dripping in bunches from its sprawling low branches. Fruit so thick that in some places they looked almost like giant fuzzy yellow grapes.

Again I gorged myself on the tree’s bounty, spending ten minutes here, thirty minutes there. Alone, I circled the tree probing the low branches, reaching for little bites of my childhood, just inside the jumbled veil of broad green leaves.
I even swallowed a pit or two by accident; my grandmother would have chided me… but my tummy never bothered me a bit.

This time, I brought home some of the seeds. Not many, but enough I hope, to give sprouting a tree here a try. There is no hope that it might ever grow here in Colorado . .. but at least it will give me the chance to nurture a little sapling memory that threads together our friends in California, and my schoolboy years in Rio de Janeiro; it will bring a living thing into our home, that reminds me of the places I’ve been and the people there that I’ve loved… what else have we that is more worth the effort?

Maybe some day I’ll live somewhere where I can tend to a loquat tree in the yard, and my grandchildren may learn to enjoy the sweet zingy fruit as well.

 

henna dyptich

Roxanne has been putting henna in her hair ever since… I don’t know. Since she was a young woman, and learned to do it from her mother. When she arrived in my life, this was one of the first things that she did. I photographed the event. It is a ritual, a ceremony, a process, a marker in time, it is ancient and transient, it is a way accentuating her long hair, it is a way of being a participant in the beauty of life, it is a ritual, it is ceremonial. It is something that I love being allowed to witness. It is something that our daughter is growing up with, and may one day wish to do as well. It will be something she learned from her mother, when she was a young woman. I am so glad to be able to document these first early encounters where Rumi is learning about her mother’s rituals, celebrations, and ceremonies.

2016.01.30

in the quiet
daylight or not
never with strangers
not on command, but when subsumed
in the presence of something intimate, and crushingly larger than myself
I’ll say again: in silence

These are the ways that I set the stage to be swallowed by Creation.
These are the ways that I find to get lost, to find again what I thought was lost, but which was never farther away than my breath. Like closing the eyes to truly see, letting myself be swept into a sense of communion with  . . .  whatever it is that suffuses all of the earth and the night sky. That thing  {and it is a thing, not some anthropomorphic personal force} like some long lost umbilical cord, chordΘ, that is never detached from the living.

It is an experience that I return to over and over again, thirsting for more, farther, and wanting to bring something of the experience back… and yet as I describe it here I realize that I am the given, the offering, like a bottle-mouth through which the Cosmos runs when uncorked. It feels like it is always there, and only our willful insistence about what(ever) we are about keeps that fluid from flowing through us as powerfully as it can.

I wonder if I have actually said what this is – this thing that I write of now; even while I know how futile it is to try to point it out in articulate speech, like trying to bottle the breeze. Maybe mysticism is always for one. Just one, just me, or just you, or you … as when it is you, you are not entirely you for just a moment. You become more than you, and less than you, and yet all of the you that ever mattered, the you that matters to the Universe.

I began this evening’s thoughts wondering about my practice of photographing my wife, now my wife and daughter, and wondering what about that work keeps me coming back. Surely I’ve taken enough pictures, of my wife certainly – if the measure were mere some kind of volumetric economya, or a portfolio of flattering sexy images, or a broad spectrum of portraits that frame and transcribe my experience of her characterb. But, I realize lucidly, maybe for the first time, or maybe just again after a long time, that the reason I keep returning to that setting – Roxanne + me + some natural grandeur – is that these are the ends to the means this writing is about: communion with something larger, commingling with each other and the raw stuff of Life from which we all spring.

There are a lot more “kinds” of pictures that Roxanne and I make together as well: photographs of lustful moments, of our hum-drum quotidian, of pictures taken in the heat of arguments, romantic moments, photographs made in sadness. All together these are the granular textures of our Love Story, and still… when I stand back and allow myself to be quiet, vulnerable, reflexive, what floats to the surface of my mind is that the underlying experience of our Love is very much the underlying experience of being tossed under by a wave, or of standing on a mountain top and seeing to the ends of the earth. In Love you are not just you, but more than you, and less than you, and yet all of the you that ever mattered, the you that matters to the Universe.

It seems to me that mysticism is never for one; when the experience swallows you whole, you aren’t there to be alone.

Roxanne and Rumi, amid the slowly settling discharge from the moving truck - weeks after moving into our home. Loveland, CO 2016.

Roxanne and Rumi, amid the slowly settling discharge from the moving truck – weeks after moving into our home. Loveland, CO 2016.


a What is considered “sufficient” among those families who keep, and value, family pictures.
b A la Stieglitz and his thoughts on portraying Georgia O’Keeffe. More good stuff on O’Keeffe and Stieglitz here!
Θ I had originally just misspelled cord, but decided to keep chord as the metaphor feels very strong and true. We can be touched by chords, resonate with chords, vibrate like chords. This is true of all human experience to some greater or lesser degree: strings are attached!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roxanne, the green eves, beige siding, white frieze board. Home, Loveland CO. 2016

 

 

 

 

then Came
but words
nomore

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

James Creek. Boulder County, CO. 2016.05

Back to James Creek today, back to the water and the trees, the stones and the moss, the glittering leaves and the ragged banks against the gurgling rush of the stream.

We went back because we had gotten a rather late start, and since we’ve not found any other place along a stream or river that we would like to return to, we went where we knew to go. Our surprise(?!), you can imagine, when we turned in onto Left Hand Canyon and drove into the extensive reconstruction of the road along the creek. The pullout where we used to park is now under twelve or more feet of soil, being used as a staging area for the spoils and the fill that are needed to rebuild the road up to James Town*.

Without any other viable options, we parked close by, and walked from there to where we used to go. The spot is still there, but now under a foot of water. No sandy beach, no place to spread out and laze about. I am not sure if the water is just higher due to greater flows, or if the roadwork which has changed the profile of the bank and narrowing the stream is artificially raising the water level. In either case, we continued tromping down the bank, not much further, and found a sweet gravel bar just below a large fallen tree. It was a little island in the stream that split the flow of water – just perfectly sized for us.

It was already late afternoon, Rumi had a pretty rough day (molars coming in like freight trains), so our time was relatively short. Short, but sweet none the less: we snacked, built a fort from river-rocks, took pictures, and generally enjoyed the feeling of being (almost) out in the middle of nowhere in particular, with not much of anything immediately around us… just the three of us, our two dogs, and a whole lot of clear cold water, forest, mountains, and the ever present breeze and sunlight through the trees.

This is where I go to experience communion*, with my own spirit, with the spirits of those I love, with the spirits of those I’ve lost, with the spirit of this place I dwell in. Being unclothed out  in nature lets me get skin to skin with the place I am in, and learn in an immediate and tactile way how it, and I, are doing. Is it cold, am I cold? Is it clean, do I stay clean? Is it aggressive, is it soft, am I getting little injuries, am I navigating the landscape without getting hurt? Are there biting or stinging insects, am I on the dinner menu, am I a threat? Is it quiet (nature is mostly quiet – and when it’s not, it is always for a great reason!) . .. and on. This is the means to strip away (literally) all of the encumbrances of our lives as part of a large social web – and to be just ourselves, the nuclear family, alone and left to our wits in the kind of place which we have inhabited since inception*. It is like going to church, there to be subsumed into something larger than oneself, finding reverence, beauty, and a primal sort of biological grounding via place. It is a way to sit before the grandeur of Life, and allow that more or less undisturbed presence shape our own being and experiences. It is to be unprotected before the Universe, and rejoicing in finding that we fit right into it.

I am ever dumbfounded that of all the people in this world, I’d find and marry and have a child with the only other person I know (personally) who engages with their natural environment in this way. I so very grateful that Roxanne shares this sense of communion with me, it is, as an endeavor, a very large and meaningful part of our Love Story.


 

* Not this, as in this place, but “places like this”.

* The road was severely damaged in the Flood of 2013.

* I would not shy away from saying this is a rather rosy way to put this. Denis Dutton has a great TED talk on a related tangent.

One wintry night, under the burnt umber lights of a smothered small town.

Loose threads united.

  • An old saw of mine, Joseph Campbell‘s many works, which circumscribe the edge of the rational, known, and the boundary of the mystical, the unknowable (yet present and sensible, in that it can be entered and traversed with some consistency, by those who practice such things). JC’s intent is always here, framing my point of view like eye lashes, always there, mostly unseen.
  • Speaking with my cousin Linny: the courage to embrace the dreams and passions in our hearts, and to leap forward, even (as usual) we don’t know where we will land (the fear being, that we won’t land, but rather dash our brains out against the crags of irrationality).
  • While listening to Seth Godin‘s “Startup School” podcast, not more than two weeks ago, hearing him ask: “Why do we do these things (start businesses)? … I believe it is because human beings are happiest when they are dancing on the edge of the precipice.” i.e. People tell themselves they want to start businesses for a myriad reasons, all the while, as Seth puts it, the real reason for working on a business is that the entrepreneur (when working “in the zone”) gets to succeed while dancing at the ever changing cusp of failure.
  • Returning in the last few days to a book I’d never finished reading, Mind and Cosmos, by Thomas Nagel, I find myself thrilled at his deconstruction of what we (the “enlightened masses”) consider to be the ultimate foundational explanation of our existence – evolution from in-animus to animus*. This undercutting being not the work of a heretic4, but of a herald high upon the gleaming edifice which that very evolution produced. The man is using the saw of Mind to cut away the crutches which a feeble heart put under it when it knew not what held it up, or whence it came.
  • Pondering what happened: why it feels to me that these writings I used to undertake (i.e. this website) seem to have slowed to a trickle, then a drip, then gone dry. The refrain that has been coming back at me seems to be “no new big ideas”. It seems that what served as motivation, as grist for the mill, was that I wrote most while I was making connections between ideas that excite me; and that since roughly 2011 my day to day experiences had moved away from an environment rich in grand abstract ideas, becoming more about the trivialities of terraforming for the life of my marriage1.
  • On our near constant nudity in photographs (where “our” means: Roxanne, Noah, Rumi; “near constant” means: the prevalence or penchant for nudity in our images as opposed to clothedness; and “photography” means: photography). What is it about the state of being disrobed that attracts us. What does it mean, subjectively, that we are not wearing clothes, and how does that all work together within the representational form of the pictures we make and share.2

The above melange of thoughticles have been swirling through my mental dialogue for three or four weeks, never simultaneously, and not particularly structured in relation to one another – no “this thought leads to that thought” … and suddenly today, while reading Nagel, the relationships between them emerged.

1The past few years have been more and more about gaining the tool set to exist in this world as a married couple, as partners in Love, as parents, as a fiscal unit, as a logistical unit, as an amorous unit. It has been like needing to grow teeth and claws, a thicker coat and interpreting inherited instincts in a highly malleable environment. It feels a little like I’ve had to grow a new heart where my old one had turned out to only be a pump, like having to grow a new brain where my old one had run dry and could only produce the same old formulaic dictums.

The thread that unites these strands of my experience, is the returning of my mental framework to an embrace of living, nay – thriving – closer to the precipice of failure. The acceptance that life is a grand bubbling soup of things; not to be frightened of that, not to be attached to too much… to much at all.

The struggle to secure a place on earth ( I might as well say, “a place among the living”) for that which is precious, be it my life, or the lives of my Loves, seems like such a fraught project, so fragile and impossible to safeguard in the long run. As it should, for it is!

Living is beset on all fronts by complications, by calamity, by pain, by suffering, by quite possibly the worst threat of all – by insignificance and tepidity of experience. The endeavor is, however, completely reoriented when we see that just about every new step is also brimming with possibility, with freedom of will, with beauty – if not from without, then from within. Fear comes from projecting some narrative onto the oozing mess of existence, and then saddling yourself with the obligation to see to it that the narrative plays out faithfully.

I don’t want to disparage rationality, planning, or the marvelous results of long term growth which come from preconceived goals that have been achieved – these, after all, are the very stuff that separates us from the dust.! Our collective technological  progress is, however, not what make us happy in and of itself. That kind of work expands our possibilities, without ensuring that the lives lived out in those newly potential worlds will be … good. 3

The error, the root of fear, is to not enjoy that the messiness of life will rail against our projected narratives; but rather than the obliteration or erosion of our path, what there is to be found are unforeseen truths, unimagined paths, of ever newer and radically different realities. In essence, the struggle to shape a Life and its experiences is a bit like the struggle between the rational and the irrational, the land and the ocean … the constancy of what is known and understood versus the erosion of that into the as-yet unknown and unformed.

It seems to be a false banner behind which to rally, that which stands for the permanence of our known environment. All of Being is beset by Non-Being, and yet being continues to arise from the thrashed corpses of what has demised. The redeposition of those remains form new structures on which life once again takes hold, and persists in retaining, even expanding the margins, foolishly maligning the darkness that surrounds it.

Here then (this returns to Joseph Campbell), run not to the heart of the land and bemoan the erosion of the edges, but rush to the cliffs, there to dance and sing, make fires, make babies, make wild eyed plans, achieve some of those plans and celebrate that you ARE, just every so slightly more on the rational edge of existence than the irrational edge of existence. Yield not to fear of the process – for it was here before you were, from it you and all you know sprang, and into it you and all you know will fall. Take heart that It is a good thing in and of itself, your heart, your offspring, your Loves all stand as testament to that. What a wondrous odyssey it all is.

My wife sent me a text the other day… “success is a well curated gallery of failures”.

YES!

 


2 I knew going in that I would not be able to tie that thought back in to this discourse. It is, none the less, something that has been a topic of present inquiry, and which I hope to be more articulate.

3 There is a common fallacy there, that says that material progress itself is “an end”, but it is nothing other than a means. The ends still matter. What we do on the ever evolving stage of Life is more important than what that built stage looks like.

4 More here.

* the latin root

About 6:50 PM yesterday I turned around and glared at my daughter, pointedly said, ” Rumi, it’s time for you to sit in your car seat.”  (Roxanne and I had been working to get her buckled in for a short ride home from the playground, for roughly fifteen minutes.. I was tired. Roxanne was tired. Rumi was tired. But we were not all in agreement about how ready we were to leave the playground. You see, I’d just arrived there at 6:30 to pick them up, and as usual, this was Rumi’s queue to ramp up the intensity and play with me.)
Roxanne and Rumi in front of Casa Portola. El Sereno, Los Angeles, CA. 2016. Rumi bringing home the seeds she'd been gathering.

Roxanne and Rumi in front of Casa Portola. El Sereno, Los Angeles, CA. 2016.
Rumi bringing home the seeds she’d been gathering.

… She looked right back at me, frowned, and turned away. Angry, defiant, hurt.
Another five minutes of struggling and cajoling and advising and reasoning and patienting . .. and finally, with the promise of a three minute ride home, plus a countdown timer on the phone so that she could see that it was only going to be three minutes, she accepted our insistent demands and got into the car seat.
It was a three minute ride home.
We arrived and parked, and turned the car off just as the timer sounded out.
Everyone disembarked, andvoilà, we were home.
It would seem that this is the end of the story, no? No.
Here I am, at a work lunch the following day, and it suddenly strikes me – emotionally – how difficult a moment that must have been for Rumi, to face the menace of her father and not succumb or unravel. It struck me not as a thought, but as an emotion. It moves me almost to tears to acknowledge the position she was put in, and to see how unfair it would feel from her perspective. How frighteningly daunting the scowling stare of someone who she loves, who is nine times her weight, two and a half times her height, and twenty times her age, and who “owns” the space she is in (the car), and who can pretty much impose any condition on her … how overwhelming that would appear, and yet she did not cry, she did not wilt, she did not take flight to her
mother’s arms, she did not concede.
It took nearly twenty four hours for it to seep down into my being: what a giant injustice for one person to be able to blindly impose their will on another (no matter the reasoning or responsibility of the parent, the “rightness” of the matter does not factor in, for from the perspective of the child their will is every bit as valid as anyone else’s – they just don’t get treated that way). Doubly troubling to me, is that this conflict arose not with someone she does not know, but that it be played out as a struggle between two people who love each other… “absolute power corrupts absolutely”, even true love.
It pains me to know that what happened yesterday was a tacit threat from me to her (“it’s time to get in  your seat” … or else, it was implied). It pains me to see that even though I would never willingly or knowingly hurt my child, that there are ways in which the power differential between us can disfigure and distort our relationship, despite any well-meaning and loving intent.
It humbles me to a child-like state to know without a doubt that were it I who encountered someone in a position of authority, having over me the same orders of magnitude more power than I have over a two and a half year old, I would have given in to the pressure without further resistance. It feels like – and I struggle to find a parallel where the imbalance of power is so great –
I imagine the person who famously stood down a column of tanks in Tiananmen Square during the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989… that feels like the same level of revolt and power disparity that my daughter was facing yesterday. All to not get into her car seat and be taken home, away from the playground we were, because she was excited to play there with her father whom she had not seen all day.
Absurd that such a giant struggle might ensue, and that a poison dart could fly from the melee between us to stick into my heart, over such trivial misunderstandings as wanting to play for a bit longer on a swing or a slide.
I admire her for her fortitude.
I am humbled by her fortitude, and can only hope that if life ever calls on me to stand up for her in the face of those same odds,

that I’d answer with the same genuine strength she displays every day, for every day she battles giants, for real.

And so it goes, each new experience fraught with tension, skewered by miscommunication, tangled in Love.
Rumi and Noah, on fisherman's warf in Monterrey, CA. Rumi's first trip to the ocean.

Rumi and Noah, on fisherman’s wharf in Monterrey, CA. Rumi’s first trip to the ocean.

 

There isn’t a story. There was only the thing itself:
An evening, a snow storm, a new home, our first winter in a new house, a new Us.
There was the quiet majesty of a thick quilt of white flakes, the oppressive hush of being smothered without knowing when it would set up – if it would let up – and the burnt umber glow of incandescent lights diffused through-the-air-and-over-everything-still by the infinite diaphanous facets of the falling snow itself.
The experience was magical in its delicacy and beauty. The experience was thrilling in its ominous slow-motion smothering, like being swallowed by the sky.

 

Roxanne Huber. Summer 2015. James Creek, Boulder County, Colorado.

at times

I’m silent

sometimes
these are my best moments

at times I’m silent
occasionally these are my worst moments

and still
still I know
that were all my words gibberish
while these ears turn’d to stone

there is always light
to say point deliver intone
show
what so often my heart can’t articulate
and my being not forget

Roxanne and Rumi looking out onto the back yard. Home.

I’m fortunate to have married an artist
someone with whom to share
Love on a breeze, an eyelash, a glance
Love in a coffee cup and Love in the wilderness
a love for the moment, laced to a love for The Story
of a Life in Love, and the places it took us

 

and the sea
washes us

washes us clean
washes us ashore
washes us lost
washes us found

and the sea
washes us
into new lands
onto new ground
scrubbed
raw
lost
new
washes us
anew
washes us

until we are found

found. Found.
BY WHOM? you may ask. I ask. It is asked. Someone says.
Found. By me, says I. By me.

and the sea
washes us
washes us
into new lands

new lands
beneath our feet
under our nails
grit in our teeth
sea
washes us
into new lands
where we are found
found
lost, unwound
the sea
washes us
until we are found
we are found
by we
into the sea
where we are found
washed
as into the
grind
as into the
ground
into the sea

09/19/2015 At Home

Life.

In every shade, in every corner.

Seen at home – right now, Louisville, Co.
With any luck, soon to be elsewhere.

Strange to start taking these pictures now… here, in a place that we are looking forward to being “our past home”.
Maybe it’s that wonderful instinct of humanity, to look at things in a new way when the reality of their fleeting nature becomes clear. Photography, I expect, has so many practitioners in part because of that impulse.

I spent about three hours with the camera in hand on this day (the 19th, of September, 2015). Inside.
Doing nothing else but looking around me, and making photos.

It was a joy to wander through the landscape of pictures unfettered but by my camera and individual capacity.

Roxanne on the James Creek. Boulder County, 2015


We stumbled onto a small sanctuary on the James Creek, in Buckingham Park, Boulder County.
For now, it is perfect. The banks are ragged and rough – showing the force of the water at flood stage in 2013 – there are occasional signs of the life upstream that was washed away; By and large it is pristine, with few people on the water itself, and none here where we have been picnicking over the past few weeks.

At the particular bend in the creek that we’ve been returning to there is a tiny sandy beach, large gorgeous boulders along the outside banks where the creek has eaten into the steep hillside, and in the outside of each rounding curve the stream is deep enough to sit comfortably submerged. The water, because it is shallower and slower moving than some of the other creeks in Boulder County, is cool without being frigid.

When we are out there, it feels like it is “just us” and the great raking hillsides covered in pine trees. There is the moment, the cool water and the light of the sun slowly working its way across the gap in the surrounding hills and through the trees. There is the intimate immediacy of being together, alone, in a wonderful place. It is an experience prone to be filled with the peaceful awe of communion.

When we are back, looking at the pictures of each trip, I see not only Roxanne, Rumi and I, but also the echoes of trips taken with our parents when we were young – trips they took with their parents when they were young… I see the continuity and cyclical nature of family, of Loving, of child rearing.

People, and the Creek… it is a story at once personal to us, who are seen here in these pictures, and familial – we know so many old stories of our families that are set on just such a place. Still further, beneath the word of mouth from the last hundred or two hundred years, there is a much longer, broader story, a deeply human story of being together on the welcoming banks of a peaceful waterway. A family on the banks of a moving body of water is quite likely one of the few primordial social experiences that has been with humanity longer than standing around a fire. Yes… this is older in us, than fire.

We are, to counter Heraclitus, stepping into the same river as mankind has entered since time immemorial.

I am eternally grateful and fortunate to have as my companions these two wonderful human beings… with whom I share such love for these places. Being there as a family kindles in me an awareness of these connections, at once immediate, temporal and personal, as well as so profoundly rooted in the past that it might as well be infinite, and impersonal.

We are here and now, only in relation and consequence of all that has made this here and now possible. We are simultaneously individual selves, and the consequence of the entire history of evolution on earth. It is amazing.

Awe, Gladness, and Love. . . what other human emotions are large enough to envelop us before these truths, and buoy us up above their fathomless depths.

Gail and Rumi in the morning. Louisville, CO. 2015
Rumi brings flowers to her Grandmother, Gail.

Rumi Huber, Gail Toomey. The Importance of Being.

 

Ansel, yes, that Ansel, is said to have given a lecture, where afterwards someone asked something to the effect of: your pictures are wonderful, you must be very lucky to have found all those wonderful shots.
To which, it is told, he answered: yes, it’s funny. The more I take photographs, the luckier I get.

There are a hundred other ways of conveying the moral of the story… but none better than just being there behind the lens when life presents itself.

I feel fortunate to have had such an experience, and have it to keep, as seen above. No, the photo won’t win any awards, or accolades. It does not need to. It does what it needs to do – stop me in my tracks, send my mind reeling down the paths of history, heredity, and gratitude – without needing any further support.

I am grateful. Glad for more than just myself, but also for what it means for each of the women in this image that they have each other, that they can know, love, and play together. That is an incalculable value, to them, to me. For all of these things I am glad, and for the delight in having the moment above to encapsulate these feelings, to carry them and bind them together in one place, in one moment, in one lucky moment.

Now and evermore.

Rumi Huber, March 2015. Louisville, Colorado.
R+r, July 2014.

R+r, July 2014. On any given afternoon, mother and child cover the world.

And then there was a promenade of moments. A glorious shower of shooting stars, one after another after another, lasting weeks, then months, then

R+r, April 2015.

R+r, April 2015. Between restlessness fear and exhaustion, small spaces.

and now. Some falling, some dancing through, some burning their way from yon to yore. Each one a wonder of brilliance and fire that goes into your eyes and down your throat like something far too spicy and far too hot, with it’s trail of ardor tracing the very route of life through your being, marking each breath, each bygone heartbeat, each irretrievable action or inaction.

And still, for as long as you can stand to keep your eyes from closing and your soul from shutting down, life rages on around us with all of the immense force of the stars, exploding, enveloping, transforming, consuming, consuming consuming… burn bright, my little star, burn

burn eyelids off, keep souls from ever sleeping, for them to know, what it is to be alive.

Roxanne, Rumi and Noah Huber

time
passes
as do we
convulsed
conscripted
volunteers in these swollen ranks
all so certain to perish on the battlefront
of our individual lives
paths

rejoice comrades!
the battle is won each new day
and lost but once!
drink deeply of your victories
oh brethren
and fall in Love
for its rewards alone suit
the glory of this struggle

I pray for all, but to no god above man.

 

The sheltering sky, the rain, and the singing moon.

Moments. The heart clings.
Is that the content of life past… the points of light we recall, and the rest fall into the dark interstices of memory.
Isn’t that the most normal thing… like losing skin cells, all but unnoticed, they go quietly back into the churning wheels of life.
As shall us all.

Why then, this clamoring, this binding that comes unbidden, springing from the pit of my being, to hold me in thrall. Breathless for an instant each time these fractions of a second, these created moments, are experienced again.

What wondrous mechanism brings me to treasure these moments so deeply… is it not the same which will one day wash them all away. Life knows nothing of irony, only of progress and Love. Therefore I must assume that to love, is progress; to love what has passed, normal – and to know that loving as I feel it, this too shall pass, is part of the perfect cycles of the cosmos.

 

Gerda Taro & Robert Capa

Indochina
Capa jumps Jeep
two feet creep up the road

To photo
to record
meat lumps and war

They advance as does his chance
very yellow white flash

A violent wrench grips mass
rips light
tears limbs like rags


Burst so high
finally Capa lands

Mine is a watery pit
Painless with immense distance

From medic from colleague, friend, enemy, foe
Him five yards from his leg, from you, Taro

Do not spray into eyes
I have sprayed you into my eyes


3:10 pm, Capa pends death, quivers, last rattles, last chokes
All colors and cares glaze to gray, shriveled and stricken to dots
Left hand grasps what the body grasps not, le photographe est mort

Three, point
one, four
one, five
alive no longer my amour
faded for home May of ’54

Doors open like arms my love
painless
with a great closeness

To Capa, to Capa, Capa dark after nothing
re-united with his leg

And with you, Taro

Do not spray into eyes
I have sprayed you into my eyes

Hey Taro!

 

This post is a test of the audio post capacity of WordPress, as well as a little vignette of Song + Story… A truly amazing story, no matter how brief it was.

Gerda Taro & Robert Capa

Gerda Taro & Robert Capa

 

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Here I am.
Certain that this is it. The middle part of my life has arrived.
Thick.
Thick with life, and fat with the juice of the past.
Choked with the present, stuffed to the gills, awash, in thrall.

I do not know how to adequately describe this present moment.
Maybe a scene on a beach, amid a storm, when nothing moves on the sand but the pounding waves.
Or a narrow creek that finds itself swollen over its banks, and everything conceivable runs through it at horrible speeds, but nothing living can be found or seen.

Something like that, is this. Like a balloon open at both ends, but still so full it is about to burst. That is now, this is that.

The moment fills my mouth, stuffs my ears, swarms my eyes, flattens my mind, shortens my reach.

The moment is all, this being, can digest.

IMG_5906

Roxanne, Rumi and Nomi. In the evening light, and grass. Friday, the dawn of our respite arrives.

 

Occasional thoughts stray, beyond the immediacy of NOW, their ends like hurt nerves report back of horizons once attainable, now distant over oceans of time and needs that shall not be crossed. NOW forms my shores, NOW circumscribes me like the second encompasses a flicker of my eyelashes, or my carcass defines the span of my breath. NOW presses down on me with greater force than gravity, or the order of day and night. This is now, and Now is all this is.

Tomorrow too, when it comes, Now will be. Like this one, but then. It is greater than I am. Spanning more than a lifetime. Defining the very arc of humanity. This NOW feels like the end of my rope, the extent of my leash. The new normal, the inevitable consequence this whole life was leading up to – as implacable an outcome as the mill upon which countless generations of Man have cast themselves in with the grist, and become dust in the grinding maw of time. NOW this is life. And in it there is no real room to breathe, or to ponder, to wander or to spare. NOW there is no room for art. For me. For anything but the merest shell of who this is, or might have been. Like an insect drained from the inside out, NOW consumes without killing.. too fast.

Maybe this is a chrysalis. Maybe this is the way things seem when matter in one state is about to phase into another. Maybe this is what death feels like. Maybe this is just one death among many. Maybe these are the convoluted dark alleys of Maya. Maybe this is the banality of life. Maybe this is the ordinary. Maybe this is a reflection of matter alone, and not spirit. Maybe this is defeat. Maybe this is the way it must be, for now to become then, this to turn into that, for one thing to pass and another to arrive. Maybe, this is simply the way things are, when we don’t succeed in making them into the things we wish them to be. Maybe this hurtling of life into the mundane tasks of being here, NOW, is simply one way of separating mind from matter, purpose from task, spirit from flesh, soul from dirt. Maybe all we need is to experience discomfort and discontent, and from those draw the fortitude to forge ahead, broadening horizons for ourselves and those who follow us. Maybe this is alright, just as it should be.

I can say this – suffering is optional.
Living and dying on the grindstone of obligation and necessity may be a totally adequate reality, but suffering in that position, is optional.

My moment of escape from the crushing urgencies of the present environment is over.
I must return and attend to the needs of the NOW, or fear the consequences of inattention and absence – like falling down a long slope of the interminable mountain i’m fated to climb – it just means retracing lost ground, expending precious time where it was already spent, losing more of myself into the nameless abyss of work. Plod ahead, you grudging draught animal, or you will be whipped and starved, and told to do more with less, until the cycle ends in its inevitable consequence. You will be a moist spot under roots, which some other poor lurch must mow with redoubled vigor rather than spend his time practicing living, rather than toiling.

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The remains of dinner, Friday evening outside. One of the joys of life as I know know it.

 

 

Life by the Yard II

I think this is the simple truth: for me, art is an impossibility when set within a landscape of crisis.
Art requires room to breathe, room to feel. If The soul is cramped, nothing wondrous there can grow.
I’m not saying that life has to be some sort of panacea. Strife, anger, fear, lust, joy, beatitude, these are all valid states of being as afar as art production is concerned. What is antithetical, again I speak of personal experience, is being locked into a struggle where TIME is scarce. Where thoughts and energy are sapped for the sake of the struggle, and no room for other concerns remains.

That is an interesting turn of phrase, “other concerns”. I guess that is one way to view artistic expression, it is expressed* of what concerns you. Concern denotes more than interest, carrying with it notions of care, a personal involvement that is something more than topical.

For a great many artists, finding that vein, what concerns them, is a delicate and difficult target. Too little concern (care, curiosity, interest, engagement, availability) leads to a flat experience and flat work. Too much concern can mean that the topic consumes the artist and no mediated record gets created, that is NO ARTWORK gets done, the cause absorbs them in toto.

How does the mind, or the soul (which ever you make art with… or the balance thereof) alight on those portions of life that offer the right experience to be explored and mediated? Through time, mindful awareness of feelings, care, and thought. By having time to breathe that is not totally blotted out by more pressing concerns, and following where the heart goes.

* expressed: squeezed from

Black and white image of foliage growing in the yard.

 

Black and white image of foliage growing in the yard.

Life by the yard.

 

So I called up the local PD. Asked them if I am allowed to keep goats in town.
*Laughter*
“Just a minute sir, let me look that up”.

No. We are not allowed to keep goats within city limits (no ruminants at all, for that matter).

Very well.

We’ve let the yard go “native”… grasses, the remnants of what was once planted here (amazingly, the lettuce has self-seeded from last year and has been quite prolific), plain ‘ol weeds, an occasional flowering annual, and a heap of dandelions, all jostle and crowd each other for sunlight.

It is quite amazing. Really. When looked at closely, when seen for what it is, the yard glistens with all the same kinds of joys, ambitions and struggles that are on every surface of life, everywhere. There is a whole world full of action happening just outside my back door…  how glad I am that I’ve had the chance to see it for the first time.

More to come.

 

ps.  We then (that same day) received a warning from the PD code enforcement officer that our “weeds” were too tall, and that we would need to cut them within seven days or pay a fine.