Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Leap of Faith

Becoming a ranger was something that I dreamt of since childhood. As an adult, I would tell people that it was what I envisioned for myself eventually. The line kept coming out of my mouth, even after I stopped believing it. I had been applying for park jobs for nearly five years and nothing ever came of it. Nothing. No call. No interview. Ever.

And then a call did come.
Unexpectedly and with poor timing.
But I went. And here's what I'm proud of;

* Buying a new (used) car after crashing into a deer.
* Creating two of my own park programs.
* Helping to run the astronomy program.
* Learning the science of the caves, ancient trees, and night skies.
* Receiving an absurd amount of comment cards, being gifted Japanese treats with a touching note, and being invited to Austria for a glass of wine.
* Hiking every trail in the park.
* Finding one small flower (still in bloom) that exists on only one mountain in the world.
* Killing all the mice that got into the house. Every. Single. One.
* Making great friends.
* Creating art that I love.
* Translating the park brochure into Japanese.
* Having my video of a silver-haired bat posted on the park's Facebook page.
* Taking care of a ranch.
* Learning to take a risk and trust that I would land on my feet.

Before I decided to go, I was terrified. I had resolved to work for money, and I was content enough. I had a good office, good benefits, good co-workers. Starting as a temp employee, I worked my way up to get hired on full-time and had just received my first ever promotion.

Walking away from what I had made for myself to take a seasonal position seemed like insanity.

Now I can see clearly that it was the only decision that made any sense. Life is short.


(I wrote only one journal entry at the park, and have decided to share it...)


Well I'm here. And here I've been.
I'll while away by these trees a little longer then be gone.
I haven't written because I've been wrapped up in magic thread.

The pungent sage echoes through the mist hanging low; the clouds funneling themselves to the earth across endless miles of sky. It's so quiet.

A deer stops in its tracks and looks dead into my eyes. 
I am what is waking in you, she says.
Y   e   s   ,
I answer
Soon she is bolting into a thicket of dusky amber, where I wish I could follow and my spirit would drink in the stillness until it was quenched. 

In this modern world I am always thirsty. 
But we all must get along, mustn't we?

The ground stirs; it too is awake.
From my feet, to my knees, to the chakras in my temples. I can feel them near.
Hooves of wild horses are drumming across the valley. My heart answers.

...I'm here, I'm here, I'm here...
..........Pa-rum, pa-rum, pa-rum..........

Racing across canvas after canvas of jagged rock, their nostrils flare and sweat streaks across their coats. Manes shake and earth breaks under their thunder. I close my eyes.

I feel the heartbeat in the ground.
I'm here. I'm here.

..........Pa-rum, pa-rum, pa-rum..........

It rolls louder,  l o u d e r ,   l  o  u  d  e  r  .

Then it slowly f   a    d      e        s,
and all is still once more.

And soon I'll be gone, 
and we all will fade.
And I wish only for this wonderful stillness.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A Lamplight Hello

I did something unusual this morning. I took pleasure in waking up before dawn on a Saturday. It isn't that I can't understand the benefits of an early rise. It's when many feel their most robust; like the barrel-chested man in striped shorts on an antique circus poster. I just happen to sleep as robustly as people like that rise.

But lo! Today I felt compelled to get out of bed upon first waking. I went out into the living room and took a peek through the blinds. I counted the number of lights in adjacent apartment complex. Four. Hellooooo over theeeeerrrrrrre! I'm awake, too! I thought about flicking the lights on and off like Paul Revere. By the way, did you hear that they just discovered a time capsule box buried by Sam Adams and Paul Revere? In the cornerstone of the Massachussetts State House, I believe. Some old newspaper clippings, coins, and a silver plate that ol’ Paulie forged himself. Something about Washington being a good guy, I'm pretty sure.

One of the lights is coming from a corner unit. I don’t imagine this person is getting up to go to work; probably just an early bird. I bet she looks like my doctor. Right now she is probably putting on flourescent sneakers to go on a run through the woods with her dog, Tippe. Most people in this city work for some kind of tech company these days. But I prefer to imagine that these tenants with their lights on are going elsewhere, hither and thither. The light the second floor is a man getting ready for work at his bakery. He is dusting off yesterday’s flour from his jeans with his hands. He stands up and ties his apron strings loose under his big belly, before throwing a long coat over the whole operation. He grunts a little as he adjusts the sleeves. The other second floor light is an electrician in his early thirties. His day will start at some kind of construction site where he will be grinding something that sends off a lot of sparks. The fourth floor light is a woman who likes fur and smokes from a long cigarette holder. She has garish red lipstick and the first application is already on. She must be the one with the yelpy little dogs that I always hear echoing between that apartment and mine. YAP!! - YAp!! - Yap!! - yap!! - yap! – yap – ya – y… (D.C. al Coda).

There is only one other light on in my complex. It is coming from the muffled outline of a lamp behind half-shuttered blinds. I know exactly who she is. I have seen her in the laundry room a few times. She is a sweet old bird who wears curlers and a nightie. Maybe everywhere. She told me that I could borrow a cup of sugar, “like in the movies” if I ever needed to. I would like to think of something nice to bake for her.

Now it’s 7:30 and I’ve just gone to put the kettle on. There will be coffee soon. A new light is on! Flick-flick-flick-flick. Hellloooooo theeeeeerrrrrre! Sports fan. There's a poster taped to the window. He’ll be watching the Seahawks game today with his partner, who I bet will be making three-bean chili. 

Still just the one other light over here.

I wonder if the tenants who venture out very infrequently have even more exceptional tales about their neighbors. Maybe I will have to ask when I go to get that cup of sugar.