BootsnAll Travel Network

Beginning again.

OK. Now I see. All my blog-entries between August 17 and September 22 were lost in cyberspace when WordPress had a server crash. Blogs, like meditation, may begin with good intentions, drift away, wander, get lost, and begin again. I begin again today, with a new blog-look and a fresh intention. No more illusion that cyberspace is a safe place to store things. Great lesson for a Buddhist. Everything is impermanent.

This blog began as a travel-blog, keeping me company as I made my pilgrimage in Portugal and Galicia in July and August, 2006. It told a story many of my friends wanted to read: what is it like for a single woman of a certain age to go to Portugal alone, for a month, with little money and an open heart? That story ended on August 12, when the trip ended.

The trip to Portugal was supposed to give me perspective on the grand questions of my life. It did. It was an opportunity to explore whether retiring to Portugal might be an option for me. I decided not–I saw clearly that I need a certain amount of daily connection with other people, that I do that chiefly through language, and that I am unlikely to develop the facility in Portuguese that would be necessary. What surprised me most was that the trip was the most joyful month of my life to date, full of wonder and beauty, music and dance, flowers and ocean and LIFE. Interestingly, when the WordPress blog system had its crash, the record of the pilgrimage remained in tact.

Beginning on August 13, 2006, I went through re-entry after the pilgrimage, stepping back into the larger pilgrimage of my long life: parenting, teaching, working with prisoners, and whatever else there is to life in addition to those callings. My eldest offspring is forty and my youngest is twenty and in a one-year legal assisting course, and she moved to a dorm about forty-five minutes away. I have now the great pleasure of being at peace AT HOME, where, as one Zen teacher said, “At this moment, nothing is missing.” Or as Bo Lozoff says, “It’s all right here.”

I am living moment-to-moment, being fully present for what comes to me, and, in spare moments, wondering: will I retire in 08? And if so, where do I want to go? What do I want to do with the rest of this one wild and precious life?

I learned in Portugal that blogging is a form of journalling that welcomes response from friends or strangers, and that I relish that response when it comes, not ever expecting it, but being surprised by it and pleased if it comes. Blogging involves a very loosely-structured community, a community with plenty of air between its pillars. Most of my friends respond to me privately, by email, and I like the ethics of that: there is no pressure on anyone to read along with me; they can say something if they wish; or not.

The last blog entry I wrote before the WordPress crash was one that was not recoverable. I wrote it on my son Seth’s birthday, and it was about Seth’s infancy, the strange juxtaposition of his birthday and the death of a neighbor, and the appropriateness of one of Mary Oliver’s poems. I’m going to recreate that one and put it back here, because I like it. And then I will just see what comes. One vision I have for the future is that I might become part of the Human Kindness Foundation, out on a blueberry farm in the North Carolina Piedmont. That would combine my Buddhism, my love for working with prisoners, and my desire to live in a spiritual community. I’m planning to go there in July of 07 to spend a month and see how we fit.

The one thing I have never done in my long life is settle down. I am currently breaking my six-years-maximum record of how long to live in any one place. This is my seventh year in Texas, although I spent the first three years in the small town of Wharton and the last four in a suburb of Houston. But recently I have been studying Andy Goldsworthy, and I absorb from him the importance of knowing one place very well. If there is time, I would like to know one place really well before I die: all its seasons and colors, its shapes and changes. But which place would that be? And how to do it on $900 a month social security, with no retirement, no savings, no property. Nothing but that $900 a month. I like that challenge. It’s like choosing to write a sonnet. You set certain constraints or boundaries and then watch your freedom blossom within those bounds.

On the way to whatever else is coming, whenever it may come, there are books, poems, films, thoughts, meetings with wonderful people, and events that I may bring into the blog. For example, today I went to lunch at Udipi Indian Restaurant with my downstairs neighbors, Ganesh and Brindha, who come from a Tamil-speaking part of southern India. Brindha is expecting their second child, another girl, in a couple of weeks. They plan to move to Singapore as soon as the baby is about six months old, and that reminded me of an old dream I had once of moving to Singapore to be an editor. For a few hours I was fascinated by the idea, but then I saw that it’s not likely to lead to settling down in a place where I can know the land. Nah–that’s another road left untaken, and I will leave it that way. Seth has invited me to use his almost-empty apartment in Nashville, which he only visits for a few days once every few months, as a “base,” and from there. . . who knows? I’ve always wondered about Vancouver. I love Portland and Seattle. So much, right now, remains possible. So this blog, for as long as it lasts, is a companion for the present and the future. What wonders lie ahead? Don’t know.

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