Thursday, July 20, 2017

I Take A Turn In the Dark

For over two decades I have been awake every single night at 3 am or within a few moments of it. I do not know why. For many years I used the time to meditate. Because I had no training for meditation it was more simply being silent and open to whatever the Universe might choose to communicate. Several times extraordinary things happened but most often nothing happened. Now that I have the benefit of almost five years of instruction from a serious meditation teacher - one trained in the Tibetan basics for the Western mind - I often meditate during this time. The only thing I have noticed so far is that my thoughts have settled down a bit. Instead of tumbling and rushing randomly in a frenetic rush of chaos, they now seem to come more quietly and orderly. I am just beginning to have the mental discipline to not automatically go unconsciously down the rabbit hole with every random thought that catches my attention. Not always but sometimes I can avoid being pulled entirely into a train of thought. Tis but a bit of progress.

Sometimes I do not want to meditate or listen in case the Universe speaks to me. I apparently want to worry about the rest of my life and dying. I have been physically limited by bad knees for a long time but in the last five years I have been physically suffering - due to my knees and because I am getting old. Not just older, but old. I have to say, getting old sucks. My hearing is diminishing and my eyesight is deteriorating rapidly due to some sort of cracking process caused by aging and the beginnings of cataracts. The cataracts can eventually be removed but there is no remedy for the other process. My strength wanes. If only I were still physically strong, I would be happy. I can still change a tire, but not always. I need help sometimes. I can still pull down a hay bale but to clean up the barn and remove the old bales would take several days instead of a couple of hour's work. I can load feed bags in and out of my car but it is no longer effortless. I have to work hard at it. It is inevitable that these changes occur but it is scary and dismaying. Sometimes facing these facts and admitting that it is only going to get worse as time goes on makes me claustrophobic in the middle of the night.

Far better people than I have become old, infirm and died, some peacefully and some in the agony of cancer or other horrific disease, or due to a gruesome accident or crime. I believe I have lived before so for that to have happened it means I have also died before. I was with my mother when she took her last breath and a thrilling energy suffused the room. I experienced it as her joy in being released from the cruel physical ravages of late stage emphysema. I knew her thought at that moment was "That wasn't hard at all! What was I so worried about?"

We all know we have to go, sooner or later and I have been thinking about the reality of that. Of course, I do not have any idea how or when, but whatever form the conclusion of this life takes, I will have to go along with it whether I am ready or not. When I was a child and first began riding roller coasters, there was always extreme regret as the cars began the gut wrenching, clanking climb up that first hill. My psyche would writhe in despair and regret, and I would silently wail, "Too late to get off now!" I was going for the ride whether I was ready or not. I sometimes think dying might feel like that - including the terrific rush of adrenaline and joy at surviving when the cars arrived back at the beginning.

Still...how much we must give up when we lose this world! Everything - our home, our loved ones, our talents and pleasures, and whatever wisdom we may have garnered in our brief moment on Planet Earth. Of course, we hear from people who have been revived from clinical death.  They tell of meeting loved ones who send them back because it is not yet time. Or they report an encounter with a merciful being, or entity that some call God. Some come back after witnessing a marvelously beautiful land.  I have not a clue how it will go or where I will be or what I will do when I get there.

 I hope it is as Gandalf explains to Pippin:

Gandalf: End? No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.

Pippin: What? Gandalf? See what?

Gandalf: White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.

Pippin: Well, that isn't so bad.

Gandalf: No. No, it isn't.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Nine Years and Counting

July 3, 2008 - the inception date for the Spiritcreek Farm Blog. I have been writing about nothing for nine years and three days? I cannot decide if that is awesome or depressing. For those few readers who have stayed the course with me, thank you!

In the last nine years my life has remained essentially unchanged though a lot has happened.

Both of my children have graduated from college and both have earned Masters Degrees.

My only son, MBA, May 2017

My Only Daughter, MCP, December 2010

The Good Dog Duke lived out his fourteen years and died in the rain with me by his side trying hard not to grieve too profoundly as he took his leave. I miss him still. Duke's duties were half-assedly assumed by Jake the Bad Dog, who actually is not bad but simply ill-suited to "farm" life. Duke faithfully marked his territory every single day, just in case those wild cousin coyotes got to thinking they could muscle in. Jake just takes a whiz when he needs to go. Duke always put himself between me and any potential threat, even when he was an old dog with impaired hearing and dimmed eyes. Jake hides under the porch or barks uselessly from a safe distance away from both the threat and me - (he is not going to take one for the team). Due to the dumb ass getting hit by a car, he is now the most expensive animal I have ever owned - and the most useless. It simply works that way sometimes.

Little Mattie is the next candidate up for farm dog duties. She is a pure bred German Shepherd, 100% black except where her tiny little puppy whiskers got into the white paint of the bookcase I was refinishing this past weekend. I have no idea yet if she will be the Duke's replacement. She is bossy and tears into Jake though she only weighs six pounds. She absolutely has diva qualities - a canine version of Ginger, the dominant little mare who rules the small kingdom of Spiritcreek. Time will tell.

Mattie with the collar I estimated would fit her day one, and the cat collar I had to buy when faced with reality. (Her parents are both over 100 lbs.)


I said hello and good bye too soon to my dear little Orphan Annie, the unkept and ill young mare purchased from the slaughter truck. That sweet spirit with a fine sense of humor had so little time on this earth. She had just grown into her long legs when an accident at the trainers cost her life, breaking my heart into a million pieces. It took a long time to find another horse for Ginger to boss around but Wally finally showed up, all handsome and gentlemanly. He is light of bone and fleet of foot as all Arabians are. He tolerates Ginger's bossiness because - well, like me, he has no choice. Everything will go smoothly as long as we all acknowledge that she is the Supreme Being, so that is what we do.

There were the chicken adventures that ended with a sweet little Dutch Bantam hen, the lone survivor, going to live next door as the First Wife of Mr. Blackie the head rooster. The pen and the coop were recently repurposed over in Osage County and now house beloved ducks in a much less rural setting than here, so their mortality will surely not be in constant jeopardy the way my poor little chickens always were.

I am winding down a long, fruitful career and will soon be retiring to stay home all the time. I wonder how I will adjust to this final lap of my life? I think I will absolutely love not having all the petty office politics and headaches and irritations, though I will miss some of the people. I will miss the opportunity to stay current with technology. I will miss the work itself but I have my own work to do now. Maybe I will be able to have a few tomato plants once I have the time to tend to them. I will have time to appreciate my horses instead of simply being their servant. I will have time to teach Mattie a thing or two, and perhaps even Jake will benefit from some constant, unhurried attention.

I look forward to having the immense blessing of time to greet the dawn and remain in one spot as the sun travels across my beloved Kansas skies - and quietly move forward in time with the turning of the seasons - greeting the hummingbirds in May, the lightning bugs of June, the hot, fertile days of harvest. I will be home to watch the leaves fall, baring the grace of the trees. I will have the time to catch a glimpse of a coyote or a fox, a bob cat or an eagle. And if I get snowed in during the winter, it will not be a hardship. From my beloved few acres, I will have time to consciously and constantly love and appreciate the intricacies of this amazing earth spinning mysteriously through a universe all but unknown to our species. I will have time to wonder.

I will have time and silence to deeply commit to my meditation practice. I think I am looking forward to that as much as anything else. Who knows what might arise from a quiet consciousness? I hope I have many, many more years to enjoy my little house here on the prairie. I will continue to write about my ordinary adventures so y'all come back, ya hear?