I trust people I should not trust. Not always, and not as much as I did earlier in my life and not nearly as often and not for as long, but I still do it. Something in me believes that this other, this man, this woman who is sitting across from me saying, “I won’t screw you on this” really won’t. This is in spite of the entire world’s evidence saying he/she/they will, in fact, screw me. Maybe they are not malicious, maybe they are, but it takes me time to discern. In the thick of it, I sometimes believe I don’t have time to feel through it, but I do. Always. This is not a brain problem. It is a heart problem. I can think with the best of them, but my feeler is slower and does not come out readily. I have these habits of trusting the wrong people and then I get hurt, but if I wait, talk about it with people who care about me, think, feel, then I get it right. Then I can look in their steely blue eyes and see the mirage behind the fortress they portray. I can do this not because I know anything more about him/her/them. It is because I now know me, the me sitting in front of them. Once I have that, I am as safe as I can be, and that is very safe.
I had finally gotten to Chicago and the light was failing and I sat down for a minute. Robert sat beside me and it was a bustling bar. He was watching Baylor play in the final four. Their uniforms were day-glo, odd. I was feeling the pressure of being in Chicago with a camera, pressure that I placed on myself, to make great photos. Like any corner of anywhere, there are infinite photographs, literally. A perfect photo of a weed in the crack in a sidewalk sticks with me as I think about what there is to photograph. But in Chicago, like any big city, the landscape is the face. People. We are always curious about the next one.
Robert struck up a conversation with me and he was incredibly friendly and interested. He got me talking which is no easy feat. Finally I was ready to go and with great intuition he said, “I can tell you are ready to take off…” which no one ever has the balls or grace to say and really mean in a friendly way. So I said, “not until I have your photo.” I remembered the blossoming trees under the tracks of the “L” a block up the street and a I dragged him away from the b-ball game and made several pictures. I wrote down his email address and promptly lost it. But, Robert, if you remembered my blog and find me there or here or anywhere, I will make prints for you. Great to meet you. You don’t know how rare it is to get me yappin’…
Last night we went and floated in tanks of water that had 850 pounds of salt dissolved in them. The water, the air in the tank and apparently my skin were all at 95 degrees F. It was black dark, lasted an hour. I had lots of thoughts stream through me, but not many feelings. The thoughts, like those I have just before I sleep, slipped through my mind somehow without the hooks of memory attached. I have them and then I immediately can’t remember them if I try. I see them as if in the rear view drifting away from me, with me never having seen their face, as I move away from them. This tells me that my mind can have thoughts without me. When “I” am involved, memory and judgement rise up to fence the ideas in or out. These thoughts are more like feelings, moving through me on their own power. I wonder if it is my mind clearing out thoughts at the end of the day, purging.
Then I noticed I had short periods, in the salt, when I had no thoughts at all, but I was awake. I only knew about those times after they were over because during them I, again, was not there and I was not thinking, and then I had a feeling: peace.
This emptiness of mind is meditation. In church when I was a kid they were against empty-minded meditation. Who knows who will come to fill that idle empty mind? Meditators like it. I liked it. I guess I was a meditator. It took 850 pounds of salt, and utter dark, but I did it, for a few seconds at a time. My brain got a little break from the round a bout and my heart had a chance to get a word in edge-wise.
I am turning a circle around an ursine circle.
How is a bear in this circle with his ass to the high side of Bend, OR?
She just is, and 8th street flanks her frontside and she is eternally
in the round
Every day I pass this bear on my way to the grind. Bend has been written up in the Times (NY, that is) for the round a bouts. I don’t even know how to spell that. There are many of them here. On the west side of town there are no traffic lights, only the circles. It is charming. In the middle of each is art. In the middle of the traffic of my life I hope to find art, placed there by someone else or me, I don’t care. More beauty please. The men who run my job these days want me to drive in circles and load for bear. Ha. Done.
Quieter than the ending of the night when the graying of the black and
the graying of the light meet and it’s dawn;
quieter than the ending circuit of the tires on snow
after the engine is cut and the hiss of the brakes is over
and rivulets trail down the windshield and I gather myself to go in;
quieter than the emptiness of sound after the echoed shot in the hunt and the hart is down;
quieter than the clouds beyond the tip of the plane’s wing,
The place in me where I find you and the noise goes away.
During an operation, the pulse is counted on a the beeping machine in the background. 1 2 3 4. Normal is 60 – 80. A million things can change the pulse. My heart quickens when she walks by, for instance. During an operation, no matter what else is going on, the rhythm, the rate have to be simply going one beat after another. I hear it as if it is my own. Ten things can be happening but if the rhythm changes I am looking up at the anesthesiologist at the same time she is looking at me. We might speak or we might not. She is assuring me or she is telling me to stop, change, wait, let her “catch up”.
If you have a kid, you know what this kind of vigilance is. Nothing rouses you for years before that kid comes. Then, in a weird linguistic twist, nothing at all is rousing you – the slightest whimper. Nothing becomes everything, in the span of a heart beat. Doing surgery is like that. We become present and aware in the presence of unprotected need: babies, adults under anesthesia and under a knife. Any little change matters.
I wonder when I will become this awake to my own pulse, my own needs. When will the turning of my heart a little make me drop whatever I am doing and pay extra special attention? Many people wait until the pump stops altogether and then starts again by some miracle or other and then he or she remembers, or learns that this thing, this heart, this moment, this one here, is not exactly on auto pilot.
I feel my heart racing, roaming, looking for itself in the midst of the chaos of the squeeze of my life. I am looking up from my task, from this operation, from what I thought was my job, important, the dishes maybe. I feel my son on my chest, he is waving now when I wave to him, I am turning and looking and he is looking back, assuring me or telling me to stop, change wait, let him catch up…