All Over the Map: Winter Introspection


Spence here: Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we had the unique opportunity to go back to New Mexico. Part of the reasoning was to retrieve the musical instruments and tools we didn’t have room for in the Jeep the first go around. Billy also joked that we “left our dreams behind”, in that we indeed left our manifestation collages in the old Spartan trailer on Max’s land. As part of our work through the book The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, we each made a collage of what is important to us, and then made a collage together, representing everything we would want to include in our ideal Home. In returning, I also secretly wanted to complete our 8,500 mile loop for 2014, as you can see in the above photo, taken of our route. I was delighted as well to take inventory of all the musical equipment we’ve collected over the years. Between Billy and I, we have enough instruments to outfit any kind of band! (2 basses, 2 bass amps, drum kit, keyboard, accordian, electric guitar, backpacking guitar, steel string guitar, ukulele, violin, djembe drum). It will be so good, one day, to get all of them into the same room–we still didn’t have space to bring them all back! Part of the impetus in building/remodeling the shed in Portland is to have a musical gathering safe house–perhaps that is what we should call the building. Right now it is named ACME (Art and Creative Musical Experience).

I really appreciated landing in New Mexico after some time, to be able to reflect on our experiences there and to reconnect with friends. I love the kind of weirdness, magicalness and love we’ve found there. The people are one of a kind and I had missed them more than I knew. The love we felt returning is something some people only feel maybe a few times in their lives–we have the luck of feeling it all the time–radiating out from the “Land of Enchantment”. The importance of accepting my “weirdness” on this level is not only healing, but inspiring.

As I went through some belongings I had stashed in New Mexico, I came across some photos of some paintings I had done. I gave them away to friends down there, in thanks for all their love and support, (see the photos below.) I also came across the following poem. I hope everyone is able to take time this winter to reflect on the year’s activities, if not every days’ activities. I want to carry with me the magic I have felt from New Mexico and its inhabitants, as well as the intimate presentness I have intended to cultivate year-long. At the risk of sounding like a resolution, I am currently working on the issue of patience. As Billy and I continue to work on finishing the cabin and constructing the music studio, may I learn the art of “In Process” and not the finality of “Finished”. Undone is not yet a goal. Next week, more talk about The Dreaming and Songlines, from Bruce Chatwin’s book The Songlines.

We find the time slips by fast on this hill, as well.

Max is gone.

The roof should hold up another year or so, and the porch?

The water tanks are low

But will we be here to see them fill?

When monsoons pour out the dippers

And night skies change eyes.

Too bad summer gives me itchy to go do go.

Explore the mountains as they allow,

Like looking under rocks and feasting on the squiggliness.

It is mostly the smells I love

Following invisible waves to foreign sills

Could just be in my genes.

winter in portland, oregon

 remembering our seasons in new mexico

 manifestation collage

Billy here. It’s hard to believe how much a year can hold in its arms. Everything on the planet! There was a lot of griefwork. My grandmother leaving. Some hardship. And also a lot of beautiful times. Spence and I celebrated our private marriage. I finished an acoustic album.We visited our families across the country. We saw fireflies in the Ozarks and sailed on Lake Huron. We spent time with old friends, sang, drank and cried.

Since the first time I stayed in New Mexico years ago, it felt more like home to me than any other place. It is the spirit of the land and the people. They all welcome us as family. Now we are welcomed in the mossy grey of the Willamette Valley by loved ones and I am so grateful for all the acceptance and love in my life.

I want to spend a lifetime giving back. It seems there is nothing else to do but give back. Not just to the human people, but to all the animal, plant and mineral people who have lifted us up to where we are now. We are not here because we’re better, but because we are the youngest held up on a foundation of over 600 hundred million years of plant and animal evolution with billions of years of bacterial wisdom behind that again. Bacteria speak in flashes of chemical. Even rocks change form and speak, but it may be a long time before science “proves” it. We all got here together and we are coexisting now. But humans are the teenage sorcerer’s apprentice and it’s easy to get carried away with the little self, with mental gymnastics and cleverness of all kinds. But when we get back down to it, all that is important is giving back. Giving songs to dawn. Giving space. Giving thanks. There may be no such thing as perfection. But all we can do is keep diving back into the whetstone.

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