Exploring the Human Condition: altered states of consciousness

Posts tagged ‘desert’

Selfish Pursuits

I like to be close to water when I need to think.  This water source and its bridge in Colchester was an inspiration for the Liberated Way logo. She never could believe it, that she was still in one piece, alive, every time she was lucky enough to step off that damned plane.  She hated to fly.  But it was always worth it to catch up with Glenn whenever he was around.  She wanted to get him to fly her to South America, to the big mountains below the desert.  But he just always laughed at her in that very annoying way he had.

She had to get to her office.  She knew there were three bids/proposals waiting on her desk and she couldn’t wait to get down to business and have a look at them.  She really liked this driver and also the car was nice too.  What a cushy job… she was thinking.

Over and over again, she had to remind herself to always read between the lines, always check sources.  Her old innate journalism talents and tricks always came in handy whenever she started to really take apart someone else’s ideas for profit or progress…  she was hard to trust anyone, period.

In the world that our girl worked in, everything was discreet, everything was under cover. Her very strategies lay in her ability to be very ahead of anyone else’s game.  She was very good with numbers as well.  And seeing all the way down the runway.

At almost ten o’clock, she set the second one down.  This one was interesting.  Now she’d submit some names to her research guy and see if what returned was equally interesting. This was the fun part, the part where she got to meet some of the brightest minds in the country.  It was a delicate balance of acknowledging more ideas than experience, and reining in her own misgivings and doubt in favor of something new and refreshing to try.

Her intuition always paid off, it was never wrong, only her accuracy sometimes in interpreting.  Instead of any analysis, it was just easier to accept things at face value and move on.  She couldn’t wait to be finished with this meeting after lunch.  Monday afternoon meetings in the conference room were always interesting.  She just simply had no patience for nonsense today.  She really wanted to get away as soon as possible and drive up to the “Estate.”  This was a new property hidden back in some heavily wooded area, up-state a couple of hours.  The girls were bringing their children, and everyone was excited about playing together again.

They had a small studio set up in the back of the house.  Once she got there, she was glad to see it again.  Glad to be there.  It was much older looking now, but just as strong.  The big glass windows all along the front of the room looking out onto the patio and trees outside were still strong, and looking bright.  Amplifiers everywhere.  They were showing off.  These guys were good.

Later that afternoon, the kids were all out at the barn, the women gathered in the kitchen, helping each other cook, and clean, and just sit at the table and talk.  Tea time.  Sometimes it would drag out with so much talk of children and mundane household regurgitation, and our girl would sneak out the back door of the kitchen and find the old man to see what he was doing.  The little child from next door was with him already, when she came walking into the barn.  This little boy was insatiable with his questions, and she was already steeling herself for the unavoidable coming onslaught.

True to form, she could block out the kid, and the old man nodded, turned and went for the leathers.  Her beautiful dark horse, was munching her oats with much relish and noise, she was almost smiling as she casually glanced over at the old man coming with her harness.  It was just the little string harness as usual, just a regular day.  Only she was here to ride.  It had been a while.  The energy was starting to rise up a little bit in the barn that morning.

With so little effort at all, his old arms swung up the lightweight English-type saddle, to most almost nothing, hardly even a saddle really…  because she did not require anything heavy or showy at all this morning.  Seldom did she ever ride for adornments or show. That would happen only once a year, and that was for the children, and the young at heart.

Her beautiful dark mare, with the white star on her forehead, was making noses in her throat, and clucking, showing excitement for what she new was coming up.  She loved when the lady would take her out for a run.  It was amazing and fun to show off and try to scare the lady!  She could be a very naughty horse sometimes, but in the nicest most fun possible way.

Nodding at the barnsman/groom/old man, she reached out and put her palm against the horse’s broad shoulder next to the small dark leather strap on her chest. The horse took a quick deep breath and then snorted out the air very fast.  She lifted up her left front leg and pawed with her hoof at the ground one time and then just stood there, watching, and waiting…

The girl swung up onto her back in one motion, and did reach down once more and touched her neck and said something sweet in her ear as the horse turned her head to survey this rider, on her back.  As she did, her rear did a dance to the right and the woman took a big breath, leaned forward and squeezed her knees and ankles together and told her “Hyah!” in a loud whisper.  And they ran.

She half hung on, mostly flew and pretended to be in control!  The gallop was wild and crazy and there was no thinking.  Just pure adrenaline.  This old girl could still run, and her footing was just as reliable as ever.  The great huge pasture was a wonderful green place to run.  It felt so good and so familiar to them both.  They stopped suddenly and both took a deep breath.  The horse lowered her head to sniff and nibble at little flowers.  These were strictly selfish pursuits.  But the view was incredible, and she felt like she could conquer the world, and they were a beautiful sight to see.  The horse lifted her head, and the both of them did gaze upon the beautiful green hills that spread before them, the gorgeous trees with their shade, so inviting.  The sun was bright.  And she was happy she finally made it home.  The old mare stomped her foot again.  And the girl laughed.

End of Chapter One.



The American West 1976 – I

Years ago, I got in a white AMC Rebel, with a dark-haired boy with deep brown eyes, who was half Irish and half Canadian Eskimo blood.  I believe that made for an interesting trip.

We headed north and west, to get out of Texas.  It can take a couple of days to cross this state, but somehow we made it to Carlsbad, New Mexico by nightfall.

I was just a kid.  I had never slept in a car, which was full of all our stuff anyway.  We were hot, tired and hungry, so the ground looked like the easier bet.  Let me tell you, in all my years, which were many and long, I have never spent a more wretched evening than I did that night in the desert.

The City of Austin was in full-blown mid-summer crazy Austin madness.  Somehow the word had gotten out how blessed wonderful the place was, and throngs of people, they said 10,000 a month, were moving into the area.  Everyone knows when the summer reaches its zenith in July, it is beyond hot.  The sun feels like a blanket laid over hot asphalt and cement, with lots of car fumes thrown in.

I had just left a job as a secretary to several music promoters.  I think I could talk a real good line of bs, plus I didn’t ask for a lot of money, so they gave me the job.  All I did was sit behind a desk and answer the phone.  The few small items they asked me to type were done in mere seconds.  I just sat there all day and listened to these two completely different types of young men, banter back and forth, name-dropping and getting all worked up over things.  I was just out of UT music school.  I was considered one of the better musicians from home, but in Austin I was nothing but camel fodder.  I think the Dr.’s and tenured profs of music listened to me with horror and dismay, but saw the obvious understanding and flow of my music, so they let me in, after divesting me of all my previous college credits garnered at the home-town junior college.  After two long years of hard work, I was back to square one at UT.

I worked hard at it, trying to make the grade.  Some things were easy and some things were way over my head.  I made a lot of things right, and faked a lot of things wrong.  I enjoyed the hustle and bustle of campus life, but I was always glad to finally get home, relax my poor tired feet, and survey the ruin that was my backpack, filled with spirals, books that were far too big to carry around, and wadded up wrappers from the Macobeanie Food Stand where I could eat cheaply once a day.

I was on my own here.  Clueless and running on fumes.  The head of the department was also the Conductor/Maestro of the Symphony Orchestra for the City.  And also my private teacher for my secondary instrument, French Horn.  I would go into his office, listen carefully to his direction, then I would try to play.  Up until that point, I’d always been the leader of the band, so to speak.  I’d won regional and state awards, our high school band had won all the major competitions every year.  But when I would sit down with this man, he would start yelling at me, pounding his fist on his knee, grabbing the music and frenetically pointing to different places…  and pretty soon all the harsh words and energy just blended into a sort of cacophony of his deep voice, my strangled voice, pages being turned furiously, and tension.  Yes, it was tension theatre every week, twice a week.  For 90 long minutes.

I didn’t like men to yell and I still don’t.  My throat closed up like anaphylactic shock.  My high school band director used to say I played that horn like it was a Mack Truck!  But for the Maestro, I was a snivelling weasel at best.

The final straw happened one day when I decided I better try to talk to one of my music professors, behind closed doors, before I lost my mind completely.  I was taking 15 semester hours, which included Music Theory, Art History, Womens Weights and Conditioning, Applied Piano, French Horn, Sight-Singing and the always intimidating Jazz Improv.  And of course tack on the required ensemble, band or symphony with five short minutes between classes that covered the entire length of the campus, and I was a freakin lunatic most of the time.  Whenever I was free from class, I was supposed to report to the City Newspaper office, to the Classifieds Dept. where I typed ads, thousands of them a night, it seemed, until the wee hours of the morning.

By the time I got home, I was well past wrecked.  My home life with a roommate named Mary Kate, and the unending trail of boyfriends in and out the door, was more than enough on anyone’s plate.  I didn’t even have a piano at home to practice on, having sold my Fender Rhodes electric to pay my rent months ago.

Anyway, I was sitting on a bench outside the office of this harried professor, whom had never even looked at me, much less considered me, when this girl with a brightly colored dress on, and long flowing curls down her back, sat down beside me.  She just started talking.

She said,  “you know, I’ve been waiting for this opportunity to be in the Music School here all my life.  It feels like all I have ever done is practice on my beloved grand piano and take lessons in preparation for this day.  Did you know?  My mother even knew this was my destiny, even when she was pregnant with me.”

Wow.  I was just sitting there, my lower jaw resting on my chest, looking at her.  She was one of the pampered elite.  Groomed and prepared to enter into the pressurized panicky world of performance art.  I always thought music was supposed to be enjoyed, supposed to be pleasant.  But this world was quick to show me not.  It was all about promise, commitment, ability and money.  That’s it.  I didn’t have the last.

I left from that very appointment and went straight to the registrar’s office and withdrew from school, three weeks into my second semester.  She counted out a couple of twenties for me, as refund of my remaining tuition and that was it.  It was all over.

So after leaving the newspaper for a day job, and finding out the music promoters were a bunch of drug-addled money hungry filthy-mouthed ego maniacs, I left that place too.  David and I took out a map of the southern United States.  We looked around and I put my finger on Phoenix, and that became our destination.

Just on the edge of the desert, a place I had never visited, never seen and knew very little about, our loaded down souped up muscle car looked more like a dirty band of gypsies lived in it.  We loaded up the next morning, sore, uncomfortable, unclean and disillusioned already.  At least I sure was.

Getting back on the road felt good though.  You might know the feeling.  Nothing in the past is relevant anymore.  Everything you see and everyone you meet is new.  New places, new faces.  The desert has many faces.  Which I would soon learn, the hard way.

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