Friday, May 24, 2013

Durango Dreamin'

I am standing on a corner in Gallup (not Winslow). I have in my grocery bag a nice slice of Gouda cheese ($9.95), some pita chips ($4.50) and an add-shot Starbuck's red-eye ($3.00). Ah, but what is money when the soul is on a quest?

People stare from  the interiors of their dusty pick-ups, paint oxidized Nissans, and sway-backed mini vans. They likely wonder what the hell some old guy in a tie-dyed shirt, sandals, and bike messenger bag is doing holding down the curb in between Home Depot, Wal Mart, and Big Lots.

Only yuppies bound for Colorado are driving Subarus. Those Subies have racks with nice bikes, kayaks, cargo carriers full of climbing gear. They are the horses of my tribe, the means to the end of natural beauty seen through the eyes of endurance challenge. They are going by too fast to notice the incongruity of a stranded traveler on foot at a crossroads where cars rule.

My Suby is busted, in the shop, due soon for open heart short block, crank-case work.

In the meantime I wait for the pedestrian walk light that never comes. I can see a faint trace of a crosswalk that leads to nowhere on the other side of the six-lane road. Not many people seem to walk around here. When I do finally get a walk light, several trucks have to swerve to avoid me, never having before encountered a pedestrian.

What is it about this crossroads? It has to be one of the most God-forsaken strip malls on the planet. Franchises and corporate marketing hype rule. It's windy and dusty and only a few hardscrabble grasses poke their heads up out of the cracks. Ravens play on the wind.

Last year, at this very same place, I lost my wallet. Now, joining the ranks of street people is something I recommend from time to time, if for no other reason than to see there is scant padding between them and us, the busy, lucky ones.

I cannot hide my yuppiness on this corner, nor can I fully justify my reasons for being here.

Tomorrow morning, if I make it, I will ride from Durango to Silverton on my skinny-tired bike. The ride is a kind John Henry re-match, only we will be on bikes, racing the steam engine. We will ascend to almost 11,000 feet over two passes, Coal Bank, and Molas. I will do it on about four hours of sleep in three days. But that is the way a spiritual quest is supposed to go.

I have been training for six months. Hours of slogging up Mount Lemmon, near Tucson, rides in the Gila Wilderness near Silver City New Mexico, and fantasy-filled commutes to work. 

The Iron Horse is one of the first items on my bucket list, that collection of things to live before I die. I am paying quite the price to get there, and others are helping me along with superhuman kindness and generosity.

Kate Brown, God bless her, has loaned me her truck. True, it needs brakes to be safe on the steep mountain grades between me and Durango, but it is transportation, the difference between making it and not. Strangers too, when they see me busted on the side of the road, have been kind, especially the folk in Zuni at the 24-hour Quick Stop. Friends have sent sympathetic texts that rain down sporadically when I find the rare cell phone hot spot. The Meeg-a-Beeg has given her blessing to my crazy pilgrimage. The gods are smiling.

I want to do this thing. And I am obligated by karmic debt to enjoy it, soak it in, remember it for the stories to come.

Andale! To the moon rising over the mountain ridge, the shriek of the steam engine as it leaves the station, the cold, long slog over Molas Pass, and wicked descent into Silverton. If this is a dream, let it continue. I never want to wake up. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

What to do About Simone -- A Cat Koan*

My cat, Simone, sees things that I don't. She swipes at the air and leaps after phantoms just out of her reach. Sometimes she reaches under something that is totally invisible, curling her paw beneath an imaginary cabinet or sofa, like a mime creating the object, wall, or window that is not there.

I wonder if she is cat-crazy. Or if I am just too stuck in material carnality to perceive that which is more subtle than the here-and-now, beefy, luggish, concrete. She is a smart cat.

She might have access to colors I don't see, to sounds too high or low for my ears to detect, to touch so sensitive it perceives temperatures or pressure or heat or cold out of my range of noticing.

If I had to infer what she is looking for, it might be her brother who died a while back. He may be reaching for her from the other side of something I don't understand. Sometimes I see him, and others who are no longer here, in dreams. Simone might be able to dream while she is awake

They say that some yogis can see auras, that psychics can see angels that follow us around trying to get a word in edgewise between the chatter of mental distraction, that medical intuitives can see into the body.

Most wise teachers agree that we (the untutored) don't SEE what is in front of us. Some also say that when the student is ready, the cat will appear.

Still I don't know what to do about Simone.

Maybe I should take her to a cat counselor, a feline psychotherapist, a kitty curandera.

Or I could get down to her level and try to see what is going on down there. I have tried to talk to her, but she just looks at me, with great patience and mild pity.

Someone with business sense would post her on YouTube and turn her into a cyber celebrity.

Or I could just ignore the her odd behaviors and carry on, apologizing to the sensible ones for my crazy cat.

Either way, she doesn't seem to care what I think. She seems happy responding to things I don't grasp. What to do about such a thing? What to do when a heart goes wild at the scent of possibility? How to react when the knees go weak and I want to kneel at the wonder of it all? What to say when the body can't find words that need to be said, the urgency pounding at the walls of a container due for opening?

Something has broken open in me and the answer of what to do, part of me knows, lies in listening to a crazy cat who see things I have not yet learned to see.

*Apologies to all who are tired of cat/dog/pet cuteness video saturation.