Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Words


One of a kind crescent moon talisman necklace by Peaces of Indigo

"I could not live in any of the worlds offered to me — the world of my parents, the world of war, the world of politics. I had to create a world of my own, like a climate, a country, an atmosphere in which I could breathe, reign, and recreate myself... That, I believe, is the reason for every work of art." 
~Anais Nin

Monday, May 8, 2017

Words

One of my favorite places on the Cumberland Plateau. Photo by Dawanna Young
  Sometimes a kind of glory lights up the mind of a man. It happens to nearly everyone. You can feel it growing or preparing like a fuse burning toward dynamite. It is a feeling in the stomach, a delight of the nerves, of the forearms. The skin tastes the air, and every deep-drawn breath is sweet. Its beginning has the pleasure of a great stretching yawn; it flashes the brain and the whole world glows outside your eyes. A man may have lived all of his life in the gray, and the land and trees of him dark and somber. The events, even the important ones, may have trooped by faceless and pale. And then-the glory- so that a cricket song sweetens his ears, the smell of the earth rises chanting to his nose, and dappling light under a tree blesses his eyes. Then a man pours outward, a torrent of him, and yet he is not diminished. And I guess a man's importance in the world can be measured by the quality and number of his glories. It is a lonely thing but it relates us to the world. It is the mother of all creativeness, and it sets each man separate from all other men.
  I don't know how it will be in the years to come. There are monstrous changes taking place in the world, forces shaping a future whose face we do not know. Some of these forces seem evil to us, perhaps not in themselves but because their tendency is to eliminate other things we hold good. It is true that two men can lift a bigger stone than one man. A group can build an automobile quicker and better than one man, and bread from a huge factory is cheaper and more uniform. When our food and clothing and housing are all born in the complication of mass production, mass method is bound to get into our thinking and to eliminate all other thinking. In our time mass or collective production has entered our economics, our politics, and even our religion, so that some nations have substituted the idea collective for the idea God. This in my time is the danger. There is great tension in the world, tension toward a breaking point, and men are unhappy and confused. 
  At such a time it seems natural and good to me to ask myself these questions. What do I believe in? What must I fight for and what must I fight against?
  Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creating instrument- the individual mind and spirit of a man. Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in music, in art, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man. 
  And now the forces marshaled around the concept of the group have declared a war of extermination on that preciousness, the mind of man. By disparagement, by starvation, by repressions, forced direction, and the stunning hammerblows of conditioning, the free, roving mind is being pursued, roped, blunted, drugged. It is a sad suicidal course our species seems to have taken.
  And this I believe, that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about. I can understand why a system built on a pattern must try to destroy the free mind, for that is one thing which can by inspection destroy such a system. Surely I can understand this, and I hate it and I will fight against it to preserve the one thing that separates us from the uncreative beasts. If the glory can be killed, we are lost. 

excerpt from East of Eden by John Steinbeck
published in 1952

Friday, April 28, 2017

Thoughts


That full bellied moon, she's a shining on me. She pulls on this heart like she pulls on the sea. 
You came on strong like some running wave. Your beauty left me broke and hungry. 
~That Moon Song by Gregory Alan Isakov

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Thoughts


Last night, we went to the Nashville Opera to see Bizet's Carmen. Carmen was my first opera 24 years ago, when I was 16 years old. (I chose the opera as a reward for having the highest grade in Spanish 2 class. How, I have no idea. Please do not ask me to say anything in Spanish.) Last night, while watching the story unfold on the stage, I realized just how much that performance 24 years ago impacted me. Carmen is a force of nature. A free spirit who has no use for rules or convention. That dark haired gypsy girl is mesmerizing. When she sings "if I love you, you're playing with fire", you know that she means it. But you also know that her warning is pointless because everyone fell in love with her the moment she walked onto the stage. 


That smirk on my face is the answer to a conversation that had been happening on this rooftop before the opera. The sun was setting behind me, a plastic cup of wine in hand. I told my husband that this moment was going to be my favorite memory of the night. Not the expensive dinner that we had eaten previously. Or the opera that we were getting ready to see. He shook his head and said 'You have got to be kidding.' And my answer is on my face. Nope. You can take a girl out of the country, and plant her in the middle of a city, but you can never rewrite all of the details that make her who she is. I love visiting art museums. Listening to the symphony. Attending operas. Concerts. But if I never got to do those things again, barbeque and wine in a plastic cup while watching a sunset would suit me just fine. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Inspiration

Pima Canyon in Tucson, AZ by Dawanna Young
When I was in Tucson, Arizona for the gem show in February, I made time to hike. Pima Canyon is insanely beautiful. The weather was perfect and surprisingly, there weren't many people on the trail. These are only a few of the beautiful scenes along the trail.














Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Words

waxing moon by moonandtrees

Bewilder me. That's what I'm looking for. With every passing year I've grown exceedingly weary and complacent. Nothing interests me anymore. I want to be kissed clueless. I want my attention to be gripped for more than a few moments. I want to be stunned and surprised and compelled to second guess every damn thing I think I know about the universe. Beau Taplin

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Happy birthday, Dad

My dad and I
My father passed away in late February of 2015, after battling with cancer for more than 20 years. I miss him every single day. Today is his birthday, so in honor of that, I wanted to post the eulogy that I wrote and read at his memorial service. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. I wrote it in a daze, a single sitting, typing my heart out, two days before the service. The purple words, including these, are not part of the eulogy. 

Some people make such an impact in your life, are such a presence, that they can never be replaced. It doesn’t seem possible for them to ever not be there. My dad was one of those people. 


We were so much alike that sometimes, ok maybe a lot of the time in my teenage years, we drove each other insane. You know, those huge, life changing things "worth" fighting over: like the length of my skirt, or whether or not clear mascara could actually be called makeup, or the siren call that I felt to wear red nail polish. I wanted to understand WHY, concerning (literally) everything. Everything seems like the end of the world when you are young. Everything seems worthy of pushing the boundaries over. Then suddenly you are an adult and you realize that all of those issues were completely ridiculous. I wear a skirt maybe twice a year, ironically, dad would approve of the length. Clear mascara is absolutely not makeup, and I have painted my nails maybe 10 times in 37.5 years. Like I said, ridiculous. 

The similarities in our personalities, his PTSD from Vietnam, the stubbornness of us both, that arguing, it caused walls to be formed between us and I was just too stubborn to acknowledge, or try to remedy it. Honestly, I didn’t know how. (My dad had untreated PTSD from serving three tours in Vietnam, as a helicopter gunner. He volunteered for all three, the first at age 18. This makes him the bravest person I've ever met. It also means that he was very troubled from his experiences there. PTSD means that you can be laughing and having a great time and suddenly, you are incredibly angry. Sullen. Scary. I had no idea what I was supposed to do with that, as a child or as an adult. I didn't understand him. And now, there is nothing that I wish for more than a time machine, so I could go back to being 4 years old, and we could find help for him. Now, I can't imagine how HE must have felt in those moments. How alone, how conflicted. How terrible.)  Some things need time to heal. Smiles and words of encouragement caused cracks in those walls. Hugs and laughter eventually caused them to crumble. Time passes and shows you how important some things and people are, and that they are WORTH fighting for.

Hans Christian Andersen wrote: Where words fail, music speaks. My dad and I loved music. It was a common ground that we could meet on. Classical, big band, 50s, 60s, early 70s, bluegrass, anything with a bagpipe and fiddle, the list goes on. So many of my favorite memories of my dad revolve around music. Singing Have you Ever Seen the Rain and Fortunate Son by CCR in his truck with the windows rolled down on a summer day. Listening to him talk about the genius of Bob Dylan's early songwriting, two in particular that I remember him talking about/singing: Blowing in the Wind and The Times They are A’Changing. The lyrics are poetry- and they touched his heart: Come writers and critics Who prophesize with your pen And keep your eyes wide The chance won’t come again. 

I remember watching his face light up when a song that he heard in Vietnam came on the radio. And then how he'd close his eyes and sing his heart out. As a young man, he had such hope that things would change for the better after Vietnam. Those songwriters were doing their best to make people aware of injustice, aware that people were profiting from war and death, like it was some kind of game. It seemed to my dad, that once people KNEW about these things, the world would HAVE to change. How could it not? People would not allow it to stay this way. When business continued as usual after the war, I don’t think that he could wrap his head around it. The things that he saw over there, the soldiers he knew that died, it mattered to him. I think Vietnam broke his heart- he fought a war, hoping to make the world a better place and at the end of the day, it seemed to him that we all just closed the book, and put it in the history section of the library and it became a story that we told in history class. It saddened him. It should sadden us all. 

Marveling at his ability to identify every type of tree on a walk, doing our best Louis Armstrong impersonations together, (which must of been horrifying to anyone who had the unfortunate luck to witness it), digging through boxes of rusty junk at auctions in search of treasure, our shared love of fried chicken gizzards, (WHO EATS those?!)... I was a total tomboy, his son, as my mom likes to joke. It is true. I wouldn’t trade any of that for a closet of frilly dresses or red nail polish. He sat through so many viewings of Anne of Green Gables and Annie that he deserved a medal. His love of New Mexico: the food, the turquoise, the natural beauty of the mesas, it was so infectious that you couldn’t help falling in love with it all, too. His appreciation of our Native American heritage: going to pow-wows and instilling an appreciation for the history and culture that was ours to share in. He knew every constellation and the stories behind them. He was so smart. He never stopped educating himself. Books were everywhere in our house. Classics, philosophy, history, astronomy; he had an insatiable appetite for books. I wanted to be smart, just like him when I grew up. I’m so thankful that his love of reading rubbed off on me. Books are great, but the best days of my teenage life were when my dad would grant me the privilege of wearing his Vietnam flight jacket to school. I knew exactly how much he cherished it, so getting to wear it- was monumental. It meant he trusted me. And he beamed like the Sun over the fact that I WANTED to wear it.  

My dad was a warrior. I didn't realize until our very last conversation that his entire mission in life, the role he took on and was prepared to die fulfilling, was to protect me. Protecting my sisters. My mom. His grandsons and granddaughter. His entire mission in life was to be our knight in shining armor. As a young man, he enlisted and was sent to Vietnam. He came home, tried to figure out where he belonged, and found a faith in God that gave him direction throughout his life. He met my mother: the treasure of his quest for meaning and purpose. Romanticized? Maybe, but isn’t that what young love is? My mom and dad built a life together, piece by piece, and they loved each other. But, how do you even begin to leave something like war behind? You just can’t. It becomes a part of who you are. I think that is where his knight instincts developed. The things he saw in Vietnam, the things that he lived through, they stayed with him. He tried to protect us from that world. He did an amazing job. 

We have so many happy memories. So many great photographs to share. I look at both of my sisters, all grown up and beautiful- inside and out. I am just awed by how amazing they both are. My parents did a really, really good job. No matter how long we would have had with our dad, it wouldn’t have been long enough. There is always more to say. More laughter to be shared. My heart is broken and I still cannot grasp the idea that I will never again hear him calling me Sis, or hear him laughing, or have the chance to hug him again.

I’ll close with a verse from a song that perfectly encompasses what I want to say: 

I think about you nearly all of the time,
Sometimes your presence is so defined
Whether you're near or far away
Makes no difference in my heart you'll stay.

***

My dad always gravitated towards Vietnam veterans. Always stopped to chat with them. Always asked where they were stationed, how they were, if they had found God, if they had eaten recently. His faith was the most important thing in his life. It helped him to heal after the war. It also gave his life meaning. When we arrived at the memorial service, an entire group of Patriot Guard Riders were already there, hours beforehand, waiting for my dad's ashes to arrive. They saluted us as we walked towards them, and asked where the hero was. My dad, the hero. They said that they were here to serve with him on his final mission. It would have made my dad SO damn proud. His tribe was there, without being asked. I can't even put into words how touching their presence was. When we exited the church after the service, they saluted again, and asked to transport my dad's ashes to his final resting place. By motorcycle. I had the honor of holding my dad's ashes, so I handed them to this gentleman for safekeeping. It was freezing. Winter. I was wearing a dress and boots. No coat. I took about 5 steps, and then something made me walk back to this stranger and ask him if I could ride with him. I told him that I didn't want to leave my dad. He didn't even hesitate. He said that no one had ever requested that before, but if that's what I wanted, they'd find me a helmet. I asked my mom if that was ok with her, she smiled and said "Well, you always were his son. He would have loved this." 

That 20 minute motorcycle ride to the cemetery will never leave my memory. We drove through the town I grew up. Past the hospital where his father had passed away. Past the surveying office where he worked. Past my school, past the neighborhood where we went trick or treating. Past the place where my grandfather (his father) had lived. Over Sailboat Bridge. Down the road where I caught the school bus. Past the dirt road leading to our childhood home. It was horrible. And wonderful. I haven't lived near this place for decades, so it was cathartic. A beautiful way to end this terrible, sad day. All the way through town, even on the highway, cars stopped, in respect. Men saw the motorcycles and flags coming, and stood outside of their vehicles and saluted my dad as we made way to his gravesite.  More of my dad's tribe. He would have been so proud. I'm sure that he was. 

Happy birthday, Dad. I love you.

Friday, November 11, 2016

My Favorite Things

Johnny Cash quotes
My favorite social media outlet by far is Tumblr. The adage that a picture is worth a thousand words truly applies there. If you are a fan of forest and mountain photography, words that make your soul come alive, and all things cabin-y, then let's connect. It's a virtual catalogue of things that inspire and move me.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Words

peacesofindigo on tumblr

Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.
Ernest Hemingway