Hard Lessons

Lessons that are hard to learn, not hard to understand. “Bodies age,” my mom used to say. “Things wear out.” This was how she saw it, and I’m grateful that there was no religious crap in the middle of that message. Sure enough, her mind wore out. She first evinced Alzheimer’s in about 1998, after my uncle died. She had buried my dad and her mother and then her brother. She was like one of those punching clowns who would always stand up again when you smacked it, but three hard ones in a row and the sprung a leak. She lived until 2007, in a vegetative state from about 2003 onward until the end.

Now I look at myself, here at a ‘fitness spa’, hiking every day, taking classes, working out according to trainer’s orders. But I have a spinal fusion that makes many things very painful. It will not change. I have been clambering around these red rocks since the early 1980s and it’s just effing weird that I can’t move in certain ways. My spirit still sweeps out, and most of the time my body follows. The classes are a mistake; I try too hard to do what everyone else is doing and hurt myself. Then I wonder, who the hell am I, if not these rocks, this place, the person who moves through this place? Who the hell am I, if not this sea kayak, these abalone just waiting to be dinner, the foam and the surge? Who am I, if not traveling through Nature on my own two feet? Who the hell am I, if not a ladder, or a garden, or changing the water filter, or hauling wood from one place to another?

It’s a habit I can’t break, to keep trying to be who I ‘am’. I can be ‘sensible’ about some things but not about others. Truth is, it will hopefully be many more years before all of those lovely excursions become impossible. Hopefully I will learn grace.

Tomorrow morning I am getting up at 5 to walk into the Utah desert by myself and see what I want to see. I know the trail. I am waiting for my heart to open as it used to when I came into this landscape. I am waiting for my heart to open.

I am walking toward the opening of my heart.


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