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How to Own Land

It has been a hectic week and I finished the first week of being a full-time student. My body and mind know this and are telling me it is time to have Sabbath.

I enjoyed the classes this week and they are an eclectic mix: The Tao of Leadership, Eco Ethics and Leadership, and Leadership, Language , and Culture.

In the Eco Ethics class. we talked about challenges faced by humans as we deal with environmental issues from largely a human driven perspective and agenda. It is about ownership and domination in large part and our thinking has to shift. As my figurative dad, Albert Einstein (wild hair, facial foliage, and eccentric behaviour according to students) said, “We cannot solve problems with the same thinking that got us into those problems.”

I came across this poem that shifted the perspective from humans being outside nature to being part of nature. I used a short story with students written by Leo Tolstoy called How Much Land Does a Man Need? Tolstoy challenged the notion of ownership as we understand it in the ‘advanced world’. Morgan Farley’s message is gentler and takes on the perspective of others living in the world with us, not separate from us.

Find a spot and sit there

until the grass begins

to nose between your thighs.

Climb to the top

of a pine and drink

the wind’s green breath.

Track the stream through alder and scrub,

trade speech

for that cold sweet babble.

Gather sticks and spin them into fire.

Watch the smoke spiral into darkness.

Dream that animals find you.

They weave your hair into warm cloth,

string your teeth on necklaces,

wrap your skin soft around their feet.

Wake to the silence

of your own scattered bones.

Watch them whiten in the sun.

When they have fallen to powder

and blown away,

the land will be yours.


How to Regain Your Soul

I opened a poetry anthology to the index and this title jumped off the page. It has been an eventful week. I settled into Spokane including a place to lay my head this fall. When I come here, I find I feel I am in community. It was word-of-mouth that led me to the apartment I will have. One person told me to check with another who referred me to another and eventually the circle was complete.

When I am here, I drop some screen time with  no television. I turn my computer on and listen to CKUA the greatest little radio station in the world.

I need to settle into a regime now to tackle the reading, writing, and research that is around the corner. Gonzaga has excellent to a beautiful river walk to the Spokane Falls and Riverfront Park which I visited in its heyday. Spokane hosted the World’s Fair in 1974 and I was in Nelson BC then and came down with friends.

The river walk is a great place to let my brain relax, my mind to expand, and physically be invigorated. Last summer, as I walked, I found my poet’s voice and I am counting on that happening again over the next couple of weeks. I regain my soul in nature as William Stafford so eloquently puts it. When we got to Waterton, it was dragonflies over Red Rock Canyon that were my white butterflies.

Come down Canyon Creek trail on a summer afternoon

that one place where the valley floor opens out. You will see

the white butterflies. Because of the way shadows

come off those vertical rocks in the west, there are

shafts of sunlight hitting the river and

a deep long purple gorge straight ahead. Put down your pack.

Above, air sighs the pines. It was this way

when Rome was clanging, when Troy was being built,

when campfires lighted caves. The white butterflies dance

by the thousands in the still sunshine. Suddenly, anything

could happen to you. Your soul pulls toward the canyon

and then shines back through the white wings to be you again.

Red Rock Canyon

This is an interesting posting and it struck a personal chord on two levels. Several months ago, someone asked me what I was going to do when I finished my doctorate. These types of questions are the domain of those who think humans have any control and certainty in planning the future. I was also completing an independent study course on mindfulness and it confirmed the absolute need to dwell on what we know is certain: living in the present moment. Being present, in each moment, is its own reward and is as thrilling as it gets. Well said Kayla.

Gen Y Girl

Of all the annoying questions I’m asked on a daily basis, I think my favorite has to be this one…

“Where do you want to be in five years?”

My response?

“Wherever Ryan Gossling is.”

JK…that’s where I want to be NOW. Not in five years 😀

No but seriously, this question really upsets me.

You see, I’ve always been an obsessive compulsive planner. Three years ago, I would have been able to answer that question down to the kind of toilet paper I’d be using in five years. At 18 I thought I knew exacly what I wanted to do with my life. I thought I knew exacly what kind of job I wanted and I thought I had met the guy I would marry. We were going to have really pretty babies.

Seemed like a pretty good plan to me. Only, it wasn’t.

Throughout college I found that my interests changed…that there were so…

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