Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Reconciling opposites, and a fondness for ambiguity

"My mother's punitive God was the enemy of Coyote. Prankish, lecherous, accident-prone Coyote and his cousins, the unpredictable creators of the world in Native American stories, brough me a vision of this realm as never perfect, made through collaboration and squabbling." So wrote Rebecca Solnit in her article "Coyote".I came across the December 22, 2014 New Yorker Magazine article, drawn to the page of a FREE magazine Pete had brought home from the library.

The wonderful drawing of a rough and lean coyote with the sharpened end of a #2 pencil in his teeth (which I cannot duplicate here) pulled me into the words about the creature we can hear sometimes late in the night, or early in the morning. While JOTS and I are out on our trounces through the woods on the other side of the driveway I see signs of Coyote, sometimes his scat, or the reminder that he or she has preened and the hairball shreds disguise themselves. Because I don't walk very fast, the leavings are something I spot. I make note. Rarely do I see his paw prints, but I keep aware.

Solnit's article continues to describe the stories of her mother's God's enemy, "Where I live, in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Ohlone people say that Coyote was the first being, and that the world was created by him, and by Eagle and by Hummingbird, who laughs at Coyote's attempts to determine just where to impregnate his wife[...] As the California poet Gary Synder once said, "Old Doctor Coyote ...is not inclined to make a distinction between good and evil." Instead, he's full of contagious exuberance and great creative force...."These supple stories, "continues Solnit, "unalarmed by improvisation, failure, and sex, remind me of jazz. The creator in the Old Testament, however, is a classical musician whose score can be performed only one right way."

When I sat to write this morning, I had just just opened, and read, an email from a good pal. She was forwarding me some astrology.

"Many modern astronomers are allergic to astrology, but from my perspective there is no inherent conflict between the two fields. In the spirit of finding reconciliation between apparent opposites, I'm happy to say that you are now a virtual virtuoso in your ability to reconcile both apparent opposites and actual opposites. I invite you to use this aptitude with flair and daring." 
I'm in total appreciation and agreement that astronomy and astrology are twins. I believe the conflicts are organic. Siblings fight. Most of the quibble about 'science' is just, short-sightedness. My ancestors the Kanaka embraced the ambiguity and creative tension with many points of view . Or as one of my favorite teachers and practitioner of Hawaiian epistemology, Manu Meyers answers her detractors who become impatient when her stories seems getting off point, "It's all points."

My friend knows I'm preparing the ground, digging with my o'o (that digging stick) and braiding the many stories that make for an interesting story. Many stories. So many stories, so little time (at least this lifetime:) Just as I finished reading that email, Hummingbird flew through my open kitchen window, lingering and making that incredible music her wings are blessed with. Have you heard your music? While I struck the keys on this board, I heard her, turned to greet her, stopped writing. She was asking for a conversation! When she backed up, and flew into the woods, I followed.

"Where are you?" I asked when I was on the path between the Quonset and the Bath house. Looking, listening, and then finally hearing her voice, her music somewhere nearby. I felt the blessing. The wild knowing that it's all points. Out side this barely sheltering enclosure the wild and many potential meanings run, walk, hover and soar. Between paragraphs as I take a short break from the keyboard, pick up my car keys and drive into town where there are merchants who package food, stack eggplants, and service hungry humans hunting for a sandwich, I stop for what I hoped would be a semi-wild adventure in our local thrift store. Something is happening here. My button nose tuned by the visits of hummingbirds' wings and spiders flinging themselves off my windows, I feel the oddness of order in an old favorite activity. "Is this what's happening to thrift?" I ask the store manager. "I can't find any thing in here without the funk."

Our town is being sterilized, and there doesn't seem to be much to change that, at least in the short run. Rummaging through bins and tall stacks of odd lot second-hand is no longer good enough. Selling old to look like new seems to be the ordering of today. Display the old to look new. Before getting into more mischief, I knew it was time for me to return to the woods, and the oddity of my ordinary and artful life. Reconciling opposites? That's about it, and improvisation? Oh I do love an unexpected zig where it ought to zag.

Do you have a fondness for improvisation?

1 comment:

  1. My sister-in-law and I had a fun conversation over the phone. She thought, "A thrift store should be like a treasure chest. You never know what you'll find!"


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