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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Contemplation and Moonfire

I'm a bit scattered. I want to write about some things I'm experiencing, but the words don't come. I want to complete Chapter 2 of The Field Trip but it feels a little burdensome. I'm processing some grief and other of life's delights, so I took a solitary walk in the desert and had a come-to-Jesus with myself over some things that need attention. My recent bereavement reminded me that life is short and we can get whammed by a freight train when we least expect it. "So what are you waiting for, Les? An engraved invitation? Stir yourself!"

I'll ask the reader's indulgence if I skip around for awhile in my writing. One of the things I reminded myself among the creosote, cholla and scrub is that I am not and cannot be perfect at anything. I need to stop trying to be that. It saps my energy. And I reminded myself that I'd better laugh - hard and out loud - every day. For if I don't, I might as well throw myself on my sword and be done with it.

Last Friday, I was pretty entranced by the coming of the Wolf Moon, the first and biggest full moon of the year. When I left the office in the evening, I stepped out onto the deck and gasped. On the second floor, I felt I was at the same altitude as that moon. It was the largest I've ever seen, and I felt close to its surface - zoomed in. It glowed golden, not at all silvery, almost like a harvest moon. And the news article was right - one could easily see the various topographical features on that golden ball. I hoped there would be a repeat performance the following night when I was to be in the desert.

In camp at night, I enjoy sitting beside a woodfire, watching closely from the first match strike until sand is finally shoveled onto the embers before retirement into the tent. I situate my chair so close to the fire ring there is sometimes some concern I may burn myself up. I bend over and put my face close to study the changes in the wood and the flames and the undulations of the embers, rather like a lava lamp. Sometimes I say out loud that I'd like to touch parts of it because it is so beautiful. No, I don't actually touch it and no, I was not a firestarter as a child. I'm just drawn to it. Challenge to the reader: describe fire in a way that a blind person could "see" it.

The desert is often breezy and that does not bode well for campers sitting beside a fire. One can be seated in her preferred spot, and when the wind shifts, she gets a face full of wood smoke. Not pleasant. I am much admired in some quarters for my ability to yank up my sling-seat chair, lap robe, assorted items in my lap and place myself 180-degrees around the fire ring in one smooth move. Without upsetting one drop of my drink.

Saturday, the hike and dinner completed, it was time to start the fire. The moonglow came up above the mountaintop, round and huge and silver, the beautiful older sister getting ready to go out with her beau. The wolf moon that followed was small and distant, partially obscured by clouds and dull, not glowing. It put me in mind of the younger brother, watching from behind the curtains. A fine photograph was made at the same time I fiddled with my funky point-and-shoot. I might also add I don't know anything about night photography. My camera didn't even detect the clouds. But I was having fun seated beside my fire, warm and fascinated by that moon. I was also not brooding about painful things. So above, from my camp chair, is my shot of the wolf moon.

And here is my shot of the wolf moon just as the breeze shifted. No, I didn't gather myself and shoot 180-degrees counterclockwise. I suffered the smoke and got the shot!

In my ears right now: It's the seeming 467th cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". This is a very different interpretation and quite beautiful, I think. Sorry, embedding is disabled, but it's worth the trip if the song appeals to the reader.

Something that charmed me: Mother Badger e-mailed me a wealth of good information, ideas and methods of dealing with grief. One may be well known, but I'd never heard of it. One puts a rubber band around her wrist. When the emotional pain is such that one needs a little break, she snaps the rubber band, exchanging a physical twinge for the emotional one. I ran to my desk immediately upon receiving the e-mail. I'm pretty red and welted. My coworkers think that is a pretty funny bracelet, but I must say it does divert my attention when I need that.


  1. Here in Norfolk we were handed the worst snowstorm of the last decade on the night of the wolf moon. One thing I had forgotten about a good snow is that it brings on a sense of starting anew. Waking up to a world covered in virgin white is special. This has nothing to do with your post. But some times that's the way it rolls.
    I think I've heard each of those 467 version 467 times each. This was simple and soulful. Thanks Leslie.

  2. @ Tag ~ Aw, Knave, you've already figured out I'm just all about connecting and communicating. It doesn't have to be about the post's topic. But it rather IS - you tied into the night of the wolf moon nicely.

    I've lived in snow country (well, I still do, nominally) and I enjoy it tremendously. Just not all the time. And right now, with other things distracting me, I'm pleased to be in sunburning circumstances.

    I've played Hallelujah for 10 days solid. I've been known to make a spouse, coworkers and those who ride in my car nearly insane repeating a song over and over and over again. I don't do it to be annoying. I'm thinking about how I'd play it or sing it. And I'm absorbing the sounds. I liked these young Norwegians doing the tune.

  3. I caught the night-before-the-full-moon moon on Friday night, then forgot to look again on Saturday! Oh, well, it certainly LOOKED like a full moon on Saturday night

  4. @ Kirk ~ Close enough for government work, as they say, eh, Kirk? Saturday night it looked completely full to me. What difference does 24 hours make in the overall scheme of things?

  5. I know you don't like me beating myself up for mistakes, but I should have said, it looked certainly full on Friday, as I forgot to look on Saturday.

    I don't think the government would have me.

  6. @ Kirk ~ Ha! That's why I like you so much, Kirk! If the government won't have you, there must be some marvelous quality you possess, and that's what I appreciate.

  7. i am sorry for your loss. we grieve about so many things. we grieve, having received no instruction on the manner and method of grief or loss, or on how to let go. not all that long ago, i had one entire year that i now refer to as "the year of deaths, disaster, and destruction." i don't recommend it, and it did teach me many things, the hard way!

  8. @ SOMH ~ Thank you for your kindness. Part of what makes this particular walk in the forest very difficult for me is the presence of the nastiest dwarf of them all - Guilty. But I'm on my feet and trying to learn all I can and reminding myself of all the down times I've survived. Having an owner's manual would be a plus, however.

  9. I really like the moon in the smoke. That turned out exceptionally well!

  10. @ the Badger ~ I thank you very much! I hold my breath well, huh?

  11. limes, that particular dwarf has been given entirely too much power and influence. time to take it back. you did what you did, and didn't do what you didn't do. so be it. so it goes.

  12. @ SOMH ~ My head knows that you are 100% correct about that. My heart and gut are slow learners. I'm not done developing yet. But I tend to shine at the end of most things, so I have faith I will get there. Thank you for your support.

  13. Les - I'm going to have to check back in when I get through setting my mom up in her new apartment in the assisted living corner of the world. Talk about guilt. Didn't even have a chance to see the moon.

  14. Les - just listened to your Hallelujah. I thought k.d. had the corner on that one, but there's a guitar chord in an ascending progression that just squeezes something off in me to tears. And the way each member takes a verse, adding his own angst to the song - wow! This one is indeed an obsessively replayed keeper.

  15. @ Kass ~ Sugarhouse Cookie ~ I'm so glad you surfaced for a moment! I know you're hideously busy getting Mom settled, so I didn't want to pester you. But I'm glad you popped on for a little minute.

    Here's my take on the song right now (ask me again in 2 hours). k.d. lang scorches your pantyhose off with Hallelujah. It makes me want to stand up and belt it out with her. These young men present it like brown sugar and honey, a young male angel choir singing sweetly. I like it both ways. Then there's Alison Crowe's take on it, soon to appear. WHO says I'm OC? ;~}

  16. It's a great song to OC on. A different hallelujah for different times. Someone not necessarily me is singing it in this house at some point most days. Being tied to a kitchen chair sounds like my kind of kinky.

  17. @ Tag ~ I think it is a most glorious song always, but this rendition really grabs me. My coworkers want to run screaming from it.

    Watch that kink, Tag. Shari will break your throne and cut your hair!

  18. Hey you - guilt is for women and you've got too much balls to succumb to that! "Tis better to fall before the lion than the wolf.." Even a "broken halleluja" is better than none I think, anyway, I'm getting to be quite a dab hand at carrying grief so I'll just take ownership of yours and amble off over here with it and leave you to your moon gazing...

  19. @ Rachel ~ Before I comment seriously, I am chuckling that you hit all the themes of my post in one comment. Well done!

    Once a commenter called me gutsy and I liked that. Now you call me ballsy and I think I like that, too. I've rarely been considered either of those things. This is new territory for me.

    I have a proposal. I don't want you to suffer with my grief on top of your own. What if we climb to the top of the dunes and hurl the grief away in fiery balls and then we can both gaze at the moon? I know my way around out there very well. I'd show you the sights!

  20. I think I just dealt with my grief (see my comment in your most recent post) but I'll hurl fire balls for fun? Sounds better than what's cooking here!
    Cheers me dears!

  21. @ Rachel ~ I'd love to hurl for fun! Actually, what I'd love is a girlfriends camping trip. I've never done that and I think I'd enjoy it tremendously. I feel confident enough to know I could be the scout leader, keeping us safe, warm, well fed, and taking in all the sights. I had a girlfriends camping trip penciled in for January, but alas. I still hope it will happen sometime.