~ ~ ~ Four posts in one ~ ~ ~
Go on out there, or in there, check it out!
Have a field trip.
I am not very curious about what is in my basement but I have to face them today.
We are moving from this huge huge house with infinite storage space to a very small place with no place for anything extra.
On purpose. Downsizing. On purpose.
Time for a 'field trip' to the past. Wonder. And, I suspect, let go.
And that in itself is an experience, letting go.
May the games begin!
I hope you find a baseball game to watch, or play, or a quilt to sew, or a song to sing.
I'm digging in.
Field trip to history. Oh mercy.
"What makes you "come alive"?*
"Look Up! Field Trips for Grown Up's"
Howard Thurman said something that, coming from him, surprised me.*
"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive!"
What makes you come alive?
Parky and I took a field trip in January - already seems like an age. Parky is not, alas, our dog. Nor is it the name I've given to my Lifetime All-National-Parks Pass, given to everyone who is designated as Fully Disabled by the Social Security Administration.
That pass is a treasure for me. A passport, a reminder that I can, I really can! Still go anywhere!
Parky, alas, is what does go with me anywhere, and everywhere, even when I forget it is with me. So, we took a field trip.
Still intrepid, in doses, we drove alone through the mountains to a favorite retreat, for four days of reflection, writing, prayer, exploring and adventure, and getting scared out of collective wits. (I say collective because, while we have had to team up, we are not the same. We have our own unique features, qualities, desires, and limits.)
It was a wonderful, daring, courageous journey. I found places that only an Outback can traverse in four feet of snow. And I found the limits of even an Outback in four feet of snow. But not the limits of Parky. 'He,' didn't keep me from shoveling the way out. And back to the tracks only an Outback could make. It felt heroic! I discovered strength, and determination, persistence, and resilience I feared I had lost.
That was the point of that exercise to begin with: to test my limits. I felt I triumphed.
More humbling, however, was a simple fall - surprise! - along a roadside where I stopped to make a photograph. Plop. A gentle fall, broken by a soothing bed of pine branches, fallen before I did. So I landed on my side, no harm done. Except, a bit to my sense of invincibility even in the midst of Parkinson's Disease. Balance. I lost it. And when we lose it, we generally do lose it. Thwop. So down I went.
And laughed. At life. At myself. At myself for failing to consider this possibility, for forgetting, as usual, to get my walking - and balancing - poles from the seat behind me, not using them. They get in my way. But then, so did a four foot deep unseen hole in the ground.
I laughed. Glad I could. Nothing broken, or even sore. My camera bobbed along. So I used it. Took photos from this new vantage point. What a world you see from a hole in the ground!
It is a different world. I explored the ground about me. The decomposition of leaves, moss, the trails of tiny voles, colors not -- no, wait, newly -- found in nature. Pine needles in the disarray and stages of dissolution. Breaking down.
I'd have never noticed, never dug into it had I not fallen in to it. And it opened my eyes -- the literal and cognitive ones, spiritual eyes, eyes of wonder. And gratitude. At nature's complexity and generativity. At the cycle of death and rebirth, decay and renewal. At how the living is fed by what is dead.
Ponder the existential mystery of that for thirty miles or so.
Field Trips for Grown Ups is my response to a world that ended when our respective daughters graduated from high school and a friend lamented, "Now what are we going to do? No more Field Trips!"
"Au contraire!" I told her. "We're going to take 'field trips for grown ups!"
And so a concept, first a list -- scrawled on take-out napkins jammed in the glove compartment of the Subaru : "Hey, Dave, don't use that! It's a Field Trip!" So I got a pocket notebook.
I gave that scribbled little spiral notebook to another empty-nested friend on her forty-fifth birthday. She cried. And announced, "This is the best gift ever!"
We took a lot of those field trips, quirky and profound, far-flung and in the backyard. We indulged our curiosity, and even pondered The Big Questions, along with, "do you think we can get out of here?"
It opened up a world that normally sped by, now in slow motion, slowed down by intention, interest, and the sheer beauty of being. Being with, being part, being a beautiful space.
I learned how to see pull-outs coming up in the distance, signal, and cruise to a stop. I learned just how far I dared to pull off the busy roads. I learned to look all ways before opening the car door. I am learning to take my balancing / walking poles.
My list grew long, with "Magnificent Musts," and "You're kidding? Right?" sections and much in between. Urban, isolated plains, cultural highpoints, humanitarian desecration. We need to know both, all. And this pretty much covers it all.
Why? to come fully alive. To be alive within the whole fabric of culture. (Or as much of it as I can experience.)
To stir my curiosity, and to simply kick up the velocity of my life, to have some fun.
I shared my list with more folks, and discovered that it definitely had positive resonance in the world of David Letterman's question, "Is this anything?"
This collection happens to be about Colorado. But you could easily adapt a lot of it. And about what goes on in your head. Imagination. Fun. Humor. You can have a picnic by any stream. Just remember to do it.
So I took to the corners and the backroads, forgotten stories, stacks of hay in an otherwise empty farm. And discovered the same inspiration I got both from my traverse through four feet of snow and from falling in a hidden hole. Life, mystery, insights, connections that made sense of what hadn't made sense before --- or maybe still didn't make any sense but were interesting just the same. Or the sense of it comes later. Perhaps it only comes to offer up its insights and make any sense in the telling of the story, and making it part of a larger shared experience of the world. I like that.
From Pearl Pass to badminton in the dark in your own back yard, and from clambering on the Flat Irons to an easy walk along Boulder Creek; from historic Five Points to the still jiving, jumping El Chapultepec, and from southern Colorado's lush and verdant high meadows along the Chama River to the surprising splendor in the grass of a spring wheat crop along Hwy 12, in otherwise drab northeastern Colorado.
From the perverse history of Rocky Flats to the new space age high-wire acts being accomplished at technology 'babies' born full term to send scopes to the International Space Station, and from ICBM's to Mars Rovers, from dinosaur tracks to protest Marches to Honor and argue the veracity of Science! (it has come to this!?), find a Field Trip for your outer Grown Up!
Ride a MOOSE on the Carousel of Happiness, hit a bucket of golf balls on Mt. Massive, elevation 10,something (damn high!) feet above sea level. Eat the mousse, or creme brulee at Le Bistro.
Find a seesaw. Works better with a partner. I got stranded. But still, it was fun.
Go bravely where you have gone a thousand times before. Just go.
And take new ears, eyes. Along with your old ones. Nourish memory, gratitude, astonishment.
Go foolishly where only crazy people, like you, would venture. And take back-up.
Field Trips for Grown Ups has one purpose: to make us come more fully alive. To encounter things and people that help us come alive!
Or in your equivalent places, spaces, and in your own brilliant brain.
You'll be surprised! Can you still hula hoop? Remember your first French class 'dialog?' Seeing the Aurora Borealis? A mountain lion? A barnyard hen? A geode? A tiny, glittery stone that entranced you as a child? What elicited wonder?
Stars. The Milky Way. Big big rivers. Rolling sea. Waves on the sand.
Estonia to Ecuador, the west coast of Sweden to Marrakesh, and from Montecito to the lobster villages in Maine, from MIT to Harvard (a long way), from Homer to Hebron, vineyard to olive, from the Texas Hill Country to Minnesota's North Shore, Maine to Montana, you can create your own collection of Field Trips. Go!