Private Thoughts

Private Thoughts

Walking in the woods is a treasure hunt and private thoughts are the treasure. They are nothing like the manic cacophony produced from multitasking nor the annoying hectoring of the inner critic nor the unconscious pop culture regurgitation that feeds monkey mind. They don’t happen until the entire mental frequency calms down into soft rolling waves of just being. The best way I know to get to this mental landscape is to go on a hike with the dogs.

Private thoughts are conversations with yourself. They are full of secrets and the wonderful thing is that they stay that way. Something all your own, only for you. It’s lovely to be seen and recognized in this world, but don’t skimp on being the first audience for this recognition. See yourself. Be your own best friend. Be your most trusted ally. It’s a great deal because you will be together all the way, the only one who for sure will be with you in the end.

I find that my private thoughts generally run in several wide terrains: gratitude towards the people in my life, new creative ideas and pleasure in observation.

How wonderful it is to have all the senses operating. I can smell and see and feel and hear the wind. My feet work. I can climb. I can see my beautiful dogs scampering ahead, no longer held back from their desires and curiosities by a leash, they can do as they please. So much pleasure for me in giving pleasure to them.

That brings me to gratitude. I am so grateful to all the people who love me and support me. I have time to think of them, to appreciate them, to miss them. Holding them and honoring them in my private thoughts brings us closer. I have time to feel their distinction and value. I want to be a better person for them. My thoughts of love repair the damage of the past week. Negativity seems stupid. Such a relief to unburden myself from my petty ruminations.

Slowly observation and gratitude give way to new ideas. I think about what I am working on and working towards. In this relaxed state I don’t feel overwhelmed, I feel excited. I don’t feel like I am creating tasks, I feel like I am creating fun.

It may not stay this way when I get back home. I know from experience it will not. These private thoughts are like watching a hummingbird drink nectar from a flower only inches way. It’s so beautiful I hold my breath and then, off it flies, out of sight. But at least the sense memory is there. I didn’t imagine it.

Happy Cactus

Happy Cactus

I was hiking and came upon this guy. A thought floats through my head, that’s a very happy cactus. Immediately I interrogate this thought. By happy, I mean healthy? By healthy I mean unblemished? By unblemished I mean..? What do I mean?

Aren’t cacti especially adept at weathering drought? Isn’t their whole claim to evolutionary fame their ability to withstand hardship, to endure in the face of incredible scarcity? This cactus hasn’t done any of that. He looks well watered if you ask me. That’s some bright green sheen with nary a needle to mar his vanity inducing surface. Can he really be happy? What has he survived? What does he have to be so proud of except for something he is one hundred percent sure to lose? His “good” looks.

That sets me to pondering all the cactus up here that don’t inspire the thought happy. I wonder if they are in fact quite happy. There are some big ass bunches of cacti just taking over. They are clearly doing well for themselves. Some pads are scarred with dead skin that looks almost charred but new pads thrive from this base. They seem to have an indomitable spirit, a what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger kind of vibe. Are they happy? What is happy?

I want to be like these guys: tough, leathery, protected, in community, supporting, hearty, interesting, unique. Thank you to all my cactus friends, real and metaphorical. Let’s be needles out together.

Black Hole Sun

Black Hole Sun

What else could I name this angry, rotting, agave stump with a decaying corona? He is very upset, and I am only nominally responsible for making him that way.

I was social distance hiking with one of my oldest, dearest and bestest friends. Kristina has known me since I was 18 when we bonded night after night at the Cornell University North Campus Dining facility. It was an all you could eat situation, so we were there for hours. Such magic, finally having the conversations I had longed to have but wasn’t sure were even possible while also sampling every entre on the specials board. We gained weight and we gained lifelong support.

We were huffing and puffing up Runyon Canyon’s outer trails, talking about impermanence, accepting change as a constant, trying to figure out the ideal lesson to learn from these difficult observations. Mostly we concluded that the lessons learned never change but still have to be learned anew every day. I don’t know why I can’t seem to retain the wisdom of yesterday for more than a few hours. Here’s a major one that I should know by heart given how many times I have “learned it”: Anger poisons everything. It’s an ineffective tool. Not like using a banana as a hammer which, while it wouldn’t work, also wouldn’t cause any damage, just a mess. It’s more like using a hammer to remove a splinter. The thinking, assuming there was any “thinking, would go like this: If I beat this thumb to a bloody pulp, the splinter will no longer have a place to be lodged.

I don’t have a terrible temper, but it could stand improvement. And improve away I do. Just like I exercise regularly but never get more fit, I practice keeping my temper in check and manage not to do real damage.

So that brings us to this very upset fellow. While hiking I spotted a few promising face making items but not wanting to interrupt our flow, I made a mental note to come back. But then Kristina pointed to this agave stump and asked if I saw the face in it and had I ever made a face here. No and no. Although the first no was easily turned to a yes by giving it my full attention. She started hunting for the needed elements and located the one that made her vision come to life, the bark tongue. Kristina is also the person who suggested the handlebar mustache for the bike chain desert face. I wonder if I could stuff her in my dog walk satchel. She’s really handy! Thanks Kristina!

When I read the first paragraph to her, she felt you needed some additional information. I called her because I couldn’t remember what we had talked about on the hike. I knew it was really meaningful, but what was it again….? She was making choux pastry. Isn’t that funny? Would you pick up the phone if you were making choux pastry? She’s so awesome. She wants you to know the dining hall also had a full desert bar. Let that sink in; an all you can eat desert bar. Thank goodness the next year we rented a small apartment and shed the freshman fifteen because there was no one to cook for us. Most often we ate something called fried potato sandwich. It’s two ingredients, maybe three if there was mayo. She wasn’t making choux pastry back then.

And now for the final thing that husband wants you to know. There are more covers of Black Hole Sun on Spotify than any other song in the known universe. You should sample a few of them. Here’s my current favorite.