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Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding:  80                              Consecutive Days Blogging: 81

Today’s Mileage: 4                                              Total Trip Mileage: 671

Do you ever have one of those mornings when you wake early and feel the need to take a walk to help clear you mind, still the swirl of voices, the struggle of feelings?  I had one of those this morning. 

I got up, threw on my jacket and gloves and retrieved my Dictaphone from the car.  As I walked up the street I found the swirling struggle of thoughts and feelings did not diminish!  The Dictaphone would not record and produced only a loud whine.  I pocketed it, deciding that perhaps I was meant to walk and just “be with” nature.  While the stars twinkled overhead, a biting north wind chilled me to the bone.  I chastised myself, as someone who had survived delivering papers in Dakota winters, the howling Alaskan winds and Antarctic storms, I could certainly put up with a chilly breeze. This idea of a walk, was just not working!  I turned around, picked up my pace and a short time later I had returned to the warmth of my studio.

Nine Eleven Taoist Walking Stick

As I ride the bike this morning I have no clear idea of what to blog about.  Yesterday I spoke about the need to sometimes just “be” in the moment.  I can do “just being” quite well when I’m surrounded by nature, standing in front of a fire, or walking in the woods.  I have heard the call of nature as it is the source of much of my creativity (e.g. my nature poems, wall hangings, and artwork) and provides a calming and peaceful respite.  It is a pull that can become so strong it leads people to becoming hermits and mountain men to retreat from human contact.

The Webfooted Taoist Walking Stick

I have heard the call and pull toward relationships with other people.  I have found great joy and pride as a parent watching their child explore, grow and become their own person.  I have felt the intense passion shared by lovers, felt the intense need to seek out friends for conversation during both moments of great joy and deep despair.  I have felt the joy and satisfaction of guiding and mentoring others through “rough times.”  I have also seen and felt the costs of relationships with others.  I have experienced the heart wrenching pain of a parent watching a child “crash and burn.”  I felt frustration as I watched friends and patients make poor choices that destroyed and damaged their lives, their health, and the lives of their loved ones. I have looked into pained and pleading eyes with little to offer.

I have heard the call of the divine, experienced its presence in the world around me, in the people I meet and deep within my being. I have met people who live their faith in positive life affirming ways and act as models for the rest of us.  I have met people who appear to have no relationship with the divine but find meaning in their possessions and accomplishments. I have known people whose relationship with the divine fed their sense of importance and self-righteousness but acted as a wedge between them and others. 

"Bare to the Bones" Taoist Walking Stick

I truly believe for me, the best route is the middle way, a balance between the moment-to-moment gifts of nature and the sometimes joyful dance and often frustrating struggle with human relationships. I have come to realize that relationships should never be easy or at least not all the time.  Good relationships (e.g. child, parent, teacher, lover, and friend) should challenge us to grow.  Growth should be the underlying process, such that good parents should grow with their parenting, good teachers should grow with their teaching, good bloggers should grow with their blogging.

The "Waterstick" Taoist Walking Stick

As we approach the New Year, it is customary to take stock of the outgoing year, to congratulate ourselves for our accomplishments, and resolve to work on our short comings. It is a good time to think about growth!  I will in the coming week steer my bike back onto our virtual path across Florida. I will be unveiling a “retooled” pilgrimage site page and map for my blog.  I look forward to our continuing journey into 2010 and the growth it offers!

The Taoist Walking Sticks are wall hangings I construct out of material and items I find on my nature hikes.  The examples shown included: stick, roots, feathers, deer bones, turtle bones and shell fragments, and remenants of a tattered flag.

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 68                            Consecutive Days Blogging: 69

Today’s Mileage: 10                                            Total Trip Mileage: 599

“We should get a tree,” stated my partner as we drove down the road.

“Sounds good to me!”

“No, we can use the money for other things,” she adds.

“Sounds good to me!”

“But I really do want a tree, just a small one.”

“Sounds good to me!”

“No!  I’ve got too many ornaments and I wouldn’t know which ones to hang.”

 As I ride the bike I think about this earlier interaction.  One of the challenges of a new relationship is when you approach your first holiday together. Do you undertake rituals cherished by one, the other, or both?  It is easier if there are similar rituals and traditions that you celebrated prior to the relationship.  But Susan and I had no such luck!  It had been years since I had last possessed a tree.  If I had any ornaments, they were lost in unpacked boxes.

 Rituals and traditions are an important aspect of many of the world religions.  They serve numerous important functions for individuals and religious communities.  They are reminders of sacred stories that highlight our connection with the divine. They connect us with our individual past and the histories of our family These rituals become  important cultural and family relics which we pass on to our children. Not having common rituals and traditions has its drawbacks, but it also carries the possibility of new rituals and traditions, ones that have meaning embedded in a new time, place and relationship.

Possum Hollow Trailer with a dusting of snow.

Years ago I lived in a trailer in the woods.  I moved into it in the summer and  it came with holiday lights included!  Strands of abandoned lights dangled from the eaves.  It came without wheels,  if you’re wondering, and it was elevated on concrete blocks.  The space below it was a homestead for possums, coons, and feral cats.  In the fall of my first year in the trailer, I was hiking in the surrounding hills with my two sons, looking for walking sticks and Indian arrowheads. My youngest son, not yet five, picked up a nondescript branch from the roadside and exclaimed: “Dad, look what I found!”  I received the branch and cradled it like some special cargo.  My older son, four years more advanced, exclaimed: “That’s just a branch!” “It’s special,” I exclaimed.  My young son beamed as I placed it in the van.  I wasn’t sure what to do with it as it was not walking stick material, but it was a gift.

Youthful Joy Personified!

A short time later my sons inquired whether we were going to get a tree for the holidays.  I knew they would have one with their mother, covered with two decades worth of ornaments.  “I don’t think we can have a tree,” I exclaimed.  “We don’t have room in the trailer, I don’t have any ornaments, and the cats would turn it into a plaything!” They nodded their heads in agreement.  “I promise you we will have something!”

Oldest with our Cow Cats!

Several weeks later as we pulled up to the front of the trailer I exclaimed: “We have a Christmas tree of sort!”  Then ran ahead on their youthful legs and waited anxiously for me to open the door. We stepped inside and there on the wall it hung: “Our Christmas branch,” I announced.  “My branch!” exclaimed the youngest.  The oldest stood silent for a long moment then turned toward me: “Nice job Dad!”

That branch hung on the wall year round for the next three years.  Each holiday we added ornaments, each night they stayed with me it served as a night light and a reminder of a family’s shared love. On numerous occasions they both exclaimed their appreciation for the branch’s presence.

Deck the Walls with Christmas Branches!

My suggestion for this season is to embrace a ritual or tradition.  If you don’t have one, create one!  If you don’t like yours, change it!  If you cherish and embrace one, then share it with others.  For traditions and rituals only have meaning when they are embraced, shared and passed on to those who will follow us into their own cycles of life.

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