Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Long Live the Beast

Today, I bid farewell to the 4-Runner, AKA "The Beast." I was beginning to have concerns that my beloved SUV was on the verge of expensive repairs. I sold the car to a physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory who was looking for a beater for his college-bound son. I explained all the quirks of the vehicle -- electric windows that operate sporadically, interior lights that don't work, a cracked sunroof, etc. He understood that he was in for some repairs, but didn't seem to mind. A pre-sale inspection revealed worn-out seals, timing chain, and more looming transmission problems. But the old 4-Runners are in demand. They're easy to work on, with no onboard computers to confound jackleg mechanics. I will miss the vehicle, but perhaps the hardest part of the transaction was removing my Colorado license plates.

My "new" 2002 Ford Windstar cargo van is cleaner, prettier and all the parts on it work. It doesn't have the personality of the 4-Runner, but it's a lot easier to climb into, and it's perfect for hauling stuff. And as I've told people only half-jokingly, I could live in it if circumstances ever warrant. Yesterday, I finally got the new car registered, and obtained one of New Mexico's lovely new turquoise license plates with yellow letters and the famous NM sun symbol. I don't really feel like a permanent NM resident, but like so many decisions these days, getting new license plates was an act of necessity more than will. I make these mechanical decisions because intertia is not an option. I'm flying by the seat of my pants with no job, no prospects, no real inspiration to guide me. I'm simply trusting that God has a plan, even though that plan is shrouded in mystery. I'm like a motorist who suddenly drives into a fogbank where the horizon line, road markers, even the pavement itself disappear. But I keep driving, because stopping is the equivalent of death.

Last weekend,I loaded the van with collectibles, knick-knacks, my jewelry
and a 1960's wrought-iron basket chair and hauled them to the Santa Fe flea market. I spent two hot, dusty days hawking my wares, but with very little profit to show for the hard work. The best part about the experience was making new friends and hooking up with some old ones. The flea market has changed. The original SF flea moved from its old location several years go, to a new spot on the Tesuque Pueblo off a remote stretch of hwy 285. The move disrupted the once colorful and sprawling flea market where tailgaters, transients, turbaned hindus, rastafarians, artists, African bead vendors and characters of every stripe once congregated.

Unfortunately, greed and the bureacratic compulsion to fix something that wasn't broke meddled with a perfectly wonderful flea market. The Indian tribes instituted rules and fees that made it difficult for weekend sellers to make money. Eventually, the old-timers and colorful riff-raff drifted away, and now the Tesuque flea market is a shadow of its former funky self. There are still interesting things there... Indian rug merchants and textiles from Guatemala, etc., but the place seems to have lost its soul. Of course, nothing stays the same. I think the Depression gripping the economy and the national psyche has created a paradigm shift -- or maybe it's the other way around. People aren't spending on things like art and jewelry. I sense a heaviness in people, a hunkering down, a realization that pretty things can't protect you from the Wolf at the Door. And of course, they never could. As much as I love art and beautiful things, I no longer have walls to hang them on or corners to display them. My focus is on lightening my luggage, simplifying my obligations, so I can be ready to go where ever the road wants to take me. I keep my eyes peeled for signs from the universe, praying that I don't miss the cosmic cairns stacked along the way...


I think the spreading oil in the gulf is also having an effect on all of us -- not just those poor people living on gulf coast. How can you not see symbolism in this spreading stain that's killing wildlife and wetlands, fouling Destin's powdery white beaches, coating boat hulls, suffocating sperm whales and sea birds. This is Paradise Lost for all of us. How the Creator must grieve what we've done to His/Her creation. It's "crude" on multiple levels. Shame on us if we fail to see and act on what this disaster is telling us about ourselves.

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