No one knows what the body can do. -Spinoza
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Yesterday I traveled the twelve hours from Montreal to my little mountain town in the American Southwest. I've left my beautiful summer in one place, to finish out a vibrant summer in another.
This morning walking from Old Town, where my house is located, to downtown, where I intended to pick up coffee and breakfast, I was reflecting on how lovely the places I live both are. Montreal is a city almost holy to me for how it allows me to live a creatively synthetic life bringing together the hoped for visions of my past with the impassioned goals for my future. Then, on the other hand, I arrived last night in my little mountain town greeted by a high desert lightning storm, the thunder clapping over the mountains to the north, the lightning touching down on the mesa to the west. The air here is filled with the scent of broken pine, and desert flowers, a rich feast of smells to live within. The sun almost bites the skin, with the atmosphere so much thinner at high elevation that you can feel it stroking the water straight out of your body. And yet, it is never too hot. An almost holy place here too. Walking this morning though I could feel the quickness of my travels and I thought how ungodly it is to move too quickly from one holy place to another. There is something crucial about the pilgrimage itself that is too easily denied of us in air travel.
My heart is willing to take up the places I move between each time I shift from one to the other. Yet, it is a strain on me at the same time to move so fast from the clothing of friendship found in one city, to the homey friendliness I find in another. My heart feels pulled on, and almost plucked from missing the people I just left, even as I am happy to see others here.
It's a kind of hilarity too that welcomes me back to the Southwest. I arrived in downtown this morning, a range of no more than six square blocks, and was quickly met by the local chocolate maker. He greeted me by handing over my favorite of his chocolate flavors, and then giving me a warm hugging saying, "Welcome Home!" That's the funny thing about this place. I've wanted a life different from here in many ways. The summer in Montreal was good for me in that it gave me the chance to revisit that desire. And yet, here I am, home again, welcomed with open arms and chocolate by those that live here.
After walking away from the chocolate maker, I entered the coffee shop and was immediately greeted by two baristas, wanting to know how the summer in Montreal had treated me, and making me a double espresso "on the house" to welcome me home. Stepping out of the coffee shop, I found a lucky penny on the sidewalk, then bumped into another friend that asked me to give a talk to the local Flagstaff Leadership Program later this Fall, and then to participate as a presenter in a Woman's Forum this winter. We made plans to meet for coffee in a week or two. Then, going around the corner, there was a camera man and news interviewer. The interviewer spotted me and quickly asked what I thought about football. I started laughing, even going so far as to bend over and slap my knees, "I don't know a thing about it. It took six tries by a friend trying to explain the game to me before I could figure out how it worked." The interviewer asked if he could talk to me for a few minutes. Ready to take up a spontaneous adventure, I said sure.
"Tell us your name." he said. I answered, and he responded by asking me to spell it on camera so they could get it right for the evening news. It turns out the segment was for the Arizona statewide dinner time news program.
"What do you think of the Arizona Cardinals?" he asked. They make their summer training home up here in the mountains.
"I don't know much about them, to be honest. But I know Arizonans love the Cardinals, and that they train up here in the summers. I think it's great that people engage in what they enjoy, and that this is a good place for the team to spend their training season." I responded.
"So, you support people doing what they're passionate about?"
"Absolutely, as long as it's done with a mind towards what is good for the community as a whole."
"What are you passionate about?" he asked. And with that an interview about football turned into an on camera discussion of living a passionate, community minded life, a life in a town where people greet you with chocolate and coffee as soon as you return.
As the interview wound up a local National Forest employee that had stopped to listen behind camera chimed in. "Everything she said!" The woman chirped. "But don't move here. Everything she said, but please don't move here! Our population is big enough."
I talked to a friend back in Montreal this morning. He started laughing a few minutes into our conversation saying, "Your accent's changed already! You got a little country in your voice." Turns out it's not just my heart that gets plucked as I move. The way I speak even changes.
Tonight I drive south back to the Phoenix airport, to travel once again. This time I'm making my way to Seattle for a week where I'll rendezvous with family, and meet up with some friends as well. It's a life too full of travel, and yet a lucky life for it too. Here's cheers to the holy lands!