Magic in this world

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Here are two moments from my day, both shared with one of the most amazing people in this world:


Sitting across the wooden table from each other, quietly eating our lunch – mac-n-cheese for her and leftovers for me – and she turns to me with a deadpan look and says, “There’s magic in this world. I know because I saw it.”

Like a hammer striking the sky, I was stunned by such a revelation, which of course I know to be true (but all too often forget due to being a “grownup”) and hoped she did as well. The world is full of magic but we seem to forget to see it.

Her eyes were ablaze with magic, excitement and wonder. They were twinkling like stars on a moonless night, like so many nights here in this valley. We looked at each other, smiles slowly emerging from within, creeping up from the corners of our mouths and spreading across our faces until we were both laughing. We laughed because we knew – there is magic in this world!


She’s sitting at the table, both elbows resting on its wooden surface for stability,  a purple marker in her right hand. She is drawing and concentrating so hard on what she is doing that her tongue is sticking out ever so slightly. A quintessential act of concentration. Her map, of trails, campsites, lakes and rivers, is really coming together and now she is adding footprints to the trail.

I sit watching her, enjoying the look of concentration on her face and how it changes ever so slightly from moment to moment, especially the tongue, its position and how much is exposed beyond the lips. I guess I could be distracted by something – a book, dirty dishes, a smartphone or this journal – but this is far better than all that and more. Just here, just watching her drawing is enough and I am at peace.


Written by David LaFever

Relax Completely

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The rare Methow River fairy captured at long last on film.
Let go of thousands of years and relax completely.
Open your hands and walk, innocent.
~ Shitou Xiqian (8th Century Chinese Zen Master)

 

Out for a bike ride, I headed up Wold Creek road past where it turns to dirt, on over a rattly cattle guard and turned around at the second cattle guard. From there I left the road behind for mountain bike trails, both single track and old roads. I had climbed some hills, sweat forming on my brow even in the chill of late evening air, and now had the joy of descending, winding my way down to the river. After going through a couple of cattle gates, I found myself on the banks of this magnificent river who had turned a pewter silver in the quickly setting sunlight. The color of liquid mercury, coming from the river reflecting the clouds, reflecting the already set sun. There were holes in the cloud layer through which I could see the tops of clouds glowing pink and peach in the westerly light. It was breath taking and like an idiot I stood there in amazement trying to capture  and hold on to what I was seeing.

Later, as I pedaled up the driveway past marmot rock, whose namesakes were surely underground sleeping or doing whatever marmots do in their burrows (having a bit of tea, perhaps), I was suddenly struck with a realization that caused me to relax completely and smile. “You can’t hold on to anything,” the universe seemed to be shouting at me. Not the sunset, not the river, not my daughters, not my wife, not my health and certainly not my life. Definitely not my hair, which is already leaving me, and not my cares. I can’t hold on with these ridiculous words nor photographs nor memories; not with who I think I am, who I tell myself I was nor who I want to become. There is nothing to hold on to and no one to do the holding anyway.

With that flood of understanding, I took off my biking shoes and felt a deep relaxation that I had not felt for days. I let go of everything, for a moment, and rested free in this world.

Three for the Methow

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Photo by Jimmy Zammar
Methow River flowing green
Reflecting trees above, sky below
Flowing on, out of snow-mountains
Past forest and field, farmhouse and cabin
On past Goat Wall and an old Western town
Onward it winds, narrowing
Into canyons, whit water rushing
Hurrying to a dammed world below.

The river flows and flows
	without end.
Birds flit and flutter along the banks
	chittering to no end.
Mountains stand, still
	from beginning to end.
Cars whiz by on the highway
	hurrying to no end.
With no beginning and no end,
	why hurry at all?

Two young girls play along
	the bank of a river flowing.
Sticks for kids, trees a home
	an oriole flits and flutters high above.
The warm sun comforts my back
	while a cool breeze floats down river.
Tall cottonwoods stand with their toes in the water
	Balls of soft seeds float on the wind.
"Look its snowing," she says excitedly
	chasing dreams of imagination.

Written by David LaFever

The Driver

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I’ll tell you about the driver, who lives inside my head. Starts me and stops me and puts me into bed. Opens up my mouth when he wants me to talk and fires up my legs when he wants me to walk.
~Trey Anastasio and Tom Marshall

 

My experience has been that its impossible to know when something begins and ends, which leads me to believe that there are no endings and beginnings, although we tell ourselves it is so. It also seems true that it is not possible to say who is the driver, who is the driven and who is the driven-upon. This was my experience driving our tiny home school bus, which we have name the Cozy Turtle, from northern California to our new home in the North Cascades. Sure I turned the key to fire her up and I pushed hard on the accelerator, but once she got going she had a mind of her own and went where she wanted to. I coaxed her this way and that way to avoid old-growth trees, precipitous Pacific cliffs, guardrails and other automobiles but really I was encouraging rather than driving her.

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Because of her size, mass and numerous blind spots (we all have numerous blind spots, don’t we?), she encouraged me to really pay attention. The radio didn’t work and the noise of the engine prevented hearing much of anything else anyway, so I really paid attention. There was a meditative quality to driving – the seat forced me to sit straight (no slouching) and my eyes were constantly scanning mirrors, looking up ahead and to the sides. There wasn’t anything else to do nor was it safe to be distracted. I felt driven to be a better driver by the Cozy Turtle.

And really where were we going. Yes we were heading north to the Methow Valley but we didn’t know how far we would get any given day, which started late and ended early. We had enough time so that we did not have to hurry, which took a lot of stress out of the experience. The Cozy Turtle, or “Old Bessie” as I called her while on the road, went slow which is really the only way to travel. Going slow and paying attention is the only way to ride.

So we went slowly, paying attention and without an agenda, on an unknown journey to a place we had been dreaming about for a long time.

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