We Are Never Stuck

Right now, there is clarity. The zeitgeist of January. The patina of the holidays. Today I return to regular programming, the magic of the season like a contrail in my tailwind. Today I see the point in everything, the sacred place of process. I want to pause in the middle of it, but there will be none of that. We simply cannot stop moving. Life does not allow it.

It helps to attempt stillness, to make friends with the impossibility of it. When we recognize our inability to be completely still, our unwillingness to stop breathing, we will understand that our worst fears are not true: we are not stuck, stalled, or trapped; we are never actually any of these things. We are perfectly dynamic creatures.

Lately life is a series of snapshots. A grid of burners, hot with potential. I tend each one in turn. Sometimes I turn my back at the wrong moment and something or someone gets burned. Sometimes we salvage, or we start over.

Despite my optimism, my idealism, the ripe promise of a new year, I haven’t forgotten what it feels like to see the point in nothing. We teeter over it by the sheer act of living. And so I feed myself carefully. Presence is still a slippery thing.

1 Comment

  1. Funny I wrote about the idea of being stuck too, not yet published.

    With the closure of every year and the start of a new one, a person often resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior. This year, instead of making a list of things that I wanted to change or fix, I simply sat and meditated. By doing so, I saw that I was stuck. And when we are stuck we postpone. What had I been postponing? I wasn’t allowing myself to feel the difficulties I was experiencing in my life. As a result, I was restless and overrun with craving as a means to distract me.

    For the last month, as an antidote to my suffering, I have been waking up a 5am to meditate at the Rosemont Center in Albuquerque where I can take refuge with the Buddha, Dharma (Buddha’s teachings) and the Sangha (spiritual community). Here I gain insight into the essence of the Buddha’s teachings which are comprised in the Four Noble Truths. They are the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering.

    Buddha Under Ocotillo Tree. Photo by, Danila Rumold. This suffering which I have been feeling and which the Buddha expounds on is a universal phenomena. Currently in the United States, the political climate of our nation (whose democracy and people are being threatened) is experiencing an overwhelming amount of fear and pain. As a way to address this collective suffering, I have created, “Thorn-bed.”

    The idea of thorns came to me as a metaphor for pain through my daily walks by a neighbors garden filled with a variety of desert cacti. Every time we walk by my toddler says, “ouch, don’t touch- be careful mama.” Amongst the fiercest of thorns is those of the Ocotillo. Taking some clippings that bent over the path of the sidewalk, I held the plant in my hands and learned that if I twisted the thorns in the direction that they grew, they would pop off without being cut. Trying a few variations with the Kozo paper I have been working with in my “Queen Sheet, ” series I resolved on one where I simply pierced the thorns through the sheet and used masking tape to adhere them to the back. Using matte medium and more sheets of kozo, I backed the entire piece to ensure they would hold.

    Ocotillo Branches. Photo by, Danila Rumold.

    Ocotillo thorn clippings. Photo by, Danila Rumold

    Holding my own Dukkah (Pain). Photo by, Danila Rumold. Since making this piece I have been thinking more about how to use local plants in my work. As a result, it led me to research more about the Ocotillo plant. I discovered that at the core of its action, Ocotillo medicine is used to move stagnation. Thus “thorn-bed,” has a double meaning suggesting pain, while acting as a remedy for ending the phenomena of being stuck, blocked, or otherwise suffering. The process of making and contemplating “Thorn-bed,” has provided me much insight into the benefits of staying with suffering and the fleeting nature of it’s origins. >


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