Sunday, July 1, 2012

Woody, Waylon & the Un-named (Bird)

The Uses of Light
by Gary Snyder

It warms my bones
               say the stones

I take it into me and grow
Say the trees
Leaves above
Roots below

A vast vague white
Draws me out of the night
Says the moth in his flight -

Some things I smell
Some things I hear
And I see things move
Says the deer -

A high tower
on a wide plain.
If you climb up
One floor
You'll see a thousand miles more.

It's time to change the pictures on my site, I know.  It's freaking hot in Colorado - no snow at this altitude anyway, and half the state has been on fire for some weeks.  I find myself addicted to ice cubes, air conditioning, and sitting on my porch.  When the day has finally calmed down, I tether my dog to the railing.  While he acts as sentry for the entire neighborhood, scanning the sidewalks and peering into shadows for any cats, I sit on the porch and swing.

Today I write for three reasons.  The first is because I re-discovered this week that I sort of lose my mind when I put chores before writing.  Tasks rise up monstrously, and I lose perspective on what makes me happy.  The second is because I listened to Arlo Guthrie on npr's American Roots yesterday.  He was talking about his dad, Woody, on whom the episode centered, and what he said was so wonderfully heartening.

I have to paraphrase, because it's dangerous to transcribe a radio program, and also because I've been looking for the section of the two hour episode for the last 30 minutes, and I can't find it.  If I remember correctly, Arlo was speaking in reference to the evolution of his father's song, This Land Is Your Land, which was originally a satire of God Bless America before it was embraced by the country as a champion song for democracy.  Arlo says (something like) "Presidents come and go...but the people endure, and I think my dad would be proud to remind people how important it is to be a person, and do something without waiting to see what other people are gonna do about it." 

It sounded better when he said it.  It was exciting enough to drop my dishes back into the sudsy sink from whence they came and run to the drawer for a pen.  And as I scribbled, trying to capture Arlo's words, I thought, yes, yes - it is our essential selves, our existence as people, that matters - that binds and informs us, and knits the meaning of our lives into something we can hold.

And finally, the third reason I write is to circle back on the mind's ability to lose the heart's focus.  I heard Leftover Salmon's version of Waylon Jennings' Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way on the way home from a swim in the Poudre River this morning, and ran inside to blast it.  Here is Waylon for you, and (bonus!) Johnny Cash introducing the clip, as a reminder to stay close to the home of your heart.  Enjoy, stay cool, and most importantly, keep on being your own bad ass self.

With love,


  1. Thank you for this, Kara! quick question: You go for morning swims in the river?!

  2. Haha, every morning! Just kidding...although that is an excellent idea.


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