It’s a soft voice, insistent, swirling in my brain like mists on a morning hike after a rainy night. The soundless voice is chilling. I’m alone. The nights here are dark and people are strangers. The world around me seems bigger when darkness comes. Will that bigness pull me into that dark vortex? Last night I flipped on the porch light. The sky became even darker in contrast. A coyote howled on the mesa. Do coyotes howl to express their fear? My fear is a sensation. My chest is tight, my skull prickles. If I relax, the words may come.
A Dark Night for my soul
This isn't the beginning of a horror story. Even though the dark night before All Souls Day, is soon here, I don’t have a display of pumpkin, mums and ghost lights on my portal. My front yard right off the portal is a disaster zone with empty concrete bags, coffee cup lids and Lacroix cans strewn around among tools left out as a courtyard wall is taking shape. A wall to keep out intruders? No, I don’t carry that fear. A wall to protect plants more delicate than sage brush from harsh, cold spring winds, offer some shade from the intense sunlight. The workers come and go as they please. An air of a local culture of living in the moment, and responding to daily situations at home (trucks break down, the road is muddy, I don’t feel like working today). Weather adds a separate unpredictable dimension. The workers are messy in their operations, but the wall looks good. They know how to stucco. I have no control over this project any more. The voice in my head says, they’re stretching things out. They’re robbing you of your privileged white-woman money. Mind spinning tales of fear.
Fear of Belonging
Since I’ve moved to a new state, a strange environment, the voice of fear swirls in my brain. What if I don’t belong here? What if I don’t find people with similar values? What if living near family is not what it’s trumped up to be? I step out, join groups, meet people. Time is my enemy. It takes time to build trust, develop relationships that can stand the difficulties of a fast-paced, always changing world. If I stop reaching out, will anyone look for me, reach out? The phantom of aloneness hands me my tricky thoughts of fear.
The Great Rift
When I arrived in Taos six months ago, I saw the mesa embraced by the Sangre de Cristo mountains. Pueblo Mountain rising in the center of the stretched-out arms like a heart, a bosom from which generosity flows, the Rio Pueblo river cascading to the Rio Grande, below which lies the great rift, the crack in the earth, a doorway to the underworld. The land looked like a woman lying on her back, welcoming me. The river is her lifegiving voice. The crack in the earth is the door to the (under) world of this planet. I’m nearing the time in my life of transition to another world. I don’t fear that transition. The Rio Grande rift is my reminder of what’s coming.
Fear of Others
It’s not in my bones to sit and wait for things to come. I move, I do, I use my brain. My fears rise when I meet my aloneness in the dark of night, when I feel my vulnerability as winds fly, am reminded of my white privileged status when I meet the others who are not so protected: the ones who are carving out a life on the mesa where land is cheap, water absent, roads are dirt and mud; the ones who live on pueblo land and want to protect their ways and values that rely on spirit and intuition. The spirit of land and sky, and an intuition that won’t fit white men’s regulations.
An Era of Fear
We live in an era of fear. Politics of fear create division and mistrust. A war full of fear and uncertainty tears apart the world. Those who have been cornered, flee or fight. Hunger and homelessness numbs resistance to policies and terrorism that rob people of their human dignity. The privileged in fear of the tsunami of disasters, violence, and criminality, bar themselves behind the walls of their homes, their gated communities, in privileged neighborhoods.
We don’t need Halloween to tickle our fears. Many refugees already have their fears; not just fear appropriate for a Halloween holiday, but gutwrenching fear while waiting to see if they’re welcome in a new land where they don’t speak the language, don’t know the values. Fears of climate change and aging propelled me to make my move. Can I belong in a small community where the poor rely on the rich while resenting them at the same time; where the educated need the natives to teach them how to survive on the land since they themselves have robbed the land in their pursuit of profit. I must wait to see if trusting my intuition that said, “move to a place where spirit will shake your certainties, will help you grow, where family wants to be community”, was a good choice. While waiting, I’m building a wall, cover my vegetable plot and make a small greenhouse; I stack extra firewood.
Time to be Still
The wood in the Kiva is turning into coals. The bread loaves finished baking and rest on the counter. Pear butter waits on the stove to be put in jars. the season of being inside is around the corner. As the natives say: “it’s the time of being still; the time when mother Earth sleeps”. Outside, the wind has blown the rain clouds away, the sun is out, evaporating the mists of fear. Time for a quiet walk.