MAKING CONNECTIONS

Slightly sad when the power was finally connected, the emotion was surprising.  From Tuesday to Saturday my mind and experience was in the space connecting a book (two books really) and an ice storm.

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Knowledge is finding unknown connections between things, said the first female president of the University of Chicago, Hannah Gray, many of my lives ago.  Only now do I realize (plus the fact that the statement was remembered)  how pivotal these connective spaces are to me.  Could have had another life following that path.

I had been waiting for February 11 for a long time.  My current obsession is with hiking the Appalachian Trail including losing myself and testing myself.   The zen of activity.  Turns out 2/11 was a very busy day.  Finished hanging an exhibition looking skyward at ice, and attended the evening event for which I had been waiting.

Odyssa was coming to Orangeburg.  The big turnout was a tribute to her as we all prepared for the upcoming storm.

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Jennifer Pharr Davis spoke about so much more than exploring the trail.  She talked about achievement, oneness, surprising your limits, regulating yourself, looking in, looking out.  Making art does this to your mind.  I want to use my body for this too.

This young woman has found her perfect creative place, and cast a career around it.  She was inspiring, and we all went out into the first ice that evening blasting through our boundaries.

But she had led me further.  Deep into another book  “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson, a person my age, another perspective was given.  There is of course, not only one way to do things.  Each person’s way is perfect for them.

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Bryson, and I was reading this book during the quarantine of the ice storm, speaks a lot about the life of the mind and soul on the trail, the strangeness of civilization when embraced for a break from the trail, and trying to keep a foot (so to speak) in both places.  He struggles.

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At the point of the fourth day without power and phone during the ice storm, I am no longer trying to switch on lights.  Enjoying the heating of water and cooking of food on a camp stove, a pattern of activity is emerging.  Hot water on my face is a delight.  Hauling fallen trees has replaced my running.  I am thinking about that trail doing all this work.

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I cooked two pounds of bacon yesterday morning, because it had to be, and after the meal clean up (a seriously late breakfast of bacon cheeseburgers), we were going to boil three chickens in a huge pot made for dipping turkeys in grease (hate the idea, love the pot).

Our friend drove up, the son of a neighbor, and said we would have power in 15 minutes.  We were just lighting the burner for the chicken.  We looked at each other.  We didn’t have to do it.  I felt a loss.

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Jennifer Davis described last Tuesday night the instant  she knew she had to hike the trail for an overall record (not just a women’s record).  She had hiked, sixteen hours a day the 2100 some miles, faster than any woman.  She touched that metal plate on the mountain in Georgia and she still had energy and strength in her body at that moment.  She had not been tested enough, and that was the germ of the new idea.

Yesterday, I felt the same way.

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MY INSPIRATION

No Cooper River Bridge Run for me this year.  Something different is pulling.  Now training for it,  just after my daily run, I am also cleaning up the roads around here.  Never do only one thing at a time.  This also helps my blood pressure and bone mass.  What’s not to love?

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A friend gave me a book about hiking the Appalachian Trail.  Wish I’d read something like it forty years ago.

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Jennifer Pharr Davis has written a simple story of finding self,  uniting with the natural world, and therefore overcoming self.  Man, the self requires hard work!  Inspired.

Weaving through my art education is pattern.  Pattern or repetition of an action or a shape allows one to focus on that thing, and not on “self”.   Pattern is predictable, repetitive, understandable.  You are in it, like a monkey swinging from tree to tree.  Ask a weaver about the power of the beater bar.  Like a heartbeat, it is.  Running is this way for me.  Repeat the steps, lose yourself, gain enlightenment.

So it seems to me that hiking would be like running, but instead of eliminating the self, the self is trying to merge with all the variety of nature encountered.  To be part of something bigger, where self holds only a little status.

Living in the South, I can stumble over to the AT fairly quickly and hike for a couple of days.  Too old to think about the entire 2180 miles, two days with a nice hotel in between sounds good to me.

So I am running my four miles, and then walking/hiking down in the ditches on either side of the nearby two-lane.  Hoping that this will strengthen other muscles in my legs and back.  Below is today’s bounty of trash!

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