Ghost Ranch

I’ve wanted to visit Ghost Ranch forever. I’ve heard it’s a wonderful retreat. I’ve wondered if they need writers in residence. I could report on what goes on there.

Here are a couple of things I would report on from this weekend:

A Men’s Wellness Group

There was an Iron John feeling when we pulled into the retreat center. Maybe 10 men sat in about six circles talking. And it looked, from a distance, although it’s hard to tell, that they were talking about their feelings. Love it! Men talking about feelings. Go figure. So cool and sexy.

The group meets annually, one of the women told us. A previous topic had been Fathers (capital F). This weekend’s session was on Women (capital W). So, for the first time, the men had invited the women to the Men’s Wellness Group to discuss relationships, sexuality and expectations. I would’ve liked to be a part of those conversations.

A Funeral

Another group was leaving. They were dressed in western wear. Yes, this was New Mexico but it was dressy western wear. There was a lot of hugging too. They seemed more familial than the Men’s Wellness group.

It turns out the dozens of dressy/casual folks were attending a memorial.

“I’m sorry,” I told the woman who was loading a saddle into her car.

“No,” she said. “It was his time. He’s in a better place. We’re going now to spread his ashes on the bluffs.”

The Meditative Path

My sister in law and brother in law and I talked about death as we walked down a sandy path.

We walked the labyrinth. At the center of the labyrinth, you can leave a talisman or a symbol. There was a feather, a pin, a tea bag, a rock. I searched my pockets, thinking I had nothing on me.

But then from my back pocket, I pulled out a scrap I had ripped out of the New York Times a few days earlier. I’d been carrying this quote around with me.

If there is any positive message at all in the narrative it is that life is a tragedy filled with suffering and despair and yet some people do manage to avoid jury duty. – Woody Allen

I left Woody Allen in the center of the labyrinth at Ghost Ranch.

***

The sky was brilliant blue in Abiquiu, New Mexico. The one narrow cloud might have been the cloud stream from a high-flying jet. One of my daughters calls that white line in the sky, a skyscraper. I don’t have the heart to correct her. That trail of white cloud looked exactly like it’d been scraped into the sky.

Resilience

My father had a motto, which I think he got from Woody Allen, “Showing up in uniform dressed to play is 99 percent of the game.” Sometimes finding the uniform is tough. But usually, I’m good to go. I show up. And that’s the best I can do. Like showing up to write in one of my blogs every day.

Every new year I vow to get organized, save money, and work out more. And in 2011, I promised myself I’d blog for 66 days and I’m almost there.

I remember a Physics lesson from college (although it was the only class where I got a D). A body in motion stays in motion. And so I stay in motion. I just keep playing, showing up to my life wearing my uniform. I keep going.

For me the tough part of being married to someone with Parkinson’s Disease is that there are times when he is not ready to play. He can’t find his uniform. He’s slow to the game. (I hesitate to ever complain one iota about his disease because yes, I know, it’s tough, yes, worse on him or anyone with a chronic or serious condition. And, hey, what am I complaining about?) But sometimes showing up means telling it like it is. And that’s the way it is tonight.

But tomorrow I’ll get up early. I’ll write in my journal. I’ll get dressed in my work clothes, my uniform. I’ll get ready to play. And I’ll help anyone that needs help. And I’ll try to remember to thank God that I’m on a team.