Sunday, August 3, 2014

Quit Your Job - Do What You Love - Act III Home


Taos, NM Sunset


Ancient author and naturalist, Gaius Plinius Secundus (GPS for short) wrote, "Home is where the heart is." He has also been quoted as saying, "Hope is the pillar that holds up the world. Hope is the dream of a waking man." So after after quitting my job it was with great hope that I arrived Home to Taos, NM.

Forty years ago famous ski videographer, Warren Miller came to the ski shop I was managing outside of Philadelphia and showed us his latest video of skiing in New Mexico. I remember thinking to myself that I have to go there one day. One day turned into years, desires, relationships, locales and jobs came and went and then came the time to make the big move.

So here we are in the great southwest where the cross roads of spirits and indigenous peoples converged and 300 days of sun supposedly per year prevail. There isn't a day that has gone by that I haven't stood in awe and wonder at the high dessert vistas, enchanted blue mountains and the plethora of flower and fauna. It's a magical place and it is no surprise that some of our Native American brothers and sisters where instructed by the Great Spirit to migrate to the area. Upon my first visit to New Mexico I fell to my knees and cried as I took in the great expanse of the basalt filled Rio Grande Gorge. 


After being assured no less than three times by the property manager that the house we were renting was completely ready to move into and that every item that needed to be repaired had been, we arrived to find that 90% of what was promised had nor been completed and that we had no hot water. "That's Taos," we were told. "The mountain either accepts you or tosses you out." If that's true then the "mountain" was certainly trying to kick us back to Chicago. "Would the Mountain kindly fix the hot water, clean the house, repair the adobe walls, fix the lights, pay my bills and put food on the table?" I replied. "Just look at the mountain and breathe," the plumber told us after one of his multiple visits. (It seems that Sages come in many different forms.) I don't know if Don the plumber was or is full of shit or not but he offered a reminder to accept what already is and then decide if you can do anything to change the situation. It took three weeks to get the hot water working properly and after close to three months there are still things that have yet to be repaired. I've been looking at the mountain and breathing. A lot. None of it really matters that much. Compared to the Middle East, slavery, cancer, inequality and a host of other miseries, I can't complain.



Slowly, the house is taking shape. Terry's studio is up and running, I'm outfitting the garage to accommodate painting, woodcarving and various other endeavors. Scaled grouses, finches, sparrows, hummingbirds, swallows, blue grosbeaks and jackrabbits visit our front yard. For the first time in thirty-five years I can sleep without ear plugs. I watch the sun carve its way through the mountain canyons each morning and then take its entrance in a stunning performance at night behind iridescent clouds. What else could I possibly need? The mountains, the desert, the people, and the culture are why so many came here before me and never left. Everything comes with a trade off or a price. There' one movie theatre in town and they show the worst of Hollywood's crap; the DOMV is run by egotistical queens where getting a driver's license is more difficult than going to Cuba; the Sunday NY Times cost six dollars; and getting anything done takes a cross-cultural quorum of five-hundred and just about as many days to make a decision. Still, for now, I wouldn't trade it for the Siskel movie theatre in Chicago or the NYC Subway. To be able to run up and down Mother Nature's spine everyday with bighorn sheep as onlookers is transcendent. 




People work very hard here. Some have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet. It's tough to make a living in a state with a 6.5 unemployment rate. Tourism helps to drive the local economy but there isn't always enough steady work to keep the creditors at bay. That being said, many people here live comfortably by doing what they love and loving what they do. I promised myself a long time ago that I would never wait tables again but if it ever comes down to a choice of slinging hash or being homeless, I'd slap on a smile and say, "Can I take your order?"

It does takes a lot more discipline to get down to work everyday. It's too easy to just stare out the window at yet another set of spectacular rainbows. My old office cube offered no such panorama. Unlike the majority of my neighbors, I haven't retired and need a regular income. The pillar of hope that I'm standing on is for my art and teaching to pay the bills. I'd be lying if I said that I didn't miss the corporate paycheck but I don't miss the culture. Besides, I think that I can better help those that work in that environment from the outside in. So, I'll continue to coach and teach while writing, painting and carving and as GPS wrote, "hold up" my end of the world. You too can do this. Do what you love, love what you do.



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