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Deep

Photo: B. Fertman

 

There are two kinds of people.
Foxes and Hedgehogs.

Foxes dig lots of shallow holes, spreading out all over the place.
Their coats are silky, shiny, and colorful. They’re debonair.
They’re sly. They’re quick. They’re here, there, and everywhere.

Hedgehogs are a bit pudgy.
They’re not real handsome or pretty. They’re drab.
They’re either still, like a rock, or busy digging away, usually the latter.
They start digging one hole, and once they start you can’t get them sidetracked.

They just keep digging one big hole. The hole gets wider and deeper.
And deeper. And deeper.
It seems like they are working their way down to the center of the earth.

It’s safe in that deep hole.
Some un-welcomed guests enter and start poking around.
The further in they go, the quieter it gets. Unnerved, they turnaround and leave.

The hedgehog keeps digging. Other creatures talk down about them,
Saying how they are just running away from the world.

Very few creatures understand hedgehogs.
They’re not digging away from anything, they’re digging toward something.
The closer they get, the better they feel.

They never reach the end, which they find rather mysterious.
Perhaps there is no end. Perhaps there is only the way.
No matter.

There are a few foxes, usually older foxes, who realize
That they’ve been running around getting nowhere.
Just how some foxes turn into hedgehogs, no one knows.
Legends abound.

It hurts. It’s harrowing. It’s humbling.

It is, however, widely known that the few foxes that do turn into hedgehogs,
Become some of the finest hedgehogs hedgehogs have ever had the privilege to meet.

A Letter to My Children

Kids,

You both know how politically oriented I am as a person.

That is because I have watched our country go down the tubes, slowly but surely, from the time Ronald Reagan became president.

Why that is, I don’t want to go into here.

What I want to say is that there is a reason why you guys graduated college in debt.

There is a reason why the job market for your generation was and is not what it was for mine.

These are not accidents.

There is a reason why the climate crisis is so dire right now.

There is a reason why 204,000 people have died from Covid-19, and 2 million people are mourning the loss of immediate family members, children, parents, siblings, and grandparents to Covid.

These are not accidents.

Democracies fall.

It has happened all through history, all over the world, and there is a good chance that it is about to happen in America.

Noah, Pennsylvania is particularly critical.

If America falls, the rest of your lives and that of your children’s lives, if you choose to have kids, will be degraded, and placed in jeopardy.

I encourage you to do all you can to make sure that Biden and Harris win this election and that we take back the Senate.

If you want me to, I would be happy to direct $50 for each of you and direct it either to the Senate Race, perhaps to a particular race you feel is especially important, and/or to the race for the White House. Let me know right away.

We will need young people helping with polling, with helping people to vote. I did this for Obama, and it made a difference. I would be doing this, but I can’t this time around. Do it for me.

Get your friends to vote who want 45 out. Do what you must to make sure they vote. Just like I am doing with you.

Here are some links to alert you as to what we are up against.

https://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe/watch/how-legislatures-in-swing-states-could-impact-outcome-92444229833?fbclid=IwAR2YtiYA8OmIS8fFK1MvrYprw3UcxixTyIw9Jq1d-n9BeUQ_3eI2fOdHiuU

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/11/what-if-trump-refuses-concede/616424/?fbclid=IwAR0WAr9RGALdwQwE8xsOfWUoXPDCBJIbwEUQ54sJTDxp7pjEodYn9AxsaR0

https://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe/watch/this-is-a-democratic-emergency-says-professor-92444741592?fbclid=IwAR2WjmG0OIEwOZk6E8ABJJrCmk7YF046LZX68PsDIuDY_vX65FEMjHJcHE8

Should America fall, I have the option of living in Japan. You may not have the opportunity to migrate to another country. Many people are forced to flee their countries due to racial and religious persecution or economic hardship. Jews have experienced this. Asians have experienced this. You guys are not immune from irrational hatred and political oppression.

And most importantly, think of all the people in this country who are so much less fortunate than you, who are dying from Covid, who are losing their jobs, their homes, their health, who are more discriminated against than both of you.

Vote for them. Do all you can for them.

Love you both,

Dad

One Week Remains Before, A Grace of Sense, Begins.

One week remains before our online course, A Grace of Sense, begins. If you have been meaning to join but have forgotten to register, now is the time. Or, if you are just seeing this now, it is possible to get in just under the wire. Here is a letter, just sent to those who have registered. It will give you some idea of how my classes will be structured. For the courses content, click on the link about the course. 

Thanks.

Bruce

*****************

My Fellow Grace of Sense Students from Near and Afar,

Soon, our gathering will begin. I, for one, am excited and welcome this opportunity to learn, and to share my continuing explorations on how to live a physically contemplative life.

When Covid-19 arrived, like so many, I traveled inward. I began writing a book whose working title is In Good Company – The End of Living Alone. But it could just as well be entitled, A Grace of Sense – Where Our Inner World and Outer World Meet.

Unsure as to whether or not I was losing my way, I followed my thoughts inland. About four months on, I decided to journey back, to share my ideas with a few like-minded souls. Would they strike a chord with anyone other than myself?

With trepidation, based upon these tender thoughts, I decided to offer an online course. Against the advice of some of my trusted advisors, I decided to write long theme descriptions. Only the people who were interested enough to sit, read, and think about my theme descriptions were likely to partake. I was hoping that about 20 people would register, not many, but at least they would be genuinely eager to study and learn. A hundred people registered.

How will I go about teaching a hundred people? Being the pedagogue I am, I found this question immensely stimulating and proceeded to spend the next couple of months figuring out how to make this situation work for all of us, how to create a clear structure, a cohesive group focus, and yet at the same time, create room for discussion, for the asking of questions and the answering of them, and for getting to know one another. All online!

Let me share with you now some of ideas.

Most classes will begin with movement. I will be teaching a simple, easy movement, but I will teach it in great depth over the course of ten weeks. We will spend a little time in pairs learning how to see and appreciate one another in silence, as we move sensitively within ourselves.

Each week there have a theme. Not only will I share my thoughts about the theme, but I will teach you ways of physically contemplating these themes on your own. We will break into small groups to share briefly our impressions, insights, and thoughts on the theme at hand. We will write down questions as they arise. Just like in my “actual” classes, I have found that important work happens within these small groups.

Finally, I will suggest ways of integrating what we learn each week into our daily round. I will also collect your questions at the end of every class.

The very next day, I will make a video or podcast and answer as many questions as I can. You will get an email alerting you as to when that is available for you and how to find it. Likewise, you will be notified as to when a recording of our class is available for you to watch, if you should wish to watch it again. In the event that you ever miss a class, these recordings will help you stay on board. Both the video recording and the podcast will only be accessible to you through the duration of our course. It will not be downloadable. However, the written material I send you each week will be available for you to print and to share. I will say more about this later.

Finally, I will begin a Facebook group only for the participants of A Grace of Sense 2020. This way we will all have a forum in which we can communicate, socialize and get to know one another. Having had the good fortune of being part of a vibrant and loving Alexander community for 40 years, I know how supportive it is to study alongside other kindred spirits. In addition to connecting to others through our Facebook group, I encourage you, if you wish, to write to me every week and share with me your thoughts, your questions, your confusions, your breakthroughs, your experience.

Before you know it, a week will have sailed by and it will be time for another class! And so it will go for 10 weeks.

See you soon. Be safe. Remain vigilant.

Yours,

Bruce

A Grace of Sense – Where Our Inner World and Outer World Meet

New Thought Vermont Presents an Online Workshop with Bruce Fertman

Sensing Space/Sensing Time

Physical Contemplations on the Experience of Space and Time

September 10,11,12

8-9:15pm Eastern via Zoom

 

Photo: Bruce Fertman

Sensing Space

We all possess a sense of space within, or a lack thereof. Sometimes, we feel trapped, or cramped, that we have no room to move or breathe or think. Sometimes, we feel free, that the future is open to us, that the horizon widens forever, that the sky is the limit, that life is deep and vast, like the ocean. Unwittingly, we impinge upon this omnidirectional sense of space. Some of us puff out, some of us squeeze in, hold back, thrust forward, press down, pull up. Sometimes, unmeaningly, we intrude upon the space of others. We want to live our lives with a peaceful, invigorating sense of space within us. We want to feel spatially unconfined, unfettered.

Space also exists between us and the animate and inanimate world, between us and our smartphones, our computers, our steering wheels, our soup bowls, between people toward whom we find ourselves drawn to, or repelled by.

There is space around, above us, below us, before us, behind us, beside us. Often, unbeknownst to us, we live with blinders on, zooming in on what is in front of us, living our lives running along tracks, down invisible corridors, through high hedged mazes, unable to see and sense the immensity of space around us. Space exists. A lot of it.

Sensing Time

Time feels very real to us. A second is a second, a minute a minute, an hour an hour, a day a day, a year a year, a decade a decade, and yet our subjective sense of time varies. An hour can fly by in a second, an hour can feel like an eternity, for better or worse. An entire life can fly by in a blink of the eye. Ask almost any person nearing the end of their life.

The ancient Greeks had two words for time. Chronos, (as in chronological), would be clock time. Clock time is sequential, moving horizontally through time, from A to B to C. From past, through present, into the future. Chronos is quantitative, measurable time.

Kairos, on the other hand, is closer to biological time. It moves not horizontally but vertically. It goes nowhere. It is the eternal moment, a fraction of an infinity. Think of someone striking a bell, one single note, rising at once up to the stars and down to the ocean’s floor, spreading out omnidirectionally. Kairos is non-sequential, singular. It is time standing still, not flying by.

Kairos is about knowing, moment by moment, what it is time for. Now.

“A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

How profoundly physical these actions are of which Solomon speaks – being born, dying, planting, reaping, killing, healing, breaking down, building up, weeping, laughing, mourning, dancing, embracing, not embracing, (like during a pandemic), speaking, not speaking, loving, hating, fighting, forgiving. The biology of time.

By reading my words, already we have begun physically contemplating our experience of space and time. If you would like to delve more deeply into these themes, consider joining me for what will feel like a three-day retreat.

Yours,

Bruce Fertman

Details:

Cost: $75 for all three classes. Fee nonrefundable. Class size very limited.

Register

Pay

If you prefer to write a check, please make it out to New Thought Vermont (a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization) and mail it to New Thought Vermont, PO Box 185, Weston, VT 05161 EIN: 201301789

Questions: call (802) 824-3810.

About Bruce Fertman

Photo: Soomin Park

“In Bruce’s class you feel as if you are sitting by a deep, soft lake. He is the embodiment of his work. His pace and patience, his quiet confidence, allows people to unfold and open layer by layer. The superfluous falls away, leaving only life’s inner vitality effortlessly expressing itself through you. And then you know, ‘That’s who I am, that is who I could be.’”

Margarete Tueshaus – Alexander Teacher, Equestrian, Germany

Gone is the straight-lined striving, the stopping and oughting. Instead curiosity, inquisitiveness, and permission to experiment, to play, to open boxes and to climb out of them into a world of possibility – a world both soft and strong. And all this through a quiet power, a clarity of speech, and a wealth of wisdom. For me, Bruce’s work is more than exciting; it is important, both to the world and to anyone involved in any way with Alexander’s Technique.

Annie Turner – Alexander Technique Teacher, England

Having done so for 30 years, Bruce continues to teach annually in Europe, Asia, and the United States helping people to understand and experience the interconnectedness between physical and spiritual grace.

In 1982, Bruce co-founded the Alexander Alliance International, an intergenerational, multicultural community/school, now with programs in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, England, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and America.

Author of  Teaching By Hand/Learning By Heart, Delving into the Work of F.M. Alexander, Bruce currently lives and works in Osaka, Japan and Coyote, New Mexico.

A Grace of Sense – Where Our Inner World and Outer World Meet – An Online Course with Bruce Fertman – 5 Places Remaining.

A Grace of Sense

Where Our Inner World and Outer World Meet

October 3rd to December 6, 2020

 

Just to remind you that our Early Bird rate ends before September 14th. If you know you would like to take this course, best to register now.

If you do not know about this course offering, take the time to read this material slowly and let it sink in, then you will know if this course if for you. If my words speak to you, if they move you, consider studying with me. If you have any questions, write to me. I am not going anywhere!

 

A Grace of Sense – Europe

 

Photo: B. Fertman

 

A Grace of Sense – Asian Pacific

 

Photo: B. Fertman

 

A Grace of Sense – Americas

 

Navajo Woman – Photo: B. Fertman

About Bruce Fertman

“In Bruce’s class you feel as if you are sitting by a deep, soft lake. He is the embodiment of his work. His pace and patience, his quiet confidence, allows people to unfold and open layer by layer. The superfluous falls away, leaving only life’s inner vitality effortlessly expressing itself through you. And then you know, ‘That’s who I am, that is who I could be.’”

Margarete Tueshaus – Alexander Teacher, Equestrian, Germany

Gone is the striving, the stopping and oughting. Instead curiosity, inquisitiveness, and permission to experiment, to play, to open boxes and to climb out of them into a world of possibility – a world both soft and strong. And all this through a quiet power, a clarity of speech, and a wealth of wisdom. For me, Bruce’s work is more than exciting; it is important, both to the world and to anyone involved in any way with Alexander’s Technique.

Annie Turner – Alexander Technique Teacher, England

Having done so for 30 years, Bruce continues to teach annually in Europe, Asia, and the United States helping people to understand and experience the interconnectedness between physical and spiritual grace.

In 1982, Bruce co-founded the Alexander Alliance International, an intergenerational, multicultural community/school, now with programs in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, England, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and America.

Author of  Teaching By Hand/Learning By Heart, Delving into the Work of F.M. Alexander, Bruce currently lives and works in Osaka, Japan and Coyote, New Mexico.

To Receive the Early, Early Bird Rate, Register By August 15th!

Just to remind you that our Early, Early Bird rate ends on August 15th. If you know you would like to take this course, now is the time to register.

If you do not know about this course offering, take the time to read this material slowly and let it sink in, then you will know if this course if for you. If my words speak to you, if they move you, consider studying with me. If you have any questions, write to me. I am not going anywhere!

 

A Grace of Sense – Europe

 

Photo: B. Fertman

 

A Grace of Sense – Asian Pacific

 

Photo: B. Fertman

 

A Grace of Sense – Americas

 

Navajo Woman – Photo: B. Fertman

About Bruce Fertman

“In Bruce’s class you feel as if you are sitting by a deep, soft lake. He is the embodiment of his work. His pace and patience, his quiet confidence, allows people to unfold and open layer by layer. The superfluous falls away, leaving only life’s inner vitality effortlessly expressing itself through you. And then you know, ‘That’s who I am, that is who I could be.’”

Margarete Tueshaus – Alexander Teacher, Equestrian, Germany

Gone is the straight-lined striving, the stopping and oughting. Instead curiosity, inquisitiveness, and permission to experiment, to play, to open boxes and to climb out of them into a world of possibility – a world both soft and strong. And all this through a quiet power, a clarity of speech, and a wealth of wisdom. For me, Bruce’s work is more than exciting; it is important, both to the world and to anyone involved in any way with Alexander’s Technique.

Annie Turner – Alexander Technique Teacher, England

Having done so for 30 years, Bruce continues to teach annually in Europe, Asia, and the United States helping people to understand and experience the interconnectedness between physical and spiritual grace.

In 1982, Bruce co-founded the Alexander Alliance International, an intergenerational, multicultural community/school, now with programs in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, England, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and America.

Author of  Teaching By Hand/Learning By Heart, Delving into the Work of F.M. Alexander, Bruce currently lives and works in Osaka, Japan and Coyote, New Mexico.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Photo: B. Fertman

 

It’s Going to Happen – October 3rd to December 6th, 2020

Already people have registered to partake in, A Grace of Sense – Where Our Inner World and Outer World Meet, from Scotland, England, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Iran, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and United States. That is why I decided to teach two classes, as to accommodate all of our different time zones. Usually, I have to trek around to world to get to people from so many different countries, but this way I can do so leaving a much lighter carbon footprint.

Yes, I cannot be with you in person. I cannot work with my hands as a way of helping you to access this material. But, at the same time, as I acclimate to this new medium I find, there is a surprising amount that I can successfully communicate visually and verbally.

Eventbrite makes it very easy for you to read about and register for this course. If you give yourself the time to read this material slowly and let it sink in, then you will know if this course if for you. If my words speak to you, if they move you, consider studying with me. If you have any questions, write to me. I am not going anywhere!

There is a handsome saving if you register by August 15th.

A Grace of Sense – Europe

 

Photo: B. Fertman

 

A Grace of Sense – Asian Pacific

 

Photo: B. Fertman

 

A Grace of Sense – Americas

 

Navajo Woman – Photo: B. Fertman

About Bruce Fertman

“In Bruce’s class you feel as if you are sitting by a deep, soft lake. He is the embodiment of his work. His pace and patience, his quiet confidence, allows people to unfold and open layer by layer. The superfluous falls away, leaving only life’s inner vitality effortlessly expressing itself through you. And then you know, ‘That’s who I am, that is who I could be.’”

Margarete Tueshaus – Alexander Teacher, Equestrian, Germany

Gone is the straight-lined striving, the stopping and oughting. Instead curiosity, inquisitiveness, and permission to experiment, to play, to open boxes and to climb out of them into a world of possibility – a world both soft and strong. And all this through a quiet power, a clarity of speech, and a wealth of wisdom. For me, Bruce’s work is more than exciting; it is important, both to the world and to anyone involved in any way with Alexander’s Technique.

Annie Turner – Alexander Technique Teacher, England

Having done so for 30 years, Bruce continues to teach annually in Europe, Asia, and the United States helping people to understand and experience the interconnectedness between physical and spiritual grace.

In 1982, Bruce co-founded the Alexander Alliance International, an intergenerational, multicultural community/school, now with programs in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, England, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and America.

Author of  Teaching By Hand/Learning By Heart, Delving into the Work of F.M. Alexander, Bruce currently lives and works in Osaka, Japan and Coyote, New Mexico.

 

 

A Grace of Sense – Where Our Inner World and Outer World Meet – Part I – A 10 Week Online Course with Bruce Fertman – October 3rd – December 6th, 2020

Already people have registered to partake in, A Grace of Sense – Where Our Inner World and Outer World Meet, from Scotland, England, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Iran, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and United States. That is why I decided to teach two classes, as to accommodate all of our different time zones. Usually, I have to trek around to world to get to people from so many different countries, but this way I can do so leaving a much lighter carbon footprint.

Yes, I cannot be with you in person. I cannot work with my hands as a way of helping you to access this material. But, at the same time, as I acclimate to this new medium I find, there is a surprising amount that I can successfully communicate visually and verbally.

Eventbrite makes it very easy for you to read about and register for this course. If you give yourself the time to read this material slowly and let it sink in, then you will know if this course if for you. If my words speak to you, if they move you, consider studying with me. If you have any questions, write to me. I am not going anywhere!

There is a handsome saving if you register by August 15th.

A Grace of Sense – Europe

 

Photo: B. Fertman

 

A Grace of Sense – Asian Pacific

 

Photo: B. Fertman

 

A Grace of Sense – Americas

 

Navajo Woman – Photo: B. Fertman

About Bruce Fertman

“In Bruce’s class you feel as if you are sitting by a deep, soft lake. He is the embodiment of his work. His pace and patience, his quiet confidence, allows people to unfold and open layer by layer. The superfluous falls away, leaving only life’s inner vitality effortlessly expressing itself through you. And then you know, ‘That’s who I am, that is who I could be.’”

Margarete Tueshaus – Alexander Teacher, Equestrian, Germany

Gone is the straight-lined striving, the stopping and oughting. Instead curiosity, inquisitiveness, and permission to experiment, to play, to open boxes and to climb out of them into a world of possibility – a world both soft and strong. And all this through a quiet power, a clarity of speech, and a wealth of wisdom. For me, Bruce’s work is more than exciting; it is important, both to the world and to anyone involved in any way with Alexander’s Technique.

Annie Turner – Alexander Technique Teacher, England

Having done so for 30 years, Bruce continues to teach annually in Europe, Asia, and the United States helping people to understand and experience the interconnectedness between physical and spiritual grace.

In 1982, Bruce co-founded the Alexander Alliance International, an intergenerational, multicultural community/school, now with programs in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, England, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and America.

Author of  Teaching By Hand/Learning By Heart, Delving into the Work of F.M. Alexander, Bruce currently lives and works in Osaka, Japan and Coyote, New Mexico.

 

 

Newsletter & Retreat Registration: Data Privacy Policy

Retreat/Online Course Registration:
Data Privacy Policy

​I agree that my contact details are saved by Bruce Fertman / the Alexander Alliance Europe and are used for the execution of contractual relationships (e.g. workshop or online course participation).

By ticking the box “Newsletter Alexander Alliance Europe” I confirm that I would like to be included in the newsletter of the Alexander Alliance Europe.

I understand that the consent to the data processing of the aforementioned information is voluntary and can be withdrawn at any time by me in whole or in part with effect for the future. Any revocation must be sent by email to: Bruce Fertman, bf@brucefertman.com.

I have read and taken note of the information requirements set out below in accordance with Articles 13 and 14 of the GDPR.

Information obligations under Articles 13 and 14 DSGVO

According to Articles 13 and 14 of the EU GDPR, the person responsible must provide the information specified in the articles to a data subject whose data he processes. The information below complies with this information obligation.

 

1. Names and contact data of the person responsible:

Bruce Fertman, 216 County Road, #35, Coyote, NM 87012; E-Mail: bf@brucefertman.com

2. Contact details of the data protection officer:

Bruce Fertman, 216 County Road, #35, Coyote, NM 87012; E-Mail: bf@brucefertman.com

3. Purposes for which personal data are processed:

The personal data will be used for the execution of contractual relationships (e.g. participation in seminars, online courses and events of Bruce Fertman / the Alexander Alliance Europe: organization, issue of participation certificates, etc.) and for personal marketing of the Alexander Alliance Europe, such as the announcement of regional and international events and offers.

4. Legal basis on which the processing takes place:

The processing of personal data is usually based on the need to fulfil a contract in accordance with Article 6 para. 1 lit. b) GDPR. The contractual relationships are primarily the participation in events, online courses and seminars of Bruce Fertman / the Alexander Alliance Europe.

If personal data are collected without the processing being required to fulfil the contract, the processing is carried out on the basis of a consent pursuant to Article 6 para. 1 lit. a) i.V.m. Article 7 GDPR.

5. The recipients or categories of recipients of the personal data: For organizational reasons, the contact details of the participants will be forwarded to the seminar house of the respective event as required.

6. The duration for which the personal data are stored or, if this is not possible, the criteria for determining the duration:

The personal data will be stored for the duration of the contract as well as for the duration of the enrolment in the newsletter of the Alexander Alliance Europe. Upon termination of the contract and cancellation from the newsletter, the data categories will be held for a further ten years according to the legal retention periods and then deleted. In the period between the termination of the contract and the cancellation from the newsletter and the deletion of the data, the processing of these data is restricted.

7. The data subject has the following rights under the conditions specified in the articles:

  • the right to information under Article 15 GDPR,
  • the right of correction under Article 16 GDPR,
  • the right to cancellation under Article 17 GDPR,
  • the right to limit processing under Article 18 GDPR,
  • the right to data portability under Article 20 GDPR,
  • the right of objection under Article 21 GDPR,
  • The right to complain to a supervisory authority under Article 77 GDPR,
  • The right to revoke consent at any time, without affecting the lawfulness of the processing on the basis of the consent until revocation.

8. The source from which the personal data originate:

In principle, the personal data are collected in the context of a new contractual relationship and the registration for the newsletter of Bruce Fertman / the Alexander Alliance Europe.

End of the information obligation

As of July 2020

 

Turning the World Inside Out

IMG_0250 copy 2

“I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” John Muir

One day, I too came to this same realization. Because of where I live in New Mexico, the world around me is hard not to notice. In fact, it is hard not to want to be in it. The world around is so huge, so vast, so alluring.

On this day, climbing for about an hour up the mountain behind my house, I end up sitting on the edge of a tall red rock cliff overlooking my small village of about fifty small dwellings. From my perspective these shelters looked a bit like anthills or groundhog mounds, low to the ground, made of mud, as are many of these earth brown adobe homes. When an old adobe home is vacated, they look like an abandoned bird’s nest, a temporary shelter returning back to the earth, at its own time, in its own way. Biodegradable.

coyote house from 96 copy

Our Adobe House in Red Rock Country

Looking at these shelters from high above, I thought to myself, “These shelters are outside in exactly the same way the ground or the cliffs or the sky are outside, in exactly the same way I am outside right now. Maybe there is only outside, and everything is in it. Even when I am inside my tiny earthen house down there, am I not still outside? Am I not always outside?” As odd as it may sound, after that revelation, my life has not felt the same.

In the fall, at harvest time, when the orange moon hangs low and large in the sky, some Jews will make a temporary hut called a Sukkah. There are rules as to its construction. For example, a Sukkah must provide more shade than sun but must be made in such a way that at night one can see at least three stars through the roof. For a week or so, observant Jews will eat their meals in their Sukkah. Some will set places at the table for beloved ancestors whom they will invite to join them, invoking their presence through story. The frail structure of the Sukkah reminds us that our bodies too are fragile, impermanent structures but even so, best not to wall ourselves off, to shut ourselves out from the natural world, a world overflowing in abundance and beauty.

“I had to go out into the world and see it and hear it and react to it, before I knew at all who I was, what I was, what I wanted to be.” Mary Oliver

Making this one linguistic shift radically affects the use of my senses and the tone of my body. Now, when I am covered by a shelter of any sort, even this large apartment building where I now sit in Osaka, I still feel like I am outside. I no longer lose the sense that it is morning, afternoon, or night, that it is sunny or cloudy, rainy or windy, cold, hot, dry or humid. Though sheltered, am I not still outside?

Now, when I go back outside, I am going back into the world. When I take shelter, I am coming out, coming out from the cold, coming out of the rain, out of the elements, out from what is elemental, out of my element.

At some point along the way, I realized that it is not possible for me to be in my own world. I can only be in the world because there is only the world and I am in it. Then I realized that the same is true of my body. I do not and cannot live in my body. My body lives in the world with the rest of the animal kingdom. Do we not think of a bear hibernating in its cave or den as living in nature, of baby birds in their nests as being in nature?

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Are we not in nature? Just as we spent 9 months living in our mothers, so too we spend the however many number of years allotted to us living, gestating, inside the great mother of us all. Is there any other world but the world of nature?

No wonder we feel alone. No wonder we feel lonely, cut off, shut out, abandoned. Motherless children. But we have not been abandoned. We left. Somewhere along the way we became confused. We began to believe that being in the world was being outside and being in our homes or offices was being inside.

Can you remember when you were very little, how much you wanted to get out of the house and into the world? How, as it was getting dark, you did not want to go home for dinner. You wanted to stay under the open sky, in the fresh air, lying on the soft green grass, rolling down a hill, climbing up a tree, playing in the biggest playground in the world? For most kids, that’s natural. Now, when I am at Ghost Ranch, hiking up Chimney Rock or Kitchen Mesa, I often get the feeling I am walking inside of the biggest church/mosque/temple imaginable. It is as big as I can see in every direction. The ceiling seems infinite, the floor fantastically large. Everything I can see exists inside the cathedral of the world.

21083030_938964652911485_69443437429317687_oAtop Chimney Rock at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico

The first step for me was to realize that everything is outside, that the house I live in, is outside. That everything is outside. The second step was for me to realize that when I am outside, I am actually inside, inside Earth’s Cathedral, inside the Mother of us all. Once this became my new normal, John Muir made perfect sense.

“I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” 

I invite you to experiment with this linguistic shift. If you succeed in reversing this spatial metaphor, something wonderfully strange will begin to happen. When you are home under your own roof, or sitting at your office desk, your sensory field will broaden. Though sheltered, you will hear the larger world speaking to your body. Your peripheral vision will take in more light, your breathing will improve, your sense of smell will become more astute, your skin will record the weather, your muscle tone will engage, your bones will begin to balance, you will become less sleepy, more sensorially alert, your mammal body will reassert itself. You will find yourself wanting to spend more time in the world, unsheltered, in the elements, in your element.

“Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting – over and over announcing your place in the family of things.” — Mary Oliver, Wild Geese