I always loved the lyric from En Vogue’s 1992 song, “free your mind and the rest will follow”.
So...why don’t we? Why do we get so attached, barnacle-like to our current frame of reference and so completely sure of being right?
I wrote this post sitting at our campsite along the Chama River in New Mexico, not far from Georgia O’Keefe’s long ago home at Ghost Ranch. As I gaze around our site, taking in the arid beauty of this foreign-to-me land, I like to ruminate on her life here in New Mexico and how her life in NYC must have seemed like an alternate reality compared to her day to day life here. The art she made at Ghost Ranch perfectly reflects the profound spaciousness of her surroundings where the sky is endless and you can see rain coming from miles and miles away. Not surprisingly, Georgia O’Keeffe called her place at Ghost Ranch, the Faraway. Here you can see off into the distance over a landscape that seems monotonous and simultaneously stunningly dramatic.
The Ghost Ranch is a magical place of an unimaginable vastness. I fell in love immediately and I’m planning to return for several weeks as a volunteer. Watch me make this new dream manifest!
For me, this change in perspective is an inviting opportunity to consider all my attachments - my opinions, my belongings, and my people. As I look around here, there is nothing familiar to my Vermont eyes. The colors - all variations on terra cotta, greige and brown, dotted with endless sage and scrub juniper, are a far cry from my lush Vermont green maples and grasses. My “home”, our 24’ foot camper is a mere fraction of our home in Vermont. Even the people with whom we are spending time with and sharing our ‘home’ are different and unfamiliar to us.
Apparently, landscapes don’t have to be green and blue to be beautiful. I can find creature comforts in a tiny fortress of fiberglass. And I can still forge new friendships that bring just as much joy of reflection of spirit as my old ones do. It seems that the unfamiliar jolts me into appreciating differences.
This feels like a good place and time to think about how I interact with people and what I care about sharing with them. I find myself listening more.
On our first night in Santa Fe, my sweetheart and I dined al fresco with my stepson, his girlfriend, her two best friends, and his aunt (also my sweetheart’s ex sister-in-law). It was an interesting constellation of deep connections, loose affiliations and new friendships. There were memories shared from childhood, and stories of current endeavors and so much laughter. It was shared with me later that one of the best friends had asked how long the aunt and I had ‘been together’. At another point in my life, I might have gotten caught up in being misconstrued, but now, I find that I rather love that my new friendship might be interpreted as a special love connection. Because it is.
Free your mind and the rest will follow. Decades after I first danced and sang to this song, the words go beyond the message of racism and judgement. The more that I am willing to let go of being right, being sure, being firm, the happier I am. I’m more and more comfortable with impermanence. Now, I feel like I am striving more for connection than distinction. I am seeking to be at ease with what is and what isn’t.
A change in scenery has produced a sweet change in perspective.