Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

animism, my car and beginner’s heart ~

I used to run. When I needed to escape, I would hit the pavement. But first my knees and then my feet rebelled, and running passed from my life. Now? I go outside. Or I write. And while I love to write — that’s not a secret — sometimes writing is just too much thought and I have to get in the car, put the top down, and become a sun and wind junkie.

Have I mentioned I love my car? It cures what ails me. Especially if it’s sunny. Days when it’s in the upper 60s/ lower 70s, w/brilliant fall light and a blowy autumn breeze (my favourite weather :)), life is beyond perfect. Luckily, Oklahoma has sunny days more often than not — even if the 60s/70s weather is a bit more rare, and I can put music on the MP3 player and head for a highway.


Some days, getting out of bed at 4 or 5 or even 6 is almost more than creaky bones can manage. So I limp through ma toilette, grumble through the mandatory caffeine, and then drive into the sunrise. Music can be anything — today it was k.d. laing. That bell of a voice, ringing through the quiet morning streets. When I hit Riverside, the bike path unfurls to the west, a ribbon of grey beside the silver river. The sun warms me, inside & out, and things are looking up. By the time I catch the bus, I’m a new person.


I feel guilty, if I don’t scotch it, about investing affection in a material object. But it’s worse to pretend it’s not so, somehow. Because my car loves me back, I secretly believe.

This is the legacy of a childhood spent in animist surroundings, where everything formed in the guise of a living object has a spirit. Where you are responsible for treating all spirits w/ respect, if not affection. My spirits receive affection, I confess. The spirit of the house, whom I address almost daily w/ gratitude for being such a nice person (well, the house is a kind of person…). The spirit of the garden, who is happiest when the bees and butterflies swarm the nectar flowers bed, and the birds are  singing so loudly you have to project your own voice over them to be heard. And of course my car.


There should be a car to take each of us away. Some magic kind of carpet that flies into sunlit sky and reminds us  what is important: light and bright air and sky. Not the million-and-one things we can never completely finish. Not the aging of our bodies or the deepening of our worries. These we should offer at the altar of sunlight and the spirit of the place.

This is beginner’s heart: the ability to refocus, reframe. Move away from the edge, all. Fall back into autumn, or spring, or the fragrance of the lilies on the table. This moment. It’s all we ever have.

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