City Vs. Country, Part 3

Mt. Wrightson

A few days back, I finished cooking all the scrumptious food given to me by some generous farmer’s market folks from the Ridgway, CO market. Everything was cooked on the coals of the fire, and tasty beyond belief!

Although my time in Montrose has been riddled with negative experiences, I must say the few friends I’ve met there have been generous, compassionate, and supportive. I left Montrose with bags of food given freely, hugs, books lent to me for the journey, and a clean rental house, all thanks to my friends.

Recently it was pointed out to me that people invoke positive and negative experiences no matter the area or region. Even in Chicago, I had run-ins with people who were up to no good. It was easy for me to forget them and move on, because there were so many other people to meet. The difference in Montrose is, the amount of people is much more limited.

As I’ve been traveling through small-town Arizona, I’ve noticed the same friendliness and welcoming attitude as the farmers and my friends in Ridgway and Montrose. At the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, the entrance staff and garden staff were knowledgeable, hospitable, and excited for our visit. I hadn’t met such friendly staff at a garden place or museum in a really long time.

Closer to Tucson, people were a little less open and welcoming. Not unusual for larger urban areas. Driving to Mt. Wrightson, Google maps directed me through the dead center of Tucson to get on the expressway. My camping pal said Tucson was a bit of an armpit, but I tried to keep an open mind. After driving through the center of town, it’s hard for me to disagree with him. Typical of many medium-sized urban centers, the outlying areas or “suburbs”, especially on the Northeast part of town, were gorgeous. I’ve never seen so many luscious flat-roof adobe style homes.

Plus, driving on the interstates near Phoenix and Tucson was a total bear. Arizona drivers really like to ride my bumper, and tend to speed 10 over the limit. Driving courtesy only returned on the two-lane roads.

My favorite experience so far has been in Benson, AZ. After hitting the big box stores to stock up on food and ice, I drove by a local family Mexican place and decided to stop in. “Mi Casa Restaurant” was run by a couple, the husband was the wait-staff, the wife was the chef. The red chili absolutely knocked my socks off! The husband said it was a recipe passed down through his wife’s family, for 140 years!! You could taste it.

At the restaurant, a local fellow who was friends with the owner, was kind and friendly and making small talk with me. I had similar experiences with the folks in Tombstone, AZ when looking for the library. On the whole, people are good and like to help others, especially when you are visiting their town.

Bye Bye Barcalounger

After the Angry Cow Mania, a friend suggested moving to a new campsite. The next dirt road over was on the other side of the cattle guard, so I’d be safe from my bovine harassers. The next morning, I scoped out some campsites, and found one that wasn’t nearly as nice, but would do for a night or two, until I climbed all the routes nearby that I wanted to.

Because I needed provisions 16 miles away in Benson, I left the barcalounger, a jug of water, and my almost empty firewood box. I figured nobody would steal it because that’s bad camping karma, and folks would know the campsite was taken.

When I arrived back, sure enough nobody camped in the spot, however, all the items were gone. I was so bummed.

It’s a humble reminder that despite my spiritual or virtuous aims, I am a human, too, one that gets really attached to patio lounge chairs. My friend DID mention to only leave items that I wouldn’t mind losing. However, I didn’t know I would mind losing the barcalounger until it was gone.

Just the prior night, after the cows finally vacated, I sipped my tea while lounging on the chair, able to look up at the spectacular night sky and just let my thoughts drift. It was really soothing after 24 hours of Heifer Insanity. I appreciated that chair and the moments looking at the night sky so much. There it was: attachment.

The next morning, after an early wake-up despite my fatigue and mix-ups with some phone calls, I made it over to the new campsite. I was kind of in a hurry, since I didn’t know how long it would take to get to Benson, or the traffic. I didn’t think about getting the cheap-o camping chair from up on the roof rack box. I simply trusted nobody would take my stuff.

I was humbled and shocked by how angry I became at seeing the stuff gone. The original purpose I bought the chair for was completed. It really was just a bonus that I had it on this trip. It was bulky and heavy, partly why I left it. It was hard not to feel the financial sting of how much it cost, and how cool it was.

Who knows why the folks who took it, did. Maybe they were much worse off than I. Maybe they thought someone left it by accident, and didn’t realize it was a campsite reservation. Whatever the reason, that’s their karma.

What I do know is when people take something of another’s that doesn’t belong to them it’s not personal. I was amazed at how personally I took this incident. I was surprised at how much I used it to beat my own self up. I really regretted moving campsites. I regretted not being present enough to stop & ask myself if losing the barcalounger would matter to me. I regret not taking more time to learn what _I_ wanted to do and what would work best for _me_, but instead being influenced by others’ suggestions. The cow stuff shook me up more than I realized. When I feel shook up, vulnerable, and scattered, I tend to let others’ influence me instead of going inside and finding out my own needs.

At the end of the day, I made the best choice I could make with the information I had, the time I had, etc.

Imperfect “Revolution”

All each of us can do is live life to the best of our ability in each moment. Life really us just happening all around us. Being alive means an agreement with the universe that perfection is not possible. What the heck does “perfect” mean, anyway? By whose standards?

I made a choice to leave some stuff at a campground. Someone else made the choice to take it. Oh, well. That’s just how life rolls sometimes. Whether in a big city or out in the country near a very small town, things happen. It saddens me that this happened in “small town America”, but it did.

Last year I got hooked on the NBC TV show “Revolution“. I like the swash-buckling aspects of it, and also the sci-fi part, too. But, what really gets me is the idea of what our land, our nation, would become if there was no electricity. How would society (de-)evolve?

When I discovered the barcalounger was gone, I became angry. I wanted to lash out at someone or something. I wanted to complain. But, barely 100 years ago, life in this nation was about 30,000 times harder than it is now. The great thing about the show is, it offers a potential reality with no electricity that blurs the lines between good and bad, right and wrong.

During the first season, there was a clear delineation between good guys and bad guys. Many scenarios unfolded where the good guys had justification for heinous acts (survival, etc.). Then the show took you to some challenging situations where the line between what was justifiable and what wasn’t was no longer clear.

Although it seems like a simple, funny situation with the barcalounger theft, my response is what startled me. If our nation shifted into a situation like no electricity, how would I behave? Could I remain detached, compassionate, and loving even when people did things that hurt me? Could I keep my knee-jerk anger in check? Or would I be stomping around in blind rage wielding guns and terrorizing everyone? Now I understand better the challenge ancient yogis and mystics talk about.

Driving and camping in the desert Southwest, with so much Wild West history, brings these human reactions up to the surface. In Tombstone, AZ, plaques line the street indicating the spot where so-and-so shot whatzhizname. In the 9-year period of Tombstone’s heyday, there were something like 10,000 shootouts a year. It wasn’t too long ago that brute force ruled our country. It still does, but instead of gun-toting banditos, there are number-crunching stockbrokers.

Nowadays, no matter the reason why (upbringing, society, etc.), I have certain expectations that people will behave a certain way. 80% of the time, people do behave according to my expectations. 20% of the time, they don’t, and barcaloungers disappear. Learning detachment means learning to let go, not react, and remain a contented person even when folks do things that directly affect me and suck.

Despite the cows, rattlesnakes, and missing lounge chairs, I still choose the country over the city, for now.

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