Selfie with an O’Keefe
I’m writing from the desk in my hotel room in Santa Fe. The window is wide open and I’m listening to the church bells peal, from just one block away. Something about this immediate experience has brought the scene from “Under the Tuscan Sun” into mind—the one in which she’s writing a postcard from the Square and the bells of Cortona are ringing in the background. There is a level of depth and richness to this experience that is completely entrenched in the body. I feel the bells ringing inside of me.
First, I just want to say that the drive on Interstate 40 through northern Texas astounded me! The wind farms—the sheer number of those turbines that were visible from the highway, as far as the eye could see, on both sides of the road, all of the way through Texas. I expected to see oil wells; I did not expect to see non- producing oil wells alongside vast numbers of wind turbines. There were literally tens of thousands of turbines, all of them moving. I thought to myself that they stood as towering sentinels, ushering in a new way of producing energy. My sustainable heart was reassured. I needed that. This amazing, alive Earth is what allows us biological creatures to live—we are one of her biological species. But we watch as other species disappear. That makes me feel trepidation for my grandchildren and the problems they’ll have to solve. The wind farms eased my mind some.
In New Mexico, when I turned north on 285 off of Interstate 40, I was faced with a landscape that nourished my spirit. I couldn’t live in this high desert—it’s too dry for me. But the vastness of the landscape without any evidence of human habitation helped my mind relax. I didn’t know that I was parched and needed that much silence around me until I felt it. I meditate every day, so create stillness in my own mind. This was an entirely and unexpected different texture of silence—it meditated me. It was very potent.
Georgia’s Machu Picchu. My Machu Picchu with Birds of Paradise
And now, how do I talk about Georgia O’Keefe? I mentioned in my last writing that people have often compared my paintings to hers. I have painted a lot of flowers and the deep insides of flowers, mostly larger than life. I didn’t know until today that we have also both painted the lushness and folds of the mountains of Machu Picchu. Until today, I thought of her and her work as somewhat austere. Today, I think a better word would be elegant (in both the philosophic/scientific sense of the word and the vernacular). She accomplished beauty in her work with few brush strokes and simple lines. I also discovered today that she did have confidence in the way she lived her life. I am absorbing that confidence.
Other genuine highlights of the trip so far: I got to meet up and spend the night with my daughter in Birmingham, Alabama. Gina was there helping to integrate a newly acquired office for her job. She’s a soul-sister as well as a daughter, so we always have meaningful conversations. I met two of her colleagues, Jonathan and Lindsay, who are wonderful! I spent a lot of time thinking about them as I drove the next day through Alabama, Mississippi, and some of Arkansas—grateful that Gina works with people who have depth that matches her own.
I also got to meet up with one of my sisters and her husband in northwest Florida for a night and a delicious meal. And today I found out that great-granddaughter, Olivia, was born last night. She weighs just 2 pounds 4.7 ounces, so any grace you can send her way would be appreciated.
From Santa Fe and the road, with courage,