Readying for departure

In the end, you don’t have much time left, and who knows if it isn’t better to live like this, stripped of possessions, perpetually ready for departure.

– Luis Cernuda, translated by Stephen Kessler

As I sort through collages, letters, poems, essays and journals pasted, written and kept through the years, one theme recurs like spring robin’s song: Adventure is arrival.

As much as I cherish Harpers Ferry, close-by family and new friends and old, the open road calls me.

In the weeks ahead, I’m paring down to the minimum and setting out in a small trailer towed by a small truck, accompanied by my husband and dog. Destination: desert, a landscape that demands simplicity and kindles joy.

Whether on childhood summer trips to visit family in Nevada, or when I’ve lived in the desert as an adult, the tacit silence of such rugged fragile terrain unifies body, spirit and mind, concretizing yoga as I understand it abstractly.

The more I practice yoga, the more I find being outside is inside and vice versa. Home is the body.

If you’d like to stay in touch, just for fun or to bring me to your studio or community to teach, hop on over to Facebook (my personal page or Simple, Joyful Yoga) or send an email alexamergen@gmail.com. Or send a note to P.O. Box 6540 Pahrump, Nevada 89041-6540

Thank you for being a reader.

The piece below began in the Mojave in 2001 with the first line and I’ve revised it every several months since. Living on a mesa reminded me of times spent on sea cliffs. Desert and seascape, topographies for reflection. I turned 34 that year; this year (really?!) I’ll reach 50. Still enjoying time, relishing space, accepting changes, recognizing connections, paying attention with gratitude.

House in the Water

“If Mother Nature should ever call me to live upon another planet, I could wish that I might be born a beaver to inhabit a house in the water.”

–Enos A. Milles, In Beaver World

I burned the letters I’d been saving all my life the winter I spent beside a wood stove in a drafty house high in the Mojave. Wind rattled the diamond-shaped window panes. Black spiders dotted with blood red hid in the rocks of the sun room wall. A scorpion left tiny replicas of herself in a basket of magazines. I had begun shedding the past as new things poured from me that did not fit the woman I had been. I was in the desert for that reason, to find space to hear myself again. Next, I lived in a dark house on Bank Street, bound by Bakersfield’s highways and loyalty to the idea of sacrifice. The previous owner had collapsed to his death in the foyer. Our dog refused to cross the hall. I salted the corners of the house and chanted for relief but the ghost would not leave. He howled through heating ducts and slammed the doors when there was no breeze. The basement was painted the peach of hospital wards. Scalding pipes carried water to the bath upstairs. In this warm, low-ceilinged subterranean room, I reread journals written in purple ink by the girl I was. Overhead, my husband paced, desperate with the error of having moved us. I did not like who I found in the pages. A hand variously bold and timid, guilty and blameful, hungry for affection, kinder than necessary, prettier than she believed. Dolly Parton sang on the stereo of her coat of many colors, beauty stitched from scraps. At Kmart I bought a bare root rose called Joseph’s Coat. Blossoms ranging from yellow to orange to red on one shrub. I dug a hole deep and broad. The journals went in first, then dirt, and crushed eggshells so the rose would climb and thrive to cover the shed where I’d cried. The house we sold.

Bring me rattlesnakes and dust devils, crows that follow you on walks through sagebrush. Things that move in sand and sky. I need nothing more than time.

What I have most loved I’ve let go. The emptier the hands, the clearer the hearing.