Often, I have told my students that we can change the body more through the heart than we can through the mind. But only now am I attempting to work out a methodology for profoundly changing the body through the workings of the heart. In Grace of Sense Continues to Continue, a weekly class for my Grace of Sense apprentices, I told them I was going to carry out a little experiment. When next I got into my car to go somewhere and do something, I would notice every time I saw something or someone I loved and acknowledge it, not just through language, but by letting this feeling of love sink down into my body. I did carry out my little experiment in what I refer to as, the unsentimental practice of love. These are my findings, my field notes.
It’s Tuesday, November 8th, 2022. Time to vote. I go to my car, that is, to my horse. That is how I think of my car. As a horse. Others see a Mazda CX-5. I see a horse. I say to myself, I love my horse. I say silently to my horse, “I love you. I couldn’t live out here in this place I love more and more each day without you.” I let this felt sense of love for my horse sink in and spread out through my entire body. Some kind physiological shift is happening. I don’t know what exactly.
Turning left onto 96 North, I head to Gallina, to Coronado High School. I say to myself, I love the open road. “I love you,” I say silently to the open road. Having lived for a half century in Philadelphia, a city infamous for its potholes, I marvel at this well maintained road, an open road, no potholes, no billboards, no stop signs, no lights, virtually no cars. I let this loving feeling sink down and spread out within me, wondering what the connection is between love and gratitude. I’m not sure. My guess is it has something to do with knowing how lucky I am to be alive inside of my one particular life. Something in my body begins to let go. I don’t know what.
This year we had weekly rain for almost three months in a row. Never in the last 30 years have I seen the native grama grasses grow as they did this year. Golden, glistening, tall grasses swaying and curving in the wind like long flowing hair upon the back of a breathing animal. I say to myself, I love the long, golden grasses. “I love you,” I say to the fields of gold. A sadness fills me. My body gets warm. My eyes begin to water. I feel an ache in my heart. I think to myself, “I wouldn’t mind if, upon dying, this field of swaying grass was the last image that arose into my mind.” I feel my body surrendering, letting go of holding on. What am I holding on to? To what am I surrendering? I have no idea.
I put down my window. Since I was a child, I have loved the wind. I would put my whole head out the window, feel the wind against my outstretched face, blowing my hair back, that is until my mom noticed and insisted I put my head back into the car, thank you. At 71, every chance I get, I put down all the windows and open the moonroof. A Wind-Ow, I think to myself, I love the wind. I say silently to the wind, “I love you wind.” My body feels strong, alive, free.
I get to the high school. In a parking lot for 50 cars, I see about 8 cars, mostly pickup trucks. My friend, Pete Garcia, now 88, is there. Thirty years ago, Pete welcomed me into the village of Coyote, not just formally but for real. Not everyone did. I was the first Anglo to buy a piece of land in the village, Anglo meaning the first person who was neither Spanish nor Navajo.
Coyote is a pretty macho place. Pretty much everyone is kind but tough. I think to myself. I love Pete. I say silently to Pete, “I love you Pete, realizing at that moment that he has become a kind of father for me. Fortunately, Pete is not looking at me. He’s sitting at a table trying to read the voting amendments through a foggy plastic sheet that is supposed to serve as a magnifying glass. “I left my glasses in the car,” Pete says. I ask a women who works there if she wouldn’t mind reading the amendments out loud for Pete. Everyone knows and likes Pete. “Of course,” she says.
I will miss Pete, that is, if he should die before me. But it’s okay. I know the love I feel for him, and for Coyote, and for the grasses, and for the wind, and for the open road, lives within me and will be there when I take my last breath. I let these genuine feelings of love sink down into my body. I feel them sinking further down, into some invisible root system beneath me, like the root system under Pando, the Aspen Grove in Utah. Though I appear to be one small, sometimes shimmering, sometimes quaking aspen tree among many, I am not. It is not true. My body interweaves itself into all that it loves.
Good to know.