Easy like Sunday Morning

Being foolish is remarkably easy. I tend to forget that, but then life manages to remind me. I used to remind myself (and anyone who would listen) of my two rules: Rule 1: I know nothing – absolutely nothing. Every time I know something, I’m wrong: I know nothing. And Rule 2: Everything changes – absolutely everything – except Rule #1.

The world is a strange, terrifying, wonderful place, and I struggle to make sense of it. I’ve always thought of myself as an even-keeled, decent sort of fellow, but lately my mood swings have been distressing and my mind has been dark. The illumination of ideas and other delights have slowly given way to an ink-black shadow creeping (as ink will) across the whole of my brain.

Generally in this sort of situation I do two things: First, I turn to the great poets with a generous side helping of Jim Harrison’s food essays and Hunter S. Thompson’s chronicled adventures. Second, I hit the road and look to discover some new landscapes. A couple of years ago I felt my brain fogging up with the ugly gum of advertising and this modern life, and I felt compelled to seek some clarity. So I packed some slim reliable volumes of poetry, Jim Harrison’s The Raw and the Cooked, and some vintage Hunter S. Thompson and headed for Mexico. In Mexico, Dave introduced me to the ongoing explorations of the Maya, and I was thrilled.

Well, I can feel the buildup in my brain. It’s the madness of the world’s current predicament; I’ve got to recover some wonder, find some fresh ways of thinking. Not sure when, or where I’m going, but got to keep whatever it is that’s encroaching at bay a while longer.

3 Responses to “Easy like Sunday Morning”

  1. jessoco Says:

    Nicco, take care of yourself and continue to be willing to be dazzled…

    THE PONDS (Mary Oliver)

    Every year the
    lilies are
    so perfect
I can hardly believe
their lapped light crowding
    the black,
mid-summer ponds.

    Nobody could count all of them-
    the muskrats swimming
    among the pads and the grasses
can reach out
their muscular arms and touch

    only so many, they are that
    rife and wild.
But what in this world
is perfect?

    I bend closer and see
how this one is clearly lopsided-
and that one wears an orange blight-
and this one is a glossy cheek

    half nibbled away-
and that one is a slumped purse
full of its own
unstoppable decay.

    Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled-
to cast aside the weight of facts

    and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking

into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing-
that the light is everything-that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and fading. And I do.

  2. Dave P Says:

    I know you probably want to see something other than the Maya, but here’s a thought experiment.

    Some Saturday in February we take a 4-day weekend. We fly to Villahermosa (promise I’ll keep track of my passport this time) and go to Panchan in Palenque. Have some beers and go into town with Alfonso Morales to hang in his archaeology library, buy the new/old carvings he’s making for souvenirs for our eyerolling wives, stay in his guest rooms. That way we get an early start in the cheap vans to Frontera. Walk down to Old Man Usumacinta River around 8am and find Juan Mayo, my guide on the last two river runs. Hop in his lancha rapida (no stinking tourist boats for us) and in 2 hours we have passed Yaxchilan, passed the Tower guard station that was burned down by jungle squatters, passed the beach where I was robbed that night in 2004 (I swear I thought it was a stick they were smacking my back with, not the flat of a machete) and arrive at the head of the rapids. That’s our goal. We’re not crazy! We aren’t going through the whitewater in a 15 foot motorboat, not even with Juan Mayo! No, we are on the last spit of limestone sand, where the Maya have stopped for thousands of years to get ready to run those rapids. Well, yeah, we are crazy. This is where a boatload of Honduran immigrants was fired on by automatic rifle toting banditos in January of this year. But we are on a mission: to get a photograph of a rock, the Mother Bollard, the grooved and worn stone that the ancient Maya used to tie vine fiber ropes around, to help them pull UP the rapids. This stone kicked off Ron Canter’s discovery of the curious bollards, which led to our mapping of the mooring spots on the river. But he had just gotten his camera stolen the night before, and I was in a funk, couldn’t even walk over to shoot it with my video camera, which had survived the assault in the bottom of my sleeping bag. But you and I are heros, intrepid couriers of this important image, for the scientists and archaeologists of the future, and actually of March 9-14, 2007, the Maya meetings in Austin, where Ron and I (archaeologists neither of us) are presenting our findings and our losses to the researchers for their consideration. We snap the photos, we listen to the river roar, the river roar, the river roar. Then it’s back in the boat with Juan Mayo, back upriver against this massive flow, back to Frontera in time for dinner at Escudo Jaguar, Shield Jaguar, named for one of the great kings of Yaxchilan, which we did not even stop to see. Night in the rooms there. Back to Palenque on Monday. We walk up the Temple of the Inscriptions again, look for toucans in the trees, listen to the howlers. Next morning it’s back to the 21st century. But we have a handful of rocks from that ancient beach, to pile on our desks next to this year’s laptop. A tip of the beer bottle to you, my friend. Salud!

  3. jmd Says:

    Didn’t you have six rules?
    3. ???
    4. ???
    5. if you see an orange t-shirt buy it
    6. if you see a lime green t-shirt buy it

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