Dog Drool and The Land of Enchantment: On the Art of Seeing.

“Some people call it the Land of Enchantment, others call it the Land of Entrapment,” the long-time New Mexico resident told me yesterday.

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I am currently perpetuating the image of Contemplative Writer in a Far From Home Cafe, one year after sitting at this same Albuquerque cafe, where I contemplated the speed in which one’s life can turn to shambles.  At this time last year, I had dropped the divorce papers at our previous stop in an Amarillo post office, and wept my way across West Texas.  This year, I travel backwards, with Amarillo waiting for me tonight, and Flagstaff already two sleeps past.

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My great adventure West was well documented, my Instagram buckling under the wealth of desertscapes and sand dunes and Pacific ocean views.  I bought a new film camera and more rolls of film than I could afford, and snapped as many photos as emotional threads.  I posed, hands on my hips Wonder Woman style, my trusty security blanket dog by my side, daring anyone to tell me I was breaking, “Look at me! I am an amazing human being!  Look at all of these feelings I have and not a single one hurt!”

The Land of Entrapment wrapped me up like a blanket to the face, and I was gasping for breath by the time we hit Tennessee again.

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In the year that followed, I meticulously concocted home remedies of drinking til I slept and chain smoking and other romantic Hollywood break up endeavors.  And as the grieving process goes, I switched to caffeine free teas and yoga.  Then attending public functions– and not just the dark movie theater kind when you’re two margaritas in with your sister and choose the most depressing film Julia Roberts has ever made (thanks, Devon).  And then, taking pictures.

The problem with depression is not just the general crisis of wondering whether or not to live or die, but that it is all that exists.  I baked Gluten Free Depression Biscuits and took Butter on sad walks in Depression Park and learned to play the Depression Accordion to accommodate all of the Depressingly Quirky Songs I was writing.  But then there was a time a few months in when I realized I still hadn’t offed myself, so I may as well keep trying.

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The art of seeing is the first thing lost– before my feelings could catch up, I was staring at every Enchantment offered, and could only make out the fuzzy image of a lost moment in Entrapment.  And then, I would snap a photo.  Maybe I could see it later.  South Dakota.  Rhode Island.  Georgia.  A year’s worth of Enchantments captured for later hope on film and phone, while my vision stayed keenly square on What’s-The-Point-Of-It-All-Anyway.

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When we started this year’s trip out West three weeks back, a paralyzing fear that all I had worked on to Keep Going would be squelched at the first sight of a cactus.  In the panic, I took up meditating under a couple friends’ suggestion, and found one word interrupting my usual whycan’tifeeldifferentwhycan’tIfeeldifferentwhycan’tIfeeldifferent mantra: SEE.

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The instruction felt simple enough to follow, so I did.  In a letter I penned from Omaha to my friend Bryan in Nashville, the whole ordeal unraveled itself.  It turns out, Depression is just a giant spider monster who demands complete attention in order to survive.  And I had given it the attention it needed devoutly.  So it grew.  This new proposition, to SEE, caught me like a magpie’s eye on a shiny object, and suddenly, every object shined.  And it wasn’t just the friendliness of trees and all the other hippie nature shit, it was the way my dog’s slobber glimmered in the Nebraska sunset, and the humor of a cricket stowing away in my suitcase.  I remembered the feeling of the universe delighting in my delight.  And the spider monster, at least for a time, packed up its gigantic web and went to haunt some other divorcee’s corners.  As it left, it didn’t seem so big.  I don’t know for sure.  I was busy admiring the cacti in the Land of Enchantment.

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