Friday, August 26, 2011

Nature, Nurture and Shit From Shine-ola

photos are clickable for bigger versions
  Today Josh moved to NAU to begin his college career. It's only an hour away, and with today's modern communication even if it was across the country, he'd still be only a tweet, a text, a cell call away. And yet, tonight the house, the pasture are strangely empty.  We took this pic this morning during packing. His first car and his new car. First cars and first loves are almost interchangeable for boys; they both ultimately break your heart when they go, and leave a hole that is never quite filled. Here his beautiful old classic Benz poses alongside Josh and his more utilitarian Subaru. The Benz is saved from the ravages of the salty winters in Flagstaff and the Subaru will carry him safely on his new adventures.

  We raised Josh in nature. Rather than showing him nature through parks where you have to pay a fee, follow a trail, read signs and stand around looking at nature as an outside observer, we put him right in the middle of it. When he was four, he got his flock of chickens. He watched babies hatch and old or sick hens die. He gathered eggs and learned all he needed to know about managing money from selling eggs. As he got older, he moved across the taxonomic order and began raising sheep and dairy goats. He learned his birds and bees at a real early age watching goats go after it in the fall, and came face to face with the realities of birth by pulling gooey babies from their mamas and encouraging them to take their first hungry sips of milk. He dealt with the death of babies and learned to come to grips with the realities of physical ailments about which he had no control. He learned that all living things have their place in the wheel of life and his interest in the science and spirituality of life was born. 
  When he became a man in the Hopi way, he began to participate in the activities of Hopi men. The cycle of ceremonies and helping in the fields with weeding and harvest taught him the fragility of life and the intimate connection to the earth that he is heir to. The Hopi way has awakened in him an interest in the connections to the infinite that science cannot reach. Through his music, art and writing he explores that inner connection. 
  Today, shortly before leaving, Josh and I went out on the porch. Borrowing from one of the all-time most quintessentially philosophical movies ever made, I asked him to show me the difference between Shit and Shoe Polish. He passed with flying colors:

  He's done well, and we know he will continue to do well. He can tell shit from shine-ola and has a deeply personal sense of what's important and what's not. Tonight as he embarks on the next leg of his life's journey, our only wish is that he finds his joy. We are heart-fillingly proud of him, and heart-breakingly lonely. God bless him.
Sacred Mountain, the view from Josh's Dorm room