MEMOIR: ALL THE HOLY THINGS

8AA9B247-9B06-42CF-92C8-59B6A3059201
In the 7th grade I invented
interstellar travel
via hydrogen ion propulsion.

Combined with giant sails
that would harness
the chaotic wind
from solar storms

we could go anywhere.

Even here.

I was in the library
where the sound and scent
of old books
were background to my life.

That was back when libraries knew how to be themselves.

They were quiet and sensitive.
I was quiet and sensitive.

Since then, I haven’t done much engineering. NASA, please forgive me.

Unless you count constructing façades,
adopting them as masks of belonging.

You see, earthstorms moved in
thrashing my branches
and I did the only thing I knew
how to do:

I deployed my earthworms
and became someone else.

Clearly, who I was wasn’t safe.

That was the wrong lesson.
But I knew not roots
and took to riot.

I learned to be noisy and insensitive.

I learned anger gets you things—Mostly the wrong things.

I learned, to my chagrin,
I couldn’t photosynthesize,
which led me to adopt some peculiar eating and moving habits.

I discovered walking and small talk.
I discovered cheese and liquor.
I discovered coffee and masturbation and chasing things.

Over time, I learned to need them.

Fantastic wounds and tornadoes refined me
and my feet walked it all together
into my torso.

This continued rather inelegantly
for decades

until one season
I gave myself the curse-gift
of walking with death
into the bottom of things.

How can I describe the down
and up of things
without mentioning love?

Oh fierce heart, I learned
to breathe, I learned
to eat
like it’s the first time.

I learned to honor the seasons

and all the splendid contours
of resistance
and its first mate, acceptance.

I guess what I’m saying is
at some level
I’ve always known
the value of silence

that sensitivity is a gift
and who I am is a sacred mystery

that storms are essential
to the journey

That being here is one thing

but really being here
is yet another way to love

and is the path
to all the holy things.
#ryanvanlenning

Things Are Flowing

D14C440D-5AA2-4F40-88D7-E434E5537362Thank you everybody who followed along during National Novel Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo18), as I wrote & shared snippets of #mywildnatureheartstory (soon-to-be a book ‘Vulnerable Mountain Heart’). It was a wild ride & I had a blast! It also really kicked me into gear getting my mountains of content organized. I think hanging out with rivers and creeks a lot helps everything flow better.

Vulnerable Mountain Heart is not a novel, but a mythopoetic story of my life and lessons, in particular over the last two years, as I transitioned from a non-aligned & unhealthy relationship, job, home, etc. to living an aligned life outside in the forest of the Nearby Faraway leaning into my powers and purpose, by way of soul descent & initiation during my summer vision quest, with plenty of adventure, stories of sacred wounds, self-abandonment, love affairs, and delicious poetry woven throughout!

I didn’t reach the 50,000 word count goal, (reached about half that), but more importantly I DID reach the goal of becoming clear about style, structure, and direction of it. I don’t know exactly what the final book will look like (these things have a life of their own), but I’m confident it will be beautiful, funny, and uplifting.

Through the next several months I’ll be jamming on it, getting it into shape. It’s one of my three winter writing projects, along with a new poetry collection called HEADWATERS & HEARTROCKS (aiming for release date of February 2019) and a semi-autobiographical mytho-poetic fantasy trilogy (for kids and adults) called THE RAINBOW 🌈 HOME CHRONICLES.

My non-writing projects include developing a Wild Nature Heart course curriculum, fleshing out the details of my 1-on-1 Nature-Based Soul Growth Coaching/Mentoring offering, and an Apprenticeship to Soulstice & Silence. More on these later. 😀🙏🦊💓🐢🐻🌈🦅🐛

(Photo: Canyon Creek, part of Trinity River watershed, Trinity Alps)

AT THE DAWN OF TIME

111B8BFC-EE21-4D35-A6B8-7E5D5AABCFB1National Writing Month DAY 30 (Final Day!!)
AT THE DAWN OF TIME
(Word Count: 1045)

In the distance looms Mt. Diablo. Not as shadow, but as guardian. Diablo–but that’s the colonizer word. The Chochenyo Ohlone call it Tuyshtak, which can mean ‘at the dawn of time.’ I learned this at the Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival from Vincent Medina, a local Muwekma Ohlone poet. He is a leader in reviving the traditional language, & now a co-owner of the new Ohlone Cafe in so-called Berkeley.

What a difference in meaning of those two words: Devil and Dawn.

Tuyshtak is the roof of the East Bay and I can view it from the roof of my home, which is a madrone- and oak-lined ridge above a canyon full of bay laurel, horsetails, flowering currants, poison oak (I call it guardian oak), & redwoods, after which the park is named.

Perhaps we should start calling it by its pre-colonial name. Perhaps all names should be decolonized as we re-sacralize the land. As we re-dream our relationsip to the world-than-human world out of which we emerge.

How ironic I find a deeper connection to the land and indigenous history & a deeper commitment to decolonizing work as I squat illegally on the land in a local public park.

But aren’t we all settlers?

I feel we’ve lost something. Perhaps on some level we all know we’ve lost something. I am dreaming into living/doing/being a new-old way. I want to re-member. I want to re-connect to those ancient pulses in our bloods & bones. I want to re-wild & re-set. I yearn for something real. I want to breathe in & out the Deep Be-Longing.

Something in me is dawning. I don’t pretend I’m living some ancient lifestyle, w/ my REI gear and solar Luci lights. But I find that the more I befriend the trees & water & birds here, the more I greet the dawn, the more I slow down & LISTEN, the more that beautiful dream flows out of me/through me & becomes the real thing—the thing that doesn’t lie, more real than the bad dream of this dominant/dominator culture.

Perhaps this is the beginning of what is meant by right belonging & right relationship–and I find there’s a depth and peace in it. I vow to keep listening. (Vulnerable Mountain Heart)
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For #NaNoWriMo2018, we (Katie and Ryan @wildnatureheart) are each writing our memoirs, our Wild Nature Heart stories so-to-speak, sharing a glimpse of our progress throughout November. We really believe what the organization says: the world needs your story! Everyone has a story to tell—What’s your Wild Nature Heart? We look forward to sharing this journey of vulnerability and self-discovery.
Ryan and Katie
#mywildnatureheartstory

SWEET BEAUTY IN THE BREAKDOWN

3A5E33B5-6B66-4E46-B63F-66BE47646957National Writing Month DAY 29
SWEET BEAUTY IN THE BREAKDOWN
(Word Count: 645)

The mountain is calling me. It is calling me naked into the exposed light, where the vast heat beckons me to crack like scorched soil ready to receive.

I myself must be empty of everything first—Empty of food, empty of distraction, empty of ego, empty of story.

Something in me gives assent. Ok—I’ll dive into the Great Inyo Sea, my name for this strange hybrid mountain-high desert-ocean labyrinth. Ok—I’ll stretch myself from horizon to horizon, until my soul image pops out in high relief, like shards of obsidian from the dry earth floor.

Somehow I already know: all the worlds to which I don’t belong will die in this high desert. I know I will leave them as offerings to the land.

The cracking begins. The mud lake. The mud at the bottom of my being. The shell of my false identities. My fortressed heart.

Oh it hurts—what gorgeous pain is this?

Oh, why is there such sweet beauty in the breakdown?

(Vulnerable Mountain Heart)
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For #NaNoWriMo2018, we (Katie and Ryan @wildnatureheart) are each writing our memoirs, our Wild Nature Heart stories so-to-speak, sharing a glimpse of our progress throughout November. We really believe what the organization says: the world needs your story! Everyone has a story to tell—What’s your Wild Nature Heart? We look forward to sharing this journey of vulnerability and self-discovery.
Ryan and Katie
#mywildnatureheartsto

DESERT VOWS

8D0A3FBA-1B67-44A3-B6BA-AC1CAC6AF53ENational Writing Month DAY 26:
DESERT VOWS
(Word Count: 879)

The ceremony really begins when tears of remorse fall into the desert dust, Like a long-awaited thunderstorm releasing all the heavy, old stories. And it ends with tears of joy swelling like the waxing moon.

This is how Life committing to itself looks on my face.

Why some take a wedding walk
and others a funeral march is not for humans to know.

Anointed with essential oils and wearing a desert gown, others hold hands with themselves while carrying a bouquet of sagebrush and mormon tea.

But me? I take a tougher path. I don’t know why. I anoint myself with blood and sweat—wear a torn mountain cloak, and with one hand hold the hand of death and with the other hold a bouquet of heart-shaped rocks.

The Great Inyo mountain sun shines on both with equal regard—the great witness to the vows I am making…Perhaps they are the same for us all:

Thou shall not abandon thyself.

Do you take this Beloved, lovely creature of the earth to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part?

And with an exchange known only in the bones of the land and the wellspring of the heart the Great Yes is born once again within me.
(Vulnerable Mountain Heart)
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For #NaNoWriMo2018, we (Katie and Ryan @wildnatureheart) are each writing our memoirs, our Wild Nature Heart stories so-to-speak, sharing a glimpse of our progress throughout November. We really believe what the organization says: the world needs your story! Everyone has a story to tell—What’s your Wild Nature Heart? We look forward to sharing this journey of vulnerability and self-discovery.
Ryan and Katie
#mywildnatureheartstory

WILD HOUSE MEETING

0560E649-157E-4E43-BED0-70AAD23E52D8National Writing Month DAY 22:
WILD HOUSE MEETING
(Word Count: 789)

I held my first house meeting with my new roommates. The purpose was to get to know each other and discuss respective chores. In attendance: rabbit, deer, quail, fern, hawk, bay tree, redwood, madrone, spider, oak, snake, thistle, poison oak, wind, beetle, and walnut. Fox came late.

Absent: Owl, possum, raccoon. (being nocturnal, they have a tough time with morning meetings). I hope they’ll read the minutes.

Turns out moon was there the whole time, but I didn’t see her-she had her new moon coat on.

We opened with an ice breaker: What’s your favorite thing about autumn? And what’s the silliest thing you’ve done this year?

Decision by consensus: We will each be ourselves and allow the other to be themselves. This is by far the largest home I’ve lived in and by far the most housemates I’ve ever had. In fact, so many that I haven’t yet met them all. I hope to get to know them intimately in the coming months.
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For #NaNoWriMo2018, we (Katie and Ryan @wildnatureheart) are each writing our memoirs, our Wild Nature Heart stories so-to-speak, sharing a glimpse of our progress throughout November. We really believe what the organization says: the world needs your story! Everyone has a story to tell—What’s your Wild Nature Heart? We look forward to sharing this journey of vulnerability and self-discovery.
Ryan and Katie
#mywildnatureheartstory