not a pretty picture. not a good. not a bad. picture. but an argument.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

collecting wild roses

as i drive i touch my neck, my chin, the beginning of my face and i practice,  i will die, i will die, I. will die. and outside of myself i recognize the countless other i 's that come into and out of being.  i will die.  it is inconceivable and yet true.

the other day my son corrected me on something.  i don't rightly remember what but whatever it was it elicited this response, "well, really mom," he said with a casual tilt of his head, secret informer, leaning his shoulder with practiced wisdom, "we are all dying, just some of us more quickly or slowly than others."  such wisdom at such an age, only 11. 

but days later i thought to test his wisdom.  perhaps he had learned only the words and mannerisms framing the truth, not the truth itself.  while sitting together at the kitchen island talking about a possible trip i might do on my own i said to both my children, "but really, if i ever die while running or hiking, by bear or by bad water, please at least know i died doing something important to me, something i love." 

my daughter seemed dismissive and possibly bored with this but i can't know the depths of her response.  she is so complicated and distant.  my son however stared into my eyes in deepening pools of fear and despair searching for something. after all i do run, i do hike and bears and bad water are real, therefore death is a real possibility. 

i hooked him with words before he was completely lost, "truly son, it would be ok.  i will die some time."  i touched his hand. 

he rose up from the dark pool toward me.  "ya," he said, cutting into his pie with his fork, "i could die too, even right now." 

i looked at him seriously.  "this is true, you know," i said. 

"yes," he replied, having a large bite of his pie and speaking through it, "and mom, just know, if i die right now, i've died doing something i love." 

raspberry pie is his favorite.

i turn off the highway onto the dirt road.  i will die, i continue to practice, not knowing even of myself how deeply i know this.  beside me on the floorboard rattles an old bottle of water.  i plan to find a wild rose to bring home for my window.  in this way i mean to practice both being here and letting go.

collecting wild roses

the woman went out into the world to collect a wild rose because a wild rose evoked in her a memory, hers but not hers alone, nostalgia tied to longing, not only for the past, but also for the future.

and then the woman went out into the world to collect berries and wood to make a table.  she made a bowl.  she made a window.  she put the berries into the bowl and ate them in the morning light shining through the window. 

and then the woman went out into the world to collect more.  she collected more and more and more, acorns and cedar boughs, stones and mollusks, twilight, dusk and all that existed between them, consuming happily that which spoke to her essentially and necessarily.

her body was found some years later on the floor beside the table, the bowl tipped over, the whole of the world once gathered, now spilled out.



  1. We know truth through beauty.

    At times the beauty strikes first, like a clap of lightning in a black sky. The truth comes later, with thunder.

    That's how this post is.

    (I would like to sit and cry now with this beauty and let the truth sink in through my pores gradually. Tears for the beauty, not yet for the truth. Oh but there I go thinking linearly again! It all happens at once, but I perceive this beauty so atmospherically that I want to swim in it. But you know what? It can only be beautiful if it is true!!)

  2. In the morning, at night, when I'm awake even in reverie, when I'm asleep even in dream, I have this conversation with mysef. 'I will die', all that I've consumed in this mundane existence, will it ride the chariot in perpetuity? For many many years now since being exposed to the spiritual teachings both in academia and of my heritage (Mexican Indian, Aztec/Toltec) I have been trying to come to terms with the willingness to give up the things of this world so that my passage into whatever comes after will come of ease.

    My biggest challlenge is giving up 'love'.

    Thanks for sharing your introspective query of this conundrum and stimulating my unsolicited contribution to this discourse.

    It's good to see your site again

  3. Wild roses should take you far from these thoughts, and living with wild roses will continue to make you see the ultimate possibilities of all things as they touch each other, procreate, collect beauty and never, for one minute think about death.

    (you know my loss; no amount of thinking will come close to the real experience of death for those left to mourn.)

  4. ,,,I think, perhaps, Tiny Leaf, I know where the real "Wild Rose" grows,,,reckon?

  5. I had to laugh gleefully at your son's response. When we teach our children about life/death when they're young, it takes away the fear of the unknown. Good for you, Erin.

    By the time I was his age, I'd experienced about 10 deaths in my family and I was a tall, skinny bundle of trembling FEAR all the time. Nobody ever talked to me of death. Mr. Death stalked me from the age of 6 and stole my childhood. You are a good mother. Love to you and your beautiful family. xo

    "Healthy children will not fear life if their elders have integrity enough not to fear death." ~Erik H. Erikson

  6. i want to make this, the wild-rose-story, into a film!!!

    i will!!!

    i am breathless. but, beyond that (is there a "beyond" beyond breathlessness?) i am filled with an immense tenderness for this: " i plan to find a wild rose to bring home for my window. in this way i mean to practice both being here and letting go." i recognize it, form where it stems, it connects me to you, to the flower, to the breath of the world, to everything... it is the wonder of encounter... it has changed both of us, like a finger of god retracing, reshaping our features, the same yet subtly changed... this is what a true encounter does (one that we don't miss, we miss so many... and this is also good, yes).

  7. Erin,
    Je viens de lire très attentivement cette page. J'en ressors profondément ému. La mort nous concerne tous, et comme toi, j'y pense souvent. Lorsque un tel dialogue s'établit autour de ce sujet grave, entre un enfant et sa mère, il faut tout l'amour d'une mère pour que l'enfant ne se fixe pas sur ces instants dramatiques. Je pense que tu t'en es bien tirée et que ton fils, puis ta fille, ont eu les réponses qu'ils attendaient pour les calmer. La seconde partie de ton post, je veux dire, l'histoire est remarquablement bien écrite. J'ai ce côté surréaliste de la situation, cette femme qui sort du monde pour faire ses choix, ses cueillettes, puis rentre dans le monde et consomme tout avant de rendre l'âme. C'est très poétique. Mais je sais depuis longtemps que ton âme est comme ça, celle d'une femme poète. Cela se ressent dans tes photos qui sont de merveilleux moment à passer lorsqu'on les regarde. Je pense qu'avec ton imagination, ton imaginaire débridé, tu n'as pas fini de créer et d'étonner le monde.
    Merci pour ce que tu es et pour ce que tu fais.
    Je t'embrase.



"Words at the limit of hearing, attributable to no one, received in the conch of the ear like dew by a leaf." (philippe jaccottet) or even a quiet presence is appreciated))