Yesterday, I met a new grand-niece for the first time. I held the little peanut (5lbs 4ozs), who was born five days ago in Denver, and not much in life holds a candle to those moments with her in my arm.
All of us keep homes in geographic places. Since I’ve opened this blog, I’ve met bloggers (online) in other places, one near the English seaside whose blog site I like visiting. My home is presently in the mountains of Colorado at about 8700 ft. altitude (It’s 42 degrees outside now, the sun is out, but there’s a bitter wind blowing through the pines and aspens which has turned the snow-covered ground into a sort of hard white frosting, reminding me of the early Fleetwood Mac album, Bare Trees). But our minds are geographic places also.
Lately, through a friend, I’ve been practicing “mindfulness,” which is a form of meditation. Mindfulness helps to keep one planted in the now of existence, with bare feet on wet sand instead of allowing oneself to be pulled forward by the tide, into the deep, or backward into the dead tangles of old seaweed. Annie Dillard, in her book For The Time Being (1999), described existence as at the crest of an ocean wave. The dead fall behind life, and newborns rise into it. My grand-niece was once a part of the ocean and is now a part of the wave. Someday, I’ll no longer be a part of the wave, but I’ll still be within the ocean. We’re all a part of that ocean.
Too often, the past and future seem to have roots creeping up and around my legs, pulling me in both directions, tearing me apart instead of leaving me alone to participate in the now. I described to my friend that mindfulness brings a realization of having been born with a nice little cottage of the mind, but in growing up, I learned to spend more-and-more time outside, always here, always there, but never home. Mindfulness brings me back into the cottage, into the now.
This blogsite of mine is an extension of that cottage. I can have all the parties I want here, because I’m always invited. [ When is a party not a party? When you’re not invited ]. I hope to someday make my niece’s new daughter aware of her own little cottage, where she’ll always find a sanctuary, an ever-replenishing spring of personal power away from “the machine” that this world will welcome her to soon enough.
A very good book on the practice of mindfulness, is: [Williams, Mark, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and Jon Kabat-Zinn. The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself From Chronic Unhappiness. The Guilford Press, 2007.] The best copy comes with a CD that contains assistance with the practice of mindfulness.
There are two other books that are on my mind regarding this post (my little cottage, as you might have guessed, has stacks and stacks of printed paper, with lots of my fingerprints and dusty sneeze-germs on the pages).
The first book is [Lowenthal, David and Martyn J. Bowden, ed. Geographies of the Mind: Essays in Historical Geosophy. Oxford University Press, 1976]:
1. Yi-Fu Tuan. Geopiety: A Theme in Man’s Attachment to Nature and to Place.
2. John L. Allen. Lands of Myth, Waters of Wonder: The Place of the Imagination in the History of Geographical Exploration.
3. William A Koelsch. Terrae Incognitae and Arcana Siwash: Toward a Richer History of Academic Geography.
4. David Lowenthal. The Place of the Past in the American Landscape.
5. Martyn J. Bowden. The Great American Desert in the American Mind: The Historiography of a Geographical Notion.
6. Marvin W. Mikesell. The Rise and Decline of “Sequent Occupance”: A Chapter in the History of American Geography.
7. Wilbur Zelinsky. Unearthly Delights: Cemetery Names and the Map of the Changing American Afterworld.
8. Philip W. Porter and Fred E. Lukermann. The Geography of Utopia.
The second book is: [East, W. Gordon. The Geography Behind History: How physical environment affects historical events, with illustrative examples from early times to the present. W. W. Norton, 1965, 1967.]:
I Geography as an Historical Document
II Old Maps as Historical Documents
III Geographical Position
IV Climate and History
VII Frontiers and Boundaries
VIII Habitat and Economy
IX The Dawn of Civilisation
X The Dawn of Civilisation in the Americas
XI Europe and China
XII International Politics