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A Lion Roars in Guadiana

by Dr. David, Editor / Publisher

I've been staying up at Veronica's house in Colonia Allende. She's away, visiting family in Chile, and I'm pet-sitting while she is. Her cat is much more affectionate than mine. And her dog, Canela, is this man's best friend. Each morning I take Canela for a walk, pausing to do my yoga in a nearby park. Each afternoon, after the worst of the heat has passed, we bicycle down the hill to San Antonio where I feed my, rather undomesticated, feline and care for my plants. I bicycle. Canela runs alongside. She's good about keeping up on the sidewalk, or at least giving cars a wide berth on these passages.

Really happy the whole way, she becomes ecstatic descending the hill through Guadiana. She wants to play, and so do I. I lean over and with my opposite hand working the brake, I reach out and push her muzzle. This is just what she wants. She growls and barks. She opens her mouth as if to bite me, and actually does nip a bit when she is particularly worked up. My fingers getting wet, I taunt her playfully with my words, and keep pushing her muzzle. It is so much fun, so free, that I burst out laughing, every time. The two of us are quite a spectacle. People turn and smile as we race by. It's archetypal, a boy and his dog, like Norman Rockwell come to life.

Then, we ride along the Ancha a short distance, cross the plaza in front of the church, and are soon turning into my alley. Arriving at this position two days ago, looking up towards the end where I live, something was different. Unable to take it in, I gazed stupidly for a couple of seconds before it registered; the bougainvillea has fallen. Snapping the top two wires that kept it aloft, its great mass of white flower and green leaf was no longer bound to the front wall of my house. Now the plant bowed down, descending from shoulder height where the lowest wire still restrained it, like a static verdant fountain, its long boughs draped in all directions along the ground.

I would say, "I don't know what I was thinking," except that I wasn't thinking. I am a very amateur gardener. The bougainvillea had tripled in bulk since I fastened it so. Overflowing its constraints, it had the lush density of jungle growth, like a tiny oasis here on our high-desert plain. Many a time I stopped to admire its abundance of foliage and flower, without thinking to better secure it.

I admit that I am a stranger to abundance, a late bloomer, to follow my vegetative metaphor. qqq

Repairs underway with the major bough already held up by a rope.

As I wrote last week, I've been watching the Andy Warhol Diaries. If you've ever wished, or still desire fame, I suggest you watch it. Warhol never comes to terms with the loneliness of his childhood. He turns his back on real relationship to follow the chimera of popularity. His associates wonder how great Warhol might have been, if he had worked more seriously at his art, instead of whoring after voguishness. Money can't buy you love, and neither can fame.

With my own emotional blind spots, I'm still acting out my childish neuroses. Central to these is that I use too much force. I try too hard.

I used to bear down, anchoring my palm while my finger worked the mouse pad of my computer, an entirely unnecessary pressure that eventually hurt my back. This extra effort reflects a protective reaction I started as a child in response to my inadequate or hostile emotional environment. This over-control consistently screwed things up for me. So many more things would have come my way, if I had only backed off and let them arrive of their own volition. I'm more aware of this emotional tic, but I still have to watch out, to remind myself to lighten up. You might be happy to know that my back is 96% better.

Like Warhol, I was lonely as a child. But unlike him, I'm learning that the love that was supposed to be given freely, can never be earned. If you have to win it, to keep winning it, then it isn't really yours, not in a primal, inseparable way.

Like Warhol, I didn't care for the bounty life afforded. I eschewed loving relationships in favor of neurotic dalliances. A thoroughly amateur gardener, I left the bougainvillea untended, luxuriating its great mass across the facade of my house.

I came back yesterday, back to my house, back home, with the dog and with Veronica's drill. (She asked for a drill for her birthday several years ago.) With that and a rope, I went to work, setting some screws in the wall and bracing the great plant's weight more strategically. It actually has a better configuration now. Spread out over a greater expanse of the wall, it looks a little skinny, but in 4-6 months it will all grow in. When it does, I will remember to train the advancing growth to the wall, the new heavy leaders, steadily inching their way out across the concrete.

In the documentary, some of Warhol's contemporaries wonder about the "real" Andy. But, no one is that good of an actor. The Warhol we see, timid, stunted, confused, is the real Andy. There is a scene where he is with Miles Davis. The contrast could not be starker. Miles wasn't acting, either. He really was a lion.

I know I sound ridiculous, discovering publicly something so basic, but my new, less controlling attitude towards life seems like rolling down the hill while playing with the dog. I still have to keep focused, stay alert. The position could be dangerous; leaning down as the bicycle moves along, with one hand on the handlebars, while the other engages a growling, nipping, euphoric dog. But the momentum is effortless, and the spontaneous joy makes the risk worthwhile. We are quite a pair; Canela, barking and yapping, me exuberantly laughing. Together our tumult, if only in its lustiness, is something like a lion's roar, wildly sounding in Guadiana.


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