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They Take You Away

by David Armando Garza II, aka, Lynx Bigtooth Maple

When I was four-years-old, I remember a walk in the woods near my home. I was by myself. My mom trusted me to be alone in the woods in those days. It was a tall woods, with a lot of clear viewing through the hundreds of sun stretched tree trunks that day. A light breeze rushed through, and then thousands of winged maple seeds, they're called "samaras", fell from the forest canopy to the ground, spinning in their slow descent, in what appeared to my mind to be a magic thing. Looking back, it was like a ballet with a cast of 10,000 dancers jumping off of their perches together, floating down as if on cue, to fall whirily and finally to lay themselves gently on the woodland floor. It felt like magic to me, to see that. A moment or two later, it happened again, and another 100,000 seeds twirled down in poetic unison, as far as the eye could see in any direction, to the ground below.

I was amazed. Even as a four-year-old, I recognized that this was not that common a thing to see. For looking back over the years after many, many walks in many, many woods, I never saw anything that was similar in size or scope, in timing or beauty. It dawned on me, that those seeds had ripened untouched to a point where only the slightest of breezes would cause huge amounts of them to fall in unison, that the conditions for that to happen, had to be just right, and I was there to witness the dance between wind and branch, seed and air, spirit and nature, moved to be there only at that moment by my impulse to be in the woods. I loved it there. I never forgot that moment. I carry the feeling of that wind and those samaras floating down inside me still to this day. I am not separate from it. Its wind still blows inside me, its samaras still fall through me, to the ripe leaf-covered earth of my soul.

Another time, when bored at ten-years-old on a summer day, I had the sudden thought pop into my mind to go to the playground of my elementary school and see the monkey bars, the swings, and the slide. It was quiet, sunny day. I got there by myself, no one else around. I ran up the slide backwards, swung on the swing, monkeyed on the monkey bars, and then just sat on the ground quietly, enjoying the feeling, the reminder of joyous moments during recess with my monkey bar friends playing tag. In the quiet something caught my eye, a movement, a sound. I looked over to see a small tornado heading toward me, carrying dust, dry dirt, leaves and grass with it as it moved slowly along. It was a powerful thing to see for the first time.

I later found out it was called a dust devil or a dirt devil. It was about 10 to 20 feet tall, at least the part with the debris spinning in it. I stared at it for only a moment or two, and then my next impulse was to run to it and jump inside the eye before it dissipated, which I did. I made it in time and walked with it, safe in the quiet center as we moved forward together. I watched the small litter of nature's dustbin twirling around me rapidly, and I saw the world outside the small cyclone I was in as well.

My first thought as I ran to it, was that maybe it was strong enough to lift me in the air as well, but instinctually seeing that the debris was small, I figured the likelihood of it lifting me, was slim. I walked with it for a bit and not too long after, it dissipated. I stood there quiet for a moment, absorbing the experience, wishing it had continued on for a little while longer. Looking back, I wondered why I had followed my impulse to go to the playground in the first place, which was right next to some woods itself. Why had I gone, and why had the dust devil come when I was finally quiet and still? And why had I jumped up to go be inside it? The odds of all those things coming together, were slim at best. It was another magic memory for me.

Flash forward to around 1996. I was 33 or 34, driving home on a late October night from my job waiting tables at a restaurant. On impulse, I decided to take a different way home through a more residential street. As I neared an intersection, I saw movement to my left and up ahead a bit. To my surprise, it was thousands upon thousands of autumn fallen leaves rushing down the street to my left to intercept me. As I reached the intersection, a large wave of leaves rushed over my car, engulfing it front to back as I drove. I had had leaves blow over my car before, but in small amounts from the forest edges on the side of the road, but this was magnificent. It was as if every leaf that had piled up in all the yards for a mile to my left, had all been swept up at the same time to come to me and careen over me and my car. It was an onslaught of windy chaotic joy, but with beautiful symmetry not unlike a murmur of birds, but more raw and organic, a murmur of leaves shaped by the spirit of the wind. As my car came out from under the leaves, I drove on, marveling at what had just happened.

I was still marveling at what just happened, when I saw that I was about to arrive at the next intersection. Amazingly, the act repeated itself. Again, as I arrived at the second intersection, I saw another massive wave of leaves rushing to intercept me, to greet me, to cover me. It felt profound. I knew something was happening as the second wave engulfed my car and I as we passed under and through them. At the third intersection, it happened again.

I thought, "This is an event," and decided to drive no faster or slower. I kept my foot on the gas pedal where it was and glided down that quiet fall night street with nothing but hopeful expectation. For 10 to 15 blocks, the massive leaf waves met me in perfect time at each intersection as I crossed them, sweeping over me and my car, covering us completely from front to back, with hundreds of thousands of leaves in what appeared to be my own private ticker tape parade. I say "private" because when the solo parade ended, I looked around and saw there was not a soul out besides me. I thought, "That was just for me."

I knew the odds of me being in this place at this exact moment, with the leaves laying dormant in the yards of all these homes, waiting for this first rush of fall wind to blow them all over me and my car at the perfect angle and in the perfect timing so as to careen into us and over us again and again with such precision, was in fact a miracle. Another miracle, brought on by following an impulse. I say miracle, and not lightly.

These are just examples. There are so many more I could share. All of them have added up in my life to show me that something has had my back my whole life. It's been an amazing journey, very personal. I know I'm not the only one that these things have happened to. I know that. But they restored my faith in something bigger than myself, not a concept, not a faith in something unseen, not a hand me down list of precepts, laws and traditions. It can only be described as direct experience. It's what I had been looking for my whole life, and it was there with me, all the time. My only job was to see it, to notice it, to add up the experiences of it, until there was no more doubt.

There's a saying of Carl Jung that I read in the margins of Julia Cameron's wonderful book and course called Thes Artist's Way: "I no longer believe. I know." I read that, and as my little and large miracles piled up one by one, I realized that something did indeed have my back. I don't doubt it when I'm doing well. But in low times, dark periods, I sometimes wonder if they really happened. I know they did, but why do I forget them? It's because of what the human world has become from its own greed and avarice, forgetful of these things. We feel the universe is not moving fast enough for us, but in reality, we are moving too fast for it, which gives us and the planet so much trouble, so so so much unnecessary trouble, waste, death and destruction.

The little miracles are not enough? How can that be? I remember wanting miracles that were not caused by human actions. That's why the miracles that nature brought me, were so important for me to find, because they were not influenced by man. They were pure experiences. In fact, they were so pure, that I longed for them more and more. After a while, I preferred those experiences over experiences with people. I preferred the purity of direct experience over the tangled up experiences of being with people. I enjoyed people and I loved them, but I needed long swaths of time alone in nature and at home as well.

Something happened last year... another miracle. Cancer happened. This cancer has broken my heart several times over these last nine months. But my broken heart brought me back to my family, friends and the ones I love. My broken heart has brought me full circle. I feel I have both now together, the miracles of nature, God, and spirit, and miracles of love, family and friends. The pure miracles of life do take you away. But they bring you back again.

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Lynx Bigtooth Maple is a singer/songwriter, poet, and writer, who came into his own first among the people of San Marcos, Texas, which changed his life, and second among the people of San Miguel, which saved his life. He considers both places his spiritual homes and misses them dearly. His songs, poems, and writings come mostly from his personal experiences.

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