Firing off on some firsts in 2014

Dear Readers, I am pleased to inform you that I have been invited to attend an intimate luncheon upstate, honoring one of the keenest social critics of our times (Guy McPherson, Ph.D.).

I took the chance of writing to the author about my excitement for his rare tour of New York and to my surprise, he personally invited me to this exclusive event. You’ll hear my take on how it goes, next month, unless I chicken out and don’t go (which is always a distinct possibility).

I intended to write about economic problems, grim job losses and despair this month, but I don’t feel qualified to even touch it right now. I am disturbed by our paradoxical crisis between profit motives, basic daily needs of people, and environmental integrity required to sustain both. The static in my mind about it right now is too feverish to discern the music; all I can offer this month is stories, images, and fluid instances of bliss that have tickled my heart’s feet like minnows, as we turn to spring.

The year of 2014 so far has been a year of “first times” for me. For the first time I’m starting to separate the idea of myself that came from external sources while growing up, and a growing sense of my own truth.

For the first time I’ve recognized that the “the dark night of the soul,” when struggling with the meaning of life, is a healthy function in the ongoing development of personality. Sincere emotional and intellectual floundering with uncertainty and anguish need not be pathologized. This is not to say that labels and treatment don’t have a legitimate place, but only that one must be vigilant to not stifle the tensions which inspire potential transformation.

This winter I’ve looked deeper into the philosophy of existentialism and have become fascinated with Dabrowski, who was punished by both Nazis and Communists for his insistence on standing up for the reality of the individual.

This winter was the first time I was in a gun shop, when my dad got a rifle. We weren’t in a mega box sport’s store, we were out in the country, a family named Frost, one of the finest horse-mounted riflemen in the country; elderly now but in undeniable possession of all the gravitas and grit of the last real cowboys.

This winter was the first time I’ve ever fired a gun. It was a special bonding moment with my dad. It means a lot that he trusted me, and bullets ain’t cheap. He had me fire at a target 100 yards away. Two of my shots were taken with the scope on low, when he noticed that he let me go one more time with the zoom fixed. When he went to check the target, I was expecting to have missed all three, but to my elation, all three shots were close within the vitals and my dad said he couldn’t wait to brag about his gunslingin’ daughter.

We also worked together to move his treestand to where he wants it for next season, that was another first for me. It’s a heavy, unwieldy metal ladder with a perched seat and boy did we slide around in the snow and one time it nearly clocked me in the noggin. I regressed back to my juvenile backtalk, but a strange thing happened, I was able to recognize my whininess and stop it.

If I’m not mistaken that’s a sure sign I’m maturing. To get out to the woods, he drove the tractor through the snow (I rode on the big scooper part, holding on tight) and I could tell this moment was tattooing itself in my psyche as vivid and transcendent) to see the beautiful land rolling slowly by, in the open air, with the fatherly smell of tractor, the forest evergreens and the same paths that had been in my memories of this family hunting ground since childhood, I felt a rapture of gratitude for creation.

You see, my sensitivities in early life made me a difficult child for my parents to understand, and I would say honestly sometimes we went through hell. But that’s all the more reason that this ride on the tractor and helping my dad, and understanding the reason we hunt, and that things must die, and trembling and being afraid of the rifle, but shooting it, that’s faith, that’s truth, I was growing, I could feel it.

Nothing is more rewarding than to be in touch with the messy stuff of life, the blood, the feathers, the skin, the meat, the eggs, the grass, the sun, the meals you have with your friends after hard work with each other, music in a chilly barn, the people who feel the pulse on the jugular, who watch the last steamy breath of a bull, a horse seeing you through beautiful lashes. Creation is stunning and family is everything and honestly, everything is a family.

Another one of my firsts: I’m receiving five baby chicks in a couple of weeks! Araucanas, from Shamel Milling (a historic mill near Springville). Araucanas are rumpless, dual-purpose chickens who lay blue eggs, and both the adults and newborn chicks have little tufts of feathers that stick out on their cheeks and under their beaks, like a beard on a chipmunk. I converted an old dresser into a large brooder, which was another first. I wanted to do this project without my dad and without asking him for his tools so that he could be surprised and amazed.

All I want to say is, as someone who comes from despair – developing your spirit is like mountain-climbing, it’s not appealing to everyone. But if you hit a point where you’re not satisfied, then I say, climb those heights, or crawl them, whatever you have to because the view gets finer and finer.

Some may look at you like you’re crazy, but that’s just icing on the cake.

Lindsay Morrison is a Forestville resident.

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