Clean surface before applying meaning! (From the metaphorground series)

Telluride Daily Planet, Sunday, July 21, 2013

Today I wake up and it’s like being on Mars. It is being on Mars, rather, because I can’t see a single simile as I scan the new day, from the ripening, blossoming flower of the sun to the gauzy veil of dust motes hanging on the curtain rod of the moment.

Being on Mars is another way of saying things are topsy-turvy — not what they appear to be. Or how they appear suggests a bigger truth, which may not be topsy-turvy at all but simply so big it’s hard to bear. I may be a clear drop of water but metaphors are the ocean — jar green and storm blue — with both chilling depth and foamy surface.

6:47 a.m: There I am, staring at the white ceiling, which is another way of saying I am spacing out, pondering things like how I don’t really eat sandwiches anymore and miss the pickles and mustard, and all the projects I’ve started with file names like ifyouhaveanyselfrespectleft.docx and youcandoit.docx that aren’t getting done no matter what I name them, and also what’s around the bend. Which is another way of saying what’s coming, what we can’t see on the winding road of the day, the week, the month. Which is another way of saying time is sometimes not just tick-tocking and relentless and straight but twisty in many ways both up and down and side to side.

I swing my legs around and put my feet down on the wood floor then slip my poufy slippers on, which is another way of saying there is a buffer between the soles of my feet and the hard planks of life. The slippers of attitude, the slippers of grace. The shearling slippers of awareness. Mine are black, but we’ll ignore that for now since they were a gift.

There are dust bunnies on the floor, big ones. Are they more dust than bunny or more bunny than dust? And why are these legions of fluff gathered round so perceptibly this morning? Yes, the floor of life must be swept clean from time to time, freed of debris that is sometimes disguised as something else, but is there more?

I am suddenly struck dumb by the simple goodness of a cup of coffee with lots of cream. The struggle is to not apply meaning to it. To breathe in and out, and gently bring my mind back to the steaming cup mandala. Then to see my rancher muse holding it in his hand as the sun comes up on his horses and cows and fields and try to imagine being in his head instead of mine. That’s where I always go. My rancher muse.

You know, sometimes dreams feel straightforward in comparison to this. That recurring one about the made-up Italian city and all its s-curve canals and me in a tiny amusement park boat that looks like a bumper car with people I don’t really know except that I’ve seen them all before in this very place? What’s not to get?

At this point, I seriously just want to shield my eyes from all the lurking Jack-in-the-box metaphors but that’s impossible because I’m awake and this is everyday life, a plethora of literal and figurative objects, meteors screaming by.

Those books on the shelves in slovenly stacks, that big antique chest over there filled with linen, and that ladder to the loft? Books as brain peanuts, chest as heart, and ladder to loft as stairway to everything bespeaking upward movement. I’m tempted to take that stairway metaphor right now. To feel myself go up. But I have to get out of this room, get a move on, get to work!

I put on my jeans on one leg at a time, slowly, as if not to disturb the sleeping tiger, the one exhausted from chasing its tail. The tail of allusion. This is how rancher-man does it, clothes being nothing more than clothes, not ego or personality or armor, just clothes, and thinking of chores and not much else. I shut my eyes and reach into the closet for a random shirt, put it on blind. I grab the railing, just a railing, and grope my way down the stairs, just stairs, and I think about cows, horses, fields and my chores.

And once I’ve made the coffee, singing Home on the Range all the way, and once I’ve put it to my lips and taken the first sip, I know things are going to be all right. Because sometimes a cup of coffee is just a cup of coffee. Even when you take it with heavy cream.

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