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Day 30 Briar Patch to Salt River Canyon today: 24 miles cumulative: 584

Pull the thorns out of everything. Walk on. A windy day and nothing on the map for another 3 days. No towns for coffee and people watching. Watching myself for 4 days. Watching myself lean into the wind, walking on a white line when I am lucky and there is no traffic, watching myself think about the existential dilemma that makes men lock themselves in a room, No Exit and other plays, but watching myself opening doors and watching my feet keep moving, watching the rhythm of life in these steps even when I don’t want to move and still I am moving because the earth turns and I am driven towards an end that I do not know. Leaning into some orbit that carries into steps, that carries me into a dance, lean back and it picks me up and swings me around running in circles, when I let myself fall it pulls me around like I am on the end of a tether, no that is not it, there is no string, it is like I am in orbit around unseen sun. I know that I am carried by some great unseen. I know I am propped up by a thousand prayers of people who love me and people who are afraid for me and people who want to see me again. I am propped up by love.

One day I found this orbit in Box canyon in New Mexico. I found this orbit and danced all night, and the dance changed the weather from cold storm damp fear darkness to clear sky corridor of rooms running west to east. And I walked that corridor all night and in each room in my mind I danced with a different face of the unseen. In one arms spread like eagle swooping stomping, another swaying impossible circles without having to move my feet, another flipping rolling laughing. And at the end of the night lying in the top of a tree impossible again because not the kind to climb or lay in just the tips of the soft branches holding me up as offering under a stormy sky that had since cleared into million star halos. And crucified on that tree, and no weight and yes, the sacrifice was made and another step up this ladder. Another step closer to indivisible. What an amazing vision and take it literally, this is not a hallucination from a long walk, it is an event from November and it was the first time I saw the orbits of things and the first time I danced in all those rooms with closed doors. They will not be closed again. Dear Sartre, there is an exit. Love, Aaron.

Ahead, Salt River Canyon. And fear. Steep hairpins, as any you have ever seen, so many miles of the impossible. You’re not really going to walk back up the other side are you? And I plan a way to cheat the other side because I am afraid, and I justify it by telling myself it will be better for Cosmo. Descends 4,000 feet and rises again the same and more. At the bottom people in pickup trucks offer me rides, I stay for awhile talking to them but not about real things because my mind is wondering whether I should sell my soul for a few less hours of pain. I decide to walk on after a rest picnic table at the bottom near the river checking blisters, gather strength to face this continuous steep sickness. And Julian Ethelbah comes to my table because I see him a few times and want to get some ideas into my head that are not yet my own, maybe he knows how to open more doors. Who knows what this young Indian has seen, in his world like another planet to me, from the town of White River on the Apache Reservation.

Today is his first day of work here at this place in the bottom of the canyon, a security guard at night to make a round every half hour. He is Apache so he tells me about being Apache in America. The kids he says that are out of school now would tell you that they are Apache first, more than American, “But we are losing traditions and identity, and the kids who are in school now will tell you that they are Americans, especially the young ones. There has been some change in the past 10 years. They are trying to keep the language alive by making classes in the schools, but this generation knows less than the last, and the next will know even less.”

“Me myself, I’ve always considered myself Apache first. That’s always where I’ve come from, from being Apache. Yeh, I consider myself American, but just like what I read one of the chiefs here long time ago saying, the American society forced itself upon us, they were saying ‘Come to us, we have a free society,’ well, ours was already one of the freest on the earth, and they also said, ‘Here, come join us, we got a religion to save your souls,” here we were, we had a religion ourselves, a religion we were comfortable with, they took that all away from us, now here we are struggling to keep what little we have left.” The churches have taken most of the people and look on the traditional Apache as outcasts, they say we are worshiping a different god, that we are savages. The traditional Apache, we call God Usen, ‘the one who knows.’

In the Bible that would be God, and their Jesus is what we call Na Ya Ne, he ate all the bad of the world and made it disappear. Same story before the two peoples ever met. The same story with different names.”

The Apache also have the Crown Dancers. Mountains spirits sent long ago to teach the Apache how to live. Some people use that power for evil now he says. If you dance with it, that spirit, you have to be prayed for, you have to be sincere, if you don’t get prayed for it will take your mind. Talking to the unseen in a dance. When they tie that crown on, he’s seen it with this guy who wasn’t sincere, he was messing around with it, he went crazy, just walked off. There are 5 crown dancers and they dance in a line from largest to smallest and the last, the smallest man is the clown, he is painted white with black designs and the others are black with white designs. He makes the people laugh because the Apache believe that there is no ceremony that is too serious to where laughter can’t be involved. The crowns are like a family, they cannot be separated, they are built from the sticks that come out of the Yucca that you see on the side of the road. They say that set of crowns tells a story, the designs on them are like chapters from the front of the first crown to the back of it to the front of the second and so on. They are like brothers, and if they are separated they will look for each other.

He tells me about suicide, and how hopeless the youth are, teenage alcoholics and no work and no place to go. The younger kids he says kill themselves with ropes, by hanging, and the older folks just use a gun and shoot themselves in the head. Already there have been 15 suicides just in the village of White River in January and February. And they have to watch the kids at school for unusual behavior. And any politician who says he wants to do something about the alcohol problem on the reservation won’t even make it to the primaries, because too many people love their alcohol more than their life, more than their future, more than their children, they won’t change it because they need it too much for themselves, to burn away thinking. Rather stumble. Rifle in the mouth, let kids hang.

To start so far down. Surrounded by suicide and converts calling you savage sinner drowning in the smell of alcohol from breath of the people in the streets, and the government not helping too much, and the people not willing to help themselves. It would take an exceptional person to climb out of that place. I hope Julian will make it, he wants to save enough money working here to go back and try junior college again. Juilian knows what the problems are, I think he can do it, keep on Julian.

We look for something to extend the cart for Cosmo and I to pull together. Long pieces of PVC cut down and duct taped with atomic universe bonding grey/silver. It will work, and I didn’t cheat and instead of walking up Salt River Canyon in the moon light we are running up Salt River Canyon in the moonlight. We run like it is flat ground, like divine winds blow at our backs, like falling into the orbit. My eyes are moving faster than my body, and I watch from outside at how fast my legs move, I can hardly keep up with this wind charging like a madman who does not know that there are law about gravity and resistance. Water running up hill. Flowwwww. The most inspired miles of the walk. 2 guys stop to offer a ride, no I’m doing great, wow you’re charging, yes I am. They are Ryan and Jeff, they are just like best friends of mine from home and give me a few beers because there is never a ceremony in my life too serious that I cant drink a beer or wear a fur suit. I hope I meet more best friends to give me beer and see the ceremony when the winds blow me into this orbit around unseen sun. Like I have said before, I’m sure there is beer in heaven, orbit the sun and land on a bar stool at the Cowgirl in Santa Fe.

I do not remember putting on this crown made from the Yucca sticks but I feel its tied tight around my head so that it wont fall off with this crazy running beer drinking dance under the moon light. I howl and sing Apache songs even though I don’t know a single word of Apache. I am sure that I am the clown. So call me ego too big or fraud heretic but be sure to laugh, because I have been painted already and if you can’t see that then you are blind. Naked white gypsy with patterns of black but I don’t know how to translate the story on this crown. I wonder where are my brother crowns, there are four more somewhere, I am sure that some of them are in Santa Fe. Maybe in a few months I will be able to tell you more.

We are not tired, we do not hurt. We stop for a fire at Dead Horse Point overlooking the edge of the canyon and stare into a fire like natives before this plague. Stare into the sun like Chief Washakie before battle. Did Geronimo wear the crown and find the war dance? I will never take this off. There are more dances in it still. Under stars, and the moon still very full.