I read an interview once where a naturalist was responding to being called a tree-hugger. He basically said: You bet I am--every one of us should feel free to hug the things we love. Yeah, baby! Isn't this what writing is often about? Giving it all an embrace? Even writing full of hate and vitriol is often fuelde by a fierce love of something else. My anti-immigrant buds who tell me I ought to be executed for writing about Beaners, for example, are certainly thinking they love Amurca a whole real big lot, and I don't, so I need to be whupped on. (I've been thinking of upping the political ante by converting Mondays into immigration blogs--Immigration Monday! What do you think? Straight talk about the issues. Like--what, exactly, is the law being broken? Do you know? I didn't.) If you look way back in the archived blogs, you'll find a "Wastelander's Notebook" about my train journey to Missouri to do a reading. I didn't post the second half of that trip, which included a return ride with a group of Kazakh jazz musicians, one of which was a beauty who was looking for an American to marry before her visa ran out. I sat with the Chick Corea of Kazakhstan! Nothing, at all, like Borat. Anyway, one of the peculiar delights of the visit to Missouri was meeting and hanging out with Rush Limbaugh's relatives. I think it suprised us all. We liked each other a whole lot. No whuppings on either side--just Americans gathered at a barbecue.

How can you not want to hug it all? (I don't mean like Ari Gold, on Entourage, either, barking, "Hug it out, bitch!") I would hug the Limbaughs if I saw them. I want to go hug Kazakhstan. I want to hug the train. I try to do this--honoring and love--through the words. (See the Etheridge Knight quote I offered you in a recent meditation.) (I would hug Etheridge Knight.)

Although it's not hip, I believe in God--whom my Sioux bros call "Grandfather." What, now, is prayer for me but an embrace of gratitude? I don't beseech or beg anymore. I don't whine or wheedle or negotiate. I don't ask for $$$. I plant stuff and write stuff and surrender in trust every morning and night. Treehugger!?! I'm a Godhugger! Sorry. Don't mean to preach.

Hug a porcupine. Hug a Mustang fastback GT. Hug an aspen tree. Hug a snake. Hug a desert. Hug an orphan. Hug a Border patrol agent. Hug an armadillo. Hug a poet. Hug an ancient building. Hug a line shack. Hug a river. Hug a Mexican. The world's arms are open, and much of the world is lonely and dying for your comforting touch. It's true.

The great and intimidating Vine DeLoria Jr., great thinker, Sioux author of God is Red, was a friend of mine. You couldn't always tell he was your pal because he was a cranky man. But beneath his bluster and hard shell, he was kind. He often reached out to me with a gentle touch that belied his cranky squint. The world was diminished when Vine died. But one day, when we were standing in holy Colorado, beholding the surreal Flatirons over Boulder, I asked him about the spirits. I was getting rolling on Hummingbird's Daughter, and I didn't think I could get to the indigenous concept of Spirits. I was less of a heathenish early-church type than I am now. Less of a treehugger/Godhugger.

Vine said this--and I offer it as your meditation for the day--and I offer it to you in all his cranky, gruff, cigarette-smoke frankness--because Vine wasn't worried like I am about hugging us--believe that:

"When you Christians still had a faith, you used to call the Spirits guardian angels. Your own Bible states that there is an angel given to everything in Creation. Don't you remember that? Our Spirits are your guardian angels. And they're lonely. These mountains are lonely. They don't speak English. These mountains here in Boulder speak Arapaho. But the Arapaho are gone. People use tham all day and never talk to them. I can promise you one thing. If you learned Arapaho, and you went up there al;one, and you sang to these mountains in their tongue--something amazing would happen to you. Lonesome angels right there."

I never learned Arapaho, but I took what he said to heart, and I talked to the angels on every hike thereafter. And Vine was right--the Spirits of the Flatirons and Boulder Creek and the wild apple trees and the waterfalls and the lions and the wildflowers and the bears and the marmots and the wild peas and the glaciers and the high sun and the evolving clouds did speak to me. Things did happen. I am here now, telling you--but this journey really got going on Boulder Creek Path, on the Bluebell Trail, under Devil's Thumb, on the cross-coutry paths beyond Eldorado and across the elk meadows and beaver dams of Rocky Mountain National Park. I like to say I really met myself up there. But maybe, there, I finally met the spirit of writing--that thing that had enflamed me and tormented me and illuminated me and lay in bed with my lovers and confounded me for all those years.

I'm not perfect. None of us are perfect. But if we had eyes to see, we'd know this: none of us is ever alone.

Hey, what are you doing reading this? Get out and write. Hug what you love. Give the angels a poem.

Remember what Neal Cassady said: GRACE BEATS KARMA.

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