Monday, January 12, 2009

Wherever You Go...There You Are

Paul's favorite quote from the movie Buckaroo Banzai has come up a fair bit lately. He likes that quote because of the context it occurs in the movie. The hero says it up on stage in response to the very sad and almost hopeless sounding tale told by a suicidal audience member. He then decides to dedicate his next song to her and she pulls a gun out of her bag and points it at her head.

It all ends up alright but the point is made that New Age platitudes are less than useful when a person is in the midst of great pain and suffering.

This quote and ones like it have other meanings though and here in the land of extreme contrasts it's hard not to think about its original meaning. You bring yourself with you -- and all your beliefs, hopes, dreams, life experience and positive or negative baggage -- wherever you go.

We meet a lot of people and ask them questions about living here and hear some pretty varied responses. The first days we were here we heard people describe the towns they commute to Sedona and Flagstaff from (Cottonwood and Campe Verde) in a resigned way. Nothing good to say about it except it's "cheaper" there. Sigh.

In the last two days we've heard people describe the same places in glowing terms. "Oh, I love it there! They have everything you need. They have a Walmart, etc., etc." More recently we've heard people say they love the tiny development happening halfway between Cottonwood and Sedona. Page Springs, they always say, is beautiful! And it's where John McCain lives when he visits on vacation. We met an artist who lives there with her partner and read Craigslist ads offering housing on family ranches or farms. Maybe we'll visit today.

Sometimes people talk about the Sedona area in terms of friendship and community. "There's no community here. It's all about the tourist trade." "It's a great place to be if you like 'solitude'." Another person (from Cottonwood) said the exact opposite: "People are so great here! Everybody knows each other and we all help each other out." The person who said this was originally from Massachusetts. Another person (originally from Montana) said something else entirely: "It's a weird place. No feeling of townwide community. Just lots of tiny ones-- artists, young people, healers, retired folks."

Some people complain that Sedona is a sleepy little town with nothing to do. Someone else told me there's "too much to do. The place is saturated with spiritual folks coming to the area and offering workshops and talks. You get sick of it after awhile!"

Talk about cost of living throws us, too. People say Flagstaff is expensive and Sedona is worse. That's correct compared to the rest of the state. But Flagstaff housing prices are half what they are in Santa Cruz. Sedona prices ARE significantly higher than that but you can still find an occasional bargain compared to the Bay area if you look around a bit. (And a timeshare condominium doesn't get built in the space between the great house you got and what used to be a lovely view.)

It's all a matter of where you sit, what your life experience has been, your point of view.

With me that changes quite a bit. Must be my Libra tendency to see things from more than one perspective. I flip-flop on my point of view a lot. Makes Paul a little crazy because I think I love it here one day. Want to get away the next.

We know that what we do depends a lot on what we want to create. But here's the rub. Not only do we come from different perspectives, our environment seems to influence what we want as well. So, for example, ideas about creating retreats that we never had in Santa Cruz arise for me here. It's just so gorgeous. But these thoughts don't come up for Paul, quite the opposite, except as a point of theoretical discussion ("it would be great for someone to do"). Why? He's never taught a workshop or led a retreat before, has never even attended one. But I have, a lot.

We're not quite at odds with each other but we do come from different perspectives, have had very different life experiences, and sometimes we have a lot to work out. That works really well somehow in the sessions we do. We tend to integrate our perspectives for the client's benefit really well. We do that for ourselves, too. But it takes a lot longer...because we don't always have the benefit of turning to people like us to talk us through.

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