I remember falling in love with Bucky Fuller’s use of the word artifact the first time I ran across it– the way the modern world, seen through his eyes, was an assemblage of present day artifacts. These were not clay bowls and petrified implements unearthed from a Sumerian archaeological dig, but mass-produced silverware, jet engine airplanes, and home heating furnaces. An artifact in this sense is the embodiment of a particular era’s state of thought. Thus, an enameled cast iron stew pot is a tangible recording of countless facets of our culture, philosophy and technology– the culmination of our ability to refine metals and coat them with ceramics, of our relationship to food, to the land, to the way we gather together, and to time. For Bucky, artifacts were also metrics of our efficiency– testaments to our global relationship to matter and energy.
I like to think of the act of putting together a book as being an artifact as well, but of a different sort. A book is tangible evidence of an author’s journey, preserved in a form that others can carry with them. A book is a portal to the spaces a person has explored, a record of the journey and of what was encountered, and a means of conveying the intangible from one to the next. A book is an artifact of the heart– a map and a memory of the spaces inside of us.
I think the truest form of sharing is the act of giving what we find alive within us to one another, and in this sense a book is obviously but one way that we do so. This giving is the essential act of human existence and unfolding, and though it occurs in countless forms– a book being but one of them– if we are not engaged in the act of giving away whatever grace has found its way to us, we walk this world bereft of the true power of human life. I’m inclined to think the contents of our hearts, ennobled and empowered through the acts of sharing and receiving, have the power to put this world aright, and so I wrote a book.
The book contains the fullness of my heart, as best I could capture it, over a relatively recent period of time. But like one of Bucky’s artifacts, it is the culmination of countless previous encounters and relationships both within and without. We become the uniquenesses we are by touching events, by touching ideas, by touching the world, and by encountering our own landscapes of inadequacy and desire. So, the book I have written contains the first meditative breath I ever took, the first doubts and pains that wedged into me and stuck, and the surgical procedures by which they were unearthed and held to the light. When you look closely, you discover those arrowheads were all diamonds. Always diamonds. They rode in on carefully hewn shafts of compassionate wood, guided precisely by the feathers of high-flying birds, and the vision of saints.
I had the good fortune once of being able to participate in Native American ceremony. The way it worked was that you were set out in the open, out upon the land, alone with the day and the night, so the arrows could find you easier. Afterwards, exhausted but gleaming, cleaned out of who you once were and that much closer to who you’ve always been, with eyes now intimate with the distance, you thanked those who helped made it possible. You gave something away– an artifact of your healing. The first year, I gave away a small paper bound book with a story I wrote. My friend helped me paint watercolor swatches that I pasted onto the cover. That same friend put together the cover of the book I am offering now, and as I write, finding words here I didn’t have at the beginning of this piece, I marvel at the spiral of it all– the holy circle of it.
This book wouldn’t exist without the interactions and friendships I’ve made here, in this virtual realm, and I’ve come to realize that all of life is a stepping into the open. All of life is this stepping forward so we can be found by the arrows that burrow into falsehood, and set the truth within us free. So, in gratitude, I am giving this book away to you, at least for the time being.
You can click the Contact page or the plus sign at the top of the page if the Contact link isn’t visible. E-mail me at the address you find with your name and address and let me know you would like a copy, and it will be my pleasure to send you one. If you are inclined to give something in return, I propose you order a copy from Lulu where it is currently available for sale, and give it to someone you love who may enjoy it. There is also an e-book format available at Lulu.
Many of the pieces in the book have already appeared here, but I’ve managed to include a number that have not as well.