From the Journal: Earth and Survival

by Sara Aranda

Having slightly fallen off the personal blog band-wagon, I wanted to create more of an intimate space with the content I’ve scribbled over the years. From the Journal will be a series of excerpts from my journal writings. For the sake of Earth Day (which should be EVERY DAY), the following entry is a compilation of excerpts from my 2019 so far…

January 2, 2019

Is it the land I should speak of or the actions that are housed? Winter is when all traipses are given away by snow — the unseen but innate. Like the body and its processes. Suddenly there is a ridge across my fingernail or a new freckle tracking the sun across my shoulder. Suddenly there is a bank of snow by the saltbrush, pressed cloves of wild turkey feet. The whitetail deer are as still as the grass and the deer mice are as transient as a predator’s shadow. I am fogging up the window with my mouth and the sheep dig into the snow crust with their hooves.

Eventually, I doze off to the thrumming road. The turkeys and deer and sheep have already pressed on. I have not disappeared and neither have they. I wake to the absence of the horizon, but even then, the prairie dogs are surely nuzzling in a darkness only the earth could create.

January 14, 2019

How do I capture this feeling? The unsureness of whether to open the car door first or not before leaning to kiss Patrick goodbye. The fumbling of bags over the shoulders. The scanning of the eyes across this very bus stop. The dim lights and rising bus fares. The waiting. The way we stand and move our heads, tap feet, to signal to others that we’re too busy thinking for a conversation.

It’s cold. The bus is dark and vacant when it arrives. The night whirrs around me as I settle in. Shifting seats and distant, post-dinner slurs. The driver turns on and off the lights for every stop. My eyes adjust to the rattling of the seats. Things reflect and pass by. Urban lights; unseen dark hills.

There’s fear and then there’s movement. The transition continues with time and suddenly I’m ready, elated even, for another journey, new input, creative welling. I admire the bulbs that illuminate a pedestrian underpass, these faint voids in the dark. I hum to the chatter of others sitting near me. They keep an overhead light on to talk to each other. I revel in my shadow. The way my hands cast one across this very page as I write bluntly and crooked. I am present. This is what has happened. This is what this transition has been about. I am present with the condition of the unknown.

January 25, 2019

The waves of young children passing by sound like a pack of tousling coyotes. I can’t see them, but surely they are playing and happy with life. Yipping. Like I’ve stuck my head into a creek and am hearing the little stones gurgle and roll.


A dream back in November:

Nathan and I were under the big dining room table [of our childhood] sorting through old photos. They were ancestral photos, photos from our childhood, etc. I was wanting to be the caretaker of them. I began piling them up, to put them away into a box.

“Do they help you remember?” Nathan asked, and I knew he meant remembering life.

“Because we’re dead and remembering?” I replied.


I felt a great sense of relief and sudden understanding. I was already dead. Life had been all about remembering and the act of its ending is inconsequential. I had already experienced life. My fear of losing it vanished. All I felt was comfort.

January 28, 2019

Mom. Mother. Child. Daughter.

I feel grief in the notion of labor. To only comprehend a fraction of the labor my mother endured for 20 years, more actually. When she died, I think Michael was only 23.

To think 2019 now means 10 years [of her being gone]. I’m still a child. I’m still a child. Who do I belong to? I am my own but what child truly ever wants that? I read stories about mothers, like Marina Keegan’s, “Against the Grain.” It reminds me of the ways in which mothers love. Give. Become. Labor.

Who would you be today? Where? Would you call me just to see what I was up to? To nit-pick at my nomadic ways? To say three simple words but mean the world and beyond? Did you feel loved when you died?

February 8, 2019

Life is the experience of time in the present. This is consciousness; the first-hand condition of time.

February 22, 2019

If we can assume that trees, other animals, etc (aka nature) is in a state of one-ness with the Universe (or this concept of the divine) — as in, they are unconditional and never-questioning in their connection/place/worship of this divine — due to their state and degree of consciousness…

(how they know life without needing more than basic necessities to be, live, die…)

Then it makes me wonder about the seemingly singular condition of the human to seek the divine (as in, with the assumption that it is no longer with us, of us).

Is it our “elevated” consciousness that creates the perception of separateness — a loss, a void, and a need to fill it? It is almost nostalgic. This once-having of divine understanding. Is this what the purpose of religion has been for our species? Particularly for Westerners who have been bred and nurtured to disconnect with nature? We have in effect shallowed our consciousness by pursuing and being distracted by our material creations, as opposed to maintaining an intrinsic and holistic knowledge of us and our place in and of nature. We dig holes from ourselves and call it progress. Our bodies are saying, “But I AM the divine earth and stars,” and our minds are saying, “But I do not personally know, nor feel, what that actually means, therefore I must question and beg and pray for answers.” Is this a byproduct, a symptom, a condition, of consciousness? Must we remove ourselves in order to understand ourselves? To understand nature?

February 28, 2019

A freewrite:

It’s not a quiet morning with the air and the house and the distant planes here in Lafayette. The roads and the cars and even the blood in my head ring the ears, the doors creak and the walls sound like they’re shifting but I suppose the loudest thing is my own pen on this paper but I’m good at making such sounds disappear, to focus, when focused. The cracks and shifts seem to jump out at me, to distract me when I’m truly more distracted by my own train of thought and the task of building words, sounding them out with a tongue in my brain before they appear through my hand as ink and repetitive movements. How motions can be learned to mean the same thing over and over, universally. Take the pen away and the hand looks strange. What does it aid to visualize my words? To manifest them before my eyes, as if tracing what has already been spoken or dreamt by my mind? Physical writing is beautiful. The strokes and the subtle flicks of the fingers when every letter is drawn, quick and to the point. Never do the letters become abstract themselves, it’s the meaning and the intent they carry that does. With each line and curve a tainted story of the person writing them.

March 25, 2019

But it is during
the night
that we meet
it is in
the dark
that I see
it is in
the dark
that we meet
it is in
the dark
that I am seen

March 27, 2019

“Home of Eternal Return” an art exhibit in Santa Fe, NM. Must go.

“What would my family drama look like, manifested in my own House of Eternal Return?” – article by Erin Van Rheenen

The infinities of return…How do we return if we’ve never truly left? Have we ever truly left the womb? And to finally leave, is that what it means to die?


The woman next to me on the plane used the sign of the cross before we took off, as if to say, or acknowledge, “Fate is truly not in my hands right now.” And there are instances in life where fate is beyond our individuality of choice, action. Where we become as passive as the passenger. We return to a womb-state awareness, a quiet and reposed mentality, until such fate releases itself.

March 29, 2019

Midpines, CA

The black oak trees are covered in moss and lichen. Steam rises from the grass by the little garden shed, in the morning light. I had a dream about large ticks biting my big toes, from underneath. They and other insects are probably out there beneath the steam, trekking vast and honorable epics between every blade of grass. They survive but keep to themselves. To what’s present and important, guided by trust or instinct or fate. They survive because they thirst. I sometimes wonder if I thirst enough, from way up here, distracted by all this twirling light — the pale daffodils, the moss, the sky behind the dormant oaks and their mini lichen flags, the bronze circles that hang from this window…

how they twist and curve to catch the light and see. See everything and yet almost nothing. To see light but not the dark and what lives there. Maybe a sleeping doe. Maybe another patch of grass with ticks. A winding path between the blades and the stories of survival.


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