From the Journal: Matters of Being

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. This post is another sweep of thoughts from this year actually. And if you’re a returning reader, the themes are of no surprise…

April 11th, 2019.

The way we lay our
fish across these hands.

April 27th, 2019.

An elder man sits alone at the coffee bar, twiddling something on his plate. A piece of trash, perhaps, as he’s already eaten and refilled his coffee cup twice. He stares at his hand as it twirls. He looks so deep in thought. I almost want to sit next to him and ask his story, for a slip of wisdom his hands are invisibly weaving over his plate. But another elder man arrives, orders, and without thought or hesitation, takes the stool next to the first man. The generation of communion is a dying one. I admire the frank and neighborly. The first man, with his graying hair slick back, leans on his elbows the same way as the newcomer with a purple straw hat and long peppered hair that fans thinly across his back.  I assume they are locals and already acquainted. Maybe as I age, I’ll get over the social anxieties of talking to strangers and acquaintances alike…

May 4th, 2019.

When I ran up the Amboy Crater nearly a week ago… there was lightning. And not so far away. Gray sky hung low and tattered. Fluffed in wads and bulging forth, downwards, like the trough of a wave. Yet the sand beneath my feet was the only static sound. I was afraid. Volcanic rock rose with me, and thunder. It bubbled. I was beneath the troughs. They rolled and wallowed and gurgled. They must have been heavy. So much atmosphere to move and tumble. I was afraid of drowning.

I prayed to my mom. I chanted with my every step up the rocky slopes to stand atop the crater rim. The tallest thing around. And I was so close to the waves. They followed me. They chased and made me gasp for air. Turning back, I had to swim through myself. Face them and me and go.


I’m back in Yosemite for my Spring visit. Everyone asks about the writing, but I don’t tell them I feel so amiss, abandoned by my own art. I tell them I’m taking a break, that it’s okay, that I’m accepting.

It’s hard to slow down to sit and do nothing for the sake of it (at least for me). And truly nothing. The type of nothing that blurs into meditation.

I’m tired. My shins and calves ache. I wish I was actually out camping, just to feel that much closer to the “wild.”

May 5th, 2019. Yosemite NP.

There is a plump wasp stuck between the window panes and the screen. It is still, gazing outward like a child with their hands against a chain-link fence. The wind is howling now. The storm is pressing slowly and the wind scatters. The wasp is in limbo. Does it understand the net against the sky? How one moment you can be free and another, fated — air buzzing the threshold of life. Was it a choice the wasp made that led it here? Is it divine intervention that has placed it? One thing is certain: The wasp will die because of this man-made contraption. Caught by a window. One we often gaze through, seek answers or light, references of place, familiarity, the subtle passing of storms and the wind they scatter. Certainly to see proof that the world is still there. Even if it’s held back from us. We come still, in reverence. Watch every last detail of life. Maybe regret being so caught after a while. The air is always buzzing and one day it will be too late to touch it.

May 8th, 2019.

The love we don’t keep is the life we don’t keep.

June 10th, 2019.

give the brain physical tasks
like digging

instructions and poems – Yoko Ono


While running on Saturday (my long Skyline traverse) there was a moment, I think near Chautauqua, with rocks and roots, that I suddenly felt very small, and not the awe-inspiring grandeur of nature type of small but a semi-hallucinogenic dysmorphia. My head was farther above my body, as in slightly stretched away and the rest of me felt shrunken. Other people on the trail at this exact moment seemed much larger than me, and slanted. Everything was briefly warped in this way. My awareness was physically askew. And then it was gone and on I went, having never stopped to really think about it.

June 12, 2019.

Instructions I’ve been given throughout my life:

– feed the face, pull the hair


Have you ever heard a prairie dog cry?

a thrust echo

June 16, 2019.

Yesterday, Estes Park Crystal Lake Long Loop:

When it’s dark you look for the eyes.

Land practice: a different perspective on how I recreate outside? It is process. It is practice for living. Learning how to move, adapt, transcend the soul into a place of origin. Practice the dialogue of intention. The brain’s exercise of limbs. The brain’s mantra for letting go, listening, quieting, relinquishing the exercise into prayer, whole embodiment, primal efficiency…

Food cravings were so specific, too.

It mentally feels like a dream. Though my body remembers it all.


The quaking leaf.


“It is not about asking, it is about giving thanks.” – Pachamama film.

June 20th, 2019.

“A space you can just enter and exit…” – Sasha Turrentine.

needing, having reason. it’s not permanent. freeing? death like? emotions as entering and exiting, too (when, how, why)

transitory space for transitory literature

July 1st, 2019.

Solitary confinement is to detach from reality.

July 4th, 2019.

It is confusing as to what the body is for. For whom or for what. How it is to be expressed. What messages are to be implied. As there certainly are rules about, across this entire Earth. Everyone has their version of body law. Which extends of course to the mind, because the brain is in the house of the body; the body must have law (so they say); it has sin; it has and holds everyone’s pain (or at least everyone thinks it should)…


“If you were able to revisit your past, it would change you.” – Patrick, after telling him the only reason I’d ever time travel would be to revisit a past time with my mother.

July 5th, 2019.

Vedauwoo and the Silent Lightning Storm:

Such energy. Flashes, white cauliflowers, molten slits. The calm here, torment there, is all imagined. Everyone sits outside their cars and tents watching the light flicker like a silent television. Same passivity on our part. Same entrancement.

Sometimes the lightning makes shapes. It arcs, jagged. Is snagged. Maps out particles and cuffs between air and cloud. Luckily the storm is moving away from us. The cloud backdrop is slowly being smudged away. Things flatten, are washed out. The sky is just the night again. A rinse of stars behind clapping aspens. I cannot see how they quake. How far must the storm really be for us to not hear a thing? Just the faint alpine wind…and all our faces aglow.

July 6th, 2019.

Hail storm with rainbow and sun:

There’s a dog tied by his leash in a camp across the way. The hail, some nearly half an inch wide, shoots and bounces off of everything: the soft grass and wildflowers, the small boulders camouflaged by lichen, the cars and the tents, and the dog — it keeps walking in circles around the camp, irritated, poked by sky. Thunder startles the wind and the wind startles us. The sun is still piercing from the West. We’ve all huddled into our nests and homes — me, in the van comfortably staring out the window.

When the hail stops the soft static of rain is strikingly smooth. What ruckus the hail was. Yet the dog still wanders in circles at quick tempo.

The cumulonimbus clouds above us are bright and rushing. They expand, morph, bulge out in layers, are forced both upwards and down. The rain returns. The buttresses in the sky disintegrate on top of us. In the distance, there are other clouds. Long, stretched out. Like a stampede of white sky creatures, feathered and whispy, charging heads into the wind towards the sun. Water glistens across the Earth. The dirt road has turned into a map of tributaries and alluvial fans. A young boy rides his mountain bike back and forth through puddles, sunset light against his hooded back. The dog is silently rowdy, intrigued now by the boy.

I’m not sure how to describe all the cloudscapes. They are as varied in shape and density as the blotches of water soaking into the boy’s clothes. They change shape in the wind. They glisten differently in the sun than the rest of the sky. They exist so briefly in this layer of time. Expanded and expressed by shifts of bodies and the wind they shape. A blotch. A splash. A mystery caught in rotation. Peeled. Lifted. Pressed. Kneaded soft into the soil. Into us. Into me. The one taking note of this brief gift of hail and restless light.

July 9th, 2019.

If, at death, you are somehow given a choice to go or stay, as in, time is laid out before you as it is, in its entirety and you know what will change and what won’t…

did mom make a hard choice? Would she have? Was there something she saw for our future that was worth it all?


My hair is so long right now and I question what it means. I brushed it this morning, as I haven’t in a couple months. I tend to just let it do and be as it is, exist in its own nature and fall in slight waves and subtle tangles. It is down to my waist, feels thick, tapers in density as it leaps from my head. The length has become a part of me. It is another limb of power and sway. It is a symbol of roots and growth. How I was once small and delicate, a child — a child with mother, mother’s hair. It is a symbol of roots. Of my own womanness, of age, my commitment to time, a tether of fate — I see and know how hair falls away easily. How it weakens and dies. Fades and thins. It will be what defines my health and being as I age. How quickly will it gray? How soft will the tether be before it breaks?

Like a tree dropping leaves to protect nutrients and energy for winter, are there roots that will withdraw from me when it’s time?

July 10th, 2019.

“muscular observation” – layli long soldier


July 13th, 2019.

they crest but never curl


visits of childhood:

Patrick orders chocolate ice cream from a stand on Main Street and of course I have to taste it so I do. Grandma pops into my head. Her metal scooper. Her rings and the wrist. I must’ve eaten a lot of her favorite flavor as a child. My brain knew it, and that very taste must live in a memory cluster dedicated to things from my youth. The flavor was a powerful memory perfume, if you will. Double chocolate, similar to Rocky Road.

July 15h, 2019.

What have been the teachings of plants in my life?

I do remember my dad planting strawberries, but the rodents and birds often ate them first. I remember the abundance of loquats and the brown, slippery seeds. The broad boughs of the pear tree. Purple sticky flowers. Weeds. The silence and communion of it all. Even the sneaky opossums, snakes, and mice. I have a lot of dreams about that house, and the fear of leaving the sliding doors open. That’s how all the wild things would come in. The coyotes even, maybe. In my dreams, it’s always a close call with some sort of predator, be it mountain cat or dream monster hiding in the weeds. I must’ve paid attention to the plants though, at some level. I do remember overgrowth. Red Bud flowers that we’d pop like little grapes. I remember gravel landscaping that my dad later changed to woodchips because the neighbor broke the back window to the mini-van. I remember tadpoles. How my dad collected them before the creek down the hill would dry up. He’d keep them in buckets along the front walkway (that was overgrown), and they eventually turned into frogs and hopped away.

The lesson of all this? The way my dad let the lawn go wild? Maybe it was part laziness and maybe he was nostalgic for the wild of his own childhood. I owe all my outdoor tendencies to him. I truly do. And yet I’ve been both hesitant and afraid to write about it. He is still my heritage and that house is my door.

May 23rd, 2019.

Tea Ceremony:

We arrive to the room and we all take a seated position on the floor. Emma and I are on one side of the marble slab and Rachel is on the other. Three porcelain cups. Tilting wrists. Circles. Silence. Intention. Steam and incense. Three dots tattooed on both of Rachel’s middle fingers. Motions have impact. Motions have sound.

When the tea cups touch, the resound is like a high-pitched chord on the piano, one that is slightly dissonant. Yin-yang. Repetition. Exercise of attention span. Prayer. Gratitude. Bow. Tea tannins. Flakes of tea leaves on the bottom of every cup. Washing/rinsing. Step-process. Soft wrist. Breath. Eyes closed: sight awareness to throat awareness. The meditation of the swallow.

Time warp (like running). Drinking earth. Sitting isn’t comfortable (the endurance aspect). Light sweat. Refusing to be overwhelmed by the heat. The filling of the belly and the bladder. Cleanse. Every cup is different. Every you that accepts the cup is different. Always renewed, always fresh.

Waves of distraction. Eye contact avoidance? Why does consciousness require/benefit from ritual? Does nature (beyond us) engage in ritual?

“I just want people to remember that we are nature…to contemplate: when do we become the tea?” – Rachel

July 23rd, 2019. Leadville, CO.

The forest is so peaceful here, still spread and with small sounds. A pair of glassy chitin wings, a flutter of a feathered throat, the distant collision of spilling pond to creek…

The lodgepole pines look nearly all the same in age. They are all long and narrow, and their small bark looks like a thin coat of fur. The cones are flowers of disintegration, blending so well with the ground. Some are open, stacked with petals, a tree daisy, now of the soil; some are still closed and hardened, cone buds ribbed and knobbed in protective scales.

The short pine needles are tossed about, lightly laid from above, browning in their little arcs, lashes upon brittle lashes bound in pairs. The whole forest is made of curves, even the way the light is bent around a trunk, leaving feathered shadows that stretch and wrap the contours of this hill. Even the moon, just above the canopy, half-drawn and satisfyingly shaped to fit in, dusted from the sky like a fingerprint — belonging to itself yet in synchrony with the Earth, the entanglement a ballad of arcs and weights, rotating forever in dialogue with us and our refracted matters of being.





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