Lessons from an Organ Pipe Cactus

Organ Pipe At Desert Museum

Organ Pipe Cactus © 2011 Bo Mackison

Sometimes I get so frustrated with carrying out my grand plans, I wish I could perform magic. I wish for a magic wand or a magic trick, when in actuality, all I need to do is do the work until the project is completed. Do the work? Does that mean I have to write all the steps down on a to-do list and then grind my way through each step until the project is completed?

Well, the bad news is, yes. Sometimes that is exactly what is required.

But there’s good news, too. Sometimes the plan requires walking down new paths, thinking new thoughts, exploring, questioning. All the while muttering, like Alice once did, “Curiouser and curiouser!”


I went to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum early this morning. They open at 7:30 am which I think is a perfect time for an outdoor museum to open, especially one located in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. I can spend a couple of hours exploring the desert and taking photos, then spend a half hour writing in my nature journal while sipping a raspberry ice tea, and I pull my car out of the parking lot as the Sunday crowd is waiting in line to get in.

I spent quite a lot of time studying the plants, walking a while, then stopping again, taking my sweet time. Twice, I had a museum docent question me. The first gentleman asked me if I was OK. (I was. Yes, indeed. More than OK–I was feeling great.)  The second docent asked me if I was looking for something special. Well, I was looking for something special, but I didn’t say so because I didn’t know what I was looking for–and I didn’t, until I saw it.

Mostly, I was looking for new growth. For a sign of spring (what I, as a Midwestern, thinks of as spring) on this first day of spring. You would expect to see all kinds of growing things in the desert in spring, but it doesn’t work like that. It has only rained once since I arrived in Arizona on February 7th and then it was only a sprinkle. So there is much that is dry in the desert, and not much evidence of new growth.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. She is living in Tucson for two months, exhibiting her photography in art shows, taking photographs, and blogging about photography, art fairs, and living life “solo.”

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Wonderful post. I’m enjoying your periodic reflections.

  2. Yes…I am working on an article about “staying” with a creative endeavor…and as I write “notice when you become distracted…” I become distracted. I do not even take my own advice to “avoid excessive email checking”…I just need to “stay” with the work until it is completed…*sigh*

    Good to hear your words, Bo:) Thanks for reminding me that I will just have to “do the work”!

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Sounds like a great article! Yeah, sometimes you got to do the work! Still haven;t found that magic wand… 🙂

  3. Joanne Keevers says:

    “…walking down new paths, thinking new thoughts, exploring, questioning. All the while muttering, like Alice once did, “Curiouser and curiouser!” ” I think that sentence sounds like way more fun than the magic wand, Bo! The raspberry ice tea sounds pretty good too! 😀

    • Bo Mackison says:

      You know, Joanne, you are so right. The journey is much better than being given what you want without the work. It isn;t nearly as valuable if you don;t put in the effort.

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