Walking through my California,
Away from traffic,
Off the roadway,
On the dirt path,
Through the hills,
To the redwood country.
I stopped along the way beside a creek and listened to the incessant hollering of a blue jay. Further off a squirrel screaming as though his issue trumped anyone else’s. The squirrel had a commanding position on solid redwood branch about a quarter of the way up the tree. The blue jay, however, was never content. He skipped from bush to tree and back again and sometimes over to the little bridge where the path led across the creek. “Hello my friends” I addressed them. “You are very amusing noise makers, but I fear you’ve missed your mark. Weren’t you trying to annoy me? Instead you’ve become my entertainment!”
I began to think of Coyote. I’d seen him running across the roadway in my neighborhood and disappeared inside someone’s backyard, the one with the persimmon tree. Coyote the survivor, refusing to be displaced. The cats have learned to fear him and the dogs pant uncontrollably to know the existence of such a worthy enemy. From the little neighborhoods in the valley to this forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Coyote will come and go where he will when he wants. What must he think of all this?
I wonder if I could channel the Old Man Coyote, the one the natives say was here at the beginning of the world. What new perspective on this nanosecond paced world today?
Now the squirrel and the blue jay have become quiet. “My friends” I addressed them respectively. “Fellow travelers, what do you think? What if I want to follow the path of Coyote Old Man and know his way?
Blue Jay: “We must know everything about you in order to offer advice.”
Squirrel: “I agree with Blue Jay this time.”
Me: “OK then, you can know everything about me!”
Blue Jay: “It is dangerous to follow the path of Coyote! You will find trouble there.”
Squirrel: “It is dangerous not to follow the path of Coyote, especially for one who is getting older and doesn’t stray from the city sidewalk very often.”
Blue Jay: “You are too old to follow Coyote’s way. Not strong enough!”
Squirrel: “Coyote is a very old man, so it should be easy for you to follow him.”
Blue Jay: “They will think you are trying to create a new religion substituting Coyote for God.”
Squirrel: “They will realize Coyote is not perfect and that is power comes mostly from surprise and trickery. No one will mistake him for a God.”
Blue Jay: “They will think you are a bumbling thief. Someone who would adopt Coyote only to discover he’s a bastard who belongs only to the first people who lived here long ago.”
Squirrel: “Oh yes, maybe you are not an Indian. Your Great-Grandfather was a full-blooded Indian born in the days when the land still belonged to the first people. It will remain a two-sided argument whether you are a thief or an Indian. Regardless whatever you do, there will still be someone to call you out. Remember the irony about your Great-Grandfather. The man was both a cowboy and an Indian. So it won’t be too much burden for you to carry to be both a thief and an Indian. Perfectly legitimate, after all! ”
Blue Jay: “Coyote Old Man is very slippery and tricky. He will use you for whatever random purpose comes to mind.”
Squirrel: “I agree with Blue Jay once more.”
Me: “Then it sounds like I will need a great deal of luck in this adventure. ”
Blue Jay: “Seven is the lucky number. Choose something with a seven.”
Squirrel: “Seven is lucky, but there are three of us here. So multiply seven times three to get the kind of luck you’ll need!”
Me: “Then it is settled; I will follow Coyote’s Way and tell people twenty-one things I have learned about Coyote. But listen, I’m not afraid of failure. Some clever person might use my lesson to help understand what Coyote is not and so put them that much closer to getting to the real essence. Thank you for your time!”
The Blue Jay left his perch and flew across the clearing and circled back to land in a new spot. The squirrel took up again his perch on the redwood branch and began screaming. The Blue Jay mocked him and flittered from the bush to the tree branch and back again. “What a crazy pair you two make!” I told them and then I took my leave to go on down the trail.
One: Coyote Tells the Truth
The beginning of wisdom is to understand you cannot already know everything. It is no sign of weakness when you acknowledge there is something you need to learn. Likewise, Coyote will tell you at least one true thing up front which is that he sometimes tells lies. It is a strong beginning to know there is something you can believe in like this. With even one piece of solid ground to cling to, you may avoid slipping off the trail.
Two: Coyote Welcomes the Green Revolution
Coyote rides a bike to work. This helps to save the environment and keeps him healthy but the reason he rides a bike is because it is easier to break the rules of traffic. He doesn’t stop at every Red Light or Stop sign or wait for people to finish crossing the street. Also, it is easier to enter the back roads along the railroad track or cut through the parking lot and use the sidewalk to make a shortcut. Coyote believes in diagonal crossing and backtracking. Riding a bike to work is the best way.
There is also a second best way. Coyote drives a Prius. This helps to save the environment and also helps him save money on gas but the reason he drives a Prius is so he can enter the commuter lane and wave his middle finger to annoy other drivers who are stuck in traffic. Coyote has plenty of fake stickers, licenses, passports, logon credentials, or whatever else it may take to negotiate through the modern world. It is fun to live and play in the open and also less circumspect.
Three: Coyote Likes Younger Women
Coyote sees that younger women are cute but the reason he likes them is because they have not learned all his tricks. A young woman will listen to the many things Coyote has to say without making value judgments. She does not know the difference between a promise and a saying made for expediency’s sake. She has not seen the one before or noticed the one after. She admires how Coyote has made trivial the need to study and work hard yet still behaves as though he owns the whole world. The younger woman has not yet learned that she is inherently right about everything under the sun and Coyote’s ideas often conceived in haste.
Coyote desires love and values that more than “being in love” which is so full of flirting and delirious notions. Time consuming! Therefore when Coyote desires love, he returns to the older woman who is his more intelligent and worthy adversary.
Four: Coyote Prefers Mac’s over PC’s
Coyote is a master of malware and malicious code, so he knows that there are thousands of viruses targeting the PC. Besides, everyone knows that Mac’s are Cool and Coyote was cool before Elvis. For a frequent traveler like Coyote, nothing says Cool like the MacBook Air.
Five: Coyote Prefers Dogs over Cats
Coyote likes dogs because they are feisty and more direct dealing creatures. He dislikes cats because he cannot abide their insistent air of superiority. Coyote knows that people refer to him as “God’s Dog” and he mixed this saying up to where it comes out that he is the God of Dogs.
Six: Coyote Makes Mistakes
Coyote believes the clever one can make the same mistake twice and get away it. He sometimes admits his mistakes because he knows this will make people think he is vulnerable and may allow him to catch them off guard. Coyote believes that mistakes are guideposts in the process of elimination. One of Coyote’s great strengths is that he is never embarrassed by a mistake. Coyote believes that mistakes open new doors and it is always possible to turn a mistake into a purpose. “I meant to do that!” is one of Coyote’s favorite sayings.
Seven: Coyote Makes Excuses
For Coyote excuses are like variety, meaning he considers them to be the spice of life. Coyote is very creative and there has never been a more creative endeavor than the act of making up excuses. Coyote believes that excuses are good for the environment, since they are often reusable. Excuses stand for something! Or they should if they were built with good and long lasting quality. Coyote believes that one man’s excuses are another’s perfect and reasonable explanation for why things happened.
Eight: Why Coyote is often Unreasonable
Coyote believes that reason is a trap built to insure obedience. To be reasonable takes a lot of time and effort and Coyote is often in a hurry to be somewhere.
Nine: Why Coyote is not a Team Player
Coyote knows about the worst case scenario, so he’d rather follow his own stupid idea than to risk getting caught following someone else’s stupid idea.
Ten: Is Coyote Immortal?
Coyote is an immortal because he does not surround himself with logic. He refuses to be put inside a box. Coyote’s existence is not related to time and space but instead to the force of life and all possibility. The Star People know about Coyote and of course the first people tell the story of Coyote’s Bones. You need to do some research to find out more about this but we will consider it out of scope for this exercise.
Eleven: Who Are Coyote’s Favorite People?
Coyote admires Indians (they should come first, no?) and Cowboys because they exist on the edges of society and often prefer to slip through the cracks. Coyote loves fry bread and beans and biscuits. Coyote’s experience with alcohol has been strange and uneven, not always for the better. Coyote knows the trees (he’s marked his favorites) and the stars of which he sometimes speaks of roping with his lariat on a good night. Coyote sometimes gets mixed up and will speak of a night when he enjoyed the music of a wild fiddler as he stomp danced around a fire.
Twelve: Coyote’s Brand
Before Oprah, Coke, McDonalds or Nike, Coyote realized the importance of branding. This is why he remains consistent in plotting mischief through the years and this is the thing he is best known for. He is always on the public enemy list and wouldn’t care to have things any another way. Coyote stays relevant.
Thirteen: The Unlucky Number
Coyote believes that thirteen is an unlucky number and has requested not to assign any topic for this space. Peace!
Fourteen: Does Coyote Believe in Extraterrestrial beings?
They say Coyote Old Man was here before the earth was formed back when the air was full of clouds and mist. There were others with him but all the animals will argue about who was there and what important things happened at that time. Coyote himself remembers Turtle, Bear, Eagle, Wolf, and Snake. He remembers the terrible Loon Woman. Who’s to say that with all these creatures, there should not be other worlds stranger than this? Propose the existence of Star People and then you create plenty of room. The wide open spaces of the universe are ready to contain more stories and doings of Coyote.
Fifteen: What One Thing Would Coyote Change About Himself?
Coyote’s specialty is to disguise himself or disguise his intentions. But his past deeds have been talked about by the fire and made in to legends. It is a burden to be famous, so the one thing Coyote would change about himself is his history. This he would change so that anyone who tried to Google Coyote would be dealing with “the page cannot be displayed” dialogue.
Sixteen: Where Did Coyote Come From?
Coyote Old Man came from the shadows. He was present in the dreams of the first people and if something went wrong, they always blamed him for it. All their bad ideas came directly from Coyote. Coyote enjoys a reputation for being greedy and never happy enough to keep things the way he found them. Once Coyote was arrested and throw in jail down in Bakersfield. It was all a big misunderstanding, but in the course of trial Coyote produced a birth certificate alleging that he born in Carmel Valley. Did you ask me where an earthquake or a flood comes from? Coyote is like that; an unstoppable force of nature.
Seventeen: Where Does Coyote Live?
Coyote lives in the four directions and comes and goes at will. There is always someone looking for him. The rent is late. The mailbox is full of past due notices. . A woman is pregnant. A promise has been broken. A cat has disappeared. The police were here yesterday. Coyote can never settle down and live in some particular place.
Eighteen: Coyote Enjoys Road Trips
Coyote is the original wandering spirit. The spur of the moment is always kicking his butt. There are certain mystical places you are apt to find him like that bar in Bolinas or a Bed and Breakfast in McCloud. He lies to the women about how many fish he caught and he lies to the men about how many women he has slept with. Coyote blends in with the locals to disguise himself, but you may recognize him as the one at the end of the table, loudly boasting about things he has done and will do.
Nineteen: Coyote Offers Financial Advice
People are waiting to fit you in the model they’ve built, you know, the one that will help them become rich. If you are willing to risk everything, make sure the idea came from your own dream. If you are going to dream, dream big because the world is big and small dreams are easy to get lost in it. Pray that one day Coyote will come to your dream with a big plan. The experience will be very insightful, just like this walk along Coyote’s path. You may take it as something to get mixed up with and use your time to work it out. Or else you may take it as a warning of something you should not get mixed up with.
Twenty: Coyote Talks about How Stupid People Become Managers
Coyote was displeased with how something came out, so he walked right out of the council meeting and back into the street. On the street corner there was a coffee house, a bar, and bank. It was still early, so Coyote walked into the coffee house. Once he got inside and got served, he started complaining about things that had happened to him that day and even in the last week or two. Coyote was actually very irritated but to the other people he had begun to sound reasonable. So somebody asked Coyote to explain how stupid people are able to become managers. There are always a few clever people somewhere who need to control everyone else. The easiest people to control are the stupid people, so these are made to become the managers who give orders to everyone else. They serve the purpose of wearing everyone down and keeping the true identify of the power monger hidden. Many sane and decent people are tricked into becoming stupid once they desire to become managers. Wait! Yes, there was an inconsistency in this tale. So Coyote amended things such to say that some people have a carrot dangled in front of their eyes and then the chase it for so long that they become stupid.
Twenty-one: Coyote Gives One Last Piece of Advice
Always remember to set a limit to the amount of bullshit you are willing to put up with.
Created by Bill Keys