Finding Nirvana, ‘X’ marks the spot


Many adherents of Far East religions — such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism — strive to find a state of nirvana, a word that literally means “blown out.”

In the Buddhist context, it points to the stillness of the mind after the fires of desire, aversion and delusion have been extinguished. In layman’s terms, it is that happy place in our minds where we go to find total contentment, untroubled by the world and our own thoughts.

I’m not a Buddhist, Hindu, Jain or Sikh, but I like the idea of nirvana. And I came close to it as I drove toward Willard on N.M. 42 last Saturday.

The day was one of those that make us all love New Mexico — late summer, crisp without being too cold, warm with a breeze to keep from getting too hot.

I’d spent the morning with Leroy Humphries, owner of the 7 Up 7 Down Ranch south of Willard, burying a time capsule.

We had planned on burying the time capsule back in January to commemorate the 100 years that New Mexico has been a state. The weather, though, kept us from doing it then. And in the months since, either Leroy or I have been unable schedule a time to get it done.

The reasoning for burying the capsule on his ranch is that the geometric center of New Mexico is on the property. That means if you drew an “X” on a map of New Mexico from each corner, the spot would be where Leroy set up a flagpole and park bench. (The true geographic center of the state is about 14 miles to the west of that spot, and there is no marker.)

The geometric center is a nice spot to sit for a bit and perhaps do some contemplating. Although located on a plain, all around you can see mountain ranges. And if you like giant wind generators, you can see those as well.

Leroy doesn’t mind if folks drop by to see it, take a photo and leave a message in a notebook, as long as they respect the area.

When I came up with the idea to bury a time capsule at the spot, it was met with general agreement. But like many of my ideas, I have a hard time on the follow-through. That personality flaw of mine is a running joke within my family, and I’m honestly a bit defensive about it.

My wife will chide me about the renovation of the bathroom — along with a thousand other projects of mine — that has yet to be undertaken. I argue that I’m able to get a newspaper out every week and that my inability to get something done is a myth. But, in truth, I know my critics are right. It’s not that the will isn’t there, it’s just that I have difficulty finding the time.

So finally, on Saturday, the time capsule filled with copies of the Telegraph, the entertainment calendar from Molly’s Bar in Tijeras, several essays from East Mountain High School students, a photo book I put together showing life in early 2012, a stuffed Roaring Mouse from Jo White, a history of the 7 Up 7 Down Ranch and several other little knick-knacks was stuffed into a waterproof safe and buried under four bags of concrete.

There’s even a cool plaque on top of it.

Leroy and I took our time digging the hole and mixing the concrete. We talked about just about everything, including family, religion and politics. He made sure to invite me back to the ranch, which produces some of the best beef in the Southwest.

Before long, I had to head home. The window of my truck was down and I could delight in the crisp Estancia Valley air. It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I enjoy solitude; it gives me a chance to contemplate.

And as I drove home, I couldn’t help but think about how lucky I am. I have a great wife, great kids, great friends and a job that affords me the opportunity to meet and talk to people, then write about them.

As I made my way toward Willard, I’d realized that I had come close to nirvana, and it was nice. And in the immortal words of Bill Murray, “I’ve got that going for me.”

McClannahan is the editor of the Mountain View Telegraph. He can be contacted by e-mail to