Posts tagged ‘life’

January 21, 2012

Snow Time Inside

I love this winter snowstorm today. It is soft and gentle, like snow is supposed to be. Not so cataclysmic that I couldn’t go out if I really wanted to or had to, but enough of a motivation to make me want to stay inside at least for now. Somehow being enveloped in this white swirling cushion from the safety of my warm home gives me permission to let my mind wander and the thoughts flow unobstructed…

Life is so mysterious and complicated. I don’t know of any easy way to make sense of it all. Formulas that wrap things up in 10 easy steps, later seem more like platitudes, perhaps incomplete, vague or even empty, devoid of any meaningful resonance. Rules are broken, patterns become erratic, and contradictions upon contradictions render even our most solid assumptions doubtful, at best.

So what do we rely upon for guidance and truth when even our most reliable sources can fall apart under scrutiny? Even seeing is not always believing. Eye witness testimony is hardly considered dependable evidence, pictures can be photoshopped, video can be morphed into anything.

I suppose wisdom is an especially idiosyncratic body of thoughts. One person’s gospel is another’s blasphemy, and everything is completely subjective and relative.

That being said, there are a few things that I have learned from my peculiar body of experience. They work for me.

For example, I know that it’s OK to learn the basic rules and then go off and experiment. Once you hit a wall, you can go back and learn some more to facilitate your continued growth. I studied the flute for many years, and at a certain point began to enjoy just improvising along with recorded music. I would find new harmonies, countermelodies… much of the time I was stumbling along, but sometimes I’d find something that resonated rather deeply, and it would be so very fulfilling.

My son is just learning to play the recorder in school. He has learned a few basic tunes, and is still getting a handle on keeping his fingers on the holes to maintain clear notes. He’s so excited to be playing the same melodies over and over again. This morning I heard him playing along with a song from one of his favorite cartoons, Phineas and Ferb. He has the rhythm down – the melody not so much, but he’s slowly finding it. I did notice that his notes were very clear, and his tone is so much smoother. He seems to be gaining facility in keeping his fingers fully covering the holes. Progress.

Broken plans are not the end of the world. This is another one I have learned. When my husband was alive, we cancelled plans on a routine basis. The impermanence of scheduling was drilled into my head. He might have every intention of attending this party or that engagement, but on the day of the event, his body might have other plans. Sorry, we won’t be able to make it. And then we deal with the disappointment and reshuffle our expectations and move on.

Now, I make it a point to keep my commitments to the best of my ability. I might be a few minutes late (a different story altogether), but I’ll make it there. I will often go over and above to show my loyalty. Again, I may show up late, but I will bring everything I have when I do arrive. The fluidity of time and the ability to fulfill an intention in an unconventional manner are concepts that seem particularly suited to the complexities of modern living.

I sometimes think that my rapidly expanding universe only serves to confuse me – new people coming into my life all the time, with their opinions, perspectives, emotional needs… so many forces pushing and pulling at me, begging a response.

Then I remember that I have lived long enough to trust my heart. It’s not all chaos. The constant wash of information that I experience on a daily basis need not buffet me against ragged shores of resistance. I am actually learning to love the joyful chaos of random input. It’s as though my theory of throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks has been reversed. I’m now the wall, and spaghetti is being thrown at me. I trust that what is ready to be received will stick. The rest I can let fall away.

Sometimes, I become so responsive to things around me, I feel as though I will explode with emotion. I will hear a song, and all I can do is dance around. Music has always had that kind of effect on me. Sometimes a particular piece will make me cry. (The other day my son and I were listening to a piece of guitar music and we both found ourselves wiping tears away.) Or I may feel overcome by desire, or happiness, or excitement about an idea. Perhaps it is just the thrill of being alive, of knowing that I have choices, that so many things are possible.

When I was a young girl, I used to particularly enjoy going to school on rainy Mondays. I would always pick the brightest clothes in my closet to wear, and some of the kids would look at me like I was crazy. Somehow it always felt like an obvious choice. Why wouldn’t I want to brighten up a dark and gloomy day?!

This blog post was not on my agenda. I have a long list of pieces, many already in progress, that I want or need to complete. Some of them have been assigned, while others are just burning their way out of my brain. If I don’t get them out, I will suffer a painful sensation, a kind of mental/emotional constipation. So when something jumps to the front of the line, ahead of the others, like this, I know better than to block it.

And it’s a good way to start the day. Despite the snow, we have several parties to attend today. It will be fun to get out of the house. We might even wear bright colors, and we’ll try not to be late.



July 7, 2011

On the subway yesterday evening, on the way home from meeting a new friend…

In my writing, I choose not to focus primarily on my grief, although I know it influences my perspective on everything. Sure, I have lots of stories I could tell, and anyone who knows me well also knows that I have been through a lot of shit in my life. For instance, as of the death of my grandmother in 2001, as the eldest of three sisters, I became the matriarch of my family… a fact which has me feeling like a child wearing an adult’s shoes. And yet, I am often so joyful. It’s hard to explain.

There’s this transition in one song I’m listening to on my i-pod, when the percussion kicks in with a really nice syncopation, and the keyboard starts in with its riffing, and when I hear it I just feel about as happy as a balloon about to burst.

I notice these two cute young people standing close together who look to me like lesbians, and a man sitting not far from them. I feel tenderly towards them, yet at the same time, concerned. The couple are touching each other in ways that overtly suggest their intimacy. The man appears to be glaring at them. When they step off the train, I realize that one of them is a young male with a ponytail. Maybe the guy looking at them was just an angry man. I look back at him. Maybe he was just tired, cuz his eyes are closed now, and he’s nodding off.

What the hell do I know? Really, anything could be anything – we sort of have no idea. There is so little we really know for sure. And yet, so many people are willing to argue to the death about things they disagree about. There are far too many arguments in world that will never be resolved. Far too many for my taste.

One thing I know is that my truth resonates for me in ways that are unmistakable. I feel some things deeply, but they are private and personal. I may choose to share some aspects of my truth through stories, a conversation with this person or that. I may look for support or reassurance, and agreement is always nice, but if I don’t get it, it’s not the end of the world.

A beautiful child is wheeled into the train in a stroller. She can’t be more than a year and a half old. Her mother is busy reading a bible. The little girl has the most wide open dark brown eyes I’ve seen in a while. I keep looking around to see if anyone notices her. No one else is looking at her but me. She is calmly regarding her surroundings with all of her spirit. Not needing anything, just being there, looking around, and watching. She is a miracle of purity and serenity – receptive to all the joys and pain the world has in store for her.

Life, this ever shifting kaleidoscope of good and bad, difficult and easy, sweeps us along, and we can either ride the wave of our days, or rigidly try to force things to be how we want them to be. I have my beliefs, my passions, and my ideas. While my feelings seem quite urgent to me, I am learning to work with them in a way that doesn’t require me to force any external changes in order to validate them. So you can relax. I will not try to convince you of anything.

Dedicated to @jjunebrown