reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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a strawberry by another name. [two artists tuesday]

every summer we would go strawberry-picking. my mom kept the berry baskets from year to year, hanging in our one-car garage. we’d go “out east” on long island, get all sunburned and strawberry-stained. my dad would quip, “one for the basket, one for the breadbasket,” chomping in-between picking.

when my children were littler, we would do the same. thompson strawberry farm in the county was our destination. the kiddos were also big fans of “the breadbasket” and i have pictures to prove it. sweetest moments, in all good ways.

if you were to describe a strawberry, you would try to describe its long-conic shape, the petals at the top where the stem connects. then you would likely go on to describe the color as it matures, the way it crunches, the way it tastes, the way seeds might get stuck in your teeth and, maybe, the way juice would stain your hands and, probably, your clothing. there’s nothing quite like a strawberry fresh-off-the-vine on a hot summery-sun day in the middle of a field with your tummy kind of pokin’ at you. amaaaaazing. my dad would agree.

as we walked on the trail, we encountered this strawberry-shaped pod. it’s a wild teasel. upside-down. but teasel is the perfect name for this flowering plant. for unless you spoke to the prickly nature of this, you could be describing the shape, the sessile leaves, the stem of a strawberry. any touch or, worse yet, a bite, would indeed tell you the difference. naturally, the color – or lack thereof – would also never tease you into picking it for your berry basket.

i guess you really need to examine closely what you believe to be a strawberry or what you think might be a strawberry. you need to question the properties of a real strawberry. you may need to research.

just because it sort of looks like a strawberry does not make it a strawberry. and, for your well-being, you need to be able to tell the difference.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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cautious discernment. [d.r. thursday]

and the dried grassy flower stands tall, not yet shrinking back, not yet bowing to the wind. it opens its arms to the sun and, equally, to the rain; it intimately knows how each feels. it waits – for there is nothing else to do. it stokes energy – for it cannot survive unless it conserves. we pass by, admiring the firework of its winter bloom.

soon, soon, it will regenerate. soon, soon, a stem will grow, sturdy, tall. soon, soon, a rosette will green. soon, soon, it will bloom, tiny flowers, clusters on its thick stem.

and one might think how lovely it would look in a simple bud vase, on a side table, in its winter simplicity or soon-soon-spring-blossoming.

quick research reveals it could be golden alexander or perhaps queen anne’s lace, not-toxic and somewhat toxic, respectively. a google-photo-search suggests it is possibly wild parsnip, absolutely toxic, invasive, causing severe burns and years-long discoloration of the skin, like queen anne’s lace with a big bite.

“things are [- sometimes -] not what they appear to be; nor are they otherwise.” (buddha)

identification – now – in the fallow – is not easy.

when there are tiny flowers, when there is foliage…maybe then it will be easier. it will, clearly, be an important discernment.

often we gaze upon things that seem to be attractive, seem to be beautiful, that tease us to reach for them.

perhaps a reminder to exercise caution.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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kneeling on the stripes. [d.r. thursday]

“do you have the courage to be in the pause between what is ‘no longer’ and what is ‘not yet’?” (octavia raheem)

i kneel down in the middle of the road. it is up-north and there are few vehicles. i want to be in the yellow stripes in the road, to gaze their expanse and, in seeing the curve, not be able to see beyond it. it’s visceral.

i am in liminal space – in the pause – waiting and not knowing. it feels right to stand smack in the middle of the street. to own it – these stripes, this curve in the road, these questions. it pushes me to move, and, in the way of irony, prods me to stand still. it is not short-lived. it is lostness. and, at this aarp time of life, it is a little unnerving.

though i know found follows lost, just as not yet is out there beyond no longer, it leaves me in the orange-yellow stripes.

i miss the days on washington island when we walked right in the middle. it didn’t matter. no one was coming down the road. and when someone did, so infrequently, we moved over. but there weren’t stripes in the road there; it was just asphalt. it’s when you are walking on the stripes, squatting on the stripes, kneeling on the stripes, that you feel a tiny bit of powerful.

we are broken records of liminality. we know the lyrics of the song and are disgruntled when the record skips and skips and skips again, leaving us to repeat the same over and over. stuck. surrendering into a groove in the surface of vinyl, surrendering into a groove of fallow. without reaching over and touching the needle, the record continues to skip. without reaching and touching the liminal space, sorting and reflecting and resting, we cannot see beyond the bend in the road.

none of that is helpful, though. i stand in it. on the stripes. what was is no longer. what is not yet is not even a blurry image.

i think, this time, this must be what it feels like to retire, without the benefits of retirement. to no longer do what you have done for decades, to step away (or be thrust away, let’s be brutally frank). and to realize you don’t want to go back.

to wonder what is next. to reach into all-the-stuff-you’ve-done and pull the long straw of passions set aside. to decide to ferret out, in due time, direction and sense. to not fight the fallow or the pause. to try and have courage not to just fill in the gap. to kneel on the stripes. to trust.

“when we surrender, when we do not fight with life when it calls upon us, we are lifted and the strength to do what needs to be done finds us.” (oriah mountain dreamer)

*****

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mouths shut. mouths aloud. [flawed wednesday]

keep yo mouth shut

“and if you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all,” my sweet momma would admonish.

yes, sometimes ‘you just gotta button it up’.  there are those moments you know it.  there are also those moments you knew it but the cat did not have your tongue and the reactionary in you reared its ugly head and you spat out something you instantly regretted.

wisdom has been passed down in quiet steadfast sages.  their lessons have been lost on many; their diplomacy skipped in dna strands, oft replaced by quick tempers and faster tongues.

as jen would say, “you can’t un-say/un-see/un-know it.”  good to remember.

one day, back in college, i had the good fortune of eating lunch with paul simon.  the chitchat was about many things under the sun, but i wish i had asked him a bit more about this song.  he said that in the inability of people to communicate, no one was listening to him and no one was listening to anyone else.  as we passed by captain mike’s and the irish pub and the beach and downtown a couple days ago, i thought he clearly wrote this song about now, the middle of this global pandemic.  who is listening?  who is speaking?  who should be speaking?  who should be listening?  why is the silence – truly in the middle of so much noise – so deafening?

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence
i wonder about a world where no one is listening, no one is paying attention.  i wonder
what kind of world are we passing on to those behind us?  keeping quiet, speaking out, exercising verbal self-control, standing up, articulating for what is right in the face of adversity….
me and all my friends
we’re all misunderstood
they say we stand for nothing and
there’s no way we ever could
now we see everything that’s going wrong
with the world and those who lead it
we just feel like we don’t have the means
to rise above and beat it
so we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change
we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change
it’s not that we don’t care
we just know that the fight ain’t fair
so we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change
and we know that sometimes it is simply best to keep your mouth shut.  to wait.  sometimes it is the right thing to do.  sometimes it is the only way through to the other side.
now you say it best when you say nothing at all.
silence speaks louder than words.  silence is, indeed, often golden.  insight, compassion, discernment, respect, knowledge, empathy, listening – all golden qualities of those who choose their words wisely, those who know when to keep their mouth shut.
archie bunker, of ‘all in the family‘ fame, knew he had a big mouth.  it got him good ratings, but carrol o’connor, the actor who played archie, said this about the main character:
“Archie’s dilemma is coping with a world that is changing in front of him.  He doesn’t know what to do, except to lose his temper, mouth his poisons, look elsewhere to fix the blame for his own discomfort.  He isn’t a totally evil man.  He’s shrewd.  But he won’t get to the root of his problem, because the root of his problem is himself, and he doesn’t know it.  That is the dilemma of Archie Bunker.”
 

wow.  why does THAT sound so familiar?

oh, did i say that aloud?

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