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“the pace of nature.” [merely-a-thought monday]

“…adopt the pace of Nature. Her secret is patience.” (ralph waldo emerson)

no matter how hard we try, there is not one thing we can do to make the sun appear or the day warmer or the moon to rise or the snow to fall. we accept that time will come, time will pass, time will form and time will destroy. we give over to nature, anticipating that which we know, expecting the unexpected. we baby-step through this very time in the universe, our footprints barely visible on the timeline that is forever. we learn that no matter our stride, we are simply tiny beings. eventually, we learn, after giving over to patience, that that is enough.

the john denver sanctuary in aspen is a treasure trove. we have been there three times now. a garden of trails and large river boulders etched with lyrics and quotes, perennial daisies and aspen trees, it is a gentle sinking into peaceful. the city sounds of aspen fall away and the river and streams are lulling.

we wandered for hours, reading, sitting, pondering, the sun on our faces, the sound of quaking leaves slowing us down. i stood on a giant rock, like a stage under my feet, and bowed deeply to no one and to the brilliance of a man who knew how to tenderly shape melody and weave lyric into a fabric like a soft blanket.

we were immersed in poetry, in words, delicious to read aloud. we were quietly taking it all in, i in all my john-denver-glory, reliving the cassettes i wore out, rewinding, rewinding, listening again and again. this exquisite place, tempting all-day-hooky-playing, wielding a magic defined by thought, encouraging reflection, softly begging you to tumble in your own thoughts. this place slowing you down, reminding you that it is not stuff that defines you, it is not the stuff-of-you that will remain with others.

we wrestle with timing, with suspense, with expectation and disappointment. we measure against ladders of success and hold ourselves to higher higher higher standards of accomplishment.

nature quietly treks on, luminescent and glorious, patiently acknowledging every babystep moment of its impact, surrendering judgement and secretly, from the heart of the universe, signing its autograph on all of us, whispering to us to slow our pace.

*****

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and we become shadows. [d.r. thursday]

“the shadows from the starlight are softer than a lullaby…”(john denver)

in the shadows you can’t tell. nothing is precise. the edges are softer. you can’t tell age or race or gender. you can’t tell shoes or clothing style; you can’t tell anything really specific. it is all gentler, fuzzy, and, depending on the angle of the sun and the texture of the ground, a little bit blurry. seems like it might be a good way to live – softer than a lullaby.

the sun is often closer to setting when we get around to the part of the day when we release all else and go for a walk or go hiking. as we hike through the woods or trek around our neighborhood, the worries of the day, the week, the times, begin to float above us as we attempt to let them go. sometimes, in lieu of laptop-focus-sitting, we will go for a long hike to sort…to discuss…to brainstorm. those are the times it is daytime, when hours are plenty, long shadows are scarce and the sun is high in the sky. but at the end of the day, when it is time to quell the angst a bit, to ease our minds, the shadows prevail and we linger in them, often making play of their gift, snapping pictures of silly poses or just a capture of the very moment on the trail. to look at them later is to hear the lullaby of soft shadows’ reassurance.

in these last days i have begun to realize that which had been close is becoming shadow. i have begun to see, once again, that, in nebulous whirlwind life, time moves on and so do people. i have begun to acknowledge that it is time to let go. we have become shadows in the story of a community. we will fade as the sun drops lower below the horizon, as the moon rises. and with each day passing, we will be forgotten a little bit more. what i believed so deeply mattered has turned out to be evanescent, fleeting and ephemeral, vanishing like a shadow as clouds move in to replace the sun. and for that, there is no lullaby playing, no soft starlight. and there is no way to see our sadness in the shadows on the street.

but there is the promise of another rising sun, another chance for shadow-play, for tender sunlit silhouettes, for the reassurance of the blur of life and stars to come. of new photographs and lullabies.

*****

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the middle of an elongated hexagon. [two artists tuesday]

the cheesecloth sky filtered out most of the sun over the trail through the woods. others had been there before us; the snowmobile track interrupted by the plodding hoofprints of a horse, picking its way through inches of snow. we were next, our boots crunching and breaking through crust the bit of sun had settled on the top of the snow. we saw no one else. we passed by no one else. the quiet was welcome; the quiet was necessary.

in the distant clouds we could see the brush of setting sun. and the lyrics, “…right now it seems to be more than enough to just be here today, and i don’t know what the future is holdin’ in store. i don’t know where i’m goin’, i’m not sure where i’ve been. there’s a spirit that guides me, a light that shines for me. my life is worth the livin’, i don’t need to see the end…” (sweet surrender, john denver)

we were awake in the middle of the night. this is more usual than unusual these days.

we talked about the elongated hexagon of life. of the start. of sweet babies lilah and jaxon and their beginnings – their exponential learning day by day, their attaching to people, to things, to understanding. the billowing ever-widening incandescent rainbow bubble of possibility that surrounds them as they grow, as they become.

we talked about the elongated hexagon of life. of the end. of the narrowing down of experiences, the detaching, the ever-decreasing possibilities of dearest columbus, in the journey that minds take on roads of dementia.

we talked about the elongated hexagon of life. of the middle. of the time in the center. of our lives. “more than enough…just to be here today…more than enough…”

the trail is familiar; the trail is different every day we take it. we trace deertracks with mittened hands and build snowmen and snowhearts with the powdery snow in the shade of the trail.

we don’t know where we’re going. we can’t see the end. we are smack dab in the middle. and, on this bitter cold day in muted woods under a cottage cheese sky in silence, that needs to be enough.

*****

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agnes, mom, dad and dogdog. [d.r. thursday]

“whenever i feel afraid i hold my head erect and whistle a happy tune so no one will suspect i’m afraid.” the tune from the king and i has gone through my head more than once in my life. the feel-good song you carry with you can make a difference (this is directed to our jaded babycat).

we have watched national geographic’s life below zero for a few years now. it’s not hard to develop “relationship” with the people on the show, especially now, in times of pandemic when you see few others. the hailstone family is based in noorvik, alaska. it’s brutally cold, removed and not an easy place to live. agnes hailstone, the 40-something matriarch, has a can-do attitude. the striking thing about this family is their positivity. what they are like off-screen is of question, but on-screen they are encouraging, supportive of each other, never undercut what the other is doing, and always have a more positive zeal than i ever could muster out on the negative-temperatured tundra in dim light and a freezing-wind stormy day on a snowmobile going 40mph for miles and miles across a frozen lake in search of a fish or maybe two from a tiny augured ice hole. “you can do things happy or sad or mad,” agnes said on a recent show, “but it’s best to just do things happy.” she adapts to new challenges, weird-stuff-that-happens, and seasonally-repeating obstacles as they arise and has passed her can-do-ness on to her children, her grandchildren, her spouse. she doesn’t give up. she is pretty heroic in my book. she must have bobby mcferrin humming in her head, “don’t worry. be happy.”

it’s impossible to not dance when you hear black eyed peas’ “i gotta feeling that tonight’s gonna be a good night”. it’s not likely you can resist with james brown’s “i feel good” or john denver’s “sunshine on my shoulders makes me happeeee.” it’s without question that “here comes the sun, dootin doo doo” easily elicits you singing along the famous line “and i say, it’s all right!”

but what about in the quiet? what about when all is silent, when all lyrics have slipped from your ready grasp, when you can’t think of a song to save your life, as the expression goes? then what? what do you draw from?

i suppose that’s the reason my sweet momma started the day by saying “good morning, merry sunshine.” or why my sweet dad would look at things that were challenging and simply say, “well, how do you like them apples?” after living lives full of challenge and the roller coaster of emotional heave-hoes, they chose to greet the world in each of their experiences with positivity. hearing my dad’s whistling told me everything i needed to know – they were ok in the world, no matter what. they chose it.

agnes hailstone and my mom and dad would like each other. and dogdog. dogdog too.

*****

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better humans. [two artists tuesday]

one of my sweet momma’s favorite stories to tell me, about me, was when i used to stand in place and bellylaugh. she said i would put my tiny hands up in the air and then deeply bend at the waist and bring my hands down, up, down, repeating over and again, all while laughing heartily. it made everyone nearby laugh, hearts-open. it made her giggle to tell me this old story. and each time she told it i felt deeply loved.

i remember my first baby’s – The Girl’s – bellylaugh. it was extraordinary hearing this wee child, knowing little about the world, laugh. it felt like the same miracle when it was my second baby’s – The Boy’s – turn to chortle with all his little body. their giggles made everything in the moment alright. they are deeply loved and their giggles still to this day make everything in the moment alright.

so perhaps that’s a good place to start in the quest to be better humans. perhaps bellylaughing first about the sheer unlikeliness, the improbability, that you get to live this very instant, in this very place, at this very time. nevermind the division, the hostility, the challenges, the histrionics of forces-human-designed. you are here. i am here. no matter how same we are, no matter how different we are. we are in this together. that’s a start. now commence betterment.

“so, i wanna laugh while the laughin’ is easy. i wanna cry if it makes it worthwhile. we may never pass this way again. that’s why i want it with you.” (seals & crofts)

he spoke about humans today. how it all really boils down to a measure of how we live in community that is the important stuff. the never-pass-this-way-again moment-after-moment-ness of how we help each other, hold each other, support each other, raise each other up, love each other, regardless of the each or the other.

momma loved the verse “i shall pass through this world but once. any good, therefore, that i can do or any kindness that i can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. let me not defer or neglect it, for i shall not pass this way again.”

maybe the beginning of being better humans is that simple. let’s share this moment. let’s be amazed we are in it together. let’s be amazed we are in it at all. let’s learn how to be in community together. even in the hardest stuff. it’s a worthy exercise to see two people or two disparate groups defuse a hot and angry moment communicating with humor, to temper down with a lightness of spirit, to divert what could divide them forever, instead focusing on how to move forward with generous hearts.

maybe “let me drown in your laughter” (john denver) is a good start. maybe love will take shape in the pause of anger overtaken by a wave of kindness and gentle temperament, an intentional defusing of heat. maybe then grace will flow in like the tide of change. maybe then we can recognize what we have been, what we are, where we want to go, who we want to become – together. mindfully knowing “we all do better when we all do better.” (paul wellstone) maybe then we can – together – have the real conversations, sob the gut-wrenching and worthwhile cries, see our human failings. and we can take a tiny baby step toward being better humans.

yesterday a small peaceful protest drove and walked by our house. we live on a street perpendicular to the more important streets, the more likely avenues for protest. yet, right in front of us, right in front of our house, was this marvelous group of people marching and driving, chanting and beeping. we stood and clapped, joining their enthusiasm, echoing their pleas, and couldn’t have been more proud to see them go by. and we laughed in those moments of living, joining, hearts-open. not bellylaughs, but audible smiles, exulting in the baby steps, right here, right now.

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“don’t grow up. it’s a trap.” [merely-a-thought monday]

dontgrowup

grown-up (adj):  1. not childish or immature 2. of, for, or characteristic of adults.ie:  insisted on wearing grown-up clothes.  grown-up (noun):  adult.

(according to miriam-webster)

there are perils.  adulthood is full of them.  frequently searching, searching, looking for sense, seeking our meaning, evaluating ourselves, measuring, bettering, struggling, comparing, falling short.  so many opportunities for falling short.

i suppose that life is somewhat like an experiment.  but by the time you get to writing the lab report, it is unclear what the hypothesis was; there have been so many tangents the original purpose is muddied by much emotional research.  the sheer volume of subjective data falls under too many objective categories to make it all absolute, to make it all clear.  adulthood: not childish – is a certain definition in the dictionary.  adulthood: not childlike – is certainly a sad story.

“you are enough,” i’ve seen, written as quick success-signage, a succinct unembellished positive.

yet, the path is never really certain.  it is fraught with all the dr.seuss-monsters imaginable.  but in the midst of all that, in the vortex of all the searching and figuring out and listening and learning and choosing and getting lost and finding and hiding and being seen, standing still and watching a butterfly open and close its wings, tracking a caterpillar’s journey across a dirt path, tracing clouds in the sky, sharing a seesaw, chalking a driveway all take on exponential meaning.  this moment.  this hug.  this breath.

lilah splashes in her blow-up pool, nestled in lush grass in the shade of graceful birch trees, in the warmth of a steamy summer day, surrounded by adoring parents, grandparents, friends.  she is in her delight.  a wise and untrapped seven-months old.

we each slow down and watch her hug the moment she is in.  her day is full of these snippets of time, each a minute of her tiny life-so-far.  unconcerned about the experiment of growing-up ahead, sweet lilah reflects back a universe of “you are enough” to us.  if you look in her eyes, you will see what love is, what hope is, what living is.

someone said, “life is hard and then you die.”  maybe that person was just too grown-up.

i guess growin’ isn’t hard to do, just stand against the wall.
once i was just two feet high;
today i’m six feet tall.
but knowin’ who to listen to, is somethin’ else again.
words just whistle around my head,
like seasons in the wind.
all across the water the clouds are sailin’.
they won’t let me look at the sky.
all I want to do is try to find myself;
come and let me look in your eyes.
in searchin’ for the way to go, i’ve followed all the rules:
the way they say to choose between the wise men and the fools.
i listened to the words they say;
i read what i should read.
i do whatever’s right to do,
try to be what i should be.
someone let me in i think the sky is falling;
seems i’ve gotten lost on my way.
all i want to do is try to find myself;
come and let me look in your eyes.
but wisdom isn’t underground, nor on a mountainside.
where am i to take myself?  there’s no place here to hide. where can i hide?
all across the universe the stars are fadin’;
seems i’ve gotten lost on my way.
all i want to do is try to find myself.
come and let me look in your eyes.
come and let me look in your eyes
come and let me look in your eyes.

 

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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“it flies by as it drags on.” [merely-a-thought monday]

it flies by as it drags on

we cleaned the garage this weekend.  our garage is old-old-old.  it has a little bow in the front and there is a bit of an issue with the walls no longer in alignment with the foundation.  the decades-old automatic garage door opener no longer opens it.  que sera, sera.

there was the usual assortment of garden tools and clay pots, chairs-in-bags and chairs-without-bags, the wrought iron table and umbrella we hadn’t put out yet, random bags of potting soil, milorganite, sand, a plethora of spiders and their webby homes.  there are old doors in the rafters, the tricycle My Girl and My Boy rode, a red wagon, the hammock.  there are jacks, a snowblower-that-doesn’t-work-but-we-should-have-repaired, a wheelbarrow that has seen many trips down third avenue.  our bikes hang on hooks; we wonder if i will be able to ride this summer – the whole two-broken-wrists-thing has put a damper on things.  there is a woodpile rack waiting for us to re-stock, have a few bonfires in the firepit or the chiminea.  and there is my old vw bug.  smack-dab in the middle of this tiny one-car garage is my well-loved 1971 super beetle.

it was father’s day yesterday when we moved it out of the garage, me behind the wheel, clutch in, gear in neutral, hand ready on the emergency brake as david pushed.  it hasn’t been started in years and i could hear my sweet poppo groan with me from another plane of existence as i looked it over.  dirty from a few years of garage-sitting, it sure-enough wouldn’t start and i ticked off a list of things that likely now need fixing.  these are things i can’t do anything about right now, so i did what i could do something about.

i got a bucket of warm carwash-soapy-water and a good sponge and my dad and i washed our bug together.

i could hear him telling me about when he and my mom picked it up brand-new in germany for their roadtrip around europe, about how it was shipped back home to a port in new york.  i reminded him about how he ‘sold’ it to me in the mid-70s and how i drove that little car everywhere – rain, sleet, snow or ice – and it always kept me safe.  i reminded him about how my little miniature-collie-mixbreed-dog missi used to ride in the well (i could hear him laughing when i retold how she one day actually pooped in the well.)  we talked about its color iterations – it was born baby blue (marina blue, they called it).   somewhere along the way we had earl scheib’s paint it navy and later on down the road it was painted white, its current color.  i drove it with my best friend sue back and forth to florida, a trip where she learned how to drive a stick shift.  it lived in new york and then florida and then wisconsin.  it’s been dragged behind tow trucks and up on flatbeds.  it bowed out of the drive moving up to wisconsin, so we pulled it behind us with a tow bar.  it’s had a couple engine overhauls and lots of tires.  i know how to adjust the timing and the carburetor myself.  i’ve played countless john denver and loggins and messina cassettes at full volume in this little car.   the heat was either stuck on or stuck off.  my poppo reminded me that it had 455 air conditioning – four windows open at 55mph.  i drove it to get both my degrees in florida.  i drove it through a drive-through to get a milkshake the day i went into labor with My Girl.  it’s been around the block.

i gently washed the dirt off of my little-white-vw-bug yesterday and realized how time had flown by.  i was struck by how – right now- in the middle of a pandemic and unrest – time seems to drag.  both are true.

yet i know that one day, as i ponder this time – in all its dragging chaos and emotional upheaval – i will look back and realize time, precious time, was actually flying by.

i sat down on the rusty metal bumper and missed my dad.

“on the road of experience…and trying to find my own way…sometimes i wish that i could fly away.  when i think that i’m moving…suddenly things stand still.  i’m afraid ’cause i think they always will…” (john denver)

IMG_3370

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windsong of the flags. [two artists tuesday]

windblown flags

“So welcome the wind and the wisdom she offers
Follow her summons when she calls again
In your heart and your spirit let the breezes surround you
Lift up your voice then and sing with the wind” (john denver – windsong)

the ferry raised up on the crest of the wave, angry sea all around us, the wind howling.  then, just as smoothly as it rode the way up, it trounced down into the trough between the waves.  the water rose over the ferry, splashing all the cars and running down the deck toward the stern.  the wind kept howling.

it was a day like that.  flags at 90 degrees, parallel to the ground.  our prayer flags have seen many like that; the wind has tattered them.  prayers have been released into the universe with gentle breezes; prayers have been thrust into the universe with forceful winds.

i tend to prefer the days without tempestuous winds.  the lake has an uneven surf on those turbulent days, the rhythm as they hit shore not intuitive or familiar and one that i find unsettling.

yet i am reminded that this same wind i face down at the shoreline is also the wind at my back.  it is the wind of wisdom and movement.  the wind that carries me away, the wind that surrounds me with those who have gone before me, the wind of growth and courage.

and so, i welcome the wind.  i watch as so.many.prayers. are freed to fly.  i give thanks for the gusts, unfettered dreams and wishes, each step aided by the wind.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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sweet surrender.

#8 Held In Grace -Surrender Now  copy.jpg

“sweet, sweet surrender. live, live without care. like a fish in the water. like a bird in the air.” (john denver)

it’s the second time this week i have quoted john denver.  surrender.  sweet surrender.

this painting in david’s HELD IN GRACE series is called SURRENDER NOW.

giving it over, surrendering, relenting, succumbing, relinquishing.  all synonyms with slightly different connotations, slightly different surrenders.  within yesterday’s grey-ness and vulnerability, surrendering seems most obvious, most necessary.  the letting-go-of-control-and-trusting is difficult.  the barricades between you and surrendering a fortress of spider-webbed resistance.  we tend to fight surrendering.  we tend to forget that we will be held within that yielding.

columbus turns 86 today.  somehow, in his ever-joyous soul, he is surrendering to a changing journey.  somehow, he is gracefully surrendering to the anguishes of dementia that slowly, but surely, take over.  he laughs.  he is quiet.  he tells stories.  he has forgotten stories.  he doesn’t remember things.  he remembers things.  he knows how to do tasks he has done for years.  he has no recollection of how to perform tasks nor does he recognize the familiar around him.  he doesn’t remember us.  he remembers us.  we hug him and he surrenders to the tears he feels when we leave.  he is held.  by his wife jeanne, by his children and his family, by his friends, by those who love him.  he is held.  his surrender, whether intentional and thought-out or simply reactional grace, is like a fish in the water, like a bird in the air.

“There’s nothin’ behind me and nothin’ that ties me to
Something that might have been true yesterday
Tomorrow is open and right now it seems to be more than enough
To just be here today, and I don’t know

What the future is holdin’ in store
I don’t know where I’m goin’ I’m not sure where I’ve been
There’s a spirit that guides me, a light that shines for me
My life is worth the livin’, I don’t need to see the end…”   

(john denver)

happy birthday sweet columbus. we love you. xoxo

view/purchase SURRENDER NOW on david’s gallery site here

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fly like an eagle. [two artists tuesday]

 

“fly like an eagle…to the sea. fly like an eagle; let my spirit carry me. i want to fly like an eagle till i’m free…” (steve miller band)

it’s not often i see something and don’t think of a song to go with it.  whether it is a pre-existing song or one i make up on a dime, i want to just break out into song, spontaneously. it’s a by-product of the trade.

the eagle that makes its way across our yard, zig-zagging across the bay, is no less inspiring.  depending on the day, i hear the steve miller band singing “fly like an eagle…to the sea” or john denver’s “i am an eagle, i live in high country…”

if a song doesn’t occur to me rising out of the recesses of my brain i’ll make one up.  ask jen and brad about ‘the butterfly song’ or ‘sitting in the sun’ or ‘bigotry’, just for instances.  mary kay and i have had conversations about making up songs on the fly…in the car…in the shower….walking in the woods.  these are not – you might be surprised – serious compositions that may make the cut for the next album.  these are just meaningful-in-the-moment songs that you belt out and, mostly, promptly forget.

as the eagle passes over our heads, i am amazed to see it in ‘real life’.  i pause and steve miller fights with john denver for attention in my head.  i hush them both and just listen to the waves and the silence of this majestic creature catching the wind.

“…and reach for the heavens and hope for the future, and all that we can be is not what we are…” (john denver)

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