reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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the end goal. [flawed wednesday]

when the exposure notification availability showed up on the iphone, i x-ed it out. it comes every day and every day i delete it. i’m not sure we need any more reminders of covid exposure. we are already hyper aware of the dangers of this virus, the breakthrough possibility, the guidelines. last night we talked about all the places we would go were it not for this pandemic. the list was seemingly endless and we were in wonder about missing all of it.

we know that others are out there living life as any other day, as in any other time. i don’t know how to do that right now. any moment i forget about it and start talking about something fun to do or someplace fun to go, i remember. the benefit-risk factor is mightily dependent on, well, every facet involved, including higher threat and protecting ourselves and people we love. but i do know this – if it is for my children, i will do it. though we don’t get to exercise it much, that risk is unconditional.

we are finding that maybe we are more conservative, more cautious than others as we weigh our activities and destinations. it’s frustrating. we are a year and a half into this and, while vaccinations help us significantly, there is no stopping a mutating virus that wants to spread without the cooperation of everyone.

at the end of this pandemic, when there IS one, we will look around at the wreckage. lives and health and homes and jobs and security have been decimated. there are those who have been ultra-cavalier and have blatantly denied and defied any safety measures. there are those who have gone to disney, who have gathered in large unmasked gatherings, who have traveled widely. and there are those of us who have not. it’s a wide spectrum where, really, the most prudent route seems a narrower band of collaboration. and it – truly – sometimes makes me ponder what we’re missing. and, even though i ask ‘why?’ time and again, we stay on the track we have decided on, committing to an end to this insanity.

i suppose an argument against the way we are navigating through this would be that we are living out of fear, that we are limiting ourselves in a limitless world because, even when we have no guarantee for life in ANY given circumstance, we have bowed to covid-19, a frightening reality that makes us pay attention. it makes me sad to write that.

at the end others will have lived through it and have traveled and celebrated and eaten out. and hopefully we, too, will have lived through it. but our experience-list will be shorter; if traveling and celebrating and eating out are the things that count we have the tiniest list. our experience-list includes a serious respect for medicine, for science, for experts trying to help us mitigate this. it includes a deep concern for others and a wish for their good health and well-being. it lists to the end goal and not the short term. it includes the very-fewest visits with beloved children and family, in some cases none, tearing at my heart, painful. it includes much home-time, gratitude for this place in which we work and learn and cook and grow and dance. it’s much narrower than we would have imagined and, yet, it is rich in ways i also could not have imagined.

and next year, or sooner, i hope, maybe our experience-list will include irish fest and farmer’s markets and eating at the bar at wine-knot and restaurants in chicago and exploring in north carolina and live-in-person conversations with people who have been there for us, national geographic live events and long stays in the rocky mountains with mornings at cabin coffee in breck and winterfest in cedarburg and a slow dance party revisited on our patio, with people spilling into the kitchen, making drinks and preparing hors d’oeuvres.

maybe our experience-list will include a booster shot and no masks and fewer headlines about staggering loss and more news about communities coming together in support of each other.

maybe our experience-list will have less worry and less fear. the end goal.

stay well. stay safe.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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light or apathy. [merely-a-thought monday]

normally i would shudder at this sort of sentiment. the “above ground” part is so … grim. yet, as we were walking down by the marina, on the 20th anniversary of the horror of september 11, it got my attention and i went back to photograph the back of the pickup truck.

like many of you, we immersed in shows and conversation about 9/11 this weekend. interviews and video and photographs, all visceral remembrances of a day when everything stopped.

so walking along the lake on saturday we were well aware of the anniversary, revisiting where we were at each moment of impact that day, each moment of devastation. we felt inordinately fortunate to be taking a leisurely walk on a warm and sunny afternoon, twenty years older than we had been.

cnn offered a special on saturday evening and spoke to “tuesday children” – adults who, as children, had lost family members that day twenty years ago. “shine a light” also featured two men – david paine and jay winuk who began 911day.org, a non-profit whose “ongoing mission is to transform the annual remembrance of 9/11 into a worldwide day of unity and doing good, and to encourage millions of people to remember and pay tribute each 9/11 through good deeds that help others and rekindle the extraordinary spirit of togetherness and compassion that arose in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy.”

goodness in real life. instead of that day continuing to be about evil, they set out to redefine the day into acts of doing good deeds in the entire spectrum of good-deed-doing. it has since become the largest day of service in the united states with over thirty million people participating annually.

i couldn’t sleep last night. something woke me up and then my brain does that thing it does in the middle of the night, jumping around, topic to topic, no apparent thread of connection, just one concern after another. my restlessness woke david and we sat talking in the middle of night.

we had both been moved -yet again – by the footage of this tragic day in the history of our country and we had both been moved – yet again – by being reminded of the acts of kindness and heroism that were so much a part of this day and the days after.

yet last night, as i lay there, the breeze coming in the window, we spoke about how our country – so united in those days – has regressed, no – has twisted – in more recent days. why have we not all come together in the same heroic spirit of 2001? why have we not all embraced whatever it takes to save each other’s lives? why, when 2,996 people were too many people, aren’t over 660,000 too many?

we are lucky to be above ground. yes. everyday above ground is a blessing. yes.

do we need – in our above-ground-state- to be reminded to push back against evil – global terrorism, global tyrannical leadership, a deadly raging global pandemic – to practice goodness?

“he who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. he who accepts evil without protecting against it is really cooperating with it.” (martin luther king, jr.)

“apathy and evil. the two work hand in hand. they are the same, really…. evil wills it. apathy allows it. evil hates the innocent and the defenseless most of all. apathy doesn’t care as long as it’s not personally inconvenienced.” (jake thoene)

hannah arendt’s words, “evil thrives on apathy and cannot survive without it.”

apathy (noun): lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern.

“the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference.” (elie wiesel)

and what is beyond indifference, what are the intentional misdeeds committed by people who are living in community with each other?

how much light might be shined by simply wearing a mask or being vaccinated?

might it be possible to “rekindle the extraordinary spirit of togetherness and compassion that arose in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy”? to love one another?

what a blessing that would be.

*****

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


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ten thousand wishes. [two artists tuesday]

“it is a serious thing just to be alive on this fresh morning in this broken world.” (mary oliver)

really, truly exquisite. the last few mornings have been exquisite. we woke up early-early on saturday and sunday morning, nowhere to be, sat and sipped coffee and listened to the quiet world outside. our impulse was to be home, to read together, to write, to go slow, to exercise in the basement, to sit on the deck and watch the birds, the squirrels and the chipmunks, to cook good meals. we felt no need to go anywhere. instead, feeling the sun and breathing in a cool breeze, we reveled in the staying-here.

as headlines point out, the pandemic is heating up. again. the prediction that there will be 300,000 diagnosed daily in mid-august is stunning. so much sickness, so much loss. we feel fortunate to be vaccinated and we are dedicated to continued safe practices. we want at least ten thousand more exquisite mornings, at least ten thousand more days, ten thousand more sleeps. to sacrifice now, we feel, is to bestow upon ourselves a chance at those ten thousand wishes. it IS a serious thing just to be alive. and, even in moments of taking it for granted, we don’t take it for granted.

if i could find a four-leaf clover or blow the puffball off a dandelion or spot a shooting star or spy a haywagon from the back, i would issue a hope for each of us to recognize the gloriousness of this very day, each very-day. to stand in responsibility for each other and to seriously choose to mend the tiniest piece of this broken world for the rest. to stitch together the biggest quilt honoring the inhabitants of this good earth, each thread an acknowledgement of gratitude, each piece of fabric a choice to take care of each other, to live in community the best we can, to do everything possible to keep each other healthy.

just to be alive in this broken world takes some chutzpah. sacrificing for the whole takes some humility. bowing to safety guidelines in a pandemic takes some love.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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from a distance and up close. [two artists tuesday]

from a distance they stand tall, leaf-arms open to the sky, drinking in tree-dappled sun. they are stalky and strong and seem confident and independent, yet living in community with other woodland plants. at this moment in early spring they are positioned in mostly-monochromatic villages, begging my camera. it isn’t until i get closer that i see all the pointy hairs on the leaves, on the stalk, all over. from afar these were not obvious, but, apparently, this plant was not exactly what it seemed. the fuzzy hairs – trichomes – protect the plant from dehydration, from insects, to keep warm and keep cool, and upon close inspection, are everywhere, too numerous to count. they are an integral part of the plant and its ability to thrive in the woods.

the obvious comparison – the good outer protection our own epidermis provides us – is too blatant. instead, as i got closer to this plant and focused in on its outer shell, i couldn’t help but realize the running parallel, the only-seen-up-close-and-personal mechanisms of protection.

from afar we stand tall and strong and confident and independent, though living in and, indeed, dependent upon, community with others. but upon close inspection, upon threat, we are always protecting our own vulnerability. if needed, we rely on our spiky and resistant shell, closing off to invasion of hurtful infestation or blight, guarding against negativity. we survey change and transition, ready to rely on our armor. we puff out our thorns and avoid humility. we stand firm, stalky and unwavering in our opinions. we resist forceful wind, preferring to root in the known. we sway in shifting breezes, ever-hopeful for good. and the tiny hairs of our exterior stand on edge, spiky and ready, the mama-bears of our integrity, our fragile good natures, our open hearts.

there is no real difference. these lush green plants and us. we stand with our arms open to the sky, drinking in the sun, independent and dependent, living together. from a distance and up close.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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just like my sweet momma and poppo. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

inosculate: join by intertwining or fitting closely together. “inosculation is a natural phenomenon in which trunks, branches or roots of two trees grow together. it is biologically similar to grafting and such trees are referred to in forestry as gemels, from the latin word meaning “a pair”.” (wikipedia)

tomorrow is the sixth anniversary of my sweet momma leaving this earth. there is not a day that goes by that i do not think of her, miss her, wish i could call her, have questions to ask her. in the way that we all wish on stars, i wish i could have more time with her.

momma lived three years past my dad’s passing. in the very days before he died, he knew that his dying was imminent. i walked into his hospital room and he told me he was ready. i, however, was not. neither was my momma. she was seriously infuriated at him. they had been married – at that time – for 68 years. 68. i haven’t even lived that long yet, and they were together for longer. in every way imaginable, they were, like these trees in the woods, inosculated. a pair.

inosculate: to unite intimately.

my parents had simple routines in their later years. coffee and breakfast. making the bed. reading the paper. coffee break. a few errands perhaps. lunch. my poppo doing a little work at his workbench or in the garden while my mom worked at her desk. sitting and gazing at the waterfowl behind their house. maybe a little snack in the afternoon. reading. dinner. nothing stupendous. nothing extraordinary. but most definitely inosculated.

though i’m sure they drove each other a bit crazy at times (who doesn’t?), in these later years, particularly, they fit together like these trees. sharing responsibilities for the day-to-day. carefully mindful of each other’s health concerns. re-telling old stories. looking forward to any time they would see their family. grateful for this home bathed in sunlight and surrounded by green.

they were indeed “gemel trees”, sharing deep root systems, with prolonged contact, fusing together. and, in the end, their love was no longer complex. it just was.

when we passed these trees off-trail, i wondered about them. i’m not absolutely certain where their connections are and if they are prime examples of inosculation, but they are indeed living in community, united. they somehow rely on each other, sharing nutrients and sun and dirt-space on this earth.

and, once again, here in the forest, i can see the simple example set for humans. the same one my sweet parents set.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY