reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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slow, slow. turtling. [d.r. thursday]

though unable to sprint away, the turtle knows when to withdraw. the beautiful wizened face peeks out from under the shell and i don’t want to scare it, though it is likely i already have. the black iris stripe, always parallel to the horizon, the water’s surface, highlights its beautiful eyes, yellow-green peering at me. the marks on its shell tell tales we won’t know. we don’t pick it up or move it; there is no road danger for this turtle as we are in the woods and, by the trail it has left in the grasses, it seems to have a deliberate destination.

these years seem turtling years. pulling in, sheltering from the outside, moving slowly, slowly. in light of all that has transpired through the last couple years, i have not minded turtling. it is renewing strength, re-prioritizing, revitalizing humor, stoking up energy. the pandemic has forced this inwardness; this place has been our shell, reassuring, comforting. even with all the zeal i have for adventure, i love being home. there will be a different time. time will pass and seasons will change and the river keeps flowing. nothing is static. my eyes focus on the horizon.

the turtle paused in its trekking as i took its picture. it looked out from under its own fortress-home and whispered smart-turtle-wisdoms, grinning at me, “just keep going. wherever you go, there you are. you carry home with you. keep your eyes on the horizon. slow, slow.”

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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previous thoughts on turtles…click here


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dancing waters. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

in stop-motion moments, we stood by the fountains and shot photos. the dancing waters mesmerized us, light waning in the sky under the canopy of big trees. it was peaceful, serene. there was no place we needed to be in those minutes, except right there.

the water danced too quickly for us to discern contours of form. the camera made it possible to see those gorgeous images of momentary pause, water suspended. looking at the photographs – enchanting.

“…as water takes whatever shape it is in,
so free may you be about who you become…”

(john o’donohue)

we, in this ever-flowing river, babbling gently like the backyard pond, the mountain stream, or raging like the yellowstone river hurtling through the national park at this time, a part of the continuous-motion movie. our bliss, our concerns, our grievances, the things that distress us, the things over which we ruminate…though they feel to be screeching-to-a-halt, a visual-stop-place where the horizon ends – they continue on and on and life dances around us and through us. life invites us to waltz with it, to two-step, to sing along.

perspective, looking back, it’s all a tiny bit clearer in retrospect. my sweet momma’s words “this, too, shall pass” visit and revisit me. the dance steps we missed along the way are no longer worthy of our dedicated brooding, no longer stop-motion.

dancing water has brought grace of movement – forward. we keep on keeping on in the hazy-lazy-bubbling-frothy-waltzing river.

“…i’ll be there in singing skies and dancing waters
laughing children, growing old
and in the heart and in the spirit
and in the truth when it is told…”

(john denver)

*****

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


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not-still-life. [d.r. thursday]

there is a gold frame around the old black and white photograph. a still life of a family. it was taken in the 1920s and it captures the still-life of my sweet poppo’s family…at that very moment: his dad, his mom, his brothers and sisters as young children and babies.

i don’t have another like it; there is not another portrait – at least not in my collection of photos – that has both his biological parents and all his brothers and sisters. my dad lost his mom to metastasized breast cancer when he was merely eight years old. my grandpa married a woman – the only paternal grandmother i knew – who was willing to take on six growing children. life was not still.

in the way that families sometimes splinter, my dad’s family lost touch after the death of my grandparents. there was some rift and there were plenty of hurt feelings and, then, there was silence. i grew up the rest of my life without my cousins, without sharing in their stories, without the chance to know them or love them. it was like the still-life-portrait was carefully cut up and only my dad was left.

one of my uncles had drowned in the swimming hole in upstate new york during their teenage years. another uncle was lost at sea during the war. i think my third uncle passed somewhere along the way maybe in brooklyn, where they all grew up, as did one of my aunts, a fun-loving californian who always went by her nickname. and the aunt who had children – who would be my first cousins, wished for but lacking in my own circles – was in new england.

a couple years ago – after i broke my wrists – when i was sitting with casts and a laptop and the pandemic had just begun, i decided to google them. i wrote a bit about finding them – a golden moment of connection. suddenly, through research and social media and, unfortunately, posted obituaries, i discovered two of my four cousins.

i reached out, one on either coast. they reached back. and the ripped pieces of portraits that could have been taken through the years began to assemble. tiny bits of photo paper, a little glue, stories to be told.

my dad – on the other side but not too far away – smiled when i had my first conversation with his sister, my aunt. he no longer remembered the details of whatever the rift was and, besides, it was a ridiculous fifty years prior. how long does one hold onto these kinds of things?

my aunt, with a touch of brooklyn and a touch of boston, told me stories and i really pined to meet her, to hug my dad’s sister, to hear of my dad as a youngster, to sit with her. but covid and fragile health sadly combined to prevent this.

my cousin called while we were driving to the grocery store. he told me that earlier in the morning his momma, my 99-year-old-would-have-been-100-in-three-months-aunt helen, had died. once again, the still-life photo shattered. i would not capture a picture of us together, our jowls matching, perhaps our eyes, perhaps the curve of our faces. i watched her service online yesterday, trying to memorize the smiles and tears of my lost-now-found relatives.

i’m grateful for the brief conversations and the fact that she knows i looked for her, for her children. i’m grateful to have contact with two of my cousins and to someday meet their families and the families of my other two cousins who were holding a spot for their momma in that other plane. with great joy i listen to stories they tell me and i know that we’ll share time and snapshots, close-ups, wide angles, portraits, candids – reaching back and reaching forward – of our lives together.

i learn every day to let go, to hold on, to appreciate it.

the still-life is never really still.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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“an old river” [merely-a-thought monday]

an old river

it is our meditation, our respite, our rejuvenation, to hike.  so we find trails everywhere we go.  our old hiking boots have stories of mountains and deserts, forests and rivers, dunes and sidewalks.

we choose to trek instead of anything else.  for we have found that “in every walk with nature, one receives far more than one seeks.” (john muir, naturalist)

in these times of pandemic, our travel has been of limited scope.  we have taken seriously the words of fervent scientists and medical experts to stay close to home, to wear masks, to social distance, to be always aware of putting self and others at risk.  and so our spectrum of hiking trails has been reduced in range, the radius from our home none too large.

the river we hike along is well-known to us now.  we know the curves in the trail; we know the bend in the river and where the water laps at the bank.  we anticipate the small turtles on the rock in the tributary; we expect the butterflies to be numerous as we pass the field of wildflowers.  we know where the mile markers are before we see them.  we know where the mosquitoes will swarm.   it doesn’t change anything for us.  we still go.  we still hike.  for “into the forest i go to lose my mind and find my soul.” (john muir)

each time we start we are aware of how very familiar this place is.  each time we finish we are aware of seeing it with fresh eyes.  marcel proust’s words, “the real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes” comes to life with every booted step.

the place we go, the haven we seek, are trails that let us be quiet, trails that let us talk, trails that make us tired, trails that invigorate us.  they need not be new.

each time we take any of our beloved trails or walks in the general radius of our sweet home we breathe air into anxious hearts, solace into worried minds, we stretch stress-tensed bodies, we are mindful of glimpses of eased souls, we draw inspiration from this good earth, we find the new in old.

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

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