Late

December 19, 2008

I’m late
To find out where
I need to be.
Can you help me?
 
I’ve forgotten
What I should know
To get me through
This day.
 
So
Tell me what you know
And I’ll look within
To see what jibes
 
Don’t worry
I’ve been late before
It’s my usual
State to be in.
 
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I knew instantly

December 13, 2008

I knew instantly when I saw the SS prompt that I would mingle a personal anecdote with a few witticisms and slog through a paragraph or two telling about some event that grew less interesting the more I wrote about it. Then I would try to re-energize my typing fingers by inserting an interjection of madness into the stream of thought and then scramble about attempting to survey the new landscape while still trying to figure out how to make a complete whole.  I give up that fruitless attempt, bang head against the nearby stone pillar and confusedly stare at the blinking prompt.  Next I look around frantically for something, anything to read so that I do not have to spend even an instant more in this sucking void of creativity.  Must become sponge-like, give me already written story.  Snap back into writing mode, smooth out the creases in the brow and try and remember why this paragraph began in the first place.  Oh yeah, me.  I knew, though it took more than a few moments, that I would be spinning wildly into this writing space with nothing on my mind and attempt to stroke from the threads of this particular consciousness something resembling coherence.  Have I failed?
 

Dear Grace,

Even though I cannot represent all of humanity I want to, for this moment, act as a speaker for the human race and apologize to you and all future generations for the harm and havoc we have reeked upon the earth. I have looked deep within and I do not think we truly understand what we do. We pour chemicals into the ocean and forget that we are poisoning the very water we drink. We slaughter animals by the millions in a genocide of epic proportions to provide flesh wrought by violence that clogs our arteries and stills our beating hearts. We clear cut ancient forests and Amazonian jungle, extinguishing all manner of flora and fauna not realizing that the diversity of life supports our very existence. We tirelessly run machinery and factories which support our lifestyles and produce noxious fumes which suffocate our fleeting breath. We started doing all of this many years ago and now we do not know how to stop. We are caught in the rut of habit, attached to that which makes us sick.

Grace, we need to remember. We are inextricably connected to this earth and will share in the fate we are helping to bring about. We used to be more in tune with the natural processes and we have since moved further and further away from the flow of life. We have put birth and death behind the antiseptic walls of institutions and forgotten how important it is to witness these sacred passages. We have ignored or kept hidden parts of existence that may seem painful or unwelcome. We are fragmented and so think that there is an “other” with which we must struggle.

Grace, I do not know what the answer is but I do know that there are many good folks on this earth trying to bring about change. I hope that in my own life I can tread a little more lightly upon this earth and learn to live more in concert with the ebb and flow of life. I will continue to look within and explore the stillness that extends over this mysterious planet. I will do my part to re-member and find inside my heart that connection that binds us all together.

I love you,

Your Dad

Fearless

April 14, 2008

Clouds

If I were fearless I would walk out the doors right now and into the sunshine and spring goodness. I take a breath so deep my lungs inflate and my feet leave the ground. I float into the branches of the tree overhead and laugh at the leaves tickling my face and arms. Above the tree now the fear comes back and I flail my body trying to descend or at least gain control. I can do nothing and yet I rise.

My speed seems to be picking up the people into ants and the buildings into lego blocks. The air is cooler and I’m glad for the sweater. Looking east I see the Atlantic extending into blue brilliance and I stretch out willing my body to travel in that direction. But all I can seem to do is go up. Clouds obscure my view of the land below until *poof* back into view comes a snippet of green or gold. I’m breathing faster from either lack of oxygen or growing excitement. Will I leave the atmosphere?

I’m really high now. I don’t feel my body any more and the reflections of the sun off of the clouds is almost too much to bear. My eyes close and I float away, the space inside and out supporting me as the fear drops away.

Carry to the Med

November 16, 2007

A few years before my extended hike on the Appalachian Trail I happened upon a different hiking trail in southern France. Called the GR-10 (I know, romantic) this footpath stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea covering the length of the Pyrenees Mountains. Leading up to my hike I had been staying with a family in a small town near Toulouse. One night I met a British gentleman who told me about his dream to hike for a week each year and eventually finish walking the GR-10. He was about halfway through. I spent the rest of the night picking his brain about the specifics of life on that trail and by the next morning had hatched a plan. I would make my way south until I found the trail, take a left and walk towards the Mediterranean. Here are some of the things I either carried or wish I had carried on this foray into the French Wilderness:

Carried

  • Heavy wrinkled corduroy pants that weighed me down and kept me warm on cool fall mornings
  • A belief that I had enough stamina and good luck to navigate and last until I touched my toes into blue water
  • The essentials of backpack, tent and sleeping bag–my holy trinity of backwoods essentials
  • A trust in the spontaneity of life that put me on the trail

Wish I had carried

  • More socks for those poor toes that suffered the fire-burn of neglect
  • Another disposable camera–one does not cut it when every day is glorious
  • Gifts for the kind souls that forgave my butchering of the French language and helped me along my way
  • Everyone I knew to share in the reality of being wide awake within a dream

More Scribblings here.

Issues of wealth

November 2, 2007

In seventh grade I started attending a new school.  My best friend in sixth grade transferred out of public school and the next year I dutifully followed him into the private school ranks.  I wore a tie to school, stored my books in an open locker and became introduced to the world of the rich kid.  I began to notice the little polo insignia on the shirts of so many of my classmates and began to attach importance to those few threads. I felt the line that separated me from them.  In public school my friends lived in the neighborhood and knew where I came from–we inhabited the same environment of middle income families.  Now I felt the shame of my comparable poverty.  I was learning to find my place in the world and at the same time discovering that money meant advantage.

What was one day enough now became too little.  My lens shifted and the world took on a new tint.  I noticed that the family car had a little rust near the door, my room was too small for both me and my brother, the limitlessness of unconcern now focused on the lack of material items.  Being invited to my new friend’s houses expanded my new vision.  Kitchens bigger than half of my house!  Extra bedrooms, maid service, toys shiny new and foreign. 

Unknowingly I started to live a double life.  My school persona when I pretended to mask my sense of destitution and gladly accepted offers to visit friend’s houses (I never invited them to mine) and a home life where the everyday affairs of living became less and less acceptable.  I judged myself through my classmate’s eyes and so turned my judgement on the rest of my family.  I looked inside and found a lack. 

When age sixteen came around and my classmates started to receive new cars as birthday presents (!) I began to perceive the illusions of this fragile culture.  I inhabited a land of make-believe and had stumbled into this fairy tale because I wanted to stay close to a good friend.  I noticed that my real friends did not care that I had no car or that my house wasn’t a mansion.  I learned that there were others in my ranks who also came from families without loads of disposable income.  I found a niche that allowed me to become more comfortable with myself.  Money (or lack thereof) did not control my happiness. 

My perception of richness and poverty had changed when I entered private school and so shifted again as I realized that human beings are the same the world over.  We all have our doubts and question our beliefs.  We conform to new environments and learn ways to adapt and survive.  When the space comes and the insight pierces through we can discover what brings peace to our being.  We forgive ourselves for past wrongs and look for clarity in future endeavors.  We are humans being.

Others are considering issues of wealth and poverty here.

NaNo continues and I need to get back to it! WC=238
Picture of Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park, NY.

Hospital Dance

October 26, 2007

He went to the hospital one day to see if there was a cure for an ailment he did not now how to describe. Sometimes in the night he would lie awake, a feeling of doom thick in his throat–what has been left undone–what do I need to do. He would walk into a room filled with people and his upper back would tense and release in perfect rhythm to his breath. Eating dinner his arm would hesitate in mid-movement, a bite of food dangling in the air. He would catch his reflection in the mirror and jump–then stop, meet his own eyes and lose the time.

He knew something was wrong and went to the doctor for a solution. The receptionist asked him his reason for coming in and he replied, “I think I’m sick”. He was handed a clipboard and instructed to answer all of the questions to the best of his ability. Most of the lines were easy to fill out, his name and phone number, date of birth and address. Some puzzled him–histories of genetic disease–known allergens–what did these have to do with his problem? His name was called and he was led into a small room, shut in for privacy, posters of the ear canal displayed on the wall, alien-like diseases of the skin identified. He sits on the crinkly paper of the exam table/bed wondering what prior mucuses and infections had inhabited the very spots he touched. Were they screaming or was the life slowly draining away?

The doctor comes in, rather the nurse practitioner from the name tag–what is the difference–closes the door and puts out a hand.

“I’m Dr. Tyler, what seems to be troubling you today?”

“I feel like there is something wrong with me but I don’t know what.”

“Are you in any pain?”

He details the clenching of his back, the doom in his throat, the loss of time when he looks into his own eyes. The doctor explains that she is going to look into his eyes and throat, listen to his heart and breathing. He responds to the doctor’s instructions, breathing, opening the mouth, moving the eyes. When the doctor listens to the heart she pauses and steps back, “Is there a history of heart disease in your family?”

“I don’t know, my father I never met and my mother has never said anything to me about it. Why?”

“Your heartbeat is quite irregular, a pattern of beats I have not heard before in all my years of practice.”

“What does it sound like?”

“Well most heartbeats follow the same pattern a kind of two-beat cadence that signals the pumping of the heart and opening and closing of the ventricles between the chambers. This may sound strange but your heartbeat comes in a pattern of three–a thump-da-thump, thump-da-thump, thump-da-thump…kind of like a waltz.”

“A waltz?”

“Yes.”

“That’s strange, I love a good waltz, in fact I feel most alive when dancing the waltz. I haven’t danced it in so long, would you mind?”

“This is very improper but yes I would like that very much.”

They opened the door and danced down the hallway, into other rooms and the office of the hospital. They danced to the cadence of his heart and he could feel his symptoms diminish considerably.

Dance to other hospital tales…