LET’S GET REAL

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not change the world of the black men and women – the grandparents of the men dying today and yesterday and the day before – who were alive in that year. But it did put the possibility of equal rights in our minds if not our hearts.
In 1963 I was traveling with my husband and four month old baby daughter across a vicious ice storm in the Oklahoma panhandle. We were freezing cold in the night of slanting sheets of ice, our VW Bus only heated with acceleration and we were hardly making any headway to bring on the heat.
Kennedy had just been assassinated and nothing felt sure or clear in our young lives. We were heading to Monterrey California to the Army Language School where my husband would learn French and probably be sent to Vietnam. (He ended up not going to Viet Nam – in its wisdom the army sent him to Germany because he already spoke German fluently.)
We saw in the storm ahead a glowing motel sign, it was late, our daughter was crying, we were bone tired after driving since four that morning. We walked into the office, there was a black couple ahead of us. The man behind the counter told them there were no more rooms. I pulled my husband’s sleeve. “Let’s go,” I said. He said, “wait,” without looking at me. I hesitated and stayed behind while he went to the counter. The man smiled, “last room, sir,” he said.
I wish I could say that I got the other couple and we shared the room but they were gone and I was shocked into numbness. In that moment I didn’t understand. I looked at my husband and was about to say something like, “but I thought they had no room.” Maybe I did, I don’t know. I only know my own confusion, my distaste for the experience and my wish for change.
There are thousands like me, who want change and who have ideals about how “things could be better.” But the walls I ran into, run into are like the ones from my childhood where I had to sit through movies like The Robe and others of that genre, scared, in a seat alone because the people who brought me could not sit with me. They were taking me on their days off because my parents were neglectful but they could not take care of me by sharing my space – or me sharing theirs. It would take me years to figure that out by myself, nothing was ever said and now I know they could have gotten arrested if someone had noticed. I’m glad children were not “seen or heard” while I was growing up.
This has not gone away.
Yes, there is progress, but the opportunities of the races are not the same, not even close. You know it and I know it. The difference between 1963 with no Civil Rights Act and after its signature in 1964 and years following, was none. Twenty years, thirty, forty – the motel manager – depending on where it was located – probably wouldn’t have gotten away with what he did. But I am very cynical about what people can get away with. The disadvantaged are targeted at the same rate they were when I was growing up, the banks, the realtors, the school districts are little different. How could we have so much “no change” if things were actually enforced? Why would we still need busing if we have equalized our neighborhoods? We haven’t equalized anything. We are awash with bullets now, then we had ropes and we still have the attitudes of the men, and the women behind them, in white sheets holding their ideas, their customs, their entitlements as shield and sword for their intolerant righteousness.
We need better. Too long have we looked upon most of what we see around us as “other.” Whether an animal or a tree or the earth itself, we think, doesn’t have sensations, feelings, intelligence.
Do yourself a favor, don’t name. It’s the first step in separation. We know enough now to have discovered that there exists communication – communion – all around us. Look for communion. Take it when you feel it. Let your nascent or sophisticated vision of your universe expand. Expand with it.
John Muir said, “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he[sic] finds it attached to the rest of the world.” And don’t be looking to be right or smart, Muir walked through miles and acres of American Native cultivation thinking it was “wild” land. It was, we all have different ways to cultivate. Get to know yours.
DSC03121

Where I’m going with this

This is an expansion of my last post, The Long View. When I first wrote it I realized I had more to say but I wasn’t sure what. I found more today – tell me if it expands the ideas for you – or what? Thank you.

The Long View

When I was growing up everyone around me gave me suggestions for “what to do when…” I grew up. My friends and I wrote on our notebooks and in our journals what we wanted, to do, to be, to have and to hold. We girls tried different names on with our “first” names, we got “married,” wore “big” clothes, generally did everything we could to avoid being who we were; little girls growing up.

It wasn’t different for the boys, just different jobs, no name change and different responsibilities. We all had help from those around us. Teachers, parents, aunts, uncles, headmasters, principals, ministers of all kinds and creeds told us pretty much the same things: Do your best by following the designs laid down by our forebears. Take the next step, don’t be a surprise. No one wants a surprise.

When I was ten my mother’s cousins sat around me – I remember a close circle, but that was more how I felt than how they were arranged I suspect – and, talking over my head, decided where I would go to college, what I would do for how long before I married into their version of a suitable match.

I took notes. I listened (it made no sense), smelled their breath, their perfume, their shoes, and, in the invisible notepad in my heart vowed to do nothing they said. Nothing.

What a great set up that was for a willful rebel, for a kid whose mission was to fly under the radar. All of which I did (flew under) and none of which supported me anymore than following their objectives could have.

Now in the age of Facebook I see everyone married to everyone else – transcending age and gender – all goals and paths, up and down laid out in not very elegant prose. (If my mother’s cousins were anything, they were elegant.)

It feels so much like freedom I could almost be fooled into thinking there is less planning today and more “happy being me.” Instead I think not so much in terms of “more” and “less” but in the same. For instance, a few weeks ago I spoke with a young man of 25 who (I think) was trying to impress me with his plans. He said he had just landed a job with a well-known company in the tech field, he was being paid to be trained (and very proud of that) and he claimed to be willing to work for that company for 35 years. He had the list of his steps up the ladder: one year entry level, three years field work, and ending somehow in management after 35 years.

I have to admit my head swam and I might not have gotten all his details correctly. Why would anyone put himself on such a journey. I didn’t hear about discovery, I didn’t hear about enjoyment. I heard entrainment, a version of responsibility. I was at a loss – for words, among other things.

After spending much of the summer researching trauma and loss, fear, recovery and memory – and why would anyone study that unless they felt they would grow in the understanding of those close around them (that would be me!) – I did recognize that I was listening to fear. I was hearing about unacknowledged choices, unrecognized chances and a life lived within the barest of minimum tracks.

Of course I see myself in him. The fear of failure, the holding tight to what is known. We can all relate to some degree to the young who are starting out with what we call “chances of a lifetime,” while we know something about lifetimes and the longevity of denial. Denial has its own life. It can go on and on. It can hide in the smallest cracks, the most reasonable choices, the most sensible moments.

Who among us does not have a story about a dream unfilled, a lover denied. Not all of mine were chances lost, most were gains – but what about the mini-moments of denial, the tiny efforts let go, the chances I thought I couldn’t handle because I wasn’t good enough or didn’t deserve. There are those moments that come to each of us every day. How do we meet and greet them. What plans do we make to avoid them, what skills do we fall back on to justify choices? How do we treat our moment of green thrust? Do we make room?

Being here, where I am now, having parried with choices, with denial, with feeling good and bad about myself, I can see the well- lived, the half-lived, under and over the bar, within or without the spectrum, the degree to which I have been me, myself. It has become easy to see when I stray, when I strain. It was not so easy then. I thought strain was part of it. Part of the path – strain to be on it, strain to be off it. I was often filled with self-conscious confidence, judgement of where I was, where they were. Lots of judgement, like a chocolate sundae, so good at the first bite, a bit sickening at the last.

I don’t have the story that Mark Twain told of being amazed how much his father had learned in such a short time – when he got older and saw the wisdom of his father. I don’t feel anyone is right or wrong. I think there are a lot of confusing choices. There always have been and there always will be. That’s why we are here. Not to have an easy life but to bump up against ourselves, to make our marks like wrinkles as well as those of us who get to be known for something. To keep on going is enough. Putting one foot in front of the other, keeping our eyes and our hearts open, the wind in our face. As James Taylor wrote, “It’s enough to be on your way, enough just to cover ground, it’s enough to be moving on.” But for a life “well lived,” we are tasked to mindfulness, to feelings. (not emotions – that’s another article) We want the best for ourselves and in order to get that, we have to give ourselves the best – and accept it.

 

 

The Long View

A few weeks ago I spoke with a young man of 25 who (I think) was trying to impress me with his plans. He said he had just landed a job with a well-known company in the tech field, He was being paid to be trained and he claimed to be willing to work for that company for 35 years, he had the list of his steps up the ladder: one year entry level, three years field work, and ending somehow in management after 35 years.

I have to admit my head swam and I might not have gotten all his details correctly. Why would anyone put themselves on such a journey. I didn’t hear about discovery, I didn’t hear about enjoyment. I heard entrainment, a version of responsibility. I was at a loss – for words, among other things.

After spending much of the summer researching trauma and loss, fear, recovery and memory – and why would anyone study that unless they felt they would grow in the understanding of those close around them (that would be me!) – I did recognize that I was listening to fear. I was hearing about unacknowledged choices, unrecognized chances and a life lived within the barest of minimum tracks.

Of course I see myself in him. The fear of failure, the holding tight to what is known. We can all relate to some degree to the young who are starting out with what we call “chances of a lifetime,” while we know something about lifetimes and the longevity of denial. Denial had its own life. It can go on and on. It can hide in the smallest cracks, the most reasonable choices, the most sensible moments.

Who among us does not have a story about a dream unfilled, a lover denied. Not all of mine were chances lost, most were gains – but what about the mini-moments of denial, the tiny efforts let go, the chances I thought I couldn’t handle because I wasn’t good enough or didn’t deserve. There are those moments that come to each of us every day. How do we meet and greet them. What plans do we make to avoid them, what skills do we fall back on to justify choices? How do we treat our moment of green thrust? Do we make room?IMG_7843

 

 

Something Old, Something New

The field fallow for fifty years

Does not open to rain right away

But takes its time in the slow days

Of age that fly by, the days marked

By the rise and fall of sun and moon.

The moon taking the greater impression

 

This field has taken care of others all its life,

So far. All its time it has been a caretaker

Never grown its own crops. So how can the

Seeds not planted grow? How can the life not

Lived look in the mirror when what’s

Been the view all these years were others’ needs.

 

Think a minute in the still white mind

Take a moment of the apron’s cloth, know

The Larch for what it is, see the water pouring

Into the kettle. Watch the egg bounce to the boil,

Take into your sweet hand the spoon stirring gently

And do not lift the veil of loneliness but dwell

In the land of you and promise to love.

photo

Easter

IMG_3029

 

Always an “easy” holiday, Easter was my favorite. Sometimes it fell on my birthday and I could be special in the spring welcome with daffodils and pansies.
I kept the tradition of making a cake in the shape of a lamb for many years. Recently I took the cake mold to my daughter Becky’s house and we made a cake together – and I left the mold with her! She has been asking for a lamb cake for some time and I look forward to many more bakings with me going to her house or her bringing the cake mold to me. Nice to switch up the traditions. It was great to sit with her family and friends talking about Easters past – and not actually doing anything!
Lambs – all babies and most animals – are filled with expression and rarely have a negative vibe. Easter doesn’t explore guilt or blame – particularly if you stick to the Pagan tradition – and who can complain about coloring eggs and looking for them.
I am going to skip the blood and guts of the Passion in favor of reveling in the rite of winter’s passage and my own deep pleasure in the coming of spring.

Sweet Time

We are having sweet times with Bimala and our granddaughter Laila Rose. Yesterday we braved the heat of the Boston Common – it was actually quite pleasant – to see Paula dance her solo at the Outside The Box Festival on the Common. I love Boston and it gave me a chance to review the city I spent so much time in and love so well. I love the history and its weave into the present moment. The present moment is what we have and it’s rooted in the present moments of the past. Boston has much of both, it was teeming with activity yesterday, full of life and history. Paula and I saw friends and colleagues from all our years there. At the edge of the stage were young boys grooving to her dance and beside them were friends who have supported her work and loved her for three decades!
Paula also got great enthusiastic feedback from dancers and spectators who have known her in her Boston Days and those who just met her work yesterday! It was quite a day! Bimala and Laila were the focus of much attention!
 

 

When The “Elephant in the Room” Dies

Nothing against elephants, they are great, but their size gives comparative values unparalleled weight. Not sorry for the pun.
Late last week I heard that a man had passed who had abused all those in his family, made a fool out of many a friend and relative and made the lives of his children so traumatic they are low functioning into their fifties.
How can this happen? Wouldn’t I like to know. How can men and women be so abused and come back for more, year after year. His death will not disturb what he has done. No one will get up and start to live a full life. No one will walk away empty-handed.
I know he gave what he got. And that does nothing to justify anything.
Interesting that I have no image for this post. I suspect you all will fill in the blank. I think we all know a room with an “elephant” in it – even peripherally.
Compassion feels like a dirty, useless rag to mop up this man’s acts. So I won’t use it like that. I will give Right Speech and Right Action a chance. I will remember to tell the truth when it is useful and to love when it counts and to say so when I can add benefit. And I will say Metta as I was taught so many years ago by my teachers who had left their pain to enter rooms where what they saw was what they got.

May he (All Beings) be happy
May he (All Beings) be peaceful
May he (All Beings) be free from suffering and the cause of suffering.

He is and so are we all. Our choice. Our voice.

When We Talk

this drawing was made by Susan Schell during my year-long training with her in Authentic Movement (1988)

There is much to say about talking.
I don’t know that much about it myself
Except that I have always been mystified
by the amount people say to each other,
and the little I can think of to say,
and that children born to me could ever
learn a language from the amount I talked
to them or anyone else.
My husband would come home and say
“You haven’t opened your mouth, have you?”
And I hadn’t, but I didn’t say anything.

I knew, I Knew, that hurt came from talk.
Love comes from glances and life shared,
not necessarily stories. Although I know they help.
I say I know but I only just know. It wasn’t always
so, but then I said that. No, I wrote it with my mouth closed.

The “words can never hurt me” was never true.
Not for me, not for a lot of people. One whole school
year when I was six I sat outside at recess
next to a tree. Another girl sat under the same tree. We
never sat together. I don’t know who she was.
But I feel comradeship with her,
As if we had talked and talked.

 

 

Moment to Moment Clarity

Babies and cats are classic. The “thereness” of them, their wholeness (can’t be said about dogs, sorry,) sets them apart. They may need us and all the support in the world but in their moment’s moment they are complete.
To be a photographer around a cat or a baby is to be in heaven.
Knowing glances, gazing, smiling, the silent meow are the stuff of the “Kodak moment.”
Attention to self, needs clear, wants expressed. Nary a question about what your next move should be. No prevaricating for the cat or the baby, they know exactly what they want from us.

Whorld

Speculations abound. What this or that means.
What any one part, or sequence of parts,
Can mean. How do we speak and how
Are we heard and how are we interpreted,
How do we interpret.

Does the mind really have an eye
We talk about it,
“In my mind’s Eye.”

Either that eye blinks a lot,
Is closed or is blind.
(No reflection on the Third Eye)

Despite all the divinations to hand
Including all genetic research
We are so very unenlightened about the future.