Weather/ Climate

Well, it finally happened. We’re talking about the weather. When I was growing up people used to say, “you can always talk about the weather but you can’t do anything about it!” It was a way of exposing our basic need to connect, to say something to each other and, not knowing what else to say or how to connect, we could depend on the weather to give us something to talk about. Talking about the weather today has become controversial, disquieting,  something to avoid, certainly for politicians.

Weather exposes our insecurity as individuals to have control over not just our future but the future of our next generations. Like looking into a void we don’t have a reference for. It feels really far away and we don’t have a dependable cultural mechanism to talk about the future. “Seventh generation” is a model some of us give lip service to but we don’t have a cultural basis for. Are we really thinking of the coming generations when we decide not to fund what we blithely call “infrastructure” – tiresome word – are we really thinking about our great great great great grandchildren when we cast a vote, think a thought that is applicable only to ourself and our immediate need? When we get bent out of shape because the stock market went up or down a few points is that thinking about future generations? That’s weather.

Climate is what we pass on. Climate is like who we are at our soul’s level, weather is how we are today. Weather is the exam I just blew, the fight I just lost or won but our ability to be equanimous – or not – our love and compassion for all creatures, friends, lovers, exes of each category; that’s climate. It’s our climate, who we are and who we’ll be when all we know of ourselves is no longer here now.

Looking into the future is scary for all of us. Who will we be, how will we live, how we will care or be cared for? These are questions we all face unless we have a cultural/emotional community of trust to rely on. The main thrust of science in my lifetime has been to get things under control. We need not experience what is going on outside – we have climate control in our homes, cars, places of work and play. We have insurance and all manner of products to keep us stable in this chaotic world. We’ve got everything we need to be comfortable except knowing how to adapt, to respond to what is here now. We’re learning that. I think we’ll “get it” for the next generations, I think we’ll learn how to adapt – we already know – but we’ll have to act and talk about it while we wait and see.

 

 

Still Poetry Month


1-05 Fern Hill
I feel like I grew up with Dylan Thomas, though he had succumbed to alcoholism when I was young. My mother read him and his poetry was around the house. I love hearing “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” every winter. I was fortunate to go to a school where our headmaster read it to us.
The passion of his reading, reading any poet’s poem, was thrilling and brought the vibrancy of his observations to my ears.
Once I spoke to a friend in graduate school, we talked about Dylan. She said, “Oh my professor said he reads Fern Hill all wrong.” And then she went on to elaborate. I can’t remember what she said. I can’t think what it matters. How can you read a poem wrong? Particularly if you wrote it!
Today I want to open my ears to listen to sounds as they are. Dylan reading Dylan. Dylan reading anything. My own reading. What anyone says, what my dog is barking, what the cars sound like as they round the hill near my house.
Listen and be and celbrate what is.
That’s It for today.

April Is Poetry Month

How many of you have listened to William Butler Yeats? Actually heard his voice? It’s so cool – he’s old, you can tell, but it’s him and that’s enough for me.

1-01 The Song Of The Old Mother

Yeats is in the sky too. He was an idol, a mentor, a mind I loved to attempt to grasp when I was in high school. I got to research and write about him when I was in college. That’s such a great time, a lucky time when you can delve into what you love. I used to love the library, holding all the books in my hands. I love technology. I love Google. Waking up at any hour and typing in whatever I can remember of a poem or person or anything and up it comes with ideas and commentary from all over the world. I love living here now. I love getting ideas from all over. Thank you all for being here.

THE CATS


In the room there are three things; me, my writing, and the Cats.

The cats are an item, they are an entity. They eat and sleep as one, any one of them can disturb any one or three things in my life – all at once, as by one hand. They walk on me, throw up on me, pee in the litterbox, in the sink, in my shoe. They eat everywhere, they dream everywhere. There is nowhere not home to them.

I took my 100+year old bonsai to the hospital (bonsai hospital), Glenn looked at the tree: you still have a few mealy bugs, no scale, and you have cats. The tree is in a room where the cats aren’t allowed, I said. He looked at me like I was a poor foolish soul, there is no such place, he said.

Downstairs if you are upstairs and upstairs if you are downstairs, the cats collide. Up, in the bedroom they fly across the rug, they hit the door – all the doors – up to the fireplace, bounce off the cat tree – carefully constructed from wonderful smelling Pignon from New Mexico and sturdy enough to be climbed, scratched and lept from. Even though it sways mightily, it never falls. The T.V. is a jungle gym. Wonderful wires and a top to navigate like a tightrope walker. Yes, it is a flat screen and presents a tantalizing thrill to master.

There isn’t a rug that can’t be turned into a cave. Three moves and it’s done. Lift up the corner, paw to the triangle it makes, push paw under followed by body, lift up a little. The rug stays up and can be expanded. We have many so-called area rugs, each one a cave-in-waiting.

Downstairs in the kitchen the counter awaits. Filled with items needing to be redirected. Eggs to the floor, glasses of water, bottles of oil, containers of all kinds with myriad contents. All needing direction downward, all needing to mingle on what we humans call the floor. Our knives are blunted at their ends. Visitors see us as so careful, no accidents. We know the truth. The knives make a beautiful arc downward invariably landing point down, defying the laws of physics but not really.

The cats are action oriented. They don’t suspend judgement, they don’t have any. They are cats, and that is enough. Oblivious to the outcome, they live in the moment. They are presently, futurely, and pastly, cats. There is nothing else so fine as a cat.

I’m Lucky

This morning the cats were all quivery at the windows. The Robins are back! The Voles are out and about and Spring is here. It might be a bit of a mixed message that people are still walking on the lake, but it looks slippery and I know they won’t be walking too much longer.

The ground isn’t frozen and the water from the snowmelt can run deep. The dogs are waiting for that. The poor things have been staggering around for so long.

I am impressed by the New England weather, the largescale work of people, of beavers, the muck of the cows and horses, their hooves churning the soil. But this morning’s vole reminded me of creatures small and smaller who turn the soil, pollinate, feed and support our system of life. Small scale has a big impact.

Last summer when the electricity went out and our generator didn’t go on, we went out to see what was the problem. Snake skins! It was filled with snake skins and we had to get a new motherboard so it would know what to do. The snakes had done in its brain!

I love the time nature gives me by taking away my tasks or giving me new ones. I’m lucky to be counted in its creature load.

Moon-set at Sunrise

This morning I woke up to the amazing moon setting. The sky was so blue and I had to think where I was and what was I, what had I been doing. It was almost as if I thought I had been awake while the moon was doing its night thing.

I’m reminded how little my awareness counts. When I first started to meditate I was on a ten day retreat and we were asked to spend an hour doing “bare attention.”

I was so pleased to say how much I had seen, how I had observed this little thing and this other littler thing. I was filled with attention to details all around me.

My teacher was kind, he merely nodded and smiled. Later with a rush of red-faced awareness I realized I hadn’t done what was asked at all. It wasn’t about seeing what was around me that I was to spend my hour. No, not at all. But it would be years before that could wedge its way in to my very full and proud mind.

I was filled with facts and proud of it. Games with random facts were my pride. I could answer any question – bidden or not! No, it was years to my realization that what was inside was the fodder of practice. What was inside was the goal. I couldn’t have appreciated that and I didn’t. Not before I was ready.

I excused myself because I was so concentrated on what was outside. Looking for the right shot, the perfect moment was my only goal. I was like a herding dog with sheep. One thing dominated, it was all I had, my best shot.

I finally forgave myself a few years ago – after years of my hair standing on end every time I thought of that moment with my teacher. I was sure he would remember me for that. I was sure I would have remembered me had I been in his place. Still dominated by fact and memory was I!

It’s a slow process guiding inward. Still noticing, still doing what I do, but noticing intention. Noticing the back side of what I do. I notice that involves a lot of acceptance on my part. For myself. For others. I didn’t drop my bags right away. In a pinch I can still see the value of wit and sharpness as my goals of choice. But gradually I’ve learned to take a bit more time. To breathe before thinking, to think before speaking, and from time to time, to actually let something go.

And that’s when I really start noticing. I really start looking. And I feel I have something to say – if asked.

My Uncle Ben

“The individual who wants to reach the top in business must appreciate the might of the force of habit and must understand that practices are what create habits. He must be quick to break those habits that can break him and hasten to adopt those practices that will become the habits that help him achieve the success he desires. ” J. Paul Getty 1892 – 1976

My Uncle Ben was one of my idols growing up. I never knew him except through his books and stories about him. He was well adapted to his time, which spanned from about 1860 to 1930. He had no interest in the telephone. “If someone wants me, they know where I am.” And they did. And he was there. He was an inventor, manufacturer, reader. I don’t think he had a degree of any kind, he just knew what he was doing. And he did what he loved. And he didn’t do anything else. I have his wardrobe and by the look of it, “practical” would have been his ethos. It is elegantly straightforward, as are the family tales of its owner.

His younger brother, my grandfather, was more impetuous. I was told that my grandfather Frank once tried to run after a streetcar. Ben pulled him back, “there’ll be another.” My grandfather used the telephone but thought typewriters were a lot of clacking. He demanded quiet in the office he oversaw. The transition from scriveners to typists was a moment my father would step into.

We all have to adapt whether we want to or not. My forebears stood with their ideals, they walked their talk – or didn’t – they lived as best they could in the changing times they had. The world changes, it’s what we can count on; it’s what we can know or fight or feel betrayed about.

How each one of us grasps the present defines us. It is interesting to note that while the world changes we as humans are essentially the same as we were thousands of years ago. We can’t access the thoughts of our earliest ancestors, but the ones we can read point to our human condition being pretty much the same as it’s always been. There is no concomitant growth in our natures, much as we might like. In fact there is more likely a loss, something we’ve forgotten, a piece of wisdom lost to us. We often look at those before us as not quite with it, a little old fashioned, like our parents who never had sex. But when we open ourselves to looking deeper, to listening without judging the language, which may seem quaint to us, what is written or spoken benefits our lives as we are living them right now. I often read books written a century ago, or many centuries, and am completely supported emotionally and intellectually by what is written.

Any time we feel we are plowing through new ground, we are, but it is our ground and it’s been plowed before. Computers, iPhones, Blackberries, are stepping stones to assist us. The newest technology is old as it leaves the suppliers’ shelves. Our hearts and minds are a constant through the ages. We can’t touch the past or the future with them, we touch with our hearts and minds. It is ourselves who will push through those new doors, and we haven’t changed. Don’t let your new phone get wet, but take care of yourself. Take care to practice what you want, take charge of who you want to be. Stand up for what is real for you. Do what you know. Love what you do.

This Is My Dog Beeker

This is me with my dog Beeker when I was about 8. It was taken by a friend of my father’s from Australia who came to visit us every few years. This is important to me because he seemed so normal and what he did was so exotic and exciting to me. I longed to go somewhere. Be somewhere else. I longed to hit the road with a camera and feel the wind in my face.

His name, what was his name, he was a friend of Uncle Sid’s, someone my father had gone to MIT with – even he was cool. They’d been at MIT together – last class of steam engineering – and then Sid had decided to become a doctor and he’d gone back to school – MIT – to end up a plastic surgeon . He was funny when he told stories about all the ears he’d pinned back on people – people were upset by their ears sticking out, I don’t know if they still are, I don’t hear about it much.

So this friend of Uncle Sid’s came and asked me to let him take my picture. This was only possible if I had Beeker at my side. Beeker was actually my sister’s dog but I was around and she wasn’t and Beeker became mine.

Now you should know that Beeker never in his life had a rope around him. Never was tied, there were no leashes. We lived on a farm with hundreds of acres around us and the dogs and I grouped ourselves by choice, we were always together. But I remember so clearly getting the rope and how important it was to me, how important to show the connection physically, palpably.

I’m so proud of this photograph. I love it, I love that someone exotic took it even if I can’t remember his name. There I was in the middle of this big country and got my picture taken with my shirt and my dog on a day I will always remember. Beeker and I were connected, we still are. He has been back several times now in this lifetime of mine and I keep him close to me, I keep him palpable and secure.

Esme – Greyhound Friend She rescued me when I rescued her

Today, Monday, is the last time – at 4:30 pm – that I’ll

Be able to say, “last week Esme was…”

My heart is a landslide of rubble, scary places, bad footing.

Now, this day, this minute a week ago I was lying next to her

I was taking her head in my hand, I was feeling her pulse

Her breath, her eyes on me. I felt her limbs be cold in an odd way.

I won’t forget that. I felt her warm belly. I felt her warm ears

And her cold nose and I thought and thought breathing with her

As I was, breathing without thinking of breath, or that thing that rhymes with it.

That point on the trajectory of each life that seeks level, that is level.

Everything else is up and down, hot and cold, short and long.

But death is a flat line. Death is a long time. Death is No More.

Today, Monday, it is 1:45pm. I didn’t know. I had no clue.

When I put her in my car she was breathing. It never occurred to me

She would stop. Or anything. Nothing much was occurring – and everything.

Halfway there I knew. I kept driving. But I knew.

And didn’t wouldn’t couldn’t know – no.

A week ago right now I had no clue. What a blessing.

Her life was a blessing. She blessed me. Her every move

Her looks – they were “come hither” and I did

I can’t bear to put a period with these sentences

Time will tell

Time is telling me

This is Monday, it is almost 2

I still have 2 ½ hours left

And I don’t even know it

Pam White

Esme

I was so engulfed in your death

So overcome with it – the grief, the sudden

Emptiness, goneness, I forgot to look

Through your eyes at the love

You always showed me, shared with me

I forgot to feel your heart, the expansiveness, the joy

Of your surrender. I forgot to see who

Was doing all that, who was really there.

It was just us. We two. And we

Are still, as long as I remember

To look through your eyes

Feel with your heart

Breathe, embrace with your spirit.

It always was the only way to go and

It remains so.

Gratitude Habits

Appreciation – the most important habit.

There are five easy ways to participate in the appreciation game.

First, be appreciative of the life you have. Whatever it is, right here, right now, you have a life worth living. You are here because of your infinite wisdom and this is the life that’s yours. When we look at our lives with love, the love is returned. When we look with appreciation at ourselves, that is returned. It’s a straight shot from us to us.

Second, appreciate yourself. Start small. Can you smile? Do it. Make a list of the wonderful things you can do. Everyday review what you’ve done. Have you picked up something on the street and put it in the trash? Have you smiled at someone? Have you appreciated your dog, your cat, your child, your spouse, your friend. Do you love everything you call yours? Why not? They are a gift, from you to you.

Third, appreciate what’s outside you, what you see, feel, touch. All the music, books, movies that you can access – all for free if you need to. Do you know that other countries do not necessarily have libraries and lectures, old movies for their citizens for free? What great opportunities we have for personal development and enrichment and entertainment. Every municipality in this country offers great excursions at little or no cost into worlds beyond our immediate borders.

Which leads right to # four which is appreciating other people. People who share their knowledge and skills, their enthusiasm and hope with us. Slide shows, books, lectures, dances, theatre – the list is endless. There are people around us picking up trash, rescuing wildlife, reading to kids in schools, recording books on tape for people who have trouble with the written word. There are millions of great stories among us who are never on the nightly news. People who are great neighbors and friends, lovers who are kind, spouses who aren’t indifferent, friends who are true. Heads up! Check them out. Pay attention to what is right under your nose. Don’t walk by another person without smiling – unless you are in a place of danger – you know where you are and what’s the right action to take.

Fifth, take this opportunity to team yourself up with those around you. Once you start smiling you’ll find people drawn to you, you’ll start seeing how they are like you, how you fit in with them. You have to make an attempt to know them – if you still feel like you’re good and they’re idiots, you’re not listening to “them,” you’re not seeing “them.” If you truly see people for who they are you will see commonality and in a funny turnabout, you will see your own uniqueness. The more we concentrate on our feelings, motivations, the truth in us, the more we feel connected to those around us.

So, take a leap of faith. Be kind. Be generous. Start here, now, with the most important person you know – YOU!