REPORT A PROBLEM
Circle time. Countdown begins. One of, one of, one of 100. When a simple highlight of the day gets a moment of airtime. Was it that moment when the ambulance siren invited a blessing for the poor soul laying in the back? Or when a homeless woman walked sideways through a door that welcomes the madness that makes us forget our own. Or the moment when fatigue sets in and you realize you are even too tired to judge the day, good or bad. It is just a day, and you remember that hope wakes you up in the morning.
A day always has a highlight and a low-light. Some kind of light, some kind of dark. On this day, a woman speaks of a murdered son, a homeless man with one tooth huddles alone, people eat chicken thighs. What stands out is a boulder of snow that smashed on the windshield while driving over that George Washington Bridge. No broken glass. One minute whining on the phone about the poor me's of having to toggle between two homes. Poor, poor me. Suddenly: gratitude. One moment of realizing what can fall so easily from the sky, this very sky.
A should-less day. A day of no lists, no appointments, no rushing or aimlessly dusting. A day with a cat sprawled on the lap and gazing out a window where a family of cardinals flies by. A day that there is just enough stillness to notice. A day of no horns from city streets three floors down, no closet to sort, nothing to ponder. Only a gray sky that is trying with all its might to turn blue, although it claims a should-less day too and is fine with the sun not getting in the way for today.
Days of yes stand out more than the days of no. A yes to a seat on the cold bleachers at Lacrosse - purple, gold Great Danes. The smile of a dad, his son, blankets on laps, a cafe called Peaches. Yes, because of love, admiration, and reality of how the son is now taller than the dad. Yes to all the bleachers shared, losses, drop-offs, sleepovers, Christmas camping. A yes to watching my man be a man and a dad and a lover and a friend. Yes to driving back over a bridge, over a river and home together.
Message from the future, inner elder. From that wise Crone who smiles and shakes her head wondering what to say to this young silly self who frets about a belly roll, or not having enough time. Lighten up, sweetheart. There is plenty of time as she rocks, knitting a bright burgundy hat with a flower. Put your feet up, flaunt that body that will later fall down, swim in a blue speedo, pet the warm cat, drink 8 oz of water in a pretty glass, plan Sweden, savor a face with few lines. Oh, and precious one? Dance. Dance. Dance.
One is the loneliest number. One is the loneliest number. Maybe if that is written one hundred times on this one day it will add up to 100. We are one voice and we are singing, we are two voices, we are singing...100 voices and we are singing. We are not alone. Clearly a day of filler words that started with peaceful drive on the Taconi with the voice a James Hollis, "we tend to fear the idea of a midlife crisis as the time when we have to give up the vigor of youth." No, I say, nope.
What one gets after sitting with the 87-year-old man with an Irish brogue and a glow, an afterglow, a knowing glow, the glow of years? His perspective on stress management: "just look for the light, there is always a lighter side. Light is a frame of mind." Suddenly a room turns into a field of poppies instead of misfits, sufficiency instead of need, greenery, no bars. A room with windows with a view to a blue sky and the rain is just rain. A minor inconvenience and not a thief. A day goes from dark to light, light.
What happens when you love a man in love with another? When the "other" is basketball? You see the light in his eyes that shines, and you note that this light holds no light to you. You realize that without this game he goes dim and you leave him be. You honor the viewing, coaching, playing, filming, editing and editing and editing. You don't pretend to love the sport, so you simply love the man that loves the sport, and you don't complain when he sleeps with it - remembering the stunning poetry in it all, the joy in his eyes.
Darkness falls when a day ends and sleep makes sense of a mess. This happens. So why even bother to fret when the veil lifts? Nevertheless, we persist. Nevertheless, the lights come on. Nevertheless, a client's hands are chapped and shaking - and you listen really hard to defy her belief that things are hopeless. Your attention unlocks gratitude that at 6:03 a.m. the sun rose that very morning and she is stronger than her thoughts and fibromyalgia. She is NOT her pain. She is a fragile bird that simply tumbled from her nest, cried and no one noticed.
Darkness may fall on the day, but sleep takes it away. All the time. Don't even worry. Why even bother to fret when the veil always lifts? Nevertheless, she persisted. Nevertheless, the lights came on. Nevertheless, her hands were chapped and shaking - and you opened your ears and heard her plea. Listening will allow her to defy the belief that things are hopeless. Your attention may unlock her memory that at 6:03 the sun rose that very morning and that she is stronger than her thoughts and anger. She is NOT pain. She is a bird that simply tumbled.
Excerpt from Endgames: "I wonder why we cram it all in at the end. Why can't life be about luxuriating in moments all the time? Especially since in the end, these moments are all that matter. Yet we can skip over so much in this hurried life and then hit a screeching halt at the end, wondering why we raced." He only got to play chess with me and the pawns he created. There is no doubt that he would have liked to show these chess pieces off more, perhaps by leaving it with me, he sensed that would happen.
Weight of a cat on a lap is less weight of the world on one's shoulders. Breathing slows down. Peace. You can call me a cat lady. Go right ahead. Call me a cat woman instead. Weight of a cat on the lap is like a blanket of calm, white with black markings that no one planned. A tail that wags for no other reason but the love of a warm lap, or the sound of food falling into a bowl. No better stillness, and if you argue, you have not had the weight of a cat on the lap.
Thirteen thoughts on the thirteenth day of the month of March. Thirteen alphabetical, numerological, philosophical, scrambled thoughts that don’t come together at the midnight hour on the thirteenth day of 100 days. Thoughts after a day of a qualification, the client with the yellow shirt and victim eyes, a morning of dancing a 5 rhythm dance for 27 minutes and feeling peace, joy. As I danced like no one was watching because they were not. That kind of day. When it ends in a minute, it will be over. If nothing else, I can say that I managed a smile.
When one is "in the field," it could be a field of daisies, or it could be a field of crazies, or it could be a field of learning, or it could be that lovely field that Rumi speaks to: "Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right-doing, there is a field. I'll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about..." So, when the day is done after being "in the field," it is done, and lives of people are far too full to talk about in 100 words.
If all else fails there are objects to name like a red ottoman, two fake flaming candles, sand dollars, five minute timer with blue sand, red meditation cushion, MSNBC, brown floral pillows, fingers on a keyboard that are contemplating the highlights of a day in the life of scaffolding coming down, pedestrian bridge falling, remnants of a work day that went astray. A parking spot directly in front, a few good friends on the phone, a man in route from LaGuardia Airport. Pieces of the day that stick and pieces of the day that melt away to another day.
Flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical and stillness: a sky filled with lights. The streets filled with sounds of a city in motion as we dance, we dance, we dance in this Joffrey Ballet School of dance. We dance in a room filled with movement, bodies big, bodies small, sexy bodies, flowing bodies. Windows to the dance of Manhattan and we smile, sweat, open to the rhythms: What? flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical and stillness. Five Rhythms -- not four, not three --not two --not a yoga circuit, or pilates, spin, or elliptical. We dance as thoughts melt into the body like nobodies business.
When Irish eyes smile, they smile even if it is in memory. And it is in memory, damn it. Of lit up earrings and fake green beer. A nursing home that turned on a good party, a parade of cheer to help to forget you were there, instead of the home of your heart. A mom turns into a leprechaun but sang like a Celtic woman at the wear your green party. Wheelchairs back to back and Irish eyes smiling. Cornbeef and cabbage. A mom now long gone, leaving Irish eyes in the mirror when I wake in the morning.
Bingo has a language, a culture of hope for a crazy T or the special K, or the full card. Jackpot. When one's mother was a Bingo queen, one must enter a Bingo hall in her honor and bring some lucky charms, daubers, and cash. Sit with the irregular regulars. Tell them Bingo war stories as tears well up. They lean in with a Bingo woman lean. Nothing like the love of the game, my mom's game, spread like a tablecloth that made a night easier and dreams bigger and the pain of life blotted away for just that night.
As the light changes, so too the mood. Light is light until the brown of the branches is hidden. The birds that bounce from one branch to another are tucked away for the day. Just like all the thoughts and some unfinished projects that surface like bats in a cave and won't be swatted away. The creative mind is not a linear thing, not mathematically structured like a financial wizard with an excel spreadsheet. The creative mind is brightly colored, with branches and twigs and sixteen tabs open on a laptop with an array of its own sophistication and dance.
Imagine silence, quiet. Imagine each day starting with not a sound. No alarm and no feet hitting the floor, flushing a toilet, boiling water. Imagine nowhere to go, no annoyances and cracks in the sidewalk. No decisions to make, no conversations on hold. Don't demand to be heard anymore. It is old. Won't you listen? No. They won't. No worries dear. Think of the relief. No need to get somewhere on time and set up, settle down, scope the scene, get your spot at the table. There is no table, no centerpiece, no vacancies. Instead, a gratitude. For what was.
"You have to make it yours, you have to take it, you have to own it."- Am I actually quoting Versace? I guess so. Confessions from a night of awful television - Assassination of Gianni Versace. Awfully good. Make something fully your own as there is no waiting for the magic of what it will become. We fall in love with potential and dreams, when the in between is sweet, calm, with shades of lime, lemon, and zest. Now is the now that matters. When piles of crystal snow land on the first day of spring on a warm pajama day.
A gray wool hat covered her eyes, but when her chin tilted upward just enough, her eyes were blazing, awake. In between some rants, diamonds fell. Words that struck a thousand cords, reminding me that I know very little in the mix of a room of people who have lived eight or more decades of living through assassinations, wars. They look across at me and know of moon landings, and you are shuffling on through until 5pm sharp. She shares a translation of Rumi, "savor the nectar poured for you, be mindful when it is served in a soiled cup."
A fire burned on a deck - the Hudson River in view, a river in view, a river... in view. The sky seemed small, hovering and less removed than usual. A song, "you are a beacon of light in the world, be who you are..." sang by a shaman friend who enters her third/third of life...and the fire burned...under this blotchy sky, and it was not imagined, it was real: this felt sense - these words from the people who are gone in my life: "we are as close as your breath...so, please, breathe. we are are near."
Days happen when sun breaks through but you wish it didn't because all you want is permission for a day of black polka-dotted pajamas, a Maho Bay sweatshirt. A day with a fat cat on lap, streaming video, phone calls. The mind doesn't let that happen easily because there is a list of things, of things, of things, so many things that seem to matter. Today, though, you don't look at lists. You just look out the window and see sunshine trying and you admire the way it does its best against clouds that are wide and far-reaching.
An old crumbled up piece of paper in a journal reads: "even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there." Where is that balance between stillness and running? I remember a sweet long time ago boyfriend said, "I'll wait until you get your run out." The funny thing is that when one is running, they have no idea they are running until they STOP. What I know for sure is that there is less of a "run" in me and more of a sitting still, and I like it very much.
Gratitude lifts anything that resembles thoughts of blue or gray. Theme songs rock the city walks with Natalie Merchant in my ear, "La la la la la la la... You've been so kind and generous, I don't know how you keep on giving. For your kindness, I'm in debt to you..." Songs that turn commutes into a musical, "Well, I've walked these streets, in a carnival, of sights to see. All the cheap thrill seekers, vendors, and the dealers, they crowded around me." Songs of gratitude, grit-a-tude, life-affirming, brain-washing words that topple the tumbleweeds of thought.
Bleep. It was that kind of day. One big bleep. Good news is that it is bleeping over. Wait, how about naming some highlights in between the lowlights: A peaceful drive along the Taconic, good parking karma, walk to work, great chats on the friendly iPhone, helped senior citizens in spite of it all, walked in Central Park during lunch break, walked home, ate well, feet up. So, in the middle of it all, the bleeps are not worth rehashing, remixing and re-imagining at this hour. Moral of the story? Perhaps it was a bleeping better day than not.
It must be a sign when a sparrow flies over your head in a Bed Bath & Beyond. It must be a sign when someone gets on the bus, smiles at you and looks you directly in the eye. It must be a sign when your theme song of late is playing in a Goodwill store. It must be a sign when you are hit with wild fatigue and get to walk home for a little nap. It must be a sign at the end of a day when you can reflect on the signs of a day. This one day.
Let silence have a voice. Try a day of silence. Zip. Nada. No words. Quiet. Even if there is a wild desire to ramble on, dial-up, text, email - that is a big NO, zippo, no way. Take a break. One reaches the point where words mean little because they are used too much. Or when the city doesn't shut up and the calendar is noisy and too full. Or the glare of the screen hurts the eyes. So, let silence have a voice. Sweet quiet. Then rain has a sound and a breeze has a whispery way about it.
What to say when words won't come at this moment in time? Pull the lyrics from the nearest song - a song by RubyMac it is - choppy copy pulled to capture this very mood, a moment. "Some days the tongue gets twisted. Mountains crumble with every syllable. Speak life when the sun won't shine and you don't know why. Speak life. Speak life. Lift your head a little higher. Raise your thoughts a little higher. Troubles fall like rain. Lift your head a little higher. Speak life to the deadest darkest night. Look into the eyes of the broken-hearted." Okay
Solitude first. Time in solitude strengthens our time in a community. Always. Taking quiet time to reflect, like here at this moment: the sunlight on glass, a cat breathing, a tree.... this fills me. Quiet fills me. Solitude fills me, but I don't get too comfortable there because the real playroom of life is away from the mountaintop and with others, forgetting self, helping. Parker Palmer says, "...many polarities that come with being human as “both–ands” rather than “either–ors,” we hold them in ways that open us to new insights and possibilities." First, solitude. Then, community. Both-ands.
The Tip Jar