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screened vision

(screened vision, black and white, not easily read and slightly off-center)

The most important thing is to be whatever you are without shame. (Rod Steiger)

Even if I had the X-ray vision of the Superman I watched long before flat-screened TV and Netflix, I doubt I could understand human motivation. Friendships with the folk who share a similar sense of empathy, are easy. Those who can’t see a relationship between weapons and death, are difficult for me to figure out.

Someone I know tells a story about direct experience with an individual wielding a gun—at her. No pause for recognition of her experience, the person she tells continues with a statistics-game. No awareness of the damage done by violence.

Yet, this man is worthwhile, genuine in what he does. I have no intention of turning away from him. Argument proves nothing.

A photo taken through a screen isn’t the same as a picture taken in the cold and ice—as it develops. The picture isn’t the same as the photographed space.

Life continues without a set pattern. I need to be who I am, speak my own truth and respect the truth of another. Sometimes this respect is as difficult as seeing through two separate screens, made of vastly different experiences.

Peace. Five letters, each one separated by centuries of misunderstanding. Nevertheless, an essential goal. For all.

 

 

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rose in frameAppreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well. (Voltaire)

I’m struck by two profoundly different moments. The first, an original drawing received on a Christmas card, two months late. The artist died fifteen days before the holiday. The second, a red fabric rose given by my friend Cathy as a Valentine. She told me it was a thank-you for my ready smile.

Cathy’s welcoming approach to everyone results in a sunshine response. However, I’ll accept her gift and hug. Who started our friendship? I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter. Living that friendship does matter.

The Christmas card has found a quiet display in the bedroom. The artist’s picture with his birth and death date appear on the back. I hear his voice in my memory. See you later. A wave and laugh. Not enough time for one more thank you, acknowledgement of his gifts for humor, art, affability.

I talk to him in the silence of my thoughts. About the nuances of art that appear simple, yet come with quick, aptly applied brush strokes. Then, I switch to travel stories and ask what it was like to ride a camel. No response from the other side; I would believe my mind had cracked if I caught his voice in the lamp or mirror.

Then, I realize the gifts of this day bring enough gratitude. One rose, Cathy. Three granddaughters. One almost-grandson and a simple wedding between his mom and my son is in the future. A tiny affair with a big impact—at least in my family’s life.

What is excellent in others belongs to us as well. May that excellence continue to grow because of the next step I take. May we meet in that space…

 

 

seasonsAdopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

“Are those flowers real?” friends ask when they see the pastel arrangement of out-of-season blooms on my table.

They aren’t. I bought the vase from a struggling-artist neighbor. The arrangement matched an oil painting created by my husband’s grandmother, although my subconscious made the decision, and let me know about it later. The fact that my black thumb couldn’t kill the blossoms, chose first.

The notion of forever warmth and sunshine—without effort—is appealing.

Sure, I realize utopia doesn’t exist, even in storybook land. Either the flying unicorn runs into some adventure or the bored preschooler falls asleep before his bedtime tale ends.

Now February, the elongated 28-day month, shows its power in Midwest America. This thin-blooded, needs-another-blanket individual, shivers. (My husband wears shorts until the thermometer dips below zero.)

I don’t sparkle in the sun the way snow on a bare tree does. The secret of nature is patience. No season, day, month, year, or life lasts forever. The darker moments carry disguised blessings. Without the difficult times in my life, I suspect I could take what I have for granted.

My purchased flowers are not real; it is okay to enjoy them, as artificial. In the meantime, I celebrate the fact that I have indoor heat, a warm coat, and opportunities to give to others. Opportunities I hope will warm the spirit of somebody else since mother nature’s timing, warm or cold, doesn’t budge.

Patience? I haven’t arrived on that perfect path yet. I still rely on artificial flowers as a reminder that their fresh counterparts will reappear. In their own time.

When all’s said and done, all roads lead to the same end. So it’s not so much which road you take, as how you take it. (Charles de Lint, writer)

If there are spills on the kitchen floor and crumbs on the carpet during the next few days, I know who did it. Moi. Jay is spending some quality time with his siblings. I chose a quiet retreat pace—if three magazines and two books in bed qualify as embracing-the-simple.

Since I’m not a speed reader, chances are I haven’t exactly created a quiet one-thing-at-a-time retreat pace. My expectations usually include a ridiculous amount of multitasking, using unfocused brain synapses.

I am a writer, one who takes two steps backward and one forward. Today, reverse seems to be the primary gear. I have managed half a paragraph in two hours. The backspace key is getting most of the action.

The phone rings. My youngest granddaughter, Ella, is on the line. “Want to go to the library with me today?” The answer is a no-brainer. Grandma mode is simpler. It requires love. Word order doesn’t take a lot of thought on the grandparent path. I love you is adequate communication. No editing necessary.

Time to drive—through the rain and into the arms of a child.

Peace Is…

Peace isInspiration does exist, but it must find you working. (Pablo Picasso.)

Editing a manuscript can be like searching through garbage for lost tarnished silverware. Before the utensils pass inspection, they need to lose some crud. A shine may or may not happen after vigorous polishing.

Living real life is far more difficult. Its garbage never goes away. Peaceful existence demands a less judgmental approach. And—the work is never completed.

Sometimes persons who seemed to be so perfect, flub, big time. A friend disappears when needed. Or worse, dies. The evening news brings more continued discord than it brings news.

And yet, mother nature, world history, and current politics never promised to be fair.

I’m glad I can find inspiration in the love real life allows. Sometimes in the simplest ways. A day with a six-year-old grandchild. An unexpected phone call or thank-you card. A well-timed compliment. A new friend.

Inspiration exists, but it needs more than published-word acknowledgment. Thanks to all for your smiles, in person or via cyberspace. Sent to me, sure. However, any gift offered without expectation, is richer than any polished silver or word. Pass it on…

Peace.

 

Winter and Compassion

winter through the screen (2)_LI

All I ever wanted was to reach out and touch another human being not just with my hands but with my heart. (Tahereh Mafi)

Snow. A four-letter word. Not in a vulgar, but in a testy sense. Nevertheless, I know I’m blessed as I feel and hear warm air rise from the furnace. My husband kept a thick, warm coat in the back seat of the car until we saw a homeless man who could use it. Socks next maybe. Some packaged food…

Inside the house I wheeze. Yet, I have the medications necessary to recover. Outside, who knows how long I would last?

A cardinal stops to snack at the birdfeeder. A squirrel gorges on the feed. I look at my belly and suspect I have more in common with the squirrel.

The snow melts and then promises to appear again. Need never melts completely. However, compassion isn’t a job; it’s a way of life. 

hands united (3)_LI“I don’t think of all the misery, but of all the beauty that still remains.” (Anne Frank)

Chaos reigns in national news. I blush when I consider how the American citizen appears to people in other countries—if certain groups remain the example. To be the greatest country means to be an instrument for peace—for all. However, greatness requires an emphasis on action, not boasts.

I applaud the many people who speak out, especially those who manage to point out wrongs without including pejorative and prejudicial terms. Or profanity. Without tossing hatred at hatred. Fire never puts out fire.

When I hear the ugly on TV, I groan. Of course, I react! The challenge comes with opportunities to magnify a horrified response: Bullied calls to war. Refusals to notice hurricane victims not in the continental US. Religion without acceptance of different nations and people.

However, there is nothing simple about choosing what is sometimes called a higher road. There are no quick solutions or instant gratifications along its path. I’ve fallen from a metaphorical mountain bridge now and then.

Fortunately, along the road again I find friends, incredible friends. We share how we think and feel, honestly. And, we speak “…the beauty that still remains.”

One of these friends told a story of a small boy who practiced his one line in a Christmas pageant. As innkeeper he needed to tell Joseph and Mary there was no room in the inn. However, when he saw his classmates and looked in their eyes, he couldn’t follow through. He said, “Come on in…” I don’t know how the play ended. I can only wish.

My wish for the world? Anne Frank pointed out beauty. It could not save her, but it exists. Inside anyone who notices. For the human-race, may all divisions merge. Into possibilities.