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Archive for April, 2014

 Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion. (Rumi)

When I create characters and put them on a page they take more space than I give them. They woo me as if they were real, and I begin to resent time spent on the mundane got-to-do tasks. When the phone rings I am grateful to see on Caller-ID an out-of-state number I don’t recognize. After all, I don’t need a condo in Outer Mongolia; free offers rarely are. Let the ring come to a natural end.

However, sometimes the interruption is my work.

Yesterday I planned to finish the final edits on a novel. It didn’t happen. I needed to babysit for my two younger grandchildren. Six-year-old Rebecca and I turned my ’97 Toyota into a taxi while she presented plans for the afternoon with her younger cousin, Ella. I listened. Miss Rebecca’s enthusiasm is contagious. It fills in the creases in my marionette-lined face and lets me know I’m alive—outside the margins of a printed page. I can easily become a hermit. Heaven to me means hours creating fiction or editing real life into my own point of view. Actually, heaven and earth, also known as the profound and the banal, or the uplifting and the detrimental, live together somehow.

Grandma’s taxi turned into a plane. We flew into a cloudless sky while the trees budded within view. We belonged to the universe, and I realized my metaphorical cave, even if it had a hundred windows, could soon grow dark and shrink into light and shadow.

“Where should we go next?” I asked my granddaughter.

“To the park.”

“By taxi or plane?” I ask.

It isn’t very far. She decides we can go by car as we join the universe in ecstatic motion.

a smile from God

 

 

 

 

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The more sand that has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it. (Jean-Paul Sartre, writer and philosopher 1905-1980)

My hourglass of life has had a lot of sand leak out. However, that doesn’t mean I look through the sides with any clarity. In fact, sometimes I rely on the know-how of persons far younger.

As I open the freezer door melted vanilla ice cream drips out. Fortunately our kitchen is small and a towel is handy. This is not exactly a welcome sight on a day when my two older grandchildren are spending the day with Grandma and Grandpa. At least the problem does not seem to be a faulty appliance. Either the door didn’t get shut all the way or something fell and blocked the vents.

“Hey, Kate! Want to earn a dollar or two and help Grandma clean this mess?”

My young buddy is ready and available.

Grandpa helps to empty the space. Then Kate and I get to work. The bottom metal tray is locked into place. I recall pulling it out once, accidentally, to removed spilled ground coffee. I don’t recall how I did itaccidents don’t necessarily replicate themselves for the sake of convenience.

Kate stands on my handy-dandy, short-person kitchen stool and checks the mechanics of the sliding drawer. Within seconds the drawer it out!

“Way to go Kate.” The girl has inherited her mother’s practical creativity. Soon the freezer is clean.

“So, how should we organize this?” I ask.

“Bags on the bottom; boxes on top.”

Somehow the small space seems to have expanded. “Smart girl, Kate. This looks great.”

Sure, I could bemoan the fact that I needed a ten-year-old girl to figure out how to remove a drawer. Or I could celebrate her and maybe even learn how to take the tray out myself the next time. Chances are there will be a next time. I have no plans to claim perfection anytime soon. The fun comes in the adventure of learning, eventually anyway.

judge a fish

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It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. (Henry David Thoreau)

I wonder if my vision blurs sometimes and prevents me from seeing what I think I’m observing. When I searched the inside of my husband’s car for our youngest granddaughter’s glasses, I really did want to find them—immediately! Those prescription lenses were expensive. I found a red ball I would have sworn was in a bin with other toys, some old useless receipts, and a dusty cough drop. But I saw no sign of an orange case with purple swirls. My son ordered a new pair while the original copper wire-rims waited in a school bus, classroom, or limbo. Or so we thought.

Then, weeks later as I went to the car to retrieve my husband’s cell phone, the case appeared on the floor behind the driver’s seat. I stared at what-looked-like-an-orange-mirage a minute before I picked it up. I had been in that spot many times since the day I looked for the missing glasses. The case gave me no clue about where it had hidden since there were no scratches or dirt tracks. It did not tell me why it had taken such a long hiatus. (Comments open to a peculiar lost-and-found story.)

I like to delve into deeper meanings whenever I can. What am I ignoring in my own life just because I don’t want to see it? Are there opportunities I miss because I take an easier path instead?

In the past week I have become aware of people who have gone into hospice; one died yesterday. She left a husband and two young sons. Even though I didn’t know the woman well I knew her husband. I criedfor them and for me. I know she dedicated her life to family. She saw through spiritual lenses that had transcended circumstance. It isn’t likely that she will be found on a listing of famous people; she will be found on a list of people who made the world better because she lived. And that is what matters.

And so I ask for the vision to see better—while searching for lost glasses or for recognizing that moment when a kind word or action can make the difference between despair and hope.

glasses with angel

 

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The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing. (Socrates)

The ancient philosopher Socrates may not come to my mind as I listen to ten different ways to use social media as a writer, but how little I know does. I grew up in the fountain pen and manual typewriter era. And I wonder, am I buying the gray-haired stereotype about technology or is some gray matter active under my skull right now? Fortunately the facts-ready speaker at the Mad Anthony Conference gives plenty of reference for later study, so I give up taking illegible notes and take up listening. Hurray for one mode of operation. It helps me to relax and take it all in one step at a time.

As the conference progresses I network face-to-face, meeting and re-meeting other writers. The same advice repeats in several talks: Agents and publishers are human. Approach them as fellow flesh-and-blood creatures, not as unreachable, above-all god figures. Smile. Be yourself.

Moreover, my writing represents who I am, but it only reflects my existence. My spirit stays captured within my body. If I get a rejection or two the earth will continue to spin, the sun will rise and set on schedule, barring Armageddon. Then my computer would be out of commission. Nevertheless, I would probably still grab a paper and pencil and try to chronicle something. Maybe that’s why I go to conferences to learn whatever I can about my craft. I’m addicted to story-telling and don’t want to recover.

In the days of carbon paper and typewriters, a mistake at the bottom of the page required hours of penance. Today the backspace key makes error correction simple. Learning on a deeper level—finding the true self, takes a lot more time and energy.

As I enter each session I consider becoming an empty slate, open to learning the way a young child hears new words, sees different faces,  flowers, and birds, and then pauses to admire smelly dog poop. Discovery transcends borders. The beautiful and the ugly live together and can’t be separated for convenience.

All I need is the willingness to admit that I still have a lot to learn, and that ignorance is okay—more than okay. Then I can plunge into life and embrace wholeness. One adventurous moment at a time. Although I have to admit, Mr. Socrates, not-knowing doesn’t always feel like wisdom at the time.

becoming PIQ

 

 

 

 

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