Posts Tagged ‘choice’

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves. One is evil—he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.” (Cherokee legend)

This year has had nothing to do with twenty-twenty vision. Not yet. Perhaps recognizing dark and light within, can help root out the angry wolves inside me. May my flame be directed into light instead of uncontrolled, destructive fire.

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acrylic painting I made recently based upon a photo of a birch in Acadia Park in Maine

There’s a lot of difference between listening and hearing. (G. K. Chesterton)

The scene is a circle of young women. In the distant past. I am among the women as I admit I am close to despair.

“Look at the beauty of the trees in the yard,” one member advises. She spreads her arms as if she were Mother Nature enjoying her handiwork.

The scene she describes doesn’t lift me. I feel censured for embracing a less-than-perfect place. And the blue rug where I sit opens. Or at least it seems to open. I fall through. Hidden inside.

Later. Much later. I realize I couldn’t accept the glory because it wasn’t mine. It belonged to someone else. I’d been given a simple answer to a complex situation. An accepting nod would have been better.

Strange. I understand this after my ears needed amplification to catch the most uncomplicated conversation.

It is also strange that I am grateful for the depths because now I can recognize a natural gem and celebrate its worth.

The news advertises fear. With or without facts depending upon the source. A friend calls about her confusion. I don’t have answers. I listen…



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You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one. ( John Lennon)

Fog, Sun, and Hope


Bare, black trees stand out inside a low cloud. Fog.

Headlights hide the vehicles they guide


until the cars arrive close enough to be

seen by other drivers.


In political fogs fact and factoid blur. Alternative facts,

lies that wear well-constructed masks. Fear wins.


Each lie repeats often enough to be used as beams for

followers. The mask asks people to scoff non-believers.


And the non-believers respond with taunts, point out stupidity,

lack of logic, inconsistency. A no-win war begins.


In the natural world, sun, blue, and clouds reappear.

Dead trees remain leafless. Headlights become optional,


a choice. Drivers can now see without them. Can eyes open

and human roots join for change? Must fog live in all seasons?


Or can sun live despite fog? As headlights point out need,

can drivers carry hope and respond with an ear instead of censure?


Yes, I hear where you stand, those who would

destroy the poor and give to the rich, but I disagree.


Peace for the world.

 Eventually. Please.


originally published in For A Better World



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There is no us and them; it’s an illusion. We are all human beings, and we all have a responsibility to support one another and to discover ways of wresting the power from the very, very few people who control all the cash and all the property. (Roger Waters.)

Amazing how lost I can feel even though I know exactly where I’m turning left and right. Three errands. Each simple and specific. And yet my thoughts travel as if my brain synapses have no connections. I want to save the world. It isn’t going to happen.

A red car turns ahead of me into the parking lot as a small boy sticks his head out the window. He is a handsome child. Mocha skin. Hair shaved to reveal a perfectly shaped skull. He returns inside immediately. I imagine the voice of the driver, probably a parent. “Get your seatbelt on right now, young man.”

Then I see the identical shaved hairstyle of a smaller boy. He is seated in the middle of the back seat. The red car is no longer a vehicle in a line of traffic. It is its own world. A mini-community that turns toward another part of the shopping center.

I don’t know the family. And yet a scene hits me. The earth from a distance. Made from easily delineated parts. Water. Land. And everything is blurred as if it had no mountain, valley, creatures, or specks of dust.

When one group of people has never interacted with another, notions develop without dimension, fact, or touch.

“I’m not prejudiced,” an unnamed white woman announces. “I just think all lives matter.” The rebuttal comes, “But is your life being threatened? Has it ever been threatened because your pale-peaches skin has too many freckles?” And the response is a cold stare.

Us and them. May these words become pronouns again and stay out of the judgmental realm. They are too easily used as weapons.

A wider worldview. It may be the only solution. Yet not an easy one.


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Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. (Pablo Picasso)



You laugh when I say Daddy and Uncle Steve were my babies. 

Pool water drips from our bathing suits

through the white plastic slats of our beach chair.

The dark puddles mimic gray shapes shifting overhead.

We sit wrapped in the limited safety of a gold beach towel.

I breathe the scent of your chlorinated hair as if it were medicine.

My embrace would save you from more than chill if it could,

make you a princess at the age of three. 


But I think of a chrysalis,

spared the struggle of opening its own cocoon yet denied flight.

I kiss you on the top of your dark, wet head

and tell you how wonderful you are.

I pray for your spirit to sing whenever gray clouds

meet inevitable dark patterns below.   

You giggle. Daddy and Uncle Steve. Babies.

It’s okay, Kate. You don’t need to understand.

Your small body curls next to mine.

I am in no hurry for you to grow up.

I have no idea how soon you will learn about loss.


That winter your friend slips under an ice-covered lake.

An accident. She’s critical. Her prognosis, unclear.

As the months pass and your birthday arrives

I prepare for your special dinner.

You come into the kitchen as I cook.

I expect you to ask about your presents.

Instead, you mention your friend,

in a coma now, a sliver of the child she once was.

I pray for her every day.

You appear unaware of the power of words larger than you are.

Your fresh four-year-old trust widens a chrysalis opening.

Gray skies shift overhead, bash the ground below,

and leave you twice as beautiful.


illustration made from public domain image and cut paper

published in For a Better World and Piker Press

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Play is the highest form of research. (Albert Einstein)

A Blue Bike


One 1950’s variety blue,

second-hand bicycle, no features

peddle-power only.

Balance, I’d mastered it.


A classmate begged to ride.

She sped down the hill,

made a squealing brake,

and met the concrete with her nose.


“It’s the bike’s fault,” she claimed.

Tears fell into the blood on her face

while she stared me down.

My parents said nothing.


Alone, I stepped into new shades of balance.

My peer seemed to choose a

shift-the-blame ploy. As a reticent child,

inaction was my norm. I hadn’t yet learned


when to be silent, when to speak.

I was mute out of fear. Balance

and courage took me years to develop.

To move from a fragile ego into integrity.


A new goal reaches into my horizon, to focus

less on blame than on the pain. How can I help you?

To be aware of both ploy and hurt. Neither

accepting nor giving censure. Not easy.


Balance includes more than gravity. To

maintain real-life love without being a jerk,

without giving more than I have.

One 2020 old lady moving forward, into peace.


published in For A Better World 2020

pic made from public domain image



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We’re capable of much more than mediocrity, much more than merely getting by in this world. (Sharon Salzberg, Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection)

A Child’s description of a YMCA pool. “Nothing like the ocean…deeper even at the beginning.”

Two brothers enter the pool. I hear the younger boy say to the other, “This water is eleven feet deep. But it is nothing like the ocean. The ocean is deeper even at the beginning.”

I smile at the child’s innocence. His simple joy. The boy has his green wrist band now. So, he can plunge into the deep end. With confidence. Swim tests completed.

Unfortunately, during Covid19 days those times need to be reserved. Socially distanced. Limited. Nevertheless, I watch the family interact. Enjoy. Celebrate. As I tread water. And reality. As well as I can.

“You have a delightful family,” I finally tell Mom. She smiles. A camera slung around her shoulders. Pictures captured inside.

She is an attractive lady. Black hair almost to her shoulders. Smooth skin the color of dark chocolate. The boys are a tad lighter, with a chestnut tinge. Lean. Active. The father, attentive. Smiling. He doesn’t see me. I smile anyway. To a beauty that I recognize inside him.

And I think about how the ocean seems deeper, even at the edge. A long way between shores. A deep space between peoples.

“Have a blessed day,” I say to the woman as this group’s assigned time ends. As the staff prepares to clean. To keep the space safe during a pandemic virus.

Safe. Such a short word with such an expansive unsaid meaning.

Peace. For all.

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When I was 5 years, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life. (John Lennon)

 The young Beatle-to-be obviously didn’t have nuns as teachers. He would have been knocked down a step or two, or three, or four. With or without a cracking ruler.

If only happiness didn’t need to be pursued. I tell my grandchildren they are important often. Sure, action and discipline remain necessary. The-world-owes-me makes a sad goal. However, a happy-to-be-alive everyday life isn’t easy to achieve.

“You need to live to be 138,” one grandchild told me recently. “I’m going to need you that long.”

Sweet. Yes. And yet a potent message. A need to be assured remains powerful.

The little things. Always the little things. How well or poorly are they set together?



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separated smilesThe way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain. (Dolly Parton)

“Put a smile on your face.” A quote. Made by almost any parent. Well-meant perhaps, but misleading. First, the smile needs to be placed in the heart. It isn’t an accessory, like a hat or sweater.

As a teenager, I recall fussing about my thin, flyaway hair. I tried to make it look like someone else’s.

“Pretty is as pretty does,” my mother said with a face that stated, “And you are not pretty in appearance or deed.” That notion could have been restated. “This may seem important to you now. I can show you a better way.” I am glad I eventually discovered a new mirror.

The illustration pictures separated smiles. Without the rest of the person, they appear strange. The completed faces that belong to these mouths, have blessed me. One belongs to my sister. Another to my daughter-in-law. The baby’s grin belongs to my growing, youngest grandchild.

Sure, I’ll put on a smile. A smile that comes from the heart and soul. Not to a command. Sadness is real. It doesn’t need to be fed, but it does need to run its course.

Perhaps joy may take some time. Like waiting through a pandemic. Like hours of labor before birth. Like the negative space that gives lace and art its beauty.

The picture is metaphorical. I have heard all three of the voices attached to these lips, felt their presence, even if that physical touch was distant. These voices speak love.

The past can’t be changed. I offer my mother no advice. However, I have plenty to tell me. I don’t advise someone else about how to feel. I do tell them they have value, then give them space to discover it for themselves.


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Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present. (Eleanor Roosevelt.)

On this day in 1946, I was the huge bulge in my mother’s middle that made her enormously uncomfortable. In the last few weeks of pregnancy, a hole in my umbilical cord fed her instead of me. She didn’t appreciate it. I don’t blame her.

 I appeared six days later, scrawny, my head the size of an orange. I was malnourished. For the first and last time in my life. Mom wondered why I was so red, wrinkled, and ugly.

The nurses didn’t let her hold me. I was rushed to the nursery. They told her I was all right. Too small. Four pounds and a few more ounces. But okay. A contradiction.

 Would I believe that reason for separation? I’m not sure.

 Too much distance now. In a bonding that never happened. In years. In my mother’s death. In the changes in the economy. Pictured is a typed bill. For ten days in a newborn nursery. Sixty dollars, the current cost a hospital may charge for an aspirin.

 No, I can’t see the print without a magnifying glass either. The past. The present. Neither can be explained with a dogmatic approach. Better in some ways. Worse in others.

 We choose what we know. Now. I pray to choose and love well.




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