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Posts Tagged ‘experience’

People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within. (Elisabeth Kübler-Ross)

In a large portion of the Midwest, ice didn’t wait for the autumn leaves to drop. My husband and I experience some time without power. No heat or electricity. Difficult, but nothing in comparison to the losses of folk in other parts of the country. Fires destroy California.

Hurricanes demolished everything in their path.

Heroes and heroines rarely make the news. They are too busy working, giving. Being who they are. No time to watch them for virtues. Better to emulate them with action. I can always give more to people around me.

Even in simple, everyday ways.

I watch my seven-year-old grandson as he fills can after can with fallen leaves. He wants to do more. To work, to help. I make mashed potatoes. He learns to lead the beaters through the hot taters and create a smooth dinner treat—not as a chore, as something new. He is a hero in training.

Dakota is a gift, the kind that blasts light from within. These days before Thanksgiving I celebrate the special times we share together.

I can’t melt the ice any sooner or smother the raging fires on the other side of the country. I can give what I have to reputable organizations. And deny hard-of-heart messages from entering my spirit.

At times darkness wins. However, when light remains within the good inside people, hope lives.

 

 

 

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Perseverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody. (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

Six-thirty AM. Election Day, November 6, 2018. My husband and I are newbie volunteers outside the polls. Time to make our first mistakes. We have no idea where the entry for voting could be in this huge building. No flag. No signs. A long-time voter at this location, leads the way. We park our chairs 98 feet too close to the site. A poll worker points out the 100-foot mark. We move. Quickly.

No light in the sky and we are in the dark as well. Temporarily.

We meet Duane Morgan. She is the third part of our team, the all-day volunteer. She is new at this work, too. However, she transforms the parallel don’t-know-what-to-do lines Jay and I bring, into a workable triangle. She delivers the inspiration.

In the past few weeks I spent entirely too much time worrying about cold, wind, rain, storm. Duane is a two-time cancer survivor. Her son was murdered. Nevertheless, her eyes sparkle with an inner glow; the predawn darkness can’t diminish her spirit or faith. The rich brown of her skin is beautiful. It hides her age. She is six years older than I am. Yet, her energy exceeds mine. Perhaps she has overcome useless worry as well.

Today’s forecast included thunder and lightning. The oh-so-important plastic poncho I had to buy waits in the car. An unexpected gift of sun alternates with wind. An even greater gift appears as Red and Blue speak, human to human.

Lonnie is a young, well-educated Republican. We talk to one another, civilly. As friends. I don’t know his last name. Yet. I learn that he, like Duane, is a survivor. He was born with a heart defect. Recently, he had heart surgery. It has not stopped him from running, not only for office, but on the streets.

My stand on human rights, the need for accessible health care, and recognizing skin color as a human accessory hasn’t changed. If only…if only…we could work in peace.

 

 

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Try to see things differently – It’s the only way to get a clearer perspective on the world and on your life. (Neal Shusterman)

Laundry waits inside a plastic, easily opened hamper. If it were viewed by the privileged, it would be dismissed, seen as mundane, too common to be noticed.

If it were given to a group with nothing, the people would open the lid and stare inside. They would gather and empty the contents. Find a use for every fiber.

It belongs to me. I take it for granted. Wash and dry. Watch the time as if I owned each minute.

Friends and I talk. I listen. We see life differently. Together, we cleanse one another’s thinking. Peace, please.

 

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The only hope of understanding [pain] comes as we align ourselves with a groaning universe committed to cycles of birth, rebirth, and the longing for a just order. (Barbara A. Holmes)

Stop. Breathe. Not a new notion when it comes to managing stress. And yet somehow, each time I expect instant results. After the pause I open my eyes. The elongated blink wasn’t long enough. The same ugliness remains. Perspective doesn’t arrive until I’m ready.

That perspective rarely comes in permanent form, never as solid, one-size-fits-all wisdom. Recently, a blessed moment came when I noticed I could help someone in an unexpected, yet simple way, By listening. Talking, yes—listening more.

Light comes. In many forms. Sometimes in kaleidoscope, beautiful-but-not-easily-recognized forms. Then again it arrives as itself, obvious in nature. The love of a child or family member. An unexpected gift. A longing for a just order that results in action.

The good exists. It hides, but it exists.

 

 

 

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I shut my eyes in order to see. (Paul Gauguin)

Umbrellas and I don’t get along well. I either leave them in the car or under the table at a restaurant. Several years ago, I published a poem on a For a Better World site, AEQAI, maintained by Saad Ghosn. I remembered some of those narrative poetry lines while I was driving today, rain falling, my umbrella in the trunk, my thoughts recalling the many broken people I know. Peace upon all. Without judgment.

THE BROKEN UMBRELLA

I find an old, bent umbrella

in the back of a closet,

and remember a story

about my great aunt,

the one who lived

with my grandmother.

I heard she refused to go to school,

rain or shine, without her umbrella.

Grandma laughed when she told me,

one of those tired adult laughs

I didn’t understand.

She never knew why

her little sister feared rain.

And I wouldn’t dare ask.

 

My great aunt talked about men

as if they were born as sooty coal

covered with flesh.

Genetically messy, crude, loud.

Sports without a soul.

Since I was her only niece,

my aunt sought my ear.

I tolerated her out of pity.

I pictured her as a child

at the turn of the twentieth century.

paired with her umbrella,

two closed slender shapes

surrounded by bullies

who gave fuel to her opinions.

She learned bitterness somewhere,

wore it as a badge of a holy crusade.

 

In the fifties Grandma took in a boarder,

a quiet man who ate corn flakes

doused with warm water.

My aunt latched her door at night,

and moved a bookcase

in front of it.

 

Then one night after Grandma died

I stayed overnight with my aunt,

gave her some company.

I recall her bony frame in dull, plain pajamas,

all femininity pressed out,

as she told me about an uncle,

or was it a cousin?

You won’t believe what he did to me?

By then I was old enough to guess.

But, not old enough to know

the burden of that knowledge wasn’t mine.

I remained silent.

Her secret stayed bound

within flannel and hate.

She died in a nursing home.

Alone.

 

I imagine a new scene as I discard

the useless umbrella from my closet.

What would have happened if

I could have borrowed a few years

of experience from my future,

risked touching the pain in her eyes,

and asked, what happened?

 

My old umbrella’s hollow spiked bones stick out

through torn, split fabric.

I can’t fix it. Yet, strange,

I feel an odd sadness for all things

that no longer have a chance to recover.

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Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open. (John Barrymore)

My grandson, Dakota, and I explore our backyard with his new red plastic truck. It’s large enough for him to sit on it. I’m grateful he realizes I would crush it. A septuagenarian squatting that low and then maneuvering the toy from a bug’s height, would be a sight for the neighbors. I wouldn’t want them to anticipate a 911-call.

“You know you won’t live forever,” he says.

“Yes, I do. That’s why I celebrate time with you, give to others, and love as much as I can.”

He doesn’t answer and continues playing with the truck. We create ramps from National Geographic Magazines. He rolls construction paper and tapes it with heavy tape. My granddaughters’ baby doll bottles in the center maintain firmness.

We let the moments speak for themselves, the challenge to roll or unroll. To go over the ramp with the truck or bypass it. If one tactic doesn’t work, Dakota tries another. My little buddy doesn’t give up easily.

I consider how quickly the notion, not-good-enough, flashes into my mind. I know it was taught to me in childhood. What isn’t good enough? The statement is too generic to be true. Nevertheless, the temptation to just-forget-it rises far too often. For most human critters, both young and old.

My friend, Cathie, calls. She hasn’t seen me at the Y for a while. Either I have been entertaining grandkids or working on my book. She has something to give me.

“When I saw this, all the bright colors,” she says, “I thought of you and just had to get it.”

I plan to meet Cathie. On Friday morning. At ten AM.

She has made a pillow. Cathie is a seamstress. She uses her gift to celebrate other people.

“It’s pre-hugged,” she says, holding the pillow through the plastic bag against her chest.

Since we have both been in the pool, we are soaking wet. A chlorine hug doesn’t negate the love attached to her or her work.

Life isn’t perfect. It never will be. However, with grandchildren like Dakota and friends like Cathie, sweetness is easier to find.

 

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I have come to believe that giving and receiving are really the same. Giving and receiving—not giving and taking. (Joyce Grenfell)

“Do pebbles grow into rocks?” my young step-grandson asks as he gathers odd-shaped stones and places them inside a cardboard treasure box. The box rides inside a red wagon.

I smile and tell him rocks are more likely to break into pebbles. I smile, but don’t laugh. His innocence warms me. He finds a tiny lock on the side of the road and adds it to his collection. Then, he puts it inside his pocket, to take home.

For him, all of life is a collection of serendipitous learning experiences. The tracks left by a bulldozer, a dusty trail made by the thin wheels of the collapsible, fabric wagon. The dusty wheels create mud after the wheels travel through a deep puddle.

The thought strikes me that rocks and keys may not be the unique metaphors I imagined them to be in my series, The Star League Chronicles. Black rocks act as weapons for the Malefics, the evil League. Chase Powers, the main character, operates an ancient, rusty, magical key. Sometimes, the key knows more than he does.

Sometimes play teaches me. And I haven’t been a child in a long time. My teacher-key contains no magic. Often its key is no more than a realization, a prod to notice a beauty I hadn’t noticed because I’d been stuck inside ubiquitous bad news forecasts.

This little boy trusts me. A breeze cuts through the afternoon heat. I am at peace despite that fact that I have an approaching deadline—and more words to write and edit than I want to think about. Right now, I could be pecking away at the non-magical keyboard-keys (pun semi-intended.) With the hope of creating magical scenes.

Instead, I follow a red wagon into a child’s imagination and allow my love for this boy to expand.

Work challenges will continue tonight…and tomorrow…weeks after. Until the story fits into a whole.

For now, I give and receive experience. And hope to remember this beautiful day in the middle of July.

 

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