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Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

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 dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, “Mother, what was war?” (Eve Merriam, poet and writer)

As Ella moves through a dusty playground area, I watch the children’s interactions. Some of the kids are wild, climbing over one another on the slide. They laugh even when their bodies’ positions are obviously uncomfortable.

Other youngsters appear less aggressive. I notice the essence of both peace and war in scaled-down forms.

One bright, talkative little girl tells me the story of a skunk that appeared one evening on one of the softball fields. She is animated yet assures me no one was sprayed. Her spirit speaks peace. Another little girl and her younger brother race against Ella for a bouncy whale and dolphin.

Ella stands too close to the two children. She begs for a turn. I can tell the siblings are determined to maintain a battle over the sea mammals because they gesture to one another as Ella walks away. I lead my granddaughter in another game.

“Ella, I’m swimming, but I’m not very good at it. I need a lifeguard. Will you be my lifeguard?”

I move my arms in an awkward mock swim motion.

“Sure,” she answers.

The distraction works—at least until the two kids are called by their dad to go home. A simple solution. At least for the moment.

Mine. Mine. Mine. A universal problem. Ella also wants to help her grandmother. Play is serious learning. She doesn’t grab the dolphin until at least ten minutes after her antagonists leave.

War. It has lived since ancient times. Now, news travels faster through social media, television, the Internet. Stories appear slanted, tainted, unverified. And violence continues in various forms as TV watchers eat dinner.

Suddenly, I have indigestion.

Shadows. They have multiple meanings. Reflected images born from the sun. Shady areas. Loyal followers. Hidden flaws. Metaphors.

Find the kindest kind of shadow…

Illusive at best. I can only seek the goal I see and love to the best of my ability. Love is war’s antonym.

Attending a protest in front of an ICE facility in my home town was a recent choice for me. You bet I was frightened. However, no one ever said love was going to be easy. Yes, immigration control is necessary. Cruelty, especially against children, is not. Fortunately, the event was as peaceful as it was intended.

Some shadows need more attention than others.

Peace to all.

 

 

 

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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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There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven’t yet met. William Butler Yeats



When some people hear the word travel, their eyes light up Christmas-tree bright. Mishaps slow eager travelers’ tales long enough for a comma’s breath. These individuals could spend a week in an airport, then fall off a camel unharmed. They have the stamina of a million-year-old rock.

I scarcely know my right from my left and have turned the wrong way inside a restroom. Airport Terminals One and Two could be different continents. I would rather be in a guillotine line than a queue for customs.

Once I enter the plane, I see the goal with reasonable clarity. However, getting that far doesn’t always seem worth it.

For me the possibility of meeting friends makes the decision a worthwhile gamble.

The Best of Ireland Tour, sponsored by Trafalgar, could turn me into one of those irritating globe travelers. Okay, once I get beyond the irritating places. Maybe. No one can claim a win from the starting line.

Our tour guide acts as an expert social catalyst. She has a sense of humor. I laugh. And sing. With ease. The song doesn’t need to have Irish roots; it needs to be sincere and come from my heart. This group knows the difference.

The history of Ireland suddenly becomes mine even though my ancestors came from Alsace-Lorraine. Irish history is human. The story of oppression. The story of one ruling group taking over another as if farmers and their families were things and potatoes were commodities, instead of the only food the people had.

Beautiful land and impressive castles seem to sanitize the past. Yet, memory and memorials hold the truth.

In Dublin the colors of the doors stand out: blue, red, yellow, or white. Our tour guide explains. When Prince Albert died, Queen Victoria declared that all the doors of the kingdom be painted black in mourning. The Irish rebelled. The brightness remains.

Time to leave. My husband and I pack our bags, larger now with gifts for our family. I struggle, but not for long. Both fellow coach travelers and world travelers help me lift my load.

I pray kind action be contagious. Simple, yet powerful. One gesture to help rather than center on self, me-only. Peace. A long-term goal. Yes. Yet worth the effort.

 

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There is always something to do. There are hungry people to feed, naked people to clothe, sick people to comfort and make well. And while I don’t expect you to save the world, I do think it’s not asking too much for you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those whom you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary, and remove from your life those who offer you depression, despair, and disrespect. (Nikki Giovanni, poet and professor)

 Today’s quote may be longer than the blog. Always something to do. I’m taking a few weeks to both rest and work—write later. My usual blog will be back in July. I promise.

Time. This strange experience that turns infants into children, children into adults, adults into old folk.

My youngest granddaughter studied my skin today, but said nothing about its soft feel, rippling like moving water. I would have told her a lot of time is hidden inside those striations. However, striation isn’t in her vocabulary yet. It doesn’t explain my life or anyone else’s either. No superficial explanation does.

Occasionally I find I need to step back from my self-imposed rat race. Breathe. Rest. Work. Explore. Discover.

In the meantime, peace upon all. May your journey be rich. And blessed.

 

 

 

 

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Serendipity always rewards the prepared. (Katori Hall)

I stand on our partially wet, partially dry sidewalk and wave to our neighbor as he leaves his house. He waves back. During that short pause, the daily newspaper lands at my feet. The delivery man’s arm and back of his head are all I can see as he continues on his rounds.

To the right of the newspaper are damp yellow daylilies. A perennial that returns and blooms even though passing deer often choose the bright blossoms as a part of our neighborhood’s buffet.

Ah, I’ve heard of door-to-door delivery, but never six-inches-from-your-right-toe service. An accident maybe, but I’ll take it.

Inside the paper will be a comic page, death notices, and stories that could cause me to wince. Another layer of everyday life wrapped in an orange plastic tube. The completed package.

Completion. I wonder if there is a certain misunderstanding of the notion. Sure, I can complete a single chore. All that is expected of me on this journey? I may not be the final judge. All I can do is I watch for the serendipities, the blessings inside dark and light. They appear along the way.

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You can be childlike without being childish. A child always wants to have fun. Ask yourself, “Am I having fun?” (Christopher Meloni)

I watched as my beloved Toyota was being towed away. Her replacement existed. Among a few possibilities. Nevertheless, Little Beige and I had seen many miles together. We fit old-sneaker comfortably; until that last crashing moment I knew what to expect. She didn’t complain when one of the kids spilled drinks on her back seat. I knew how her few buttons worked.

Now, I wait as my husband and the used car salesman work out the final details. Jay has a business degree, as well as a knack for checking out the facts. I listen, unaware that my granddaughter, Ella, has also been listening.

As Jay and the dealer leave the building for some checks on his car, Ella takes over the salesman’s chair.

“What kind of car do you want?” she asks.

“Green with an orange steering wheel.”

“We can do that.” She pauses. “I will have to make it.”

After a few arm swirls, she hands me the invisible product. “Do you need anything else?”

“How about a truck? Purple.”

Once again, the request is no problem. One item costs me $54.56. The other costs $56.56.

She laughs when I ask for a tractor complete with farmer. So does a fellow customer at the next desk.

Before Jay and the salesman return I am also the proud owner of a motorcycle and yellow school bus. Fortunately, the imagination doesn’t limit size. It doesn’t care about the age of user or seller either.

“We can go home and play now, Ella,” I tell her.

The day lilies by our driveway have dried by afternoon. The morning dew has evaporated. Each hour has its cost and its gift. I’d like to say I have forgotten about the fearful moment when I knew my 2005 Toyota had breathed its last breath.

Yet, somehow, I survived. Each minute brings something different—both pleasant and miserable.

Ella and I play. The sun rises and sets. We are part of a larger whole. A whole I may never understand until my life is completed, and perhaps not by then. After all, knowledge isn’t my goal; love is.

 

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