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Posts Tagged ‘wisdom’

 

Man is the only animal for whom his own existence is a problem which he has to solve.
(Erich Fromm)

Human animals think too much—without questioning the truth of their source. Unfortunately, we upright-moving creatures are born with ego and an overdose of certainty, based on experience in a tiny section of the world.

I wrote this poem more years ago than I recall. My granddaughter was a toddler. She is now in fifth grade. A ballerina. Grade-A student, She also happens to be significantly taller than I am.

These verses are based on an incident that occurred at the Museum Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. My beautiful girl may have grown up, but she chooses her friends based upon inner qualities, not incidental skin tone. I am proud of who she has grown to be.

Naked Baby Dolls

 

Child-proof dolls

with painted black hair

and eyes forever open

 

lie on the floor

of the toddler room.

Figures identical, except for

 

brown or peach plastic bodies,

the dolls are naked.

The children don’t care.

 

Bare babies and honesty

fit the simple ambience

of parallel play.

 

I watch as each doll

passes from child to floor,

and back again. The brown babies

 

get picked first.

My toddler granddaughter pouts

as another child grabs

 

the dark doll she had been cuddling.

I try to hand her the paler version.

Her frown deepens. On the rug

 

the dolls that wait

look anemic, pale.

I think about human skin shades

 

from ivory to licorice, and mentally

list a larger number of darker tones.

Nutmeg, cinnamon, chestnut, bronze

 

chocolate, mahogany, coffee, umber.

Strange that at this age

the little people choose the toy

 

with the richer complexion.

Yet only a few of the children

resemble darker hues. The toddlers’ choices

 

contradict the prejudiced

adult majority. Someday I pray

these children see beyond the exterior.

 

The dolls wear a paint layer

thin enough to be chipped off.

Their differences can be altered with a brush stroke.

 

People share diverse histories

and cultures, but living hearts beat

a common rhythm.

 

May we grow

together

as one human race.

 

(This poem has been published in the anthology, FOR A BETTER WORLD and in the online magazine PIKER PRESS.)

 

 

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It gets really tricky giving advice. The older I get, the less advice I give. ( Anne Heche.)

My father taught me to consider the source. I find that easier now than I could as a teenager, before I knew who I was. Strange that I recall being berated because my eyebrows weren’t penciled dark enough. My hair was the color of spun gold, with eyebrows that disappeared into a fair, freckled face.

The advice-giver. Why are there so many of them? And why do they have voices that match the average street preacher?

And—does it need to bother me?

My brother-in-law has an MD. When he said I was losing weight too quickly after surgery and was risking metabolic damage, I listened. Advertisement come-ons could be another matter. An invitation to skydive because it jump starts adrenaline? Probably not.

What is the best and worst advice someone has ever given you? My dad’s fits somewhere at the top. Any advice that told me I shouldn’t try because I wasn’t good enough. Definitely. In the don’t-think-so category.

 

 

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Uncontestably, alas, most people are not, in action, worth very much; and yet, every human being is an unprecedented miracle. One tries to treat them as the miracle there are, while trying to protect oneself against the disasters they’ve become. (James Baldwin.)

Three hospital visits today. One man has improved. We talked without looking at the clock. And celebrated his recovery, even though it hadn’t yet appeared. The other two persons suffered far more. My husband and I stayed long enough to offer love in the form of an out-loud prayer. I told our friends we were there because we cared and would leave for the same reason. To allow them rest. A sweet, other-folks-care rest.

Not long ago I recall waking from a dream into a fully-lit hospital room. Into a strange half-consciousness. Now, I watch and remember those moments.

You are loved. You are loved. You are an unprecedented miracle.

And yet the pain in my own gut has not completely disappeared. Some things no one wants to share. Not completely.

Rain continues. Steady. Cold. It floods. It cries and creates huge puddles. The yard can’t soak up any more water.

No one season lasts forever. No one greeting falls the same upon every set of ears. May warmth arrive with fresh blessings

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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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As we grow spiritually, we discover that we are not as separate as we thought we were. We realize that everything belongs and everything can be received. (Richard Rohr)

Can time be weighed?

Does night and day,

progress, failure

illness, health,

compassion, and greed fit

into the final figure?

History. Is each page unbiased?

I wait, and watch as unnamed birds

fly and hide into deciduous branches

where leaves will fall, allow

trees to stand bare, and perhaps,

begin a new cycle.

Life changes

and yet remains unchanged.

 

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Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others. (Jonathan Swift)

“How nice to see you, Terry,” A. says. “But she recognizes my voice as I talk to another Y member, not my short stature and senior version of what was once strawberry-blond hair. A. is blind.

I have met her several times. Each time I get to know her a tad better.

I call her later because I finally figured out the right date for a senior social event. Jay and I will be bringing her home. She expresses concern for the pain in my back.

When she says she will pray for me I believe her, and ask her to add someone else to her list, a young friend who lives out of state. S. will be having surgery at the end of September. I don’t give A. full details, only an overview of a nightmare that began with a bout of pancreatitis.

And I realize the larger story is stuck in the back of my throat, in a huge wad of emotion that won’t be swallowed. A. seems to understand. But I don’t know why this woman I barely know has brought this out in me. Through some intangible connection. Beyond the visual.

“Your husband refuses payment for the ride home,” she says.

“And so do I.”

“Maybe you can come to my house for dinner sometime.”

I pause before suggesting she come to my house instead, after I’ve finished physical therapy. And that will happen by the time of the social event. “I should be just fine by then. Besides, I love to cook.”

But, I think about how A. sees with her hearing and memory—and how I don’t. I have no clue how many steps there are from the table to the bathroom. There is a narrow space between the couch and the television. Jay and I leave our shoes in the middle of the floor. Sure, on that day we would be wearing them, but I take sight for granted.

“You can bring a friend,” I say, more for me than for her. Someone who already knows what she can maneuver on her own. And what she can’t.

She isn’t sure whether she can arrange an escort or not. She hasn’t read my mind. And that is probably a good thing. I will take the leap. Learn. Make a new friend, who will become more than an acquaintance with a keen sense of voice recognition.  Then perhaps, I shall see gifts, once invisible, yet present all along.

just once understand

 

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Making a living is nothing; the great difficulty is making a point, making a difference—with words.  (Elizabeth Hardwick )

A Monday morning toward the end of August. Rebe has said goodbye to braces. Her smile is free from metal. She is at the orthodontist now for the final X-rays. And big-sister Katie and I shop to prepare a special meal for her. Ravioli, her favorite. A dessert Rebe will help make since she will want to be in on the fun. And a carbonated beverage. Cola, a no-no for younger sister for the past two years. Katie and I find small fancy bottles. We choose to savor, not guzzle, since sweet colas and nutrition don’t have much in common.

I tell Katie about the wind and rain at the Hamilton County Fair last weekend. Mother Nature overdid the crowd control. Sure, I had fun and met a few new people. The day was wild. But wildly successful? Not exactly. I expect my granddaughter to go on to other topics: sports, friends, crafts.

Instead she asks, “So, what are you doing to let people know about your book?”

I hesitate. Katie is twelve-years old. My next event could come in a few months.

“What theme comes throughout the book frequently? Use that. In different ways… Make it stand out.”

We are outside a store as she asks. She grabs my heavy backpack and I carry the empty reusable bags for our purchases. I am aware of the disproportion. Not only in weight carried, but in information exchanged. I look at her and laugh.

“What is so funny?” she asks.

“You are. Because you are amazing. Tell me. How do you know all of this?”

“I go to book signings.”

She does. With her father. Gregory Petersen wrote Open Mike. He is working on other novels and has done standup comedy. Katie has made friends with writers. She has a superb imagination. In fact, she gave me an idea I used in my next book. I will give her an acknowledgment.

Not everyone has a twelve-year-old consultant. But then, she fits my audience. And I think about the typical preteen. The typical preteen who lives inside the average adult. In The Curse Under the Freckles Chase doesn’t have much self-confidence. He is surprised to get help from an inanimate thing, a tree, a Rainbow tree that offers magical gifts he could never expect.

The tree helps its Star League member with its multi-hued magic. It draws out the color inside the Star League student.

Since Katie has been helpful I tell her to get something for herself—she buys a present for her sister’s birthday instead. I don’t need to savor sweet cola. I have this precious time with my granddaughter before she starts seventh grade. My Rainbow-tree granddaughter. She brings out color inside me.

following dreams

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