Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged. Missing me one place, search another. I stop somewhere waiting for you.
[Context: I had run away from home (for a week. yes I did set a time limit. mother of two after all–maybe not the best, but the only one.) because pretty much everything I had built my world on–my belief in what was the right way, who were the right people…the right according to everything I’d been fed and swallowed (or rebelled against and paid for dearly)–had fallen in rubble to the ground. Bad scene but also a chance to pick and choose what you’ll build with this time. If you can survive. (Which you can.)]
∞ ∞ ∞
Brand-new, clean notebook. All possibilities exist here. I love paper, and it hardly costs a thing. This 70-page, spiral-bound, college-ruled notebook cost 25¢ at Wal-Mart. It is one of the best-kept secrets of our time.
My feet are speckled with gray, the rim around my toenails black. I have a black smudge on my calf, just below a freckle, which is itself below the scar that is a reminder to me of Albert…nope–can’t remember his last name. Italian. Started with a C. These marks on my calf form a constellation–an anchor, perhaps. Here I sit, on my eldest son’s camp chair, up in the North Country. Sharp Bridge Campground, 40 sites and the cleanest bathroom I’ve ever had the pleasure of using while camping.
I wanted to write a little before doing the dishes, even though it will get dark soon. So much of my life is spent going, doing, or planning on going and doing that I almost never get the chance to just sit and daydream, or notice the activities of the little ones–worms, ants. A giant bug flew into my campsite this afternoon–I heard it rather than saw it at first–a dark humming, more bass than bee, and when I caught the movement that went with the sound I was prepared to get nervous if this creature did not go soon. But then it stopped moving and hovered in the air for a moment; it looked at me and I smiled and said, “Ahh! a hummingbird. Thank you.”
Now I float upon the cool water,
My webbed feet gently keeping me true
As I breathe and come to.
Here I am upon the calm water~
The ungraceful dance,
Frantic footwork to be what I am not,
In the distance swans take flight:
Recognition leaps in my heart
And my wings give a sympathetic shake.
Now, here, I am what I am.
My webbed feet paddle the cool water,
Moving me forward, swift and sure
Until yearning meets with knowing,
And I unfold large, beautiful wings
That carry the drumming of my heart
Across the years and vast deserts I have traveled.
In a moment,
Through a flurry of sun-kissed water,
I am airborne,
Flying to meet my mates.
It dawns on me that I have a tendency to expect too much from people. More specifically, I expect them to be “better” than I am–more enlightened, more understanding, more generous. I don’t expect this from everybody, but I do tend to expect this from those I admire, and often from those whom I love.
Sharp Bridge Campground in North Hudson, NY. Photo by Michael Lechasseur.
It is the morning after an afternoon and evening of rain. Every patch of sky I see supplies a crisp blue outline for the pine needles way up there. Long streams of sunlight lay upon the ground, flowing and shimmering when a breeze moves the trees. The white pines grow cathedrallike here–columns shooting straight up to the fronds at top. Steam rises from the ground and the trunks. We are all glad for the rain. We all need it deep down and often. And it does make the sunshine so sweet.
I hope that the raggedness can be overlooked as one would overlook dirt on a child or wrinkles on a beloved grandmother. It is life I want to see here, to communicate. It is messy and beautiful.
Bands of sunlight alternate with blue shadow
Across Italian ice snow.
I pass through enchantment laid in pools,
Breathing Purim air:
The air of promise,
Warm early summer alternates with cold,
And my steps dance with the flux,
Slipping and regaining in my worn, wet boots.
Tat Tvam Asi
“I am that I am.” ~ Yahweh
“I yam what I yam.” ~Popeye
My kryptonite and my lifeline. What I think people think I should be or am, and fighting against it. Meeting people and exchanging various forms of love, nourishing each another, often in the most ordinary places (passing a stranger on the sidewalk and sharing a smile). I’m lucky to tread a balance, but often stray into hopeless entanglement with my need to label everything and tell myself what it means. To grab hold of it and make it something instead of letting it be whatever it is.
The trick is to always stand on your own two feet–to always know where you are and engage from there, instead of trying to figure out where the other person is and act from that imagined place.
The trick is doing it not just writing about it.
My two feet.
We must be willing to get rid of
the life we’ve planned, so as to have
the life that is waiting for us.
The old skin has to be shed
before the new one can come.
If we fix on the old, we get stuck.
When we hang onto any form,
we are in danger of putrefaction.
Hell is life drying up.
Excerpt from A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living
It’s been a long time since I’ve written. Just woke from a dream in which a woman is talking about writing with a fountain pen and how it is perfect for those times when you know what you want to write, and it is relatively short. Then I woke up and thought, I guess she prefers the more even, reliable flow of a modern pen for the hard work of just starting to write, when you don’t know what you want to say–or when you have a lot to say but you haven’t been saying it, so it’s backed up and clogged and things are going to get messy enough without adding a fountain pen into the mix. That’s what I thought–because I’ve never used a fountain pen, but I imagine they are messy.
You can start anywhere, and there will still be stuff before that, just as pertinent to the story you want to tell. But you have to start somewhere, so a good recipe.
I’m supposed to have a game plan, a clear picture of where this is going, but honestly, the idea started in 2004, and if I don’t start I never will–so I’m just going to start.
We live in very interesting times. Can I quote William Blake so early without being judged pretentious? “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” And, oh yes, we are all the best and the worst.
What I envision is a bit of salve–healing the worst and encouraging the best in whoever it may. But it may not, and that is OK too. I just know that if I don’t write about the stuff I’m thinking I feel like I’m surviving, and if I do I feel like I’m in love.
∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞
To outline the idea of Human Nation News, basic premises:
- We’ve outgrown the us-them thing, and we need to think of all humans as part of the same group. We’re out here in space, on a planet we’ve nearly made uninhabitable for this number of people in the future, and we need to recognize we are one. Or not. But if we don’t and we continue on this path we’re on….it ain’t gonna be pretty.
- Most of us know this at some level, but think we’re a minority, or that for one of a few reasons it’s impossible to change what has developed over centuries: it’s like turning the Titanic. But I believe we can turn on a dime, like schools of fishes or flocks of birds.
- In fact, we are a majority.
- I believe in the power of words, music, art, and the stories we tell to nourish the best in us, and also to feed the worst in us. We are given too much feed, and I intend to nourish.
Good night, and good luck.
(But as a professor I know says, make your own luck.)