a different kind of warning

I am older now than I ever thought possible. I did not believe I would ever be this ancient person. The doctor says I should have no wine at lunch, for my heart. But if you cannot have a little wine with your lunch, there is no life. If you are as old as I am, you believed a German would shoot you in the head before you were old enough to have sex with another human being. Everything beyond that becomes extra. The things people do to live long–drinking so much water, running up and down to ruin the knees–this is what the doctor should warn about.

~ Maile Melody, “Madame Lazarus” The New Yorker, June 23, 2014

Pull your own strings

Read in my (favorite) yoga class today:

There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine [with]in yourself. it is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days at the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.

~Howard Thurman

 

A toast then. To listening to your own voice; to pulling your own strings.

all on the same timeline

An interesting concept was introduced to me a week or so ago.

Some languages are what one would refer to as “tense” languages; not meaning that they convey stress particularly well (haha), but that they make adjustments grammatically when referring to past, present, or future.

Other languages make no changes grammatically, but add a word indicating past, present or future.

So: It rained yesterday, it is raining today, it will rain tomorrow; vs. It rain yesterday, it rain today, it rain tomorrow. (Actually, it’s snowing right now, which is absolutely ridiculous even if it is Michigan in April, but that’s beside the point.)

The people in the countries with languages with no grammatical differences between past, present, and future are substantially better at planning for such things as retirement. The theory is that, as there is no differentiation between now and then, the residents are better able to recognize that their actions today will impact their lives tomorrow and beyond.

I found this to be incredibly fascinating, and important.

Because really, there is nothing, no thing, that exists only in the past, the present, or the future. Every single thing that has happened to us affects who we are; every single thing that we do today will affect, in one way or another, what happens tomorrow and next week and next month and next year.

(I suppose, if you really look at it closely, whether we had a peanut butter and jelly or salami sandwich on September 5th in 4th grade is irrelevant, but I’m sure you know what I mean.)

It’s funny, though, because all this really does is convince me of how important it is to pay attention.

"Be mindful, young Padewan."

“Be mindful, young Padewan.”

This sunny day, this full moon, this moment on the couch with Husband, this great book to read or knitting project or fabulous glass of wine with a really good dinner. Fifteen minutes in the hot tub. Digging in the dirt to plant flowers and vegetables (if it ever stops snowing). A good night’s sleep. Balancing buying the Perfect Pair of Shoes

"sigh"

“sigh”

with saving for retirement.

That sort of thing.

😉

This train of thought always reminds me of

 

 

 

I Saw Her Dancing

Nothing moves in a straight line,
But in arcs, epicycles, spirals and gyres.
Nothing living grows in cubes, cones, or rhomboids,
But we take a little here and we give a little there,
And the wind blows right through us,
And blows the apples off the tree, and hangs a red kite suddenly there,
And a fox comes to bite the apples curiously,
And we change.
Or we die
And then change.
It is many as raindrops.
It is one as rain.
And we eat it, and it eats us.
And fullness is never,
And now.

~Marge Piercey

deep thoughts

Because the tongue is the body’s strongest muscle, make it say joy. ~Marty McConnell

There are days when everything is perfect. Your favorite sweater is clean, the milk for your cappuccino foamed perfectly, the cat cuddles in your lap without doing that annoying kneading-the-blanket thing or leaving 50% of her hair on your pants, aromas from the soup simmering on the stove waft throughout the house, everyone is kind and thoughtful and gracious and Second Son plays mellow tunes on his electric guitar rather than practicing with the distortion pedal.

And then there are days when everything sucks. Sometimes you know why, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you’re just in a crabby/stressed/overwhelmed/frustrated mood for no apparent reason, or someone else is and either they don’t know or they aren’t telling you. The bread burns 10 minutes earlier than it was supposed to be done, the check you received two months late and then deposited bounces, the milk won’t foam.

Sometimes I can “force” day #2 to become day #1 with mindful awareness — a great yoga practice, doing the dishes slowly while Zenfully observing the soap bubbles and listening to the sound of the water, painting the kitchen ceiling or knitting one more row or scrubbing the bathroom.

Some days that’s more difficult. Some days the challenges are all outside of yourself, and all you can try to find isn’t even one bit of peace (even that eludes you) but maybe just the willingness to let it play itself out.

When to “fight,” when to “ride,” when to try to fix it, when to let it be. Like the challenge faced by any good poker player I guess.

I’m a doer, a fixer, a fighter. Do I need to work more on letting it be? (But what if “it,” whatever “it” is, is counting on me to fix it?)

I want to hold each day carefully in my hands. I want each and every one to last as long as possible, even the bad ones. We only have so many, you know, and the real stinker of it is none of us actually know how many that is.

I want, always, to say joy.

 

 

“Mem’ries”

No, I’m not going to break into song.

Lately I’ve been very aware of the fact/idea that we are really nothing more than our memories. Perhaps this is where my recent obsession with the problem of “you’re there and then you’re not” is really coming from — trying to come to terms with the idea that all of the things that exist only in your own mind completely fail to exist when you expire.

All of the things you thought but didn’t say, all of the things you wanted but didn’t do, they all go when you “go.”

We can all go around making our lives meaningful, leaving a “mark” on the world (whether it be in a garden plot, a happy child, or a redeemed social condition*), making some kind of difference to someone/s somewhere, but what about all of those other things that never manifest outside of our thoughts?

A family member asked once why I blog. It seems that my desire to speak to the world, and to be heard, isn’t necessarily understood, nor shared, by everyone.

I think this is why. To be more than just my memories, to give voice to all of the “voices”^ in my head.

I want as many people as people to know that  I was here. I’m here.  Right here. Do you hear me?

~*~

So much held in heart in a life. So much held in heart in a day, an hour, a moment. We are utterly open with no one, in the end–not mother and father, not wife or husband, not lover, not child, not friend. We open windows to each but we live alone in the house of the heart. Perhaps we must. Perhaps we could not bear to be so naked, for fear of a constantly harrowed heart. When young we think there will come one person who will savor and sustain us always; when we are older we know this is the dream of a child, that all hearts finally are bruised and scarred, scored and torn, repaired by time and will, patched by force of character, yet fragile and rickety forevermore, no matter how ferocious the defense and how many bricks you bring to the wall. You can brick up your heart as stout and tight and hard and cold and impregnable as you possibly can and down it comes in an instant, felled by a woman’s second glance, a child’s apple breath, the shatter of glass in the road, the words I have something to tell you, a cat with a broken spine dragging itself into the forest to die, the brush of your mother’s papery ancient hand in the thicket of your hair, the memory of your father’s voice early in the morning echoing from the kitchen. . .

~Brian Doyle, The Wet Engine

~*~

 

*Ralph Waldo Emerson

^I don’t hear voices in a schizophrenic way, just the usual, and I recognize them all as my own.

 

if you want to let the happy in, you have to let the sad out

Wouldn’t usually expect my quest toward “enlightenment” to be helped along by Louis CK; but if you can get past the (beeped out)(implied) vulgarity, he actually makes a beautiful point.

Unfortunately for Only Daughter, it reinforces my belief that she doesn’t need a cell phone until she’s driving. Only now I have a better argument for it: you need to be able to see how someone reacts to something you say to learn empathy. You don’t learn that on facebook, or texting, or snapchat, or instagram. You learn that by looking someone in the face and talking to them.