As synchronicity and the universal flocking of ideas would have it … I had just posted about this very concept a few days ago in my A Beauty in Numbers post!…
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Think deeply about life.
Hold people closely, gently, in your heart.
Think deeply of the things that nourish:
Care and hope, compassion, truth, light.
Think deeply about what you know
And what you still would like to find out knowledge of.
Think deeply of the seeds you plant
In your soul’s soil
Think deeply of the past and all its lessons
Of the way it can shape future histories
Or repeat woe.
Think deeply of the power of both joy and sorrow
Of the choices that can lead to more of both
And which one matters more.
Think deeply of the path you walk
The roads you pave for children and their children’s children
For this Earth.
Think deeply of all this
And think beyond it
Yet above and through and in between all of this
Breathe in light
Breathe out hope
For The Daily Post
They walk the line as morning comes
As new day draws its dawn,
They walk as night approaches close
And sunset sinks alone.
They walk the line of now and then
Of sand and rock, death, growth,
They walk as footsteps mark the soil
And press it deep with hope.
They walk where many walked before
With others not yet born,
They walk in dust of those who passed
Of stories told and torn.
They walk to sew new roads to life
Connections old as time,
They walk a line of young and old
Their hearts as close as mine.
For The Daily Post
May your life be your craft.
Aged and fine.
May your life be your craft.
Worked and honed.
May your life be your craft.
Filled with heart
Buoyed by joy
Lit with hope
Let to grow.
May your life be your craft.
I was walking home from a meeting the other day and ran into an elderly woman with a walker and a broken umbrella. She looked lost.
I asked her if she was okay, and she shook her head. She couldn’t remember where she was going, then brightened slightly: she had a card. She dug around in her purse, broken umbrella perched over one shoulder and rain drenching her head, keys and change spilling onto the wet pavement. I held my umbrella over her, picked up the fallen items and looked at the card she held out: A senior center. I knew which one–it was quite a ways away. How did she end up so far from it?
She’d been trying to get there and must’ve taken a wrong turn. Got lost. She was flustered–she’s lived in the area a long time but couldn’t get herself oriented to what avenue was where or in what order or how far. She kept repeating an attribute of her destination. A ramp. For wheelchairs and walkers. It had a ramp. She’d been walking and looking for ramps…
I told her not to worry. I knew where she had to go and would walk her there.
On the way and as she looked for ramps and we slowly navigated in the rain that dripped over the edge of her broken umbrella and as we dodged puddles and splashing cars and potholes that snagged the wheels of her walker, she told me (and repeated the same every minute or so) she has “some dementia.” She used to be very independent and “drive all over the place” but now keeps getting confused. She said she tries to leave the house to be with people because “it is important” and because otherwise she sits home alone “and cries like a baby all day.”
My heart ached for her.
As summer solstice arrives, I find myself wondering about the metaphoric increase of light and the ongoing balance of light and dark, the constant shifting from more of one to more of the other and the very brief points of apex on either. We are not meant to be static. Not the planet, not even within the same season–there is constant change. Even as summer formally begins, it begins the long path to the opposite.
Dark to me does not necessarily have the connotation of evil–though it can indeed also mean the absence of light on heart and soul levels–rather it often represents for me all that is hibernating, what is nascent and unborn, the things that await clarifying, the times of preparation, incubation, anticipation, hibernation, rest …
Dark carries in it the potential of enlightenment, the tender differentiation of color in pre-dawn, the realization of upcoming sunshine and the end of opaque unknown.
In the summer solstice, dark is at its shortest, but it is not eliminated, nor should it be. Without dark, there is no contrast. Without dark, it is difficult to find rest or space for incubating thought and creativity, for wonder and imagination, for small things needing sheltering still until they grow enough to face the light.
I am reminded of this as even in the longest day arrives, the path to increasing dark is already beginning–slow and steady from now to the winter solstice, a drop-by-drop addition to the night and its many potentials.
Don’t get me wrong, for all the sheltering potential of sapphire skies and starlit hours, I love long days. I adore the long twilight of summer evenings, the seemingly endless time to be outside in the sun. So much so that I remember wondering–as a child reading about another child’s life in Lapland–what it had to be like to live above the Arctic Circle in a summer of continuous light (only in the summer, please … the freezing cold is not something I am enamored with even considering …).
Someone I know swears by the healing properties of experiencing these dark-less days. She finds that it calibrates her body’s internal needs: she eats when hungry, sleeps when tired, works until the work is done. To her, a fortnight in the Arctic summer is a remedy for most that ails her.
Another friend who spent some of her childhood in Sweden told me that she loved it for the first two days then found it suffocating. “I’d hide under the bed and drape a blanket over the sides to get a place of darkness. I needed time to breathe some night. My brain wanted to rest.”
I can understand both the freedom that a time of continuous light allows, and the need for respite from it. For all the adoration of light–and I indeed adore it–there is the inherent balance of all things. Even my friend who prescribes Arctic summers makes time for breaks from productivity.
A sage woman once told me: “We all seek the light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel itself has value in leading you to it.”
May this Summer Solstice become a day of balance for you. May it support your outward creativity and your inward incubation of new being and new doing. May it hold the hint of winter in the making–the cooling and the slower pace already forming.
Happy Summer Solstice to you.
And for all who celebrate it–also a Happy Father’s Day!
Find a moment of magic
where the air
meets the sky;
where the light
holds back darkness
and the sun
twirls a ribbon
to the frost
Find a moment of magic;
breathe a lungful
Brace your heart
with warm knowing:
There will be light on
There is something mystical and wonderful about the sun aligning perfectly into the streets of NYC, flowing liquid gold onto the buildings’ facades and licking pavements and concrete.
There is another one due this evening: two hours from now the sun will spill into the grid and crown the city with molten awe … and for few moments … slow Manhattan’s relentless speed …
It will light this city of towers, this island built to canyons of glass and steel, of people darting in and out of holes and yellow vehicles like so many ants on missions, little human workers bent over phones with busy thumbs …
Manhattanhenge will make them stop. In. Their. Tracks.
Sometimes in the middle. Of. The. Street.
Jaw open. Eyes wide. Typing forgotten. Pointing finger drawn.
I’ve seen people weep. I’ve seen some gasp. Grasp someone’s arm. I’ve seen people grin at total strangers–connected over these magical rays that show us how distance and proximity are no more than an illusion.
We are all of us, potentially, perfectly aligned.
To read more about Manhattanhenge, go to this link from the American Museum of National History.
I bet you have such days …
When things don’t seem to work as expected, when all your plans fall through and what you thought would take two minutes takes two hours. When that quick phone call to settle some bitty thing becomes forty-five minutes of muzak followed by a hang-up then forty minutes more before you get transferred again, only to be put on hold for speaking to another department … When the quick break for a sandwich becomes condiments that spritz in the wrong direction, an upset can of cookies (complete with crumbs), a shattered glass requiring three broom cycles and a vacuum … Days when one client after the other is either late, cranky, moody, muddy, or all. When the world becomes an exercise in patience, a realigning of time and expectations.
These days sure happen to me all too often. I bet you have them, too.
It used to get my blood-pressure up, to have things unexpected. In general I do not much care for surprises. My friends and family know that I’m not the person to plan dark roomed “Happy Birthday!” parties to. No thanks. I like knowing what to expect and having a bit of opportunity to see how to best manage stuff that happens. Good or bad. So having a kink in my day never was my recipe for happy.
Nowadays, though it does not rank high on my preferred-day way, it mostly makes me chuckle. I figure that it is a pause for learning, something to call my attention to doing too much, too fast, or with too little an awareness. The unexpected grounds me faster than a cup of cold water (sometimes it IS spilled or splashed cold water … in a double-attention-getter …). It stops me into “what just happened?” and “how on earth …?” And that very pausing stirs a breeze of mindfulness into my brain.
So, while I still don’t like to spend my lunch break sweeping shards, cleaning counters, or on the phone with some ‘press-this, press-that’ company; I try to see it as something that helps to pace me or to point to where I have lost touch with the clock that is not of this world. Where I have turned too low the timer within me, the ticking of my body, the breath that should not become fogged by too much thought or busyness.
I still get stunned–surprises do that to me. But I take a breath, as well. And chuckle. Laugh a bit into myself. The ridiculousness of it all helps me find the gratitude that’s tangled with the grunt and sigh. It is a gift, really, when everyday tasks that I’ve done a million times without awareness bring back the reality of how complex they truly are, and how blessed I am to be able to perform them mostly sans a thought or pause or conscious memory. It is even a precious thing to have the things I usually take for granted–a company to call to make things right (or try to), the vocation I love living, the freedom to set my schedule, the miracles of water in my faucet and electric power at my finger tips. So many do not have those and would gladly take a spilled cup for having the water flowing to begin with.
And suddenly the disruption is not so terrible and the wait is not so bad. This realignment of meaning helps shift me, even if the situation stays the same. I get the best ideas, sometimes, when I’m on hold, a captive audience, forced to still and listen. The muzak goes right through me. It is my own thoughts that unfurl, birthing new ideas. I am reminded of the most arcane and unexpected and forgotten things when I am climbing to change yet another light-bulb that went zip a moment before session, or rush to change a stained article of clothing before a client comes. Somehow these unplanned, often unwanted, wrinkles in my planning pause me long enough to bring in an unseen angle or perspective.
Don’t get me wrong: I still do love my little islands of predictability. It is lovely when days go just as I had planned (or at least close to), and when my energy is parsed the way I’d hoped. It doesn’t take much for me to run out, you see. Some hiccups in my autonomic nervous system makes my body ultra-prone to fast exhaustion. Weather changes, temperature shifts, being vertical too long–they can and do seriously tire me. And yet, I am not frail. Just living with a finicky apparatus. All the more reason, one might declare, to not live life too gingerly as if on eggshells (please, oh please only figuratively! I’ve cleaned the kitchen once already, courtesy of spilled coffee grounds this very day …).
For days when patience is a bit harder to come by? “Just make it work” is my mantra of sorts for those. I have not invented it, of course. People all over our blue Earth marble have been saying it in all manner of variations, for longer than my mind can fathom, and while facing far more difficulty than I usually have to endure.
Small hitches in the schedule? Unexpected hiccups? Murphy working overtime to make life inexplicably complicated? I remind myself that it is all workable. Sometimes the solution is immediate, sometimes it takes time (I would sure love to know the schedule, though, Dear Universe, if you are listening!). Sometimes I can resolve it on my own, sometimes only with serious creative collaboration.
Either way, when the Universe throws a wench in my today and threatens to mess up my tomorrows, I try breathing smiles into it. A chuckle, even, if I can. Extra points for finding blessings in the messes … Gold stars for managing cooperation in the least likely ways or with those I do not find it easy to collaborate with.
I’m reminded of a photo of Paris in flood in 1924. People faced the very wet prospect of ruined shoes and clothing given that the only possibility was trudge calf-deep in watery plazas. Or was it really the only way? In ingenuity, someone or some ones, came up with a creative (if rickety) solution … and wrangled up some cafe chairs …
She never stops singing.
She sings when she’s playing. She sings in the stroller, the high-chair, the booster, on the carpet or floor. She sings in the sandbox. She sings on the swing. She sings in bed every morning. Come evenings she’s singing to sleep. She sings in the bathtub. She sings when she’s walking. She hums with food in her mouth. She’s heard singing while deep in a dream.
She sings top chart melodies. She sings the same line for a week (drives her mama nuts, but it is what it is … all she can do is introduce another song and hope it will be picked up on a whim).
She hums nursery rhymes, sings odd jumbled phrases. She repeats parts of jingles and mangles their lines. She mashes music from a hundred places and switches song to song without missing a beat. She makes up nonsense rhymes unselfconsciously. She fills in random words as she goes.
She does not quite keep time or pitch. She does not really carry a tune.
Not one would expect her to do so. She’s not quite three-years-old, after all.
So who cares if she pauses in imperfect rhythm or raises volume in an off-pitch pipsqueak dramatic flair. She’s adorable. She lives life utterly happy. She finds music flowing in every moment and in every action. She listens, she follows, she sings.
Her humming brings smiles to the lips of strangers. It melts the hearts of loved ones. It has people raise an eyebrow in amusement and meet the eyes of others in a shared moment of delight.
She’s a wonder. In her quiet content singing she’s a teacher, too:
For can you find the music that surrounds you? Do you listen? Can you hear?
It is flying on the molecules of oxygen around us. It is weaving in and out of every atom. It bonds the flow of leaves upon the water, it jingles in the rustling of branches waiting patiently for spring. It hums the breath of every living thing.
May she never lose touch with her singing. May her inner music flow unhindered and her heartbeat always rhyme with joy. And may those who wish to keep on singing, always find their song.
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" C A T T A L E S "
Steve's body of work spans conflicts, vanishing cultures, ancient traditions and contemporary culture alike - yet always retains the human element. www.stevemccurry.com
Speech Language Pathologist for Adults and Children, Manhattan, New York
bilingualism across the lifespan
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