Short & Sweet

Digital illo from photos: Dark Waters

Waves of sorrow will pass soon enough…

The interlude between uneasy emergency-room visiting and the expected, probably not too fun, Expulsion of a certain little hunk of rock from the Paradise of my innards is a brief one, but it’s amazing how lovely it is to feel pretty good in between times. The stone has kindly opted to not move during this intervening couple of days, and I am grateful! It meant, among other things, that I felt well enough to deal with a heap of post-hospital laundry, tidying up the general wreckage of a house neither of us has been free to visit much in the last week, and just admiring how lovely it is to have an ordinary day. I fully intend to be a poster child for pain-free, speedy resolution to kidney stone fun, but I have to be fair and say that I’ve already had about the shortest and easiest passage through this little form of bedevilment anybody could have. And I am cognizant, more than ever, of how incredibly fortunate I am not to face the chronic or the deepest forms of pain.

Remind me of that when I’m whingeing about my suffering later. Because, being human, and being a pretty unspectacular specimen of the species as it is, I will. I apologize in advance. But I really, truly, and with all of my heart thank everyone who has been so stupendously kind and supportive when I do get all misty-eyed over my supposed sorrows and tribulations, because it’s you who make any and all of it bearable. And keep it, despite my foolish self-centeredness, in perspective.

Joy for the day!

Digital illo from photos: Time to Make Waves

Let the happiness and love wash over us all!

For Those Whose Happy Place is Too Hard to Find

Digital illo: A Walk in the ParkYesterday I was ruminating on the foolishness of leaving my mental-vacation hours or days too often unused and under-appreciated. A good night’s sleep is a grand thing and can help stave off the need for more frequent visits to my Happy Place, my Playland, my refuge when I am stuck in place either metaphorically or literally, but it’s not a complete negation of the need. And, unlike many people, I do have such options. I am not so trapped in my suffering, whether virtual or actual, that I can’t dip my toe into the pool of soothing quiet and beauty at least in a pause for meditation once in a while.

What of you who have no such safety zone?

This is no casual question; it’s a matter of sanity and survival, for many. And I am not the person who can cure the disease once and for all. Tragedy can befall anyone; accident, ill-health, loneliness, financial ruin, crime, natural disaster—they’re lurking around ever little corner of life, and some people’s life sojourns seem to take them along the cruelest, most persistently terrible paths imaginable, and I can do nothing whatsoever to stop it. I cannot take away pain, heal wounds of the flesh or the spirit, stop runaway trains, or end wars.

What I can do is small. It’s quiet, it’s incremental, and it comes with no guarantees. I call it, simply, Love. But it can take so many forms, some of them quite unattached to any visible action. It is the true defining factor, for me, of my own versions of a Happy Place, no matter what its current address on earth or in my mind might be. Love, in the form of rest, calm, peace; of hope and anticipation. Of cheery reminiscences and optimistic plans and present contentment.

It’s love in the form of a well-loved song drifting in my inner ear, in the voice of my beloved, on the strings of a celestially fine orchestra, or with the irresistibly danceable beat of the most fabulous band. It’s a violet-scented, cooling breeze in a mossy glade right in the midst of the hottest, sultriest summer ever, or a cup of steaming soup to warm stomach, hands, and mood when I’ve been knocked down by a brutish winter cold. It’s a place where all of my most adored friends and loved ones are gathered around me in a welcome-home hug-fest after a tiring day or week or year—or a candlelit reading chair in an upper room of a place far out in the countryside where nobody can be seen or heard for miles, where I sit and repair my frazzled nerves one poem at a time, uninterrupted.

And for you, you friends of mine who haven’t access to these riches yourselves, I can only give you this: my promise. I promise you that if you will try to build your own place of refuge in your heart, really go deep within yourself and think hard on all of the beauties that you crave most and imagine yourself immersed in them for just a moment, and then for a moment more, I will be here waiting to greet you when you return. With a silent look of recognition that says, Yes, I will be your friend, and I will meet you here again whenever you’re ready. Or with the biggest hug imaginable, if that’s your style. Or with a hot cuppa tea or a cold glass of water and a time sitting together in a peaceful corner while you tell me your story. All of this, in cyberspace, shared because we will it, we imagine it, we mean it.

If you feel like crying, imagine my hand reaching out just as yours does, to wipe the tears off your cheek, and perhaps you will do so yourself with a little more patience and kind detachment that says, Yes, you will be okay. This may not pass, but you will find your way to exist in and through it. Hey, if you need a good rant-and-scream session, I won’t be put out by the noise or cussing when you find a spot safely out of others’ earshot and shout at me until you’re exhausted. I’ll shoulder it from here as best I can, if you promise to let go of it by the end. When you’ve been carrying your burdens for too long—carrying the whole world’s burdens, it seems, forever—it’s okay to say No, to Stop, to grieve over the stress and strain of it all, and to lay those heavy weights down and just let them be. Let yourself be. Know that the world won’t end if you don’t take care of everyone and everything else all of the time, and if it does, it won’t be your problem anymore, either! I understand.

If you need a good laugh, let out a gigantic chortle or just go ahead giggle yourself silly, all the while hearing me joining in on the joke, even if I don’t speak your language, because the language of laughter is universal. Sing softly or at the top of your lungs and I will harmonize perfectly with you, because out here in the ether it doesn’t matter if either of us can carry a tune in real life; in the space we occupy with our hearts, we are perfect singers and know every word of every song ever written.

If what you need is the sleep that eludes you perpetually because of work or pain or fear, take rest in closed eyes and a meditative, purposeful letting-go of all that you cannot solve, fix, or understand as you’d like, if only for a thousandth of a second, and when it has given you that increment of relief, go back for seconds. And thirds. Someday you may sleep again. Spend the wakeful hours until then building your dream palace or hideaway inside your quieted mind, room by room, foundation to roof, and all of its gardens perfectly tended by invisible angelic beings who plant and shape everything you love best into a picture-perfect park for your delectation alone. May you find sweetness and happiness there enough to carry you to and through all that your life brings. And I will wait for you here, be here when you come for respite again, because you matter.

Great Things are Meant to Last

It’s almost midnight here, but there are a couple of hours left of Mom and Dad’s 59th anniversary back in western Washington state, where they began, and still practice, the fine art of marriage. So before I tuck myself into bed, and because I couldn’t reach them in person to say so the first three times I called, I will take this opportunity to thank them for having had the excellent taste in partners that put them together in the first place, the temerity or mild insanity—or both—to have us kids and keep us, and the strength of will and love and hope to stick together for all of these amazing years. Blessings to you, Mom and Dad, and may whatever comes only strengthen your joy in each other.Photo: Mountaintop Experience

I Wish for You…

Digital illo from a photo: My Wholehearted WishMay you find all the courage you need to get you through the hour, the day, a lifetime…

May you find the wisdom to untangle whatever vexes you and revel in what you love…

May you find companions who give you comfort, elevate you, and fill you with laughter both in the moment and through the years…

May you find kindness embracing you, erasing your pains, and softening all sorrows…

May you be so enriched by the beauty and goodness around you that you find you can’t help but pass it along and share your gifts with others…

Wriggling with Happiness

Digital illo: My Heart's Aflutter

Heart’s Aflutter

Forgive me if I seem a nutter,

the way I mumble, moon, and mutter,

but I can’t help my palpitating

when my heart is all aflutter.

Pardon that I cling to what’re

rhymes as rife with fat as butter—

maybe even nauseating—

but my heart is all aflutter.

Please absolve me when I putter

aimlessly, and stammer, stutter,

stumble as I’m indicating

that my heart is all aflutter!


Photo: Two LipsI am loved. Among my greatest sources of affection and sweetness, I treasure having been loved for the past nineteen and a half years by the wonderful partner who is my best friend, a truly marvelous everyday companion whose company continues to be a pleasure, and just plain a good human being. Today, I celebrate having been married to this splendid person for nineteen years. I don’t know why the universe has conferred such largess upon me. I am merely grateful beyond words, and don’t choose to look too closely into the whys and wherefores of my giftedness in this regard lest the bubble burst.Photo: Light-Hearted

Today, I am more contented, happy, and hopeful than I could have imagined possible two decades ago, and the more so because I know that as long as we’re both around to keep marking anniversaries of our marriage I will continue to be so loved, so blessed. Beloved, I wish you as much joy as your heart can hold. Being with you is, for me, the very definition of splendid.Photo: Splendid

Fragile Beauty

We mortal beings are such a breakable bunch. The only part of my being that I can imagine ever neared perfection is my imperfection. It galls me that I am so intolerant of what I view as intolerance in others, so upset by the seeming obviousness of opposing viewpoints’ being illogical and insupportable, and so easily brought to a boil by anyone else’s anger or violence. It disappoints me that I am so easily cowed into silence when I see what seems the most flagrant of wrongs being committed against the defenseless, and I’m horrified by my inability to articulate what I believe is my wonderfully reasonable understanding of the facts of a case so as to persuade a single person of their validity.

The sorrow and fear I feel about this only intensify when I remember my suspicion that most other people experience some of these same phenomena. My failings are not entirely limited to me. It’s no wonder the world is such a complicated place.

Yet wisdom, love, justice, hope, and peace do seem to prevail at times. I know that every person alive will never agree on when and how those moments occur. Deeply studied scientific experiments and conclusions don’t convince everybody. Political, philosophical, and religious arguments, discussions, and declarations don’t convince everybody. The deepest emotional commitment and conviction, expressed in gloriously poetic prose, cannot convince everybody. We will still be weak, messy mortals. We will still be intolerant, illogical, angry, stubborn, and inarticulate. We will fall into these traps and sinkholes at the most inconvenient times, and escape from them only temporarily.

Yet wisdom, love, justice, hope, and peace do seem to prevail at times. We are incredibly imperfect and fragile, yes, but we can be beautiful, too, when we rise above our self-centered view of perfection and seek wisdom, love, hope, peace, and justice that should belong and apply not to only our own selves and favored persons but to everyone. If I can’t stoop to lift up someone else from the depths, maybe it’s because I need to reach up from my own depths to raise him. Maybe wisdom, love, justice, hope, and peace can prevail. Maybe they can begin today.Photo: Fragile Beauty