I did make a wreath, really–well, two. And as usual, they got a little more complicated and veered from the original plans all along the way, and the wreaths sort of made themselves, with a little elbow grease from me. That does seem to be my modus operandi most of the time, doesn’t it. I like to think of myself as an artist and the chief inventor in my colorful little universe, but when I’m being honest with myself, it’s more like I’m the cheap labor. Once the particular puzzles announce themselves to me, I may be able to offer the valuable skill of problem solving to make them possible (or as nearly so as I can), along with the effort required to bring them into existence, but in truth I’m often as surprised by the end product as anybody.That’s not entirely what I meant to say in this little post, of course. What I intended was to say that my time among you makes me think wreath-making a particularly purposeful thing to do, regardless of its utility or lack thereof as an object. Because to me, they represent all of the good and cheerful things contained in holidays and celebrations, and bring fine and flexible attractions to the decoration of home and garden. But further, and more significant in this difference to me, a wreath is a way to publicly express personal happiness through a small creative act. I make no claim that this is deep stuff. It’s a small pleasure and a minor artistic outlet, a rather insignificant creation even among the doings of a humbly insignificant artist. But as a token of well-being, contentment and hope, and no less, a mark of my understanding that I am privileged to feel all of those and know that I do so in large part thanks to the fine company I keep, this is enough cheering reason for me to make such playful little artworks, and even make artworks about making the artworks. Odd, I know, but in that alone, well suited to represent me too.I confess, silly as it is, it kind of leaves me wreathed in smiles just thinking about it.
Oops! I outfoxed myself. I was so distracted by the odd weather we’ve been having here lately and all of the ways it’s unexpectedly altered our calendar and our plans (though my birthday came today right on schedule, wink-wink) that I completely forgot last night to put up the day’s post. So I did it today. A two-fer. Just to remind all of you how much I love you. Thank you for your patience. I may be getting a little absent-minded in my old age, but I still think the world of y’all. Happy two-post day!
The vixen, when she deigns to leave her den,
May have designs on other vixens’ men,
For, little as I know the ways of foxes,
I know they don’t like being kept in boxes
But rather like the freedom just to roam
To any den, if it should look like home,
And any male they’d like to have as mate–
What does it mean to repress or suppress others? We humans have found so many awful and horrific ways to abuse and torment each other, to subjugate and enslave, belittle and diminish and depersonalize them, that homicide and genocide seem afterthoughts, if not almost a mercy at times.
What do we demean or demolish when we do so to other people? Community. Diversity. Complexity. All of those things that enrich our own lives. Things, indeed, that make our survival possible. We become trees hacking at our own roots and branches, all the while drinking toxic rain and poisonous streams.
If we lessen or lose one life, the whole tribe hangs in the balance. If we lose one tribe, we risk the loss of all humanity.
Being up the proverbial creek without a paddle is just too common a state for most of us mortals. What’s remarkable is not the frequency of its occurrence, though, but how often we paddled up there our very own selves and even quite willfully pitched out the paddle on arrival. Having gotten ourselves into the trouble in the first place doesn’t make it any more tolerable, let alone palatable, but if we learn to pay better attention, there might be a hope of return from the brink after all.
Retracing my footsteps to find where I went astray, maybe even to undo some of the damage, isn’t always possible even when the place where I’ve gotten myself in dire straits isn’t literally a trackless stream. But if I keep my eyes open and engage my wits and will, I might at least remember the way next time I start to veer in that direction, and learn not to step in that same river twice.
I’m fallible enough, but perhaps not irremediably so. Still, I’ll always welcome a good rescue. Throw me that life jacket, won’t you?
I admire real journalists and documentarians. Now, I do think that they are a very rare breed among news-people, the rest of whom are too driven by their corporate sponsors’ and their own biases by a long shot, no matter where on the spectrum of politics, religion, personal philosophy or other conviction they fall, but there are those honest characters who, if they do consistently let their beliefs steer their messages, at least recognize those prejudices and are quite open about them and still manage to give air time to opposing or differing points of view.
Still, the ones I really find compelling are a different sort of message bearers. They are harder to recognize, because they can be quite ordinary seeming mortals or wholly incorporeal, quotidian or fantastical, intentional or entirely, serendipitously accidental in their delivery of important news in our lives. Are they strangers we meet by happenstance and happy crossing of paths, like the townspeople in Germany who saw my older sister and me debarking a train after dark and looking around to orient ourselves? The kind couple approached us, told us that Celle (however lovely) was a very small town indeed and that there were few places for visitors to stop overnight but they’d help us find one, gave us directions and set us on the path to a very cozy little bed and breakfast before disappearing into the dark like a mist.
Are the messengers those outstanding teachers who have acted not only as educators in our lives but also as inspiration, as mentors, counselors, guides and friends? Mrs. Willis, Mr. Cunningham, Prof. Keyes: I salute you! Teachers have done as much to bring light to my life as to the dim corners of my mind over the years, and I am grateful for the news and stories and messages they bring. Are there other beings among us able to protect and direct us without our even being aware of it? Of course there are. Some of them are simply gracious fellow humans whose good deeds and kindness will never be seen or fully known and recognized in our lifetimes, either because we are too dim-witted and self-involved to notice as we should or because they merely do their mitzvahs without fanfare, without expecting or needing any recognition and recompense. These we should imitate and their message should be spread further by our going out in turn to do kindnesses for others and requiring no attention or glory.
And I think that–given how beautiful and rich life can be when we do pay attention–there must be others in our midst too; angels or aliens, I don’t much care what we name them, but there must be Love looking out for us to make even the tiniest good possible, let alone the many graces that fill our days if we only look. Their message, I suspect, is nothing more or less than that we are being well looked after, and our little lives recorded no matter how small they may seem to us.