Writing, Wandering, Wondering, and World Peace

I dream of being a better writer and artist. Of being a lyricist or maybe even librettist. Of taking many of my designs for furniture, clothing, sets and costumes, building materials, architectural elements, jewelry, inventions, and any number of the other concepts that constantly float around in my skull into the realm of actual production and use. Oh, yeah, and I dream of World Peace, too. Really.

Some people dream of simply having a healthy child with the average odds of survival and success in an average-length life. That was not my dream, but I know that it’s one shared by millions, not least of all by the author of an outstanding blog, The Hartley Hooligans. Gwen is always a superb writer and a tremendously insightful amateur sociologist-cum-psychologist with a wicked sense of humor. She outdid herself in one recent post. It’s a spectacularly beautiful meditation on how, in general, to live life boldly, fully, and richly. The article is ostensibly aimed at mothers or parents of special needs children (the author is mother to two profoundly ‘challenged’ kids and one who’s not), but I realized as I was reading it that it’s perfect advice for anyone, anywhere. (Note: Unless you’re a self-employed home-dude like me, reading The Hartley Hooligans may occasionally prove NSFW! But never, never dull.)

I don’t ordinarily publish anything that I didn’t write or illustrate myself, but in writing, supposedly, to the parents of special needs kids, Gwen offers insights so universally applicable to any of us who find ourselves with different realities than we had fantasized or expected in life, I think others should hear her uniquely graceful, bracing, hilarious, and touching take on the how-to and why-not of holding fast to our hopes and keeping up with the business-busywork tasks that make them possible.

For myself, I just substitute for her discussion of [special needs children] with the concept of any deeply felt, long-held dreams that I’ve felt unable to achieve or too intimidated or ill-equipped to accomplish, or have thought would be forever out of my reach for any reason.  I replace her talk about [doctors and caregivers] with those advisors and companions of any kind whom I assemble to support me in my life. The advice this wonderful, earthy, real woman gives on how to make the most of any situation; to give myself permission to be human, not superhuman; to credit myself with what I do accomplish and build on it; to surround myself with real, two-way relationships of love, respect, challenge, and support; and to make the most of everything I have with gratitude, is inspiring and pretty priceless.

I’m not one for sharing others’ work on my blog often, but this really spoke to me in a direct way that I think is far more broadly applicable than the already impressive comfort and wisdom of its intended point. I suspect we can all learn from it, so I feel compelled to share it here. Enjoy.

Many heartfelt thanks to Gwen for permission to share this epically useful, sane, marvelous insight of hers with my friends here in Bloglandia!

Digital illo from a photo: Everyday Superheroes

What do superheroes look like? Ordinary people who believe, and persist. No masks and capes required. Halos optional.

Stars Everywhere

Photo montage: Stars in the DarknessThis world is a dark place. War and strife, fear, hunger, hatred, greed, self-righteousness, and poverty gnaw the bones of suffering people on every continent at every hour. And all of these menaces are, in accordance with early expressions of the idea of Tragedy, nearly entirely the making of our own species.

Little hope, at least in my mind, of that sorrowful truth changing as long as our species continues to dominate the planet. We are deeply flawed. Even the finest among us tend to forget themselves and their mortal limits at time; regardless of how educated, high-minded and genuinely well-meant their attitudes and actions may be, it’s sadly true that underlying those attitudes and actions is a firm belief in their rightness. Only natural that it’s hard, from that perspective, to allow that others might have an equal possibility of being right, or at least as wise and well-meaning, as they themselves are, and to show them the full respect of that acceptance.

What, then, of accepting life among my fellow flawed beings in this imperfect world? No comfort is found in denial or in persistently, aggressively resisting what may not have the possibility of ever changing. But to accept this grimness as an eternal truth and let it lie like lead on my soul is no help, either.

I look to the stars.

Physical stars exist in a surprising number of places, many lower and commoner than the depths of the sky, and I look to them and rally as I realize that they stand, every one, as beacons reminding me of what is good not only in the nature in which we imperfect beings live, but what is good within us as well. Small as our fineness may seem, individually and corporately, at times, it does exist, and if there is to be any hope of overcoming the dark, it must come from the nurturing of every little glint seen starring that darkness.

I look to the stars in the indigo distance of the sky, sparkling like promises of better things as they look back at me. I look to the lesser stars of reflected light that dazzle on earth, the  diamond dashes on every body of water and glimmering in every eye, never mind among real gems and the many things made expressly to be beautiful and good and positive. I look, more than anywhere else, at the multitude of stars that shine from the hearts of good and true people, people who are thoughtful and generous, merciful and hardworking, and kind and loving, sometimes despite and against the dark things of this world, and often, wonderfully, for the sole reason that they were made to be such earthly stars.

Unfinished in Perpetuity

digital artworkWork Forever in Progress

Hundreds of lines later,

I have nothing to show

except if you count

a sense of accomplishment in having

been faithful to a commitment, in having

persisted steadily in the face of the

unseen and unknown, in being

somewhat soothed by the simple

process of having given a little

heart and soul to something

simply because I could.

However I came to exist,

I think I might be a little bit

the same kind of puzzle myself,

imperfect and utterly incomplete,

but nicely so, for all of that–

nicely, because,

after all, I am working my way

toward being something at last,

and whether I have

an encompassing purpose or not,

I have at least

begun to Be . . .digital artwork

Lighting Candles in the Vastness of the Dark

photoIt’s easy in this big, busy world to feel sometimes that one is alone in the magnitude of space, a tiny voice calling out and not knowing if there’s anyone who will answer. When times are grim, that is quite simply the pervasive sense. When my youngest nephew was very small and spending his first overnight at his grandparents’, my mother tiptoed down the darkened hall before turning in for sleep and heard his little voice coming out of the doorway with the plaintive little inquiry: “Is there anybody here who knows me?”

Like him, I have always eventually been answered in my timid forays into the fearful or unknown with rescuers coming to my aid, whether in a literal sense or in the sometimes equally powerful act of offering emotional and companionable solidarity. I’m here for you; I hear you. It doesn’t always have to be more than that, though I can’t imagine there are many who would find themselves able to be surfeited when it comes to genuine kindness and support; sometimes just knowing that there is somebody else somewhere in this overwhelming life who cares what happens to us is grace enough.

Entering the seemingly surreal world of the blogosphere is certainly sufficient intimidation and unfamiliarity for most of us, and a place where we well might feel we’re talking into empty nothingness. The discovery that there are not only fellow wanderers in the place, indeed, but kindred spirits–well, that is more than just a comfort. It’s a relief and a joy and the sighting of rescue breaking through the impenetrable dark with, however tiny, a candle flame. Amazing how that infinitesimal light pierces the gloom and begins to widen. How it begins to be passed from one to the other until a seeming infinity of tiny flames has suddenly coalesced into blazing daylight!

That is the kind of friendship that shifts from virtual to virtuous in a rather quick succession of conversations and shared thoughts and dreams, where we go swiftly from meeting-in-passing to knowing that it matters that each little flame be tended thoughtfully. True community, it turns out, can be cultivated in dimensions that know no boundaries of physical space. It grows in sharing commonalities and respecting and treasuring the uniqueness and differences of opinion and belief and history that give so much deeper meaning to what we do hold in common.

So I pay grateful tribute to those who have answered my voice in the darkness, who have shone light upon my blogging life and more importantly, shed light in every direction by the mere warmth and passion of their spirits through their own voices in blogging. There should be a much more beautiful and euphonious name for this dimension of community than Blog, Blogger, Blogged, Blogging–all of them sound, if not rude, then at the least terribly plebeian. But then, perhaps the true beauty of the construct is its very ability to carry our unvarnished, unembellished humanity if not on golden wings then on plainly mortal feet, all of us walking along, however trepidatiously, speaking softly to others we only trust are there, carrying our little candles ahead of us with quavering hope.

Lately I have been reminded of this sharing of light and warmth yet again by the gifts of three further Versatile Blogger Award recognitions by that Beautiful Spirit, Alpha, at Aspire.Motivate.Succeed., the warm and wonderful master of his well-tended garden, Bishop, at Bishop 9396’s Blog, and the Bardess, DM Denton, who shows magnificent visual and verbal ambidexterity. From three people who demonstrate great versatility indeed I take it as a high compliment.

And I have now been granted the Candle Lighter Award by dear ‘Nessa at Stronghold. She is a bright light indeed for such a young torch-bearer, bringing her insights and opening discussions on many a topic that could fall into the dark but for the repeated loving applications of the light of inquiry and passion that she offers in her forum. All are free to ponder there the complexities of life, love and the human psyche that cross all boundaries of age and experience. Precisely the kind of place that welcomes shared illumination just as I’ve been describing here.

Candle Lighter Award logoThe Candle Lighter Award has been variously described in terms of its requirements, so I thought I’d see if I could trace it back, and behold, this award’s creator actually maintains an open link so that we can bask in her generous and thoughtful gift. So raise your lamps high with me, won’t you, and we’ll thank her for this kind and inspiring offering. Thank you, then, both to Kate, the nurturing mother of this Award, at Believe Anyway, and to ‘Nessa, who believes strongly enough to shine her own light in the darkness.

Kate is especially generous and ingenious, I think, in opting to simply let the award she conceived stand on its own, requiring no response or action other than that one should, appropriately, shine light upon its meaning as a representation of positivity and hope and illumination in and of itself and the thoughtful sharing of it ought to recognize those whom the giver sees as showing those qualities in blog work. To further those beliefs and ideals, I will of course share the names of a small few bloggers who represent the vigor of meaningful optimism, teaching and leading and sharing the light through their munificent and loving work. And as ‘Nessa has reminded me, many of the brightest lights are those that persist to shine in the darkest places.photo

Thus I gladly pass the torch to my friends at PsycheVida, The Invisible Shadow, Aspire.Motivate.Succeed., The Human Picture, G (of G Caffe), and Year-Struck, who all know the light well, if partially by virtue of having known or passed through various dark places, and choose to shine their better selves abroad like rays of sunlight.

I have handed the Versatile Blogger Award along (as well as a few others with similar requirements) enough times that I fear I shall put your lights out, all of you, if I should share another laundry-list of factoids about my shining self, and know that you’ll find more than enough of my self-revelatory chatter just by wandering around my blog any day of the week. But I hope that you will also attend to the following fellow off-road-thinkers who certainly deserve a badge of Versatility for their wide-ranging skills and interests, again without requiring anything of them in return other than that they should rejoice in being in company that deeply appreciates the surprising and wonderful collection of wits that each of them represents.VBA logo

To Marie, tending home, garden, and a next-gen toddler in her Little Corner of Rhode Island; to Ellen, who writes and paints and draws and sets the cultural coordinates of her region at Nine Lives Studio; to Bella of winsomebella, a magical land where passionate soul-searching merges with poetry and photography, travel and storytelling; to John, cooking up history and food and familial love in the Bartolini Kitchens; and to Nia, who intertwines photography with food, the tails of cats with tales of travel, and wonderful daily expressions of local culture to charm and amaze us.

Some of you, I know, have been laureates of these specific and many other blogging awards, and deservedly so, so I neither demand of you that you accept (though it’s pretty much an impossibility to make me un-like you once I’ve decided I like you, as far as that goes!) nor that you ‘keep passing the dessert around the table’. Your blogs and excellence speak for themselves, and if you wish to share the joy further then I am delighted to have put it in your hands for the sharing. Because that is the whole beauty of this place we call the blogging community. There’s dessert and light and warmth enough here for everyone.photo