June’s Message

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We find comfort in constancy. In consistency. Especially in the reliable patterns of nature.

I’ve written those words once or twice before. Or maybe twenty times.  And…I can’t resist a compelling Before & After. Or in this case, an After & Before.

The ‘after’ picture above captures today’s image of a daylily in the middle of June. Photographed in the exact location as the ‘before’ image below, taken, surprisingly, near the end of February. It wasn’t even the end of winter. The words accompanying the February picture were my thoughts at the time and the words I wrote.

daylillyThere
In the soft, pungent ground
Muddy and soggy
Cluttered with the carefree left-over debris
From a cold, frozen winter in hasty retreat
I see the hint of June
The promise of unfolding majesty
A proud and pompous orange beauty
Unashamed to stand tall in daily glory
I breath in the earthiness
And hold it in my lungs
I stock it in my soul
A fresh supply of reassurance

Original post on Momentary Reverie, Daylily

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The Summer Sun

Somebody told me once that your brain senses it’s summer by the way sunlight shines through the trees. The way it reflects off the leaves. And the way shadows hit the ground. Something about the angle of the sun, and the way your brain stores these images from the time you are a child. It sounded like a very scientific way of saying that the June sunshine produces some spectacular effects in the images we take in with our eyes everyday.

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A Flower for Your Friday

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Just a flower from Charlie’s Yard. Amidst the unkempt and unruly flora and fauna. Not out of place in the June environment of a woodland’s increasingly habitual state of confusion and perplexity. A panorama of views for the eyes to take in, contemplate, and ponder.

Broken Moments

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I wrote the following nearly a year ago. Why is it important to me? It’s important because I remember that day as the day which led me to start my blog. I guess I feel like it takes me full circle. I will just say that it was the kind of day that makes you remember the date. I never understood why I noticed this very brief observation of these two people, and then went on to write about it. I wasn’t in the habit of writing about my observations. For some reason, it felt important. The idea of having a blog was something that drifted in and out of my thoughts for years, but I didn’t think I would ever get around to doing it.

For me that day was the first of a number of events that transformed into a my own little butterfly effect. This day happened, and something else happened, another this and that, an email, a reaction, and a moment when I knew I had to find the courage to start my blog. I suppose starting a blog doesn’t sound like a courageous thing to do. But it felt like it to me. I know that if I removed any one of those sequential events, my blog most likely wouldn’t have happened. It makes you wonder how much of life is luck. Or accidental. Maybe accidental is a better word.

I’ve looked at this piece many times and considered editing it every time. And I never do. It could use some literary flourish. The beginning should be better. The ending simply ends, as if it needs a conclusion. But I never change it. It’s the way I saw this simple moment, it represents the way I reacted, and something prevents me from changing it.

So, again, this was almost a year ago.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Last week I got lab work at a local medical complex in advance of a check-up. It is a big multi-building complex, housing some ordinary medical offices, but also a number of large centers for treating serious illnesses.

Walking into the building, I saw a couple ahead of me. A tall, slender, neatly dressed woman with white hair, light-colored button-down shirt tucked into khaki slacks. Rather elegant and graceful. And with her a younger fellow, maybe 40ish, brown hair, I would guess her son.

Nothing remarkable. They weren’t chatting, but they looked as we often do before medical appointments…a little serious and a little nervous. I went up the elevator to take care of things, and didn’t notice where they moved on to.

It was sunny, hot, sticky that day, and the elevators in the parking garage were not working, so the medical facilities provided large golf cart type shuttle service back and forth to the cars/buildings. As I was leaving my building through the sliding doors, a little preoccupied with my own problems, I looked up and saw across the road the same couple I had seen earlier, now outside in front of the garage. I assumed they were waiting for a shuttle to take them to their car.

The woman was sitting on a concrete wall, just right of the garage entrance. Her legs were together, but uncrossed and dangling, her shoulders slumped over dramatically, almost to her waist. Her back was rounded, and her head hanging and resting face-down on the palms of her hands. The son was standing a few feet from her, looking away in the direction of the road, appearing to me as if he felt a little embarrassed and a little helpless.

Maybe she had just received treatment and felt weak. Or maybe she was in some pain. Maybe she was thinking about her situation, what had just transpired at her appointment. I can’t know, but it looked to me like a woman overwhelmed by the burdens she was facing. Whatever it was, she looked so sad and discouraged.

I saw from the look on her son’s face that he was hurting too and maybe trying to think of what he should do.

It’s part of life, I know. But it broke my heart.

I looked away from them and avoided walking near them as I approached the garage entrance.

I can’t forget, though, the image of the two of them, waiting there…by themselves…so vulnerable and yet so public, trying to hold it together despite the crushing weight of their problems.

Paths

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When I get stuck…in life…and can’t figure out what to do, or which path to take, the only thing I know to do is to keep going. I’m sure I’ve given my children that advice many, many times. So often I don’t have to think about the words. “The only thing that matters is that you keep putting one foot in front of the other. It doesn’t have to be graceful, and it doesn’t have to be pretty. Just put one foot in front of the other. Sooner or later you come out of the tunnel, or out to the other side. Always.”

Sometimes ‘bad things’ happen, devastating things, and you can’t stop them. People die, relationships fail. Those are the kind of bad things I remember the most. You still get up in the morning, put your feet on the floor, and take a step, and then another, and another. Sooner or later, you smile again.

I can think of a bad thing that happened in my young 20s. One of those ‘I’ll never love again’ things. A path I didn’t choose at all. Unfair. Earth-shattering. Crushing. That’s all from my perspective, of course. It was a path that took me to a new me. And now…now I can go a whole year, I can go five years, without even thinking about what happened. Or the person involved. It’s not repressed. It just doesn’t matter to me anymore. Life has moved on to a whole new set of problems and joys.

Maybe life wouldn’t be life without moments like those. Maybe that’s what makes us able to understand the emotion in someone else’s song or poetry. And yes, maybe that’s what makes us stronger, more resilient, more capable of handling the next crisis around the bend in the path.

When my sister died, I was around 40. It was terrible. I went through all the stages of grief. The song I played over and over and over was the Rolling Stones, ‘Paint it Black’. I can remember turning up the volume and listening to that pounding beat, and letting it beat up my soul. I remember feeling like I wanted and needed it to beat up my soul. Acceptance took a long time. But it happened. There came a day when I could listen to Christmas songs again and not cry. Then I could listen to Christmas songs and smile. And there was a sense of emerging. Emerging to a happy life again.

That’s why I think it’s so sad when young people take their lives. We know that a soul must feel tortured to give up so completely. But I wish there was a way to convince them to hang on. To first of all ask someone for help. And then to just keep going. Every year we see new ways to manage conditions that were once not treatable. And torturous problems that feel  permanent are usually not permanent. There may be a terrible struggle, there may be many more tears to fall, but there’s almost always joy out there waiting somewhere, at some time. And laughter.  And…there is a someone out there waiting too. That time when I thought I wouldn’t love again. That lasted about six months. Okay, I’m not being honest. It lasted about three or four months. Time has a way of putting a different spin, or changing the perspective, on what feels like a hopeless situation.

I think we all find it scary to choose a path. To make decisions. And maybe even scarier when we think the path is simply taking us where we don’t want to go. Sometimes we want to say, “Excuse me, do I get a say in this?”

And we usually feel like there must be a right way and a wrong way. Surely there are times when one way is definitely a terrible choice. But most of the time I think they’re probably just different ways. Some parts of my life feel stable enough, and other parts feel like they’re careening down a curvy path with a new spin-out everyday. And I can’t see around the bend. Maybe I’ll stay on this path, or maybe I’ll bail out. Maybe tomorrow I’ll cede lost causes, decide life’s too short for this, or that, and cut my losses. Or maybe I’ll stay focused and see where the path takes me. Whichever way I go, I will keep going. I plan to put one foot in front of the other. Absolutely, positively, no question about it.

….I think so, anyhow….