…to the mother of my soul

We need joy as we need air

“We need JOY as we need air.
We Love as we need water.
We need each other as we need the earth we share.” (Maya Angelou)

Dear Mother Maya,
On the day that you passed onward my insides welled-up,
and fountained out from the top of my head.
A sorrow mingled with joy. They ran soft wet ribbons to my toes,
a pond of absinthe-colored peace.
Out, out went the waters — pond, then lake, then a limbic ocean —
my world inundated.
The Happy Planet sprouted wings. We flew away.
I heard you whisper a duet with the cosmic wind,
a buttery vocalese mussed my hair.
Humming along, I reached for a palette of pixels
and painted love for you.
Thank you for sharing your heart with me, Mother.
Thank you for being.

I love you,
Cate ❤️

Part one in a four-part series dedicated to the poet mother of my heart and soul, Maya Angelou
(All images created in the virtual world, Second Life, unless otherwise stated

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Fiddling with the Course of Human Events

“And so, once again, my dear Johnny, my old friend,
And so, once again you are fighting us all.
And when I ask you why, you raise your sticks and cry, and I fall.
Oh, my friend, how did you come to trade the fiddle for the drum?”

I am often fashionably late to the parade. This weekend is no exception. Not so when I was a drummer in the Adlai E. Stevenson High School Marching  Patriots Band,  (actually, I was an oboist, but oboes don’t march).  You can’t be late to anybody’s parade when you set the cadence. It’s impolite.  I can still tap the 48-bar pattern on a tabletop, and it’s been forty-four years. Tempus doth fugit to the strains of The Stars and Stripes Forever — in my ear and my hands and heart. A mere blink of the eye, Gentle Reader, and in that time I’ve grown into a patriot of a lonely kind.

I am blessed and grateful to have grown in the era I did, with its obvious benefits, graduating from AESHS in 1970;  also blessed to know a ‘security and freedom from want’ that myriad other people on The Happy Planet then and now can only imagine.  Because of the when and the where, I was able to learn beyond high school history and government books. As Red Riding Hood sings in Sondheim’s Into the Woods: “Isn’t it nice to know a lot? And a little bit not.”

In the roll-up to the July 4th holiday in the US of A (the pre-game show!) and throughout the long weekend, I am reminded over and over of the young idealist standing decades before the ‘radical’ grandmother in reading glasses who types staccato rhythms — her solo cadence — on a laptop now.  I put the word radical in quotes because, like so many words, the meaning has been mangled and maligned over time.   Oh!  You’re one of those?  Yes.  But don’t mistake me for an inhabitant of Planet Politics.  I don’t live there anymore.

Since I hope to keep this short, (ever the dreamer!) suffice it to say this: what disturbs me most about Independence Day celebrations is all that’s piggybacked upon the birthday of a nation of diverse people who longed to live free of the  tyranny of kings. What the cultural loudspeakers blare today is nothing remotely about the bold experiment of the nation’s founders. It’s just not, and it makes me more nauseous as the weekend wears on. I won’t share my long list of soapbox perturbations here and now.  You can relax. Another day, perhaps,…

I work hard to keep chauvinistic fairytales out of my head-heart space. So much seems insane to me. I was near-to-bursting the other day, and felt compelled to pick up my old violin to fiddle the dissonance away.  I play you a magic, mournful and hopeful melody.  The peoples of the United States of America have a lot to learn and much to unlearn.  I have hope that they are up to the challenge, willing to take moments away from ‘USA,The Miniseries’ to refresh their memories on matters of freedom, nationhood, patriotism and gritty courage. It’s an often lonely place. A necessary place.

We might each begin here: We hold these truths to be self evident

I hope you’ve had a blow-out holiday weekend with full bellies and full hearts, great joys, inspired for the sojourn just ahead. See it, there on your horizon? **Fare forward, Voyagers, and watch out for low-flyin’ crazies as you go.

From my heart,
Cate ❤️

** a nod of my head to T.S.Eliot’s, ‘The Four Quartets’
– All images in this blog are created in the virtual world, ‘Second Life’.

Ask the enlightened. Go on… Ask them.

Gratitude is the wine for the soul. Go on.  Get drunk. (Rumi)

Gratitude is the wine for the soul. Go on. Get drunk.
(Rumi)

“I’m so grateful for everything you’ve ever given me…” So sings Sir Paul McCartney in Gratitude .  Countless artists, some movers-and-shakers, myriad humble monks and mystics throughout ages of ages all seem to agree. Their words vary, but the message remains.  Gratitude is everything. We only need reminding.  I know I do.  The din of everyday can become an enormous weight upon our hearts.  Its cacophony cancels out melodies that ears can hear with ease when we are not immersed in ‘fear of’…  this calamity, that tragedy, this potential conflict, that bad guy… no!  THAT one, over there!  See???

I hear your objections already  — easier said than done to remain in a state of gratitude.  I disagree.  The difficulty is not about gratitude, it’s about the space we have each and all learned to live in, particularly in the so-called ‘Enlightened West’  As Mohandas K. Gandhi is quoted as saying when asked what he thought about Western Civilization – “I think it would be a good idea.”

How then to increase our own personal moments of gratitude for simple being, and for the miraculous beingness of others, when the cultural loudspeakers blare fear, distraction, savagery and banality at us from cradle-to-grave?  This is what works for me:

  • When I wake-up I take a moment to breathe mindfully before standing to engage the day.  My goal is to etch the day with what Buddhist’s refer to as “gap time”. The gap is now.  Every moment of every day is now. By setting an intention to freely move into gap time and gap space, I facilitate easier mobility into and out of a waking mindfulness and focused attention that is needed for the challenges of my everyday life.
  • Throughout my waking time I take moments to feel my feet on the floor or the ground, feel my butt on the couch, feel the water on my hands as I wash them, as I water the garden, as I wash the dinner dishes.  Again, it’s about mindfulness – focus, and all about purposeful breathing as I’m feeling all that stuff.  Such a concept.  It’s just breathe, breathe, breathe all the time.
  • When family demands, or traffic stress, or confrontational malarky with any walking wounded others, ad infinitum — at these moments, I remind myself to pause.  Pausing creates a gap where I can choose how I want to respond to the eddies of my ‘life’.

With these intentional actions in place I am constantly freed up to appreciate the miracles of being that are never gone, but for so many are impossible to see amid the distractions, or hear beneath the noise of what’s often taken for granted as “just how it is”.   My ability to appreciate without judgment what my amazing sensory system perceives is the foundation of my state of gratitude. Without this mindful relishing it is easy to fall into patterns of event-react-event-react that is all too common for our species here on The Happy Planet.  I’ve been there. I’m not going back.

The energy that comes from the center of mindful me, that surrounds me, and radiates outward from me changes everything.  I consider it my cosmic imperative to be centered in the gap while mindfully living with the people I love and the people I meet, and the people I’ve only simply heard about who live lands away.

I don’t glow with other-worldly light (at least I don’t think I do).  I don’t levitate. But, if you understand the interconnectedness stories of ripples in a pond, butterfly wings in the Sahara and such, my heart-mind-self knows that mindful and grateful moments change everything.  I’m not going to wax on about quantum affinities and entanglements, but it’s all about those too!

So, for right now, I am in gratitude for everything I can perceive, and I’ve made room for all that’s out of range for the moment.   Thank you for reading.  Thank you for being.  Oh! And don’t forget to breathe.  ♡

Cate