Tag Archives: random musing

Random Musing 2016: My Grateful Life

 

2016 has not been the best year, not really. Even though I have a theory that the world has always been crazy and always will be crazy…this year felt like a special kind of crazy like we’re all tilting towards a precipice and we’re all going over the edge no matter what.

My sister and I have a theory that 2016 went haywire because for the first time in her life she had no game plan for her birthday. THAT’s the cause of all this mayhem.  The lady who lives life big didn’t plan her annual monumental February birthday bash and now everything is gone to shit. EVERYWHERE. Not just here. EVERYWHERE. Now there’s no bright light, no guiding star to get us through this darkness. People, can we please start over and tilt the world backwards, the right way this time. Come on. Let’s just strike this set.

Still I can’t help but ask myself if everything is lost. I am a person who fights for elephants to have the right to walk on this planet unchained and unviolated. That seems like a pretty hopeless situation to me but somehow I keep going although some days I’m not sure why. I just know that if I stop, and everyone stops then there’s no chance whatsoever. So I guess somewhere in there I must be hopeful. I can thank my mother for that.  It looks like she tossed  her half glass full set of genes over to me. Or maybe I’m like a compulsive craftswoman weaving life’s terrible and breathtaking offerings into a big carpet of life. These are all the things I am going to remember. These are all the things I’m going to feel, these are all the things I will carry with me moving forward into this uncertain future. . This is my grand reduction.

I will not ever forget the extraordinary ordinariness  of a phone call that brought me to a hospital to find out that my sister has brain cancer.

I am in awe of extraordinary courage. Because you never really know how you’ll deal with this kind of thing.  And the girl who lives large, brings her extraordinary gifts to bear in dealing with the issues that confront her.   She lives big no matter what.

I will never forget how beautiful it is to laugh in spite of every fucking blow that is being dealt her way. That we still laugh. Everyday.

I will never forget that it’s okay to say nothing because sometimes there are no words. And the ladies who like to live large can sit in silence, something they never imagined before.

I will never forget trying to climb a big scary wall after being convinced to do Tough Mudder by my sister.  That if you don’t think of the big picture, if you just consider the first small step, and then the next small step, if you trust in the people around you, that you can and will make it over the top. Step by step. That feels like hope to me.

I will never forget the moments in between. Those moments when Dave sits me down and introduces me to music and shows me the extraordinary in the ordinary. Or leading me to John Mavin who led me to myself and my creative mind and desire to build castles with words.

And the moments in between of  doing nothing. The beauty of nothingness. Just being.

2016 feels like a knock down and then get back up and fight kind of year. I’m not sure the road feels clear. Sometimes I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. But I often think of that wall and I know that step by step you can climb enormous walls. Don’t look down, don’t look up. Keep focussed. Be full of hope. Full of joy. And step by step I think we can get there. I’m happy to say my sister has filled the entire month of February with birthday festivities. I think this means the world will be okay.

 

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Minutiae #6: The Incredible Lightness of Been

She walks with unrestrained joy, sits with unrestrained happiness. Like a hummingbird her tail moves with rapid fire speed, her entire body shaking back and forth, back and forth like a combustion engine. Her eyes are saucer bowl round with none of that drooping arrow in your heart look of deep sadness that some will pierce your heart with. She walks side to side, side to side smelling the world. Her only care is birds. Spring is for chasing robins.

Sometimes I look at her and all I see are birds inside her head, blue skies, robins and the undiluted thrill of meaningless chase. This is Happiness at its simplest. We call her Been. She’s been here and she’s been there. Little Being. My friend calls her Perpetua for her perpetual happiness. Perpetua/Been graces the world with a purity that lifts me – makes me feel lighter.
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We start our mornings when it’s still dark with a walk on the wooded path out back and I’m greeted with the chatter of bird song. I often wonder what they’re talking about – what is it exactly that they’re saying to each other in these sing song conversations that punctuate the quietness of the early, early morning. What is this wild orchestra that brings in the early morning light?

Meanwhile Been the little dog chases real and imagined birds and there’s a lightness in these early morning transactions, there’s a lightness in Been that elevates me to a place that I think might be called peace.

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The Altar of Love

I love that we can love. That we bow to the altar of love in a million and one ways every single moment of every day- that we have this immense capacity to connect and be filled with love for all the small things and big things in life – to our friends,  lovers and family, to things (like the bear I keep on my bed that was abandoned), to the way the sun hits the mountains just so on a given day, the smell of spring grass growing, those waves of memories of childhood. It feels so rich. And I love how it transforms you. Every connection offers the possibility of reinvention – I remember falling in love for the first time when I was 18. I didn’t know at the time that this would happen again and again until I was reinvented and transformed to receive and want the right kind of love. But every moment along the way was transformational.It feels like being re-born into a better version of yourself. I sometimes feel disappointed with people, with humanity and the craziness we create and inflict on each other and creatures and I need to remind myself of what I love about what it is to be human. That’s all.

 

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It’s a Busy World, Isn’t It?

Busy-ness is the killer of creativity. I know about this because in my old life I kept myself so busy that there was never a chance for mulling of any kind – creative or otherwise. Falling into a coma at the end of whatever maniacal activity I had decided to embrace was the norm. Normal was falling into bed at night in my work clothes. Sports, learning two languages fluently (never made it) more exercise (recovered bulimic so I’m still obsessive somewhat) reading, trying to write short stories (not successfully) and compulsive socializing. Hey, I know how to have a dinner party.

But that’s not really my life anymore. Not really. I am more comfortable with myself – living in my skin. I can sit and watch TV, relax. That ‘s new. But I like it and I need it. And I like it because the thing I’m most addicted to is thinking about stuff and feeling it. And when I’m busy I can’t do that as well.

Lately I’m busier because I’m going to school at night. Nothing overwhelming. But it makes me busier. And I have to think about things I’m not used to thinking about. A while ago I decided that the world depressed me to no end. Then I met a bunch of cool people and went to a talk by a guy called Paul Hawken and I started to understand that there are people who do things. Sure, the world is overwhelming and the tasks at hand seemingly insurmountable –but these people do. And I like that so I thought I would  try and do as well. So that’s what I’m doing in school.

My worry is that I’m trying to learn something (Sustainability Certificate) that doesn’t go well with my brain as much as other things do. My belief is there. My passion is there. But my mind is creative and not a ‘measuring’ kind of mind. Sustainability is all about measuring.  So this is my current preoccupation. Just how the hell am I going to measure stuff that needs to be measured? I dropped out of math in grade 2.

But in the meantime – my natural brain still tries to break through at times. Like yesterday when I was running and I felt my mind empty  and fill itself in the way running allows. And I was listening to this song and I could feel my heart contract because I thought of my mom – and I held my hand out for her to hold – because I want to bring her along with me no matter where I go – and I reached for my sister’s hand because I want my words to her to make a difference – I want her to want and I want her to stay with me. I want her to stay with me. And I thought about the movie theatre last night – where Dave and I went – me wearing my sexy pants – those beautiful grey sweats – and how we danced during the boring movie screaming – “I’ve got my sexy pants, I’ve got my sexy pants on.” when we were wearing pajamas. Like we were Jay-z or something. It’s times like this that my heart feels like it’s going to break – from  happiness and unhappiness. Is it like this for everyone?

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The Irony of a Beautiful Morning

We parked the car facing the water and watched as fishing boats drifted in and out of the small marina. It was a spectacular fall morning. Not a cloud in the sky. But windy. When I opened the window the sweet smell of apples, rotting leaves and sea air drifted in- what a beautiful fall perfume.

We watched people getting in and out of their cars, dogs leashed and unleashed, running wildly against the wind. Gleeful in that way that only dogs can be – so in the moment. Friends met and wandered together. We watched an older couple take their bikes out – the handsome older man adjusted the handlebars, handed the bike to his wife and adjusted his. They zippered their coats and exchanged a few words – maybe something about how cold it was.

Across from us a woman in an SUV was buckling her toddler in a car seat – the wind blowing her long pony-tailed hair. We watched as her stroller drifted into a sea of pigeons – drafted by the apple sea wind. We laughed watching the scene unfold in front of us and remarked how the pigeons competed for the small morsels of almost nothing. Two black birds landed in their midst and I wondered if they were partners in life. I could see the top of one of their heads – feathers a little ruffled like he had just woken up. Hair tousled.

The woman in the SUV pulled slowly out of the parking lot not wanting to run over the sea of birds surrounding her and laughed as she drove by knowing that we had watched this scene unfold. We smiled back.

Then we sat and waited – listening to the wind – watching the everyday life park tableau unfold all over again. And we waited. Each one of us with a cell phone on our lap.  I wondered who would answer the phone, take the call. And so we waited again. Apple sea air drifting in now and then. A tall ship going by. Another dog. I couldn’t hear it but I felt the ticking of time. Like I have before but in other situations. The agony of a life going this way or that way. Each road entirely different.

When the phone rang it severed the almost cinematic hour we had spent in our dog dirty car waiting to hear news.  And when I answered I felt as unready as I had ever felt about something that I had no control over but life calls. So I answered.

“It’s Dr. Galway’s office” – the young voice said at the other end. “It’s a go”, she said matter of factly. “It’s a go.” I said looking at Dave. “It’s a go.” Those were the words we had been hoping to hear. Our boy is not ready to leave us yet so we proceeded into the breathlessly beautiful fall morning to find ourselves a warm cup of coffee.

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First Music: Frank Zappa, Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin, Steve Goodman

Alison McGhee on her blog has been asking the question – “What is the first album you bought?” Such an innocent question but one that brings with it the fullness of memory.

Immediately my mind cast back to my mother’s apartment where I shared a room with my brother for a short period of my life as a teenager. My mother’s solution to our having to share a room was bunk beds. When the bunk beds arrived my brother declared the bottom to be his and that’s where his 16 year old self built a fort to protect himself from me and the world.

Me? I always wanted whatever he wanted so I was bitter at being left with the top bunk. My little sister revenge was to ask him questions from atop my perch as we were going to sleep and shake the bed furiously if he didn’t answer or didn’t answer what I considered to be correctly. Revenge of the little sister. It’s these things I remember so well.

But this bedroom also served as a sort of living room – not just for him but for us. We lived in a small space and the official living room -belonged to our mom. In “our” living room my brother mostly hosted his friends – Declan and other nameless young men who seemed to come and go making their way gingerly over a small piece of my mother’s red shag carpet that was vacuumed just so -as they tread a path to our room.

And what was in this room were the sounds of an era – Frank Zappa – Mothers of Invention, The Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin, Beatles, Steve Goodman, Johnny Winter, Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan, Bob Dylan. And it’s against the backdrop of this music where the first overtures of friendship planted themselves between my brother and myself.

Where we transitioned from quarrelling brother and sister to cohorts and friends. I assisted him in his worldly matters all the while listening to music that initially felt foreign to me and then made me feel like I was part of a club – a special club that existed in that small room for that short period of time.

When my brother left to live with my father he took his albums. My first album I bought afterwards was the Bee Gees – clearly not nearly in the same league of good taste that my brother introduced me to in those heady days of kinship.

Somehow when I think back on this time it was always summer. That hot Ontario sun pouring in our little bedroom window – the two of us sharing a little life together for what proved to be a very short period of time. But man do I remember it.

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The Heat of Summer: Running From Storms with My Mom

There is something about thick summer heat – the kind that winds itself into every nook and cranny on your body, sneaking underneath your shirt, lying like an extra layer of clothing on your skin, that makes me feel electric. As though the submersion of my skin in this wet heat shocks me into a euphoric sense of being. Like I have just fought and won a war. It reminds me of so many things, like that fragrant breath of air, blossoms, that occasionally break through the wall of dampness. It uplifts me and reminds me I am alive. Like the hot summer nights when we would sit outside until all hours, wearing as little as possible, talking against the sound of crickets performing their nocturnal minuet – and the dread of going to bed where sweaty tossing and turning awaited me.

Or the time my mom and I went walking because that’s what we liked to do, her long legs, leather keds and impertinent head of curls making her seem more school girl than woman – walking and talking in the thick summer heat until storm clouds formed overhead – followed by that sense of forboding then adventure. Where can we go? Until suddenly the storm broke – rain, clouds and thunder. We grabbed each other’s hands and ran like children to take refuge in the local school. We sat on a bench, my mom dangling those impossible legs – looking every bit the truant I knew she had been as a child, now a grown woman. I think about how that summer heat carried us that day. How we flew on its wings -how the alchemy of summer turned ordinary to extraordinary, to exotic and beautiful.

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