Looking and Not Talking

  I’m hanging in a wordless space, even as I write these words. Recently home from a family trip on the Oregon coast for the holidays, I’m savoring all I saw and heard there: my family, of course; and also blustery winds and rain; thundering waves; squawking seabirds; towers of sand; and fairy woodlands, waterfalls dashing amidst stones and trees adorned with moss, lichen and teeny mushrooms. People I love are still facing serious health crises and I’m silently holding them in my heart. Yesterday I gathered with friends as in creative silence we asked our personal dreams for 2019 to appear on vision boards. The visual storyteller Maira Kalman, when asked about her love of museums, spoke of the peace in “just wandering and looking…I think we have the opportunity to understand silence around us, and really looking all the time.  There’s always the opportunity. And there’s never a lack of things to look at, and there’s never a lack of time not to talk.” Looking and not talking. Yes, I’ve been in this space and do not want to leave it. So this month I offer a few pictures for you to look at and ponder if you choose, with some white space around them…                                                                   (The entire “On Being” interview with Kalman, sent to me by a dear friend, is fabulous and can be found HERE.)...

Allowing Ambiguity

When doodling to relax the other night, I stumbled into drawing an image that I noticed makes sense the way I drew it and also upside down. Then I discovered more images in it when I turned the paper other ways.   One side up it looks to me like a clownish person with a big nose, a fancy turban, frilly collar and a slightly crazed look.   Upside down, it could be another crazed person, this time with a round nose, mustache and complicated headwear. Not sure what is in his mouth. Or, I can see the small central oval as a woman’s face–no facial features drawn in–with carefully arranged hair (around the spirals), wearing a bandana across her forehead, a flamboyant headdress above that, and sporting an elaborate collar and button placket.     Turned on either side, it looks like some kind of sea creature to me. You can probably see other things too. I like this drawing but it makes me slightly uneasy. How can it be three or four things at once? Which way is up? What is it really? I’m disappointed in my unease. Can’t I let the drawing depict three or four things simultaneously without needing to make a judgment as to which one is right or preferred? Without creating a hierarchy of the images? Especially since I actually enjoy all of them equally. Can’t I let the drawing be ambiguous? It strikes me that this discomfort–with ambiguity, with not knowing “the answer,” with allowing several realities to coexist without putting them in a hierarchy— might be perilous now. So much is...

Free From the List

We all try so hard in January: to “do better,” to complete the “shoulds” we failed to complete last year. Not me. Spirit is handling my agenda these days. And with more wisdom, kindness and efficiency than when I was in charge. I have been an organized, list-making gal, believing that lists were what made me efficient and productive. I was indeed efficient and productive, generally completing my daily or weekly to-do lists (“work”) before more exciting things (“play”). When I noticed I seldom found time for fun or creative activities, I began adding them to the lists. But grumpiness often muddied satisfaction in my competence. Then one day a shift happened. I looked at my to-do list in a new way. Instead of the sum of “what must happen today,” I saw it as a compendium of suggestions. I began asking, “what needs to happen today?”—and “what does NOT need to happen today?” Not what my clipboard-clutching, inner drill sergeant calls “need,” but need from a larger perspective. Perhaps what a soaring hawk’s sharp eye might perceive. To discover this I had to pause, breathe, shift attention from my head (and all its “shoulds”) into my belly and listen. “Make the call to the repairman now. You don’t need to pay that medical bill today.” This felt different. I didn’t resist because the drill sergeant was no longer ordering me around; instead, the hawk’s larger view was helping me see what was required in my world. These messages—whether from Hawk, my intuition, Spirit, or all three—worked well:  just before my call a cancellation freed up the repairman; postponing...

Wordless

Stop thinking and talking about it and there is nothing you will not be able to know.                                                                                                                 Zen paradigm I’m finding it hard to write a blog this month because my travels over the past three weeks, to Ireland and to Lake Superior’s north shore, have left me without words (mostly). No words. No naming, discussing, or analyzing. Just experiencing. Absorbing color, texture, scent, sound. Vibrations of energy. Feelings. Whispers from prehistoric times. The goal of my Ireland tour (a small group tour arranged and coordinated by a warm and wise young British woman) was to connect with the energies of the land and the many peoples over the ages who honored it as sacred. Silently touching the ancient stones, walking or sitting in meditation on the land which felt so alive, my mind stilled as my physical and psychic senses hungrily took in what they could find there. Among them fresh wind, natural beauty, serenity, protection, delight. Glimmers of timeless memories. Day after day, as we explored—the ruins of a 15th century Franciscan abbey and the 500+ year old yew tree standing at its center; ancient stone circles set amidst rolling pastures scattered with placid sheep or cows; waterfalls sparkling through mossy green forests; prehistoric structures holding thousands of years of ceremony...