Spinning My Wheels

I want to post a blog touching on one of my usual themes—wonder, creativity, humor—but today those feel a little scarce. Well, I do feel wonder as I sit today in this blizzard, the worst I’ve seen in many years.  And in mid-April yet. I know a few of you are living where spring has indeed arrived. I hope you are full of renewed energy. For us in the Midwest, not much has changed for the better in the outer world in the past two weeks, when I wrote about struggling to find my patience. Now that impatience–for spring, for positive change, inside and out–feels more discouraging than angry. I feel kind of muffled and mired, able to do all the necessary daily tasks but lacking the will and energy to do the many things that would probably lift my spirits and vitality. Or maybe just feeling tired of doing them all winter and wanting a change. Wanting the sensual contact with nature that spring brings. The grounding. The joy. I wrote this poem several years ago, but it feels appropriate today as I realize what’s missing right now (not all of which involves springtime): Groundless  For too many days now I have not danced, tickled spritish spirit with leaps and twirls, or dissolved, exhilarated, in sunshine splash, been pricked awake by gusty winds or cardinal call, clutched rainbow blossoms to my greedy nose, or burned to merge with musk and sweat.   Too many days since I have sought the dark, ventured in, with quiet breath, pen in hand, to listen and dictate whisperings wild.   begin—stop—veer—clunk! rattle!–turn back–...

Don’t Bore the Gods!

I had a humbling Aha! moment the other day. Humbling but also freeing. Tom and I have been reading a series of young adult novels, The Lost Years of Merlin. The five book series, which imagine Merlin from about age 9 to adulthood, are fun, full of enchanted forests, haunted marshland, fanciful and magical creatures, and resourceful humans (including females!). Merlin, who has discovered his grandfather was a great wizard, knows he has special abilities (though he doesn’t know much about what they are) and that he is destined to be a wizard also. Yet he struggles with this, alternating between being too cocky about his powers (and then either losing them or misusing them in some way) and angrily declaring he has no powers and will never fulfill his destiny (poor me). Friends tell him how he demonstrates courage and heart, and magical beings declare he has more power than he knows. We the readers know that all this is true, but Merlin, in typical adolescent fashion, moodily brushes it all away. While we were reading the third book, both Tom and I commented that we were getting bored with Merlin’s constant worry about his powers and whether he would fulfill his destiny. We hoped he would wise up soon. The Aha! came the next day while swimming at the health club. With embarrassment I suddenly realized I DO THIS! For years now I have worried aloud about what I am “meant” to do in the world and discounted or minimized what I have done. I fretted that my offerings were “not enough,” because I could do more,...

Turning Toward the Sun

Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.                                                                                                                                                                Rumi Mmmm….bright sunshine is bathing my face, neck, shoulders, chest. I smile, my pulse slows, my shoulders relax, my mind empties: I absorb into every cell this infusion of warmth and light. It’s Minnesota, it’s winter, and I’m fully clothed. But as the sun makes its daily circuit around my house, it shines onto my living room recliner. Its placement in the sky varies by season, and only in winter is it perfectly aligned in the side window so that it’s possible to lie in my recliner and receive its rays directly on my face and chest for about 45 minutes. No matter; in winter, when I avoid going out in the cold, is when I need it the most. Not that I often sit there 45 minutes. The sun’s daily winter arrival at my chair begins about 11:45, so my day’s goals and appointments, my need to eat lunch, all call to me when I consider sitting there. But I’m learning to shush their muttering. If I can sit...

Minnesota November

Dusk descends early on this cold, gray cloudy November day. All day I needed the lamplight next to my chair to read, and now I spread the wool throw over me. Halloween/Samhain/All Soul’s Day ushered in the dark time, a reminder of death and ancestors, of mystery and shadow. In November, as bony trees appear, cold deepens and days become shorter and cloudier I sink into that bleakness, become more subdued, sleep more, dream more vividly, move more slowly. I make things in my home warmer and softer. I gather blankets and also thoughts, pondering the past, considering the future. And sometimes I just sit and stare at the brown landscape, or let my thoughts wander as I doodle. At least, I do these things when I can. My body and soul, embedded in the natural world, want me to do these things at this time. Yet end of year tasks natter at me (making charitable donations, health insurance choices, purchases needed before winter), as well as activities connected to the holidays (baking, cooking, sales and gift shopping, decorating, attending concerts, shows and parties). My rebellious heart cries NOT NOW! These things jar and distort the contemplative energy I feel in November and December. I love Thanksgiving because it can be a quiet feast with close friends and family, acknowledging our interdependence, expressing gratitude for being alive and for all those who support us in cold, dark times. Also harmonious with this season is a winter solstice gathering honoring insights gained from our time in the dark and celebrating the eventual return of the light. But the last thing...

Ants in the Sun

Don’t you love how when you’re really tired, that’s when you slam your hand in the car door, or trip and bruise your knees (or break a bone), or forget to make that important phone call, or burst into tears when your coffee cup dances off the table and smashes on the floor— Or when you roll over onto your glasses (glasses which you virtually NEVER take off), distorting and cracking the frame beyond repair. As I did last night. Every year the days of spring and early summer take me by surprise. I imagine they will be soft and delicate like the earliest spring blossoms, but instead they abound with splashy color– end of school celebrations and graduations, weddings, outdoor social events, and frenetic gardening… in addition to all the usual activities of daily life. While the flowers simply bask and stretch out luxuriantly in the warm sun, we humans run around like ants, as if the sun were a stick poking into our hill. I’ve also had travels, funerals and grief over world events, so I am too tired right now to write many more words. I hope you are not so tired. I intend to take the advice of this poem, The Word, by Tony Hoagland to heart, and perhaps you need it too: Down near the bottom of the crossed-out list of things you have to do today,   between “green thread” and “broccoli” you find that you have penciled “sunlight.”   Resting on the page, the word is as beautiful, it touches you as if you had a friend   and sunlight were a present he...

On Being Silly

Never stay up on the barren heights of cleverness, but come down into the green valleys of silliness.                                                                                                                    Ludwig Wittgenstein Acting silly is one of the primal pleasures.                                                                         Marty Rubin It’s such fun to take a lot of people and create something silly.                                                                         Eric Idle A friend was telling me the other day how delighted she was to have discovered someone new who she could be silly with. I was a bit wistful, realizing I hadn’t been silly in awhile and I miss it. We talked about how fun, and how rare, it is to find a true companion in silliness—not only someone willing to be silly, but whose “brand” of silliness meshes with your own (there are so many different ways to be silly!). Kids are often joyously silly together, but adults less so. Were you discouraged from being silly as a kid? My childhood foolishness was mostly unstoppable, but as I matured, it was dampened by the firm lesson from my mother that one should always be dignified. Being silly is rarely dignified. Nor did I want to be thrown in with the usual crowd of silly people, those either empty-headed or drunk. The older I got, though, the more the sheer pleasure of playful silliness outweighed any concern for my public image. Being silly with others just feels too good. More like its original definition (in Old English)...