The Day After

I am posting this blog on the new moon, the day after the midterm elections. We begin two new cycles–lunar and political–yet much has not changed. I found helpful today the wisdom in this poem by Carrie Newcomer so I thought I’d pass it on. Revolution the Day After Revolution is not a single event.       Revolution is finding True North and walking toward it. Knowing that you will be walking for a very long while, Or always, Because the process of arrival At the most precious destinations Because bringing in a better world Will take more than your one lifetime.      Revolution is traveling light, Leaving what’s dead weight By the side of the road, Like hate, The least effective form of resistance, That by it’s very nature expands and gets heavier, Like slow drying cement, In the chambers of the heart.      Revolution is holding close all you love, all you believe in, all you hope for, Everything that actually matters, Because you’re going to get tired and discouraged and angry and wander off course in sorrow or doubt And you’re going to need All you’ve gathered in, Embraced and endured Because it is what you love Not what you hate That will keep reminding you to Look up, Search the sky Get a bead on something improbable Shining and unstoppable and keep walking....

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,...

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...

Beyond the Sights

I just got back from 2 ½ weeks traveling around Alaska with Tom. We tasted Alaskan foods (seafood, salmon, reindeer, fireweed and honey ice cream); walked on the land; cruised on the water; rode a tram up a mountain; heard native stories, drumming and dancing; spent a day at the Alaska State Fair; and had numerous conversations with a variety of people. We saw mountains, glaciers, icebergs, rivers, ocean, waterfalls, forest, tundra, eagles, puffins, sea lions, harbor seals, porpoises, sea otters, beluga whales, humpbacks, bears, salmon, cranes, and a variety of sea birds. In our visual-centric culture of television, videos, facebook, and Instagram, What did you see? is usually our first (and often last) question. Although what I saw was gorgeous, it was when I was startled awake by other sensations that I was most awed: listening to the delicate plick of raindrops dropping on wet leaves in the Alaskan rain forest; hearing sea lions grunting and roaring to each other as they lay on rock shelves in the sea; taking in the scent of greenery, river and crisp mountain air mingled with the stink of dead fish (in pristine salmon streams in Alaska you must have both, since the salmon die after spawning); being startled by the sharp crack crack as a sea otter breaks open a crab for its meal; catching the distinctive prehistoric call of cranes as they fly high overhead on their seasonal migration; listening for the explosive exhale of humpback whales, and to the living silence they create as they fish, dive and flash their huge tails without a sound; sensing the air grow...

Being Watched

There’s somebody new at our house and she keeps staring at me. I recently fell for a fluffy creature with a big personality that I saw in a catalog. I loved that she was so unusual that I wasn’t sure what she was. I loved that her pink and gray feathers gave her a look both elegant and disheveled. I loved that she seemed insistent on being totally her odd self. She didn’t seem like a child’s toy. And she made me laugh so I decided to buy her. Now that she’s here, though, she makes me uneasy. She is delightfully eccentric, both classy and rumpled at the same time. Her “feathers” are actually fluffy polyester, delicate and soft; they remind me of the downy fur of cats I’ve known. Her gray feet (and nose and neck) are velvety, delicious to stroke. She has a no-nonsense presence that I appreciate, uncompromisingly herself. Yet while her colors and odd fluffy shape seem to connect her with a playful, faery-like realm, the energy she exudes is a bit intimidating. She stares at me in the unswerving way my cats did when they wanted something from me. Eying me in heavy expectation. When I ask Ora (my name for her) what she wants to tell me she stares. I listen, then ask again if she has a message for me. She just gazes ever more piercingly. Sigh. (I know I could simply turn her back to me, but that also makes me uneasy; it seems disrespectful to her forceful personality. And since I believe agitation in our outer lives is often due to agitation...

What Now?

How can we best navigate this difficult time in our country and the world? Yesterday, with that question in mind, I grabbed an old magazine, took a deep breath, and spoke this question aloud. Then I opened the magazine at random and ripped out the page under my hand. Quickly scanning the page I circled words and phrases that jumped out at me. Those words and phrases, arranged into a rough poem, answered the question this way: When clouds pass overhead, new incandescent beings are spotted all the time. Bioluminescent, they express themselves with light. A signal fire, helping us to find our location in the blackness.   Shimmering glow sticks, displaying intense cheek lights, luminous dappled bellies, glowing lures dangling from nose or arms, deep sparkling eyes   If met with a startle response, they can also match the color of moonlight.   Oh yes, I thought, let’s do all we can to shine brightly, so we can find each other, strengthen each other and dazzle the new world into being! (Or if necessary, glow more quietly like the moon.) Yet I was uneasy with this answer; I wondered if it glossed over too quickly the looming darkness… So I turned to the Tarot. Again I centered myself, asked the same question, and pulled a card from each of three tarot decks—and to my delight they worked beautifully together, affirming the message from the poem and putting it into a larger context. Here are the cards, along with what I heard when the cards popped up.   The 10 of Fire from the Gaian Tarot, a raging forest...