Thinking

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Pondering

I read, once, a story about a poet who could feel a poem coming, usually while outdoors, and would rush headlong at the house, or anywhere that might hold a pen and a scrap to write upon. I know this feeling, though not as intensely. It is more like a sudden and steady tumble from within. I need only sit still and gaze upon the words with my mind’s eye, transcribing onto neat legal pads. Never the computer.

The writings arriving at the keyboard exist on another plane. Cultivated. The tumble down-on-paper variety are more like a surprise visit from a beloved friend. Peggy or Andie. Effervescent and alive.

I am surrounded by disease and death. The daughter of a friend, a walking buddy, and a relative all with cancer. Greg’s cousin, died in a forest, unexpectedly and too damn young. A once musical finch found, stiff and floating, in the stock tank; the woman whose book I just finished. A time and phase of the here and now. I try to be okay with it, not to get completely sad and overwhelmed. It befalls every last one of us, after all.

But. Still. It is the end. Flesh to ashes, consciousness on the wind.

I have no thesis here. My words are a wretched scribble. Maybe that’s precisely it, the knowing, the pondering, that matters. A flicker in the background to make a body consider the precious nature of life, how it could vanish at any second.

I am not a religious person, but a very, very spiritual one. And though my Dad has read the bible daily, for as long as I can remember, I have never had the desire or inclination to do the same. I’ve found people’s interpretation of religious texts, and religion, as a whole, to be more dangerous to the general population than not. The Crusades, Islamic terrorism, Hindu & Buddhist extremism, the sexual abuse of priests and pastors on the innocent, the list goes on and on and on.

That being said, there are two very powerful notions of God that are with me daily. That he or she resides within every body and especially that a person can encounter God any place, any time. I always had difficulty believing this when encountering the cruel people of the world. Why would God reside there, when there are far nicer places to be? But then I thought about the awful person being an instrument of teaching for others, for me. God works through that person to show me how NOT to be. What to stand up for and rise against.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about how when I was little and would see a brilliant sun beam, I believed God was shining a light on a person in need. How the thought left me joyful. The sticky bit was in wondering if the person knew it. How often are we aware of that brilliant light shining on us? How often do we take the time to recognize the beauty and love around us? I think it’s time I do more to seek that awareness. That presence.

And a perfect tie-in to the photo up yonder. When my Great Aunt Mary died, my Grandma Tess found hundreds of Catholic medals in her room. I took maybe a quarter of them and fashioned a necklace with a few of them a while back. I liked the spirit of it, of having metal worn by her prayerful hands, but the look wasn’t quite right. I took it apart and made this one, with all my favorites. It jingles and sings, speaking loudest of her, while buoying my spirit, too.

Sunrise and steam rising, last week before the heat, before, sadly, having to turn the A.C. on before lunch or risk melting into a puddle. I partially blame the hormones, though. Slick of moisture glistening on my now alien brow. It’s why they are called flashes. But then, the garden – plants and sprouts, doubling, even quadrupling in a matter of days.

High summer is what it is. And my complaint is only minor. For the starlit walks are gleeful and quiet, shirtsleeves and sandals, the whoosh and tinkle of neighborhing sprinklers. Dogs bark and headlights rush, linden flowers scent the breeze. All good, all good.

And our Fourth of July bunless burger, topped with a green chile cream cheese conconction and dashes of chipotle Tabasco. The fries, oooh, the fries! First boiled, then broiled to get that crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside texture of perfection, at least for us.

I hope you are surviving and even thriving, in the heat, in the uncertainty, in these often dishearteing times of illness and joblessness and racial inequality, with hope, always, hope, for a better future for us ALL.

Isn’t fascinating how stripping an image of its color reveals the essence? The soul? A secret springs forth, a wrinkle, a knoll.

I read once that a person can see a dog running away for three days in New Mexico. The views are so long. Look for it now. It’s there for you to see.

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Once, lying in bed in Portland, I waxed poetic on the unpredictability of life, more specifically, how we could die literally at ANY moment. Greg balked at the notion, stressing that we were safely tucked under a heap of warm blankets. I countered with the story of a woman and her infant child killed when a fighter jet malfunctioned and crashed, leaving nothing but a shock of smoldering embers where their house once was. One moment safe and sound the next simply gone.

My Grandfather Herbie, when he was only a young father himself, died in a horrific motorcycle wreck. He’d survived his plane crashing in the throes of World War II, the associated gun shot wounds, mile upon mile of the Bataan Death March, making due on virtually non-existent rations and cock roaches in prison camp, even tuberculosis! Then a doctor, blind in one eye and wholly unseeing, took his ninth life, mere days before my Dad’s seventh birthday. A tragedy.

Our dear friends’ son nearly died in a car crash last month. A bright, kind, super talented spark of teenage boyishness saved from a frighteningly smashed Toyota. He’s made great strides, but a long road to recovery remains ahead, a new normal of scars with stories to tell.

My Uncle has terminal brain cancer. The last I saw him was at his grand daughter’s eighth birthday party. All was cheery and copacetic, until it wasn’t. He’s seemingly lost all ability to form new memories. His life, in how brief a span, will be just that, memories?

I write of all this, not to be gloomy, but to flesh out the transient nature of life, the constant reminders of fragility and change and my utter befuddlement and wonder. What a lack of rhyme or reason! How impossibly out of our hands. The universe reminding us, to surrender, to ride the waves, to truly appreciate each end every moment, and cease grasping for control. We are mere passengers, intent on our destinations, yet completely subject to the capriciousness of the road.

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