Monday, October 27, 2008

I am Writing


I am writing this from my 8th floor hotel room. My ears are cold from the wind, my hair blown out like a frizzy halo. It is not beach weather. When I walked back from the gift store having bought presents for my precious children left at home, there was not a soul on the beach. I could see a mile in either direction. No one was there but me and the gulls. I think, maybe, even they thought I was crazy.

What is it about the ocean wind that blows the mind clean? Even my thoughts take on a fine-edged clarity. A pale lovely woman with a faded holey shirt, tattooed, rough around the edges and a handsome young black man helped me pick my presents, staying open five extra minutes so I could find something for the five kids at home. They were the solid workers, the ones who stay on after the seasonal rush, stuck by reasons all their own in the barren tourist town, helping the occasional traveler, like myself, who is only here on business.

The buildings along the seaside were gray and drab without the colored towels and swim suits, without rainbow umbrellas, and a hundred different shades of skin, coolers with cool drinks, lawn chairs and beach toys to distract from their blocky solid stance, the first stone barrier against the sea. In one room, a Christmas tree stood, its twinkling bright lights the only thing to be seen. In another, dark shapes moved across the window, ghostly, silent people thinking lonely thoughts behind the glass.

For me, this great quiet solitude is entirely new. Never before in my life has my time been wholly my own to manage. No dinner to prepare, or homework to complete, no stories, complaints, no fights to break up. I miss my noisy brood, but find this vast emptiness of duty to be other-worldly. I am my own self and nothing else. Time is mine to do with as I choose, and so I sit here and write and sip hot-soy-chocolate, legs curled under me, listening to the hum of the heating unit as it tries to thaw out my ears. There is a waterbirth article I need to write that will be translated into Russian. My fingers know the keys and my mind hums like the heater in anticipation. Words slide their way through my wind-clear mind and lay themselves onto this page. And so, in pure, sweet contentment, I am writing.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Cauldron Pot

I am always trying to relate to myself. To figure out, to analyze, what is going on from the inside out.

Writing for me, is like a force of nature. The moment comes upon me, the mood, feeling, idea, the story appears like a pulling force, a hurricane, a tornado, a deluging rain. Or it is stark and baking, like the desert sun, sparce and full of meaning. Always, it is something that comes with power, grace, and beauty, something that can't be avoided. It's difficult at times to manage such a thing. I wrote this one, thinking about that...

The Cauldron Pot

I reach inside the cauldron pot
arms long and stretching
looking ever inwards
to the me beyond

what does she know
this inside self
deep below the surface
where jelly-fish glow whitely
blinking in the blackness?
whales are only wave-makers
massive swells of darkness
I grasp their swishing tails
down to the depths we go
where pirate ships have sunk
and buried sweet white ladies
their bones bleached clean
alive and blue
the glimmering soft-fish
light her sternum

she wakes and grins a bony grin
laughter bubbles
from blue-black sockets
Ha! Ha!
she laughs
and down she goes
her sea-weed hair
all a-glow
I follow
deep and deeper still
darkness black
and eyes dead blind
I grip the tendrils of her hair
and leave my skin and bones behind
when next I see the emerald sky
the pale pink morning
on the shore
I clutch the frail strands of her hair
and weave them into something more

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Put the Book Down

I have a very dear friend who has been under attack recently by chickenheads who didn't like what he had to say on immigration. While deeply sad for him, I could not understand what it was that was making these attackers so upset. If they didn't like what they were reading, simply put down the book. Don't read that one, then another one, and another, working yourself into a hateful frenzy, looking for more reasons to despise someone you barely know.

Put the book down.

We have freedom to avoid anything that causes us distress. We don't even have to think thoughts that are worrisome, anxiety-producing, or anger-building. If you don't like what you are reading, put the book down. Not every word was written to reach all ears. In the same way that I have faith that the words I am writing were meant to be written, I have equal faith that the ones who are meant to read them will find access. In this world view, I suppose the attackers were meant to feel angry, hurt, or out-of-control. He got some pretty nasty e-mails. I know because I read them. They accused him of being exactly the opposite of what I had found him to be. They said he lied. He is one the most honest writers I have ever read. They said he had the story all wrong. He was there, he lived it from both sides of the angry border. For him, these words gave him strength, made him stronger. Through fire, they honed him and made him more into what he was meant to be. For the chickenheads? Who knows?

Life lessons like this are not painless, but my friend, in his honest wisdom, sent this quote to me and I think it says it best:

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything and anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you

--David Whyte

We may not like the chickenheads, the ones who would attack us for who we are, but even this bright burning brings with it a gift. For me, on this day when I was attacked (possibly with justification) it has made me into something stronger, more determined to speak my mind, to stand tall and clear, flawed and flawless, as I am.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Over the Hills and Far Away

When I was a we'en, I ran like the wind, liking nothing better than the feel of my heart pounding, the rushing of blood through my veins. Through the forests and over the hills, gulping leaf and moss scented air--this alive--I reverted to the wild in me, to the voice that whispered the same soft rustling as the sun-tipped leaves. I drank the air and light and sound of this un-human world, sustenance and protection against the mundane life that I awoke to every morning.

This is how I survived my childhood and the pains I couldn't bear. I ran them away, over hill and dale, letting the gasping of the effort blow them away.

But, we grow old and we grow slow and we no longer hear the wind that calls our name. Responsibility makes its weighty appearance. Age stomps in and demands decorum. We buckle and fold and forget the sunshine days.

Or do we?

Somewhere deep inside of me, on quiet nights, I can hear her wild howling--my wild miss--lurking in me still behind my many faces. Yesterday, like any other day, I drove the winding road home from work. The breeze snuck in my window and settled just under the edge of my skin. I put on workout clothes and stomped to the basement to lift weights. There was no room in the basement, a project had all the items from one locale leaking over into my exercise space. I dragged back up the stairs, longing for the rush of blood.

The door burst open and the wind blew in, "Run with me," she said.

"I'm going for a walk," I announced and of course they wanted to come.

Three tall lassie's and one fine lad. We dressed in shorts and tank-tops, laced our shoes, and out we went...walking.

I didn't know then that the wild in me had been born in my brood, but the hills knew their names, and called to their swift feet, away they went, galloping, a herd of two-footers and I forged after them. We dodged the trees and leapt over rocks and fallen logs. They laughed like clear water and bobbed through the rippled light, fairy-beacons, frolicking, guiding me on the path back to myself.

And the wild one laughed and is laughing still.

Monday, October 6, 2008

JMU Paren'ts Weekend--How Could I be So Blessed?

The thing about motherhood is it always holds surprises. We went to Parent's Weekend at James Madison University where our first born is studying away to achieve a BS in Computer Science. We nearly didn't go, what with the other five to attend, with groceries, and house-keeping, gardens to weed, and trim to be laid over the new porcelain tile. So many things to stand in the way, but we went because it was Parent's Weekend and we are, after all, his parents.

We met at his tiny, less than pristine apartment and sat around looking at funny things on You Tube, laughing at soccer bloopers and rude English TV shows. We met up with his Love and her parents and proceeded to commence upon a walking tour that was very, very long--but also beautiful. We talked, meandered, laughed and joked in the fall sunshine. We all stood in the center of the circle and clapped to hear the squeaking penguin. (you have to be there to understand) We took pictures with James Madison who is a tiny, little man. I wondered, would he be horrified at becoming a bronze statue where giants routinely draped purple and gold beads over him, threw their arms around his neck, and took pictures for their facebook sites? That lofty scholar could never have considered such a thing.

The Love knew everything about the campus, and the buildings and told stories and directed us to points of interest along the way. The parents leg's grew crampy, hips began to hurt, feet blistered. But no one stopped smiling. We had lunch at the funny little hippy cafe. And iced coffee (thank God!) mid afternoon. Dinner was Pizza and beer in the Love's apartment. We sat and shared stories, laughed and relaxed. A "Bonding" experience is what the Love called it. And, indeed, it was.

But for me, it was also something more. I got a glimpse into the life my son had chosen to create for himself. A look at the bright shinning star he had set up to guide him. How could you not feel inspired on the green rolling campus? How could you not want to achieve with history and inspiration all around you? When we passed the football stadium, (we won 49-0) and the purple and gold streamers littered the land, a big sign hung over the side of the building, it said "Welcome JMU Parents." Was it in that moment my heart burst with pride? Or had that sign just made me aware of what had been building all throughout the long, unassuming day. I was so proud of our son. Neither of us went to college. We had turned down an untraveled road and decided to write the map as we went along. How had we made him? He is much too smart, too talented, too focused, and hard-working. He belongs on that campus where the cross-walks are painted in school colors, where the blue stone buildings lend weight to the minds who have come to learn. I could see he belonged there. I could see he was content with the choices he'd made. We drove home, exhausted, much later than we had planned. But my sleepy heart was singing, the song of a mother who finds her nestling has grown fledgling wings and is aloft upon the wind and that little piece of me that is with him always can feel the rushing air as the current lifts him ever higher.

How could I be so blessed?

(Photo by Jyothi Sacket: In the Moment Photography)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Writing is My Monastery

writing is my monastery
in quiet spaces
between the words
I know my self