Thursday, September 30, 2010

Quaking and Connected

The same, but different. Resurrected some of my thoughts from yesterday...The more meaningful the experience, the more profound the thought, the more difficult to describe. Yet, or so it seems to me, the moments that are so screamingly significant on a personal level, are also the most universal. Good time to remember e.e. cummings:  Since feeling is first, who pays attention to the syntax of things will never wholly kiss you...

Quaking Aspen
Rooted firmly, yet savvy enough to twist and bend when the wind changes. Fragile on the outside, tough on the inside. The mountains sparkle with the bright yellow and slightly orange leaves atop the white trunks. Aspen in full bloom, reflected in the waters of Grand Lake. One ripple, one gentle breeze and the metaphor whirls through my veins.
Ten women.  We are the aspen, the clonal colony. Aspens are stunning in that a forest of trees can often be one tree. The colony is one system; a colony begins with one simple, single seedling that spreads its roots to create new members. The root system lives far longer than the system above ground; the root system is capable of sending up new trunks as older trunks, above ground, die off.  The root, the core, survives time, fire, devastation. At the core, we are one. On the surface we are many. Banded and bonded over and through time and space.
On this retreat of ten women, we stand strong, deeply rooted in the spirit and grace of one ancient system. Above ground, we sway and quiver at different rates, aware that movement is crucial to our growth. Physical, spiritual, mental movement – all crucial for us. The aspen tree doesn’t do well in the shade; without light it cannot grow. Stuck in our dark shadow sides we don’t grow well either. We are always moving towards light, this colony of ours.
The aspen colony is a kind system; it moves and spreads, sending new sprouts after hard times. Because the colony comes from one seedling, the trees can work together to heal an ailing tree, sending water and nourishment through its beloved system. We are a clonal colony.
We’re gathered together seeking union, seeking something that goes far beneath the surface, seeking connections that cross our differences. A rather spotty lot, we are, spanning three decades and four directions of North America. We are single, married, divorced, in love, out of love, love lost….We represent the Children of Abraham and then some. We scream so far left and right politically that we cancel each other. We have children and grandchildren. Or not. We are vegans, we are carnivores. We laugh and cry, in different proportions at different times. We are… connected.  We stand in a circle, vibrate in our light, bow to nature with our heads touching. Connected. Feeling the vibration pulsating through us.
We are aspen, we are Na’vi long before Avatar.  And it takes the beauty of the natural world to help me know this. I’m forever grateful to the two scientists who took me through the Rocky Mountains in Estes Park, 1994, and told me the tale of the Aspen. Changed my vision, allowed me to see beneath the trunks, under the ground.
As with all good tales, it’s a universal story. We are one. The story of the aspen is the story of ten women in Grand Lake. More importantly, it’s the narrative that describes all of us, bound up in deep roots of humanity. Colonies. Quaking. Connected by the deep heart’s core and our roots.

The Epilogue: On the route home from the weekend, I went searching for a retreat center and yurt on the road to Mount Evans. Finally we found what appeared to be the right turn-off. I spotted the roof of the yurt peeking out from the aspen, so we followed the dirt road to the destination. Out came a woman, solitary figure on the many acres, on a retreat of her own. In her hands, headed into the yurt Pam Hughes was carrying her tuning forks. After three days of connectedness, synchronicity and vibrations, here was a singing harpist and sound therapist whose goal is ‘Music and Sound for Your Well-Being.’  Connections and Vibrations.  Feeling connected to the Universe right now.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


So much for perfection. Just spent a long, long time writing a post about connections, vibrations, synchronicity.
Hit the publish button, screen went blank, error sign came up, and the post has disappeared.
On a scale of 1 - 10, how important is it? Right now, it's a big 9. I know, it's not the loss of a family member, a friend, an anything...just words. So it will probably become a 4, maybe a 3 tomorrow. But I liked what I wrote. I spent some time crafting it. So there's my whine for today.  I'll get over it. Maybe even try again tomorrow. But I do believe I've had enough at the computer for today.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Everyone Has Baggage

The gathering of wise, wild, whimsical women in Grand Lake this past weekend somehow led me to thinking about Charlie Chaplin's music for the song Smile.  Chaplin wrote the music for his Little Tramp and the movie Modern Times in 1936. It's probably all projection, but the music seems to speak as profoundly in the film as it does with words.
The genius of Turner and Parsons, the songwriters, is that the song feels as if it had been written to express the journey of Chaplin's Little Tramp.  Those words didn't come until 1954 when Turner and Parsons set the stage for Nat King Cole's rocking success with the song. But I digress.
I found myself humming Smile unconsciously early this morning as I was trying to capture the essence of the retreat over the long weekend. Whenever one's soul and spirit are called to play, it's impossible to re-create or describe the experience. It's easier to give demographics:  ten women, ages 38 - 68 plus. Four from Colorado; three from New York; one from Texas; one from CA; one from Montreal/CO. Software developer, project manager, yoga instructor, spiritual mentor, artificial heart expert, teachers, librarian, lovers of life. Pescetarian, vegan, vegetarian, caffeine free, caffeine plus. Some married, some single, others with partners; Some with children, others not. A grandmother here and there. Animal lovers. and not.  An array of religious and political views and some movements across economic lines.  Not everyone knows everyone; but everyone knows two or three women. Speaking of three, three toilets and two showers to care for these wonder women.  It's a long journey to that rustic mountain bathroom from the sidewalk in NYC where one woman recently hurt her foot falling off her shoe.  How are we all connected? Oh, that's complicated. Most trails lead through yoga, NYC, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Linda Burnham to Roby Priti Ross.  All gathered to do yoga with Robyn Priti Ross.
But it's always more than downward dog, child's pose, and warrior.  It's about finding peace and acceptance, about bringing the philosophy of yoga off the mat intro the streets and into the heart. It's about transcending the demographics and finding the way into moments of authenticity. I don't know how to explain how that happens, but it does. At some point during those moments of clarity or authenticity, everyone's baggage emerges. Everyone has baggage. It's the human condition. Some call it Original Sin....others call it the price for living for a full, recognized life.  We don't gather to lament or unload our individual baggage. But we do recognize it's there. And we get beyond it. Somehow, Sunday afternoon the baggage seemed a little lighter, easier to carry. Not a burden . . . just part of the whole.  It is a Chaplinesque sort of world.
There's more to come on the connections and the gathering, but I'm struggling right now for images that will give the experience more general, more communal power. So for now, Smile.

Something to Smile About

Lots more....but here's a start for this beautiful Monday.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Harvest Moon

There's some kind of wild energy in my universe today. 
So many autumn fest and full moon celebrations, and all happening in different ways.
No way to enter Autumn without Keats.  This season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is screaming to us by day and the harvest moon is shining its loving light on us at night. How often are all our senses in synch with the natural world? I'm feeling it today. Deep, raw, visceral connections.

SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees, 
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells . . .  To Autumn and John Keats

In CT a woman I know is participating in a Full Moon Dakini Mandala Practice;
in CO some women I know are celebrating the Goddess Lakshmi under the full moon. 
We are all called to ritural and ceremony aren't we? For some it's celebrating the turnip patch; for othrs in the apples ripe and hanging low.  Making connections, one way or the other.

Connections with the earth, the universe, a spot of sod, even when we're no longer tilling the sod.  As we're making connections today, here's a Seamus Heaney connection --excerpted.
. . . .
Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down
Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.
. . . .
By God, the old man could handle a spade,
Just like his old man.

My grandfather could cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner's bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, digging down and down
For the good turf. Digging. . . .

But I've no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb

The squat pen rests.

I'll dig with it.

Connections.... I feel the Harvest Moon calling us to make as many connections as possible.
OK - let's hear it for Neil Young also...and for Young's Harvest Moon fans way before Eat, Pray Love.

Full moon rising, let's go dancing in the light
We know where the music is playing
Let's go out and feel the night.....
because I want to see you dance again
because I'm still in love with you
On this harvest moon.....

One last connection... another poet, another man making music with his pen. My brother Garrett:

He says, "Pay Attention, Be Astonished, Write About it."
I can't get Mary Oliver's lines out of my head."

Just finished Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking and can't get these lines out of my head either:
" Life changes in the instant.
You sit down to dinner and the life as you know it ends."

 I hear those lines talking to one another, my brother Garrett says

Oh such raw beauty in all the connections pulsing through all of us.
...Still in love with you on this harvest moon.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hold that Garbage...

More than a speck.  Here in the mountains it's not just an occasional mite that comes my way. Tiny, non-biting little things flicker past or land next to a candle for a long winter's sleep. They had no idea I was coming to sweep them away.
The wind is whipping across the lake this afternoon, sending wisps and seeds of flowers past their prime through the screen and onto the floor. Hard to tell the difference between the fluttering white things from outside and the feathers from the pillows inside (Was never good at botany).
This morning's wind was strong enough to break one of the more precarious windows in the upstairs bedroom. Glad it was an upstairs window or I would have been convinced it was some critter trying to get in and finish what's left of the m&m's. I've patched the pane, but am looking forward to one of my competent friends (Beth, I'm calling you) to arrive.
The critters, as they call them up here and as I have no idea what else to call them, seem to be coming around pretty regularly. At least that is the word on the paths.
But here's the more important news. I am having a garbage crisis. Where to put the garbage? There once was a refuse site in Grand lake, but it's gone. I don't know why.
It's not polite to bring one's chicken wings, thighs and breastbones to the containers next to the coffee shop. Funny how I never noticed this problem before. The recycle bags have always been on the back porch, so that's no big deal. I'm tidy and green for the enviornmnt when I'm not green with envy.
How was I to know that Roscoe was putting the garbage/garbage in the trunk of his car when we were up here for a weekend? I don't come up much, so that's my excuse for not noticing. Probaby says something about my ability to disappear when it's cleaning up time for a crowd. Who pays much attention to garbage anyway?
But here I car, so no place to stash things.  Racoons and chipmunks live in some of the other places where one might put trash. And in the morning I don't want to have to pick up pieces of trash bags, litter, and racoons that choked on chicken wings.
And the bears.... this summer a bear broke into a car in a suburban Denver neighborhood to get an unfinished peanut butter and jelly sandwich sitting on the back seat. Really. In its lumbering way, and as only a bear couuld do, its thigh hit the brake and sent the car down the owner's driveway.
According to Roscoe, bears have broken into every device he has created to keep them away from garbage. Now, Roscoe is one persistent dude...give him a challenge and he'll hunker down until he solves it. Sometimes you'll think he's gone to the great beyond he's so intent on solving the problem. And he knows how to build things.  I believe him.....bears will come if I put the garbage in the garage/shed down by the street.
Well, telling a group of women from NYC not to pay attention to racoons and chipmunks scratching away outside is one thing - but suggesting bears are in the neighborhood is another.  I chose not to mention the high altitude, the shared bathrooms, or the two showers for ten women.  Too much information on the rustic at one time is't good for city souls.
The good news is that with a couple of vegetarians and vegans coming, there won't be many bones around for people or other animals to gnaw. Send good and kind thoughts to the garbage disposal, hoping it will swallow everything that comes its way.
Last night's chicken bones? Wrapped in plastic many times, inside a trash bag, inside a cooler with three rocks on it, in a crawl space under the house.
Not a country girl.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Considerable Speck

Made it to Grand Lake, with enough blankets, yoga mats and food to open a shelter for the homeless. Patches of yellow, as the aspen turn, making sure we all recognize that Thursday brings the first day of autumn.
We'll be in a new season - the season of rooting down and rooting in (and, sure, eating all those root vegetables), with a full moon guiding us into this time of change. Such a shift from spritely spring and barefooted summer.  Harvest time....time to reap what we've sown so far this year. And it's a season where bugs and all those little flying and crawling things that are happy to be outside try to find a way into the warmth of four walls.
Early this morning, cup of coffee on my left, and pen on my right I was looking at the last 'To Do' list for the trip to Grand Lake. I still resort to pen and paper for the last minute lists -- bring yogurt; don't forget goat cheese and tilapia in freezer; Ipod; phone charger; FLEECE jacket in caps..... my big piece of plain paper with just a few items scrawled in plain, old-fashioned cursive.
And there it was - one of those unsightly irritants....miniscule bug sitting atop the capital F. A dot...a soiler and spoiler. Hand in the air, ready to smack the little thing (how very un-Buddhist, un Dali Lama-ish of me),
Robert Frost flew into my head. What is going on here? Bugs flying on paper, poets flying into my head. Are these harbingers of fall?
What's the Frost connection?  Not fences, or walls, or roads not taken, but bugs. mites. A poem about a mite.  Within a nano-second I googled Robert Frost ...mite...poem, played with a couple of word choices, and up it came:  A Considerable Speck by Robert Frost. 

A speck that would have been beneath my sight

On any but a paper sheet so white

Set off across what I had written there.

And I had idly poised my pen in air

To stop it with a period of ink

When something strange about it made me think,

This was no dust speck by my breathing blown,

But unmistakably a living mite

With inclinations it could call its own.

It paused as with suspicion of my pen,

And then came racing wildly on again

To where my manuscript was not yet dry;

Then paused again and either drank or smelt--

With loathing, for again it turned to fly.

Plainly with an intelligence I dealt.

It seemed too tiny to have room for feet,

Yet must have had a set of them complete

To express how much it didn't want to die.

It ran with terror and with cunning crept.

It faltered: I could see it hesitate;

Then in the middle of the open sheet

Cower down in desperation to accept

Whatever I accorded it of fate.

I have none of the tenderer-than-thou

Collectivistic regimenting love

With which the modern world is being swept.

But this poor microscopic item now!

Since it was nothing I knew evil of

I let it lie there till I hope it slept.

I have a mind myself and recognize

Mind when I meet with it in any guise

No one can know how glad I am to find

On any sheet the least display of mind.

Yes, the bold print is mine. But what a whirl of an early morning. Since so much of what I write (or whatever we call it now) is on the computer, this mindless list of forget-me-nots took my mind for a spin. The mite escaped the blow of my hand  and its escape route avoided my cup of coffee, so all was well in my world. And I remembered to bring everything on the list.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wise Enough

From Tara Sophia Mohr's Wise Living Blog today.  Figure I have about seven hours left, at most today, to pack up food, clothes, computer, products, my wired self and some poetry for the Wise and Wild Women's Retreat in Grand Lake this weekend. Simultaneously, I need a GPS that can find my birth certificate in the same amount of time. Visa request is overdue; no visa for India without a birth certificate, and mine seems to have escaped from the birth and death certificate folder in my desk.
Tara Mohr's poem helps this afternoon. I can still remember to oil my casings get in touch with the real me - with our without a birth certificate.

Wise Living Blog

Posted: 21 Sep 2010 08:06 AM PDT
Step back and watch your body, being a body.
Watch an arm move through space, watch an ankle turn.

Watch your body, as it likes things or doesn’t,
as it gets scrapes and bruises
as the skin darkens and falls into folds.

Step back to the perimeter of the theater
and watch you body at work on the stage.

Recede to that quiet knowing:
For now, I am associated with this body –
not inside it, or one with it –
just associated, for a time.

Casing. Only casing.
Be kind to the casing if you like – put oils
on it and nourish it and move it to keep it stronger, for a time.
Never become it. There, only suffering.

Can you feel the one deep inside your chest, who has existed forever?
Who has made a thousand journeys?
Who feels like a comet in the dark?
The inner filament?

I know, no one ever told you.
I know. It wasn’t the name you learned to write at school,
but that one is you.
That one is the real you.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Walk Your Hooligan

Walk your inner hooligan.  No, dance your inner hooligan. Remember him or her?  Show us who your inner hooligan is.  How many people are blessed enough on a Sunday morning to walk their inner hooligans? Well, if you go to Studio Soma and dance with Jessica, chances are you'll be dancing or walking your inner angel, teacher, vampire, healer, Don Juan, bully, or virgin.  The joy comes from not walking or dancing with that aspect of the self, but being it, being right in the moment with a particular aspect of being.  Doesn't matter what age, size, shape you're in, whether you're a dancer by training or klutz by life... just have to be willing to let go and say hello to your self/ves. Does hat sound just a little too far out there for you? It's not.  Might be a little close to 'in there,' but it's worth a visit. 
Wow...just reading that paragraph over, I'm beginning to feel that last week's blog postings are re-emerging in strange ways. Just a few days ago, I was telling you all how much I love Love Grown Foods and Maddy D'Amato. Now I'm shouting the praise of Jessica Wolf.  Hope I don't sound like that emotional slut on last week's postings -- just running from one place to the next oozing all sorts of emotions.
Truly, it's more than that. There are far more interesting and creative people in this world than most of us can imagine.  And I seem to have the good luck, calling, or serendipitous sort of life that allows me to bump into so many of them.
But Jessica and Studio Soma aren't new to me; in fact, I happened upon Studio Soma when Jessica had her opening. And I've been part of the celebrations and journeys on-and-off for a good while.  Hadn't been around for several months, but, heeding an e-mail a couple of weeks ago, I found my way back.
Calling on various parts of one's self, at least for me, conjures up all sorts of things. I'm stunned at how much my inner bully or hooligan wants to throw a punch, point a finger, throw back a look. And within two minutes, I'm stunned at how the soft, seeking virgin emerges. Those sweet spots in time, the moments when self-consciousness disappears, the self-judge takes a nap, or Dr. Hyper Critical goes on vacation can't be programmed. For some people, being in one's body is second nature. For most of us, it's not. The body is always with us, but not so often 'of' us.  Must be the Irish in me, but once that hooligan showed up, everyone else became available also. Magic.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Cooking with Love

Well, our door is always open
And there's surely room for more
Cooking where there's good love
     Is never any chore   

So sang Judy Collins back when.  I'm here to tell you  today if you want some good food made with an abundance of love, check out Love Grown Foods.  If I were in marketing, I would be knocking down doors to market Love Grown Foods and love grown Maddy D' Amato and Alex Hasulak.  "Everything always tastes better when it's cooked with love," says Maddy. "All I want to do is spread the word about the importance of good health and good eating habits. 
She's spreading the word, for sure, and she and Alex are spreading their five type of Love Grown granola as fast as they can.  Love Grown Foods started in Penrose Library at DU. Two lovestruck seniors, having sped through their undergrad curriculum in three years, were planning for the future. (Let's hear it for students in the library).    You can go to their website for more details, but three years later, this beautiful couple has a business that doesn't know how to stop growing.  

Maddy had that look from the first moment I laid eyes on her.  That 'Beauty is as Beauty does' look. The look bursting with eagerness, openness, curiosity. Most teachers and professors bow with gratitude when they see that look. There she was, first year student, member of the Wellness Living and Learning Community, sitting in the front row of class. A gift. Life is good.
And so it was. She and her roommate Cori lived the wellness lifestyle. Cori, a biology major then, knew more about plants and herbs than many a gardener or healer I'd met. They'd make herbal tea in the afternoons, and would hold hands,  and breathe deeply in synchronicity to end the day. These days, when they can, they still share their skills and energy: Maddy is a trained pilates instructor and Cori a yoga instructor and massage therapist.  Among so many other things.
Alex?  Alex was a business major and has the head and passion for the numbers, the strategy, the planning. Maddy's crazy about him, so although I've only met him twice, I'm crazy about him also.if she is. I trust he's   a compassionate, thoughtful, centered man. Their first date was drinking tea and gazing at the stars. Still star-struck. They still do ALL the work... 
Talking to Maddy this morning left me filled with hope and gratitude for the energy and commitment being put towards making the world a better, healthier place.  You can find Love Grown granola in King Supers, some Vitamin Cottages and other places. And soon you will find it not only in CO and Wyoming, but lots of other places.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Trying to follow Mary Oliver's Instructions for Living a Life, posted yesterday.  Three lines:
Pay Attention
Be Astonished
Tell About it

Well, I don't know if I was paying attention or not, but somehow many photos of my face popped up on my computer screen. (OK I was paying too much attention, trying to get something to happen, and clicked a few clicks thoughtlessly).  What is this and where did it come from?
Somehow I've managed to get myself some program with face recognition that has sorted through all my photos, trying desperately to place people with themselves. I hope I didn't pay anything for this, because it was not on my bucket list to have 6,000 faces ready and waiting to be categorized. Seriously. I am so serious. And astonished, so I'm telling you about it.

With total lack of discipline and follow through, total lack of intentionality to spend time meaningfully, I spent over two hours last night shifting some faces into their appropriate categories.  Rather interesting how this little face detecting spider or monster can pull some similarities together, but not others.  I guess it's the changing nature of children's faces that seem to make them the most difficult to put together. I hope I never get all those faces where they belong because we will then all know what a shallow, meaningless, OCD life I have led.

Beware the emotional slut.  Another one of those saying written on a yellow sticky, hanging off the left bottom side of my computer. A beginning is a very delicate time and Surviving a partial eclipse of the soul are on the bottom right. I don't know the authors of these sayings, but I love them.  Now, back to the emotional slut.
We all know emotional sluts... people who will share their deepest, darkest secrets with anyone, anytime. Can't stop it. Just have to let it all spill out and over. So many emotional sluts, so few boundaries.
Well, this is the first time I've thought of my computer -- or a computer program -- as an emotional slut. Sucked up two hours of my time and what do I have to show for it? Zapped me.
I have enough experience, or so I thought, to avoid emotional sluts. Toxic. And who needs toxicity, when it's just a news show or paper away? But this was a new experience. And I don't need the toxicity from any source, be it human or technological. So I think I'll try again to pay attention, and beware the emotional sluts hovering around. Going to try to pay attention to something worthy of attention.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mary Oliver kind of day

I'm having a Mary Oliver kind of figured I'd share it with you, by sharing some of my favorite Mary Oliver quotes.
                        Instructions for Living a Life.
                Pay Attention
                 Be Astonished
              Tell about it.

That's about as simple a set of instructions as most of us will ever get. But she has more, so much more. It's hard to pick a few, but here's a smattering of wisdom and joy. (If I could figure it out, I'd have these all in the same font and font size.  But it's just not a font sort of day.)

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things
                               Mary Oliver
Karen Quinn

Why I Wake Early by Mary Oliver
Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who made the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety –
best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light –
good morning, good morning, good morning.
Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

To live in this world
You must be able to do three things

To love what is mortal,

To hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it;

And, when the time comes to let it go, let it go.
                       Mary Oliver

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


The Talent is in the Choices

Well, doesn't that sound appropriate for someone contemplating a Backward Bucket List?  I know Robert deNiro is often given credit for that line. I think he does say it often, and says it about himself.  He's actually quoting one of his legendary acting teachers, Stella Adler, who not only gave him the line, but helped him dig deep enough as an actor to find his talent.

I made choices A, C, and P.  Intuition only. Brilliant.  What a natural.
I chose D, S, and M to serve on my committee. Made me look like a genius.
At a different time, I made choices Q and Z. Decided to have no committee and make decisions myself.  Made people ask Does she have any idea what's going on?

The choices one makes often don't show up or aren't revealed to others. It's not that we keep our choices secret; it's simply that making choices rarely is a public act.  Choices are made at the desk, on a walk, over lunch. on a golf course, in a dream, in those endless self-monologues. I think Stella Adler and Robert DeNiro are spot on -- it's the choices that reveal the talent. 
DeNiro's oft-quoted ad-lib 'Are you talkin' to me?' in Taxi Driver showcased his talent perfectly.... not so much the line, but the decision to put the line out there.

Someone asked me recently if I had any acting experience.  'Well, don't we all?' I responded. Don't we all make decisions to act a certain way at certain times or am I projecting myself again?  We know how to act in the movie theatre, at a play or at a hockey game. We act quite differently at the opera from the way we show up at a hip-hop event.
 I may not think your child is cute and charming, but I'm sure going to act as if I do. And about your dog...?  We make choices in the way we present ourselves to the world, in the way we show up.
Acting doesn't mean we aren't being authentic...or at least I don't think that is what it means. As for how we act, back to line one: The talent is in the choices. In my bucket, I hope I find some evidence of talent for being a positive force in the world  shows up. Have to check my choices to find out.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bucket List Backwards

"You simply stare down the alpha dog and simultaneously make figure eights with your walking sticks to ward off the little dogs circling your ankles."
"After trying to gain some stability by positioning my walking sticks more firmly into the ground, I realized, that underneath all the snow, I was standing on a car. Joy in my heart.. With visibility at zero in this snowstorm, standing on a car means I am close to the monastery."

Another beautiful evening with Ann Sieben, winter pilgrim, now preparing to leave Denver for Mexico City. As there is no prescribed path from Saint Guadalupe Church in Denver to the Saint Guadalupe church in Mexico City, Ann has her mapping work cut out for her...and her language study and Native American history and customs (not to mention customs and border work)...all cut out for her. And PIT Eileen is helping out with the logistics, but a lot going on.
It helps to be a problem solver by nature and profession. It also helps to be smart and funny. But, or so it seems to me, it helps a great deal to have rock solid (with absolutely zero tectonic shifting going on) beliefs in the grace and good will of the world. 

I spent some time Saturday bemoaning my pampered pilgrim ways on the Camino, my 'I need a sherpa
learned helplessness mode,' 'what have I done lately for the world or anyone' state of being. You might know the 'What Have I Done with My Life?' pity party thinking that leads nowhere good, because the mind leading it doesn't know how to find a good path.

But I recovered, had myself an Aha! moment when friend Linda said,  Really. We can't negate our accomplishments just because we haven't hiked through Russia in winter or Death Valley in summer. Think of climbing that mountain in Slovenia, digging your fingers into the dirt, scraping your knees against the rocks, pulling up and over the top. That has to count for something. How about that bike ride through the train tunnel, think of us prancing and dancing through NIA.  What about those degrees and that professional life? What about the friends?  What about the friends we've met and made?

So I did a reverse, pushed into a SUCK IT UP mode and decided to create a Bucket Backwards list. This bucket will carry some of my accomplishments....people, places, many of the heart-moving moments as possible. All those beautiful people. Thanking Linda right now for pulling me out of the poor, poor pitiful Pearl patter.
Up until twenty minutes ago I thought the whole Bucket List things was sort of cliched, silly....trivial, in spite of the cute movie.
Backwards Bucket List:  I changed my mind about bucket lists. Hanging on to flexibility. I am ready to pound my fingers on the lists. Thanks, pilgrim Linda.
May your lists be meaningful to you.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sweet Thing

And I'll be satisfied

Not to read in between the lines

And I will walk and talk

In gardens all wet with rain

And I will never, ever, ever, ever

Grow so old again.           (Van Morrison)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Gather Round, All Ye Pilgrims

Lifted. Stolen. Copied...and now the Paste. What you are about to read is not my writing. It's from Ann Sieben's blog:  I'll be seeing her in a few hours and will catch up on her planning and training for her pilgrimage from Denver to Mexico City...I'm already filled with awe and envy and she hasn't begun her journey. I'll also be talking with two women who are leaving soon to walk from Canterbury to Rome.
How about these women? More later, but thought this might interest you in following Ann's adventures.
May your weekend be whatever you need it to be.

Much is still to be done. Here's Ann:

Firstly, my friend the Pilgrim-in-Training continues her training but has gracefully bowed out. The undertaking even from Denver to Chimayo is no small undertaking and requires 100% commitment. She quavered and didn't want to interfere with my parallel efforts. So she'll continue to fulfill her steadfast role as being my much-appreciated planning assistant and continue her training toward her weight-loss goal and may someday make the pilgrimage from Denver to Chimayo, but just not with me in October.

The fallout for me is that my pilgrimage is more uniform: there will be no camping; no llama. I'll simply (!) commit myself to walking further and longer each day until I get to some sort of refuge for the night. I'll put myself at the mercy of strangers' kindness and benefit from the risk as I have always done. A pilgrimage. Not always easy, but always adventurous =)

Spanish is coming more frequently and easily off my tongue, but still intermingled with Italian and French. Alors. Alora. It's still much further along than Russian or Ukrainian were a year ago and I did well enough when I needed to with those languages.

Though I tooled with the idea of sponsorship in getting outfitted, nothing has really materialized comfortably. So I forged ahead and bought everything new I determined was necessary after repairing what I could from last winter. A new, smaller pack and sturdy new boots are the most important additions to the kit. I've got an active to-do list going that will keep me busy for the next five weeks, but honestly, I'm eager to get going - if the heat of summer would only pass!

The greatest challenge niggling at me at the moment is obtaining the necessary permissions from the 10 sovereign lands standing between me and the Chihuahua desert in New Mexico. I've researched it to the point that I know I must coordinate with the various tribal War Chiefs, as opposed to the Tribal Governors, in order to gain access to the dirt tracks across the lands. Accessible, paved highways exist, but experience warns me against these - hot, dangerous, and stressful. So far, the direction I've received is to go around these delineated sovereign lands of the Native Americans rather than cross them. I can see their perspective... I'm setting off on a journey of 4,000 to 5,000 miles, what difference would it make if bypassing their lands adds another couple of hundred miles? What would motivate them to grant me permission to cross their territories? But I'm setting off on a cultural excursion and would like to see - without tarnishing thoughts of exploitation or profit - the various corners of this vast and diverse nation. I hope to appeal to a few War Councils in the coming weeks to convince them that I, one tiny, solo woman, pose no threat in walking respectfully and peacefully across their lands in a given autumn afternoon. Fingers crossed.

Although there is a long tradition of pilgrimages to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, from what I've gleaned, the distances covered by foot in generational memory seem relatively short. I'm feeling like a sort of pioneer pilgrim in this area. I wonder if the early pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela had to individually figure out the politics of gaining access to the autonomous territories they'd cross when leaving from their front doors...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

One Year Gone

Dragging two suitcases behind me, just a year ago today, I was making my way up Deming Lane for three months of living in London. Not a bad life. We had just enough time to put our bags in the bedroom and go for a walk. Which way to go? Roscoe opts for neither door, choosing instead a conversation with our landlord. In retrospect, a smart idea. Keys, phones, rent...the skittery, unpredictable alcoholic neighbor next door.  Details. Someone has to know about this stuff.  I'm stuck on Which door?
Walk out the blue door and take a left, scurry up the hill to upscale shopping in Hampstead. Walk out the blue door, take a right, head down the lane and across the next block to the heath.
I lived in West Hartford CT and Cherry Creek Co. Hampstead can't have anything on those cheeky, trendy places where I've window shopped before.
Heading out.Taking a right. Been waiting to put one foot in front of another on the magical, requited and unrequited love paths walked by Keats and others.
I think C.S. Lewis used the heath as his landscape in Lion, Witch and Wardrobe. As Freud lived close also, I wonder if he used the heath as a place for the id, ego and superego to romp.
The heath is about a square mile I think..similar to Central Park, except that there are many unmarked footpaths that lead to interesting places.
On my first sole adventure, I decided to stay on the main paved path. Those of you who know my penchant to get lost simply moving from one side of the room to another will understand why. Great walk. It's fall. Little more than the simple action of aspen turning yellow going on here.
Leaves are changing, and the paths are filled with chestnuts. I love the prickly shell that covers the chestnuts.

That was then. This is now.
Take a right, go past the Stanley British Private School (right here in Lowry), and find Starbucks. Take a left, follow the sidewalk and walk into a freshly minted park with paved walks and children's play areas. The newly planted trees absorb all the sun shining down, but they're too small to offer shade to those walking by.
I wonder if I'm the same person who went to London. Of course, time changes everything, and experience add new lenses to our sights, but what else? What do we discard and what do we bring back? Some changes are ephemeral, others seem to infiltrate the cells settling everywhere, but in such a co-mingling sort of way, only they know they are there. Others tattoo themselves in our minds or on our hearts.
Impossible to figure that all out on a warm, sunny day in September. Maybe the changes aren't meant to be hounded again, brought up front and on stage. Just enough to know that things are different.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Five hundred and still counting

Words. Five hundred plus in each of the three books I've been reading.  All of a sudden, everyone wants to be Leo Tolstoy or James Joyce.  War and Peace, Anna Karenina, Ulysses authors of the 21st century. And none of the books seems to be of the chatty, fairly simple Charles Dickens plot, wink-wink names, and obvious satire.
I started with Cutting for Stone and am still reading. Love the writing, the characters, the journey and the politics. But mid-way through I had to jump into Museum of Innocence for our book club. Long, dense, winding musings...very little action, but lots of pondering.  Sunday it was clear I had some heavy reading to do, as Book Club would be at our house on Tuesday night, so no backing out of the event. And the added delight of pulling out some few dishes from Turkey to fill with hummus, dates, and pita chips. Looked in my own little museum of collectibles in the basement and found my Turkish Evil Eye. Didn't find the photo of the hair museum in Turkey where my sister pilgrims and I left pieces of our hair. Talk about museums.

Fortunately, Roscoe had finished the 500 plus pages and loved every minute. So I got a long, oh so sage on the stage detailed summary from him to prepare me to speed-date the book. Set my stage for success. I skim-danced through and loved what I read. I've been a reader and teacher of reading for long enough to know how to skip, jump, go backwards, forwards, catch the narrative and feel the prose style. Still, it's not the best way to read, especially a book by Nobel Prize winning Turkish author Orhan Pamuk.
  "Real museums are places where Time is transformed into Space." Five hundred plus pages of transforming time into space...and that's just part of it.  Definitely good enough to have read the whole thing.

I will not cut for stone,” runs the text of the Hippocratic oath, “even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners, specialists in this art.”  Back to Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese, Ethiopian trained physician, Indian by birth, who practices medicine in the United States.  Maybe it's enough to say it's a book about conjoined twins, separated in the birth canal, to a nun in Ethiopia and the physican where she works/teaches.  The alleged father/physician disappears...lots more going on, but you put on your glasses and jump in.

Third book?  Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. Going to give a nod to my intuitive self right here. Knowing some people might not have been happy about having to push through Museum of Innocence, I figured one of two things would happen last night. The group, guided by Eric, would choose a shorter novel, but probably one by an author with Borgesian-type prose. The old 'just because it's short, don't think it won't take you a long time' trick. show that we all really are up to the 'big' books, we'd choose a many-paged opus, but it would be historical fiction or written by an American author. Nailed it. Came down to Wolf Hall by British historical fiction writer Hillary Mantel and Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.  I own Wolf Hall, but put my imaginary money on Freedom and ordered it from Amazon.  American, controversial, but the usual, understandable American dysfunctional families.
Freedom is it.
Going to feel good to put Museum of Innocence and my Evil Eye away tonight and just concentrate on two five-hundred page books. Still don't know why these authors can't cut a hundred or so pages. Do you?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Morning Has Broken

Stumped. Trying to figure out how to describe Karen and Kyle's love fest Sunday night, but just can't find the words. Nostalgia being my middle name these days, the celebration through me back to all those livin' the dream, forever young days of being in the fields, dancing around the creatively constructed maypole, thinking that we'd be happy always. Some of us stayed friends always, and found lots of happiness - just not always.
But Karen and Kyle traversed their earlier worlds in different worlds with different people, not yet star crossed. Long, winding, beautiful love story. Love oozes out of both of them.

Deep, core love that comes to those with pain, sorrow, experience behind them; Within the deepness of their hearts' cores, however, something else simmers, boils over, becomes available to all who have been called to this communal ceremony. It's sensual, sensuous, sexual, pulsating with life force.  Their intimate personal embrace takes us all in.  For a time, on Sunday afternoon before Labor Day, we are all about love, love for hope and possibility; love for one another; love for the person we forget to show love everyday; love for everyone, everywhere.
The universe was our carousel and we all captured the gold ring.
Here's the best I can do to share...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Days

Just yesterday on the way to a party I was reminiscing about Labor Day and days gone by....gone the days when Labor Day weekend was the official end of summer and turning my head towards school and the life of the mind, such as it was. Such a symbolic day in my school memory book. That September back-to-school nostalgia again, pumped up by the impending Labor Day.
For me, the West Hartford CT Labor Day Fair became increasingly important as I moved through the grades. Big questions, questions that loomed larger as the minutes ticked by, waiting for sunset to get dropped off at the fair. Philosophy of Me.
Friends, friend-to-be, and not-so-friendly categories got filled in that night. Who had a touch of cool, a new hair style, scarab bracelet, boyfriend or girlfriend? Will Mr. Francouer, the French teacher, still be on attendance duty? Will Fred's father and mother let us have parties in his basement? Did anyone get sent to prep school (that was for those of us who didn't know it was a privilege to go to prep school).  Don't even think of wearing those white pants again until next June. Wear white after Labor Day and find yourself on a minor rung of Dante's Inferno.
Fast and furious exchange of tales - beach dates, romances, exploits and exploitations. Lots of exaggeration or harmless fabrication. The photo of the boy on the beach?  Oh, dated him for two weeks, but then another guy was crazy about me, so I moved on. Here's his picture... water-skied on his father's fabulous boat at sunset every Sunday night for a month. Or not.
The photo might have been of some guy just standing on the beach.  Early stages of learning to build a portfolio. Jostling for position. Mimi talked to me for fifteen minutes by the Ferris wheel. Jay looks so cute.
Which beaches and when? Who visited and for how long?  Do you love this madras?
But burning in the sun, getting all those little melanoma cells carefully embedded were put away for plaid skirts, pep rallies and football.  French and Latin.  A few students on the commercial track (how's that for good old fashioned labeling?) might take Spanish. Cigarettes. Drivers' Ed. U.S History.  I want to be exactly the same as everyone else, want to be cool, but not too cool, want to be the same but different. But a better different.  Labor Day was the most important social weekend of the year.
 Wouldn't you know? Stopped my monologue and eased into the party..
You have to meet my niece. She's the beautiful one in the blue dress and long hair, sitting at the far table listening to the band. She's starting the University of Denver tomorrow.
Nicki.  Labor Day is moving-in day for Nicki. I know the residence hall where she'll be living, and helped create the Pioneer Leadership Program to which she has been accepted.
Nicki's had three years of Mandarin Chinese in high school. Talented harp player. Wants to major in International Studies and Chinese. Minor in Leadership and Music. Is determined to use her opportunities in the Leadership Program to develop a significant and sustainable program for students in low-economic areas. Excited, passionate Nicki. The Psychology of Trauma is her first-year seminar; her roommate (with whom she's communicated all summer) is taking Philosophy Goes to the Movies.
At home in her beauty, her body, her blossoming future. At ease hanging with the band or talking with me about the University.
Guess Nicki did just fine by not going to all those Labor Day Fairs. I'd like to think I'd be like Nicki if I were heading off to college these days. But really. Really.
What did I know about Mandarin Chinese in high school? I knew Egypt from scarab bracelets and Cleopatra; Italy from Capezio shoes; Scotland from shetland sweaters. Chances are I'd still be me, updated.
So, I'm a little less nostalgic about the need for the ritual and ceremonies of Labor Day as an ending of summer and beginning of fall. Labor Day was always about something else, but that wasn't anything I wanted to talk about back in my school days.
Most of my friends' fathers, uncles, grandparents had what we called 'old' money. I was a wanna' be.   All kinds of labor union workers and union advocates in my blood. That was just one of my secrets on Labor Day, carefully stuffed away, at all those Labor Day Fairs. Here's homage to the real thing.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Never the Twain...

After yoga this morning, with more time than money in my hands, I stopped at a city park for a look at the world.
Six chattering mothers with strollers power-walked right past me. They slowed down for an occasional arm swing, leg swing, jumping jack or stretch, then powered up again. On a mission.
In a Proustian way, I remembered being one of those chattering moms with a stroller, but my gaggle was usually smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee, and praying none of those sweet things would wake up and disturb our all-important conversations. Even without the power walking and yoga, we were innocent, bright and beautiful and had absolutely no idea we were. That's a truth that probably cuts across generations.

Power women long out of sight,  I slowed down to watch a large group assemble and then disperse into activities. Kickball with a bounce. Catch me if you can. Baseball without the bases. Something for almost everyone. The balls flying in all sorts of directions. People stood under the trees in small groups, in pairs or in large groups. Took me a while, but I finally figured out that this was a group of intellectually and/or physically challenged young adults on a field trip.
Not all babies are destined for the same things. For some, there's joy from just being held, learning to play the games, catch the ball, race in one direction, but chatter about making the varsity, getting into ivy league schools or paying a mortgage isn't part of the scenario.
For thirty years, my friend Karen Ferguson has taught in the Maryland school system. Just two and a half months ago she said good-bye to her full-time position. For thirty years she has taught young adults, similar to those in front of me, how to ride elevators, take a bus, go out for lunch, play in the park, do community service - and to do it with good grace and manners.
If you were to meet Karen on the street, in a restaurant, or museum, you would probably think to yourself: Wow, this woman has taste. Fashionista par excellence. She's so witty. Smart. To the point. Precise.Knows what she likes. And you'd be right. She's all those things. But so much more.  Thinking of Karen, I looked at the leaders of the group and tried to imagine how much work went into organizing this event. From picking a place in the park close to the latrines to developing games and events in which everyone could participate, knowing who would be reluctant to join in, and who would want to go smell the flowers was just the beginning.  Guess it's going to be a Proustian sort of morning,  I'm in a city park in Denver, but imagining Karen's tales rolling off her tongue at sunset at Rehoboth Beach, I'm touched by the profundity of this particular event in the park.
I keep moving, bikes and joggers whizzing by me; me not quite whizzing by the couple speaking Russian, the dog-walkers, or the geese. Two boys and a girl stand in front of me. Tweeners, early adolescents or whatever one calls those in the stage of  perpetual hormonal surges, over-stimulation, and 'emotion beats reason' time of life, up to something. Their home group is clustered close by, but just far enough away for these guys to be out of sight. Members of the larger group strut, stroll, show their stuff off to no-one in particular. I read the clues and think: This is a troubled adolescent/alternative education group. No resemblance to the kickball group on the other side of the park. Why can't they figure out how to have fun in the sun?
Nothing looks communal about this collective or the three who have strayed from the group.
Laughing, the young woman makes a hand gesture to the two young men, turns her back and begins to straggle over to the larger disenfranchised group. The two boys return the guesture and head for the portable latrines. I stop my movement, and watch as they get on opposite sides of one public portable potty and rock it. Nothing gentle about their movements; this is a rock the boat, come as close as you can to capsizing, moment. And then they run in the opposite direction of me and the girl walking towards the group.
Within a minute, the door of the latrine slowly opens. A young woman, long flowing hair, emerges. Her face, fear frozen across the bottom half, finally relaxes. I notice the lanyard and her official badge hanging from it. "Which way did they go?" she sputters.
The girl tweener is long gone, but several of us point in the direction. She gets on her cell phone and heads off, still appearing caught between fear and rage. Will this be a definable moment for her?
My heart is, as the cliche goes, racing. I'm mad. Mad at the two boys screwing up, mad that they've probably ruined the day for their group (the rest of whom are playing football, running after one another, or hanging.
Proustian again, I recognize those boys... Always one step, one toke over the line. Full of themselves and empty inside. Path isn't clear yet, destiny not knocking, but my stomach doesn't feel good about them or for them.
I wonder if the counselor/teacher will hang in there, stare them down, and bring them up again. I wonder. I want her to stay, not to give up. What's to say or do to two tween boys who get a kick out of scaring an authority figure? What's going to crack their code? Where will they find their kindness or compassion?
I think of the other group across the park, the 'challenged, as we like to say, and bet the latrine rocking of a counselor/teacher would probably never cross their collective minds.  Across the park, across the divide.  Never the twain shall meet among the groups I've observed, yet each one has jogged a memory for me.
All this before 11:00 AM. How many narratives, stories worth telling are unfolding in this city park today? How many people are walking by a scene, sitting in a meeting, staring at a computer, working out only to get struck by a memory, a remembrance of the past?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Not Naming Names or Ages

..Got in a lot of trouble with myself yesterday by saying it was an 'ideal' day. Well, not to get all weather-eyed, but avoiding the Ideal word, I'll just venture that today is as sweet as they come in early  September in Denver. Cool enough for a fleece vest; sunny enough for sun glasses. But enough.
Too much weather talk is a bad thing, or so I've heard. Research says (gotta' love the nameless in these studies) that talking about the weather is a sign of old age. So is talking about traffic.
Not sure I agree. Obsessing about the weather strikes me as a tad strange, maybe old-like, but I'm not sure you can judge someone's age by the number of syllables muttered about weather. As for traffic, I'm still in the adolescent mode of using hand signals or obscenities while in traffic, so my syllable count is minimal.
However, I've been thinking about something today that may be age related (see, these riffs do come together).
Starting with JFK's campaign for the presidency, I've been fairly active politically. I've campaigned, knocked on doors, begged people to sign petitions, gone to primaries, made posters, carried signs, debated, argued and talked with political passion. And I have always become a media junkie when there's an important issue or vote. I've marched, protested, boycotted on local, state, national and international issues.
I'm embarrassed to say how many times during the day I went to CNN, Washington Post, NYT on-line during the last presidential campaign.
Not naming names, but you can probably figure out my party and my leanings fairly easily.
I've never been particularly good at listening to voices of the other side or sides -- Proud to say I've never heard one word uttered by that many who definitely didn't channel MLK last weekend or by the group of people not being led by the likes of Paul Revere. These new Mama Grizzlies aren't my idea of Feminism, so their voices don't penetrate my eardrums or my mind. I intensely dislike hyperbole, irrationality parading as reason, the self-righteous and the ignorant who don't know they are ignorant.
I don't like live, radio or tv talk shows. Never been an Oprah fan. Never even watched The View...
I don't like people shouting at me. Maybe it's all that shouting and screaming I grew up with, or simply discomfort with my own irascible nature.

I don't like the shout-down, put-down political leaders, wanna' be politicians,  media bullies. For years, it hasn't been much of a problem, as those folks were always 'the other,' so I didn't have to pay attention.
Slowly either things or I have changed.  Cable news shows and moderators who were once my favorites now make me crazy. Politicos and political commentators with whom I agree seem to have raised the decibel level also. No one party or slice of a party owns nasty, gratuitous, vituperative or sleight of mouth.
Maybe it's true democracy when everyone is shouting and yelling, having their say. Just the other night I was listening to a woman whose message and voice I absolutely respect. She's smart and on 'my' side. But I found myself thinking: Come on, do you think I've become stupid. Do you really have to make the point three times in three different ways and slap your hand on the desk each time? Do you think I don't get it? You trying to improve my listening skills? Do you think I'm not responding with enough fury? Damn. Not naming names, but what is going on?
Possible Answers:  Political and media Fatigue
                              Overdosed on politics and media
                              So over politics and the media
                              Gotten older and irritable
                              All Zenned out and on to higher things
                              Can't take the heat
                              Lost my passion for democracy
What do you think? Hope it's not one of those "How To Tell You Are Old" signs. If it is, I'm switching right to the Weather Channel.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Real or Ideal

“The human soul has still greater need of the ideal than of the real. It is by the real that we exist; it is by the ideal that we live.”      Victor Hugo

Ideal. Perfection. I'm talking about the weather in Denver CO today. I realize it's not so ideal in the Outer Banks or Pakistan....or other places, but here in Colorado it's as close to ideal as I know.
Simple thought, simple truth, but I have been able to quickly make it more complicated. Use a word and it owns you. Had I said to myself What a great day today. I am going to be outside as much as I can, this post would be about something other than the ideal.
But I had to spit out the word 'ideal' and here we are. What is the meaning of ideal and what is its relationship to what is real? Ideal by whose standards? Are my standards only good enough for me or can any of us declare something as Ideal and make it so?

I can't count the number of times I've started a conversation with:
In an ideal world.....
we'd all love one another, I'd have no temper; people would have sharper minds;
poverty, starvation, disease would be disappeared; Tea parties dissolved;
the common good would be the prevailing agenda.
But it's not an ideal's a real one.

Maybe today is just your ordinary real day dressed in ideal-like weather. I don't know. In order to simplify, and get myself back to the day dressed in ideal weather, I asked my local guru to fill in some blanks. Here's the response I received:

"In one sense, of course the Ideal cannot be Real – by definition. Reality gives flawed approximations of the Ideal. End of story. " (Guru Roscoe is not one to use words needlessly)

But another e-mail from the downstairs computer just came my way:

"There is a passage in Plato’s Symposium where he sketches a ladder image.
First, one begins with loving the particular beauty of one person (or flower, etc).
Then one notices and loves the beauty of another that is similar
Then one focuses on the similarity, and then on other more general things up the ladder
Until finally (several more rungs on the ladder here) one arrives at Beauty itself – the Form of Beauty.

"The general attitude towards Plato seems to me to view this as a one-way ladder. One ascends it, and then is disdainful of and distanced from the particular beauty where one started.
My preference is to view it as a two-way ladder, whereby one can go back down and appreciate the particular beauty all the more, seeing IN it the Form of Beauty.
And in this sense, the Ideal (Form of Beauty) is experienced and exists in the Real (the particular loved one, or flower, etc.)"

I think I'll stick with the revisionist take on Plato: I am experiencing the Ideal as it exists in the real weather today.
It's 6:00, the mellow time of day, and it is still stunningly beautiful. Ideal. Hope you are having an Ideal day....whatever that means to you.