Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Begin by loving the self that you are

"Developing awareness is the most exciting, creative gift that man can present to himself. It allows you to see the world with new eyes. It allows you to appreciate that which is usual, that which is new, that which is old, and that which is different. It broadens the perspective of life from a singular focus of self, to a multiple focus of All That Is." (JOH, 138)

Watching older people as they make their way to airport terminals and gates, so carefully, and, most, so gratefully, moves me to tears sometimes. Just now, watching a vibrant youngish woman dressed to dazzle, guiding two older women, perhaps sisters, I smile as they wait for the cart to take them, as they climb aboard, the younger woman sitting at an angle so she can hold an arm of each as the friendly driver turns and begins to move the cart in the other direction. An older man, limping but strong and strong-willed, has lived this self-confident role of finding out what needed to be known - directions, time, details to help be efficient - still taking care this way, and clapping the back of an employee who answered his questions.

Appreciation can never be overrated.

There is no appreciation like the way we might fully feel ocean waves, wind, remembering childhood moments of pure innocence, singing, softening each node's intimate opening into the shallows full of life it takes true looking to see. Tiny life notes. I think of my handsome nephew, my view sitting next to him as we ate - his scruff of chin growth, his eyelashes light-colored, long and heavy, like a butterfly lifting over slate blue eyes.

"I'm not smart enough to understand what she writes," someone tells me when I ask if they have read Kathy Oddenino's Joy of Health book. I'm shocked by this, from this someone who has such gifts, such a caring and grateful heart and appreciative mind in so many ways. As I listen to my niece talk about her classes, I hear the way she perceives that Health is being taught, or learned. Some learn a lot, some nothing. Health and History class may be among the least popular, the least interesting to the most. I hear another grad student speak of her nursing job, her pleasure and sadness in working with the children in pediatric oncology - and her eagerness and hope to be part of the continuing research to "find a cure." She truly cares. I can't help but think, Yes! We must first only begin to remember the food, air, and water which revive our very souls, the complex cells within us.  We are energetic beings. I try to remember my 15-year-old, my 21-year-old mind, then 25. How do I "see myself" and my education now? I reflect on the way we perceived education in our history  - the Renaissance, the Greeks, the times before radio, television, the orators of old, the King and I-tutors. We have degraded learning into a primarily physical focus, another subject - "types of learning and techniques of learning." What does knowledge truly mean to us? How does it serve us? What does knowledge do for our minds? Our health? Why do we learn? Is it fun?

Monday, May 03, 2010


Watching the news these days I’m almost mesmerized by the scenes. Rushing, flooding water, raging fires, buildings reduced to rubble with people standing at the periphery just staring with the profound weight of that shock evident in their faces and bodies. Lately I’ve gotten into this rhythm of reading and being urged to find books that help me understand the reality of what I’m watching, what we’re experiencing at these grand scales. The book I’m reading about the Atlantic Ocean has even more meaning now, with the Gulf of Mexico’s Oil spill - the aerial views of the currents, the multiple reflections of the surface sheen and the heavier crude oil at other depths; the gannet’s oil-soaked feathers. I remember some of those beaches well. We have spent many family vacations at Gulf Shores, Pensacola, Seaside, Gulfport, Apalachicola. (I met a photographer named Richard Bickel while visiting St. George’s Island years ago – take a look at his beautiful black-and-whites of the Bay area.) The white sand and blue water is always memorable, beautiful, and made more so by the memories of hurricane-force winds and tar debris blown onto other shores with rain. So many ways we’re reminding ourselves how everything is connected, and that everything is Energy. The cooperation between agencies, between neighbors, between friends and family is always more evident and real in such disasters, and this is a gift to be reminded of anytime.

Another wonderful book I’ve been reading now, recommended to me by my cousin, is Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature by Kathleen Dean Moore. Once I started reading I wanted to know more about Moore, so looked her up and found out about her Spring Creek Project, among other things. I was delighted to find her emphasis on “the philosophy of nature,” as this emphasized the poetic beauty of her lovely expression and experience as part of nature. In the section I read recently she quoted Rachel Carson, one of her heroes: “Those who dwell . . . among the beauties and mysteries of the earth, Rachel Carson believed, ‘ are never alone or weary of life.” (68) Moore believes this too. In this section she writes beautifully about floating in her kayak on a small one Memorial Day in the mountains. The water was cold, the air colder, the fog rose and the colors disappeared as the silver world wrapped itself around her like a scarf suffused with light. She felt herself becoming part of the evening, suffused with the light, the dark, the quiet, the brightness. “There are no edges in this world,” she wrote. “The water, the snow, the bear, the memory of the blackbird, the urgent growth of the lily are all one beautiful, mysterious thing, and we are part of that one thing. How, then, can we ever be alone? That’s what I was thinking about, out there on the water, and how odd it was that when Rachel Carson wrote those brave, true words, she was a frail woman, dying of cancer, surely weary, surely alone in the dark on the frayed edge of the Atlantic. But maybe there was a moon that night, a waxing moon, fat and yellow. Maybe moonlight rode the leading edge of the surf at her feet, and when the surf slid back to sea, maybe the moonlight sizzled with that sound of sand on sand.” (68-69)

I love how she expresses this…becoming aware of all nature, including herself, as one.

Yesterday was a day I felt I lived in a ragged rhythm. After a wonderful sleep, the day started slowly. I’d had plans to work/play more in the yard, cleaning and tending to the flowers and more, but by the time I began, the heat and humidity were intense and my energy was no longer motivated by that activity. I’d wait, I decided. Each thing I began it seemed I trailed off as momentum faded. Interesting to be conscious of this energy change. I put my feet in the cold water in the pool, lay back on the hot brick, and let my mind sense the clouds, the breeze, the heat, the flow. Mother’s Day reminders bring my mother even more to mind, and I am sharing that cloud sense with her, with my siblings, and more. It was a great interlude, the cold feet, hot brick, cloud sensing. When I went in again, there were beautiful cut flowers in the bright blue vase on the table - irises to write home about! We sat outside for a while as the evening cooled, remembering orators of old, and childhood pleasures. There are no edges in this world….