On the move…

wave splashing on rocks Tyler Feld 07142018

(Tyler Feld Photography)

I composed some of this post while i was walking this morning, and some while i was knitting. The movements got me thinking about life from the perspective of motion…

As creatures bound by time, we experience our existence as movement through time. 

We measure our days and our years by what we get done, and by when. 

We wish our favorite moments could last forever.

When something shattering happens we say it was like time stood still.

When we accomplish or survive something significant, we feel good about having gotten from then to now, from there to here. 

‘Making progress’ feels important to us. We mine satisfaction from a sense of forward motion.

This is on my mind as i consider why i’ve felt rather contented over the past few months. Some of it comes with stepping out into the clearing after having been in the woods for a while. Some has to do with uplifting connections with family and friends. But it isn’t due to any major achievement, or to writing more posts (obviously). 

I do always feel a sense of having gotten somewhere after i’ve written. But i haven’t posted anything of length in a while, and it occurs to me that i’m getting some of the sense of movement i need from another source, namely, knitting and crocheting… 

When i write an essay or a fable, i love seeing the beginning, middle and end take shape. 

The ‘fiber arts’ projects also provide a beginning, middle and end that i am directing. 

A crucial distinction is that with the yarn-based endeavors, i’m following someone else’s pattern, rather than creating something original. Composing demands more strenuous thought and is therefore rewarding in a different way. 

But enjoying the fiber arts (which i only recently returned to after decades away) strikes a happy medium between passivity and more deeply engaged effort. And while doing the first, i am often mentally stimulated to get on to the second.

Relishing both activities, i hear a whisper inside: “Lots looks different now, but you made it through, you’re ok.”  

Reflecting on tougher times, it hits me that they were characterized by either very little perceived forward movement, or by a swirl of motion involving me that i was not directing and had little influence over. 

But even when all is well, we live in a culture that prizes busyness, and we need to cultivate composure, make time for down time, elicit equanimity. 

The momentum of a too-busy life can get the better of us, like losing one’s balance running down a hill. 

For some, meditation and mindfulness are key to countering the imbalance. They do so not through escapism, but through re-orienting.   [*Be* the purring kitten.]

Momentum does not equal purpose. We can feel adrift doing too little or too much.

Peaceful direction seems the best balance. 

We can get a certain amount of this just from getting little chores done. Paying bills or doing dishes –they’re still movement [sideways oxymoron alert].

And spending time with others doesn’t get in the way of goals — when it is one of the goals. 

An idea which guides my thinking about almost everything is connectedness. Our deepest satisfactions as well as our most disruptive challenges have to do with our interrelations with others; the investment can be hefty but is rarely wasted.

I’ll have more to say in a future post about other kinds of movement. 

But if you’ll excuse me for now… that scarf isn’t going to knit itself.

A writer’s vignette…

I’m guessing some of you can relate to this…

On her way downstairs to meet her visitors, Sophia sat down suddenly on the final step, her hand dropping off the railing. She wondered as her heart pounded… How hard could this be?

Why should her physical self be so at odds with what she really wanted — when all she wanted was for others to see and appreciate an important part of herself? And she was so close now.

While the small group awaited her presentation in the reading room, drinking punch and murmuring, she felt immobilized, unable to wrench herself up from the step, her mind aswirl.

At last, she gathered her resolve and rose, determined to honor her true self despite her trepidation.

Striding to the front of the room, with a smile more of determination than of ease, then placing her notebook on the lectern, she thanked everyone for coming.

She began by saying she had always wanted to be a writer.

Before she completed her next sentence, someone from the back interrupted:   “A writer? Why would anyone care what you have to say?”

Another voice chimed in:   “Maybe you should do something a little more productive with your time.”

And another:  “You’ve got great ideas, but you never really develop them into anything, and you probably never will.”

At first stunned, and then feeling herself dissolve, she fumbled to close the notebook and quickly strode from the room.

She didn’t slow her pace until she was all the way back upstairs in her bedroom, with the door locked behind her.

Face down on the bed, she swung between despondency and defiance, again and again, her fists clenched tightly.

As her energy finally dissipated, she slowly became aware that her right fist gripped a narrow wooden cylinder that came to a point, and that she was now seated again at her desk — from which she’d never actually left.

She’d just needed to face down that same old crowd in her head that she always has to whenever she sits down to write.

roll top desk

Mirth and melancholy…

The turn of the year compels us to look in two directions at once. We encapsulate the closing year as we reflect on the opening one’s possibilities. Our inherent drive to mark time also carries the urge to compare — between today’s thoughts and those at last year’s turn, and to overlay them with a clarity of progress and pattern.

Last year at this time, i considered life’s vagaries here through a musical motif. This time, i offer another wordsmith’s sentiments, using the music of poetry.

I’m moved by how this simple, early 1900s poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox evokes the melancholy behind the mirth:

THE YEAR

What can be said in New-Year rhymes,

That’s not been said a thousand times?

The new years come, the old years go,

We know we dream, we dream we know.

We rise up laughing with the light,

We lie down weeping with the night.

We hug the world until it stings,

We curse it then and sigh for wings.

We live, we love, we woo, we wed,

We wreathe our brides, we sheet our dead.

We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,

And that’s the burden of the year.

The poem’s somber nature overtakes the joy — and that may not be where some readers want to land.

I see it as a contemplation whose grave tone dwells on only one aspect of human experience. Other songs and poems bring out the exuberance and optimism of new beginnings. Let us be looking for those as well.

Heraclitus and social media…

river stones

No man ever steps into the same river twice.

The ancient Greek philosopher this quote is ascribed to added that this is because it’s not the same river, and he is not the same man.

[Alternate post title: “Who said this? Wade wade, don’t tell me.” (Forgive me.)]

Though Heraclitus was referring to change being ever present in the universe, i’ve thought of this truism often in the context of virtual re-connections with past friends.

Social media has facilitated getting in touch with folks i most likely would never have crossed paths with again. Folks i have fond and vivid memories of from years and even decades ago.

For a few in particular, when they randomly came to mind before, i always pictured the OMGs and hugs and tears that would flow if i saw them in person again.

Not that such imaginings moved me to try to make it happen.

While i regretted having lost touch, i had no fresh impulse to start up with them again unprompted.

Once social media made reigniting old connections possible, even likely, i relished thoughts of the OMGs, hugs and tears across cyberspace.   Continue reading