Spring gleaning…

new bud

The urge to sort things out in spring extends beyond closets and cupboards.

It seems a fitting time to organize one’s insights as well, what’s been gleaned from the past few seasons.

Since spring has a way of awakening thoughts about what we want, the notions i’m sorting out today have to do with desires.

You sometimes hear people say you can get anything you want if you want it badly enough and are willing to work toward it.

Nurturing desires makes them more likely to come to fruition, of course. But equanimity in the meantime requires being clear about what’s within our control and what isn’t.

In the spring, i wait for the night chill to soften, to correspond with the warming of the daytimes, and i expect to inhale that special spring smell any day now.

Nature tends to accommodate my desire eventually. I get something i want because i’m aligned with these rhythms.

Some things we simply go after.

Learning a language, for instance, or, well, organizing a closet. They will not happen without taking the initiative, investing some time, doing the work.

Let’s say you’re learning Spanish — and then you decide you’d like to visit Spain. The obstacles get a little bigger, maybe with regard to finances or getting time away from a job.

You may have to think through larger trade-offs involved in the endeavor.

In other circumstances, the longing for something has little to no bearing on getting it.

I may have thought i interviewed well for that job, but the ultimate determinant of whether i land the position is out of my hands.

Especially in the arena of relationships, where we want someone we love to be healthier, or happier, or to love us back, we can only do so much toward fostering that reality.

What we do have some influence over is how we choose to view such situations, how we cope with and compartmentalize them.

Our lives are an amalgam of randomness, consequences, and our ways of seeing and sorting them.

There’s a delicate art to identifying and distinguishing between desires, goals and expectations.

And it’s a balancing act to prioritize and pursue what we want, while simultaneously working on being ok with the possibility of not getting it.

I’ve noticed since last spring that it can be very gratifying to see things go as planned –and that it can be very gratifying to be able to roll with it when they don’t.

Well, i guess that would cover just about everything.

Which suggests another spring gleaning — gratitude, then, is always in order.

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

Best Laid Plans…

dance

Is it true that your life is primarily made up of what happens to you?

Or is your life rather more composed of how you respond to the conditions and events you are confronted with?

A few years ago i wrote this song about the interplay between the two.

Though i’ve been meaning to post this for some time, being ready to do so this morning happens to fall on a significant anniversary. Today marks five years to the day since cancer surgery. Five years and counting of “NED” status — no evidence of disease.

(See below for the lyrics.)

Thanks for reading and listening.

Always lookin’ for a reason

A rhythm to go with my rhyme

But every answer brings more questions

They’ve got me steppin’ out of time…

Cuzz my best laid plans

They’re not quite in my hands

The best that i can do is be ready…

My best laid plans

They’re not quite in my hands

The best that i can do is be ready

To make it… a dance

Oh they were good plans in their season

Full of reasons they should come through

But life takes its turn, then you take your step

In that minuet something rings true

Cuzz your best laid plans

They’re not quite in your hands

The best that you can do is be ready…

Your best laid plans

They’re not quite in your hands

The best that you can do is be ready

To make it… a dance

…Step lightly, and make it a dance