Ambling on a Rambling Path

Image source: by Jennnifer at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Denali_National_Park.jpg

Among cows there is a pecking order.

When it’s time to eat or be milked, the lead cow will start her trip back to the barn.  The lesser cows fall into place and follow her home.  They make trails in the pasture, trails they will walk on time and time again.  My thoughts follow the familiar.  The roads they’ve carved in my head are easy to follow.  I do it without thinking.

As a child, I spent a lot of time watching cows, specifically our milk cow and calf and later the small herd that pastured on my grandfather’s farm.  I had a healthy respect for them, their size, their slightly unpredictable nature.    I developed almost an animal sense.  I knew when not to turn my back.  I learned that their pawing at the ground with their hooves was a sign they were trying to establish dominance among each other.  I knew if they turned a side to me that the best thing I could do was to ignore them.  Even a small child can’t allow a cow to be the boss.

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Hooks

Words are just the hooks I hang my life on.

Some times the hooks are like the ones in the back of the fifth/sixth grade classroom.  The carefully, colored counties of Oregon were pinned up neatly on the sliding cork board while our coats lurked underneath like empty prisoners.

Some times the coats fell off and lurked around the bottom like sleepy escapees from a gulag among the umbrellas and rain boots.  It was a half-hearted attempt to find freedom.  On Friday, that week’s “Sergeant at Arms” would carry out their duty and impose order on all those coats.  Chaos and disorder were not to be tolerated for long.  As for that Sergeant of Arms,   it was never clear exactly what a “Sergeant at Arms” duty was.  Why would anyone ever need to keep order at a meeting and how did a meeting have anything to do with the classroom?  None of us where going to openly oppose Sister Emily.  Even the boldest child was still a little bit afraid of her.  We didn’t need a Sergeant at Arms.  We did need an occasional organizer of coats and miscellany.  And, we needed hooks to hang our lives on.

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History Lessons

Part I: The Century: Boom to Bust.

As I stagger into my Friday morning, my sleepy mind tries to begin a game of Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda.

Fortunately, the smarter me wakes up in time to put a stop to such nonsense.  Focusing on the past and the choices I did or not not make is the easiest way to punish myself.  No, this morning, in between a bowl of cereal and a cup of hot creamed coffee, I make the decision to start again.  Over thinking life often gets in the way of living it.  I try not thinking but am not successful.

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Writing Me Whole

Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness by Ariel Gore.  It’s the book I’m reading.   Pieces of me stare back from in between the words on every page.

” . . . the act of writing our lives has an intrinsically healing effect. . .[women] by telling their stories, they begin to see their experiences — especially their negative experiences — as part of a longer life narrative.  When we can see the big picture, and begin to understand some  part of the vast context in which things happen, that seeing eases the resonance of whatever it is that haunts us”  (Gore 92).

That is exactly what I’ve been doing or trying to do.  How did she know?

Trapped in my own head, in my own life, I thought that this was my little secret.  A moment’s thought would have told me how wrong I was.  Not that I didn’t already know.  I just didn’t want to think about it.  Part of me wanted it to be all about me.  To be all mine, something I didn’t have to share or explain or justify.  I wanted something that belonged to me alone.  I wanted my own private outlet.  I wanted a way to create something that was not of bone or muscle but of words and ideas, things that couldn’t be captured, that didn’t need watching or caring.  I wanted words to smear across pages.  I could walk away from these words and forget all about them.

Wanting an outlet, wanting not to care, no one was more surprised than I to discover that I do care.  The words that I thought came too easily bound themselves to me.  They became my children.  I still love them when they mess up, when they don’t do what I want them to do.  I love them because they are a part of me.  I love them because they can also stand alone. . . at least some of them time.

They are more than children.  They have given birth to a new me, a me that I didn’t really know before I committed to writing a blog.

I like this new me better.  She’s deeper, more thoughtful.  She sees things I don’t see.  She gazes at a bigger picture and occasionally takes the time to reassure me that “Everything will be OK. Trust.”

And, most of the time, I do trust that she knows something I don’t, this new me that I find looking back at me in between the posts and the pages.   I like this story so much better than the one I was haphazardly compiling in between one catastrophe and the next.  Things that once haunted me with a vengeance don’t interrupt my sleep at night.

Writing has to take a lot of the credit.  Writing is knitting the pieces back together again.  I am writing myself whole and it feels good.

 

 

Quickly Pass the Days

Under the strong light of a morning mirror, I note the deepening lines at the top of my upper lip.  Who is this person?  I don’t remember growing older.  My body might feel older.  I struggle a little to climb out of a car.  My bones and muscles often ache in ways both new and familiar. Where has time gone?  What has it done to me?

The passage of time taunts me with a brash familiarity.

As much as I want to break free of its grip entirely, I know that is not possible.  We are creatures of time.  Time doesn’t capture us in amber, preserving us for all eternity.  We are ashes and to ashes we shall return.

This thought is too heavy to hold while crunching a bowl of cereal.  Forgetting the morning mirror, I sit down to write, to collect my thoughts, to find my center again in a world that seems to be moving too fast.  Escape isn’t possible.  The memory of the morning’s sighting of the deep lines around my mouth haunts me like a silly tune I can’t forget.

My mind shuffles through its list of music like an old jukebox perused by an impatient teen-age girl.  She knows nothing of wrinkles and yet she picks “The Days of Wine and Roses” as the tune for the morning.  I scoff at her selection.  She can be cavalier about aging.  I can not.  Soon, I want to yell at this girl.  How could she be so cruel?  How could she pick a song that puts salt in my morning wound?  And yet, the melody soothes as it teases me about my age.

Memories carry me away.  The song pulls me in and I remember love. . . loves both lost and found.  I remember the feeling of isolation and loneliness that haunted so many of my years.  I remember the joy of new adventures and sharing of the good times.  Some of the people from the past stand beside me now. Bittersweet feelings of gratitude and loss blend.  This is the benefit of time, the knowing that “everything will pass,” knowing that you can feel many contradictory things at once and still survive, still maintain a center and a sense of self.

There are things worse than growing older.  Not growing at all.  Dying.

Wrinkles and the bittersweet passage of time are no longer just reasons to mourn losses.  They are also reasons to celebrate.  My spirit goes dancing.  The “Days of Wine and Roses” plays in the background.  All is right with the world, with time and with wrinkles.  Things are as they should be.

 

I am the person behind the words printed here. I write because my heart will not allow me the option of NOT writing. It has taken me half a life time to discover this basic truth, but now that I have, writing is as natural as breathing. This is where my breath takes the form of words.

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The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)
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