I was recently in Vancouver, BC. And there are parts of the city, that for lots of reasons, are less than beautiful at first glance. There is a particular street that has several factors working against it. So, I’d be justified in saying it’s not beautiful. It also tends to smell a little like a chicken rendering plant from time to time. The point is, I am a bit more challenged to find what’s good about it, than in much of the rest of the city. Until, the sun comes from behind the street, lights up the city skyline and reaches all the way to this fence. All the way to these delicate flowers and fills them with light. Which I wouldn’t have seen, if I weren’t looking. If I weren’t hoping to find something beautiful. Thing is, I had to let go of the idea of ugly before I could find the other. Sometimes, maybe it’s just letting go of an idea… maybe it’s just that simple.
I knew this little girl a long time ago. I was her. Before anyone told her who she couldn’t be. Shouldn’t be. Before the doubt. Before the self-preservation tactics kicked in. The only “walls” that existed were made of plaster and and kept her safe. I suppose it doesn’t matter how I lost touch with her. Not really. Only that I have re-discovered this little girl’s essence is still in tact. Simplicity is sometimes as simple as we allow it to be. Life has had its challenges. Its blessings. And my heart can be as it was when I was three. More trusting. And fuller still.
Today is just a date on the calendar. Just a date. And when I look at what that date was supposed to signify, it makes me sad at first. And then I look some more. I look back over the past few months. And the past few years. And I realize that part of me has been sad. For a long time, about what I am not. What isn’t. Today… tonight, to be precise, I decided to order a small pizza. pepperoni, olives, onions on half. I poured irish whiskey over ice, added ginger ale and turbinado sugar. I raised the glass and made one more decision. To be happier with what is and who I am, than sad about what isn’t or what I’m not. Or make it so. And every day that I can live this, will be its own celebration.
I had always heard orchids took a lot of care, starting with being in the right climate. I love how delicate they are, but stay away from them as I can’t keep a cactus alive. Maybe it’s time. To take what I’ve learned. And try again. Maybe it’s time to believe I can do it. Because maybe, just maybe, it’s not that complicated.
“It is not titles that honour men, but men that honour titles.” ~ Machiavelli
I thought of this quote as I was performing the most benal task this morning. I don’t really have a title. But I have a place. I have roles. And I was wondering what kind of honor I have brought to them. As small as they have been. Not a lot. Not very often. And it hasn’t been the mistakes that I have made that brought dishonor, but my heart. I’m glad I have time. I have today.
Seven years ago. I posted my first images on a photography site. After years of not picking up my camera. After years of trying to live up to some labels while trying to get rid of certain others. I resurrected part of my self. Through my photography. Again. Call it art. Call it a mess. I called it mine. These are the words I posted with that first image. Strange how I was reminded of these same words just today.
…surrendering to what’s fragile. giving in. no longer asking to be anything else for anyone else. I know who I am. at this moment, I know.
make up whatever you want…
… I am that
Just yesterday, a friend asked me, “what now”? And it’s hard to know. Because my world changed and I wasn’t ready to change with it. Ready doesn’t matter. So, two days ago, I began asking new questions. Looking for new answers. Heart open. It’s time. To start from a place of love and take one more step. Toward light. Toward living. Toward more love. Treading softly as I dream new dreams one at a time. Building them little by little. Sharing them as I go.
I found a postcard from London that I sent my mom and dad exactly 27 years ago today. I was so excited about my life that even in the tiniest handwriting, I couldn’t fit it all on the back. I was fortunate to study abroad that year and I wrote it while sitting outside Buckingham Palace, just after seeing the Queen arrive. I had seen a Puccini musical, gone boating, gotten my hair cut (1980’s London style—that’s right) and had my cartilage pierced. (that’s when piercing anything was radical)… All within two days. The day before that, I had secured a summer job working on a book with my professor, seen my first international rugby match, (where I also learned that Scotsmen, in fact, do NOT wear anything under their kilts), eaten my first authentic Indian food, and learned how to drive on the left side of the road.
Today. I was excited to use my new spin toothbrush.
Over the years, I’ve thought about letting my ear close up. But this morning, I twisted the same little diamond, and it made me smile. A reminder of the girl who was… is.
I have been listening lately to people talk about how they feel too deeply or give too freely, all of it leaving them open to hurt. And the people in particular that I’m thinking of are two of my favorite people. Not just because of who they have been to me, but because of who they are. As people. One of them wants to shut down, close her heart, because she gets hurt when she opens it. The other feels he has given so much of himself to others that there is now very little left. To give at all. Both have gotten hurt as a result. The thing is–the problem is, I think it’s all connected. The abilities I think we have to open our heart, feel too intensely, leaving us hurt, give too much, leaving us depleted, is all part of the wondrous people we are. It’s deeply entwined with the way we receive and give love. The way we express. The way she is able to be on stage in front of hundreds of people and stir someone’s soul with her voice. And the way he is able to translate a vision of light and emotion in his head through a lens and have it bring someone to tears. And I have to believe this about myself. The areas of my being that allow me to feel the most pain and often frustration, are the very parts that allow me to see beauty in the world and people around me. To shut down the part of me that feels “too” deeply, means I shut off the ability to feel joy as well as pain. Even what we create, if we are able to create at all, becomes a partial expression. It seems like a shame to put out the fire, just because it might burn me, when it’s the same fire that warms me when I’m cold. And that. is the struggle.
I really don’t know if I can sail through the changing ocean tides. I think I can handle the seasons of my life. And I know the child within my heart can rise above. Time does make me bolder. And I am getting older. One song and it poses so many questions. And the truth is, the older I do get, the less I do know. The less I want to know. The more I am carried along by seasons and tides and time. And that child within my heart kicks and screams but is my hope My very hope. To believing. To rising above.
It’s almost spring and I thought about my dad this morning. The last frost will be here before long. Dad always knew when to plant and transplant. Between growing seasons. Early spring, early fall, to prevent the least amount of shock. Among other things, he was a Botany major. And while I can identify all kinds of plants and know the difference between trees and shrubs, I can’t grow anything to save my life. I can kill the healthiest, sturdiest plants, or at least make them very sick. Not enough water. Too much water. Light, no light. I just don’t know to care for them. I love them. I should just probably leave the care to someone else. But I don’t. I just keep trying. Because I want plants in my life. And I know one day, I’ll get it right.
One of dad’s favorite things to do, was to go to the local nursery and buy up all the dying plants he could find. I watched him do this. And the owners would look at him like he was crazy. But he got a bargain and they got rid of dying plants. And dad would work his magic and those plants would thrive. I wish I knew that secret. I’d trade it for the keen ability to drive backward, any day.
Sometimes, I have to visit and re-visit a concept before it really starts to take hold. And this thing about memories has really started . To take hold. I have spent a lot of time with certain memories lately, afraid to let them go. More to the point, afraid of letting the content of those memories go. For fear of losing part of myself along with them. Part of my actual identity. And this morning, with the help of time, sun and a little quiet, I began, not to let them go exactly, but to allow them to take their place. As memories. It’s funny that when you’re not afraid of losing something anymore, the power that fear holds over you disintegrates. I had the secret all along. The past can be the past now. And I’m still here. A little different maybe. But alive. And here. Able to smile at those memories. And it feels good
I don’t think Mr. Milosz would mind that I borrowed his words. They have always touched me in the past. Today, I touched them.
A day so happy.
Fog lifted early, I worked in the garden.
Hummingbirds were stopping over honeysuckle flowers.
There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess.
I knew no one worth my envying him.
Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot.
To think that once I was the same man did not embarrass me.
In my body I felt no pain.
When straightening up, I saw the blue sea and sails.
~ Czeslaw Milosz