Response to Just Wondering

Thank you to my friend Meghan for sharing this with me in response to my previous post questioning whether we really can see and feel what others see and feel.

We Are Not In The Same Boat

I heard that we are all in the same boat, but it’s not like that. We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat. Your ship could be shipwrecked and mine might not be. Or vice versa.

For some, quarantine is optimal. A moment of reflection, or re-connection, easy in flip flops, with a cocktail or coffee. For others, this is a desperate financial & family crisis.

For some that live alone they’re facing endless loneliness. While for others it is peace, rest & time with their mother, father, sons & daughters.

With the $600 weekly increase in unemployment some are bringing in more money to their households than they were working. Others are working more hours for less money due to pay cuts or loss in sales.

Some families of 4 received $3400 from the stimulus while other families of 4 saw $0.

Some were concerned about getting a certain candy for Easter while others were concerned if there would be enough bread, milk and eggs for the weekend.

Some want to go back to work because they don’t qualify for unemployment and are running out of money. Others want to kill those who break the quarantine.

Some are home spending 2-3 hours/day helping their child with online schooling while others are spending 2-3 hours/day to educate their children on top of a 10-12 hour workday.

Some have experienced the near death of the virus, some have already lost someone from it and some are not sure if their loved ones are going to make it. Others don’t believe this is a big deal.

Some have faith in God and expect miracles during this 2020. Others say the worst is yet to come.

So, friends, we are not in the same boat. We are going through a time when our perceptions and needs are completely different.

Each of us will emerge, in our own way, from this storm. It is very important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Not just looking, actually seeing.

We are all different ships during this storm experiencing a very different journey.

Realize that and be kind.

Unknown Author.

“It is very important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Realize that and be kind.”

Big Bad Wolf In The Mirror

It’s impossible to not feel something watching the marches and protests that are continuing throughout the United States, Canada and around the world. Some of the feelings are difficult to name and sit with. As a white, middle class female I have lived a relatively privileged life. It’s difficult to face how insidious racism is in our society and accept how unconsciously I may have been contributing to it. George Floyd’s death has ripped open a scar that will never be the same. The bleeding may stop but the wound can either heal or the infection become worse. I am asking myself, how can I, right now, look deeply at any way I can add love and compassion to question long held beliefs so that I may contribute to healing.

When did we become our own worst enemy.
Minnesota, land of 10,000 lakes -
they're practically Canadian.
A border and a name is not enough to claim
we are any different.
When did we buy into the lie
our leaders would have us believe
that they are looking out for our best interest.

An egg placed in hot water
becomes soft cooked after three minutes,
hard boiled after twelve,
after that shells may crack.
Gunshot explosions
when the pot boils dry
have us diving for cover.
Yolk sticks to the stipple
like only something contained 
and under pressure, can.

The world placed in a cell phone lens
becomes agitated in eight seconds,
the time it takes 
to form a first impression.
After eight minutes and forty-six seconds
it boils over, multiple "moments of truth"
crack
a two-hundred year old shell,
a police car, a parking space, a man's face
on the asphalt
When did a plea for mercy
become something to taunt,
a knee on a neck, an eye turned away

I have to remind myself to not look away,
to feel the discomfort, to see the obstacles,
see how we use our language,
the toys we give our children,
the messages in their spaces of learning,
Barbie and Ken in their Malibu home,
masculine control of naming and explaining.
What can we learn from Black Americans,
from people of color, 
how they inhabit their bodies
how they live in the world.

I have to remind myself to not look away.
The message sticks
like only something contained 
and under pressure,
can.

For The Unsuspecting

Dear Readers, with Mother’s Day this past weekend I had planned to write a poem to my mom thanking her for all she has done raising myself and my siblings. But the poem that arrived on the page is very different. My stepfather, of seventeen years, passed away a year ago on May 9th. I have definitely been thinking of him as the anniversary approached and that inspired the following poem.

For The Unsuspecting

This poem can’t make the snow stop falling or take away the cold. It won’t warm your bed at night or make breakfast for you in the morning. This poem can’t change a tire, change the oil or replace a spark plug. It can’t find a new lover for you even if you stand under the Flower Moon and recite it three times backward. This poem cannot make the bed, wash your hair, sweep the floor or stir the soup. It won’t make the clouds cross the sky any faster or the night feel less dark.

This poem is a small engine that fails to start. It is broken, rusty, a piece of metal without any use. It doesn’t haul water. It doesn’t cut grass. What it does do, is shred itself beneath the yellow roses. It blends with the soil and rots away. When you think it has completely disappeared and left your life, it blooms on a sunny day in June.

A Couple Of Things They Don’t Tell You

Here are a couple of things they don’t tell you about sheltering in place. They don’t tell you how one day will blend into another, how you will have to look at your phone or computer calendar to know exactly what day of the week it is. You might rise earlier to catch the sun coming up or sleep later and wake with a dream chasing you into your day. They don’t tell you when you shelter in place how much you will miss your grown children – the ones you only saw once a week anyway but with the virus senses are heightened and each moment has an urgency to it. It feels like all the love you have must be funneled into this moment in case it passes and the opportunity isn’t here again.

When you shelter in place they don’t tell you how filled with emotion you will be when an ad hoc parade rolls down your street. How hearing horns honking will lift your head from the trowel in your flowerbed. How you will move to the front yard in time to see banners with the names of teachers, proclaiming how much they are loved and missed. Your hand will automatically go up to wave and tears will automatically fall for people you don’t know and for a mascot you don’t recognize but the outpouring of heartfelt sentiment is real and palpable. You see your neighbors, who have also come out onto the street, put their arms around each others shoulders. As the parade disappears everyone lingers, looks in the direction the parade has just gone, holding on to the love just a little longer. With a little wave, or half smile, people slowly walk back to what they were doing. They don’t tell you that when you are sheltering in place you will feel alone even among your neighbors.

Or how spending twenty-four/seven with your husband, the man you love, can feel like a little too much time together. How you have no doubt you want to be together but even in this time of sheltering and craving time with others, you still need time to be alone, to be still with your thoughts, to just breathe.

They don’t tell you how the joy and beauty of seeing your friends on Zoom can quickly swing to heartbreak when you realize how long it has been since you’ve hugged any of them. No one tells you how difficult it is to perform for your friends, cello notes ringing loud and clear… you see their faces but can’t make eye contact, and you see their hands are clapping but you can’t hear the applause. No one tells you when you shelter in place how much you will miss the subtleties of human contact, the shift in posture you read in a conversation, the slight inflections in one’s speech, the things lost with the delay of video links. No one tells you that playing bridge, a game you love, will become just a game. What you really loved was the analysis of the play of the hand afterward, the laughter, the teasing, the small talk. Typing in a chat box doesn’t compare. Nothing can replace the feeling of security and realness of gathering in the same room – even if all you do is smile and let the energy of their being wash over you. I can’t wait to be drenched.

God of ACCEPTANCE

The landscape painter at the artist colony in the country
noted for its messianic light, its sparse, hard-to-capture
beauty, complains she's come all this way to paint al fresco but
the mosquitoes have driven her inside, no matter the netting
on her hat, her cuffed sleeves and pants, a heavy does of Deet.
They bite through everything. And when she tries to snap a
picture, a breathy handkerchief of mosquitoes flutters over
the lens.  What can I do? she moans, trapped in a dull and
narrow room, thinking of booking a ticket back to her studio
in Vancouver.  Paint the mosquitoes, god replies.

Lorna Crozier
from God Of Shadows
2018 McClelland & Stewart

(image credit: Trichy Insights)

April 23, 2020

The past few days, just when I thought that I am adjusting to this strange new world where everything is familiar but unknown at the same time, I have been thrown “off course” again by the senseless killing that has taken place on Canada’s east coast. I am filled with a sense of time that feels like I’m in a fun house with the crazy mirrors that reflect altered images, a warped me. My words are held in a lump in my throat so instead I share with you the words of Joseph Campbell:

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”

(photo credit: Sebastien Gabriel)

Nova Scotia Shooting Spree

Our crazy world has become even crazier.Trying to make sense of lives lost to a virus suddenly seems easier than trying to make sense of lives lost to a gunman – someone pretending to be a police officer for G** sake.

Unease bulges in my throat. I no longer recognize my world. I long for solitude but I don’t want to be alone. Stepping into running shoes I walk out the door, the energy to run gone with the twist of the doorknob.

I walk without a destination, to calm my nerves. I try not to think about families destroyed because they trusted a uniformed person.

I try not to think about too many people, too close together on the pathway. I veer to the overgrown winter grass. When people, dogs, bikes, kids head toward me, I freeze. I wish they would spread out.

When I get home, I bake cookies. Flour, butter, oatmeal, sugar,everything carefully measured, following an ordinary recipe.

But each time I hear a news broadcast between songs on the radio, I am reminded we live in a time that is anything but ordinary.

Peeking in the oven hoping to see the cookies spread out, knowing I have done nothing wrong, I still find myself whispering, I’m sorry.

(photo credit: Engin Akyurt)

Start Close In

Tonight I offer you a poem by David Whyte. This particular poem speaks to me at this time of so much change and upheaval in our lives. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Start Close In
by David Whyte

Start close in,
don't take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
thing
close in,
the step
you don't want to take.

Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet, 
your own
way to begin
the conversation.

Start with your own
question,
give up on other
people's questions,
don't let them
smother something
simple.

To hear
another's voice,
follow
your own voice,
wait until
that voice

becomes an 
intimate private ear
that can
really listen
to another.

Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
don't follow
someone else's
heroics, be humble
and focused,
start close in,
don't mistake
that other
for your own.

Start close in,
don't take
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
thing
close in,
the step
you don't want to take.