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the dividing line. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

half and half

“the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts.” (a. solzhenitsyn)

it isn’t without hesitation that i speak now of september 11, 2001.  eighteen years ago today.  both yesterday and an eternity ago.

there is a dividing line that is the place of before and after.  in many ways, this date, september 11, 2001, marks that line.  a time when, before which, we innocently and trustingly got on airplanes to fly to destinations we anticipated with great joy.  a time when, before which, it didn’t occur to us to be wary in crowded places, to know how to exit, to navigate fear, let alone terror.  a dividing line.

but the truth of it is, there has always been good and evil.  the division has always existed.  history demonstrates that evil – in all its iterations, big and small – rears up like a wild stallion, flailing at goodness, rejecting compromise.

and when i look around, at the world, at our country, at this little island microcosm, i see that our collective hearts have not learned.  it saddens me to know that as my children continue to grow, adults in 2019, this has not changed.

solzhenitsyn’s quote continues:  “And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained.” 

i pray that this ‘small bridgehead of good’ will cross the dividing line and, like a snowball rolling downhill across a field of white, will grow…eventually bigger than any iteration of evil.  it’s our only hope. 

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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in the gray. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

stripes of grey

grey/gray rarely has such a line of demarcation, rarely has distinctive texture such as in this picture beyond our littlehouse yard.  grey is simply gray.  it is the zone of not right/not wrong.  it is the living in-between-ness of doing life this way/that way.  it is the space of not-knowing, asking questions, learning, being vulnerable.  it can be uncomfortable.  but it is necessary.

the most growing i have done has been in the grey zones.  the times when i did not know, the times i made mistakes, the times choices were confusing, the times devastated by life events, the times moving forward meant tiny baby step by baby step, the times i was vulnerable.

last night there was an artist, an author, at TPAC who spoke of vulnerability.  he said that vulnerability leads to gratitude.  it is the path to grace and mercy.  i agree.

i would add we can never know, or even approximate, what someone else is feeling without being unguarded ourselves.  we can never know the unanswered questions, the struggles, the amorphous-ness of life without the grey.  we can never create without the grey – for an artist languishes in grey, if for no other reason than to seek the color within himself.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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nonplussed. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

nonplussed definition

i am nonplussed.

some of you will think i am ‘bewildered, confused, perturbed, disconcerted’.  some of you will think i am ‘not disconcerted’, that i am ‘unperturbed’.  wow.  how would you know?  particularly if i only say, “i am nonplussed by this.”  language!  it’s nonplussing.

context is everything.  it is the arrows pointing to clarity.  it is the measure of the meaning of someone’s words.  it is the scale of importance given to a statement.  it is the framework within which to assess, to understand.

to be in a mature conversation, a mature communication, we seek out context, a fair understanding given the circumstances around a statement.  we look for truth and transparency in words spoken to us, searching for a place we can meet on common ground and really talk.  we provide context to others to clarify our point, to clear-stream muddy waters and avoid misunderstanding.  context is everything.  indeed.

but for right now, i will just say i am nonplussed.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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bee and thistle. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

bee and thistle.PNG

saturday august 17 was national honey bee day.  a day that recognizes how critical this species is, it also celebrates those people who ensure that honey bees are protected, managed, healthy.  it is crucial to ensure the longterm survival of honey bees; among other things, pollinating plants is clearly paramount to our environment.  clearly, each day should be national honey bee day.

in a scary report about honey bees in brazil, half a billion bees died in the first few months in southern states of the country, with traces of a pesticide also listed as a human carcinogen.  a country with fertile soil, the choice to increase the use of pesticides will take its toll on the food chain and, already AND ultimately, the health of the country’s people.

what about our country?  what are the true checks and balances on the responsible use of our land and resources, the overwhelming use of insecticides, the purity or impurity of our food, our health?  into what greed-chasm have those in environmental decision-making positions fallen?  what really matters?

when is it the time to regard the decisions of conscience-depleted environmental naysayers as imminently deadly?  when is it time to listen to those who advocate for the continued responsible honoring and health of our land and resources?  when is it time to regard environmental issues as issues that will save lives?

it seems like that would be yesterday, yesterday, yesterday.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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ferdinand. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

ferdinand

i distinctly remember my sweet momma talking about FERDINAND THE BULL.  she would refer to him from time to time, a twang on the third syllable slipping into her new york accent.  i am wracking my memory for her other wise words about him.  my guess is that, despite not remembering her exact words, her message isn’t lost on me.

FERDINAND is a book published in 1936, the story of a gentle bull who loved to smell flowers (aka “flowuhs”).  he spent his time sitting under a tree, daydreaming, sniffing flowers.  upon finding himself in the madrid bullfighting ring, he sits calmly in the middle, refusing to take the bait.   the grace of a mashup of “i want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.”  (oriah mountain dreamer) and “when push comes to shove, don’t.” (unknown)  we have much to learn.

FERDINAND was performed by the Washington Island Music Fest this past week and was among my favorite moments of this two week music festival at TPAC.   it was sweet on many levels, read aloud, depicted on violin, slides of the original illustrations on screen.

and my momma, in my mind’s eye, reminding me to be like FERDINAND.  a bull, by definition fully expected to want to fight, presumed to fight, just like all the other bulls – and yet, brave enough to be different, to sniff the flowers, to turn away from participating in dissension or violence, to be at peace being true to oneself.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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act well your part. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

act well 2

“act well your part.  there all the honor lies.” (alexander pope)

this feels like a life mantra.  a reminder that no matter what you do, where you find yourself, who you are…to do the best you can, to be the best you can.  no spoke is uncounted.

the moment i heard this line i took out a scrap of paper and a sharpie and wrote it down.  it so resonated with me that i could feel my heart beating in my chest.  i thought of all the times i tried to do the best i could, to be the best i could, in every role….partner, daughter, mother, sister, friend, artist, colleague, sharer-of-the-planet.  and i thought of all the times i didn’t do the best i could, i wasn’t the best i could be, in every role….partner, daughter, mother, sister, friend, artist, colleague, sharer-of-the-planet.

i wish, at every turn, someone had repeated this to me.  good turns.  poor turns.  turns that i can account for, that have intention and educated thoughtfulness.  turns that i shrink away from thinking about, that are spontaneous, ill-conceived moments, that have no grounding. turns that were reactionary, that stole safety, stole time to patiently stand in the fire and think.  turns that i did not make, that felt too scary, too risky, too alone.  and turns that i should have made, that would have tied me to the earth’s gravity and kept me steadfastly feet on dirt.

i wish, often now, as i look back over last week, last month, last year, the last decade, my whole life, that someone had repeated this to all human beings.  as we stand in the turns we make, the decisions we decide on, the actions we choose…were we to judiciously filter them through “act well your part.  there all the honor lies” we would be reminded that it all counts.  the ripples spread.  the pebble we throw will, indeed, touch others.

just as others will count on us to act well our part, regardless of any part’s so-called import, so too, do we count on others to act well their parts.  standing together.  thinking. recognizing.  choosing.  moving with wisdom.  every spoke counts.  there is honor in each one.  for a wheel without spokes…..

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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leave a mark. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

seagull prints copy

years ago when i turned 30 we celebrated by going to the zoo.  we spent the day, along with my parents and my niece, traipsing around admiring animals, learning factoids, taking pictures, eating ice cream.  i’m not really a zoo person.  i prefer to think of animals living happily in the wild, supported by a world that is thoughtful, careful and ecologically minded.  but i do recognize the need to conserve endangered species, study wildlife and inspire education and preservation of species and their natural environments.

it just so happened that the day we visited this zoo, this day that i turned the big 3-0, they were pouring cement sidewalks.  there is a wee letter ‘k’ in that sidewalk.  a mark.

we all want to leave a mark.  is it an invention?  is it a passing-down of a precious heirloom?  is it a name on a bench in a personal, special place?  is it a work of fine art, a painting, a piece of music?  is it a story?  is it a world record?  is it a mindset?  is it a way of being on this good earth?

i’m not sure when they last poured the surface on townline road.  but on that day, a certain seagull decided to leave a mark.  it walked across the freshly poured street – pad, pad, pad – and, until they pour again, its mark will remain.  we smile every time we walk past this set of prints, wondering aloud how long they have been there.

as we continue our time here, we are aware both of the mark we are leaving and the mark people are leaving on us.  in many years from now, when the road is paved over and we are no longer, i would hope that most of us led with the mark my sweet momma left, “be kind to each other.”

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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