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the path back is the path forward


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yes.”time for a cool change.” [merely-a-thought monday]

the little river band sings it, “time for a cool change….i know that it’s time for a cool change.”

that’s for sure. on so many fronts.

the horizon looks promising…the sun setting on the toxic, the sun rising – now, tomorrow, soon – on a deep cleansing breath of new.

we could feel it in the air on saturday. we wondered if it was our imagination. there was something. something kinder. something more generous. something hopeful.

we felt it at the gas station, pulling in just as a pickup pulled in from the other direction. the pickup stopped, backed up and pulled around to the other side, the driver waving as i called my thanks out the open window. we felt it at the corner, turning to head to the park, the trucker waving us on instead of taking his turn. we felt it on the trail, people wearing masks, allowing distance, eyes smiling above their masks, hands waving. something was different.

time for a cool change. time for healing. time for unity. time for responsibility. time for leadership.

yet, the next day, in the wake of this deep breath, in the wake of a called election, in the wake of inspiring victory speeches, i could sense the waves of anger rushing to the shore. the grace of the day before was a little less pronounced, the relief a little less relieved. the pulse of the nation had quickened and there was a bit of uneasy quaking.

i sat this morning for a bit, reading the narratives of the angry. i read the fights that people were picking with others. i read both intelligent debate and angry spew, baseless rhetoric. i read attacks on people of the populace, people fuming at an election loss, verbally going after other voters, some barely acquaintances, ugly, threatening words of vitriol splashed across social media and the news. my brilliant son put it well when he wrote of the harmful mean-spiritedness of conservatives toward anyone who voted blue. he wrote of the marked difference between that and the reactions of the left, who have specifically directed their dismay to those committing the heinous and not to everyday people. he pointed to the difference in the celebratory reactions of the left vs the right. his words ring true. and, devastatingly, this violence, whether verbal, emotional or physical, is incited by this president, his administration and the party that sits there, silent, complicit. it is indeed time for a cool change.

it is unfortunate, but not really mind-blowing, that this current administration continues to dial up the temperature on this. it’s consistent. compassion and kindness, honesty and the democratic principles of this country are not part of the equation for a president who is still coddling his own agenda rather than seeking peace and health for this nation.

this country is exhausted and, while 71 million people voted for this president, 75 million voted for a new administration and new light. because it is *most definitely* *way past* time for a cool change. it’s time to move on.

yes, little river band, “you KNOW it’s time for a cool change.”

so we stand outside, our faces to the wind and take a deep breath.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


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“an old river” [merely-a-thought monday]

an old river

it is our meditation, our respite, our rejuvenation, to hike.  so we find trails everywhere we go.  our old hiking boots have stories of mountains and deserts, forests and rivers, dunes and sidewalks.

we choose to trek instead of anything else.  for we have found that “in every walk with nature, one receives far more than one seeks.” (john muir, naturalist)

in these times of pandemic, our travel has been of limited scope.  we have taken seriously the words of fervent scientists and medical experts to stay close to home, to wear masks, to social distance, to be always aware of putting self and others at risk.  and so our spectrum of hiking trails has been reduced in range, the radius from our home none too large.

the river we hike along is well-known to us now.  we know the curves in the trail; we know the bend in the river and where the water laps at the bank.  we anticipate the small turtles on the rock in the tributary; we expect the butterflies to be numerous as we pass the field of wildflowers.  we know where the mile markers are before we see them.  we know where the mosquitoes will swarm.   it doesn’t change anything for us.  we still go.  we still hike.  for “into the forest i go to lose my mind and find my soul.” (john muir)

each time we start we are aware of how very familiar this place is.  each time we finish we are aware of seeing it with fresh eyes.  marcel proust’s words, “the real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes” comes to life with every booted step.

the place we go, the haven we seek, are trails that let us be quiet, trails that let us talk, trails that make us tired, trails that invigorate us.  they need not be new.

each time we take any of our beloved trails or walks in the general radius of our sweet home we breathe air into anxious hearts, solace into worried minds, we stretch stress-tensed bodies, we are mindful of glimpses of eased souls, we draw inspiration from this good earth, we find the new in old.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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“great minds discuss ideas…” [merely-a-thought monday]

eleanor roosevelt

 

i don’t subscribe to ‘inspirational daily’ but somehow this showed up in my email feed on thursday, a particularly good day to read the wise words of eleanor roosevelt.  an activist, the first lady regularly published her musings and views.  her accomplishments as a diplomat were far-reaching; her life story difficult and profoundly inspiring.  and she was wise. her words remind me of sue bender’s words (from ‘plain and simple journal‘) “to reconcile our seeming opposites, to see them as both, not one or the other, is our constant challenge.”

what would either of these wise women say about our current climate, i wonder?

would eleanor roosevelt pine for the fine-tuned, thoughtful, intelligent discussions of her lifetime?  would she abhor the fact-less, jarringly aggressive re-telling of stories, of narrative, all-dressed-up and skewed to one side?  would she shudder to hear of attempts to decimate human rights, to place limits, to undermine?  i can’t imagine that she would consider the display of indecency, of avenging and putrid name-calling ‘great-mindedness’.  i fear she would, instead, point a wagging finger at the players and implore them to be wide awake, to be thinking, to be discussing idea and possibility and wholeheartedly move forward with conscience.

i wonder, does sue bender, in her middle 80s now, feel a sense of deep disappointment in a society that does not attempt to reconcile seeming opposites, does not see them as both, does not cross the aisle but instead builds walls of hateful rhetoric, looks for the worst in each other, advances the ugly?  what would her kind soul say about the divisiveness, poisoning all in its rampant siege, a pandemic reaching unsuspecting venues, its toxic arrows out of the quiver and readied.  how would she parse out the arguments, the lack of concern for the victimized, the harassment of those on the other side than the leadership?

goodness knows, i suspect both of these amazing women, living in different generations, would be saddened by this climate.  they might weep in absolute dismay.   or, they might just whisper into the wind, to whomever might listen, “great minds discuss ideas.  average minds discuss events. small minds discuss people.”

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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“it’s either joy or pre-joy.” [not-so-flawed wednesday]

pre joy joy

a fine line.  the place between pre-joy and joy.  for mike libecki there is no space on the continuum between the two.  it is merely one or the other.  pre-joy or joy.

mike is a mountain climber.  because i am an obsessive mountain-climbing-video-documentary-movie-watcher, we watched him and cory richards in their national geographic antarctic mountain climb to summits not reached before.  it was brutal.  the wind.  the weather.  the elements of the climb.  agonizingly difficult.

but mike was adamant, stating above the furious wind again and again, “it’s either joy or pre-joy.” any moment of torturous climbing or bearing the effects of the weather was a moment of ‘pre-joy’.  all other moments were ‘joy’.  it’s an amazing way to look at things.  an amazing way to look at life.  everything leads to joy.  you are always in joy or on your way there.

in what we would describe as a watershed time, this short quote is a lesson in staying grounded.  in sentiment i have heard before, but never as succinctly shorthand, a reminder to look always to the light, the horizon, not backwards, not at the dark, not measuring in the negative.  re-group, re-center, re-evaluate, re-perspective-arrange and move through pre-joy to joy.  a cup always with something in it, never empty.  always a portion waiting for you to add to it, make the best assumptions, hope, appreciate, carry the jug to the next waterhole for it is there.  “we must live sweet,” mike says.

we carry the torch so often for the negative.  we moan and complain and gossip and pick fights.  in this roller coaster of life, what about carrying the torch for joy?  what about lighting the way for yourself, for others, helping to find the light, the joy?  believe that we are only an ice-pick or a few carabiners or a length of rope away.  we are on the mountain.  all of us.

i would like to try to remember this “it’s either pre-joy or joy” and live and work and play by it.

because i believe in joy and the sheer power, potential of joy; it’s a force.  i just need remember to believe that all roads lead there.  one day is joy.  the next is pre-joy.  it is all on the same continuum.  it is all the same life.  we all share the same possibility.  all paths summit.

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

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“not too chicken to change.” [merely-a-thought monday]

not too chicken copy

too old. too young.  too busy.  too tired.  too apolitical.  too rabid.  too conservative.  too liberal.  too artistic.  too left-brained.  too analytical.  too kinesthetic.  too emotional.  too opinionated.  too apathetic.  too uneducated.  too educated.  too poor.  too rich.   too believing.  too agnostic.  too manipulated. too manipulative.  too confident.  too tentative.  too work-engrossed.  too free.  too lofty.  too basic.  too orthodox.  too unconventional.  too open.  too closed.  too rigid.  too fluid.  too not-from-here.  too down-home.   too much.  too little.  too far-reaching.  too little impact.  too intentional.  too haphazard.  too unknown.  too anticipated.  too cavalier.  too afraid.

d’s master’s degree embraces the organization of whole systems; when i recently read this it felt like everything he has said in a nutshell (and i, not being a nutshell person, embraced this nutshell with the glee of change).  here is what i read about systems theory:

systems theory(©️2020 narrative lectionary resources)

‘our family systems.  our work systems.  our neighborhood and community systems.’  our country.  our world.  the system reeling inside ourselves.

too trouble-making.  too resistant.  too dysfunctional.  all good reasons for a system not to be too chicken to change.

life.  too short.  too fleeting.  too few golden opportunities to learn.  too few possibilities to stand tall and face down adversity.  too few windows to be kind.  too few chances to say ‘i love you’.  too many people to laugh with.  too many places to see.  too many moments to miss.

all good reasons for us to be “not too chicken to change”.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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“make hundreds.” [merely-a-thought monday]

make hundreds

when he said, “make hundreds”, he wasn’t referring to blogposts.  my sweet poppo was for-sure-analog and didn’t really even know what a blog was.  he was sending me off to school or work, calling after me to “make hundreds”, a tad bit of pressure for an A+ seeking student but taken with a bit of a grain of salt because my poppo said it with great love.  today starts the one-hundredth week of our blogposts in the melange and daddy-o would be impressed.  it’s one hundred weeks, after all.

clearly, in just a few short weeks it will be two full years.  two years that we have sat next to each other and written a post that was inspired by the same image, the same quote, the same painting or piece of music.  it has been a profound experience.  we have written on the raft with dogdog and babycat curled up next to us, on the beach, in the high mountains, in hotels and airbnbs, in coffeehouses, in relatives’ homes, in the noise of a city, in the quiet on island.  whether or not others are reading my words, i look forward to every single day of writing and am stunned to think that i probably have more in the way of written word now than songs.  is that possible?  (even at a mere 500 words a post it is somewhere around 250,000 words, about 3-4 novels worth.)  it is the best stuff of sitting up in the maple tree outside my growing-up-house on long island for hours on end, writing, writing, writing.

we sit at the starting gate with our inspiration of the day and then, without looking at what the other is writing, we expound on what we see or feel or think.  it’s ‘he said, she said.’  we’ve often thought about, and might just follow through, capturing them into a journal where the same image or quote could stimulate a third person’s writing.  a ‘he said, she said, you said’ book. having a prompt is the juicy stuff that makes it absolute fun.

my posts are often stories, emotional – perhaps poetic – glimpses into our life. david’s are more esoteric, more complex.  a friend of ours said she can tell the difference without even looking.  goodness!  i’m sure that is true.  when we share our writing with each other, reading aloud, i often wonder about the value of what i’ve said.  like recording an album, these are words ‘put out there’ for all to see and you and i both know that judgement is alive and well.  but i always bravely try to remember what our point is.

we wanted a place to put a variety-pack of endeavors, a place that our conglomerate artistries could live under some kind of umbrella.  that umbrella became our‘studio melange’ and we found we could offer our individual work (paintings and music) in addition to our cartoons (earlier on, the melange included chicken marsala and flawed cartoon) as well as the quotes we jotted down each week and the images i recorded on camera that we found pertinent or thought-provoking.  about a year along the line we changed the melange and added ‘merely-a-thought monday’ and ‘not-so-flawed wednesday’ in lieu of our cartoons.

if you pare our melange down you will find one overwhelming similarity.  hundreds upon hundreds of moments.  moments captured, moments written down, moments to remember, moments we’d sometimes rather forget, moments of confusion, moments of regret, moments of incredulousness, moments of fear, moments of scary honesty, moments of challenge, moments of pushing back, moments of questioning, moments of indescribable joy and moments of deep sorrow.  all of them moments of life, a reminder to grasp onto them and hold on dearly.  for that is what we have.  the ability to make moments.  the ability to make moments count.

make hundreds.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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the soul of barney. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

Barney

as barney ages in our backyard, he clings to his original form – he is a piano, first and foremost.

barney has spent the last four years in our backyard.  his presence is inspiring.  rescued from the dark church basement boiler room he had been in, the light of the sun and weather he now endures have brought nuance to his life as a piano.  no longer serving his original purpose, he has a new destiny.

but barney’s soul remains the same.  you look at him and you know he is a piano.  no ifs, ands or buts. and he is cherished.

there is a different kind of power in his spot in the backyard.  it’s not one of crescendo-ing music.  instead it is now one of steady quiet.  it is one of a history of service and workhorse reliability.  it is one of a history of the dawn of creative moments and the dusk of amens sung in sunday school classrooms or weekly meeting rooms of committees or choirs. his piano-soul now resounds in the chirp of every bird or chipmunk, the sound of the wind and the rain, the glint of the sunlight deepening the wrinkles of his keys.

barney is retired.  but he is not silent.

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

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24 hours. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

24 hours

every morning on island i grabbed the phone and, usually still with pjs on, walked outside, to water’s edge, to take a picture.  in this way i have an amazing collection of the moody displays of our little bay-of-lake-michigan during the months we were there.  living right on the water was a gift…it balanced out all the other-ness of our time there…a collection of life and work and its challenges and joys from back at home as well as on our new little island.

we continue to be grateful to deb, who is generously sharing the magic of this sweet littlehouse with us as we live there. many times this summer and early fall we would get a text message from her house around the cove, pointing out the moonrise or the glittering of sun on the lake…gentle reminders of what was really important.

as fall rolls into winter i will miss sharing that bay and hog island with d and with deb-just-around-the-bend.  i will miss the lake as it greets the day and lingers at day’s end.  i will miss the sound of gentle waves and deeply unsettled surf.

i know that each tide brought with it new hurdles, new hiccups, new pitfalls.  provocation is alive and well.  but each tide also brought with it new triumphs, new delights, new joys, new learnings.  inspiration is alive and well.

24 hours of breathing, living, seeing.  looking outward 180 degrees.  perfection.

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

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butterfly moments.

wonder app quote

as we walked yesterday we were aware of how many butterflies were around us.  flying, flitting, dining on nectar-filled wildflowers, they swirled around us and seemed to be going along, hiking with us.  these amazing monarch butterflies during the summer breeding season will only live weeks.  some will live a bit longer, migrating south to mexico when fall tips the tree-green of leaves to fiery reds and yellows and oranges.

i remember a day sitting in an adirondack chair in our front yard at home.  many years ago now, it was mid-july, a sunny and warm day.  stunningly, as i sat there a monarch butterfly flew past, close to my chair.  it wasn’t but a few moments later that it landed on my knee.  gently opening its fragile wings, it basked in the sunlight as i basked in its beauty.  it was in no hurry to leave its perch on my knee and i was in no hurry to move.  it seemed unconcerned about next.  it seemed unconcerned about quantity of time.  it was present in now.  and now seemed enough.  time seemed to stand still, my breathing slowed down, my worry forgotten as i watched this tiny creature drink in this very sun-moment.

“the butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.” (rabindranath tagore)

time and again we are reminded of this:  that every single moment counts.  time and again we forget.

wishing you a day of monarch-inspired moments…drinking in the sun, gently fluttering your wings and flying unfettered.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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choose kindness. [merely-a-thought monday]

kindness kerouac

we just chose the august movie for TPACWONDER seemed perfect.

“Starring Jacob Tremblay, Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson, it is a film with powerful messages about kindness, friendship and the embracing of those who are different. Based on the New York Times bestseller, WONDER tells the inspiring and heartwarming story of fifth grade student August Pullman and a community struggling to find compassion and acceptance.” 

with the climate of our world as it is, we could not think of any family friendly movie that would be more fitting.  we re-watched this movie, reviewing it for appropriateness, for its message.  it is filled with wisdom, reminders of how to be human, quotes that should be on the bathroom mirrors in everyone’s homes, or better yet, plastered to our foreheads.  afterwards, i downloaded the daily wonder app, a source of daily inspirational quotes.  even if you have little time to read, you can read a sentence.  i designed a gift to give every movie-goer that evening.  it’s just a little generosity, but it makes us feel good – and isn’t that what it’s about?

my sweet momma was dedicated to kindness.  she would have loved this movie.  she would wholeheartedly agree with the words of novelist jack kerouac, “practice kindness all day to everybody and you will realize you are already in heaven now.”  and she would love our in-her-honor ‘be kind’ buttons.  always her parting words, “be kind to each other. be kind.” gentle reminders.  lead with kindness.  filter with kindness.  lean on kindness.  “when given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.” (wayne dyer)

there are a plethora of wise, generous, kindness-oriented people in our world, both living and on that other plane of existence we call heaven.  perhaps yielding to their exquisitely eloquent words of guidance would join these planes together.  and we would, indeed, realize that we are – already – in heaven now.

#choosekindness (wonder)

be kind button

if you would like, purchase BE KIND buttons – for you, your friends, your family, your class, your workplace, your club, your organization, your religious community, your neighborhood, your whole entire town

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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