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life lessons. [merely-a-thought monday]

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you have those friends.  the ones you don’t get to talk to or see all the time, but the instant you call or text or, even better, get to be with them, you pick up right where you left off.  sometimes, those calls or visits are really long; there’s so much to catch up on.

susan and i had one of those calls recently.  the conversation ranged across a gigantic prairie of life subjects – from children to lenten service music to food to relationships to age to challenges to direction to joys to disappointments.  there’s always the inevitable “we should talk more often” and “i miss you”; times we realize how much running our crazy worlds past each other matters.  the “tuition” takes just a little bit less of a toll if we can utter the gory details to our friend, divulge our imagined vindication on whatever the “tuition” is, paint a picture – describing in inordinate detail – of each of our chronicles.

linda, infinite in wisdom and groundedness, finds humor and the wise sticking point in situations.  she has been there for me for decades, close by and from afar.  she is a model of loving steadfastness and makes me feel as if she hugged me, even if we are only on the phone.

heidi, another one of those dear people for me, always asks, “what’s the learning?”.  as infuriating as that question can be, it is a perspective-arranger.  it gives you pause for thought and invites another viewpoint.  the thing i may be obsessing on may not be the point after all.

toward the end of our phone call, susan and i laughed about all the things we were ‘learning’.  oh yes, grateful students?  well, maybe not exactly.  but we are pretty enlightened (for the most part) and we kept laughing as susan said, “yeah, all these life lessons are great, but the tuition sucks.”  we hung up with promises to call again soon.  whether or not that happens right away, i know she is right there.

because here’s the thing we can count on – in the midst of the “tuition that sucks” is that our true relationships and the support we receive from them is endless.  the conversation never really stops.  it just hopscotches from one time to the next, a life-thread of lessons shared.

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

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a matter of perspective. [two artists tuesday]

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corrugated metal.  i have a thing about it.  i have a thing about texture.  and a thing about capturing texture on film.  i love design and white space and fonts, simplicity and the challenge of balance.  this image started with the side of a building against clean snow.  i felt (and still feel) connected to this building and what it represented, so its texture is beautiful to me; the image both inspires and saddens me.  an experiment in contrast and point of view, it may be hard for a viewer to discern what the original pure image might have been.  manipulating it, changing what the viewer would see is simply an orchestration of color and space, light and dark, angle and edge, point and counterpoint (melody) lines.  skewing it changes the emotional response; although it remains fundamentally the same, it becomes something slightly different and is seen through a different lens.  it’s all a matter of perspective.

how we look at anything.  how we see anything.  how the pieces come together, how we view them, how we sort, how we sometimes have to let go.  it’s all a matter of perspective.

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you come to realize. [k.s. friday]

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“sometimes it takes longer to understand and appreciate what is around you.” (liner notes)

it’s the ah-ha! you feel when you realize that it’s ALL about perspective and even this moment will soon disappear into vapid space.  yet this very moment is the one that counts.  we simply can’t waste it.  there’s no time to not appreciate it, no time to throw it away while yearning for the next.

i have come to realize this over and over and over, through loss, through mistakes, through absolute joy, through reminders spoken, seen, felt on an excruciating gut level.  we are all repeated students of this lesson, for we are all human.  we are all human, for we are all students of this lesson.

on an everest documentary we watched the other day there was this quote:  “it’s not that life is so short.  it’s that death is so long.”  if that doesn’t make you spring into action – noticing life – i’m not sure what will.

 

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it’s all how you look at it. [two artists tuesday]

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the ice-breaking bow of our ferry made its way across “death’s door”, the strait that connects lake michigan and green bay.  the windchill below zero, you could hear the hardy vessel crunching its way through the ice.  it was other-worldy.  no one else on the ferry appeared to be as enchanted with it as we were; clearly, they were big-I islanders, unmoved by this half-hour jaunt across frigid waters to washington island.  unfamiliar vs familiar equals enthralling vs mundane.  it’s all how you look at it.  and where you start from.

when i moved to wisconsin 30 years ago (kicking and screaming at the time) i stood in the pasta aisle of the grocery store – a local piggly wiggly.  there was no mueller’s pasta.  none.  the brand i had grown up with on long island, the brand i found in florida publix grocery stores…it was not here in wisconsin.  i felt instantly lost, instantly homesick.  i sensed people moving around my frozen-in-the-spot-trying-not-to-cry body; they were choosing boxes of spaghetti and penne with no problem.  for me, it was a telling moment.  it was an indicator of change, despite its seeming insignificance.  standing in that aisle i can tell you it’s all how you look at it.  and where you start from.  (*for an update on this incident, please see below.)

the ferry docked on the tiny island, a mere 35 square miles.  we disembarked and met our friends.  they drove us around, on snow-covered roads, through canopies of trees, past glimpses of water between the pines, their limbs bowing to the snow.  at one point they said we could go to the house if we were bored.  “no,” we answered.  how could we be bored, we wondered.  the quiet, the stillness, the solitude was compelling.  it’s all how you look at it.  and where you start from.

it was quieter on the ferry ride back with fewer people.  we were just as enthralled.  the ice pieces broken by the bow skittered along the ice plate on top of the water.  lines cracked through the sheet, paths drawn by nature’s etch-a-sketch.  some large slabs of ice raised skyward.  we looked at each other and quietly let out a breath.  we couldn’t imagine how this trip across open water could ever become run-of-the-mill.  but around us were people who acted like it was piggly wiggly brand pasta and they were in the aisle racing to get to the next aisle.  it’s all how you look at it.  and where you start from.

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*(the rest of the story) i called my sweet momma when i returned home from ‘the pig’ as they say.  she answered and i instantly recounted my no-mueller’s-pasta story, i’m quite sure teary in the telling, yearning for the home we had left.   four days later the UPS truck pulled up at the end of the driveway and the driver lugged a very large box to the front door.  in it i found every shape and size of pasta available…all made by mueller’s.  moms are wise beyond words sometimes.  by the time i finished using the boxes-in-the-box, the unfamiliar had begun to be familiar.  the crisis (yes, fundamentally not a physical crisis, but definitely an emotional one) was over.

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oy! [two artists tuesday]

OY copy

i recently read these words in a written interview:  “i believe in a benevolent universe.”  i wrote it down.  “a benevolent universe” is a good mantra.  i have never met the person who wrote this, but i already like her.

i believe in joy.  finding joy.  leading with joy.  the word JOY has a prominent home in our kitchen.  above our big old sink, over the backyard window, sitting on top of the wooden window cornice sit the metal letters J-O-Y.  lately, the J is refusing to stay standing.  we’ll walk into the kitchen and the word OY is there.  OY has a totally different connotation than JOY, but i must say that -right now- OY! also fits.

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OY definition

having grown up on long island this is not an unfamiliar phrase to me.  i have used “OY!” a time or two or maybe a few dozen more.  right now, though, i ponder why OY keeps appearing in our kitchen.   is it a message?  is it empathic support from afar?

each time i fix OY back to JOY i laugh aloud.  and i wonder when OY will reappear.  what does it all mean?  does it mean anything at all?  what message do we want in our kitchen on the top of the cornice over the window gracing the sink?  it’s like a 70s mood ring, the thermotropic liquid crystals, moving with temperature change causing color change, flip-flopping within your own little world.  what is causing our J to fall?

is it JOY or OY?  hm.  either way, no matter what we are experiencing at the moment, i do trust that yes, ultimately, it is a benevolent universe.

read DAVID’S thoughts about OY! this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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above the clouds. [two artists tuesday]

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we left florida in the rain.  it was a tad bit bumpy as we climbed and i was grateful to come out above the clouds into a clear sky with soft early morning color.  as we flew at this altitude i could see glimpses of what was below us, spaces quickly filled in by soft puffy clouds blocking the view.  i strained to see what terrain we were flying over, curious if i could pick out landmarks and know a little bit more about where we were, wondering about people living in those tiny dots of towns and cities and farmland below the clouds that we were flying above.  it was easy to forget that it was raining down there.

i feel like life is like that.  it has become more telling to me in these times of divisiveness.  we are each at a different altitude…we have different starting points – our backgrounds, our education, our financial status, our various orientations…the starting point list is lengthy; all things combine to make us who we are and all things weave us a different starting point.  at any given moment we are at yet another one; life is fluid like that.  we live above our own clouds – or, at times, in them – either way our view blocked.

here above my clouds – for my clouds are different than yours – my questions are these:  how curious are we about the people who are not at the same place as us?  how much do we strain to see what might not be where we are?  how much do we want to know, to empathize? how much do we forget what is happening someplace else, for someone else, in the places where it is more difficult to see through the clouds?  how engrossed are we only in our narrow bandwidth of sky?  can we see the experience of others?  can we try?

we can either think it is a soft-morning-sky kind of day for everyone or we can actually realize that it’s raining down there.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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for the new year. [merely a thought monday]

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on this day, the last day of 2018, i am deeply humbled and perspective-arranged reading the attached and feel that there is no way i could possibly add any wisdom or profound emotion to it – it is all there.   please.  read this writing:  A BRAVE AND STARTLING TRUTH

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trees and angels. [merely a thought monday]

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“how was your week?” jonathan asked.  we rolled our eyes.  he was unpacking his bass while i uncovered the piano and d adjusted the mic stands.  he said, “tell me about it.  you guys always have great stories!”  eh.  great stories.  more like mini soap operas, you might think schadenfreude applies here (where he might derive some pleasure from our angst) but on the total other side of the spectrum, we have agreed that jonathan is an angel.  i wonder if, as he drives away in his subaru outback, he turns the corner and POOF! he disappears.

“it’s ok,” he says.  “trees must split their bark to grow.  there is pain.”

i can’t remember ever truly thinking about this.  but…i immediately pictured a beautiful sapling, our own “breck”.  a baby aspen we brought back from colorado, we have been nurturing it for over a year now, watching it carefully -and proudly, like parents- through the seasons.  the smooth bark on its adolescent trunk glows in the sunlight and we worry as we see this summer take its toll on the young tree’s leaves.  we notice little scions near its base, our aspen sending out roots to perpetuate itself.

i think of all the walks in the woods, the trails in the forest, the old trees in our yard and neighborhood and i can picture the rough bark, the puzzle pieces up and down the trunk of each tree.  somewhere along time, these trees, too, had smooth skins.  and then, in growing, the cambium layer’s cells, just under the bark, divided and grew, adding girth to the tree’s diameter in the process.  the outer bark continued to protect this inner layer of growth.  the job of that outer bark is forefront, keeping the inner tree healthy, as it experiences pain from the environment.  and the tree grows.

the bark.  the cambium.  the heart of growth.  and angels.

thank you for the perspective-arranging, jonathan.  again.

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

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from a distance – earth interrupted V [dr thursday]

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i was distracted when d brought the camera back to me.  working on something, i glanced up and thanked him.  a few moments later, i asked him how the painting he was working on was going.  “i scrubbed it,” he said.  “what?!” i replied.  “i started something else,” he said.  when he left the room, i looked at the camera.  this is what i found.  an extraordinary look at earth, removed from earth, from a distance away.  from a distance FRAMED PRINT copyfragmented mother planet through the haze, i found it to be a striking – and yet abstract – image, with rich, almost-metallic hues.  how does he do that?

this is EARTH INTERRUPTED V: FROM A DISTANCE.  we need this perspective every now and then.  we lose sight.  we fall prey to overwhelm in our own stuff.  we are but a speck of a fragment on this earth.  we are both tiny and vast.  and we are capable of doing both tiny and vast things to help our earth and each other.

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FROM A DISTANCE – EARTH INTERRUPTED V – DR THURSDAY – ON OUR SITE

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chicken marsala monday

MASTER trytoseewhattheysee WITH EYES jpeg copy 2try to see what they see.  i glanced back over what i’ve written the last week:  about trying to see eye to eye, about assuming awe, about being relentless in a life that isn’t simply black and white, about being brave.  is it possible to write too many words about the importance of empathy?  the importance of trying to walk in another’s shoes to really understand their circumstance, their joy, their plight, their challenge?  because it’s easy to forget, i never feel like i can be reminded enough; it’s always hard to remember my perspective is different than any-other-person’s-on-earth.  sometimes it’s laden with stuff.  it’s all so complicated.

when dogdog was little we were astounded by his exuberant joy.  he was always bounding, seemingly ever hopeful.  he still is.  i’ve written about what his take on the world looks like to us; i’ve written about what babycat’s take on the world looks like to us.  they look forward and see possibility, without the capacity to mull all the looking-backwards-stuff over in their brains.

we surround ourselves with wonderful pets who unconditionally love us.  all of us who have dogs or cats -or any pet- we adore know this; people who dedicate time or their lives to keeping animals safe – like aly, a veterinarian, or jen, who has spent lots of time volunteering at humane societies and sanctuaries, or my sister, who just adopted a puppy-she-wasn’t-expecting…we all know this.  they see us like no one else.  and they are part of us in ways not easy to express in words.  they aren’t looking at us with prejudice or judgement, emotional baggage or elitist measurements of value.  they simply expect the best and somehow they find it in the very next moment.  they find it in each moment.  they clearly know something we don’t know.  they don’t need to walk in another’s shoes.  they just look forward and trust.  it’s simple for them.

for us?  we can stand to be in those other shoes AND to look forward.  we can try to see what they see.

TRY TO SEE WHAT THEY SEE – A LINK TO PERUSE CARDS, WALL ART, THROW PILLOWS & LEGGINGS ……

 

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