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Posts Tagged ‘living in the moment’



By Silver Grey Fox




This morning driving along a section of pines

the roadside vista reminds me of my glimpse

of the piney woods sections outside Houston

in Texas with the mixture of pines and shrubs

and the temperate nature of the forested area.

Then, rather suddenly I notice a bald eagle,

its white head distinct above its black raven-

colored body, sitting atop a solitary pine.


And, for a moment I pause on a turn-off

to observe its falcon-like instinctive pattern

of behavior when searching for and seeking

prey. Only for a moment, so it seems, am I

privy to its activity as it circles, then swoops

down earthward to snatch what I can’t quite

see until it climbs back above nearby brush.


Then, there, visible in its talons, is one of the

larger snakes I have seen in this section of

South Florida. Oh, sometimes I wish for the

spontaneous nature of such feathered creatures–

for the eyesight, for the instinct, for the ability

to move so gracefully at times and then also

having the speed to so naturally snatch its prey.


Ah, with the eagle nestled back somewhere

now in this piney woods to enjoy its catch,

I continue my drive back into my morning’s

activities—banking, shopping, laundering…

a far cry from my moment’s enjoyment with

the eagle sighting. Such is our connection,

my bird and I, such is our likeable difference.




_________________________




About Silver Grey Fox:

As a writer-poet, I continue trying to gain an understanding of the enigma that is mine and that which was the late Theodore Roethke’s own. He once said, “What I love is near at hand.” Thus, there is so much yet left to be explored; plus, as he noted, “Being, not doing, is my first joy.” What with nature’s beauty all around, and my continuing to reach out and touch, feel and appreciate such, along with having opted to re-open myself to love and life, I continue seeking to more fully define my identity, so I write and write some more.


_________________________


Links Of Interest:

On Theodore Roethke — Theodore Roethke (1908-1963) — Poetry Foundation

On Gary Snyder — Gary Snyder (b. 1930) — Poetry Foundation

On Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones — Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones Bio

On Black Holes — Black Holes — NASA Science Astrophysics


-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, February 28th, 2013


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By Judith Ford

This is, I think, the first year I’ve begun to accept the notion that I will one day die. Not that it’s been a big secret. I watched each of my parents die. My mother, who was always the dramatic one, died peacefully, while my father, who’d never been much for self-expression, died struggling and full of fear and rage. Resisting all the way. Someone once said to me that we all die as we’ve lived. Not my parents.

I turned 63 a couple months ago. Not one of those BIG ages, like 21 or 40 or even the big 6-oh, but for me, a signal. A signal to pay attention. There isn’t as much time ahead as there is behind me. I might have said that last year or even ten years ago but for some reason, on this birthday, I got it: not a whole hell of a lot of time left.

When I say that to Chris, he gets all defensive and hyper-rational. Says things like, “yeah yeah, you’ll drop dead tomorrow.” “No,” I say. “I don’t think I’ll die tomorrow, just sooner than I want to.”

My father was 77, my mother was 74. I am healthier than they were. I don’t smoke. I exercise. Will that allow me to avoid the strokes that my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother all suffered?

I always imagined, when I was in my 20’s, that I would die, at 84, falling off my motorcycle on a mountain road. I haven’t owned a motorcycle since my first child was born. I’d had one crash and after that, couldn’t ride without awareness of my vulnerability. When I had my daughter, I didn’t think it was fair for me to take that kind of risk any more. I kind of miss my little Honda 90. Was it a 90? I think it was. Its predecessor was a Honda 50, a slow old thing that, when I was 22 and had never owned a car, opened up worlds for me.

Back to death. Yes. Back to death. I had a brush with it when I was 42, a major flare-up of an auto-immune disease I didn’t, before then, know I had. After that, life was different. Everything was different and nothing was different. I mean, I was vividly aware of my mortality and of how much I wanted to stay alive. For months after I was discharged, following many weeks in the hospital, I experienced the world through a bubble of heightened senses, everything glowing and glittery and inexpressibly precious. Then, it faded. Of course, it faded; things that wake you up to the utter wonderfulness of being alive always fade. Routines settle back in. I went back to my habit of writing to-do lists that would choke a cow. Back to my pattern of going to bed each night with my head abuzz with what I hadn’t yet accomplished and must get to tomorrow. Now and then, I would remember. Then 5 years later, when I had flare-up number 2 and once again did not die, I thought I would never ever stop feeling grateful for yet another reprieve.

But I did stop. I do stop. None of us is alive and awake all the time, I guess. Would I want to be? Maybe not. It’s a bit painful.

In the past few years, several of my friends have been diagnosed with cancer and are out of the immediate – but not the long-term – woods. One friend died of Lou Gehrig’s disease 10 years ago. My golden retriever died the same year as my father (1995). My favorite therapy teacher, Dick, died that year, too. How did all these vital parts of my life stop being here, taking up time and space? They were here. Now they are not. How can that be? Not even a jagged hole in the air left from where they used to be.

So when I say I’m beginning to accept the notion that I will one day, sooner rather than later, die, I am whistling in the wind. I have moments here and there where I kind of get it and then it’s gone. And I’m left with the delusion that I have all the time in the world, until I think about it. I do not have all the time. I don’t like it that I don’t have more time.

Three years ago, I pretended to have only one year left. I followed a guide by Stephen Levine, did meditations on the subject, wrote about it, kept notes, but eventually, it all felt like a sham. I knew, the whole time, that I wasn’t going to die at the end of that year. I was pretty sure.

And I realized that, if it were true, if in fact I knew for sure I had only a year, what I would do was… nothing out of the ordinary. I would do the dishes, walk the dogs, fold the laundry, sit at my kitchen table and watch the finches flock to my bird feeders. I would choose to be alone. I would choose only those I love best to be with me. I would go to the grocery store. Maybe I would clean up my files so none of my writing would be inaccessible to my daughter (who is named in my will as the trustee for my writing.) I would go on as usual as long as I could, wanting the familiar, wanting to savor, wanting to bequeath, but quietly.

I know that at 63 my remaining vibrant years are dwindling. So what do I do? I make a commitment to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon with my 23 year old son next spring. Why not? There will never be a better time.

I have no grip on this at all. I think it’s a horrible terrible thing to do to people, get them all juiced up on life and then slowly – or all at once – take everything away. Not fair. I wish I could opt out. Of death. Of the many losses of aging.


NOTE: WRITING TOPIC — DEATH & DYING is the latest Writing Topic on red Ravine. Frequent guest writer Judith Ford joined QuoinMonkey in doing a Writing Practice on the topic.

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By Bob Chrisman

An old friend called on her way back home from a weekend with her partner, son, and grandson. “I have some bad news and some good news. Which do you want to hear first?”

“Let’s get the bad news out of the way. Maybe the good news will soften the bad.”

“I didn’t expect you to say that. Here goes. The doctor found that I have endometrial cancer, undifferentiated. They have caught it at a very early stage.”

I stopped listening to her for awhile. The “C” word causes my stomach to clinch and the muscles in my neck to tighten. I’ve heard it too often in conversations with my women friends. Lost two of them to aggressive tumors that spread throughout their bodies.

But I focus too much on the losses and not on the wins. A friend diagnosed with breast cancer has remained cancer-free for 12 years. Other women have recovered completely from cancer of various organs. I’m thankful for those successes, very grateful.

My mind returns to the recurrences I’ve seen. A woman twelve years post treatment for a brain tumor has learned within the last two weeks that her cancer has returned. This time the doctor said she will die, but that’s what he said the last time and she lived for another twelve years.

Why all this focus on death at a time of year when the world screams with life and beauty? Why must death occur during these spring months when the earth bursts forth in new life and beautiful shades of yellow-green, when flowers of all colors open and scent the air, and when we can say, “Winter is gone for at least seven months”? Why?

Maybe all this life and beauty replaces the darkness and depression of the winter and I want no more of it. Give me life in all of its forms and beauty. I suffer enough during the winter and I’m over it, but I’m not, it seems.

I notice the beauty and revel in it because I know the bleakness of winter. Joy returns to my life because I know that the good times may not last forever. The friends I carry in my heart as the treasures of a lifetime will die. I must rejoice in their being while they are with me and not put that off for a change in the season or the approach of death.

How is it that the richness of life requires us to know the poverty of despairing times? Does it work like salt on cantaloup or watermelon? The saltiness makes the sweetness that much sweeter as death makes life more precious.

If I could stop death and dying, would I? No, I would let things happen as they must. I might even bring death to those I love earlier if they desired it, but that’s not my place in life. Sitting next to the bedside of a friend who’s dying makes me aware of the value of the time we had together and what a loss their death will be. If they must die (and they must), I can spend the final days and hours with them and carry them and those times in my heart until I pass from this earth.


NOTE: WRITING TOPIC — DEATH & DYING is the latest Writing Topic on red Ravine. Frequent guest writer Bob Chrisman joined QuoinMonkey in doing a Writing Practice on the topic.

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I had thought by the time I did this Writing Practice, we would be well into the green of Spring and Winter would have died a slow death. It’s green. But on the second day of May it dropped to 30 degrees. Ice crystals fell from the sky and pinged the windshield. I am still bundled in fleece, pulling a high collar up around the scruff of my neck to keep warm. Nature is unpredictable. So is the nature of one’s death. It happens that on the week we are writing about death and dying on red Ravine, Osama bin Laden would meet his demise. I feel no joy in his death. It is a strange mix of emotions, more like confusion and relief.

I remember the writing workshop with Natalie in Taos, New Mexico right after September 11th. She thought about canceling it but decided it was important to go ahead. It was a large group, over 50 writers, a talking workshop. The first night we went around the room, introduced ourselves, and spoke briefly about what it was like for each of us on September 11th. Some lived in New York, some had lost loved ones. I was more removed from the immediate impact. But it changed our country forever. Oddly, I don’t want to write about it. Not now. I will leave it for those whose voices ring with more certainty about what it all means. I can’t put labels on it. The whole ten years and two wars mostly makes me sad.

The older I get and the closer to death, the more I think about it. I can’t predict its time, but I can dedicate my life to living while I am on God’s green Earth. I listened to an interview with Janis Ian before seeing her in concert at the Fitzgerald last week. She had gotten very sick, and thought she may die in middle age. She said her thoughts on death before her illness were that she would take the time she had left to write songs, to write the perfect poem set to music. But when the time actually came, when she thought her life would be cut short, all she wanted to do was sit on the porch with her partner and watch the birds. To be close to her loved ones. That’s all that mattered.

It reminds me that I’m not going to be on my deathbed thinking about how hard I worked at all the jobs I have had over the years. It’s not likely I’ll be thinking of co-workers, the people with whom I’ve spent a majority of my daylight hours. I am more likely to want to spend time with Liz, stay close to home, hang out with the cats. I am more likely to want to go visit my mother and close family, to spend the time with friends I know I can trust. Friends with which I can share my deepest fears about dying and death.

There are moments when death doesn’t scare me. Late nights, when I wake up at 3am and can’t sleep, I do feel the fear. I try to befriend my idea of Death. It changes like the seasons. I do believe that life goes on after death. I find some comfort in that. I don’t have to get it right the first time. There can be second chances. But life will never be like the one I have right now, in this one moment. This is my life. I want to make the most of it while I am here.


-related to Topic post: WRITING TOPIC — DEATH & DYING

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By Lesley A. Goddin



Spirit walkers. Moving slowly leaves an energy impression on the path. December 2008 © photo 2008-2009 by Lesley Goddin. All rights reserved.

Spirit walkers, moving slowly leaves an energy impression on the path, December 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by Lesley Goddin. All rights reserved.





Slow or fast.

This is suddenly the question of the century for me.

I was born slow. A brown-eyed, curly-haired Taurus—stubborn, plodding (yes, it really says that in horoscope descriptions). Maybe lingering and savoring, which is why we like food so much.

My childhood was given to many daydreams and meanderings, and walks in the woods, among the poison ivy and honeysuckles and magic of light falling through green leaves. Looking and sketching. Slow thinking. One thought cascading down upon another like water tripping down levels of a rock fountain. Nourishing.

But as time went on, slow fell out of style. It was FAST! FAST! FAST! Multitask—no time for lingering or even being present. In my 30s, I actually remember sitting in my corner office on the 35th floor of a building at 52nd and Broadway in Manhattan, thinking, “I am like a well-oiled machine.” I was proud of that, proud of being able to zing from one activity to another; excited by life, excited by my ability; buzzing with importance.




Golden nuggets. As I linger in the fading light, the rocks around me turn to gold. December 2007 © photo 2007-2009 by Lesley Goddin. All rights reserved.

Golden nuggets, as I linger in the fading light, the
rocks around me turn to gold, December 2007, photo
© 2007-2009 by Lesley Goddin. All rights reserved.






Now I am 51. And the fast life is losing its appeal. I moved to New Mexico 14 years ago, but kept up the pace. Except now fast includes email and texting and cell phones and being online with two email accounts and several social networking sites opened at once, as I sit in my home office and work remotely editing an industry trade magazine. Fast means keeping up with it all—answering emails the second they arrive; keeping my train of thought; not finding time to declutter my house or compound the oxidation that has formed on my 14-year old car hood.

This weekend, my body rebelled. It put a knot in my chest and a gasp in my breath and jelly into my legs. I know this syndrome—overloading my nervous system with stress and busyness and then trying to clear it out with intense exercise. My wise body wasn’t having any of it. Dreams of walking and yoga and deep breathing filled my head and my online research confirmed that was just what I needed. A return to the slow.




Solar lit labyrinth. The labyrinth awaits my slow, meandering pace. July 2007 © photo 2007-2007 by Lesley Goddin. All rights reserved.

Solar lit labyrinth, the labyrinth awaits my slow,
meandering pace, July 2007 photo © 2007-2009
by Lesley Goddin. All rights reserved.






So, this is my mission now. To live in the slow. To BE slow. To BE. To savor and linger and walk just a touch slower than I know I can; to do one thing at a time; to give up worry and hurry for Lent. I am remembering who I am; I am snorting through my Taurus nostrils and stamping my bull hooves and pawing the ground in stubborn slowness and defiance of the world’s ever-increasing pace.

I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it any more—except I am not mad. I am sane. I am wise. I will meander through the cobblestone-and-gravel labyrinth I helped build at a local church and let God talk to me.

Tonight, out for my slow walk at dusk, I asked for Divine direction. Across the street and up in the brown foothills, movement along the trail caught my eye. A huge deer, chocolate brown against the mocha dusty trail moved with grace, white rump flashing. Then another and another—seven in all. I stopped, stood smiling, watching their meandering climb, joined by a bicyclist to witness the miracle and share small words, all a gift of choosing to be slow. And I got my answer.




Pronghorns. Not the deer I saw in the foothills, but slow walking got me close to these pronghorn antelope in the Petrified Forest in Arizona earlier this year. January 2009, photo © 2009 by Lesley Goddin. All rights reserved.

Pronghorns, slow walking got me close to these
pronghorn antelope in the Petrified Forest in Arizona
earlier this year, January 2009, photo © 2009
by Lesley Goddin. All rights reserved.






Lesley Goddin has been writing and journaling since her first diary at age 11, and drawing and sketching since she could hold a pencil. Her penchant for observation led to her becoming a paid professional as a trade journalist, publicist and currently as an editor for TileLetter, a trade magazine for tile contractors. She has also written for Guideposts, Walls, Windows and Floors, Floor Covering Weekly, and Low Carb Energy.

Her inspired writing life centers around topics of Spirit, including several sermons and an ongoing e-newsletter called Footsteps, for members of the labyrinth community in Albuquerque, an ancient walking meditation. She is currently working on a book of labyrinth-inspired essays called Letters from the Labyrinth.




-related to Topic post WRITING TOPIC – SLOW OR FAST?

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Passing Of Time, Robert Frost as a young man, from Poetry & Meditation Group, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Passing Of Time II, Robert Frost as a middle-aged man, Poetry & Meditation Group, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Passing Of Time III, Robert Frost as an aging man, Poetry & Meditation Group, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Passing Of Time, Robert Frost, Poetry & Meditation Group, Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



It’s November 4th, 2008 and history is being made in the United States of America. Liz and I voted this morning at our local precinct in Minneapolis; ybonesy is out in New Mexico continuing her good work. I take comfort in the realization that we all contribute to the process in the ways we are able. Some are out canvassing, some write articles for the newspaper or on their blogs, some work at the polls, some pray and hold the space, a kind of quiet peace.

All contributions matter in times like this, from the most subtle to the most vigorous. And I have a great deal of gratitude that we live in a democracy that allows us to have a voice, to vote our conscience, whoever that may be. Yet it occurs to me that the ordinary day-to-day things continue to go on around us. We don’t stop living our lives.

Yesterday, we got a new roof on our house, called the dentist office, cleaned the living room, folded laundry, stocked up on groceries in preparation for a long and busy week. Tomorrow night we’ll attend the next Poetry & Meditation Group with Langston Hughes. Yesterday, ybonesy and I celebrated 2 years of writing together on red Ravine. Tomorrow we’ll know the results of the election and a long, tumultuous, political process will come to an end.

The extraordinary lives by the ordinary. Practice continues. Writing continues. Life continues. Someone will be born; someone will die.



In our last few Poetry & Meditation groups, we continued with the Dead Poets series. Since we can no longer send the poets postcards, Teri addressed cards to the directors of the Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson homes, thanking them for their Great Effort in keeping poetry alive.

We all signed our names in a gesture of gratitude and kindness. Because in moments when we are unsure, or times when we want to give up, these people, places, and books become our mentors. The preservation of literary places is vital to our creative livelihood.

So on this electric Tuesday, I’m celebrating the historic; I’m celebrating the ordinary. November 3rd and 5th are as important as November 4th.  Every day counts. If you feel anxiety about the election results, sometimes it helps to go back to basics — writing, journaling, a practice. Both Frost and Dickinson wrote about everyday events in their lives.

In times of uncertainty, I find peace in expressing gratitude for the people who came before us — because they pave the way for the history being made today. A prize-winning American author of children’s literature, Virginia Euwer Wolff (not to be confused with British novelist, Virginia Woolf) shows her love of Emily Dickinson in the Introduction to I’m Nobody! Who are You?, a children’s book about Dickinson’s poetry.


Here’s an excerpt from Virginia Wolff’s tribute to Emily Dickinson:


In my studio I have a quotation from Emily Dickinson: “My business is Circumference.”

Near my desk I keep a photo of Emily Dickinson’s bedroom and writing table. The photograph reminds me that writing — yours, mine, ours — is important in our relationship with the world, even if no one else ever sees it. Even if it was to stay in bundles in our bedrooms, it would still have pungence, spunk, and heart — if only because we had the courage to put it on paper.

In our time, this secret woman who thought of life as “mystic territory” is listed in the Academy of American Poets and crowds of eager tourists visit the large brick house she lived in at 280 Main Street in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Some thoughts on what to call her. I feel that calling her “Miss Dickinson” shows respect for her dignity and her veil of seclusion. But in the privacy of my own Home, looking at the picture of her writing table on my windowsill and reading her “Circumference” statement on my wall, I call her Emily. You’ll decide what seems right for you. I think she would want it that way.

-Virginia Euwer Wolff



What strikes me is that it’s not a photograph of the poet herself that Wolff holds close to her own writing life. Instead, it’s a place, an ordinary object, a moment in time — an image of Dickinson’s bedroom and her writing table — the place Emily rested her hand when she penned her last poem.



–posted on red Ravine, Election Day, Tuesday, November 4th, 2008, historic day, ordinary day, with gratitude to all who have led us here

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Black Button, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Black Button, center detail of Wired mandala, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



Pink Pipe Cleaner, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

The weekend is winding down. The great thing about Holidays is the opportunity to relax with friends and family, and step out of our normal routines. It wakes us up.

On July 4th, we spent time in the Casket Arts studio with friends, talked about writing, art, politics, played albums, organized, tried to watch a projection movie but that didn’t work out. In the evening, fireworks from Nicollet Island exploded in the sky. Neighborhood kids were setting off bottle rockets in the street below us. A symphony.

 

Half & Half, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.We turned out the lights to watch the display but could barely see the downtown fireworks for the thick, overgrown branches of elms. Someone suggested we head down to lobby where there are two sets of floor to ceiling windows. We raced each other down the 100-year-old halls. Perfect view. It seemed like the fireworks went on forever, a wonderful end to the day.

 

Green Wire, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.When we were sitting around the table on Friday, we created and colored mandalas; our studio mate made animals out of pieces of wood, wire, and sticks; we drew Animal Cards, listened to music, alphabetized albums, laughed at the faded covers of records we’d collected since the late 1960’s, and had a little mini-picnic.

 

Circle Squared, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 

 

Things rarely slow down enough anymore to hang out like that with friends. To not be moving forward full speed ahead, planning the next thing, or feeling guilty that we’re not being more productive.






 
We’re heading off this morning to do more practical things, enjoying a few more minutes of peace before walking into the thick of the Midwest summer — July in Minnesota. We’ll also spend part of July in the South. I’m looking forward to Summer. But for the time being, I’m just going to hang out in the present, exactly where I am.



Wired, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Wired, Fourth of July mandala, created from an empty blank circle, Materials: marker paints, oil pastels, Elmer’s glue, coated wire, foam shapes, pipe cleaner, plastic buttons and rings, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, all photos © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, July 6th, 2008

-related to post: Target — May Mandalas


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