Driving I-95 N. With Sparks.

lights-driving

There’s a difference.
When your bones hurt,
And when they’re just tired.
When they are looking to heal,
and when they are looking to get set down.
These Bones are aching, to get set down.

Sparks.
The week’s reflections as I ride up I-95.
They light warm fires of gratitude.

Yes, Mary. It is the work.
My work.
Work that I’ve made for myself.
Work that I’ve chosen to claim my life.
My adult life.

And then, a final spark,
for Mary,
who has brought me Home,
and to my handsome life.


I don’t mean it’s easy or assured, there are the stubborn stumps of shame, grief that remains unsolvable after all the years, a bag of stones that goes with one wherever one goes and however the hour may call for dancing and for light feet. But there is, also, the summoning world, the admirable energies of the world, better than anger, better than bitterness and, because more interesting, more alleviating. And there is the thing that one does, the needle one plies, the work, and within that work a chance to take thoughts that are hot and formless and to place them slowly and with meticulous effort into some shapely heat-retaining form, even as the gods, or nature, or the soundless wheels of time have made forms all across the soft, curved universe – that is to say, having chosen to claim my life, I have made for myself, out of work and love, a handsome life.

– Mary Oliver, Wild Geese


Notes:

We exist together in a little patch of warmth and light

goodnight-moon

To curl up with children and a good book has long been one of the great civilizing practices of domestic life, an almost magical means of cultivating warm fellow feeling, shared in-jokes and a common cultural understanding. Harvard professor Maria Tatar has written of its origins in medieval fireside storytelling, “before print and electronic media supplied nighttime entertainments.”

Certainly in the modern era there is something quaint about a grown-up and a child or two sitting in a silence broken only by the sound of a single human voice. Yet how cozy, how impossibly lovely it is! Unlike tech devices, which atomize the family by drawing each member into his own virtual reality, great stories pull people of different ages toward one another, emotionally and physically. When my children were small, I would often read with my eldest daughter tucked in by my side, the boy draped like a panther half across my shoulders and half across the back of the sofa, a tiny daughter on either knee, and the baby in my lap. If we happened to be on one of our cycles through “Treasure Island,” Robert Louis Stevenson’s swashbuckling classic, my husband would come to listen, too, and stretch out on the floor in his suit and tie and shush the children when they started to act out the exciting bits.

“We let down our guard when someone we love is reading us a story,” Ms. DiCamillo says. “We exist together in a little patch of warmth and light.”

~ Meghan Cox Gurdon, The Great Gift of Reading Aloud

Saturday Afternoons. In Memorata.

baseball-glove

Eric, our 21 year old Son, joins Zeke and me on the bed. He’s texting. I’m reading. Zeke’s napping, his paw twitches. The TV buzzes in the background.

Kanigan Men, never have much to say to each other. Yet, he did come in, and sit with his Dad and his Dog. As Heithaus would say in ‘Insides': …Between words – white space and breath, the air moving without sound…all the fecund stuff inside us that finds thought and voice and sound.’

Eric continues texting.

New York Times: Screen Addiction is Taking a Toll on Children: “Texting looms as the next national epidemic, with half of teenagers sending 50 or more text messages a day and those aged 13 through 17 averaging 3,364 texts a month.”

Eric pauses from texting to look out the second floor window and down the street. Three houses down, a neighbor is playing catch with his five year old son. 15 years ago, that would have been Eric and me. On the street, in the hot mid-day sun in Miami. I can hear the ‘clop’ of the ball hitting his mitt. His cheeks are flushed. His hair matted and wet. Wonder if this scene is taking him back? [Read more…]

In zealous agreement

Fathers-Day-daughter-son-parent

Scott Addington writes, “As is often the case, my purpose became clearly evident after I had stopped looking for it. On October 11, 1995, my daughter was born. Beginning with that moment, there has never been the slightest doubt regarding the purpose and source of meaning in my life. Being a father is the most meaningful and rewarding pursuit a man could ever hope to experience.”

~ David Brooks, Hearts Broken Open


Photo: wilstar

Riding Metro-North. Day 1 for (My) Workin’ Man.

eric-tie-striped-son-work

Thursday morning.
We’re on the 8:01 a.m. train to Grand Central.
Eric is seated across from me.
His head is leaning against the window.
His eyes are closed.
His body is swaying with the slow turns of the track.

I look. I take a long look. And I’m rolling back 17 years.

He’s clutching his Mother’s right hand, scooching to keep up, his oversized blue backpack bounces up and down.  Mom let’s go of his hand.  He looks back.  His lower lip is quivering. His arm reaches back for his Mother while his Kindergarten teacher welcomes him into the building.

Blink.

And so, here we are. Father and Son are commuting to Manhattan. Day 1 of Son’s first paying job.

I take inventory. From bottom up.

He’s wearing his Dad’s hand-me-down black, plain-toe oxford shoes.  45 minutes earlier he asks: “Do I need to polish my shoes?”  College student with a 3.95 GPA is looking down at the dust and scuff marks.  He doesn’t bother looking at Dad. 21 years of co-habitation and 21 years of absorbing sharp nips and tucks of Patriarchal coaching, instinct tells him that it’s a bad decision. Dad grabs the shoes and cleans them up. “Can I borrow your socks Dad.” “Take what you need.” [Read more…]

It’s the alpha female who really runs the show

wolf-howl-mist

Excerpts from “Tapping Your Inner Wolf” by Carl Safina:

[…] If you watch wolves, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that perhaps no two species are more alike behaviorally than wolves and humans. Living as we do in families, we can easily recognize the social structures and status quests in wolf packs. No wonder Native Americans recognized in wolves a sibling spirit.

The similarities between male wolves and male humans can be quite striking. Males of very few other species help procure food year-round for the entire family, assist in raising their young to full maturity and defend their packs year-round against others of their species who threaten their safety. Male wolves appear to stick more with that program than their human counterparts do.

Biologists used to consider the alpha male the undisputed boss. But now they recognize two hierarchies at work in wolf packs — one for the males, the other for the females.

Doug Smith, the biologist who is the project leader for the Yellowstone Gray Wolf Restoration Project, said the females “do most of the decision making” for the pack, including where to travel, when to rest and when to hunt. The matriarch’s personality can set the tone for the whole pack, Dr. Smith said.

Or, as Mr. McIntyre put it: “It’s the alpha female who really runs the show.”

Clearly, our alpha male stereotype could use a corrective makeover. Men can learn a thing or two from real wolves: less snarl, more quiet confidence, leading by example, faithful devotion in the care and defense of families, respect for females and a sharing of responsibilities. That’s really what wolfing up should mean.

Carl Safina is the founder of the Safina Center on nature at Stony Brook University and the author of the forthcoming book “Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel.”


Photography: FragileHeartxxx

Sunday Morning: Nyitány (Overture)

Riding Uptown. Solo.

New York City, United States - May 12, 2012: Heavy traffic on busy 8th Avenue in Ney York City, USA in morning. Vast number of vehicles hit the streets and avenues of Manhattan every day. Almost half of cars are yellow taxis (well recognized city icon). Taxis are operated by private companies, licensed by the NYC Taxi Commission.

May 28th. Days short of June, yet solar heaters are blowing. 84° F, and steamy.

Sidewalks are teeming with tourists.

Mid afternoon Manhattan traffic is locked bumper to bumper, snaking up Sixth Avenue.

I skipped breakfast, had a meager lunch, and I’m longing for a sugar fix. Chocolate. Now.

Waze estimates 25  min to get uptown to the office.

My Thumbs are on the keyboard.

Should it be ‘Hi’ or ‘Hi!’?  I’m not feeling ‘Hi!’ I’m not a ‘Hi!’ type. I’m more like a “Hello” or a “Hi” guy. Or maybe it’s ‘hi’.  “hi’ makes me approachable, less prickly.  Yet, it’s hard to alter the brand, callus layered on callus. ‘Hi!’ would be inauthentic or soft, and both just won’t do. Dad’s the tough guy. There’s an image to uphold. A Brand to burnish.

DK: hi
RK: Hi!

Would have preferred ‘Hi Daddy!’ But ! is good. She’s happy to hear from me.

DK: I’ll be in your building in 30 min. I’ll buy you coffee.  Me, a warm chocolate chip cookie.
RK: Can’t Dad. I’m in the middle of something.

[Read more…]

Be. Where you are.

woman-mist-dreamy

I glance right at the digital read out.
Monday: 4:00 am. Tuesday: 2 am. Now: 1:38 am.
Impressive trajectory. By Friday, you’ll be a 7-Eleven, open 7 x 24.
I run the math. 3.5 hours.
It just can’t be.
I turn away from the clock, a source of irritation, and close my eyes.
Aha! Bad, but not So bad. It’s Mountain Daylight Time without the Daylight. It’s 3:38 am EST. Jet lag has to be the culprit.

It’s silent but for the low hum of the hotel air-conditioning.
The bed, is alien. The pillows are off.
There’s no Zeke at my feet. His Leaning. First at the legs, and as the night progresses, into my torso. After seven years, when I’m away, it has become a leaning akin to a missing limb on an amputee.
Don’t open your eyes. Don’t reach for the laptop. Don’t do it.

[Read more…]

Lightly child, lightly

woman-memory-youth

Yet in a way, I wish for everything back that ever was, everything that once seems like forever and yet vanished. I wish for my own girlhood bedroom with its dark brown desk, the monkey with real fur from the 1964 World’s Fair, the pile of coloring books under my bed. I wish for my grandparents, both long gone, and Saturday night suppers at their kitchen table, in a house whose smell of bath powder and pipe smoke I will remember always. I wish for a chance to relive an afternoon with my brother, when I was mean and made him cry by grinding a cookie into the dirt beneath the swing set at our very first house. I wish for my horse, sold thirty-odd years ago, and the dim corner of her stall in a barn long since demolished, her sweet breath on my neck as I brushed her flanks and daydreamed about a boy named Joel who might want to kiss me. I wish for my college apartment, the hot plate and electric skillet that my up my first kitchen, the fall morning I lay in bed their reading To the Lighthouse, shaping the words in my mouth, reluctant to let them go. I wish for my husband as he was twenty-five years ago, the first time he ran his fingers through my hair and asked if I would see him again; and for my own younger self, in love with the idea of marriage and so certain of our togetherness. I wish for the first bedroom we ever shared, in the back corner of his Cambridge apartment, wind whistling through the old window sashes as we pressed close, sleeping naked together no matter hold cold it was. I wish for my two sons at every age they’ve ever been, for each of them as newborns at my breast in warm, darkened bedrooms; as stout toddlers, shy kindergartners, exuberant little boys filling every space, every moment of my existence with their own. I wish for Easter morning and Christmas mornings and birthday mornings and all the hundreds of ordinary weekday mornings — cereal poured into bowls, fingernails clipped, quick kisses and good-byes for now.

Standing here on an empty hilltop in New Hampshire…I allow, just for a moment, the past to push hard against the walls of my heart. Being alive, it seems, means learning to bear the weight of the passing of all things. It means finding a way to lightly hold all the places we’ve loved and left anyway, all the moments and days and years that have already been lived and lost to memory, even as we live on in the here and now, knowing full well that this moment, too, has already gone. It means, always, allowing for the hard truth of endings. It means, too, keeping faith in beginnings.”

~ Katrina Kenison, The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother’s Memoir


Notes:

  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”
  • Thank you Carol  @ Radiating Blossom for pointing me to Katrina’s book.
  • Image Source: eikadan