In zealous agreement

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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.

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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 

It is polarizing, and it is peaceful

Britain G8 Foreign Ministers

I went through what I imagine thousands of other women have felt. I told myself to stay calm, to be strong, and that I had no reason to think I wouldn’t live to see my children grow up and to meet my grandchildren.

I called my husband in France, who was on a plane within hours. The beautiful thing about such moments in life is that there is so much clarity. You know what you live for and what matters. It is polarizing, and it is peaceful.

~ Angelina Jolie Pitt, in The Diary of A Surgery upon learning of the threat of ovarian cancer


Image: huffington post

I need a belief system

sleep-rest-light-sun-woman

Heather Havrilesky, Like a Prayer:

I don’t believe in God, but I need some kind of a prayer to repeat when things go haywire. I need a prayer because, as a writer with several unruly dependents under my roof, each day is a rollercoaster, a crapshoot, an exercise in uncertainty.

[…]

See how the tiniest events can shift the barometer just enough to stir up a storm? My buoyant mood sinks. The day that felt so full of promise sags, landing in a haze of exhaustion and niggling worries by the time I crawl into bed.

I need a belief system. I need a morning ritual. I need to say some bold and glorious words out loud at the start of the day, to remind myself who I am and what I’m doing and what the point of it all is. Unfortunately, I don’t like saying bold and glorious words out loud. So I need a prayer that’s not too prayer-like. I need a belief system that doesn’t require me to suspend my disbelief.

[…]

So instead, I just lay in bed and tried to think of every member of my family and every one of my closest friends. I started with my husband, my kids, my mother, my sisters, my brother, their spouses and kids, my aunts, and my father, who’s been dead for 19 years. Then I listed my close friends. I put them in alphabetical order so they were easier to remember.

The next day, it was much easier to remember everyone, even though it had been hard the first time.

And by the third day, the names felt almost like a prayer.

It’s been a month, and now every morning I just say my prayer of names. Doing that makes me realise that I do have a belief system: almost everything is superfluous, except people. People matter. And there’s a strange emancipation that comes from acknowledging the people you love, and giving them your love, even when you know they can’t always understand you, accept you or love you back. People are flawed. But people will surprise you.

We aren’t on this Earth to improve endlessly, forever approaching infinite perfection but never quite getting there. We are here to notice the enormity and beauty of everything around us, and to notice each other – to notice how flawed we all are, and feel connected anyway.

Read entire essay by Heather Havrilesky at Aeon Magazine @ Like a Prayer.


Image Credit: Tanya Moss

Flying over I-95 S. On Sunday Morning.

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It’s 10:00 am. This Sunday Morning. I’m in the car heading to LaGuardia to catch AA 1082, departing at noon.

Saturday was my Sunday. Sunday is my Monday.

I’m a flight and a half away from 2,000,000 miles, and that’s just on American Airlines. I’ve been around the earth 80 times. 80 times. Years of chasing Status, frequent flier status and upgrades. As Kalanithi explains, ‘a chasing after wind, indeed.’ How many Sunday nights in a hotel room, sitting on the bed in front of the TV, eating alone? 

The Boeing twin jet 737-800 taxis to its final turn, pauses, inhales to gather a head of steam, and then Roars down the runway.  I close my eyes and feel. Thrust. Power. Acceleration. Wheels rumbling down the tarmac. Faster. Faster. Faster. And then — calm, and lift off — the Iron Bird is up.  Wings tilt sharply left, and I lean. We surge upward, higher, the nose pointed to the heavens. The weight of the climb, a soft hand on the chest, the back, a magnet affixed firmly to the door of the refrigerator.  A sacred message as you head Up. Sit, wait, pause, be still.

I press the recline button and ease the seat gently backward.

The kids, no, now young adults, were both sleeping when I left the house this morning. They were up late last night, increasingly leading separate lives. Dad, clutching on a string. Oh, go ahead, wake them up, or at least give them a kiss on the cheek before you go.  I linger in front of Eric’s door, and then Rachel’s door. For some reason, I can’t bring myself to wake them. I walk down the stairs and out the door.  I settle in the car. Inhale. Melancholia, campfire smoke in my lungs.

I slip my earbuds in. My eye lids are heavy. I’m drifting in and out. The plane has leveled off. [Read more…]