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.

take-off-airplane-fly

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…]

Riding Metro North. With the Crusaders.

art-sky-blue-clouds

It’s 27° F. I’m fast stepping to catch the 6:16 am train to Grand Central. My soles are snapping the rock salt crystals. The eyes are scanning the sidewalk on the look out for black ice. It’s March. It’s damn cold. I shiver. It’s over. It’s over soon.

I review my notes for my 8:30 am presentation. And then shift to the morning papers.  I scan my calendar.  I complete the Morning rituals. I’m done early.

The gear box is misfiring. Where’s the pre-game anxiety? Where’s the morning email missives? Where’s the pullin’ Locomotive?

The noise-canceling earphones and the music player are dialed up. I’ve encased Myself inside Myself. Myself and Bob Seger, Against the Wind.

My phone vibrates signaling a text from Rachel — she’s two trains behind me. Hi Daddy! I send her a link in reply: FDA Panel Backs Kythera Double-Chin TreatmentThanks Dad. Another genetic beauty mark that you’ve passed down to me. I chuckle. She’s mine. Not yet 7 am and she’s counterpunching. That’s My Girl.

The train enters a long, slow curve into Manhattan.  Rachel is leaning into the curve, behind but with me — her electronic Hi Daddy, Oliver’s soft wind, like a belt of silk, wraps the house.

We’re in the tunnels. The normal pulse escalation zone. I’m watching the Commuters scrambling to gather their bags to prepare for ejection.  I’m watching. Sitting. At Peace, Calm and Centered – with Seger crooning in the background. Damn de-stabilizing. Mad-Man turned Zen.

I let the masses pour out of the train and clear. I follow behind the herd.

I exit out onto 42nd Street and Vanderbilt, and she catches me catch her eye.

I’m OFF. Again. FAIL! Commuters Creed: Avoid eye contact. [Read more…]

Cat’s Left the Cradle 2

hair-long-man

WEDNESDAY. 9:30 PM.
Medium: FaceTime.
600 miles away, Son sits in his dorm room.
(Technology. A Miracle)

Eric: Hi Dad.
Dad: Hi Eric.
Dad: When’s your interview?
Eric: Friday at 8 am.

Dad adjusts his grip on the iPad to get a better look at Son.

Eric: What are you doing?
Dad: Take your cap off.
Eric: Why?
Dad: Take it off.
Eric: Why? (Here he comes. Here he comes.)
Dad: I’m only going to ask you one more time. [Read more…]

Flying. Over I-95 N.

runway-flight-airplane-take-off

Friday, February 6, 2015.
3:00 a.m.

I’m startled by the alarm.
No, not startled, rattled. It’s rare that I need an alarm, at any start time.
I’m groggy and already working against a shot clock, at 3:00 am.

I shower.
The 6-inch rainwater showerhead is gushing. The water is ripping hot.  But I’m unfazed.
It’s Day 3 on the road. I’m averaging 5 hours of sleep a night. Ok, maybe 4. And its catching up.
Comatose Man. Wound tight. Coiled. Shoulders heavy.

Need to get home. My House. My Bed.

I stand in the shower, eyes closed, letting the water wash over my head, my neck, and my back.
Heavenly Shower.
The morning meditation is interrupted by the clock, my consciousness signaling a waiting cab in 20 minutes.

My original flight, a non-stop to LGA, was scheduled for 11 am.
This, of course, was unacceptable for Restless Man.
Man alone wants something to happen at all costs—something, anything.¹

I’m re-booked on a 1-stop via Miami, pulling up my departure to 5 am.
You should arrive at the airport no later than two hours before your flight.
That’s 3am.

I shave, wary about slicing open the thin skin on the left side of my chin.
10 minutes to Taxi.
I zip up my carry-on, and scan the room one last time. (Don’t leave any gadgets behind)
My hand’s on the door. You forgot something.
I drop my bag, walk back into the room, and set some bills on the counter next to her card. Hi. My name is Migue.
Miquela (Sp. translation) = Who is like God?

I’m off to the airport. [Read more…]

HDM*: Breath (180 sec.)


GOOD (very)…180 seconds. Watch this…

HDM* = Hump Day Meditation


Lived in the same house all their lives. Neither ever married.

identical-twins-Lukács

identical-twins-Lukács

Huffington Post, Heartbreaking Portraits Capture Two Identical Twin Farmers At The End Of Their Lives:

They are identical twins János and István Lukács in 1985. At the time, they were in their sixties.

They worked together on the Hungarian countryside, living in the same house they’d inhabited all of their lives.

Photographer Janos Stekovics followed along while the Lukács brothers accomplished their daily tasks. They’d wake up at four in the morning, tend to the animals until noon when they’d eat a lunch of bacon and bread, and continue working until dinner. They slept in a farmhouse built by their parents, with clay walls and kerosine lamps. Sometimes it got so cold the two slept in hay beds in the barn with the horses.

Stekovics developed a deep reverence and fondness for these brothers of another time, often photographed in matching ensembles from jeans and boots to humongous fur coats. Despite their identical appearances and predilection for wonderfully complimentary poses, the two maintained distinct personalities. As Feature Shoot explained: “Where István was more gregarious, János was more of the silent and stoic type; István preferred to keep the house, and János cared mostly for the animals. Neither ever married.”

DON’T MISS THE FULL STORY AND OTHER PHOTOGRAPHS:

Heartbreaking Portraits Capture Two Identical Twin Farmers At The End Of Their Lives


Driving I-95 S. With Bombogenesis.

electrical-cord-face

6:10 am.

The digital read-out on the dash flickers + 22 F.

Where’s the  “+”?

It’s dark, and cold, and the day opened with the media blaring: ‘Bombogenesis‘: Northeast Blizzard “Juno” Will Be Fueled By Dramatic Pressure Drop. This is followed with a pre-recorded, public service announcement of impending doom:

This is an important winter storm advisory. A blizzard warning is in effect for the State of Connecticut.  It is predicted to bring high winds gusting up to 60 miles per hour.  Snow accumulation of 20 to 30 inches is expected.  Coastal flooding and high tides are anticipated. Widespread and long duration power outages are expected.  Utility crews are prohibited from engaging in repair work until the end of the storm.  There will be a travel ban at 9pm this evening.

In 1973, the ’63 GMC Short-Bed Step-Side was outfitted with a block heater. A three-pronged electrical cord dangled from the grill and was plugged in overnight. On most frigid British Columbia mornings, this would be enough to crank up the Chevy after three or four turns and get us to hockey practice.

40 years later, my ignition fires on the first pull, with no dangling cords hanging from the grill.  The Gratitude Bus is rolling.

I pull out and accelerate onto I-95.  The highway is clear and dry. I’m flowing with traffic.  My Ólafur Arnalds’ playlist lands on “Undan Hulu.”  I have no idea what Undan Hulu (Icelandic) means but the Cello solo hits a sweet spot.  I hit replay, replay and replay in my Monday morning meditation.

Yet, there is no mistaking the dark streak darting in and out of Arnalds’ Cello solo. [Read more…]

32 years and counting.

afghan-reading

It’s 5′ x 7′, that is five by seven feet. Unlike contemporary, machine-made models, which are much shorter and cheaper to produce, there is ample cover to reach the tippy-toes of my 6′ 1″ frame.

It has survived 32 winters.
It has served 6 homes, and is now working its 7th.
It has outlasted 10 automobiles.
And, yet here it is, working, in pristine condition, with a new car smell.

Besides our tableware, which should be replaced, it is the only wedding gift that has survived. She has long since passed, but her afghan lives on.

Is an afghan knitted or crocheted? Are they stitches or loops?  I have no idea.
Eric calculated 38,260 individual loops. 38,260 hand made loops.

It is brown, green, and two shades of blue. Why these colors? The earth? Its plants and forests?  Her hope for a God, for heavens? Why didn’t you ask her when she lived? [Read more…]