I’m only now starting to fully understand is that this is an inside job. It only works if I believe.

But what I’m only now starting to fully understand is that this is an inside job. It only works if I believe. I’ve always been confident, positive, doggedly determined; but doubt is beginning to mitigate my conviction. Who am I to think I can accomplish this, when so many have struggled with similar setbacks; some with Parkinson’s, some with the aftermath of spinal surgery? I may be the only one who has taken on this particular two-headed beast…

I have to learn to walk again; to reclaim my mobility, remaster my motion. I consider this fundamental to my therapy —  for me, it all starts and ends with walking. And I understand that it’s more complicated than that. So many tiny disciplines have to be observed, and neglected muscles and ligaments need to be restored. I’m exhausted by the effort I’ve already put in at Johns Hopkins, and daunted by how much work I still have to do. It’s like being nibbled to death by ducks.

Back in the days of carefree ambling, I would have considered the topic of walking to be rather pedestrian. Now the acts of stepping, strolling, hiking, and perambulating have become an obsession. I watch Esmé gliding through the kitchen, grabbing an apple while opening the fridge door for a coconut water, closing it with a quick shift of her hip and pirouetting out the swinging door at the other end of the room. Down in the lobby, my neighbor and her daughter are quickstepping to catch a taxi. I spy on a man walking with a slight limp, which he counterbalances with a bag of groceries. I secretly watch the way they all move. Easy, breezy, catlike, or with a limp, every one of them is far better at it than me. It may be that the most difficult, miraculous thing we do, physically, is to walk…

It’s tough. With PD and the aftermath of the surgery, something as simple as remaining upright is often sabotaged by a rogue army of misfiring neurons. I try to stay organized. I have memorized a litany of admonitions, not unlike my golfer’s list of swing thoughts: Keep my head centered over my hips; hips over my knees; no hyperextending; stay in line with my feet; eyes forward; shoulders back; chest out; lead with the pelvis. All of this kinetic vigilance can dissolve in a nanosecond of panic, or come apart with some other distraction. A tiny nervous jolt or spasm, and like a house of cards in a sudden gust of wind, the only messages that make it through the debris are: Don’t fall. Don’t fall. Don’t fall

—  Michael J. Fox, No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality (Flatiron Books, November 17, 2020)

Lightly Child, Lightly.

…And go to work each day
And when the evening rolls around
I’ll go on home and lay my body down
And when the morning light comes streaming in
I’ll get up and do it again
Amen
Say it again
Amen

—  Jackson Browne, from “The Pretender” (1976)


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.”

Lightly Child, Lightly.

Walked by this box at Cove Island Park, what, 100x? 200x? 500x? Had never seen it before.  Today, I noticed.

[Read more…]

Morning Walk. See. Feel. But still can’t sit.

186 Days.
You know the drill.
Consecutive days.
5 miles from Home to Cove Island Park and back. Sort of.

Last week, on a bitter cold and wet morning, and pressed for time, I jumped in the car, and drove to the park. To keep the streak alive.

Heater blowing on my feet. Wind gusts and rain battering the car. And there I was, sheltered and toasty. Protected from all that God could throw at me that morning. Not sure why God was on my mind, but C.S. Lewis called it: “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.

And so here we are. This morning. 186 consecutive days. I’m migrating, with the birds. But instead of Southward bound, it’s a downward spiral on the Sedentary Bus.

It was Running (for years).

Then Walking for less than a year.

Now Sitting. Just can’t get it going.

I drive to the Park. I take one slow walk around the loop. And make my way to the Point.

Sunrise is at 6:30 a.m. It’s 6:13 a.m.

I’m restless. (Permanent Condition). 17 min to sun up. What to do? What to do?

I notice a bench a few yards in front of me. I can feel tension, in my bones, in the flesh, in my mind —  it flashes No. I think back to Morning Walk. See, But Can’t Sit. Man, you have all sorts of problems. Just sit on it.

I approach the bench. There is a copper plate affixed In Memoriam…

I hadn’t ever noticed.

I scan the area. Bench here. Bench there. Benches everywhere. I never noticed.

I walk by each reading the inscriptions. I find myself drawn in. I walk slowly from one to the next.

  1. In Loving Memory. Vita & Gus. Andover – Where the Weeping Willow Stood.
  2. In Loving Memory. “DeeDee”. Wife, Mother, Sister. Grandmother. A friend to all she met. 1946-2016.
  3. In Loving Memory. Bob. Husband, Dad, Papa, Brother, Uncle, Cousin, Friend. 1942-2019.
  4. In Loving Memory. Dominick and Mary. 2011.
  5. In Memory of Debbie. 1976-2008., Love You Forever…
  6. In Memory of Joseph. 1913-2004.
  7. In Loving Memory of Peter. 1947-2011. A man who actively enjoyed all seasons of life at Cove Island Park.
  8. In Loving Memory. “Bim”. 1928-2014.
  9. In Loving Memory of Raymond. 1932-2007. Raymond’s roots ran deep. Deeply loved. Loved deeply.
  10. Beloved Grandson. Christopher. 1996-2014.
  11. Inhale the Beauty. Joan and Bill.
  12. In Loving Memory of Edwin & Margaret.
  13. Mary Pauline. 1943-2015. In our hearts forever. Your loving husband and family.
  14. In Loving Memory of Joseph. “Fish On.”
  15. In Loving Memory of Connie. September 1998
  16. Diane. 1946-2014. My Wife – My Love – My Companion in Life. I Miss You. Gordon.
  17. John. 1950-2017. Devoted Husband, loving father
  18. In Loving Memory of Melvin. He brought so much joy to so many.
  19. Louise’s Bench. (No dates. Just Louise’s Bench)
  20. In Loving Memory of Timothy and Grace.
  21. Our Sweet Angel. Maria. You lifted our spirts with Love, Laughter, Music and Dance. 1973-2015.
  22. Raymond. 1943-2018. The best things in life are the ones you love.
  23. In loving memory of Joseph “Little Joe”. Known for his love of family friends, Harleys, Corvettes and sunny days at the beach, Remember me, when you look into the seas…and there I’ll be. 1948-2015
  24. In Loving Memory of Jennifer. Your beautiful smile remains forever in our hearts

I look at my watch, it’s 6:29, a minute from sunrise. I walk to the last bench.  The gulls are now quiet, they too wait for the Sun in our moment of silence.

I’m reading the last, Bench #25…I brush my fingers over the metal plate. Over the letters making up soft, and then the letters breeze, and then gentle and tide and kind and heart. And then my index finger skips over the letters making up Love always

I brush away a tear, and then another…

[Read more…]

I’ll take the sea with me, deep in my bones, its tides making their way through my soul.


Notes:

Lightly Child, Lightly

Life should carry more meaning than the facts would bear. Which facts were these: we occupied a tiny corner of the universe, minor planet orbiting a minor star, in an even tinier corner of cosmological time. Still we wanted all of it, the sun and the moon and the firmament that held them, to be about us. This want had been bred into humanity, selected by nature, so it must have served some purpose once, but it had long outlived its usefulness… What was needed now was to know.

— Christopher Beha, The Index of Self-Destructive Acts: A Novel (Tin House Books, May 5, 2020)


Notes:

Take me way back, take me way back, take me way back

I realized that I have been carrying within me all these years the child I once was, his particular language and details, his impatient and thirsty teeth wanting to dig into the cold flesh of a watermelon, waking up wondering only about one thing: “What is the sea like today? Is it flat as oil or ruffled white with the spit of waves?”

Hisham Matar, The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between


Notes:

  • Photo: DK, 6:43 am, Sept 30, 2020. The Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.
  • Post title inspired by Van Morrison’s Hit: Take Me Back

Lightly Child, Lightly

How do we forgive ourselves for all the things we did not become?

—  Doc Luben, from “#13” in “14 Lines from Love Letters or Suicide Notes” (Genius.com)


Notes:

  • Doc Luben is a spoken word slam poet. He comes from Portland, Oregon. He can be found on Tumblr, where he posts new poems. (Thank you Make Believe Boutique)
  • 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.”

Lightly Child, Lightly

The truth? The truth about all this?… We’re doing the best we can, we really are. We’re trying to be grown-up and love each other and understand how the hell you’re supposed to insert USB leads. We’re looking for something to cling on to, something to fight for, something to look forward to. We’re doing all we can to teach our children how to swim. We have all of this in common, yet most of us remain strangers, we never know what we do to each other, how your life is affected by mine. Perhaps we hurried past each other in a crowd today, and neither of us noticed, and the fibers of your coat brushed against mine for a single moment and then we were gone. I don’t know who you are. But when you get home this evening, when this day is over and the night takes us, allow yourself a deep breath. Because we made it through this day as well. There’ll be another one along tomorrow.

—  Fredrik Backman, “Anxious People: A Novel” (Atria Books, September 8, 2020) 


Notes:

  • Fredrik Backman portrait by Casper Hedberg for The New York Times
  • 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.”

What ‘moved’ you today?

Short story.

How did we get here with this random, mid-day post.

Ray, a fellow wordpress blogger, who must be beyond fatigued with my photo hobby posts across social media and my incessant sharing of book passages and quotes, said “ENOUGH already” and asked for a story.  And when Ray demands, I move.

So, I’m giving him one.  And it aligns with the spirt of this blog — if it moves me, it goes up.

My youngest Brother recently passed away.  I am the Personal Representative of his Estate. It has been a journey in this COVID-19 environment to settle his affairs, and we’re far from done. Let’s leave this at that.

I’m sitting in a bank branch this morning waiting to get help. I’m holding my smartphone in my hand, and a file folder with my Brother’s paperwork on my lap.

And I’m waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting.

My Gear is on. (Face mask fully covering nose and mouth.)

I’m looking down and paging through screen after screen after screen after screen on my smartphone.

Twitter, Tumblr, work emails, FB, WP, LinkedIn.

And I get vertigo. Eye strain. Mask inhibiting breathing. Feeling woozy. 

Normal functioning Humans make adjustments.

I keep flipping through web pages. And flipping, and flipping.

Wooziness doesn’t let up.

I come to a post on LinkedIn. And stop.

I read the post again.

And as Sawsan would say. “No, I’m not crying.” Not here. Not now.

Air under the mask is getting thin.

Eyes well up.

My glasses fog up, the face mask pushing air straight up.

And just at that moment: “Sir, I’m sorry to keep you waiting. I’m ready for you now.”

I can’t lift my head.

Glasses are fogged up. Floor is spinning.

She sees I’m struggling.

Sir, let me give you a moment: “I’m so sorry for your loss.”

I thank her, and take a moment to gain my composure, and then walk into her office.

Here was the LinkedIn story.

[Read more…]

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