Lightly Child, Lightly (Take 2)

Thomas A. Edison was born in 1847, and on October 21, 1879, he invented the incandescent light bulb. I was born on October 21, 1947, one hundred years after Edison’s birth and on the sixty-eighth anniversary of his famous invention. By the time I discovered these facts, I was in my forties, but I had already developed a lifelong fascination with light.

Indeed, my first memory is of light dancing in the leaves of a tall tree in my grandmother’s front yard in Sparta, Missouri. Aunt Grace had placed me on my back on a blanket under this tree. I remember the sunlight sparkling through the changing colors of the fluttering leaves and the occasional patch of cloud shadow that affected everything. I didn’t have language, but I knew what I was watching was beautiful.

I remember nothing else about the first two years of my life, but I recall this as clearly as if it happened this morning. Light sticks in my memory that way. And ever since that seminal moment, dappled light has held the power to induce wonder in me.

I take note of shadows and sunspots and if a cloud crosses the sun. I stop to admire the sparkling dew on grass and flowers, the rainbows in lawn sprinklers, and the way certain kinds of light shine on birds’ wings or breasts. I notice my cat glistening in the sunbeams and the way light sparkles on nearby Holmes Lake. These minute alterations in light affect me emotionally and even spiritually.

When I swim, the parabolas of light dancing on the bottom of the pool make me happy. So does the way sunlight splashing through rain can paint my porch with light. When I see shafts of sunlight breaking through storm clouds, I pay attention. When we travel, it is light that most astonishes me. Light in the Sandhills of Nebraska, in Alaska, in San Francisco, and in all the mountain towns along the front range of the Rockies…

I am solar-powered. As a child, I spent every waking moment outdoors in the summer. I spent my mornings mixing mud pies, cookies, and cakes on wooden slabs under an elm tree. And I spent long afternoons and evenings in our municipal pool. That’s when I began reminding the other children to look at how sunlight twinkled on water. [Read more…]

Lightly Child, Lightly

In the morning, I sit with a cup of coffee and organize myself for the day. I watch the sunrise over the lake by my home, and I listen to the sounds of the sparrows and wrens. Orioles come and go from our grape jelly feeder, and each one makes me smile. I breathe deeply for 10 breaths to ground myself in my body. I remind myself of my many blessings and set my attitude to positive. My old calico, Glessie, sits by my side. Even though I am ragged with grief at the news of the world, I am ready to face whatever happens next.

Over the decades, I’ve acquired skills for building a good day. Especially in the summer, when I can swim, work in my garden, attend outdoor concerts and read in my hammock, life is fun. I have work I enjoy — sponsoring an Afghan family, participating in an environmental group and writing.

Of course, I am leading a double life. Underneath my ordinary good life, I am in despair for the world. Some days, the news is such that I need all my inner strength to avoid exhaustion, anxiety and depression. I rarely discuss this despair. My friends don’t, either. We all feel the same. We don’t know what to say that is positive. So we keep our conversations to our gardens, our families, books and movies and our work on local projects. We don’t want to make one another feel hopeless and helpless.

Many of us feel we are walking through sludge. This strange inertia comes from the continuing pandemic, a world at war and the mass shootings of shoppers, worshipers and schoolchildren. In addition, our country and our planet are rapidly changing in ways that are profoundly disturbing. We live in a time of groundlessness when we can reasonably predict no further than dinnertime. The pandemic was a crash course in that lesson.

As we are pummeled with daily traumatic information, more and more of us shut down emotionally. I can hear the flatness in the newscasters’ voices, see the stress in my friends’ faces and sense it in the tension of the workers at my sister’s nursing home. We are not apathetic; we are overwhelmed. Our symptoms resemble those of combat fatigue.

The most informed and compassionate among us are the most vulnerable to despair. We understand the brokenness and the sorrow in our own and faraway communities. We are also fully aware of all the things we cannot change. Staying focused on the light in the world is hard work.

Of course, America isn’t eastern Ukraine, Afghanistan or Yemen, but nonetheless, we are a lonely, frightened people who have lost hope in the future. Any psychologist knows that is a dangerous place to be. We risk losing our ability to think clearly or experience life completely. We lose our vitality and sense of direction. We cannot help others. We cannot fix anything. [Read more…]

Walking. T.G.I.F.

Good morning.

4:23 am. Day 780 at Cove Island Park. 780 consecutive (mostly) days on my morning walk. Like in a row.

Beautiful morning. 60° F. Soft, gentle breeze.

I walk.

Images in front of me at the Park are repeats. I’m tired. This view is tired. All of it, uninspiring.

And that’s all that this Mind needs, just a sliver of darkness, and it’s match-to-gasoline.  Supreme Court strikes down New York Gun law, expanding concealed carry rights. Jan. 6 panel. Flood of pardon requests. Ukraine. Uvalde. Putin. Afghanistan earthquake kills 1000. New Mexico wildfire. Abortion rights. Gas Prices. Climate Change.

And then, a hardening, the shoulders tensing up, the thighs tight and stiffening, anger rolls up the torso like an incoming storm. Come DK. Snap out of it.

I walk.

I’m on the shoreline. And there they are. He’s embracing her.  They sit quietly and stare out over Long Island Sound.

This image prompts a softening.

Where I see Repeats, they see beauty.  The world awakening.

The image gives me hope.

They give me hope.

We need hope.

Halldór Laxness: “All the same…she was not too old once more to view the future in a dream; in a new dream. To be able to look forward is to live.

Photos from this morning walk here.

 

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

Where to go from here?

—  Delia Ephron, Left on Tenth: A Second Chance at Life: A Memoir (Little, Brown and Company. April 12, 2022)


Notes:

T.G.I.F.: You inhale the soft cool night

7/15/44 [New York.] You have to enjoy the weather always. Walking home from Sixty-First Street on Second Avenue, eleven beautiful black blocks. (The moon is not, the lights are, you are, your feet with the spring in them, this is youth, now!) You inhale the soft cool night, you gaze on the lighted bar doorways fondly. Your shoes, for once, are comfortable. Your head is filled with a number of things… with the youth’s grudging appreciation of the splendid night, and with the consciousness of health, future, potency. Breathe deep! Your lungs are still functioning perfectly, your thighs do not shake too much, your calves are resilient, your toes eager. Every muscle is obedient (taut for an instant, then couchantly relaxed), every dream will come true.

 Patricia Highsmith, “Patricia Highsmith: Her Diaries and Notebooks: 1941-1995.″ Anna von Planta (Editor). (Liveright, November 16, 2021)— Patricia Highsmith, Her Diaries and Notebooks: 1941-1995


Photo: Mike Kononov via unsplash

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

I always peek into baby buggies when I walk home, because I love to look at the little children who are lying asleep with upstretched hands on a ruffled pillowcase. I also like to look at people who in one way or another give expression to their feelings. I like to look at mothers caressing their children, and I willingly go a little out of my way in order to follow a young couple who are walking hand in hand and are openly in love. It gives me a wistful feeling of happiness and an indefinable hope for the future.

—  Tove Ditlevsen, Youth: The Copenhagen Trilogy (FSG Originals, January 26, 2021)


Highly Recommended. And the trilogy has been recommended as a Best Book of the Year in 2021.

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

Five years ago, you were teacher of the year and now this.

All this would be fine—well, not exactly fine but manageable—if you were not due at this faculty meeting in half an hour. You look at the other drivers—some passing you, and some you are passing. You look at their faces and wonder how great the gap is between who they are and who they know they could be. You’re on Interstate 10. The I-10 is known to locals, depending on your direction, as the San Bernardino Freeway or the Santa Monica Freeway. Freeways here, true to the romantic nature of the West and its ever-hopeful revision of the life that came before, are made for movement and the future and they’re named for where you’re going—not where you’ve been.

The past, well, that’s for when you turn around. Where you’ve been is only important in the context of where you are. And if where you are this moment is good, the past makes sense and every moment of horror and dread seems worth it. If where you are is terrible, the past just seems like an accumulation of data that confirm you were on this path all along.

How things end up matters.

Rob Roberge, Liar: A Memoir (Crown, February 9, 2016)


Photo of Santa Monica Freeway (10)

Lightly Child, Lightly.

I have also, I think, learnt what it is to love: being capable, not of ‘exaggerated’ initiatives, of always going one better, but of being thoughtful in relation to others, respecting their desires, their rhythms, never demanding things but learning to receive and to accept every gift as a surprise, and being capable, in a wholly unassuming way, of giving and of surprising the other person without the least coercion. To sum up, it is a question simply of freedom. Why did Cézanne paint the Montagne Saint-Victoire at every available moment? Because the light of each moment is a gift.

So, despite its dramas, life can still be beautiful. I am sixty-seven, and though it will soon be over, I feel younger now than I have ever done, never having had any youth since no one loved me for myself.

Yes, the future lasts a long time.

Louis Althusser, The Future Lasts Forever: A Memoir


Notes:

  • Painting: “Paul Cézanne: La Montagne Sainte-Victoire” via Culturium
  • Quote via “Alive on All Channels
  • 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.”

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

Sometimes now I envy those people who are at the beginning of the long road of the lives they’ll make, who still have so many decisions ahead as the road forks and forks again. Imagining their trajectories, I picture a real road, branching and branching, and I can feel it, shadowy, forested, full of the anxiety and the excitement of choosing, of starting off without quite knowing where you will end up…

I have no regrets about the roads I took, but a little nostalgia for that period when most of the route is ahead, for that stage in which you might become many things that is so much the promise of youth, now that I have chosen and chosen again and again and am far down one road and far past many others. Possibility means that you might be many things that you are not yet, and it is intoxicating when it’s not terrifying.

— Rebecca SolnitRecollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir (Viking, March 10, 2020)

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

There is no trace where we were.

No arrows pointing to the place we’re headed.

We are the trackless beat, the invisible light, the thought without a word to speak.

Poured water, struck match.

Before the nothing, we are the moment.

Louise ErdrichThe Bingo Palace: A Novel


Notes: Quote source – Thank you Whiskey River. Photo found @ Match

Change it up, please.

A change of scene,

of air,

of people.

Amazing.

~ Sylvia Plath, from The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath


Photo: via poppins-me. Quote via Anne Sexton Appreciation

It’s been a long day

It is dusk. The birds sweep low to the lake and then dive
up. The wind picks a few leaves off the ground
and turns them into wheels that roll
a little way and then collapse. There’s nothing like branches
planted against the sky to remind you
of the feel of your feet on the earth, the way your hands
sometimes touch each other. All those memories,
you wouldn’t want them over again, there’s no point.
What’s next, you ask yourself.
You ask it ten thousand times.

~ Roo Borson, “Ten Thousand” from  Night Walk: Selected Poems


Notes:

 

Walking Cross-Town. With little ones.


3:30 a.m. yesterday. Saw this photo and froze.

This THIS is the world our children live in today.

Look at her. Those eyes. Those little shoes.

Precious is tucked in close to Dad who is buying tickets for the show.

And then the scene darkens, a conjoining of rivers with Catherine Abbey Hodges’ closing lines in “How to Begin“: “You’re a strand of dark thread sticking a word to a river. Then another.

Manchester. 22 dead. Women, children, soft targets. UK terror threat raised to Critical. 1000 troops deployed.

Dear Ms. Hodges, is the question How to Begin?

Or is it, How does it end? [Read more…]

Saturday Morning

dog-pet-cute

O let me lift it, ever so slightly.
It hangs before me—ever—heavy, motionless—
this curtain which veils the future.
Let me just hold a corner up and peep beyond.
Then maybe I shall be content.

~
Katherine Mansfield, dated Sept 2, 1907 from Delphi Complete Works of Katherine Mansfield

 


Notes: Quote: The Value of Soul Making. Photo: Kulturtava

Are you listening?

Sad, sobering but beautiful.  “The photographer and filmmaker Katy Grannan travels around America to capture the nation’s mood in 2016.”

Lightly child, lightly.

rob-woodcox-surreal-angel
perhaps one day
we’ll understand:
why it hurts to be here,
and there,
and then.

— Kimberly Grey, from “Conjugating in The Opposite of Light: Poems


Notes:

  • Sources: Poem – Hidden Landscape. Photo – Rob Woodcox from Surreal
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • 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.”

 

Monday Morning: Flashflashflashes

choose-balloons-anka-zhuravleva

The light beyond my eyes flashflashflashes
with a hundred futures for me.
Doctor.
Ship’s captain.
Forest ranger.
Librarian.
Beloved of that man or that women or those children or those people who voted for me or who painted my picture.
Poet.
Acrobat.
Engineer.
Friend.
Guardian.
Avenging whirlwind.
A million futures –
not all pretty,
not all long,
but all of them mine.
I do have a choice.

— Laurie Halse AndersonWintergirls


Notes:

Lightly child, lightly.

close-up-face-eye-freckles-portrait
It
Troubles me that time should make things sweeter, that
Instead of learning to perceive things as they are I’ve
Learned to lose them, or to see them as they disappear
Into the insubstantial future. Everything here is mine,
Or lies within my power to accept. I want to find a way
To live inside each moment as it comes, then let it go
Before it breaks up in regret or disillusionment.

~ John Koethe, from “Between the Lines,” North Point North: New and Selected Poems


Notes:

  • Photo: via Mennyfox55. Poem: The Distance Between Two Doors
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • 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.”

Sound of the drums / Beatin’ in my heart / I’m Thunderstruck

storm-art-pursuit

Joan of Arc was not stuck at a crossroads…
she chose a path,
and went down it like a thunderbolt.

~ G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy


Notes:

  • Credits: Quote Source: Thank you Mme Scherzo. Image: Mennyfox55
  • Post title Inspired by AC/DC’s Thunderstruck: I was caught / In the middle of a railroad track. (Thunder) / I looked round / And I knew there was no turning back (Thunder) / My mind raced / And I thought what could I do (Thunder) / And I knew / There was no help, no help from you (Thunder) / Sound of the drums / Beatin’ in my heart

Here. But There.

Robert-creeley-poem-there

~ Robert Creeley,  Pieces in The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley, 1945-1975, Volume 1


Source: invisiblestories.

%d bloggers like this: