Flying over I-40 W. With Orange Sticks and Ashes.

6:15 a.m. But for two rows of ambient lights lining the aisle, the cabin is dark and quiet.

A few minutes earlier, the flight attendant completes her routine: “You are seated in the emergency-exit row of this aircraft. Are you ready, willing and able to open the exit hatch if needed?” It’s the right of passage for extra legroom. 11 of us mumble “yes.”

She’s Asian. Japanese, actually. I see two of her colleagues down the aisle, Japanese too.  Kermit the frog on Sesame Street: Today, I’m going to tell you about the word ‘Same.’ 3 flight attendants. All female. All Asian. All Japanese. All ~ 5’5″. Blue skirts. Dark navy pumps. Silver wings on lapel. Hair down, long, dark. Red lipstick applied just so, no coloring outside the lines. Robert Palmer’s hits come flashing in Simply Irresistible and Addicted to Love. Ladies, cloned, playing guitars, dancing.

You can’t sleep, you can’t eat
There’s no doubt, you’re in deep
Your throat is tight, you can’t breathe

I dip my hand in my pocket to check my boarding pass. Dallas. Yes. Tokyo. No.

I steal a glance at my seat mate. There’s a soft cover book on his lap:  “Thy Kingdom Come: Tracing God’s Kingdom Program” by J. Dwight Pentecost. He’s attentive. She walks through the FAA regulatory requirements…”Life vests are located beneath, or between your seats. Remove the vest from the pouch by pulling on the tab. Place the vest over your head, and fasten the straps to the front of the vest. Adjust the straps loosely around your waist. As you leave the aircraft, inflate the vest by pulling down on the red tabs, or manually inflate by blowing into the tubes on either side…”

His finger runs down the multi-fold laminated instructional card on emergency evacuations, his lips twitching as he follows along. No, no, not twitching, He’s Praying. JesusHe closes his eyes, both hands grip the arm rests.

[Read more…]

Driving Nowhere Fast. At the DMV.

It’s 10:16 am, Saturday morning, and I’m sitting in the DMV.

My ticket #: A-160. Yes, #160. and that’s just the “A’s”.

I’m watching the attendant at the entrance. She’s conducting emergency room triage, with victims coming through the door in shock, experiencing some form of bloodless trauma.

It’s 79° F, a gorgeous Saturday in late September. And here we are, at the DMV. It’s Saturday for God’s sake, we can’t be here.

“Take a ticket,” she calls out, “grab a seat.” There’s many seats, most taken, a smattering of empties dispersed throughout the room, with a zero lot line between each.  Each incoming patron’s reaction is the same: they look around, inhale, walk slowly to a seat, shoehorn themselves in, and slump heavily into the hardback metal chair.

Now serving A (pause) 66 at Station 29″

The computer generated voice, a Male voice, calls your number over the loud speaker, calls it again, and then skips to the next. There are Categories A, B, C, D and E, which I’m sure tie to a unique DMV service, but I was unable to (and uninterested in) trying to crack the code.  My attention was on the “A’s”, and the numbers flashing on the overhead monitors.

Now serving A (pause) 68 at Station 22″

What is it with the DMV that elicits such dread? And why does such a simple process (should be) of license renewal strike such fear?

Now serving A (pause) 71 at Station 13″

There are no 1% privileges here. No Fast Passes. No Speed Passes. No TSA lines. No CLEAR. No appointments. No tips to jump the line.

You sit, and you wait.  And you wait, and you wait.

Now serving A (pause) 73 at Station 19″

Heads are down, Smartphones, Smartphones, Smartphones. Not A.D. or B.C. It’s B.S. Before Smartphones. How did we manage without smartphones. What occupied our time? What kept us from going out of our minds?

[Read more…]

how good it feels, the heat of the sun between the shoulder blades

I began to talk.
I talked about summer, and about time.
The pleasures of eating…
About this cup we call a life.
About happiness.
And how good it feels,
the heat of the sun between the shoulder blades.

– Mary Oliver, from “Toad” in New And Selected Poems, Volume Two


Notes: Photo – Elena Stepanova (via Seemoreandmore). Poem – via Everything Matters

Lightly Child, Lightly.


Wherever it was
I was supposed to be
this morning-
whatever it was I said

I would be doing-
I was standing
at the edge of the field –
I was hurrying

through my own soul,
opening its dark doors –
I was leaning out;
I was listening.

~ Mary Oliver, from “Mockingbirds” (The Atlantic, Febuary 1994)


Notes:

  • Photo: Patty Maher
  • 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.”

 

I have found myself thinking of summer fields

I have found myself thinking of summer fields. Fields full of flowers— poppies or lupines. Or, here, fields where the roses hook into the dunes, and their increase is manyfold. All summer they are red and pink and white tents of softness and nectar, which wafts and hangs everywhere— a sweetness so palpable and excessive that, before it, I’m struck, I’m taken, I’m conquered; I’m washed into it, as though it was a river, full of dreaming and idleness— I drop to the sand, I can’t move; I am restless no more; I am replete, supine, finished, filled to the last edges with an immobilizing happiness.

~ Mary Oliver, from “Owls” in Upstream: Selected Essays 


Photo: Bart Ceuppens (Belgium) with Poppies (via drxgonfly)

Running. With This.

sky-blue-birds

What cycles up When on the random shuffle on a 7,231 song playlist and Why?

Is it so random?

The ears tune into her lyrics, Joan Armatrading’s “Heaven“:

“Am I in Heaven? Am I in Heaven? Am I in Heaven? Have I gone up. Have I gone up. To the big cloud.”

This asphalt. This footfall. This foam cushioning my footfall. This swoosh of a flock overhead. This red breasted robin foraging on the damp grass. This gentle morning breeze cooling. This bead of sweat that’s made its way from forehead to cheek to lips, this salt lick.  This sky stretching to the heavens, down to earth, to this ground, to this hip, this thigh, this leg, this calf, these feet – all propelling this body forward.

This, not the Rue de l’Abreuvoir in Paris. Not the Ramblas in Barcelona. Or the gardens of Łazienki Królewskie in Warsaw. This patch of ground here. Here. Now. [Read more…]

Walking Cross-Town. Without lungs.

blue

4:52 am.
January 19th.
35° F, clear, calm.

Rested.
Body parts functioning, check.
Smartphone in breast pocket, check.
ID building pass, check.
Nine minutes to first morning train, check.

I step out the door, insert key, turn, and lock the door. There’s a clop clop clop of footsteps on the street. I turn to see Runner. Male, wearing a Miner’s headlamp, his beam illuminating the road.

2003. That’s you. Up, pre dawn: 5 miles Tuesday. 7 miles Wednesday.  4 miles Friday. Hot shower. Off to work. [Read more…]

Saturday Morning. Call it Rest.

azure-butterfly-hand

 

Call it Rest. I sit on one of the branches. My idleness suits me. I am content. I have built my house. The blue butterflies, called azures, twinkle up from the secret place where they have been waiting. In their small blue dresses they float among the branches, they come close to me, one rests for a moment on my wrist. They do not recognize me as anything very different from this enfoldment of leaves, this wind-roarer, this wooden palace lying down, now, upon the earth, like anything heavy, and happy, and full of sunlight, and half asleep.

~ Mary Oliver, from “Building The House” in Upstream: Selected Essays

 


Photo: Shmoo Shots with A Visit from the Spirit of a Lost Friend. “Summer Azure butterfly which landed on my left wrist and stayed and stayed and stayed while I balanced the camera and took photos with my right hand.”

Through these woods I have walked

aerial-oregon-forest-winter-mt-hood

Through these woods I have walked thousands of times. For many years I felt more at home here than anywhere else, including our own house. Stepping out into the world…was always a kind of relief. I was not escaping anything. I was returning to the arena of delight. I was stepping across some border. I don’t mean just that the world changed on the other side of the border, but that I did too…They recognized and responded to my presence, and to my mood. They began to offer, or I began to feel them offer, their serene greeting. It was like a quick change of temperature, a warm and comfortable flush, faint yet palpable, as I walked toward them and beneath their outflowing branches.

~ Mary Oliver, from “Winter Hours” in Upstream: Selected Essays


Notes: Photo: Michael Shainblum: An aerial image of a snowy morning in Oregon taken during a misty sunrise near Mount Hood. (Photo selection inspired by Dec 21, 2016, the Winter Solstice.)

Faith…is tensile, and cool, and has no need of words

boyana-petkova-art

In the winter I am writing about, there was much darkness. Darkness of nature, darkness of event, darkness of the spirit. The sprawling darkness of not knowing. We speak of the light of reason. I would speak here of the darkness of the world, and the light of _______. But I don’t know what to call it. Maybe hope. Maybe faith, but not a shaped faith— only, say, a gesture, or a continuum of gestures. But probably it is closer to hope, that is more active, and far messier than faith must be. Faith, as I imagine it, is tensile, and cool, and has no need of words. Hope, I know, is a fighter and a screamer.

~ Mary Oliver, from “Winter Hours” in Upstream: Selected Essays

 


Watercolor: Boyana Petkova (Bulgaria)

%d bloggers like this: