There is a natural instinct, I suppose, when you experience something wonderful, to want others to feel the same. “You’ve gotta taste this,” we say. “You’ve got to see this!” And I enjoy sharing things from around the world. But these are the obvious things. The guaranteed positive response. The Eiffel Tower, example. The Vatican. I feel blessed to have stood beside the Colosseum. Floated in Venice. But it’s not a surprise really. I expect people to like these photos.
Winter in Minneapolis. Not the expected destination for travel. But there is beauty. And I see it. Maybe it’s all just a reflection of the people I’m with, but the light!!!! The beautiful light of this city. One that I claim. This is something! I shared the image with my French family. When she replied, in French, how beautiful she thought the light was, it made me feel special. Not just because I took the photo. But that she could see it too. We were a little more connected. Sharing this truth.
It’s why I share the stories of the places I love, but even more so, the people. When I wrote this poem about my mother, The Truth about you, I did it because sometimes I just can’t imagine the incredible luck, the pure blessing, of having such a mother, and I just want everyone to know. To see it. To see her. So pardon my repeats, as I keep spreading the news. The joy. The love I have for my mom, my city. This world.
The light is coming in from the window. I hope when you see it this morning, you will know, it’s for you too!
I began using the paper purchased this summer at the Fontaine de Vaucluse. It’s handmade. The mill sits right next to the river. It is the most beautiful, accepting paper I have ever used. I suppose because it’s natural. Nothing to fight against. The paint goes on so smoothly and becomes a part of the paper. And the most amazing thing is I’m low on paint. I need to reload. I’m down to my most average. But even this paint takes on a whole new life when combined with this paper.
And the paper is far from perfect. No, in fact, that’s probably what makes it so special. You can see, feel, all the flecks that go into it. The scraps of life and growth. Beautiful!! No shame of imperfections.
Maybe it’s too simple to say, but I’m not sure everything has to be so hard. I think we need each other. And I’m pretty sure we can bring out the best in us if we want. So I come to you daily, with my humble, most average of self, and ask you to join me. You, the imperfect paper. Together, we can make something beautiful. Together, we become!
It wasn’t certainty, but the complete absence of the need for it. It was only a moment. Perhaps it will take even longer to explain than it lasted. But it did happen. This morning. I walked out the back door. There was no change in temperature. It felt like the world was one big room. Everything equal. I walked around the yard in my swimsuit. I can only describe the feeling as enough. I felt thin enough. Pretty enough. Clever enough. (Not because I had changed, or gotten better, it was just that everything was connected. There was no better, no worse — we all just were.) I was loved enough. Given enough. Not wanting. Nor waiting. Just being. A part of it all.
And I hope you can hear the joy, the gratitude in the word enough.
I jumped into the pool. Still the same temperature. I swam my laps in the blue that held no separation. Was it sky or water? Swimming or flying? I wasn’t sure. But it was enough. Leaving the pool, the water beaded upon my skin. Under the sun. Slowly drying. I was embraced. Framed. Just as the woman in the painting. Golden.
By the time I reached the house, it had passed.
Only to be felt in glimpses now. But those glimpses, I smile knowing, they too, will be enough. I’ll catch a flash of it, walking past her, hanging on the wall. Or maybe walking on the street. I’ll smile as she randomly strolls by, effortless, this stranger, not known by name, but by frame, both feeling, it is indeed golden — just to be — and we are enough.
I sit now within and between the labored breaths of my mother-in-law. How many more? It’s not certain. But there’s no need for it. Not now. In and out. Pausing. And there it is — the slightest smile between the gasps. A glimpse of just being. And I know it’s enough. It has been so beautifully enough.
She’s somewhere between water and sky now. Her arms, merely twigs, make a flutter. The sun is calling. She, I, we, all caught in the golden glimpse. It is more than enough.
Soaring birds that wish to stay aloft without flapping usually fly INTO the wind for lift.
I suppose that’s the goal, isn’t it — a lot less flapping, and a lot more lift. And I mention it only as a reminder to myself. Oh, it’s so easy to get upset over the little things. “But they did this! – again…” and “she always does this – every time,” and “look at that, c’mon!” (So much flapping.)
And we all know the goal. To get higher. But ooooh, those words — when someone tells you “to just get over it…” I’m not sure why exactly, but they sound like fighting words. Like it’s all your responsibility. Like why do I have to do it? Why do I always have to go higher? (Oh, that flapping!) So I tell myself in different words, be the soaring bird. And my heart stops fighting the wind, but using it. To glide. Higher. And I always feel better. Always.
I’m so human. I learn the lesson over and over. But I’d like to believe I become the bird a little easier, a little more quickly, with each passing lesson. I hope so. Because the view! Spectacular!
Maybe you’ve already mastered it. If so, I say bravo, little bird! And I make you this promise (me, too often here among the flappers) — I’m learning — and I’ll see you up there!
Maybe with girls, it’s all about timing.
There wasn’t a swing for every girl at Washington Elementary. When your class was released for recess, the playground had to be divided and navigated. It was always a race out the back door to the swingset. These weren’t just ordinary swings. They were the tallest that any of us had ever seen. With the help of your best friend pushing from behind, you could reach unimaginable heights. Deals were always struck minutes before recess. Partnering off. Who would run. Secure the swing. The first one. The last. The ones in the middle. Who would ride first. Push first. We learned early on, working together, we’d all get to fly!
We didn’t have phones with stop watches. We didn’t even have watches. But somehow we knew. Because friends were known. Some days you just needed a little extra time. Maybe the spelling test was harder for one. Maybe the new boy teased you. Whatever the reason, it never had to be explained, just a look, a look that said, I need an extra turn. And it was always given.
I have a few friends like this still today. We know each other’s timing. When to push. When to step back and just watch you fly! Knowing the roles could be reversed at any given moment. Timing — impossible to monitor electronically — it can only be measured by the heart.
I’m feeling strong today. Just give me the look, and when the doors are flung open, I’ll race to secure the swing. Today, my friend, it’s your turn to fly!
There is a natural magic that happens when the air is perfectly still and the outdoor temperature is just slightly above that of the pool. I can close my eyes, raise an arm out of the water, and not feel the difference. For a brief second, I am part of it all. I am a leaf on a tree. A blade of grass. A bird on the highest branch in the sky. I am not trying to fit, I just do.
I suppose when catching yourself in this moment, in any moment of happiness, the moment does pass, but maybe it is the impermanence that makes it so special.
Everything will end. That is the very nature of, well, nature.
There are only a handful of people who are this air to my water. People with whom I can be myself. Just be. And it works. People with whom I can fall, secure in the knowledge of being caught in these moments.
This magic can go by many names. Love. Friend. Family. Whatever you call your magic, call it often. And when it calls to you, be it whisper or shout, go without hesitation. Be in it. Live in it. Without worry of time or loss — both are out of reach — but the joy of being, the nature of being, is right here. Right now. Shhhh. Be still. Can you hear it? That’s the magic calling.