Monday, August 21, 2017

Traveling Companions

I know who I am; remember still the passing.
But who are these the souls I love
and why do they surround me?

Such profound and lasting lashings flex among us, bend to wind,
dance to every circumstance,
hold each other dear.

Chance wins knowledge, new lives sprout and wind throughout our mortal coils,
Who are these the souls I love?
Ripples in still water.

Tit for tat and favors granted, travelers through space and time,
this life of mine and all of theirs
committed to the hope

that every lifetime meets a need to learn and change and grow
to solid soul immense and whole
magnificently with joy.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Two Four Six Eight - I Must Learn to Delegate

The thing about VLPs (Very Large Projects), is that they prioritize things for you. To a person like me, whose list of I'd Like To Dos gets longer every day, that focus is invaluable. But the cost of VLPs gets higher with every passing year, and while I would like to have found that new wisdoms will balance those costs, for me they did not. Frustrations with learning curves, late-night tasking, time management issues, loneliness - Nevermore; I have foresworn.

And that leaves me with SPs - Small Projects. Lot and lots of them. I dream them, some float through my thoughts, conversations spark them, and I am inundated after traveling somewhere new. I want to paint; I want to make a photography book; I want to travel with my family; I want to sew up a pattern I have in my head. . . these SP visions begin to swirl through my mind until I am dizzy. If I pick one to work on I am easily distracted. If I start something new I am easily frustrated. I find it easiest to rant at whatever comes my way and just be reactive rather than proactive. This is not the way I want to live!

Take electronics, without which I cannot continue publishing. I bought a new phone and suddenly my music is gone and I have Silver Fox's instead. Ummm. My camera takes these cute little series of pics on each shot that makes action for a second before it stops. Those transfer to IPhoto as a whole load of photos taking up who knows how much space that you can't just grab and move, or choose only one, or anything easy, as apparently you have to click on the whole set to even delete. How do I make my camera stop doing that??? Now I have a new SP learning all about my new phone from the internet, a lengthy proposition for my slow old brain.

The world is going crazy, and the last time things were so bad I was right in the middle of it. I want to help, but I can no longer be the foot soldier I was then. And regardless of how we third-stagers puff ourselves up about wisdom and experience, no one will listen. I should read and write more; I should send money; I should sign petitions; I should write congresspeople; I should be part of the answer.

My physical regimen for the summer has been almost exclusively landscaping and gardening. What the hell am I going to do now???

Around and around they go, blowing up large for a moment and then receding while the next blows up, like those folder and desktop application functions that wax and wane as you run your mouse under them. I hate those. The views are too small and they move to fast, just like my imagination.

Becoming the belledame has, however, had unforeseen impacts. Having crossed that bridge when I came to it, I find myself now transitioned, bedamed if you like; and one thing I seem to have less of is tolerance for foolishness, in myself and in others. I can fix this and be dizzy no more. Today I have a plan. I make a list of all the SPs I currently know about and decide what to do about each, then get help. I will sign up for Apple phone training. I will send money and shut up about injustice (well, maybe a rant here now and then). I will get a yoga teacher. I will delegate, and, following another of my newly crystallized dame precepts, I ain't gonna do anything I don't want to. If an SP requires me to do something I don't want to, it is out of the band. The new-agers say this is a year to clear:)

And when the dust settles, I will too.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Step Right Up. . .

I have done something today that I have never done before, and that is to sign up to help a political campaign. Damn! Things are that bad. I can hear the organ grinder and see the hootchie cootchie girls already. . .

Here in Minnesota, where we have been hiding behind the skirts of the fabulous Mark Dayton for the last eight years, change could come on big fat elephant feet - and I am going to do my best to stop that stampede. It is bad enough that the legislature is republicon, and it is a tribute to Mark that he has both held back the tide and reversed the damages of the previous Pawlenty piracy. But it will just happen again if we are not careful. Therefore, I am doing something else I have never done before today - I am endorsing candidates. If you read this and like it, pass it on please. I probably won't do it again. Okay, I promise I won't do it again.

The Minneapolis race for Mayor is just as important for those of us who live here. This one has me seething, for I have watched thirty years of white privilege skirt issues, ignore injustices, misdirect good intentions, and in general pretend that the economic and judicial disparities between whites and people of color in this town are nonexistent, not to worry our pretty heads about. Pisses me off so much. The recent increasing intensity between the Blue Union and its charges, however, have pushed issues to the front of the podium, now (but not for much longer) occupied by Vapid Betsy, champion of bicycle commuters and the black hole into which any reason (or perhaps funding, we don't know) around the now-three-year reconstruction of downtown Nicollet Mall flowed. She doesn't stand a chance.

And now I have been called on my cell phone number, which I don't ever give to organizations or websites, by the candidate who appears to be the DFL's pick for Mayor, a perfectly nice married gay man whose best qualification seem to be that he loves loves loves it here. I am so sick of this. . .

So forward into the breach, or ditch, or whatever kind of mudslinging convention politics draws up in difficult times. We have very good choices for each of these positions, candidates with experience and the right stuff to deal with matters at hand. I am not going to cite their qualifications - use the links.

 For Governor, Former Speaker of the House Paul Thissen,

For Mayor, Rev. Dr. Nekima Levy-Pounds,

Go to it, Babies - pass these names around.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Nailed a Retread to my Feet – Again

It’s a little harder to get excited when it is the umpteenth time around, but the bones are there. The intention is there, and the insights will come. I know how to do this and it should be simply elegant.

Because the alternative is not an option.

I have been recovering from an expensive failure since Christmas. Not for the first time, hardly, but for the first time as a senior. I must now be more careful with my physical resources, get enough sleep, keep exercised, energy I can no longer take for granted. Just as important, Silver Fox and my other friends are mostly retired, and the pace around me has slackened. Relax. Take your time. And so, without complaint and with some relief, I have subsided from forward-looking focus into the busy-ness of the familiar. Floated my thoughts on plans for the garden, sorted anxieties with the contents of my closets, and opted for lubricated conversation at every opportunity.  Porch-sitting has become a specialty.

For my entire life, “learning lessons” has been all about discovering what I DON’T want. It has been a process of elimination, and now that I am in my third stage, I no longer have the time or the temperament to waste on experiments.

But as those thoughts float away into the distance, uncoordinated and unremarked, I can feel my temperature rising with them. I really don’t like not having a plan, and boredom pisses me off.

So I pray for better weather and embark again on a plan for my future. Focus forward, I am still standing. This time I am basing all my choices on personal satisfactions so that there will be nothing to fail at, nothing to ever get over again. This time I am going to just have fun.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Are You Experienced?

I saw this article recently and tried to make some sense of it. For me, that is not always possible with science and technology, but sometimes a correlation with my reality does appear and I can construct an image of what the discovery means, or at least what it means to me.

Blue Brain team discovers a multi-dimensional universe in brain networks

Even if I don't know exactly what they are measuring as a "dimension," I can see that using the term to describe my brain allows me to infer a multi-dimensional existence, and that is something that I CAN understand. What this article has done for me is to re-characterize my own musings from the metaphorical to the physical. That physically the molecules of my body can stand in one place together and still, under differing circumstances, be many different things is not a new concept, but it becomes a more solid image, more real, when I consider that it is not only my imagination constructing reality; that my imagination constructs reality in dimensions because my physical brain runs things that way. I am very tempted to talk about manifestation. . .

But for now, I can continue to parse out areas of myself to explore as I have in fact done so many times, a methodology of conscious living. The change is that I have previously thought about these divisions as facets, PART of the whole me; but if I think of them now as dimensions, I see they all occupy the same space, and in fact cannot be separated. Perhaps they should be called "frequencies" instead of "facets." Family, work, personal growth, physical maintenance-these are all overlapping divisions of my life, each defined and updated on a regular bases.  

If I cast my attention on one of these areas and step into those thoughts (tune to this frequency?), I have a different take on the whole in light of the priorities of the dimension I inhabit. To perceive the whole from the singularity changes the decisions I will make for my future. This is not exactly a new way to look at myself, but calling it out by the same name as a structure in my brain makes me see how natural and how elegant the mechanism is-this is how minds operate! 

Far out:)

Monday, June 19, 2017

If I Knew the Way

Amazon Prime just released a six-part documentary on the Grateful Dead. What deadhead could pass that up? Directed by Justin Kreutzman, of drummer pedigree, this film does the group justice, so Thank You, Justin, for a Real Good Time.

The first five parts were full of music and pics that reignited memories and split my face with smile. The freewheeling drug-saturated early days, the years they gleefully flipped off Warner Brothers, their gradual acclimation to studio work and the resulting touring promotions that knocked them out with fun. And always the music, the music that was at the core of the experience for us all.

In fact, I never thought much about the band members – they were just the guys who played the music. I didn’t know if they were married, had kids, or how old they were. The Dead were far more a unit than individuals. When they worked, they were magic, magic that saturated thousands of us with the beauty of their separate geniuses, the whole more than the sum of the parts. They were a multiplicity.

The songs that still make me cry are Garcia/Hunter collaborations.  Impossible to separate the music from the lyric. I will always be thankful for those shows, as I am still thankful for the metaphors that appear, so many years later, in the flow of my life. I’ve never been able to decide if it is the poetry, the philosophy, or the tune that takes my attention, but this music has formed the backbone of my own approach to living and I rotate through albums and taped shows depending on my own needs at the moment. The Dead have been my prophets.

But Part six was all about Garcia, an apologia for his passing and an attempt to rationalize our loss. All about how gargantuan the phenomenon of the Grateful Dead had become, and all about how well he didn’t take responsibility. How awful, I thought, would be such sprawling influence and craven celebrity? But, I also thought, if you are up there putting yourself forward for comment, then you had better be able suck up the response, whatever that is. Or perhaps not.

Dead shows, once their faces were plastered on popular magazine covers, went completely out of control, over the top, and in a couple of cases, right through the fence. What must it have been like for the band to watch this happen, to realize that there were more people partying outside than inside the venue? That the scene had turned not only drugged but drunk and more than disorderly? Volatile, rude, dangerous; the exact opposite of the music. How would you like to be responsible for that? They stole his face right off of his head. . .

And so, was it overdose or suicide? Probably both. But in my opinion, there was never ever a person with more right to end at will than Jerry Garcia. My loss is not his, and if enough is enough, then it is none of my business. I can only assume his soul needed rocking, and more power to him. 

There is a road, no simple highway, between the dawn and the dark of night.
And if you go, no one may follow - that path is for your steps alone.

Monday, May 29, 2017

America Today

Guest writer Kirk Hill 
This morning I found under my bed a Russian. I ran to the kitchen and found my best fork. Upon returning, the Russian was gone. No one will believe me. How do you know it was a Russian, they will ask.  But, of course, they all look alike. This has been proven many times by official research.  
This whole episode was very unsettling.  I decided to keep it a secret. I have seen Russians. Some deploy disguises, but they are nonetheless unmistakable. Once a Russian, always a Russian, so it is said. 
I now double -lock my doors. One morning I found a window unlocked.  I ran to my bed and sure enough, underneath, there was a Russian. I had left my fork bedside, just in case. Plunging it into the Russian left me covered with blood.  
I ran to the bathroom to clean up. The blood stains had ruined my clothes so I threw them away. They say Russian blood is different, not Type O or Ab, none of that, rather Type Russian, known as Type R. This has been kept very quiet for a very long time. Doctors very much frown on Type R transfusions, or so I am told. 
Returning to my bed with my largest plastic bag I stooped over and nothing! The Russian was gone. Not even a bloodstain.   
I awoke the next morning refreshed. Nothing was under the bed, a relief, yet somehow a disappointment. On my way home from the grocery store I picked up a newspaper.  And there it was, an article, beneath the fold but still on the front page, about a local outbreak of Russians found in area homes under beds. Citizens were asked to report any such incidents. I of course had no intention of making any such a report.  
This has been a carefree land, free of Russians. No more. How does one deal with them? I looked in the newspaper for tips.  Nothing. I received a phone call. I was asked to serve on a television panel to discuss Russians. Word had gotten out that I am an expert on Russians. 
Just before going on the air I revealed that I am not a Russian expert. The program moderator—he had a badge---asked, Wasn’t I an American? I said yes. He said, “Good enough.”  As the show started. I ran out. At home I collapsed. I locked the doors and windows. 
The Russians are dangerous, I know. I do my best to remain vigilant. Now my fork is always with me.  
I have tweeted my friends, such as they are.  
Kirk Hill lives in the Chippewa Forest, near Remer, Minnesota 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Another Change of Face

Always in my past when the way I interface with the world has changed, I have had something happen to my face. 

No really, physically. 

When my kids left home, I suddenly and for the first time had dental problems and I lost two teeth as well as two people I love. It made my cheekbones sharper:) When I lost a job to which I had been totally committed, I started a little growth on my cheek that years later needed to be removed. When my current job description changed from a much busier venue into the job ideal, a lymph node in my neck swelled up and created a cyst so that not just me but everyone saw a different me for a few days.

Now my Eustachian tubes are blocked - for almost two weeks, as if I don’t want to hear. As if I have closed off my ears so I don’t have to address inevitable change; ie. retirement options, my opportunity for the biggest change in perhaps fifty years. I will be opting out of the full frontal engagement landscapes that have been my context since I was eighteen and into the self-motivated isolation of the pasture I will be put out to.  I am not sure if I can take it!

On the other hand, the reason this has come up physically at all is because for the first time ever I have allowed the reality of retirement from the workplace to sink in. And the idea is swimming nicely, thank you. I do love to travel, and it would be wonderful to paint again, and my grandkids won’t be around for me forever. . .

It means moving off the River to the Lake. I can think of it as moving home, to the neighborhood and context I chose thirty years ago. It proved perfect for raising a family then, and I think it is turning out to be just as nurturing for a senior such as myself now.

But the River has been my core metaphor for as long as I can remember, musically when I lived at home, then physically at university and bankside locations in St. Paul and Minneapolis.  This move makes me feel panicky. Can I acclimate to the Lake Country? Can I be happy with the still verses the rolling? Can I live where the perimeter is round and not unbounded? Can I thrive on the quiet?

I don’t know the answers to these questions yet, but the journey to find them has begun as I reluctantly recognize and start to consider to where I am stepping at the end of the work staircase. Maybe it will clear out my ears.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Camelot Remembered

Twice now I have heard it, the music of the spheres.
To my astonishment, it was my own soul being called
from deepest sleep to consciousness, a bird’s wing asked to fly.

Lifting feathers boldly singing, reassuring raptures ringing,
ruby bellows waking and inflating aubergine
and green with brilliant sound, round and ripe with indigo,
glowing oval swelling sounding out and in and through,
a jemstone ringing truth with the knowing still unfolding
long past reason and my emerging sighs.  

Again a major miracle, a bridge into the vast
and unfuckingly unimaginable once and future past.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Hello Lampost

Once an adrenaline junkie, always an adrenaline junkie.

I was walking along the Mississippi River this morning, just taking in the sharp air and liquid sun, thinking that I have turned another corner, or perhaps just come around another bend. This time, my landscape is larger. It surrounds and dwarfs me in a way I have not known since I was young, and I love it. This must be what it is like to be free of VLPs. I am boggled!

VLPs, or Very Large Projects, have been how I met my adrenaline needs for most of my adult life. I just assumed it is the only mode I know, but I see now that is not true. That I LEARNED to need VLPs in order to keep myself focused, because I needed to be focused to get myself out of trouble. 

I can tell you that I remember now how fricking distractable I am at my core. I flung myself full-tilt boogie at whatever the wind blew into my way from the minute I left the tower of my childhood. I fell in love at the drop of a hat, read the great books cover to cover with no sleep, wrote anguished but hopeful trash poetry, and hitch-hiked to wherever my feet wanted to go. I poked, toked, and folked my way through the first half of my twenties, a sponge soaking up exotic sights, sounds, and smells, saving any thought about it all till some later occasion. I was a child of the universe. 

By the time I'd not got to Woodstock, however, I was embroiled in my first VLP, extracting myself from the absolutely lethal situation I had barreled naively right into. Took the whole rest of that decade to make it all better, and I have yet to do a harder thing or had to focus more. By the time I could focus on building family, I was already in the mode, so I did that hell bent for leather as well. When my nest emptied, I smooth-moved directly into a master's degree, followed by my first job out in the world for years, moving 3.5 million natural history collections into a new home across town. Now THAT kept me busy:)

And ever since I have dedicated my focus to one VLP after another, most recently my five-year, full-tilt foray into publishing. I took a big long breath after that; I have refused to think about the future for months now. 

And to my delight, I emerged from my cocoon into the river landscape this morning feeling a lot like I did when I was young, before I started down the VLP path, like I can look at whatever shiny distraction I want to now, like I don't need another VLP at all, ever. Like there is more wonder and beauty in my life than I can possibly soak up in the time I have left. More than enough to meet all my adrenaline needs.

Silver Fox will be shocked:)