Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How To Step Back Into The Dance of Life

Last night I had to push my weary body to take that first step back into the dance of life, by returning to dance. It was not easy and it was exhausting. How strange the struggle is, of going forward with life as usual, when life is anything but usual. How to allow myself to attempt to experience joy, without guilt. How dare I, but how dare I not. It felt like the moving walkway in the airport, that you try to find the perfect moment to step onto, without missing a step. To step back into my old life with the people and commitments and find that opening, because yes, things are not the same as usual. Yet those places of solace, those comforting richnesses are still there, I just have to step into them, to find that opening. How strange to enter the dance space and see the poem that was strewn on the floor, the same poem we were dancing when I left three weeks ago, a lifetime ago. There was a comfort in that sameness. Like in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy awakens from her "dream" to find all is still the same, waiting for her as if she had never left.  It felt that time had somehow stood still, and that the dance had waited for me. In reality, it is the longest Mary Oliver Poem we have danced to date, so I was soothed to see that I was there the first day we started dancing it, and would be present to continue the poem until we were done. The line that chose me last night, did not particularly speak to me, from Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches? My line was, "And I would touch the faces of the daises," but when Winky commented that maybe it meant to be gentle with myself, I felt touched, moved, held, loved. The line my fellow dancer chose spoke to me in a more immediate direct way, the way that I have been feeling but suffer my devotion."  so I know I danced that line too. This is what it feels like right now. How devotion always seems to bring suffering of some kind. The devotion does not feel like a choice, but is the suffering inevitable? I am trying to figure this one out, to dance it out in my life right now with baby steps, the only dance steps I can take at this moment. And the last line of the poem is, "I climb, I backtrack. I float. I ramble my way home."

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Persistence of Memory

There is no one way to let go, to hold on, to give up hope of a better past, and to live in this moment, as painful as it may be, as you let a loved one go. I can't stop being drawn to listen to the song The Persistence of Memory, over and over again. It is so ironic, because it brings me back to a time and place when I was in elementary school, starring as the scarecrow in the school production of The Wizard of Oz, a book that has become my personal bible. I remember going to my teacher Mrs. Snyder's house for a cast party, and as everyone mingled, the painfully shy me, sat on the couch devouring what would be the first art book that would start my obsessively wonderful art book collection. When I returned home like an excited school girl, and told my parents, my next surprise present was none other than my very own copy of the Salvador Dali that I still have today. This book, the luscious gold covered Salvador Dali book, with the melting clocks of his painting The Persistence of Memory on the cover, is still one of my all time cherished books. I became enthralled with surrealism in art and still am, and the way I am feeling right now is surreal. I am sleep deprived and my soul is aching. My legs feel as liquid as the melting clocks, and they feel as they can not support me most of the time. I feel the need for the crutches that are omnipresent in Dali's paintings. I am trying to hold my family and myself up with a liquid body, and hold my mother up as well, because her legs are truly failing, her as she transitions out of the world as she has known it. I am so angry that I keep being presented with lessons on how to learn to live "the new normal". How many shifts in the world as one knows it, can be made, and still feel some sort of stability, rootedness, sense of place? I feel as if as soon as I learn how to navigate a road, the road changes. They have been tarring and paving and rerouting people in this Florida community in which my mother lives for the two weeks (or has it been two months that I have been here?) and nothing seems to go smoothly. Time seems to both stand still, and be endless at the same time. Is it unrealistic to think that life should go smoothly? Apparently so! I finished my 2 mile walk, in the first rain and breeze of this oppressively hot and humid Florida. It has felt suffocating, but not as suffocating as my mother must be enduring, so how can I complain. I can finally open the windows and let a bit of the outside in, but it still feels so claustrophobic. I feel like I am drowning and trying to reach and grab onto a lifeline that I can barely see through the fog, yet I continue to reach, to dig deeply, to find the strength to move through this, knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel, although it seems so dark and elusive in this moment. I have to have faith that light does exist and that "this too shall pass" (one of my father's favorite sayings). Although right now, I find it difficult to feel thankful or grateful, although this year has given me so much to feel grateful for, this Thanksgiving, the greatest gift would be a peaceful dignified passing for my mother. As I completed my walk, the last song to shuffle to my ears was India Arie singing the lyrics "strength, courage and wisdom are inside of me". Have to make that my mantra and hold onto that truth and believe. And then the memories will persist, good, bad and everything in between. I think that must be what we call life...........
The Persistence of Memory
When I’m traveling far from home
On the wide horizon
I can feel you’re still around
And the dream overtakes me
Then I know, you’ll stay in this moment
We’ll go where it’s flowing
You’ll be what you want to be right here, with me 
When I’m out here on my own
And it all cuts through me
I see you’re safe alone
Ah, then it hits me 
And I know, you’re here in this moment
Right where it’s flowing
You are what you want to be
Right here, with me
Stay in this moment
Go where it’s flowing
You are what you want to be
Right here, with me . . . with me . . . with me. . .

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dancing and Falling Into The Longest Poem as the Days Grow Darker

Now that it is truly feeling like the crisp autumn is upon us,
 a time of feeling a pull inward to the darkness, that, however difficult, 
 I feel I must resist against for the moment,
 I danced last night for the last time for a few weeks, 
 as I begin my journey to Florida, to share some richness of family. 
 I take this poem with me, 
 to inspire, to inquire, to explore, to sort it out, to understand,
 to dance the poem in my life, as I did last night to the shortest line,
 I float.
 This poem could not be more perfect for me to delve into, 
 and move through into the darkness the end of the year brings. 
 It offers such richness and depth. Ironic, that this line, I float, 
 chose me last night, since I have not been feeling grounded lately, 
 yet not feeling the lightness of being that the vision of floating
 brings into my mind either. Instead, I need to be grounded, rooted,
 yet I will be flying once again, traveling that does not come easily to me. 
 How does one float and stay grounded simultaneously?
 It seems like an oxymoron.
 I feel like my arms are the wings that are being used to fly, 
 although weighted down with emotions of many sorts, 
 making it difficult for my arms, my wings, to lift in flight. 
 They are heavy with burden, yet I try to lift them anyways, 
 and float, glide, if I can. Trying to gain the momentum I need,
 to propel myself forward into the darkness, 
 and carry my family with me. But for now, 
 I will try to enter the long black branches, to try to become rooted, 
 grounded, and savor every word, every line my fellow dancers 
 began to dance last night with me, and I will continue to dance 
 into the growing darkness, as the longer darkening days of autumn
 slip silently upon us. I will take them all in on my travels, 
 and dance them, however my life shows up at the moment. 
 I will try to gain wisdom and strength from these words, 
 as I carry my family on my wings and still try to reach that 
 lightness of being and be able to soar, and in the words of Mary Oliver 
.............determined to do the only thing you could do 
--determined to save the only life you could save..... 

Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches?
                                     ~ Mary Oliver~

"Have you ever tried to enter the long black branches of other lives --
tried to imagine what the crisp fringes, full of honey, hanging
from the branches of the young locust trees, in early morning, feel like?

Do you think this world was only an entertainment for you?

Never to enter the sea and notice how the water divides
with perfect courtesy, to let you in!
Never to lie down on the grass, as though you were the grass!
Never to leap to the air as you open your wings over the dark acorn of your heart!

No wonder we hear, in your mournful voice, the complaint
that something is missing from your life!

Who can open the door who does not reach for the latch?
Who can travel the miles who does not put one foot
in front of the other, all attentive to what presents itself
Who will behold the inner chamber who has not observed
with admiration, even with rapture, the outer stone?

Well, there is time left --
fields everywhere invite you into them.

And who will care, who will chide you if you wander away
from wherever you are, to look for your soul?

Quickly, then, get up, put on your coat, leave your desk!

To put one's foot into the door of the grass, which is
the mystery, which is death as well as life, and
not be afraid!

To set one's foot in the door of death, and be overcome
with amazement!

To sit down in front of the weeds, and imagine
god the ten-fingered, sailing out of his house of straw,
nodding this way and that way, to the flowers of the
present hour,
to the song falling out of the mockingbird's pink mouth,
to the tippets of the honeysuckle, that have opened

in the night

To sit down, like a weed among weeds, and rustle in the wind!

Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?

While the soul, after all, is only a window,

and the opening of the window no more difficult
than the wakening from a little sleep.

Only last week I went out among the thorns and said
to the wild roses:
deny me not,
     but suffer my devotion.
Then, all afternoon, I sat among them. Maybe

I even heard a curl or tow of music, damp and rouge red,
hurrying from their stubby buds, from their delicate watery bodies.

For how long will you continue to listen to those dark shouters,
caution and prudence?
Fall in! Fall in!

A woman standing in the weeds.
A small boat flounders in the deep waves, and what's coming next
is coming with its own heave and grace.

Meanwhile, once in a while, I have chanced, among the quick things,
upon the immutable.
What more could one ask?

And I would touch the faces of the daises,
and I would bow down
to think about it.

That was then, which hasn't ended yet.

Now the sun begins to swing down. Under the peach-light,
I cross the fields and the dunes, I follow the ocean's edge.

I climb, I backtrack.
I float.
I ramble my way home."

Trying to Absorb Our Wonderful Grand Canyon/Sedona Voyage

I have arrived, I can't believe I am here and I am in shock!!!!

I have not fully absorbed and given myself time to embrace my trip to Arizona, since I will be on the road again shortly. I think I have not written about the trip because it is something that words cannot describe. The almost 700 pictures I took , do not even come close to capturing the awesomeness of Mother Nature and the humbling smallness that I felt. Smallness in a wonderful way, as I felt held by all I saw. There were many highlights as I explored the land hiking the Red Rocks of Sedona,
 or seeing the sun set from the balcony of our hotel,
venturing down hiking into The Grand Canyon, 

(well the word Grand simply doesn't do it justice!)

from the air, on the Colorado River

 hiking into Antelope Canyon, accompanied by our Navajo guide playing his flute, a truly spiritual moment for us both,

watching the elk frolic outside the lodge, 

being gifted with a rainbow over the Grand Canyon!,

To say the least, it was the trip of a lifetime, and I feel forever changed for having experienced it and especially for sharing it with my beloved!

 and see the world through his eyes!