We decided last night we would leave our house at 5:00 a.m. to watch the sunrise. It was very cloudy and drizzling–would we be treated to a show? We decided to find out. Wayne and I listened to the Grateful Dead playing “Fire on the Mountain” live in 1983 on XM during our ride which was perfect since the morning sunrise cast a magical pink “alpenglow” on the clouds. We had the whole beach to ourselves except for a surfer and a walker in the distance.
I really wish the cliched photo of a human silhouette standing on a mountaintop or road with arms raised would cease to be the image to represent “success”. I keep seeing it on marketing materials and a quick google search for “success” turns up the same nonsense. It seems so 1990s Tony Robbins which works for some people, but not for me. All I can see, besides lack of imagination and following a tired marketing message is someone expressing their own greatness for having climbed a metaphorical mountain on their own. If that’s success then I’m an abysmal failure!
Sometimes I can’t contain my joy for living in such a beautiful place, but really, why would I want to? Is it because we’re trained to think that happiness springs from ignorance, so that only simple-minded people are content? Or is informed bliss (the name of my first blog in 2001) in a world filled with sadness and tragedy along with comfort, kindness and connection a real possibility?
YES! Yes it is!
While out walking in my neighborhood just now I saw a very little boy riding an even smaller peddle car. His grandmother was walking slightly ahead of him. He was going slowly which is to be expected. I smiled and said hello as I breezed past them.
“Why isn’t this going faster?” he asked his grandmother.
I thought that was such cute, innocent kid logic. If you see other cars zooming past, or an older lady walking more quickly then your ride, it’s a natural question, isn’t it?
Any one who uses the term ‘menial’ is touched with intellectualism. There are no menial tasks.
The college admissions scandal has highlighted what some have referred to as “affirmative action for the wealthy.” As I mention on my “about” page, I grew up in subsidized housing but went to an Upper East Side prep school with the aid of a scholarship. My freshman year of college was spent at Bennington College, also via scholarship. It was too painful for me to continue to be the kid from the wrong side of the tracks in places where the vast majority of students came from very wealthy homes. It was then I decided to transfer to the University of Maine in Orono where I earned my B.A. in English.
I attended grad school at the University of Vermont where I lived in a tiny house in the woods complete with big spiders* (steel-toed Doc Martens are a form of organic pest control) and was fortunate to have been awarded an assistantship for two years which paid my tuition in full and gave me a small stipend. However, that also meant my days began at 5:00 a.m. and I didn’t get home sometimes until 10 at night. Even so, my most valuable life lesson learned wasn’t a part of my curriculum, but in a playground.
“A fear of disagreeable facts, and conscious shrinking from clearness of light, which keep us from examining ourselves, increases gradually into a species of instinctive terror at all truth, and love of glosses, veils and decorative lies of every sort.”
John Ruskin, 1887
O Lord of life, and Lord of love! Love us into life, and give us life to love Thee. And if the passion of our souls go not out toward Thee, yet let obedience and quiet godliness be ours, until such time as faithful doing shall bring gladsome singing, and thy statutes, which once were but statutes to us, shall “become our songs in the house of our pilgrimage.”
O Lord of boundless life, grant us life enough to put life into all things, that when we travel o’er this part of our life, and it seems but dust and barrenness, we may be of those who hope in Thee. Smite Thou the rock, that water may come. Touch this barrenness, till all things bloom. Touch those of us whose life is barrener than it need be— lacking knowledge and beauty, filled with petty interests and foolish cares, growing no Rose of Sharon, no flowers of God. Lord, forgive us that our life is so poor, and grant us the thoughts of God, that we may be enabled for the time to come to make this very desert blossom as the rose.
My experience from both sides of the “couch” has taught me that there’s nothing simple about PTSD nightmares. The things I tried in my teens and twenties–using food and alcohol to try and bury and drown them, sometimes to the point of blacking out, created new real-life nightmare scenarios. In my late twenties through my forties I was afraid to go to sleep; I averaged about five broken hours a night. When I did sleep, and the nightmares struck, I woke up extremely exhausted.
I wish I could say that I am now completely free of nightmares and experience restful sleep. The good news is that I have made incredible progress over the past couple of years. I have fewer nightmares, am not terrified of going to sleep and am making my peace with them.
I acquired this little Victorian-era birthday greeting in a box with other small antique booklets and cards at an auction house in the early 2000s. It had a very powerful impact on me when I read it, but at some point it got placed in storage and so did the words that speak the resolve to be true to ourselves. (I’ve learned over the years that authentic people are the only people that really matter to me.) Recently I rediscovered this and hope to never put it out of my mind and heart. Perhaps it will speak to you, too. Continue reading “Resolution: Victorian-Era Advice Worth Following”