I like dreaming.
The innocence, the trust, with these words I see a child.
I sat in the early morning hours watching my six year old Granddaughter’s hockey practice. Watched as the players gathered around their coaches like trusting little baby birds.
They pointed at their water bottles, the hockey gloves too cumbersome to grab the plastic bottles, the finger dexterity not there as yet to unscrew the tops loose themselves; instead they stood, heads tilted back, their faces lifted, partially hidden behind their protective helmet grill, open and trusting they asked and were received. Slowly the coaches went down the line, offering the Eucharist of hockey as they gently pour tiny swallows of water into each opened mouth before them.
The kids know Mom and Dad are nearby in the stands, there are no worries thickening the air. The coaches offer wise words and skate like pros; the children emit naturally an openness that says: You will protect me. You will not hurt me.
The trust is heart wrenching in its stripped bare innocence.
When searching for the magic that is hidden in the folds of everyday life, this is what your eyes should seek, this is what your heart should wish to recognize once again. Our purity of soul becomes pressed thin with the weight and responsibilities of our passing years; it’s an honour to be reminded once again of its presence.
To open my heart,
To refresh my spirit,
To awaken my soul,
And to remind myself that sometimes I have to let go.
We are always seeking comfort.
We look for it in every minute of our day, every moment of our lives. It’s what we need, what we use to fuel us forward.
Even in the midst of our dreams we look for that touch of warmth that gives us a little bubble of pleasure. It is this pleasure that comfort brings us, that ignites our sense of well being, which in turn, lets us know all is well in the world, at least in our own little corner of the world anyway. And sometimes that’s all that counts.
Whether it be small or large moments of the heart, or merely the slip of a moment we spend sitting quietly in the shade, we crave the softness of what makes us feel good.
We all have a different lists I’m sure: puppies, kittens, that lovely spoon full of sugar that Mary Poppins sang about, clean fresh sheets, a hug from someone you love that makes you feel like you could just float away, the new book that promises hours of enjoyment, all of it adds up to a shiver of home comfort which allows you to power up for the next battle life may bring.
For me just the other day, it was…believe it or not…a peanut butter sandwich. There I was at work, starting to get a wee bit sluggish in the late morning, when I remembered what was on my lunch menu that day. I swear I wanted to high five myself! I was, truthfully, taken aback for a moment: I’m excited about a peanut butter sandwich…a peanut butter sandwich? Hmmmm, I thought. I wonder if that is a good thing or a ‘maybe I should worry about my life’ thing?
Nope, I decided there and then, it’s a good thing.
It was rather nice to realize that my life is not so tangled up in past, present and future worries that it has forgotten about the simple pleasures of comfort.
I’m liking that.
I must check the flyer again for the next sale of peanut butter.
There are days when I want only to only look forward, when I want only to run freely under the trees, through the rain, to the sun on the other side that is my future.
But then there are days that wear heavy on my soul and I want only to turn back. I want only to look with arms outstretched to the person I was in the days that have flown by. I want to look squarely at the past that holds me still, and instead of quaking in regret, I want to take that person I was by the hand and say quietly “Come with me. Stay with me.”
And together, with those words between us, we will walk away, with hands linked in strength, from that which we cannot change.
Of late I have been working diligently on introducing more colour into my life.
My wardrobe has for many years centered around the basic black ensemble. Now I would like to think of it as me striving for the ‘little black dress’ look…simple but stylish, but for many it just initiates the question: why do you wear black all the time?
So this spring I felt the urge to add a splash of blue, some pink, even a flash of magenta to my attire. Look at me people!.. I am stepping out of the box, broadening my horizons! I rather liked the fact that the colour magenta apparently assists in releasing old and outdated patterns of behaviour, thereby enhancing growth and personal development. Yes! That’s it! I am so there!
Or so I thought.
I was at work the other day freshly robed in a top newly purchased. The material seriously felt wonderful against my skin, and the light shade of pink definitely added some colour to my sun starved complexion.
On a bathroom break, I paused for a moment in front of the mirror to primp and preen a wee bit, to fluff my hair, check my make-up, and admire how the new top made me feel, made me look. Hmmmm, let me think, how does that saying go…oh yes: “pride cometh before a fall”.
Finally I grew weary of my own admiration (ha, ha, ha..) and exited the ladies room. I took one, two, maybe three steps tops into the hallway, when a co-worker approached me. That’s how quickly these things happen.
“Hey,” she said as she reached up and lightly touched my cheek. “Would you pay for an ointment that would get rid of these for you?”
I stumbled and felt the fall begin.
“The redness?” I asked nervously. My pale skin does tend towards rosacea, which does bring about concerns and insecurities, so perhaps, hey maybe, she was offering me a remedy. It could happen, right? Little did I know that another insecurity was soon to be added to my carry-on baggage.
“No,” she said. “The bags and the circles, here and there.” She pointed helpfully. “Oh yes,” she continued. “Do I have a product for you!”
I could hear the audible hiss of the air as it leaked slowly out of my bruised ego.
Was I smiling? Was I? Too much maybe.
The day just continued to tumble on down from there. For some strange, twisted reason I decided right after work that it was as good a time as any to go buy a bathing suit. Rubbing salt into the open wound that was my ego perhaps? Was I saying ‘oh yeah, you think that was painful?… wait til you see this?’ Again…maybe. I don’t know, I just don’t know. I am so confused.
Anyhow, the bathing suit immediately, like magic, turned me into a stuffed sausage, right before my eyes…a stuffed sausage with bags under her eyes.
The bathing suit went back the next day, the bags under the eyes, well, they appear to be staying.
And it leaves me to wonder, do people who think they look good every single day, ever, ever, have days like this? Do they? I think not.
The other weekend, one of the most recent ones where we had been blessed with the warmth of the sun, I was sitting barefoot on the front stoop, side by side with my eldest grandson Tyler.
My toes were delighted to be free of the winter imprisonment of heavy socks, boots and shoes, and I sat there pressing them against the warmth already gathering on the surface of the cement steps.
A good day my mind and toes agreed—a very good day!
And then it happened. It was so unexpected, and it really shouldn’t have been.
“Nana,” Tyler said. “What happened to your toe? It doesn’t look…right.”
And so it has begun I thought. I have come full circle. Me, who used to gasp in astonishment and muted horror at my own Grandmother’s toes—has become the old fart on the receiving end. My Grandmother, who was fondly known amongst family members as Big Ruby—this due not to her immense size, but rather in honour of her large capacity for cruelty—had, there’s no other way to put it, awful, awful feet!
For a period of time it was my job to clip the nails on those aforementioned feet. I truly believe there in lies the moment when I began my love-hate relationship with feet. But seriously, have you ever noticed that along with the oddly shaped appendages they sprout, feet also have the tendency to cultivate hair growth. Hereditary perhaps?
Mental note to self: don’t let the grand kidlings read my blog. There’s enough to worry about when you are learning to manoeuvre through the growing up years, without the added baggage of twisted genes donated by family.
I stared down at my feet. The toe in question, a baby toe, had run into problems through the years, and after an operation, its size had been brutally cut in half. In moments of fondness, I call it my spud toe, the rest of the time I just call it ugly. And don’t get me started on my big toes, let’s just not go there.
Don’t worry oh innocent grandson with the Harry Potter glasses, I thought as I joined Tyler in the activity of staring at my happy, but slightly maligned toes. I promise you will never be asked to clip or comb my feet. It’s the least I can do.
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?—-Mary Oliver
As mentioned in my post last month, this particular collection of words has stayed with me, and has truly become my flag to action, my push to create, to do!
So many times we proclaim loudly for all to hear, that one day, we will do that which we have always dreamed of doing, or becoming. We will learn to paint, run a marathon, start a small business, take an acting class, whatever it may be, it will no longer be a dream, for we will, by our actions, turn it into reality.
But life and its everyday battles can, and do, get in the way, and before you know it, time, that hasty sprinter that can outrun us all, has barrelled on by, leaving us coughing and sputtering in its wake. In what feels like a blink of an eye, five years has gone by, then ten, then twenty, and mouths agape we shake our heads and proclaim: How? How could this have happened?
I ran across a photograph the other day taken twenty years ago. After a very difficult transition in my life, I ran away with a close friend for the weekend, a long May 24 weekend nonetheless, to Paris, France. As I sat there on the steps of the Opera House in Paris, I believed with all my heart that finally the time had come for me to become the very best ‘me’ I could offer up. No more dreaming I pledged to self, it was time to start doing.
Twenty years ago. It feels like yesterday, and that is the trick that time likes to play on us.
Now becoming the very best a person can be, I strongly believe is a job that takes a life time, but I forgot to put time aside for what I loved to do best, which is writing. I let time scatter my empty pages, and I didn’t pay attention.
Well, I’m paying attention now. I promise.
As I made my journey from adolescence, to teen, to adulthood, I discovered that I was, and it seems, always had been, envious of those we call collectors. Whether it be crystal figurines, delicate, impossibly thin china cups, pens, watches, or even cake platters, it mattered not. I wanted to be part of the parade, I wanted to become one with the highly thought of, but highly diverse party of gatherers.
So it began in earnest, this quest of mine, this desire to become a bona fide collector. The problem that lay before me was wrapped up neatly in the focal identification question, a query any collector with any true inventory would know to ask: what did I collect?
I needed inventory.
I went on this quest with total enthusiasm, holding forth another question before me like a shield: How hard could it be?
As the years tumbled by, I continued my journey as I tried out various treasures: horse statues of varying size and weight, tiny blue Chinese vases I originally discovered in a store on Sparks Street in Ottawa, pencils…regular or art, both I favour, and my tried and true friends… books, books, and more books.
Personal Note: Do books really fall under the category of ‘a collection’? Do people who are not collectors per se just not own any books? I shudder at the thought and have to turn away. No books? Not possible! How could they live, how could they breathe?
And then I made a discovery, it was not an earth shattering epiphany, it was more a quiet moment of recognition. I sat here recently sorting through all the bits of paper that I seem to accumulate daily, all snippets of thoughts, of places, of quotes I admired, all hurriedly jotted down on paper big and small, fragments, like puzzle sections that when assembled, one against the other, told the story of what I must do.
As the jigsaw puzzle became clear to me, I understood that I am forever in search of those special words, words that when carefully placed side by side clearly shouted out for attention, clearly stated that I must stay focused on what I was doing, where I was going.
It is easy to become lost.
I found finally a treasurer of words that will stabilize me as I move forward, for I feel they, at this moment in my life, make me stand up and take notice.
Here are the words that are now part of my treasure chest: Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?—-Mary Oliver
After all these years I have yet to fall in love with mornings, in fact, I struggle still to fully appreciate the early hours of a new day. Admittedly weekend mornings have a completely different flavour to them, as opposed to the work week, however neither will be found under my favourites.
I am able to tolerate weekend morns due to the fact they exist without the heart stopping peal of my nemesis the alarm clock. When I retire, or finally lay claim to that elusive winning lottery ticket, I will dispense with my night table clock. I may even have a ritual burning of said clock, and I will take perverse pleasure in watching its inner circuitry suffer irreparable damage.
I realize there are worse things than early mornings, but sometimes, while experiencing the weekly grind, I forget.
Recently, as life tends to do, I was offered up a valuable lesson in gratitude.
A long time friend of hubby’s was struck by MS…Muscular Dystrophy…about 10 years ago when only in his late 30’s. MS can progress slowly for some, but for others it can move at a heartbreaking rate. Hubby’s friend, a once tall and hearty man, has been left crippled with very little independent mobility. His world has shrunk drastically, leaving him to deal with a painful morning commute from bed to wheelchair.
Not long ago, he told hubby he would give anything to be able to rise in the early hours to don his trade uniform and head off to work. He had put in many years in the HVAC (Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) Industry and was proud of his license and his ability to earn a good living for his family. Now, he must depend on the assistance of others to dress, he struggles to stabilize his head movements in order to control his wheelchair, and finds it increasingly difficult to swallow.
Going back to work was the goal he wanted to strive towards, it was the dream he needed to believe would happen. This year he will let his license lapse.
Life is not always fair, and the cards we are dealt are not always what we want to see.
Suddenly we may find we miss that morning ritual called work.
Gratitude—something I must remember daily.