‘I believe that my whole creative life stemmed from this magic hour under the stars on that hilltop.’

~ Ruth St. Denis

I love snow.  Big, huge, fluffy snowflakes that actually cover the ground, sticking to the leaves in the trees…  Muting  all artifice until you can’t help but hear the bird cry…

I love to be outside when it’s snowing — to feel it tickling my cheeks and eyelashes, to listen to its silence and all of the promises contained therein, to inhale that essence of transparency, purity…

I love first snows.  They may be among the most sacred experiences ever.  There is something amazing, magical; they overflow with anticipation, excitement, exhilaration…

To behold individual miracles dancing down with such abandon…  If you hold your breath, you have a sneak peek into the moment of creation’s transition — anything and everything can happen in that instant.

And the observer, also, is transformed by the encounter, in the opportunity to also be made different, new… all naïveté and curiosity, filled with wonder and joy and a million possibilities.

It is perhaps this quality of snow that always makes me think of fairy tales.

Do you know the story of Snow White and Rose Red?   A perfect story for any girl’s fantasies…  And the Little Match Girl; the Snow Queen; the Red Shoe; the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe… All of my favorite fairy tales taking place in the snow!

I think that, in my imagination, I even set other fairy tales in the snow, whether or not it’s mentioned… the Shoemaker, the Tinderbox, the Nightingale…  It is snow’s ability to usurp reality, to paint a whole new landscape – dreamscape – that makes it ideal for fancy, for caprice…

Much of my snow obsession is connected to my memory of course…Childhood hours, days, years spent in the snow, playing, laughing, dreaming…  But even my adult memories are filled with snow.  I can place most of the people I love in images of white…

Today, of course, I think of you.  The scene outside the window this morning the same as while I waited, thrilled, readied to see you on our first date.  A hike, an adventure, a piggy-back ride through teasing white expanses…

Actually, in my mind, I think of you as being nearly the same thing — you and snow.  I have the same sensations and reactions to both of you.

My sweetest, most treasured memories of you involve snow… hands touching for the first time, kissing you for the first time, hot-springing under the stars, skating in the dark, sleeping under ancient rafters, finding profound peace and tranquility with my head against your chest, seeing you in that mist sometimes left behind after the snow, talking of love and dreams, reading Proust while driving through a winter wonderland, savoring candlelit dinners and oatmeal breakfasts, loving, loving and so much love…

All a mingling of you, snow and lots of joy, wonder and delight.

Are you watching snow this morning?  Does it settle on the trees outside your window?  The eave above your door?

Do you hold memories of the same?  Music, candlelight, lavender… and the fairy tale ending we knew to be unfeigned?

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‘Counting is the religion of this generation, it is its hope and its salvation.’
~Gertrude Stein

A couple of years ago, my roommate, another friend and I were trying to understand our individual relationship patterns and why it was they were not working for us.

Loverly L (the roommate/most treasured friend) suggested an activity in which we would list all of the characteristics that we wanted in a partner.  We would then slowly and methodically narrow them down to four,  the four most essential traits that our perfect partner would have to possess.

The idea was that perhaps we were settling, not necessarily for less than what society prescribes for a good partner, but settling in a way in which we were unknowingly compromising our personal values and desires.

Maybe if we consciously identified what we valued most in a partner and were to look for those things, then other traits, either frustratingly missing or present, may appear to be less significant.

For some reason I was unable to make this list.  As I later tried to complete it on my own, what I realized was that I am less concerned with personality traits than I am with relationship traits.

I find that, given the absence of psychopathy or mental deficiency, most people understand and are able to choose desirable behaviors when they want to.  When they want to be honest they are, when they want to be respectful they are, when they want to be attentive they are… when they don’t care, well…

People choose to behave in valued ways when they value the situation in which they find themselves.

Furthermore, I have no control over the behaviors another person chooses.  However, I do have control over what kind of relationship I am working to create.

The answer then seemed to be to create a context that is equally appreciated by myself and my partner, so that, on our own, we would each choose to behave in the ways that honor the relationship and each other.

I attempted the exercise once again and ultimately came up with four Core Traits that I wished to characterize my next relationship – Equity, Intimacy, Stimulation and Purpose.

Now it may come as a surprise to some of you, but I am an over-achiever.  And so I had to further explore what each of these concepts meant to me, discovering their subtleties and the expanse of their possible connotations…

  • Equity: balanced, respectful, reliable, generous, attentive, trustworthy, responsive, tender, sheltering, an exchange, supportive, holistic, integrated…
  • Intimacy: physical/emotional/spiritual closeness, conscious, present, nurturing, safe, affectionate, kind, generous, open, honest, aware, respectful, caring, compassionate, grateful, protective, joyful…
  • Stimulation: intellectual, communicative, spontaneous, exciting, interesting, surprising, educational, growing, challenging, adventurous, curious, creative, inquiring, wonder-filled, experimental, experiential…
  • Purpose: intentional, self-aware, centered, service-oriented, present, accountable, spiritual, conscious, empowering, prosperous…

Then I met my partner.

Does it still drive me crazy when his lateness makes me late?  Absolutely.

Does he hate the fact that I always turn off my ringer?  Pretty certain that’s a yes.

Are there other issues that I had no way of foreseeing?  Obviously.

But having this list has provided a good place to establish agreement on the form our relationship takes.  It has given a stable foundation on which we can build.  And it has provided a clear focal point to which we can return whenever we are uncertain…

‘Art is the imposing of a pattern on experience, and our aesthetic enjoyment is recognition of the pattern.’
~  Alfred North Whitehead

The lovely, Modern Miracle Me , has recently nominated my blog for a Kreativ Blogger Award.   As I have said in gratitude to her, I am humbled that anyone would take the time to read my random musings, and am incredibly honored to have them recognized by a peer in such a way…

The Award is designed to encourage more sharing, both of oneself and of the other amazing talent that can be found in the blogosphere.

As a condition of acceptance, I am to tell you ten (10) previously unknown facts about myself and then point you in the direction of at least six (6) bloggers who deserve this same acknowledgment.

So…

  1. I listen to Foreign Language tapes when I am feeling insomnic.
  2. I can’t do dishes without wearing dishgloves.
  3. I am in love with trees.
  4. Sometimes when I use sugar-scrub, I forget if I’ve washed my hair.
  5. I find hilarity in the ironic – and have (? regrettably?) passed this on to my son.
  6. I am considering anarchy (the pacifist, feminist kind).
  7. I am a nerd.  (A little cheat, as that may have been known…)
  8. I can’t drink out of plastic cups.
  9. Such things as canyons, tractors and mechanical schematics turn me on.
  10. If you run into me on the street wearing an interestingly textured shirt, I am likely to ask if I can touch you…
And then…

The following are some bloggers I greatly admire.  I am a linguist (oh, #11!) and language and its usage are important to me.  These writers know that words are like paint, and create true art.  Thank you to each of them and to you for offering them your kind appreciation!!

‘The key to change… is to let go of fear.’    ~ Roseann Cash

I am a Gemini.  Gemini with Libra rising.  A combination I once read to be ‘mildly schizophrenic’.  I thrive on change.

Until the birth of my child, I could put everything I owned into the back of my car.

I have lived in 3 countries,  4 states, 15 cities, 25 homes, an Inuit hostel and a VW bus.

I attended 6 Universities (the same area of study!), and have already held enough jobs to have had three careers.

The fashion I enjoy, the food I crave, the position that turns me on, all change with my mood, and if the light changes, well, then…

My partner is a Capricorn.  He does not do change.

When we first met, he labeled me indecisive.  This I have issue with.  I do not waver or falter in my decisions.  But life is always new and in motion and the circumstances may have changed such that the previous choice is no longer valid.

(Just because he would always ride a black scooter… well, a black scooter does not fit all occasions.  There are times and places where an orange or pink or violet or… well, order mine with polka-dots!)

I have since decided that I am cloud-like…  Clouds can always be named:  Cirrus, Stratocumulus, Lenticularis, Kelvin-Helmholtz…  They could not be called indecisive, yet, they are constantly transforming, adjusting and adapting to the temperature, the wind, the sunlight…

Clouds are sensitive and evolving and mutable.  And so am I.

So imagine my shock to have seen myself traumatized by impending change!

It is true.  It has happened twice now.

There has been much less change in my life since the birth of my son (only 7 homes in the last 12 years) and it has sometimes been difficult to tame my wanderlust…

But I have learned to appreciate different joys in life.  Like stability and calm and contentment.

I now own things like beds and bookshelves and paintings and have come to view this phase of my life as both luxurious and serene.  It has allowed me time to discover myself and to know deep gratitude for the people in my life.

Yet, twice now, I have had my contentment threatened and agitated by outside forces.

… And there is the moment of my self-discovery.

Embracing change that I have initiated is one thing.  Being asked to celebrate change that I did not seek is quite another.

When life instigates revolution, I have found that I can be as rigid as the next person.

But concrete clouds would fall out of the sky.  And I am hoping for the grace to stay aloft for at least a little longer…

‘Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.’                                       ~  Robert Heinlein

Yesterday was an amazingly lovely day, with warm weather and blue skies and hikes with lovers along mountain streams.  And this is the setting in which I thought I would attempt to broach the subject of doctors and health and understanding…

The discussion seemed to be going naturally in that direction, flowing with the water…

We were talking of money, my current lack of it, and his generous desire to help me with it.

Now, there is a whole history of reasons why I am uncomfortable taking money from others.  Culturally, we are conditioned to think that needing help, most especially financial help, indicates failure, an avoidable failure, had we only made better decisions, or been more attentive or more industrious or…

Those cultural reasons have been compounded by economic abuses that I have known in other relationships.  Where money was used to control and to shame and to punish.

We discussed those things and his desire to help without any pressure or coercion…  And his hope that I would offer him the chance to demonstrate that…

But I have no fear of his using money or anything else to control me.  He is sincerely respectful and kind and concerned.

But I have refused it thus-far anyway.  My concern is that he cannot truly afford to help me.

There are things that he could use any extra money for… like visiting a doctor.  And this is what I said.

And he just said, as he has said before, even in the midst of great pain, that the doctors can’t really do anything for him.

So I replied, in my typical need-to-know-everything fashion, “But they can at least give you an idea of where you are right now.  That would allow you to look at all of the options and choose whatever seems best for you.”

And he answered, “I am happier now than I have ever been…”

“I am afraid they will say something that will steal my happiness.”

… So, there you go.  How do you knowingly send anyone down a dark alley to have their happiness mugged?

How do you rob joy from anyone?  especially the dying?  especially the one you love?

How can my desire for preparation, essentially for some kind of control in this unmanageable situation, ever be worth stealing my lover’s happiness?

‘If a man possesses a repentant spirit his sins will disappear, but if he has an unrepentant spirit his sins will continue and condemn him for their sake forever.’   ~ the Buddha

I have been pondering the experience of driftwood…  What kind of crime could a tree possibly commit to be condemned to such an eternity?

At first glance it seems an enviable fate, to spend all of your days seated on a beach, contemplating the sea in all of its beauty…

To have the sound of the surf and the birds as your daily music.  To watch the magnificent power of the waves as they lift all of that water toward the sky, higher and higher until the weight – or perhaps the anticipation – becomes too much and it is transformed into a jubilant crashing of spray, air, bubbles and play.  To memorize the varied ways in which the water returns to the sea…

First, the most impatient water takes no time to even graze the sand.  It rushes right back, confronting the incoming waves and creating a moment of chaos and confusion in which all directionality is lost…

But the water underneath is less impetuous.  It slides along the shore, feeling it, caressing it, until a communion has been achieved and, at peace, it can slide back, smooth and tranquil, like gliding on glass, to rejoin the ocean…

And finally, that water that has dawdled too long and gets left behind.  There is a realization, and it runs, bounces, unsure of whether or not it will catch up before the next wave tosses it carelessly back on the sand…  But it continues its trying anyway.  Beading and tripping over itself in its determinedly valiant – but vain – effort…

… Anyway… driftwood…  What a seemingly lovely life – or afterlife…  Being bathed daily by that same water, under the huge wide sky…

Until you look closer and realize that the sea doesn’t bathe anything.

It charges onto the sand, beats the rocks and rapes the shoreline.  It doesn’t caress the wood left sitting there, but steals from it, pillages it.  Wrenching from it all color, all softness, all texture… all life.

And in the end it is still not content to just leave it’s victim there, bared, empty and alone.  No, it walks slowly, confidently away, mocking, laughing and with a nonchalant air following behind…

Can you imagine what it must be like to be that driftwood?  Tortured by the very beauty of its predicament?  To sit there before all the glory and magnificence of the shore and sky and sea and know that all that splendor is just an endless punishment?

That the water is just biding its time with other diversions until it decides to return, drowning you again.  That you could only wait to be resurrected to the complete hopelessness of reliving the experience over and over and over again…

*                                                            *

I have known periods of both life and love that were a lot like being  driftwood.  So much promise of beauty and joy and delight and such endless heartbreak…

What wrong could a tree ever have done and what mistakes could I possibly have made?

‘This show is a roller coaster of emotions – there’s comedy, anticipation, tears of joy… and no-one can take an audience on a better ride than that.’   ~Andrea Wong

Sometimes I cry when I’m overwhelmingly happy.

This can be disconcerting to observers, especially when they are more than observers and are actual participants in my happiness.  This might be most disconcerting to unsuspecting lovers.

Sex can sometimes make me very happy.  Happy to the point of overflowing tears.

There is a moment – you know the one, when I no longer need air, when I am wrapped in the splendor of split light, when whatever I once was has dissolved into the stardust of the universe – when all that remains is a suffusion of joy and love…

And tears.

I have known this state of moist emotion at the vast love that I have for another, at the expansion that happens when all the seeds of creation are waiting to germinate and bloom in the warmth of the love radiating from within me.

I have known this state of damp sensation at the immense love that another has offered me, at the sanctuary that exists when they have draped my body, mind and soul with the verdant branches of loving me so well.

I have known this flowing phenomenon at the great sadness that follows the pressing recognition that both stimuli are not present, together.

Why does it seem as if the balance of loving and being loved is just too delicate to achieve?

Why would I experience such ardorous depths for one who will never comprehend them?  Who will never value them or me or us in the same way?

Why would the profound tenderness and delight I have for another not match the passion proffered?   The adoration so worthy of being returned?

‘We empower ourselves through education and through knowledge, and without that we limit ourselves.”‘       ~ Shakila Ahmad

I am a know-it-all…  well, I aspire to be one.  And not one of those know-it-alls who thinks they know everything, but they really know nothing.  No, I even know how much I don’t know.

And I don’t want to acquire knowledge to hold over others.    I just have this insatiable curiosity that wonders about everything, that wants to comprehend how everything works, what everything means.  I need as much information as possible to understand the world and to, therefore, choose my path in it.

This is at the root of my need to know more about my partner’s cancer and approaching death.

I want to be prepared.  I want to know more than Death, so that I can anticipate it and recognize it and… what else?  What would I do with more knowledge?  Would I try to counter Death?  Would I welcome it?  What?

– Three years ago, half of my body went numb.  Well it was probably closer to 18.7%.  But it was all localized on the left side.  And I had no toe-reflex.  (That is apparently a very bad thing, for those of you who don’t know.)

The experts thought I had MS.

It turns out that I just had a crazy reaction to the emotional stress of my job and family.  But, before I got the results from those final MRI’s I had learned everything I could about the disease and the symptoms of the disease and its progression and impact.  I wanted to know everything, so that I could be ready and I could ready my child and I could prepare for any anticipated eventuality…

– That is what I want now.  To know everything so that I may recognize and ready and prepare.  I want to know so that when I see things happening, I have an idea of what it means… whether it means that Death and I are closer to this meeting.

‘ The question is not whether we will die, but how we will live.’   ~Joan Borysenko

Six months ago, my partner was told his cancer had metastasized and his liver was beginning to fail.  That prognosis came with less than a year to live.  That was a month before he was told it was attacking his heart.   Spindle cell carcinoma.

The doctors wanted him to come in to tell him that.  To explain what it meant.  To offer gentleness and support in the telling.  – He chose hear it over the phone.  He never went in to understand.  I’m pretty sure he doesn’t remember the term.

He doesn’t talk about his illness at all.  It is both his strategy for avoiding death and for being able to live life.

I have tried to respect that, to honor his belief that it is this attitude of defiance that has allowed him to live in a normally healthy state for longer than his initial prognosis.  After all, my desire is to know him and enjoy him and love him for as long as I can.

But what I am finding is that I am unable to do this in the way that I would wish.  My partner’s response to his illness is asking me to do two very contradictory things.

In asking me to remain with him, he is asking me to agree to watch him die.  To experience his dying and the grief and emptiness that will follow.  I can agree to this.  I do not fear death.  But it means strengthening my spirit, readying my heart, preparing for my own care and continuity.

In asking me to ignore his prognosis, he is asking me to agree to act for a future together.  To plan and build hopes and dreams and foster dependencies.  – And while I have thus far agreed to this in words, I am less and less able to agree to it in spirit and mind.  I fear it means even greater loss and grief and disillusionment.

And so I am finding myself reserved and unable to engage in our everyday interactions in the wholehearted way in which I would wish.

Can a mind perform two oppositional functions at one time?  If I am on a balance-wire is there any way to reach both ends?

Is there a way to honor both of our needs if they are conflicting?  If not, how do I determine whose needs are more important?

Is it even fair to worry about my needs in the face of those of the dying?

‘Real friendship or love is not manufactured or achieved by an act of will or intention.  Friendship is always an act of recognition.  (…)  There is an awakening between you, a sense of ancient knowing.’   ~John O’Donohue

My anam cara… my soul friend… is falling away from me.  He chooses it.

My ex.  The best proof I have of ethereal connection.

Seven years.  Seven difficult years, full of sadness and heartache and the discovery of deep, eternal love.

We can’t be together.  Our relationship had, quite possibly, more endings than it ever had true beginnings.

 ‘The End’ (2 years ago) revealed itself as an incredible teacher.  I learned more about myself, my fears, my wants, my defenses… in the reflective epoch following, than I had the entire time we were together. –  It works that way, doesn’t it?

And I learned that the greatest value in the relationship was not in a desired future together nor in memories past, but in our ability to always return to our friendship.  In the knowledge that this person who, having seen me at my absolute worst and therefore, perhaps, knowing me the best, would always be present for me and I for him.  That he was an anam cara, a soul friend.

Today, though, I find myself questioning the ability to maintain an intimate friendship.  Is it possible to support and care for and protect one another and our friendship as we each move deeper into other intimacies?

Why are we taught that emotional and intellectual and spiritual intimacy belong only in conjunction with romantic/sexual intimacy?  That outside of that, it can actually threaten romantic intimacy?

Is it possible for me to keep this relationship, this friend of my heart and soul?  Or do even ethereal connections eventually dissolve when subjected to physical laws?