I found this in my drafts, and have idea whether I shared it before. I couldn’t locate it so what the heck, I’ll post it, maybe again.
When the lilac dawn crawls up blood-red brick over white painted steel like a bruise,
its silver shadows fall first on the tall broad-faced sunflowers.
Even in prison,
yards of helianthus annuus bloom
And call to eager brown house sparrows,
sleek raucous crows
who feed undisturbed on the seeds
anchored at the sunflowers’ hearts.
As morning climbs the wide-open sky,
sunlight falls on beefsteak tomatoes and
green bell peppers, on the wispy tops of carrots buried in the dirt
Fragrant from yesterday’s rain,
on sweet watermelon and exquisite broccoli.
So much grows free behind 12-foot fences trussed with coils of shiny concertina wire.
Soon the gardeners will rise,
To pull weeds and harvest the small plots they’ve paid for the privilege to tend.
In rows, between daily counts and lockdown nights, the men raise their faces
toward the sun and for a few moments
Their unshackled minds flutter and soar.
Your desires are not random. They are the map your feet should follow. ~ Andrea Balt
A most amazing poem by David Whyte.
When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.
When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.
Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.
There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.
The dark will be your womb
The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.
You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in
Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.
– “Sweet Darkness” byDavid Whyte,House of Belonging
I am an archeologist excavating
Brushing away what isn’t
To expose what is
Metaphorical bricks and mortar
The foundation laid by
My mother and father
Their mothers and fathers
And so on
White middle class siding, black
Rooftop shingles above
Contain what is below
A water table of war, famine, alcohol
When trauma rains
The waters rise
Flood the tidy basement red
Shag carpet, tasteful wood paneling
Pretty gas fireplace
Just enough to mildew
There’s mold in the air
The house is boxed tight
Windows closed against
Outsiders looking in
It takes my breath away.
Children need art and stories and poems and music as much as they need love and food and fresh air and play. If you don’t give a child food, the damage quickly becomes visible. If you don’t let a child have fresh air and play, the damage is also visible, but not so quickly. If you don’t give a child love, the damage might not be seen for some years, but it’s permanent.
But if you don’t give a child art and stories and poems and music, the damage is not so easy to see. It’s there, though. Their bodies are healthy enough; they can run and jump and swim and eat hungrily and make lots of noise, as children have always done, but something is missing.
It’s true that some people grow up never encountering…
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For my dad.
There, in the asylum of dementia, he forgot.
The meaning of suffering.
The toll his life had taken on him.
And on everyone he once professed
He lived for this moment.
Not by choice.
That’s all he had left.
The disease had swept clean the cupboard.
Of minutes, hours he had saved and savored.
Over months, years.
Now there was only this one beautiful second.
This whiff of lilac; gone.
This light spreading golden across the Oriental rug; lost.
This chirping sparrow’s trill; fluttered away.
What came before and after; extinct.
My friend, Shona Moonbeam, over at www.knomochoicius.com, shared a piece of a William Blake poem with me tonight.
We were talking about a book I’m reading called “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson.
I’ll write more about the book later, but for now it’s enough to say … wow. Seventy-eight pages in and I’m blown away.
From the front flap:
In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger shows us that the key to being happier is to stop trying to be “positive” all the time and instead to become better at handling adversity.
“Fuck positivity,” Mark Manson says. “Let’s be honest; sometimes things are fucked up and we have to live with it.”
Silly me. For most of my life I’ve been under the mistaken impression that we can reach a state of satisfaction and happiness without suffering. Mark says this is impossible, because the human condition includes both joy and pain … or “joy and woe” as William Blake said.
I’m propped up in my bed on Sunday morning, skittering around the Internet while hoping a panic episode subsides. It’s a gorgeous day already, much like the one I wrote so happily about on Tuesday. But I’m not in that space now, and I’m wishing my dad was still alive to talk to about it.
My dad battled anxiety and depression his whole life. I can’t help but imagine how providing for our family of six placed a heavy yoke of responsibility on him and exacerbated his struggle. I never asked him about that, yet I think I understand it.
When I experience my own tsunami of anxiety, sometimes out of nowhere, sometimes traceable back to an incident, everything — even the things I cannot do anything about in the moment — make it worse.
Case in point this morning:
- I woke up feeling anxious, worrying about my future, overwhelmed by how busy I am and wondering how I’ll possibly get everything done this week.
- I read about tRump’s ICE raids that were to begin today, but in some places started yesterday, without warrants.
- The New York Times said some of the agents expressed concern about “arresting children” (thank God).
- It suddenly felt like Nazi Germany to me, which is terrifying and made my anxiety worse. What is happening in this country? Who are the collective “we” we are becoming?
- I thought about a book on CD I am listening to (thanks, Mr. Z), “The Demon in the Freezer,” about smallpox and anthrax, the horrendous ways people die from them, terrible experiments with the smallpox virus on monkeys and how this country and Russia — and who knows who else? — have huge quantities of the virus on ice that could be used for biological warfare.
- More terror, more anxiety.
My friend, B, told me I shouldn’t write about personal details of my life on my blog, because current and future employers might read it and that could ruin my chances at keeping a job or securing a new one if they didn’t like what I wrote. My daughter told me I should make my Facebook posts private for the same reason.
In fact, someone did read a recent post of mine, and for a minute I felt afraid, exposed, vulnerable. But wait. Do I not want people to read my posts? Do I not want to inspire readers to think and perhaps even be challenged? And if a potential employer was turned off by my expression of an opinion or description of an experience, would a job there work out for me in the long run, unless I hid who I am?
Who am I making my life for?
For those who like facts and figures, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health:
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concern in the United States. An estimated 40 million adults in the U.S. (18%) have an anxiety disorder. Meanwhile, approximately 8% of children and teenagers experience an anxiety disorder. Most people develop symptoms before age 21.
So why would anyone, employers included, stigmatize anxiety (or any type of mental illness) when 1 in 5 people have anxiety? (Statistically speaking, how many of those decision makers and stigmatizers have it, too?)
Anxiety is part of who I am. (So is depression, but that’s a post for another day.) And although anxiety made this morning difficult for me, I’m moving forward the best I can, knowing it will come and go … and come again.
One thing’s for sure: I’ve hidden my light under a bushel for a long time, and I’m not doing it any longer. Not for anyone.
There’s another reason I write my blog. It helps me regain my footing and take back my power.
I’m feeling better already.