When to rage, when to meditate


On a day trip to the coast, my husband and I found ourselves in atypical traffic driving over the mountain that leads out of our town.

A pick up was ahead of us, tailgating a large camper that was slowly navigating the sinewy curves down the mountain as it towed a car behind it.

The pick up was persistent; swerving into the opposite lane around blind turns, and riding the camper way too close.

At first Casey and I were annoyed, and then alarmed, and finally furious.

I wanted to honk at the tailgater, holler out our window at him, pull him over and give it to him, take down his license plate and call the police. (We couldn’t see the plates.)

I began fantasizing revenge.

This was my red flag.

May he feel safe. May he feel at ease. May he feel in control…

To the offering of Metta, I added a cooling breath, rolling my tongue, and breathing through it like a straw.

Within moments, I felt better.
Did he slow too?

Soon we were at the bottom of the mountain and the camper turned off the highway.

I thought about my voice and politics.

Alleviating or exacerbating?

To whom am I paying attention?
To what?
And how might I be most helpful given the circumstance of each situation?

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enough

Before kids, and later before they outnumbered us, we lived at the foot of a mountain in a small farmhouse beside a brook which each June gave rise to black flies of biblical proportions.

I learned then that if I woke at dawn, I could get out in the garden ahead of them which must be why the garden looked so hopeful this morning when I appeared on the front porch much earlier than I had in some time.

And I did pause there and smile at it, fondly, like one might nod toward a babe in arms, someone else’s arms, and then I got in my car and drove away—east toward new beginnings–to the rising sun suspended over the valley, cupping the fog; more present, but less productive than I once was, finally understanding or at least practicing that just this—this world waking—this light, this birdsong, this body, this breath—was enough.

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topless

the author, fifty years ago

After walking the dirt half-mile from the highway, he arrives in the house, drops his backpack and removes his shirt, saying that the temperature was higher today than it was supposed to be. (In the chill of the early June morning, he chose to wear a long sleeve shirt to school.)

“Lately, I resent men going topless,” I say.

“Do you want me to put it back on,” he asks.

I don’t.

I remember my mother’s scoldings as a girl: “Put a shirt on!”

And later, about the age my son is now: “Put a bra on!”

The accumulation of shame.

As the temperatures rise in these Green Mountains, I feel anger rise in me when I see men walking the road–aged men and young men like my son–each one topless–as if all the space in the world is theirs, without a care for who might rape them.

the author, 30 years ago

a solstice blessing on families reunited

The bare spot where the kits once played. June 2018.

Late this spring when the skies grew dark and the cloud cover heavy and children were ripped from their parents arms, I took a dramatic fall an came down with a chest cold, and something else–in the middle of the darkest night–the mother fox (or was it the father?) barked incessantly outside our bedroom balcony doors; This after I spent a worrisome string of days looking & listening & hoping & calling & finally crooning the lullaby that I’d sung that morning when I saw the first of their four pups (and it fell to sleep to the sound of my voice), and still, the space where the babes frolicked and rested remained… empty.

Could it be that this barking was a keening call, like my Twitter feed, swelled by a chorus of voices, each one sounding the same sour note, until that horrific practice was brought to an end…

And although we don’t know how these broken families will be restored, or how great the toll on their lives, or how deep the shame on our generation (poisoning babies in Flint, paying unlivable wages, watching television while the earth changes)… The Longest Day has arrived.

I wake to the sounds of squealing, and while their kitten-like bodies are thinner than they were before, and they won’t let me close like they did when I first photographed them, they are here, curled up beside one another in the sun on the rock outcropping outside my writing door.

May we each make good medicine of whatever strength, power and will we possess.

the invitation to remember

Gray’s Beach. Cape Cod. Waiting on the full moon. May 2018

The month of May brought a new meditation to my days. to my first waking thoughts. to each challenge that presents itself along the way

As soon as i think: PROBLEM (which is evidently quite often)
i pivot.
and say instead:

What is the invitation?

What is the invitation right here?

But now it’s a week into june, and I realize that I’ve already forgotten.

Possum

I’m afraid of easy,
Suspicious of effortless,
Terrified of sudden.

I like to earn it.
With struggle.
Suffering.
Angst.

Even the simplest things.

Otherwise,
it’s not fair.

Otherwise,
I’m apart
instead of among.

Otherwise
I’m at risk.

Which is to say,
I’m happiest,
In retrospect.

The safest way to play.

The past is past.
Preserved.
Protected.
Untouchable.
Unseen.

~

(“happiest in retrospect” line from: TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT by Maria Semple.)

Mothers Day Nightmares

On Mothers Day night, with both sons at home, I wake to the sound of my youngest vomiting in the toilet, and I realize that I have had a nightmare. “A dream about the Patriarchy,” my husband offers in the dark.

In the dream, it is daylight, and there is this charismatic man who I find attractive and then threatening as I watch Him weave his way through homes & classrooms & workplaces, alternatingly charming then murderous. Slitting throats, dividing families, orphaning children.

Each time I get wise to Him, I sense the great vulnerability of going against such cunning, and something else–I see how willing others are to oblige this power and destruction in blindness; and so I become absorbed with protecting myself whenever He appears, until I see Him follow a family into the loft over the Great Room, and doesn’t He kill the young father and then the mother, as their child toddles unprotected toward the open railing.

Terrified, I dash past a bureau and a hutch and sweep the child up into my arms, where she becomes an infant, and with little time to spare, I dangle her through the bars of the railing thinking I could drop her to safety if only someone would appear in the Great Room below.

And then I see him! My father! But although he hears my calls, he cannot see the child, even though I direct his attention toward her again and again.

I consider dropping the infant to the floor, but just then my youngest son enters the room, and seeing the dangling child, puts out his arms to catch Her.

And with that, the Patriarchy disappears.