Carnival of Love

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The other day, an online friend shared a piece of beautiful writing. It was about how nice it would be if we could have – as adults – the innocent joy of teenage love.  I’m sure that even if you didn’t personally experience the starry-eyed, giddy school kid crush, Hollywood certainly provides plenty of reference material for you to understand the “share-a-soda-at-the-roller-rink” kind of relationship. And while little whispers and dreamy romance certainly seem to be love. It’s not. That’s the cotton candy of life – light and sweet, but dissolves too quickly to provide any serious sustenance.

It’s like they say in the song… “I found that love is more… than just holding hands.”

Don’t get me wrong. It’s important to keep romance alive in a long-term partnership. Loving couples do giggle at silly stuff, and keeping fun and play is important in everyone’s life, not just in relationships. So what is it then? True love?

Like the other song says… “I looked at love from both sides now.”  So here’s what I’ve found.  Unlike cotton candy, beneath the sweet surface, there’s got to be substance.

Love IS innocent. When you ask “Do I look fat in this?” Love says “You couldn’t possibly.”

Love IS a giddy laugh. When you screw up Thanksgiving dinner, Love says “Really, I had enough to snack on earlier. Turkey just puts me to sleep anyway.”

Love IS that dreamy look. Even when you’re sitting in bed with the flu and a box of tissues, Love says “Do you want me to make tea? or soup?”

Love IS riding around with your head on his shoulder. When the worst call comes and your knees buckle at the news, Love says “You’re not driving. I’ll get the car.”

And Yes, Love DOES hold hands. Especially when you hear the word “diagnosis.” Love says “Ok, we’ll do what we have to do.”

As wonderful as puppy love is, and despite the fondness I have for those days cruising the summer streets with the music loud, and his arm around me as we strolled the fairgrounds, I’ll pass on the cotton candy. True Love is a caramel apple… sweet enough on the surface, but underneath all that yummy gooeyness is something good you can really sink your teeth into.

Pandora’s Box

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I finally had to do it. It’s been taking up room in my closet since I moved in, and I need the space. Downsizing from full-sized tote to under-the-bed storage is critical. It’s just not something I looked forward to doing.

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It’s fun to go through boxes of old pictures with friends and family, each taking a few out at a time and recollecting the memories invoked by the fading images — rethinking hairstyle decisions and fashion choices, comparing the changing city skyline over the decades, recalling old faithful automobiles, and of course, remembering those who are gone now. It’s always a sweet and sentimental process, laughing through the tears.

By myself however, not so much. I get stuck wondering what to do with all of these pictures. I’ve already put my favorites into frames and albums. This box is mostly full of those candid shots that weren’t the most presentable, but are surely the more honest portraits – kids clowning around, my sister trying to hide from the camera, Mom and siblings around the breakfast table. (Seriously) Who takes pictures at breakfast you ask? Well, if Dad had a new lens he wanted to try or film he had to “use up,” anything was fair game.  And since I bought my first camera at about 10 years old, there’s a whole collection of the world shot from a kid’s perspective. Funny to see what I thought was picture-worthy. My dog “Candy” was a common subject and my little nephews made for cute, albeit blurry, images.

Beyond the captured occasions, I drift into deeply held memories of the people in these photographs — conversations we had, times we told stories and shared laughs, discussions that turned into differences, and decisions that led us to separate paths. Inevitably, I come across photos from events that were overshadowed by someone’s drama… the wedding where so-and-so stormed out, the party where what’s-her-name drank too much, and family gatherings that always seem to be missing the one who could never be there on time.

I really can’t take it. I don’t like spending time in the past. I pitched a bunch of duplicates and poor quality prints, but there are too many years to sift through alone. So I dump the contents of the bigger box into the much smaller box and shift it around until the lid fits.

Then, as I shove it under the bed, I realize:  at least I won’t be adding to this box anymore. Ever since digital pics and online sharing, I don’t have tons of extra pictures floating around. I think I prefer this new photography – take the picture, upload it to all my friends, and be done with it. No more looking back into a musty collection of bygone days. Just sharing what I’m enjoying… now… with people who care enough to enjoy it with me… now… and deleting all the drama.

Silent Song

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In the peaceImage

At the edge of the deep

Silent corner of my mind

Lives the song of my life.

As the music of the clouds

And rustling breezes birth

A symphony in lush woods,

Lingering thoughts of distant places

Remind me of long-ago lyrics

And the rhythm moves me on.

It is the harmony of tides

And frequency of waves

That urge this traveler

To remember the movements

Of the distant past.

Lost in this voyage of time

Peeling back the layered years of my heart

I come to the song I’ve known.

Entering the quiet woods

Of my restless mind

I learn to sing.

Aboard Spirit Airline

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Looking down into the sky

Wisps of mist drifting by

Far above the clouds and sea

A couple things occur to me

What little we know of time and space

How irrelevant we are to this place

The source of power dwelling in our soul

Is all we need to make us whole

And yet daily we act in bitter scorn

As though it was for that we’re born

While in reality we are here to seek

To love, to learn, to serve the weak

If only we would clearly see

We could all live so peacefully

Like the child who at first cries

Is soothed by loving lullabies

To remember is our only task.

Who we are. We need only ask.

Bored to Death

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A woman I’ve been acquainted with for about ten years finished up the dishes, put in a load of wash, sat down with her crossword puzzle and died.

She was 61 and hadn’t been sick.

Apparently, the only thing wrong with her was her attitude.  When I asked her survivor husband what he thought had happened, he said “I think she just gave up.”

She may have been depressed, but that’s not how I would’ve described her. She was feisty and funny and cooked dinner every night. Unhappy, however? Maybe just unhappy.

Could being unhappy actually be the reason she died?  I think there’s a good chance it was.  Her dissatisfaction caused her to do things she shouldn’t have and not do the things she should. What I don’t understand is why she was dissatisfied. She was a good wife; they’d been together 40 years. She was a good mom; the boy’s a lawyer for Pete’s sake, with a beautiful doctor wife! But what about her own life?

What happened, I wonder.

I think it was exactly that… she gave up. First, she gave up working and then she gave up volunteering. She gave up traveling, and she even gave up shore vacations.  Of course, that was after she gave up going to the country house. And she had given up gardening a long time ago.

These were her choices. Just like we all have. Every day.

I never realized it before, but for some of us “having a life” may actually be what saves it.

How to Draw a Picture

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I’d like to draw a picture, but have no pencil, pen or ink

So there’ll be no lines or circles, just the thoughts I have to think

At the start there are his muscles that move him through the air

Flexing underneath a coat of chestnut colored hair

His eyes are like dark marbles staring back at you

And his ears twitch nervously as he gets a better view

He shakes his massive head and flicks his tail at flies

Pounds his hooves into the ground as round the ring he tries

To escape the man who’s got a whip that makes a cracking sound

(It won’t actually hurt him – it’s just to move him ‘round)

For today’s his day of training how to let a person ride

So the bridle is all ready and the saddle’s by his side

Freedom was much better and it’s there he’d like to stay

Running with the mustangs just like yesterday

He’ll have a different life now and will carry folks, of course

It’s not much of a drawing, just a picture of a horse.

Love Misunderstood

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I stood looking, hands hanging down

Not knowing how to overcome the animosity within.

Passion so deep – made of pure pain – rises to be heard, but is mute.

Voice is useless, baseless noise and the broken sounds fall on defensive guilt.

The wounded heart retreats.

Again.

Again.

Again.

But the light still streaks through crevices of the mind,

Streaming into the little places of insight.

Are the shadows too large for the tiny spark?

Give me something to burn and I will lift the veil.

Show me the keystone and I will tumble the tower.

Silence

Answered me

No,

The destruction cannot be won.

Collapse will begin when the conspiracy fails.

All truth becomes experience.

Surrender.

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Just Another Day

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Today used to be my wedding anniversary. What once was a significant date with happy memories attached is now just another number on the calendar. It was a gradual erosion. A long time ago, there were celebrations and gifts…then cards and flowers…then dinners and pleasantries. Now there is silence.

As the day began, I realized it would have been 16 years. But it isn’t. It’s no longer a marker of anything special.

Like a sand castle, time was spent building, constructing a place… with towers and spires… and bridges. A little more here, a little smoothed-over there. With each addition, it grew to something recognizable.  A moat was dug for protection from the encroaching sea. The sun shone on the glistening grains and it was good. Not Cinderella’s castle, but a fortress with flags flying nonetheless.

Then the tide turned.  At first, just small damage was done to the perimeter. Then wave after wave assaulted the structure. The intrusion ate at the foundation until the crumbling began. One wall at a time, it slipped away. Eventually, as always, the big breaker came.  Crashing too close, it overwhelmed the turrets and the last defenses. When the water receded, the castle was gone. No one walking past would ever know what had been.

I thought I would be sentimental about it all. But I’m not. It was created, it stood tall, it washed away.  Maybe it’s because it was a slow decline. Maybe it’s because a part of me knew all along it was temporary… like all things.  And now, surveying the landscape, I’m just a witness. I don’t regret the effort I put in. It was time well spent while the sun was warm. I don’t curse the forces of nature that swept it away. It’s inevitable. Things change. People change.

What remains… or what has been re-created…is the beauty of a pristine beach as far as the eye can see.

Dark Night Falls

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Come on, he said, it’ll be good

Everyone’s goin’ from the neighborhood

Got the tickets, got some snacks

We’ll just hang out, we’ll just relax

Nestled into crowded seats

We held hands and felt complete

Flickering lights in the solemn dark

All at once came sudden sparks

Smoke and gas filled the air

Special effects meant just to scare?

No, not at all, this is for real

Stinging eyes, that burning feel

Hot shards tearing through my skin

Molten metal weaves within

Blood, tears and children’s screams

Chill my bones like ghastly dreams

Consuming what should have been fun

The maniac murders everyone

Like threatened spiders people crawled

Across the aisles the dead are sprawled

My head spins, painful throbbing

Sisters, brothers moaning, sobbing

All the while the silver screen

Plays on surreal fiction scene

And we all ask is this your will to do

No, God said, I’m crying too.