Gratitudine

Om moment tonight: I was sitting in the dark in my front garden on this warm spring evening when one of the Box People trucks cruised past. I had 4 big boxes in the house, so I zipped inside, snagged ’em, and ran to the corner where the truck had pulled over. A nice man who spoke little English took my boxes, broke them down, and gave me a big smile, which I returned.  The universal language.

These people work hard every night collecting cardboard for cash.  Many in this big city who know of them, take cardboard out  late at night to the corner, where one of the trucks will see the pile. This is not litter.  This is income for food and rent and clothing. It is always gone by sunrise.

They are but one lane on the highway of a two hundred year old tradition in this country. Newcomers working hard to make a new life, and finding creative ways to get by, making work of things most of us never consider.

That my paternal grandparents sailed across the on the Martha Washington at the beginning of the 20th Century and made their way to Colorado still astounds me. Stephen Fry talks about a beguiling theory that America is composed of people who share a belief that “good enough” is not enough. As the first post-Enlightenment community of governance and ideals, we are a people whose ancestors (with two important exceptions) stayed behind because they refused the risk. For more on this discussion, here is a conversation between Mr. Fry and Craig Ferguson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWDzfkWDClk&feature=iv&annotation_id=DrPinch2190_annotation_508875

The Box People are my people.  Our people. Help them out.  Last night, I needed a reminder of how damn lucky I am, and how humble work is not beneath me.

(c)GoshGusPublishing(ascap)2012

Ricordare

Two years ago today we lost our good friend. None of us saw it coming. I have a story to share, and a list of Mark’s wisdoms.
Soon after his mother died, I received a large package in the mail. It was the corduroy patchwork quilt she had made some thirty years before as a going away gift for Mark as he went off to college.Over the years, Marilyn had collected scraps of the fabric from her son’s trousers and shirts, and created this beautiful thing. When I followed Mark up to Northern California, it became my quilt, too.
For Mark to pass this on to me, a quilt over which his mother had lovingly labored, which had been so skillfully sewn as to have no tears or snags after so many years of use was a great comfort to me. Mark’s mother had for some years mothered me as well, and I miss her, too.

In my home, the quilt holds an honored place. We call it “The Mothers Quilt.” Any time someone is ill, or needs some warmth and comfort, out comes the quilt, and a cup of tea. The person is wrapped like a big corduroy burrito, and being a quilt of near magical powers and full of mother love, never fails to raise the spirits of whomever is wrapped within it.

For me, the quilt remains one of the strongest reminders of Mark’s legacy.

Here is a list of words I recall Mark saying, or sentiments I can attribute to him.
1. Always be kind.
2. Consider that the other guy may have had a worse day than you.
3. Wave pedestrians and other cars through a four-way stop.
4. Hug your mother while you still can.
5. Learn three corny jokes. Use them to disarm people and demonstrate that you are not their better.
6. If a friend needs some money, know it was hard for them to ask and give them small chores in exchange so they save face.
7. Remember that most folks really want to do their best.
8. Forgive and forget as often as possible.
9. It’s okay to keep your opinions to yourself.
10.When all is said and done, true love remains forever.

(c) GoshGusPublishing(ascap)2012

Pace e Tranquillità

My Homeland
~~~The Lake of Beauty~~~
Let your mind be quiet, realising the beauty of the world,
and the immense, the boundless treasures that it holds in store.
All that you have within you, all that your heart desires,
all that your Nature so specially fits you for – that or the
counterpart of it waits embedded in the great Whole, for you.
It will surely come to you.

Yet equally surely not one moment before its appointed time
will it come. All your crying and fever and reaching out of hands will make no difference.
Therefore do not begin that game at all.
Do not recklessly spill the waters of your mind
in this direction and in that,
lest you become like a spring lost and
dissipated in the desert.

But draw them together into a little compass, and hold them still, so still;
And let them become clear, so clear – so limpid, so mirror-like;
at last the mountains and the sky shall glass themselves in
peaceful beauty,
and the antelope shall descend to drink and to gaze at her reflected image, and the lion to quench his thirst,
and Love himself shall come and bend over and catch his own likeness in you.

From the liturgy for midday Prayer, New Zealand Prayer Book

Passaggio: How Could It Be?

Yesterday was tough. Exactly a day to a time many years ago when I watched my high school sweetheart drive off to college, car packed full of LPs, stereo, and some clothes, I found myself  helping my eldest son move into his freshman dorm.

Among all the mixed emotions of the day, I could not get the picture out of my mind of seeing that old car pull out and go. I felt so alone then. Abandoned.

Those feelings welled up again yesterday. I recognized them, and across the years the visceral memory was fresh. I had done this before, had seen a young man I loved take a big step away from me and into the excitement of university life.

There is a pain so deep, so familiar, and so very strange as well. It is surreal. Both strong and gentle men. Both reliable Pisces. Both good friends.

There are, of course, differences.

A child I carried, birthed and cradled in my arms became a man so fast that I’m absolutely stunned.

How many times have I endured the unsolicited advice to savor every minute with my child because it all flies by so quickly?  Higher mind knows this. Heart fights it. Helpful people annoy.

A friend of mine who is a fabulous father told me that he’s been depressed about it for several years. Worse with each child. He warned me to be ready for more helpful comments from the well-intentioned about how wonderful it must be to finally have a quiet, empty home. From what planet do these people launch?

To give them the benefit, I’ll assume some people prefer the distance from their children. For me, as for my friend, these kids are interesting, interested people. The idea that months will turn before I share coffee at the kitchen table with my son is unimaginable. But it is the new reality. No matter what, I can’t change the facts. As with all passages, I can struggle or I can choose to just roll with it. .

I knew this day would come. But nothing can prepare you for it when your time arrives. Your heart gets ripped out, and the hardest part of it all is to not transmit the depth of your pain to your child. He knows your sadness, but he will never know the whole story until it becomes his turn to experience a similar day with his own offspring.  To come unhinged in his presence would be selfish. He doesn’t need my baggage with all the changes he is undergoing.

We raise them to leave. If I’ve done my job well, my son will embrace this new journey. I will as well. I love you son!

(c)GoshGusMusic(2010)photo cjarc(c)

Musical Terminology

My last post, entitled “Agitato e Accesso” caused some consternation about which I will clarify. I combined two musical markings to reflect the notes on my personal score. Agitato (agitated) accesso (ignited, on fire) expressed my mood.

Yesterday I was in that fun house of emotional turmoil felt as angry depression. I’ve been advised that such feelings are normal to my situation.
What concerns me, and causes me despair is an inability to think clearly in a dependable way. Words and actions emerge sideways, and loved ones with the best intentions, people I know have my back, get hit by shrapnel.

To my dear ones, I am so sorry that my pain at times becomes your pain. That my words and actions do not reflect my best self, nor honor my affection for all of you.

I was reminded that when I am scared or unable to see through the smoke bombs, there are always hands surrounding me, reaching out for me to hold onto. I need those hands. I love those hands!images

(c)GoshGusMusic(ascap)2009