Erring on the Side of Yes

It’s been a long time since I posted to this blog. The good news, though, is that it’s because I’m busy, not because I’m down. I’m getting stronger, feeling hopeful, even working on a book. I’m stepping out, trying new things, saying yes a lot. Here’s visual proof.

Back soon.

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“The call of water demands a total offering, an inner offering. Water needs an inhabitant. It summons like a fatherland.” Gaston Bachelard

I have a patient friend with a swimming pool, and she encouraged me to give swimming another try, so a few days ago, I donned my old black bathing suit and went over to her house. The water was cool, and I wriggled my way into my daughter’s wet suit, then lowered myself into the shallow part of the pool. I was a  large and awkward terrestrial mammal in an alien element. The water sparkled with little rainbows and ripples and I was tripped out by its beauty, but I could never even bring myself to lower my face into it, so in truth, I’ve regressed since my last attempt a few years ago. At that time, I was able to push off from the side and propel myself in the water, kicking, to the other side. (The width of the pool, not the length, but still…) It could be that my post-surgical imbalance has rendered me more timid, and maybe this will pass, but at the moment, I am having difficulty believing that I will ever achieve swimming. But I did enjoy the gentle embrace of the liquid, and my friend declared that that making peace with the water in this way is a fine first step. We’ll leave it at that for now.

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My mother-in-law Nancy planted the orchard in 1982, and she has tended to it for all these years, slowing down only recently. (She is, after all, ninety-three years old; that’s her above in the 1990s.) This year, heat and drought have taken a toll on the trees, and some of the macadamias are looking pretty scraggly, not yielding enough nuts to justify the water they use. Today Nancy, Monte, and our friend Michael embarked upon a walk-through to discuss pruning, fencing, fertilizing, which trees would be cut down, and whether new things might be planted.  “Everything changes,” says Nancy, who is open to ideas and not particularly sentimental. “This has all been an adventure…thirty-six years of fun.”

I have lived in a house above the orchard for the last twenty-five years or so, and I know it and love it from that somewhat removed perspective, but today I went out with our trio of experts for a closer look. I sat on the ground, idly picking up fallen nuts, and listened. It was interesting, as it always is when people with knowledge and enthusiasm discuss a subject.

And it occurred to me that this was yet another outcome of the recovery process for me: a new attention to the world, even the world that has been in front of me all along, a newfound capacity to stop hurrying along to the next event, to notice details, to pursue a thought through to the questions it prompts and the questions to which the questions lead.

I’ve been walking a lot more, often solo, but lately with my new friend Kappy. It’s amazing to have a friend who didn’t even know me before the surgery, and who accepts me as I am right now. “How would you have been different?” she once asked.

It’s a hard question to answer, because not all of my changes are visible. Monte says I was more “intense” before, whatever that means, i.e., more energetic, more wound up, edgier…not all of them good qualities. I do know that I am slower now and at times surprisingly wobbly. I pause intermittently in the course of the day for a brief time-out, calling it meditation, but it’s really just a few minutes of retreating and sitting still. It fascinates me that I was never able to do that before. I think I am more patient now. I definitely perceive and appreciate the blessings more readily and will never take anything for granted.  Appearance-wise, I’m very thin, and my hair is silver-gray. (Dying my hair would seem absurd.)  A lot of recovery is not so much about symptoms ceasing as it is about getting used to new ways of feeling.

This week, Kappy and I walked among the broken stones of an old seawall, like a couple of explorers amidst the ruins of an ancient civilization. And we sat beside a creek in the shade of the oaks, talking and pondering, wondering about the consciousness of trees, and I was filled with gratitude to be having such a day after I thought all such days were over for me.  A yellow butterfly fluttered by.

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We took our borrowed tandem out for a ride a few days ago. I tried riding a tandem years ago and didn’t much like it, but many things have changed since then. I climbed on board behind my trusted captain, placed my feet on the pedals, and off we went.

We rode on Nojoqui Road, gently climbing and rolling along, past hills and fields and rustic dwellings, in the dappled sun and shade of oaks adorned with Spanish moss, feeling that sweet rush of air, as one does from a bicycle.

Sometimes I felt too passive and dependent on Monte, but in time I got used to simply following his lead, accepting his pace, trusting that we weren’t going to fall over. I pushed harder with him to ascend a grade, and felt that familiar effort in my legs. With the two of us working together, we were an effective machine. It was satisfying. Pleasant, even.

And it occurred to me that there was something metaphorical about this. Monte has been my captain for nearly six months now, seeing ahead when I couldn’t, pedaling hard when I was too weary to keep going, navigating and making repairs and helping me learn to trust.  We’re a tandem team, I guess.

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Saying Thank You

I am doing so much better lately, and I’m delirious with gratitude. In the mornings I drink  my half-caffeinated coffee, look out at the v of blue sea, feel the summer breeze through open windows, contemplate the lozenges of sunlight on the wood floor, and say thank you.

On Sunday one of my dear bicycle friends, Christine, came all the way from Santa Rosa with a beautiful tandem for me to borrow, a way for me to get back into cycling, with Monte as my captain, and to restore my balance and bike fitness. This means a lot to me, and I was touched by her graciousness. Also, I recently made a new ranch friend who appreciates the wonders of being here and doesn’t mind stepping out spontaneously for a walk now and then. And I have a writing project taking shape in my head. The world seems to be opening up for me in so many different ways.

Yesterday I watched an acrobatic lizard playing in a succulent plant, sometimes hanging upside-down like a tiny circus performer. I saw mute rocks bearing messages for those willing to hear, the sea wall melting into art, and noble trees with ancient souls. At this very moment two cowgirls are riding up the canyon, moving the cattle, and there are hawks and hummingbirds and flustered bursts of quail, and later we may see our little friend Virginia, whose first day of kindergarten was today.

August 27th will mark six months since the surgery, which is the halfway point in what I have come to think of as a year-long recovery. And I admit I’m not helping the world or doing anything significant, but  climbing out of darkness took most of my energy, and now I’m getting reacquainted with life.

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Moving Towards the Light

It was already hot when I went for my morning walk up the canyon, wishing I had a buddy, either canine or human. It’s become a routine, looking forward to the shady stretch beneath the oaks, hearing the canyon wren in the woods along the creek, a frenzied fluster of quail trying to appear formidable, a black cow big as a ship thrashing through the brush. I inevitably encounter Tucker on her daily run, her yellow ponytail under a cap,  her skin flushed and pink, and we exchange a few pleasantries as we pass. I listened briefly to an NPR podcast of the news today, very bad vibe, switched to music, and found myself jauntily swaying along to “Girl From Ipanema”…the soundtrack changes everything.

I’m getting too many congratulations lately on my recovery. It’s premature, and the gods hate hubris. I need to clarify am doing better, but I have a long way to go. It feels as if I have climbed out of a deep, scary hole, but I’m still standing close to the rim, and it’s slippery, and my foothold is not that secure yet. However,  I am a woman who, according to Fit-Bit, had two hours of actual REM sleep last night embedded in 9(!) hours of other levels of sleep. And the vestibular therapist tested me yesterday and said my balance impairment is about 25%, compared to somewhere between 30 and 40 six weeks ago. To be honest, I think I’ve always been unbalanced. I just won’t become a tightrope walker. I’m okay with that.

And I got the most beautiful message from my friend Teresa: Life can be so incredibly beautiful and life can be so, so hard! I think we all take turns walking through the fire. But, blessings that come from that fire and we are pushed to become so much more.
You and I have learned so much from our painful wounds. We must be thankful for them, honor them, embrace them and learn from them. I think when we learn to love the most unloveable parts of ourselves we learn to live life more compassionately, more humanly. The darkness is our biggest teacher and the light is for us to find. Keep feeling the good, keep moving toward the light and keep the positive energy flowing. I’m sending you some of mine. 

I can feel that light. I’m practically shining!

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Life Goes On

This is the road I walk along nearly every morning. Sometimes I walk in a mindful way, trying to notice everything around me, and sometimes I listen to podcasts or let my thoughts wander where they will. Letting thoughts wander where they will can be a dangerous prospect these days, but I am also learning to redirect, avoid traps, and make spaces for stillness.

There’s a lot going on out there and right here. Yesterday white fog blurred hilltops, a tiny garter snake slid with speed and stealth across the path, and a canyon wren sang its beautiful song as I passed. I learned that twelve new moons had been discovered orbiting Jupiter, and that rising sea levels might affect internet infrastructure. I heard more disturbing news about the current regime and the bizarre creature who is supposedly 0ur president, then quickly switched over to On Being and savored an interview with the wonderful Luis Alberto Urrea: “A deep truth of our time is that we miss each other.”

In terms of my own health and recovery, I am feeling so much better, and I am filled with gratitude. Earlier this week, I went back to Los Angeles for follow-up visits with the surgeon and internist, both of whom said everything looks fine. I don’t need to go back there anymore! My mission is to keep healing, adapting, and getting stronger. Yes, it will take a good year, and I’ll never be quite the same, but maybe in some ways I’ll be better. I’m learning a lot.

One thing that helps is that I’ve been sleeping, dreaming even. I write my dreams  down sometimes before I forget them, and they are a source of fascination and amusement. One night I dream-drank two cups of Italian espresso, another time I bravely climbed up to the top of a roof  for a better view of a bay. I camped in the mountains in Japan, rode a bike without falling over, and prepared a casserole topped with plum and pomegranate sauce. I don’t know what any of this means except that my appetite for life is asserting itself in those REM cycles.

And it is asserting itself in real life too. On the morning of my appointments in Los Angeles, we wandered around downtown, and I felt my curiosity and enthusiasm click into gear, watching people, looking at street art, marveling at urban architecture. We stayed in a 1923 hotel, its lobby elaborately vintage, and we saw an extraordinary photography exhibit at the public library about war and its aftermath. This powerful poem by Wislawa Szymborska was mounted on the wall:

Reality demands
we also state the following:
life goes on.
It does so near Cannae and Borodino,
at Kosovo Polje and Guernica.

There is a gas station
in a small plaza in Jericho,
and freshly painted
benches near Bila Hora.
Letters travel
between Pearl Harbor and Hastings,
a furniture truck passes
before the eyes of the lion of Cheronea,
and only an atmospheric front advances
towards the blossoming orchards near Verdun.

There is so much of Everything
that Nothing is quite well concealed.
Music flows
from yachts near Actium
and couples on board dance in the sunlight.

So much keeps happening,
that it must be happening everywhere.
Where stone is heaped on stone,
there is an ice cream truck
besieged by children.
Where Hiroshima had been,
Hiroshima is again
manufacturing products
for everyday use.

Not without its charms is this terrible world,
not without its mornings
worth our waking.

In the fields of Maciejowice
the grass is green
and on the grass is — you know how grass is —
transparent dew.

Maybe there are no fields other than battlefields,
those still remembered,
and those long forgotten,
birch woods and cedar woods,
snows and sands, iridescent swamps,
and ravines of dark defeat
where today, in sudden need,
you squat behind a bush.

What moral flows from this? Maybe none.
But what really flows is quickly-drying blood,
and as always, some rivers and clouds.

On the tragic mountain passes
the wind blows hats off heads
and we cannot help–
but laugh.

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The Green Ball

The other day as I walked solo on the beach I came upon a large, green, very bouncy beach ball snagged in the kelp, about to be pulled out to sea to become pollution. I heroically ventured into the damp water’s edge and pulled it out, then kicked it along as I walked. Sometimes it bounced a bit and went far. Sometimes it started rolling back into the water and I had to run after it. This went on for quite a while. I suddenly had a purpose. What’s more, I suddenly realized I was having fun chasing the green ball. Actual fun! Then followed the realization that I need more frivolity and play in my life. I gave the ball to the first kid I saw, a girl who was thrilled to have it, whose mom said they’d bring it home and make sure it didn’t end up in the ocean. But here’s to fun. I want some more of that.

I must be getting better…right?

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Having Had My Chain Yanked

I was upstairs in my little room, lying on a yoga mat with the intent of stretching and meditating, but really just lying on a yoga mat. Suddenly I had the sensation that I was not alone, and there on the deck was a bobcat, a particularly large and beautiful one.  He looked at me while I looked at him, then he casually ambled off.

I told this story to my friend Dan, accompanied by the photo above. “The bobcat allowed you to see him because you were worthy and awake,” he wrote. “It sounds like you are seeing again. I mean really seeing.”

He quoted these lines from Rilke’s “Turning Point”:

For a long time he attained it in looking.
Stars fell to their knees before his compelling vision,
And as he looked on, kneeling, his intensity’s fragrance
Tired out a god till it smiled at him in its sleep.

And later:

Animals trusted him, stepped into his open look grazing,
And the imprisoned lions looked into it
As if into an incomprehensible freedom…

“Turning Point” is an appropriate phrase, because I do feel that I have reached one. And also because so much of this experience is about turning, in particular turning my head deliberately, repeatedly, and rapidly to facilitate my vestibular readjustment, and turning my body to loosen up and possibly revive the memories of joyful motion. Some of the exercises feel absurd, but I have been reassured that they help, and I’ve had to put my faith in all sorts of things these days. There’s a lot to get used to. I’m literally out of balance, and I’m easily fatigued, and my eyes are dry and tired. I often have a vaguely headachy feeling, as though invisible hands are pressing on my skull, and the one-sided deafness can be disorienting at times, and some days I feel like I just stepped off a merry-go-round…sort of wobbly and woozy…and that’s just the way it is.

I’m turning my perspective around too. I’m learning what I’m dealing with, and learning to adapt. A Ranch neighbor who was in a terrible car accident more than a decade ago reached out to me recently and graciously offered to be a mentor and friend. She has endured more than her share of suffering with extraordinary grace, and I was so moved by what she wrote, and found her insights so helpful and wise, I’ve decided to share her words here:

You will learn to move forward and find the best path to begin this momentous journey of healing not only your body but your spirit, and the taking back of your life.  Will it be the same as before? Probably not, but that is what life is, an everchanging landscape.  Sometimes we gracefully traverse it and at other moments we are miserably crawling around, looking outward for a reprieve, for we are drawn to that easy beautiful path.

I have found personally that my toughest moments were the ones that brought me the most insight not only into myself but those with whom I spend my closest moments, and I have grown beautifully. I have crossed a desert of pain and hopelessness, not always gracefully, but like that ugly duckling my time has come at last…I am a swan!  I know there are tough days but there are many more good and I live those fully. There are some things I can no longer do, although I have done my best to try, but I have stretched my wings and found new avenues to travel which I never would have known existed without having had my chain yanked!

My dearest, you have had your chain yanked. Now thank the universe that you have been given a chance to live more fully and with more gusto, taking chances you never thought you might, because you now will grow an inward strength you never really knew you owned.

Yes, you will heal, and yes, there will be times of great trials for you physically, mentally and spiritually, but with each assault you will rise to the occasion because you will soon understand that maybe this freak little tumor saved your life more than you know right now. 

It turns out that life is how we look at it, and how we respond to twists and turns, some of which are scary. And we are frightened that we will never be the same, but thinking back, was the same the best that life had to offer or just a controlled flight that we had learned was safe to make? Or is life the wild outback with beautiful new vistas, scents of unimaginable delights and possibly finding oneself doing what we once thought was impossible but is now a new passion?

The birthing process is not easy as you know, but one of my teachers once told me that a child born through a long labor was much stronger because they fought for life. That is you now. You are going through your own labor, and you will come out of it stronger because you know you can endure these next contractions. My work is not me healing you but sharing with you energies and teaching you possibly different modes of healing your body and introducing you to various ideas that will bring you comfort as you heal. YOU WILL HEAL, IT WILL TAKE SOME TIME, YOU WILL LEARN TO ADAPT, AND ADJUST.

I can see already that this is true. But the reason it is possible for me now is that I have begun to emerge from a debilitating depression.  My initial response to the aftermath of the surgery was trauma, panic, insomnia, and fear. I think I was in a state of shock. I did not believe that I would ever recover, and it seemed to me that the quality of my life was so diminished, it was not a life I wanted. I have never been so depressed in my life, and it was scary.

But I’ve been working hard, have had a lot of help, and I’m taking medication for a while. I still struggle with sleeplessness now and then, but it’s not a nightly ordeal, and my anxiety and negativity have lifted. I get pretty fatigued by the end of the day, and there are still discouraging days when I feel somewhat precarious, but at last there is room to let hope enter.

It got me to thinking about depression and suffering, and what we learn and gain from these if we make it through. As my friend wrote, perhaps I will live with more gusto, and do things I never before imagined.  Perhaps I will develop an inner strength I never knew I owned. I hope so.

Recently I happened to hear a podcast in which Krista Tippett  interviewed Andrew Solomon, Parker Palmer, and Anita Barrows about depression, and their insights deeply resonate.

“Suddenly, in depression,” said Barrows, “you are ripped from what felt like your life, from what felt right and familiar and balanced and ordinary and ordered, and you’re just thrown into this place where you’re ravaged, where the wind rips the leaves from the trees, and there you are — very, very much the soul in depression.”

I knew exactly what she meant. For a time, I was no longer myself.  I dreaded each day, was afraid to see people, and felt no joy or enthusiasm about anything. Now, thankfully, I recognize that I am still in here. I have a long journey ahead, but my spirit and determination have returned. And I have a new kind of awareness about life. Solomon expressed this idea with eloquence:

“I think the awareness of my own vulnerability has made me more aware of other people’s vulnerability and more appreciative of people who cushion me from the things to which I am vulnerable. So I think it’s made me both more loving and more receptive to love and given me a clearer sense than I would otherwise have had of the value of love. And I suppose — again, without wanting to get into a suggestion of specific doctrine, but that has also given me a sense that some abstract love in the world, which I suppose we could call the love of God, is essential and significant. And it has been increased in me, both in terms of my appreciation for it, and my feeling of being loved or held.”

I feel that way, absolutely. My therapist says that the goal is post-traumatic growth, and that’s what I am striving for.  Becoming suddenly impaired and having so many new challenges and discomforts to get used to  is a transformative experience I would have loved to have skipped, but since we don’t get to choose, I might as well turn it into something positive and emerge stronger and better. I have one more MRI and one more trip to LA in July to confirm that the tumor is entirely gone (they said it was, but we want visual proof of its absolute absence) and then, no more looking back. Only onward.

One thing I’ve already learned is that I am absolved. No more beating up on myself. I have suffered enough. I’ve been a good enough, well-meaning person, and I don’t intend to waste any more precious life energy flagellating myself and dwelling on sadness and regret. Also, I’m learning that we get to choose what owns us…I can focus on an unpleasant sensation and let it dominate the day, or I can label it differently and pay attention to something more worthy. I’m learning to be more compassionate of the suffering of others. I’m learning that I have some remarkable, kind, and gracious people in my life. I’m learning to be helped. I’m learning that I have been very truly loved. I’m learning that I still like the way sunlight fades the paint on an old wooden house, and how the yellow grass is turning russet, and that if I happen to look up at night, I see a sky powdery with white stars so wondrous it’s hard to imagine they are not singing us all awake.

So I’m a little wobbly, but upright, and open to possibility. Precarious, yes, but leaning towards the light. I have seen my depths and demons, but maybe there’s power in facing those and learning to manage them, and maybe I’ll be better than ever, and live more fully, so the whole experience will have been a net gain.

As Barrows writes:

that had been stopped
is beginning to move: a leaf
driven against a rock
by a current
frees itself, finds its way again
through moving water…

To be continued, I’m happy to say.

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Flirting with King Frederick

It’s very difficult to write about an experience when you’re still in the thick of it, and not even sure if and how you will be able to find your way out. But here I am, trying to talk about it lest I fall silent entirely and lose the ability to seek sense through words.

Let’s start with the obvious. I have not been a poster child for recovery from acoustic neuroma surgery. No one said it would be easy, but I was not prepared for the particular challenges and complexities it would unleash in me, and my own psychology, dormant or carefully managed for decades, suddenly exploded into crippling anxiety and debilitating insomnia.

I’ve scared people away. I’ve scared myself. I have had moments when I honestly have not been convinced that I can get through this. Suffering is not a relative term…suffering is suffering when you are the one to whom it is happening. I cannot describe my feelings. I have become unfamiliar to myself, unable to count on my usual resources and distractions. I am tired and tedious. There is a a shaky feeling in my core that almost never abates. Some of this is just necessary readjustment to all the vestibular disturbances that the surgery wrought, and  I know people who have weathered it rather smoothly simply by being patient, resting a lot, and having faith in their body’s own healing.

Unfortunately, it has turned me into a basket case. I have gone to traditional doctors and psychologists, listened to meditation tapes, desperately tried acupuncture and massage and homeopathic remedies, shopped Amazon for goodies such as a weighted blanket, vitamin supplements, preservative-free eye drops, vile tasting tea, even an “anxiety phobia workbook”, gotten certified (it’s legal here) to enter a vaulted dispensary on a back street in the vain hope that a slim young man in dreadlocks would help me to find effective cannabis assistance, and tapped into my teachers’ retirement fund to hand wads of cash to a psychiatrist whom I fervently hope will lead me back to health. All I want is sleep, a re-set, the ability to wake up refreshed and begin the hard sustained work of physical therapy and healing. And in order to attain that, I have learned that I must first address my anxiety, which apparently is off the charts. It has a long history, this anxiety, but now, with me at my most vulnerable, it is at front and center stage. I have been at a low point in my life, and I really do understand why many friends are steering clear of me, and needless to say, I am depressed and discouraged, weak, shaky, uninspired, and at times in what I would describe as a state of despair.

Our nights have become like Groundhog Day…same old routines, same outcomes, over and over, joyless, despite the beauty of the world outside and the resilience of our bond, which has never been tested so much. One day I had the idea that I would just go to a hotel somewhere and give Monte a break from me. There was a place in Solvang called the King Frederick that sounded okay: inexpensive, near the next day’s physical therapy appointment, complete with a bathtub, a sauna, a queen bed, a big black square of television screen mounted on the wall. I pictured myself just going there, pulling down the blinds, resting, being elsewhere, maybe even getting some take-out Chinese food, maybe falling asleep to real estate tv, and I’d wake up and everything would be nice again.

Monte was appalled. There was no way that my escape to the King Frederick was ever going to make any sense to him…a mixture of scary and absurd. Solvang, no less. There I would be as the church muzak pealed outside, and the tourists took pictures of windmills, and the air smelled cloyingly of pastry.

But this is what it’s like sometimes. Even now, I’m typing this as the queasy “feeling” in my stomach flutters, and I wonder, at noon, what I will do with this day that should feel like a gift, not a trial. I won’t even begin to describe all the weirdness of medication, and how much that contributes to my anxiety.

And yet, there are those moments. The other day I had a familiar, fleeting sensation that can best be described as hopefulness. I don’t even know why, but it changed everything while it lasted, and unfortunately I crash-landed the following day after a night of no sleep, but I really did believe for a while that I am still in here, and that I would somehow be okay.

One day in my darkest depths, hiding in the downstairs room while everyone else seemed to be out and about enjoying life, the phone rang, and it was Nyuol, calling me from New York, and he described vignettes of Harlem to me that he could see through the window of his brownstone apartment. Kit and Beverly invited us over to their house last night, and it was perfectly okay with them that I lay on the couch, and didn’t say much, looking at Kit’s beautiful little pastel landscapes and sky-scapes pinned to the wall. Hilary-of-Wales thought of me and sent me a letter in the early hours of morning. Jan, who is going through a trial of her own, and I have been checking in daily and making plans about how we are going to rejoin the resistance when this is over, and maybe get our nails done too. A woman named Bonny I barely know whom I met at the On Being Gathering earlier this year sent me David Whyte’s newest poetry book. Some people still write to me despite getting no response, and my dear friend Dan sent me an email yesterday asking me to read Wordsworth’s lines composed about Tintern Abbey, and I have zoomed in on these lines…daring to hope:

While here I stand, not only with the sense
Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts
That in this moment there is life and food
For future years. And so I dare to hope,
Though changed, no doubt, from what I was when first
I came among these hills; when like a roe
I bounded o’er the mountains, by the sides
Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams,
Wherever nature led: more like a man
Flying from something that he dreads, than one
Who sought the thing he loved.

The moon keeps beaming down on the hills, serene and oblivious, and I pedaled a short distance on my bike and didn’t fall over. Summer will come, and all seasons in their turn, and somehow I will be looking back at this as a hard time but one that yielded wisdom, compassion, and strength. I will give things away. I will laugh at the sound of the tea kettle in the morning. I will be kinder than I ever was before. And I will know that I have been loved and that for this reason alone I must not give up.

I’ve never been a big fan of the idea of a “bucket list”  but I did have a few things that I wanted to do while still reasonably able-bodied…see the Northern Lights, that sort of thing. It’s funny now how simple my desires are. I have but one item on my bucket list for travel. I want to be on my daughter’s street in Oxford, stepping outside that familiar red door, with Monte and Xander, and it will be one of those early summer nights when the sky is still bright white at nearly ten o’clock, and we’ll be walking over to the Cowley Road for take-out, and afterwards, we’ll hug goodnight, and Monte and I will walk back over to Neal and Dot’s arm in arm, and the percussion of our footsteps on the sidewalk will punctuate the night, along with snippets of conversation from passersby, and in the morning Miranda will call and we’ll meet for coffee. I don’t really need to go anyplace else.

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