I have been on crutches for over two months now from a serious knee injury I have mentioned in previous posts. Ten days ago I was given the green light from my doctor to ditch the crutches and begin weight-bearing around the house. Sadly, after 3 days the pain returned. Instantly I went from hope to a state of despair. How much longer will I have to endure this?
By “chance” I tuned into an episode of the OnBeing podcast called the “Future of Hope” an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert, who happens to be one of my heroes. During the interview by Pico Iyer, Gilbert speaks of how she navigated the pandemic and also the death of her life partner, Rayya from cancer. Here are two excerpts from that interview which I needed to hear…
“if there is one thing that I, if I had the chance to do it over again, could’ve done differently, would’ve been to walk into it in a stance of surrender — arms collapsed, no clipboard, no agenda, no cherished outcome — and to have almost gone limp into it, which is not the same thing as hopelessness, but it is a very powerful stance to take in the wake of something that is bigger than you are.”
“And a friend of mine gave me a tip: to lower my standards of gratitude, to lower the bar and to catch the low-hanging fruit so that it’s not — it doesn’t have to be these huge, epic, grandiose gratitudes. The more physical they are, the more I felt it in my body. My gratitude for these slippers that I have that have an insole that you can put in the microwave and you can warm up your feet, that’s on my gratitude list almost every day. And I feel it neurologically. Even when I say it, I remember how comfortable those slippers feel, and remembering that doesn’t necessarily send me into despair over the state of the world, and it starts to kind of rewire my brain.”
Such good advice in tough times be it a pandemic, death of a loved one, or an injured knee.
We have arrived at the Winter Solstice, the tipping point where we in the N. Hemisphere mark the point where the earth will begin to rotate back to the sun’s full exposure. The Winter Solstice marks the longest night and the shortest day of the year. While our modern calendar denotes it as the first day of winter, I and others from the time of the ancients mark it as the return of the light each day forward, bit by bit. It is a time of hope and new beginnings – like a solar New Year.
In a couple of hours, a few friends will gather at my home, take a walk, circle around a bonfire, sharing readings and thoughts. We will also toss into the fire the things we are hoping to leave behind. There are plenty for this year 2020 that I don’t even need to mention. As we turn the corner in the heavens, let us heal from these disasters and let the fires of hope burn bright.
Fred Rogers often told this story about when he was a boy and would see scary things on the news: “My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”
These are dark times-, especially in the U.S.A. If you listen to the news enough you would think that there are no more good people left on planet Earth. I refuse to believe that- even though the media showcases all the crooked politicians and sex offenders of the world at the expense of everyone else. Sensational sells.
I only have so much real estate in my brain for the negative. In order to function and remain positive, I have made a conscious choice to monitor what feeds into my psyche on a regular basis. Rather than start my morning with the news I turn on upbeat Irish music and then switch to podcasts that showcase people making a difference- the “helpers”. My favorites are “The Good Life Project” and “On Being with Krista Tippett”. (Then the Moth Radio Hour provides me with plenty of inspiration.) If you are new to podcasts, give them a try. I don’t even use earbuds when listening. The speaker on my smartphone is adequate.
It is important to me that my art expresses beauty or brings a smile. There is no way I can achieve that when a dark cloud is spewing from my radio as I work. Trust me, I remain informed but not at the expense of hope. Like Mr. Roger’s mother said, I will continue to “look for the helpers” and give them my attention rather than further empower those that would rather have us discouraged.
This is a reblog of a poem I wrote for New Year’s Eve last year when my blog was brand new and had few readers. I read it at a gathering of friends. We were all still reeling from the presidential election fallout. As the poem as it was read caused a hush in the room. Later, several friends told me how much it meant to them. Feel free to share this at your gathering on this New Year’s Eve as we hope for change in 2018. What better way to start the New Year than with poetry?
On This Last Eve
There are no more squares to fill
Nor pages to turn
Nothing can be changed
But how we act tomorrow
And how we think about the past.
It is done
A tapestry of memories woven in our minds
Events left to history.
In the morning
A new calendar will grace the wall
Waiting to be filled with commitments & adventures.
No matter how much the terrorists, the despots, (& our president) try to steal the show, nature wins hands down. What a magnificent sight it was to gaze up at the sky & witness such a celestial event among friends. It was a great morning in Oregon!
The sun & the moon
met each other in the freshness of an August morning
Just when you thought the world couldn’t get nuttier, the next day brings even more crazy- especially here in the USA. Being the sensitive type, I have had to develop strategies to keep a healthy level of sanity & stay creative. It’s still there- the good, the beauty, the hope. One just has to turn off the noise of all the negativity and reach for happy……
Some of my favorite art is the cave paintings from Paleolithic times or the rock paintings from ancient Native Americans & Australian Aborigines. There is an ongoing debate about the purpose of this primitive type of art. I believe it was about story telling or merely leaving evidence of their existence, much like tracks. These images were made to be viewed by other people. A simple hand print on a wall is powerful. It says “I was here.”
When I ask the question to myself, will my art have a lasting impact on the world? The fact that I wrote or made is enough. It proves that I
was here. It tells part of my story, of my experience on this earth. Fame is not in my destiny but evidence will be. It is part of me I leave. If someone happens to connect with my work, I am most fulfilled.
I got this off Austin Kleon’s blog that inspired this post. His take on the subject is worth a visit. Keep on keeping on…….