Possibilities…

I dream. I pause, suspended, almost. Winter settles in, and the chill days evoke a need to snuggle deeper into that duvet…to think, to nurture myself, to find that centre of calm that the season evokes.

The calmness is all on the surface, in nature, for the work of winter is busy laying the seeds of spring…trees and shrubs and plants assimilate minerals and carry on all manner of preparation for the time of lush growth. I do believe, my imaginary friend, that we humans ought do something of the same. To incubate the hopes and ideas for the coming year, to swirl and sift the possibilities and imaginings, to let the dreams sharpen their focus and become the shape of the life we wish.

Perhaps the “New Year’s Resolution” is the metaphor our culture offers up, though it seems to fall short of the true thing: to change (to grow) is not the action that follows a decision but the thoughts and mindful musings and serious questioning that lead to the decision…The beautiful month of January – which name derives from the two-faced god, Janus, who is both looking forward and looking back – is a threshold month, indeed.

Yes, I shall snuggle deeper into that warm nest of bed. I have big, bold dreams and I shall take the time to limn the outlines a little more cleanly and clearly, I think. Out of the vast trackless sea of shimmering possibilities rises a star…A guiding star. A centering star. A star to light my wandering path. Oh, and I begin to see the possibilities of where it leads…

May you light up your possibilities in the coming year, my friends.

rockymountainstars

Advertisements

From The Heart

I have been asked a lot, of late, about my very personal writing, and it strikes me that I have a bit to say about this…Well, here it is, my imaginary friend.

My background in writing is non-fiction and academic, although I did – and sometimes still do – write bad poetry. My first university English courses certainly emphasized formal, technical writing, in which the personal was distinctly frowned upon. I don’t recall this posing a problem at the time, but as the years went by and I became immersed in the world of business, my distress at the formulaic and superficial writing – of business in particular – became acute. These were also the years when such trite expressions as “Have a Nice Day” began to be repeated, ad nauseam, often mandated by head offices in the belief that this somehow constituted a customer care ethic. On one particularly poignant occasion, an overly squeaky, bubbling cashier caused a woman in the line ahead of me to burst into tears, and to tell the young woman she’d just come from a funeral and merely wanted to get home quickly…

Which caused a lot of deep thinking on my part. Why on earth would management insist on such rote phrases, instead of teaching a service ethic? The quiet distress of the woman in front of me was self-evident to all but the most clueless. As I began teaching and training people in the hospitality industry, I observed the same sort of mindless, faux-happy approach to people that sincerely bothered me. Surely an ethos of service entails a reading of the customer – whether a boisterous, happy crowd, a hungry family, a quiet couple looking for privacy. I studied marketing, and suffered through endless metric analysis of why the broadcast mediums were losing advertising share. I began a thesis on social media marketing and was influenced by Theodore Zeldin, who wrote of the dead language of business, and David Whyte, who wrote of the need for poetry in corporate life. And, of course, I pondered the spectacular rise of social media, from blogging to Facebook and everything in between.

Broadcast media suffer because the message is one way, and because often it is a specially banal sort of messaging. Social media, on the other hand, plays to the ability of people to respond, to query – and to create their own version of this-is-me…Mark Zuckerberg talks about sharing and its power to change the world, and all cynicism about corporate entities aside, this is a compelling view of a brave new world.

Whatever we share of ourselves, spoken or written, when it is true to our own self, is deeply moving and compelling for others. It does not signify that we share a cultural or political viewpoint, a country or system of governance, or language, even. What does signify is that we share those human values that are both universal, and also very particular…That we share love, and kindness, and the nurturing of children and families. That loss and grief is a part of life – that others have experienced it, as well as illness and pain and poverty, does not necessarily make it better – but it helps us understand that some things can be endured, while other things can be changed and eradicated. When we share a moment of recognition of pleasure in a cute kitten video – yes, I use the cliché purposefully – we are sharing something that transcends the human condition, even, and brings us into the nature of being and of life itself.

I cannot say it comes easily to me, this writing and speaking of the deeply personal. But I can say, at the end of the day, (another purposefully-used cliché) it is probably all that matters – for you and I to share some bit of ourselves. And laugh, or weep, or ponder intently –  merely smile, pose a question to ourselves, feel transcending joy, to be moved, or unsettled, or disturbed…To begin with love for self and our immediate others and to move from there. To make our hearts grow a size or two…this is what matters, I think. With love, from VivianLea.

From My He

A Million Stars…

Summer heat, relaxing its fierce grip as the sun descends, and the cooling air redolent with the smell of blossoms. ‘Tis a quiet evening, even the birds a bit wilted. The lushness all around fairly pulses with life, however, and all living things rejoice in the fullness of midsummer approaching. And I, missing you, reflecting wistfully that every moment of beauty not shared with you is a small sadness and regret.

Beauty is timeless, no doubt, though these moments are fleeting, and I have moved through images of beauty this past year with a focused yearning to live them with you. And if I had to tell why, I would say because of the way you speak with more than words, because your every movement and action and nuance tells me how deeply you feel. Perhaps it will surprise you, my intensity of longing to share without words, for I am, after all, a woman of words.

There is much for us to do and experience, but the savouring of small joys and the intimacy of immersing oneself in the wonder of another seems to me the truest bliss I can imagine right now. A millions stars for you to wish upon…

 

 

stars2

Adventure…1,2,3…

My adventure has begun, though having said that, I must tell you I spent the day cleaning windows, that most prosaic of tasks. I find it a chore that allows for reflection, as house cleaning in general does for me, and it was good to take a day to do homey things and think things over.

I am at present some 600 kilometres from where I started, having had possibly the most enjoyable drive of my life. Including ferry travel I spent about nine hours on the road, but with no deadlines or schedules it was delightful to watch the stunning geography of British Columbia unfold, and to stop whenever and wherever I liked. From the lush forests and sparkling sea of Vancouver Island, to the epic thunderstorm in the mountains, to the semi-desert of the south Okanagan, it felt like a gorgeous film unwinding. Oh, I love this province!

I have been exploring the south Okanagan for a week or so, and for various reasons will be here a while longer. Although this is a familiar place I have managed to find some new landscapes most every day. I have hiked a few mountains, explored the unique forests (mostly Ponderosa Pine with grassland between relatively sparse tree cover), and visited a few eclectic little towns – and the sense of adventure is, in fact, deepening. Likely for the aforesaid reasons: no deadlines or schedules.

The sense of liberation is deep in my spirit, though it is a complexity to describe it…In essence, though, I am liberated from my old life, not yet having got to the new, and it is delicious, exhilarating, and frightening. It is also deeply thought-provoking: I carry my me-ness with me, along with my daily habits – what, exactly am I liberating myself from? I suppose it is a sense of not being satisfied, of searching for more.

By chance I find myself reading a book about the black migration out of the southern U.S., told both in general terms and from the intimate view of three particular families. The individuals telling their stories tell of their longing for the ‘better life”, though it is different for each of them, and while the material (better pay, owning a home) is a part of the generalized longing, really they are speaking of the inchoate and amorphous. And I fear that I, too, may need a book to explain what I go in search of.

Well, my imaginary friend, it shall unfold in these virtual pages much the same as my life, messy and unpredictably. But this sense and spirit and ethos of adventure is key, I think: to be open to the possibilities. To see every vista as through a lens, and to contemplate how the most artistic picture may be captured. To be awake to the wondrous. To drive the curvy highway with a five-speed stick shift, not on automatic…

This is where my journey has taken me thus far. And the view from the clean windows is delightful!

 

Photograph by Lentilcia

Photograph by Lentilcia

Byways and Back Roads

A BackRoad, Childe Hassam

A Back Road, Childe Hassam

I wrote of the journey I am taking a couple of posts back, and you, my imaginary friend, will be pleased, I think, to know that I leave in a few days time. My preparations are almost complete, and no doubt I shall find myself in busyness and doing very shortly, so this seems a good time to write more of my inner journey.

I find myself yearning for change, though naturally I am fearful at the same time…for who knows what change may entail? It is not change of scenery I am looking for, although I welcome new landscapes. And I do not think my essential inner nature shall change, although deeper insights and more compassion for myself might be on my list of self-improvements. While the journey is an actual physical movement, it is not a material quest I go on, but a spiritual one. ‘Spiritual’ is used advisedly: I am not searching for a real or metaphorical holy grail.

The deep nature of the journey is to write a love story, a love story on many levels. To practise a craft with skill and pleasure, rather than to conform to the mediocrity of small town. This mediocrity is rooted in getting along with one’s neighbours, perhaps – of fitting in, of not getting beyond oneself – it is a good-hearted notion at its best, but ultimately stultifying. To wander a freer landscape – less confined than even a large island, in any event! Though I believe freer in the sense, also, that there is room for different styles of living. To explore landscape and people and ethos of a culture different than my own, with openness and rejection of stereotypes and delight in the learning of new things. To kiss the boy in the tender spot behind his ear and to find joy in the sureness of living precisely as one wants to live, every day. Shall these things come to pass? You shall know of my efforts at bringing them into being, at any rate.

Both intimacy and solitude are required for the writing of a great love story, I believe, and maybe a willingness to travel the byways and lesser known roads. I look forward to sharing them with you.

The Personal

This past week has been intensely bittersweet: the bitter of making goodbyes to very dear friends; the sweet of their company reminding me of the joy of such friendships. To set off on a journey entails goodbyes, even if they are temporary, and I have always been one to be the last guest at the party…For one truth in my life is this: my friendships are cherished, and being a part of the ordinariness and dailiness of people’s lives is a gift.

Me, and my imaginary friend came into being as a way to share the unfolding of my life with friends near and far, real and imagined, old and new. We live in times where those we love don’t always reside in geographic proximity, and the nurturing of relationships at a distance takes some care. Of course we want to hear of joys and sorrows, big events, and momentous occasions, but we also want to hear of the ordinary things, thoughtful moments, a thousand little things about those we care for. It is this very thing that we seek out in social media, though it seems to be rather a fashion to deride said mediums. Cute cat videos, selfies, and pictures of dinner are scoffed at as trivialities and time wasters, though I believe nothing could be further from the truth.

I don’t think many of us pretend that what we blog or share has earth-shaking significance: that is hardly the point. The point is that we are sharing – and that act of sharing is powerful, and connects us to people. I cannot imagine anything more likely to change our lives, our communities, our world, than this connection. The very idea of a democracy, as an example, is one in which we collectively engage in the question of how we shall live, as a society, and the more we are connected to the inner truths of other’s lives, the better able we are to truly engage in the democratic process. Maybe that’s a big leap for you, my imaginary friend – from a parade of selfies to the democratic process, though the evidence of how social media is changing our politics and political process is clear and unequivocal.

I had the privilege, also this week, of speaking with six different women about “The Dress”, last week’s blog post, and I am grateful for those conversations, some with women I know well and others I am only acquainted with. Each told her particular story of her own dress and its significance, and these were moving and deeply profound stories. The sharing of my simple story inspired much deeper sharing from others, and I can only be inspired in turn by beautiful insight into six different lives.

There is much more I could write, I once wrote a thesis on this theme, in fact, but I think I will leave you with a selfie, just for fun and provocation. The Belle Jar had a great post on selfies, also this week, and you might enjoy her take on the phenomenon, linked here. Do you recollect the proudly proclaimed slogan of second-wave feminism, “the personal is political”? Yes, yes it is.

Selfie