Spirit of Snow I Wish You

Photograph by MJC, Vancouver Island

Photograph by MJC, Vancouver Island

Snow blankets Vancouver Island these past couple days…this can’t be said to be unusual, though it is a bit of a rarity here. The pattern of our winds mean mild, wet winters for the most part – oh, we have had our share of winter’s wetness already, though the first official day of winter is yet to arrive. Yes, the snow is a welcome relief from the grey, lowering clouds of past weeks. I don’t really mean to write about the weather, my imaginary friend, though I am intrigued by the fact that it seems to dominate the lives of town dwellers in ways that seem curious. We are, after all, mostly well-sheltered, not to mention moving about in our cozy vehicles. But even I, who spend several hours each day outside in the mountains or forest, even I have not been immune to the weeping skies.

The first pleasure is the lovely stillness, the quiet hush that is perhaps the greatest loveliness of snow. Snow softens the tired ugliness of city, and clothes the banal landscape of suburbia in marvelous draperies. The evergreens look particularly gorgeous; branches gracefully bending under weight of white. Beautiful lines and swirls and evocative shapes are everywhere, yet the quietude is most striking. Of course, part of the physical property of snow is to mute sound, and no doubt there is less traffic about in the land of few snow tires. But this quietude seems to invite us to go deeper into that mystery…

Even as I snowshoed through gently falling flakes and gathering twilight, the world about me was lit softly by the expanse of white reflecting everywhere, and back up into the sky…only a day or two earlier I would not have been able to find my way so sure-footedly at dusk. So this light, this quality of reflected brightness is another loveliness I welcome.
Winter comes: under cover of snow warmth the land busies itself with the tasks of the quiet time, the inner time, the time to root deeply to bring next year’s harvest to fruition. Another turn in the wheel of the year awaits: the snow invites us to revel in the quiet and reflection that sustains and nourishes us, that prepares us for the growing time. May you have a little snow this season, in spirit if not on the ground.

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Who Are You? Can You Remember?

I sit in my favourite, ancient chair to write this afternoon, my imaginary friend – I have been away from it for a rather long time. It is a pleasure to envelop myself in its comfort, and naturally I have a cup of “Kick Ass” coffee to enhance the moment, not to mention the sun streaming in my windows. My morning hike sparkled with this oh-so-welcome sun after too many days of rain; a lovely lunch; the familiar motions of making cookies and enjoying the sugary smells…a day of simple content.

The best part of my day, however, has been the discovery of a marvelous book: The Elegance Of The Hedgehog, by Muriel Barber. One of those books in which one meets a ‘kindred spirit’, to invoke Anne of Green Gables – well, one of those books in which you meet yourself, maybe. I shall whole-heartedly recommend this novel, though it is certainly not my intent to write a book review…indeed, I am only halfway through the thing. Wanting to prolong the sheer enjoyment as long as I can – is it not exquisite to find such a book? Movie? Music? Art?

There is a remark in the book that perhaps we write to find ourselves, and I am moved by this, in the context of the story… The very literate, cultured, articulate, and intelligent concierge of a Parisian apartment building who endeavours to appear stupid and morose to the buildings’ wealthy residents, understanding that this is their assumption of who she is…and who troubles to look beyond their assumptions? One or two do, of course – ah, but I am just getting to that part! In any event, another of the characters writes to meet herself, she says, to move beyond those assumptions of the shallow and preoccupied she is surrounded by.

What is profoundly moving about this, I suppose, is that we are all the ‘victims’ of assumptions by the people we encounter in any given day – that the way we dress, where we work (or not), what kind of car we drive (or not), where we live, in what restaurants or stores or galleries or museums we are found in – any one of these details, taken singly, is enough for someone, somewhere to form an assumption of us that may have no bearing in reality. When I say victim, I mean this: at best, any or all of these details describe a minute piece of us, the most trivial and the most superficial aspect of us, indeed. Why does this matter?

It may or may not matter individually – many of the people we interact with daily are likely acquaintances or chance-met strangers, and presumably as individuals we have other, deeper relationships. It obviously matters very profoundly to a culture, though, in a million ways I shall not explicate, save this: the idea of being able to look at and acknowledge another human with openness and a smidgen of genuine curiosity is a great void in Western culture. That every time our eyes slide over someone…shiftless bum…teenage thug…bag lady…slotting them into a precut jigsaw puzzle, we lose a piece of our humanity. In case it is not evident, the jigsaw pieces of ‘attractive woman’, ‘powerful man’, ‘pretty girl’ (and so on…) are also dehumanizing…and not only to the objects of our gaze, but to ourselves.

Who are you, my imaginary friend? Maybe more importantly, who might you become? What vast longings and wellsprings of joy have been squeezed into the jigsaw shape someone else assigned, that you gamely try to fit within the puzzle?

canyouremember

Je T’aime

Now, I must say good bye to you, though you are already gone. And I do not know why I must write this: this, the most difficult of all things to put into words. It is not within my powers of expression to write the words that would be a fitting eulogy, though perhaps I might be able to capture something of how I find myself wanting to live in that deep certainty of joy that you taught me. That joy lives in me, viscerally; that even as I weep, I feel its call to experience deeply and fully with no reserve. This is the gift you have given me, which is beyond words.

Still, I shall write some more words. That you once told me that simply to hold my hand was your idea of happiness. That when I fell asleep in your arms, you would not move for fear of disturbing my rest. That in those moments of fine rapture we murmured ‘babe’ to each other in tone and feeling that echoed the great love language of English poets. That your delight in loving me was the greatest compliment I have ever been paid.

That you told me you would try to find a million ways in which to tell me that you loved me. That every time you told me that you loved me I was thrilled and moved to the centre of my being. That you will never again tell me that you love me; even so, it lies here in my heart and cannot be dislodged or shaken.

We do not get to the final movement of our symphony, you and I. I shall always envision you in the glorious, heat-soaked foothills landscape; the sky, and the possibilities, endless. Some echo of our music shall linger there forever, I believe. Our human hearts grapple with the mysteries of love and life and death and loss…perhaps it is simply to comfort myself that I write these words inadequate to tell of my love, and my desolation. But this, this I feel with a certainty – that within this cauldron of swirling memories lies the promise of rebirth, for to love another is to immortalize some part of ourselves.

I find I cannot say good bye, and words of love spoken to empty air bring no consolation. To return to the beginning is perhaps to honour the spiral of life and death – I shall live with the joy of having been loved by you. Je t’aime.

openheart

February 29 (first published 2012)

I cannot shake the idea that this day has some magic, somehow. Of course it is a calendar correction, and Wikipedia has a fine article on that. Doubtless you will have been inundated with stories of the folklore of the day as well. Still, a day that exists only once every four years… Not quite exactly, but do read Wikipedia for details.

 So here we are, and what is this magic, anyway? I want to dig down, deep down into this feeling; something like being on a cusp. Or perhaps merely the anticipation of Spring? Sigh. By now you will be asking yourself, my imaginary friend, just why you are reading this stream of consciousness.

 It has to do, I think, with the idea of reviving a feeling of wonder in the ordinary and the prosaic. The way we used to come together, in the community sense, merely to mark in some shared way all manner of things. The first of May. The harvest. The turning of the tides… These ideas changed over the course of centuries, naturally, though they seem almost ghostly remnants, now.

Well, here is my insignificant contribution to marking this day, this year. Because the magic I believe in is that spark that yearns for connection. Beyond the connection of family and friends, the connection that extends to town, or city, or village, to nation, to culture. That we share some simple experiences, and because we share them, we shall make note.

 

paint your day with marvelous colours...

paint your day with marvelous colours…

Challenge – accepted!

This post is brought to you by SuperArtGirl, who is also blogging as Joymeister. You can follow her take on the 30-day excitement challenge here.

I love what she is doing, and the fact that she is writing about it, because here is a woman serious about crafting and creating her own life! The challenge is simple enough, I suppose, and at times rather silly, maybe…never the less, to look at what we do every day, and what we take for granted, and to work that up into a new way of seeing one’s own life – well, that is serious, and seriously inspiring stuff. Love you, SuperArtGirl, and keep doing what you’re doing 🙂

"Rainbow Tree" 1'9x2'9 - $200

“Rainbow Tree” 1’9×2’9 – $200

What Do You Do For Excitement?

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” –  Marcel  Proust

 

explore

 

My friend SuperArtGirl wants more excitement in her life, and this makes me wonder, do most of us think this way? We love our comfort and our routines, and then we complain that life lacks a little spice. How about you, my imaginary friend? As for me, I have a folder in my laptop called Zesty And Interesting Things – I look at it often, and troll around the internet occasionally just to look for these things. Truth be told, I am an incurable Pollyanna and I firmly believe that the most exciting things aren’t really things or events, but the wonder and curiousity of looking at the world and ourselves in different ways. The question is, maybe, how do we switch our perspectives, our familiar lenses and ways in which we view the world? Here I offer up an extremely silly challenge. Your mission, should you accept it, is to explore these ideas and experiences…now, we shall not quibble about how you experience them. Read on.

 

Day one: Eat something you’ve never eaten before.

Day two: Play like a child all day. Oh, you have to work? Make your work play…

Day three: Pick an experience you’ve never had, and would like to have, and spend a day planning how you could get to do it. What does it feel like?

Day four: Be a cowboy for a day.

Day five: Make your morning routine totally different. I am not suggesting you skip brushing your teeth, just mix it up.

Day 6: Play some music you’ve never heard before for at least one hour.

Day seven: Talk to a stranger.

Day eight: Go to a place you’ve never been before, where you live.

Day nine: Make your favourite food, and immerse yourself in the experience of eating it with no distractions – TV, phone, book. Wine and conversation allowed.

Day ten: Find a piece of art you’ve never seen before, and like. Why do you like it?

Day eleven: Wear only warm, soft, comfortable clothes and be conscious of how they feel.

Day twelve: Read something, anything, you’d not normally be interested in.

Day thirteen: Find out something about someone you know that you didn’t know before.

Day fourteen: Write a poem.

Day fifteen: Sing a song. What is the song?

Day sixteen: Tell someone you love them, and why.

Day seventeen: Play with an animal. Cute cat videos are okay, too.

Day eighteen: Wear a pair of wings today. Use your imagination!

Day nineteen: Today, you can be whatever you want and do whatever you like. Yes, you can.

Day twenty: Do some finger painting. Colouring also acceptable.

Day twenty-one: Wear unmatched socks. Does anybody care?

Day twenty-two: After unmatched sock day, we do hats. Wear a hat, any hat. Do you feel different?

Day twenty-three: What is the secret thing you’ve always wanted? Tell someone about this.

Day twenty-four: Get up really early, just because. How is it?

Day twenty-five: Be a cowboy for a day. Yes, you must do this again. It’s important!

Day twenty-six: Today, you shall be a hero. Just do it.

Day twenty seven: Stay up late. Naps allowed to prepare…look at the stars.

Day twenty-eight: What is the silliest thing you can think of doing? Do it. Yes.

Day twenty-nine: Today is a day off. Enjoy. Are you excited?

Day thirty: Today, you can be whatever you want and do whatever you like…and every day. And everyday can be different!

 

Well, is this really an excitement challenge?  asks my imaginary friend. I think it is, in ways that are hard to get one’s head around, maybe. If you were to ask me what the most exciting things are in the world, I would say this: the cry of a newborn baby. The silvery moon shining a path over a calm sea. The endless stars that dance overhead, and suggest limitless possibilities for life and realms beyond…the look of a lover. The joy of dance, and the poetry of snowy mornings, and the cosiness of a fire. Friends whose faces light up when they see you, and animals that teach us how to be more fully alive, and warm, sandy beaches to curl your toes in. Mountain mornings, and meadows to run through, and food shared in loving company…oh, I’ve only just begun, but know this: the most exciting things in the world require eyes to be open to see them, and minds that are alive to possibilities, and hearts that are open.

Much love and gratitude to SuperArtGirl, whose whimsy inspires my life in ways beyond words. Always, she helps me see with new eyes, opens my heart, shows me that the detours on the path are the most interesting places…and she draws awesome cowboys. (That is another story.) I do know that the most exciting people have hearts three sizes too big. You’ve helped mine grow a size …Thank you.

 

Update: SuperArtGirl is blogging about the challenge here, and it is a fun read!

Symphony

She gazes out the window at the long stretch of sandy beach – luscious even in the rain – and wonders where he is. She wonders, too, at how he has won her heart, for she knows she gives herself to him…Oh, not in the archaic notion of woman gives herself to man, rather, in the most beautiful sense of all: to be open to another human being in every way possible.

She knows, in some unfathomable way, that these are merely the opening chords of the cosmic symphony of love. The quick and bright notes that form the first movement: shared laughter. Lying in soft, musty hay in an old barn. Watching how he sits his horse, and moves with the animal. How he looks at her, and how he speaks to her. Late nights and early dawns and rainy days of adventures. Want and desire…

The second movement is slower, more at ease – dinners at home. Movies and popcorn, and storm-watching from the warmth of inside and the warmth of together. Long, lazy breakfasts. Work that takes them apart, and the fierce joy of coming home to him. Coming home – oh, such joy!

Always, there is play, and humour and warmth are the theme of the third movement. He can move her to tears, but more often she is laughing out loud. His presence never fails to fill her with the wonder and grace of it all…And he plays like a boy, and she, like a girl.

The fourth movement is vivacious: full of the love of life and each other. It is not an ending, for the echoes of this symphony will reverberate in quiet meadows, and in lush canyons of the tallest mountains. Some faint sound shall emanate from the stars to bear witness to this earthly love: in all the quiet, beautiful places they have shared some fragment of the music shall soar briefly aloft in memory.

This is for you, cowboy. I send you kisses, and this, my prose version of the symphony of love we shall play together.

lovelandscape