Out of the gate and into the wild

Out Of The Gate And Into The Wild

I’ve been indulging in my usual Saturday morning routine – sitting in my pajamas with coffee, idly paging through social media until the brain shows signs of life. Facebook’s “On This Day” feature this morning offered me a video by recording artist LP, whose incredibly unique voice isn’t even halfway showcased here (you should try a song called Tokyo Sunrise if you want to hear what she can really do!)

LP – Into The Wild

A few minutes later, the interwebs offered up this gem:

Left the gate open

Of course, the two connected are screaming, “Memo!”

I actually think this is a foolish sentiment, as a routine life strategy. One should not always be bolting willy-nilly through every open gate one sees.

Who bolts through open gates? People who are looking for a way out. People who are some combination of bored, scared, trapped, desperate, and/or yearning for freedom. People who are convinced that what lies ahead HAS to be better than whatever they’re leaving behind. People who want to run.

I decided to google the song lyrics for insight. The pertinent, most recognizable lyrics to the LP song are:

Somebody left the gate open
You know we got lost on the way
Come save us a runaway train
Goin’ insane….

Oh please believe me I’m more scared than not
That oh now this isn’t the way

So here we have another category of bolter – astray, scared, and with full, after-the-fact awareness that bolting wasn’t the best idea they ever had. This was not a well-thought-out bolting, but an irrational, reckless rush into madness.

When we were growing up, our family included a dog named Rusty, who would bolt at every opportunity. Gates, doors, however he could manage it, Rusty would lead us on a merry chase through the neighborhood until his inevitable recapture. That is, until the time I found him in a doorway, reached for his collar – and he snarled and snapped at me. Here I am, worried for his safety (hey, we lived at the intersection of Jamaica Avenue and Francis Lewis Blvd. in Queens!), and this is the thanks I get for chasing him down. Fine. Be that way. And I went home in a huff, leaving him to figure it out on his own against the perils of the city.

I have no idea why some dogs are bolters, and some are just plain disinterested in the open gate. He wasn’t abused or ignored or anything like that, and always had a big yard to run around in. Some dogs are calm, placidly content. Rusty was a more energetic, more interested in what lies beyond the gates, I guess.

On the surface, the placid pooch seems smarter, more dignified, more mature, steadier and more reliable than the bolter. However, his worldview is more limited than Rusty’s. The placid pooch never gets to sniff and explore and learn quite as much as the one who wants to know what’s outside the gate.

There’s got to be some happy medium between the sameness of contentment, and the terrifying plunge into the abyss.

A prayer acknowledged

File Oct 11, 4 12 26 PMI was in my early thirties when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. That was 23 years ago tomorrow.

A few weeks ago, one of my nieces called seeking advice. She’s been diagnosed, too.  She’s in her late twenties.

I’ve been attending yoga on Sundays for a few weeks now. I keep parking around the corner in pretty much the same spot – right across the street from a small cafe.  I keep wanting to stop into that cafe after yoga. The stomach is empty and suddenly serenity isn’t quite filling it up.

At the end of class today, we prayed for those who are dying or ill. The yogi asked us to think of someone who is in need of such prayers. I prayed for comfort and healing for <Insert Name Of Niece>. We ended by sending a series of Oms out to them.

I thought we were done, but then the yogi started a chant, and I was really excited about it because I recognized it. That made me feel like a little less of a yoga/mediation imposter. And then I realized that I recognized it from a mediation lesson recorded by the late David Simon, a co-founder of the Chopra Center, who had died of cancer. That made me sad.

After class, I decided that it was finally time to stop into that little cafe. The waitress was pleasant, and when I said I’d just come from yoga, she brought some ice water with lemon right away.  I asked how long the cafe had been in operation, and she launched into a colorful tale of cafe survival that was basically a reflection of the renaissance of downtown Fort Myers. “We’ve had a lot of adversity,” she said. “But we’ve prevailed.”

As I was leaving, I asked her name. She shook my hand and said, “It was nice meeting you. My name is <Insert Name Of Niece>”.

The cure for spiritual complacency

IMG_6791Earlier today, I listened to an article on UMANO that touched upon giving as a way to take care of one’s own soul. It’s like spiritual nourishment, and it keeps you from becoming spiritually complacent.

I give a tremendous amount of time (and I have a spreadsheet to prove it!), but since my reversal of fortune several years back, I have had to prune back my monetary giving. Like all of my other expenses, it was examined and cut back. Not abandoned, just reduced.

Now that I’ve been doing a bit better, I’ve received a Memo from one of my favorite charities (the other one is Harry Chapin). Guess it is time to break out the checkbook 🙂

Ears to hear, eyes to see

20140524-131343-47623975.jpgDivorced from the controlling institutional crap of religion, I find the New Testament to be a useful well of wisdom on occasion.  Lately, I’ve noted that it directs us pretty explicitly regarding Memos. The New Testament refers in multiple places to letting those who have ears, hear, and those who have eyes, see.

Matthew, Mark, and Revelations all contain directives to open our ears and our eyes.  Memos are really the result of following these directives.  You have ears – hear it.  You have eyes – see it.  It’s all around you.  There are no coincidences.  If you’re hearing it, if you’re seeing it, then there is something in it for you.  Introduction to the new, validation of the old, invitation to explore, navigation along the way – it’s all there for you.  Be careful and be discerning – don’t project onto the Memo.  Just open your ears and your eyes, observe it, and allow what you already know in your heart to bubble to the surface.

About once every three weeks or so, I have a night where sleep, that dirty, rotten say-out, either won’t stick around or doesn’t show up at all.  At some point, I arise with disgust from my bed, maybe make a snack, surf the net, concoct a haiku about my plight and share it on Facebook… ANYTHING to alleviate the torturous boredom of not falling asleep, even when desperately tired.

A few times, I’ve deliberately decided to throw anti-insomnia caution to the winds, cease resisting the Universe, and just embraced the situation with late night electronics exposure.  Having a PC hooked up to my big screen comes in handy during these interludes.

I streamed this movie, (500) Days Of Summer, from Amazon Instant Video the other night.  The very first thing you notice is how much Zoey Deschanel really does look like Katy Perry… and vice versa.  The last thing you notice is that you’ve just been given a lesson in truly hearing and seeing.

The thing is, you have to be open to hearing and seeing stuff that you might not want to hear or see.  Even in retrospect – especially in retrospect! – we can tend to hear and see only that which fits our preconceptions.  We can tend to miss the truth, the reality of the situation. This is a sort of a squandering of a perfectly good Memo.

They make it clear in the trailer and in the narration that this is NOT a love story.  One of the important lessons of this film is that not everyone who comes into our lives romantically is there to stay.  And just because they don’t stay, that doesn’t mean the experience was a waste.  Experience is NEVER wasted, if you have ears to hear and eyes to see.  I try to imagine where the protagonist would have been had he not had his 500 days. Would he have landed in the interview waiting room at the end? Doubtful – after all, you cannot experience autumn without first having experienced summer.  It was inevitable and necessary and useful, even if it did fail.

Watch the movie.  And be open to ALL the sights and sounds the Universe is serving up to you – not just the ones you want to see and hear, but also the ones you MUST see and hear.  Not just the sights and sounds from the good times, but from the bad times, too.  There’s lemonade in them there hills!

I wish for you and for me, wide-open ears and eyes, and uncalloused hearts, that we may always have easy access to the truth 🙂

No, not THAT definition of conceit

Definitions of "conceit"
Definitions of “conceit”

Twice in the past several days, I’ve come across usage of the word “conceit” in a way that I have never seen it used before. At least, I do not remember having seen it used in this way, but let’s face it – I’m over 50, brain cells are dropping as rapidly as hair in the shower drain.

These references were made, in both cases, to written works. A foray into Dictionary.com tells me that “conceit” is known primarily for the first-listed definition – “excessively favorable opinion” of one’s self – but there are four more definitions that have more to do with ideas and the creativity of the mind than they do with arrogance or narcissism.

Where have I been all my life?  Why do I not know this?  I’m pretty well-read; that’s not conceit, but leans more toward confession.  And I studied literature and poetry, so I’m not sure how I could have missed “conceit” as used by the likes of Shakespeare.

In trying to connect the two uses of the word, I’m speculating that the common component is a notion that is not based in reality.  Is painting a fanciful picture of one’s self really any different than painting a fanciful picture of one’s lover?

Now to figure out why I’ve been alerted to the concept of “conceit” at this late stage in life!

  • Perhaps it is not “conceit” itself, but the fact that there can be multiple meanings to things, of which we can remain unaware for years and years.
  • Lack of awareness of the tree falling does not mean it makes no thud (where have I heard this one before? 😉 ).
  • Despite having worked for years at being “well-read”, it turns out I don’t know jack.

Guess I’m being told to look more closely.

Oh and by the way – I can’t remember where the first reference was seen (probably some forum I read – and see previous remarks about dying brain cells), but it was closely followed by a scene in the Daniel Radcliffe film Kill Your Darlings, which I streamed from Amazon the other night, and which I highly recommend. Here’s a link –