Central Park: NY
I was thinking of all the people near and far,
of people I don’t know,
through someone else,
or the news, a friend of a friend,
and are suffering.
The delicateness and savagery,
all our broken ways, sabotage,
how we worry, how we beat ourselves up,
our addictions, our dark nights, our panic.
But the ways we triumph, make each other laugh,
post pictures of food and puppies on Facebook,
all the ways we love, and are connected,
and are alone, and I cried.
Because it’s all so beautiful and all so fucked up.
It is tangled, this beautiful mess,
and today, I want to hug my loved ones.
I want to smell them and protect them.
I want to see all their funny nuances
of how they joke and tease,
drive me crazy, misunderstand,
love just the same.
Because it’s there in an instant-
our brokenness, our redemption,
the way we fall, the way we get up,
the way we try again.
In our aloneness we share so much,
but it doesn’t stop people from being alone in their grief,
alone in the hospital.
Then once again I circle back to the beauty,
to the brilliance of this moment,
savage, calling to me,
to look it
in the eye.
Ever stand at the shore and throw a pebble into the water? See how the ripples get bigger and bigger and wider and wider until the circumference of them becomes larger than what we can actually see? This is how kindness works in the world. And if you stay at the edge of the water, just a little longer, sometimes you see, one by one, the ripples returning to the spot where the pebble was cast. That is kindness echoing back, but this is not why we do it.
Whatever stories we have about our life, whatever our life experiences, I am certain, there is one which was difficult to go through. I’m talking about the kind of experience that stops us in our tracks, forever changes things and makes us re-evaluate what we believed before. It happens at one point or another to all of us. Although difficult, times like these can transform us as they can be an opportunity for growth and reflection. Out of our own struggles, we learn kindness and compassion. From the depth of our pain, we find the voice of tenderness within. When we understand that everyone shares this, that no one is exempt from the ebb and flow of life, we know we are not alone. Ultimately, from our own experience with suffering, we are motivated to reach out and ease the suffering of another.
It is not just in difficult times that this is important. Kindness creates a better world each day. We just don’t know how far one kind gesture will go.That’s pretty cool when you think about it... When we choose to act out of our common bond we share as humans, we realize that what we do for another we are really doing for the planet, for the children, for humanity.
And if we are lucky, sometimes there is a friend or maybe a stranger offering a little bit of kindness. Take it, smile at them, hold it, and pass it on. Sometimes, a little bit is all we need.
Together we imagine a circle of compassion
with no one standing outside of it.....~ Peggy O'Neil S.C.
Could this be a message?
That staying in touch, cooperating for a common goal, considering our actions in a “viral” sense and acting in the best interest of the greater good is key to our humanity and to our survival? How profoundly this virus teaches us that each one of us counts, that each one of our actions
can affect those around us...~A.S.
These certainly are extraordinary times we are living in. As the days grow in self-isolation, I have a lot of time to ponder. The quiet of my daily routine has been filled with all kinds of realizations. Lessons are everywhere...
Although we are isolating ourselves and practicing physical distancing to prevent the spread, I've noticed that there seems to be more unity among us and even across the world. How ironic, huh?
There is a feeling that we are all in this together. People are reaching out and checking in with each other through all kinds of virtual means. Countries are helping one another and local governments are stepping in trying to figure out the best route through all of this. Not to mention, the heroes in our medical community, our grocery stores, and other institutions and companies supporting us through everything.
Could this be a message? That staying in touch, cooperating for a common goal, considering our actions in a “viral” sense and acting in the best interest of the greater good is key to our humanity and to our survival? How profoundly this virus teaches us that each one of us counts, that each one of our actions can affect those around us.
This virus is poking holes in our infrastructure revealing the weaknesses of our health care system, the dangerous number of folks living paycheck to paycheck, the growing wealth disparity, and the tenuous safety net small businesses live by, to name a few….What happens when a country that counts on private health insurance has a pandemic and companies and jobs are at a stand-still? What do we do then when premiums can’t be paid? What is in place?
Capitalism has come at a price. Like the Pied Piper leading us into a field of glossy promises, all the while emptying our bank accounts while distracting us from what’s important. These days, the feeling of powerlessness is also becoming epidemic and now we're waking up. Together, there is power in our unity.....
Obviously, not all capitalism is bad, but we need balance, equity, and support. Because that’s how we are all going to survive - by thinking of the vulnerable and protecting them, by realizing in some way that this is each one of us.
Below is a blog entry I wrote several years ago honoring Mary Oliver. In light of her passing a couple of days ago, I thought I would re-post this as a tribute to her....
The interplay of light and shadow,
the subtlety of color, form, texture, and shape....
Delicate, lavish, lush and sensual...
and the scent.....
Life unfurling in Spring...
Below is a poem by Mary Oliver, one of my favorite poets. Her poetry is a treasure and a gift to us all. She has won the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and is admired by many. She often writes about the natural world, creating an intimate portrayal of its landscapes and inhabitants. Her poems, full of such beauty, somehow captures in the way only poets and artists can the unspoken part of what lay in the details of this beautiful world.
I believe this is why poetry, music and art are so important to the world, to people and society. It is heartening to know that our joys and struggles are on some level universal. When an artist is able to express what we ourselves cannot say, it frees and inspires us. This is why we are moved by art, by the combination of notes, of colors, of words. It stirs something within us and touches those parts that are forgotten and long to be remembered…….
From New And Selected Poems by Mary Oliver
This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers
and they open --
pools of lace,
white and pink --
and all day the black ants climb over them,
boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away
to their dark, underground cities --
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,
the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
their red stems holding
all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again --
beauty the brave, the exemplary,
Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?
Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,
with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
Copyright Peonies - Mary Oliver
Blog Entry Copyright Map To The Imagination 2013
Sometimes life circumstances can take us on a different course. We all know that things happen: someone loses a job, moves, there is an illness, we decide to have a family, there is a divorce, we need to pay bills, take care of our job - and still the dishes need to be washed, the laundry folded and hey, wait a second...what's for dinner?
But there is also part of you that dreams…
We are all dreamers somedays…..
Somedays your dream whispers and other days it shouts,
“Hey you… I’m over here. Remember me!?“
So, in honor of you who may have had your dreams delayed; who have been taken off course, don’t give up. Please persist. Find that smoldering ember inside and stoke it. Stoke the fire of your passions, of your dreams….Fan the flames, and by its light, begin again.
Why it’s never too late to try something new:
It gives us hope.
It adds to the story of our life.
It makes us healthier, happier and more inspired.
When we try something new and follow a passion or a dream, it can be like finding a missing piece of ourselves…It makes us whole.
When we take risks, we feel alive.
You never know what positive changes it can lead to in your or another's life.
You could make a new friend.
Because it might heal something.
Artists have a natural curiosity for life...Even as children, they have a tendency to push the boundaries and question the status quo...It's an inherent part of being a creative individual...
Each time artists risk, expose, and make themselves vulnerable, each time they give a voice to those authentic parts of themselves, they have the capacity to touch others and to express the thoughts, hopes, and struggles of humanity. This is why art has inspired people for thousands of years.
Art unifies and connects us to each other. It casts a wide net, welcoming even those who have been marginalized. Art dares to be heard. It questions, pushes, risks, and speaks of what has been suppressed by society.
It is important then, as artists, to discover this authentic voice, to be comfortable in what is uncomfortable, to be strong in our vulnerability, and to be aware of anything that holds us back from that. How often do we edit ourselves? How often do we change who we are, curate our lives, to please others or to be accepted? And in doing so, how does this ultimately affect our happiness, our confidence, our lives, and of course our art?
It touches each one of us to be understood, but understanding occurs at a level of truth and vulnerability. We can only really be understood, when we risk being seen. And to be truly accepted, we must risk acceptance for authenticity. This is the place where transformation happens…personally, in our families, in communities and globally. It only takes one person, but ultimately, authenticity liberates and empowers each one of us.
How to tap your authenticity:
Journal, Create, Rebel, Meditate, Allow, Accept, Encourage, Play, Travel, Read, Unplug.
Ideas to strengthen your authentic voice:
Follow your intuition, Take risks. Be bold. Be brave. Extend compassion and kindness,
Keep an open mind.