I am reading a new book, one recommended by a wonderful artist friend of mine – hmmmm – it is unlike anything I’ve ever read and having an impact on me – something a good book should do. To kinda get off the track here, once, I wrote something in my newspaper column that was “different” from the things I had written before and I was hesitant to go with it here in this small town, so I asked the editor to read and approve it – he went with it and told me that it’s a good thing to put controversy out there – tactfully – it rattles people a bit and causes them to evaluate their own opinions. Well, this book would follow that thinking, for me anyway.
I have just read the first 2 chapters but I’m captured with the out of the box thinking. I am not making a recommendation until I finish it, but I will say, just the first few pages have given me a healthy perspective on my life and the things that matter. The jest of it is that this material world is quiet incidental and certainly temporal, what matters is the spiritual world. Funny, but just this week end at my aunt’s funeral I had a conversation with someone, much older, who had those same words to speak – explaining his effort to be more spiritual (not making reference to religious) and far less material. I think about the pharaohs and their elaborate efforts to hoard all of their stuff to bring with them in the afterlife – the lives lost, the time spent to satisfy ego – hopefully we’re smarter today.
I find it so freeing to discount the physical world and focus more on spirit. I have little or no control over one and total control over the other. When I reference the material/physical world I don’t mean just materialism, for me, it also encompasses happenings, not just things. It all goes under that umbrella of “what was I worrying about or upset about last month”? Who knows – who cares – it’s temporal and gone. I find more sense in assessing my spiritual growth from last month to this month – how have I contributed, how have I grown more tolerant of others, and patient with myself. Anyway, I hope to make a recommendation of this “mystery” book later, but so far, it’s got my attention.
just something from Lust for Life that one of my sons reminded me of – the part about tolerance and easy going acceptance of life… I think it’s time for me to open those pages again.
“It’s a gorgeous parade, isn’t it, Theo?”
“Yes. Paris doesn’t really awaken until the aperitif hour.”
“I’ve been trying to think… what is it that makes Paris so marvelous?”
“Frankly, I don’t know. It’s an eternal mystery. It has something to do with French character, I suppose. There’s a pattern of freedom and tolerance here, an easy going acceptance of life that . . . Hello, here’s a friend of mine I want you to meet. Good evening, Paul; how are you?”
“Very well, thanks, Theo.”
“May I present my brother, Vincent Van Gogh? Vincent, this is Paul Gauguin. Sit down, Paul, and have one of your inevitable absinthes.”
Gauguin raised his absinthe, toughed the tip of his tongue to the liqueur and then coated the inside of his mouth with it. He turned to Vincent.
“How do you like Paris, Monsieur Van Gogh?”
“I like it very much.”
It was a silly thought, no, a simple thought, about something my mother had said years ago – she had a way about interjecting little lessons into everyday conversations without my realizing what she was doing. I must have been listening, perhaps not understanding, but listening because I seem to have a little data base of momisms that surface at the most opportune times. I completely believe that she is orchestrating this for me because once you are someone’s mother, you never quit being that someone’s mother – it’s forever.
Anyway, back to the momism – it was a misty thought about her patience. While she did fun things spontaneously, she held back on making quick moves on important things. She would tell me that she needed time to think about something – it used to annoy me how patient she could be – I, in my youth, wanted the decision made now, there was no need to “sleep on it” or wait – let’s just do it. Well, as most things she has said, she was right, patience is a virtue – a virtue I work hard to possess – patience with others, patience with myself, but mostly patience with life. Sometimes my ego gets in the way of my spirituality and I get impatient and think things should happen on “my” time – I forget about “God’s time”. I find this especially true when it comes to children – we can quickly map out their lives and make that determination on when they should do all of these things on our list – my mom knew that it didn’t work that way and now I am beginning to understand.
I stumbled upon the “poem” that follows and for whatever reason, this advice to be patient keeps filtering into my life.
When you are in doubt, be still, and wait;
when doubt no longer exists for you, then go forward with courage.
So long as mists envelop you, be still;
be still until the sunlight pours through and dispels the mists
— as it surely will.
Then act with courage.
Ponca Chief White Eagle
Go Forward With Courage
My aunt died last night, my mother’s older sister. She was 83 and had lived a full life – nearly 20 years more than my mother. I will miss knowing she is “here”. Since my mother’s death, I have not seen my aunt as often as before, but I always knew she was there, there at the top of the familial lineage. She knew the answers to so many questions about long ago, about my mother, about their mother, about the contents of times past; that and she are gone.My mom would tell me how she was a teenager during WWII and how that was very difficult to spend those years of youth in wartime – she remembers her singing in the front bedroom of their tiny house, singing songs from sheet music and wishing things were different. I can remember so much about her life , the wonderful way she cooked fresh fish and baked sweet pies (tarts), and spoke French, and drank coffee in demitasse cups, and was my mom’s big sister, and mother to her four children, but one thing I remember most was her coming to my rescue when I was 39 and expecting a baby. I will not go into the story, but I hope she knows I still remember and am still thankful for her.
We all have our turn to die, just as we all have our time to live – it’s the living that is important and sometimes difficult, dying will come in its own time. Funny, but just today I read a quote by Emerson posted on the wall above the microwave in the building I work in, it said:
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” ( Ralph Waldo Emerson)
…my aunt succeeded.
“At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, Kurt Vonnegut informs his pal, Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch – 22 over its whole history. Heller responds, “Yes, but I have something he will never have…enough.” (From John Bogel’s Enough).
Just more quotes from this book William is reading. I loved this one because it seems that we, people, always want more, especially when it involves money and possessions. Why can’t we crave more kindness, more spiritualism, more education, more silence, more creativity, more personal development?
“Materialism can refer either to the simple preoccupation with the material world, as opposed to intellectual or spiritual concepts, or to the theory that physical matter is all there is. This theory is far more than a simple focus on material possessions. It states that everything in the universe is matter, without any true spiritual or intellectual existence. Materialism can also refer to a doctrine that material success and progress are the highest values in life. This doctrine appears to be prevalent in western society today.”(Philosophy)
I think I would, we would, feel happiness if we declared, enough.
“You did then what you knew how to do. And when you knew better, you did better.”
I love this. I love it because it says ” we are human”; our parents were human, our friends are human, our children are human and we, for the most part, are all trying to do what we think is “right”, but later, because we are human, we realize that maybe what we did wasn’t so “right”. It says: drop the guilt, let it go, learn from it and move on.You are a good person, but you are not divine – you are not perfect. Anyway, just wanted to “pop in” and post this – I find it to be freeing and very positive and constructive. It sort of runs parrallel with the John Wayne quote from before. It’s a shiny new day.
Ben Franklin began each day with “The Morning Question: “What Good shall I do this day?” and ended with “The Evening Question”: What Good Have I done today?” “(John C. Bogle)
I have read it (thanks to William), now I have written it, and , hopefully, now I will remember it – this is it – this is what true goodness is – getting out of your narcissistic self and doing good for others – everything else is self-serving.
For Goodness Sake
I have been writing “a book” for years now – it’s really a memoir of someone profound in my life – Miss Sue – . I can’t seem to complete it, however. I spent a little time with it this morning, just proofing, and I found this little piece I thought you might like , something you might connect with.
The days are going quickly, for the school year is closing. I can feel summer on my face; I can see the vibrant sunsets late in the day and the puffy white clouds that fill the summer skies and allow me to daydream for just a short while. I am, of course, grown up now and do not seem to notice all those signs of summer as often as I would like, for I am inside much of the day, distracted and waiting for the coolness of the evening and the sounds made after sundown. This sort of exclusion from the natural world was never a part of Miss Sue’s day; she was always in touch with it and guided by it; there were no rumbling of a central unit or clamorous noises from a flat screen. I think of this and I realize my compromise. I sometimes feel disdain towards this direction I have chosen. I should be there in the garden more and in the woods helping fallen birds and finding berries and watching Nature close up each day. I regret that I strayed yet thankful to, at least, have the memories. The memories are sometimes what sustain me, “me” being my identity, for I, of course, have sustenance for life; it is the metaphysical “me” that sometimes gets lost. My life is rich, made that way by having my family, but as every wife and mother knows, somewhere some time ago, there was just “you”. I search for her here at this keyboard and when I find her, I write, for here at the keyboard, I control my life and I find my way back. I hope that each word brings you closer to what I want you to know. Some days, like today, the words flow as if directed and some days they are tangled up and knotted and I get stuck in the here and now , not allowed in my past because of the superfluous clutter of now. Today, however, I am free from current events and I hope to spend time with Miss Sue and her world.
|Miss Sue’s house painted by me when I was 15 (not so great but you can “get the picture”!
It’s Monday, the beginning of the work week. I love my new job, inspiring and teaching young artists, but, as I said, it’s Monday. I am leaving many things undone here as I get to work by 8, but on the positive side, I have had a full and productive weekend. I painted mostly. As a matter of fact, when I have the time, I plan to post the painting I did yesterday on my blog – there’s a story to tell about it. The big thing I did this weekend was church – Elizabeth and I went to mass – the mission continues. I don’t feel I am a “lost soul” – I have an awesome relationship with God and I am most always spiritually connected, it’s the doctrine that is causing the disconnect. We’ll see…It’s a journey for me.
Speaking of spiritualism, my dad’s favorite big screen guy was John Wayne – Big John. Elizabeth was searching the internet for quotes for her history class and left behind one she had printed but decided not to use. She has no idea who John Wayne is but for whatever reason, she left this behind on my desk:
“Tomorrow is the most important thing in your life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”