The Spectacular Spider Web

     Oh the intricate beauty of a spider web. That’s right. Have you ever taken the time to really examine this amazing creation. So delicate, a mere swipe of the hand destroys it- yet an unusual strength and tautness exist as well- until met with our disdain. Spider webs do not receive much regard with the exception of celebrating Halloween. Stretched and draped around our doors and porches, a fibrous manmade material attempts to replicate the silky labyrinth -yet doesn’t compete with nature’s glorious engineers. It is then that we should stop and pay respect to the diligence and patience of the maker. The equally unappreciated spider. Those tiny little inhabitants of our surroundings, meandering silently about spinning their fine threads. Dutifully able to cleverly complete the task within and around our homes without our blessings.

     There is nothing more enchanting to come upon than the early morning dew sitting quietly on a lacy spider web. Dressing the fibers with translucent pearls of water- a rather elegant sight. On rare occasions I have found these gossamer necklaces adorning my fencing, lawn and shrubs and I enjoy their endless play on geometry. I am amazed at the tiny arachnid and his ability to instinctively lay out his plan- no blueprint needed. Weaving and working around the nearby structures- utilizing what is given to him and purling his silk with perfection.

     Sadly though, we take little notice of the spider web until it collects enough dust to validate its presence as a cobweb. By then the maker moved on, again tiptoeing on the tightrope of their design, working their new creation with dedication and resolve. So you see there is beauty to behold and much to marvel at when you come upon one. Whether newly made or filled with the dust of yesterday…truly one of natures endless wonders – the spectacular spider web.

Survivor Of The Storm

Superstorm Sandy – October 2012

     It is always cause for anxious moments as a big storm is pending. Knowing that many lives may be lost and destruction will be great causes me to be very unsettled. Playing out like a big screen movie, life and death struggles will be shown on tv and heard on the radio for days and weeks afterward. Who will have the opportunity to state they are blessed to survive…and who won’t. Always causes confusion in my head- like a short-circuit, I just don’t get it. I find myself becoming angered and frustrated at the statements. Someone has died, maybe a mother or father, sister or brother, infant or young child. And why, were they not chosen to be blessed and saved in the storm? What do their surviving loved ones do to rationalize their lives being taken by natures wrath as they hear of others “blessings.”

     “By the grace of God” is spoken often when one escapes the grasp of death. It may be a natural tendency to feel so fortunate that the gratitude rises to the heavens. Somehow I have always found this difficult to believe. Maybe it has been my chosen profession that has stained my thoughts. Yet maybe it has been my profession that has opened my eyes. I have seen many senseless deaths, heard of much physical and emotional pain, and listened to the stories of survival over the dark side of humanity. I have come to feel deep within me that our life here is a path that each walks, sometimes stumbling and hopefully learning as we travel. I think our soul has already set our time to leave even though our minds may not have been whispered the secret.
We carry on living life like tomorrow will guarantee us another full day. Somewhere knowing it truly isn’t the bargain made.

     Does this mean that I don’t believe in God? Maybe not in the sense of one who looms over us determining our fate in this world by the point of his finger. But I believe in a collective consciousness, a power as it be- that envelopes us and loves us with all of our faults and shortcomings. This consciousness giving us the ability to learn through living- as we know it. Therefore, I reach for the possibility that humanity is much more than being human. It is being part of a whole- a spark of the greatness of the universes.

     And as I wait out the next great storm I ponder many thoughts. I tell myself to not take life for granted and remember that tomorrow is not here and never will be. I continue to walk my path…and hopefully become a better human- a brighter spark. A survivor of the storm.

The Price Of Empathy

 I wear my emotions on my sleeve, all there for others to see- a designer label of sorts and every bit as expensive. But I am willing to pay the price. You see, my return is greater and worth the cost.

     I appreciate that I can freely cry tears of unabashed joy, painful sorrow and even those unexpected- yet welcome “let go” tears coming from my spirit deep within me. I respect the salty tears that make their way down my face. They help make me a better, kinder person. Empathy is the valve – opening it lets the waters flow. It is as simple as taking me to a sad movie and if I have read the book- I will cry before the opening credits. I tear up as I watch someone in pure happiness on tv, my eyes fill quickly as I behold despair and destruction. Empathy has been one of the biggest teachers in my life. I am forever grateful for having the ability to remove myself from me and give a bit of me to another even if just for a moment. Seeing their struggle, their life experience outside of my own

     Many people tend to think that crying is a weakness…oh but they are wrong. It takes a strong person to give up the control of their emotions and feel…really feel life. Being able to wander away from my comfort zone and into the uncomfortable in front of me. Embracing the unrefined moments and being witness to raw humanity is powerful as I let it take me along. It is not always pleasant but it is real. It can cause me grief, anxiety and lamentation. It can be extremely painful to partake. However, looking beyond gives me a sense of connection, peace and humility.

     I fear that many people in this hectic, dog eat dog world have forgotten to empathize. Making empathy a lost art, they now walk around disconnected with others. No longer taking the time to listen and validate others lives…instead voice mails, texts and emails are sent. It is easy to fool oneself in thinking that one is more connected than ever. However, refusing to walk in the shoes of others, seeking only that which serves one’s own interests. Bullying, bigotry and intolerance begin to soak the soles- as well as the souls. Where are we headed, I ask. I don’t know…I do know that I will continue to seek that special connection that empathy brings…it is worth the price I pay.

Seeking Passion

Salt Fork – 2012

     The passions of life…for me evoked by the random sprinkling of crimson red leaves in the autumn landscape. When I gaze upon those tall timbered beauties I find my eyes searching for the fiery color like one seeking a friend through the crowd. When I come upon the bits of alluring carmine glow, I become encouraged in some way about life. An assurance that passion still exists in the world and just waiting to be discovered by those who seek it.

     While all of the forest leaves combined create a magnificent painting of nature – it is the savory and spicy reds that I adore. For me, a reminder that passion is a condiment that virtually makes life taste fuller, richer and a bit exotic. Largely associated with romance and lovers, passion is so much more and must not be confined as such. It can be felt through ones profession, hobbies, interests and convictions – attained not by money but by immersing oneself fully into that which one enjoys and finds inner reward. To be passionate about something is to achieve success in finding a resonating connection with one’s soul. And those brilliant red leaves which dabble between the yellow and green, those rosy glimmers that catch my eye…they tell me passion is out there…go find it.

The Time Of My Life

Salt Fork State Park, Ohio

Every year it comes around to remind us that someone is keeping track of our time here. Marking the moments as they add up into days, weeks, months and years. Giving us something to reflect upon as we turn our heads and look over our shoulder at yesterday. And once again, I marvel at how fast the time has gone. But it isn’t gone really…it is still here and so am I.

     I have always wondered why some lives celebrate so few birthdays. Their time here cut short never to be able to ponder like I do now over the span of 50 plus years. Seems so unfair, I just can’t seem to find the answer to in my head. I tell myself that each of us has our own journey and different destinations. I believe this to be the way of life. Yet some days I can comprehend this more clearly than other days.

     So here I am, another year older- so shouts the calendar. Time has painted my hair with grey and wrinkles have cleverly crept up around my eyes and neck. I may do my best to combat aging with my simple creams and hair dyes. But I own the battle scars nonetheless. They remind me that there is a reason that I am still here on my journey. They tell me that I should maintain a sense of purpose as I continue. They become a reminder that I have had opportunity to live long enough to acquire them. They are my war paint.

     As I try to live in the present, I look upon the past as a road that I have chosen to travel amid many crossroads, twists and turns. I try to look upon the future as an endless choice of trails before me. I know that at some point the tracking of my years in this life will end. I too will reach my destination. Until I do, I  strive to find that joy in each day, week, month and year that I have left on this road. I repeat my inner mantra “true joy lies in the journey.” And I go on…hoping that I have learned not to mark time but to really live within it. For this… is the time of my life.

The Beast

     All too often, we mourn the senseless suicide of very distraught young people due to the intolerance and ignorance of the socially inept. The ones who are driven to taunt and make life hell for others in order to feel they are somehow better than those they pound down with words and violence. Their bullying rips into the very fiber of those they hurt and many victims can no longer take the assault on their individuality. Their pain is magnified by millions as many times they are emotionally destroyed through social media….mind you not a note written in class but written to the world. We feel saddened, unable to stop this horrible beast. Studies are run, awareness campaigns are developed and school prevention programs and protocols created. Yet the beast lives on.

     I suggest we take a good, long mature look at ourselves. Take off the blinders, shed the ego armor, and stand naked within the light of truth. We must own our part in begetting the beast. We have fed it with our own behaviors and nurtured it with our hate. Simply put, our children have been watching us closely and learning well from us.

     Telling children that bullying is wrong-yet demonstrating our own muscle flexing and power/control only negates the message. Do as I say and not as I do never flies. You may roll your eyes and shake your head in denial. I stand my ground as I am willing to call it like I see it. 

Let’s take a look…

 How many times have we seen individuals charge one another on the field of play at a sporting event? (This makes the 6:00 news) How many times have we heard the verbal exchanges between fans or directed at coaches while sitting in the stands? Do we think our children are deaf and blind to this? And when we talk in conversation about those who are different from us whether it is race, religion, sexual orientation, gender or even their dress- our views become attached to our children like lint to a cloth. When we beat our spouse, abuse our animals and our family – we teach our children that this is what to expect in life. And then we wonder when they treat others with such disregard.

     And now we are in the midst of a very emotionally charged national election. So deep are the crevasses between many of us, we now have separated into the “us” and the “them.” The divisions spread with the ugliness of intolerance, anger and ignorance. The crevasses become a canyon. Our beliefs become our mantra and we sever from those so different from us. Self righteousness pervades our thinking and clouds our virtues. The beast is released and the bullying runs rampant. It grows. In our self-righteousness, we determine we have the right to exert our power and control. For example: we intimidate our employees as we offer “suggestions” about their voting. Such a personal and private right that men and women have given their lives for…to now be held hostage- by The Company Store. I resent seeing that happen in our country.  Seeing racial slurs on billboards and t-shirts and the silent hanging of a noose in a tree- so heavy in its connotation. Why in 2012 is this happening? As our children watch with wide eyes and open ears.

     Oh but bullying comes in many forms and while we may recognize it we ignore its presence and that too feeds the beast. Have we reached a time when we turn our heads on the founding democracy of this country? Have we determined the end is more important than the means to getting there? I fear it is so.

     We have determined the way to success is to bully others to achieve. We are teaching our children to be intolerant. We are teaching them that intimidation is power. We are teaching them that racism and oppression = power.  As a result we are teaching them that bullying begets power. We are teaching them that this unearned power is what we are here to obtain. As long as we march with this deprecating self-righteousness as our banner- we will never slay the beast and sadly more innocent will die.  Seriously, we as adults must therefore…grow up and take responsibility.  Our behavior created the beast, our behavior can end it.