The Fragility of Life

      Every day life greets me with change. Some days I welcome the newness of the day…other times I cling to that which we have long known and understood…and loved. When someone who has been part of my life since birth and who has shared in the many family milestones along the way passes…well it immediately  tugs at my heart and soul in longing for the familiar ways of yesterday. The many gatherings of laughter shared, jokes told around the table, and basically the life journey shared not only by genetic code but by the sharing of tears, joy and family love.

     And so I whisper in the silence that I will miss the past and the people tangled up in my memories. While I believe that life is truly never-ending and this is just but one stop on the fantastic journey… I will always miss those who make their way before me. I will miss you Uncle…older brother to my mother. You have moved on to once again connect with those who have gone before you… I can only imagine the reunion to be full of wit and peppered with jokes and sweet sarcasm – and I smile.

    Dilworth_759As I get ready for another day, I remind myself of that which I continuously take for granted. I look around me in wonder of all that is and I feel a knowingness that words do not explain.    And then once again I remind myself…

The beauty of our present is captured in the fragility of life –  not knowing what tomorrow will be yet remembering what yesterday was…

 

Aloneness

 

It is quiet now and the click of my keyboard the only voice in this darkened room. Another weekend winding down in silence. New precious moments with my family being filed as memories like many before them. Life is like that as it bursts full like a flower in bloom only to close in repose when the laughter and sharing is gone. In this current stillness I feel age in my soul as I reflect upon the many changes in my life. So much has happened…so much time has passed. At this moment I yearn to maintain the feeling of connection with those I have so much history with- whether apart by many miles or many responsibilities. But aloneness sits here beside me as my companion.

I find myself sometimes deep in aloneness. Whether I enjoy the solitude of my inner soul depends upon where I choose to land my thoughts. There is a certain fear that may rise with being alone. When there is no distraction to drown out the insecurities and doubt that have held their own deep inside. Heavy with issues of melancholy and disconnection that can crowd within and remind me of my singularity in a world of masses.  Alone can be a hard place to be.

Yet I know that being alone can also provide a beautiful rejuvenation of the spirit. A time to relax and reflect. The inner voice at peace with life and unnerved by imperfection. A reconnection within myself that reminds me of the strength of my soul in a crazy world. Alone can be a renewal of spirit. A time to converse with the universe. A time for the flower to fully bloom.

So where do I choose to drift on this dark night. Where shall I dare a journey.  I believe I will smell the flower of nostalgia for a while.  Oh but to remember yesterdays with games of rummy, chess and tripoly – and bantering with my brother. I choose to feel my childhood home surrounding me in the comfort of my family. Naïve in thinking life would always be so simple and sweet.  Alas…a time when I do not truly know how painful it is to lose a loved one. And in this I know that I am not alone.b3a49050703a786153aac3ed1b8ce05b

My Anxiety Ritual

taken from ...Tao and Zen

taken from …Tao and Zen

It is the feeling of being alone when I am in a crowded room of friends. It takes control of my emotions and leads me away into a grey filled nether place. Seeing it approach me, I summon it to leave me alone. I am fine and do not welcome its attention. I do not want it to pretend to befriend me again. I know it is really not my ally as it fills my head with an uneasiness quite unlike any other. This annoying caller always visits me after the holidays, sometimes impatient enough to tiptoe into my world in the midst of the celebration…waiting for the moment to tap me on the shoulder and remind me that it is waiting…to carry on our ongoing discussion of life.

I have seen a lot of depressing things in my time. I have been “awakened” in a sense, to the world around me, finding it much more complicated than a Rubik’s Cube…but none the less a pattern presented to ponder upon. I think some people believe it is this awareness that causes my anxiety ritual but it is not. I suffered from it way before I saw the ugly in the world. This false cohort sought me out in childhood as well. No, I think it is a product of my soul-searching to bear witness to the grace and charm of life. I have always sought to be surrounded in family tradition as it glued my world together past and present. I hold many shared moments in reverence …vacations with my parents and children/ card games at the kitchen table with my grandmother/
my years of taxi mom to school functions/ my children stepping out on their own/ my wonderful husband and our conversations that only soul mates can carry. All of these fill my heart and head…beautiful experiences and I know that looking back I will always see them as such. However, as I revel in these times I also worry that they would someday end…and thus my anxiety takes over.

I also love the beauty of life…simple beauty of the sunrise and sunset, snow glistening on the hillside as well as the beauty of hope and compassion and love. I tend to try to drown myself with just my head above -not totally lost within…and as I do, I remind myself that all of life is fragile…the sunset will soon be gone, the sunrise as well and there will be days of hardly a hope and little compassion to be had out there. This is life I remind myself. No one said living would be easy…but the world reminds us that real living is full of the beauty and charm, love and laughter- as well as the deep emotions that make the heart heavy.

Oh my anxiety softly sings the song of never know what tomorrow will bring…and I have my quiet reflection on the hard truths of life that I have seen over the past years.. But I tell myself that pure love never leaves…it can’t be taken away as love is a forever bond. Even with the death of a loved one, the love remains within me. And the love of my family and friends..their love will remain forever within me too. Ah! I tell my little transient banshee as we stand face to face, I know this to be true as it quiets his ramblings in my head… and this knowledge keeps me one step ahead of my unwelcome visitor.

I take a deep breath…it is my saving grace in times like these. I remind myself that the beauty of life is still here…yet to be found another day in some new and provocative way. I pull my memories of family and friends to help me see what a treasure I have already collected. I again awaken to see the beauty of hope for tomorrow more clearly, new experiences to be had and memories to be made. The pattern begins to be seen and the joy of my journey with it.

Desensitized- A New Normal?

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Mist and Fog of Denali National Park, Alaska

     Desensitization is a process where the reality of life is colored by the continued saturation of stressful actions, situations and surroundings. Wanting to survive this stress, we find a way to rationalize what we experience and to put it simply “make it normal” in our own little world. That is my own perception of desensitization as I make sense of what I have been introduced to over my many years working in the world of violent crimes.

     Not the bad guy in the boat, but an oar that helps us stay afloat and guides us as we empower ourselves to maintain in life. Yet, like a kid with too much candy…we have devoured desensitization to an extreme. In today’s world…reality is fluid and manipulated constantly by marketing schemes filled with glitz and pop and special effects. Video games must be marked for mature audiences as they powerfully exploit killing and violence- in a setting that is able to enchant and beguile the mind into a new world. Intoxicating as these games are, they are masters at desensitizing as well. And slowly…we become attached to them…and detached from reality. We learn to react with such swift responses…relying on our fingers to keep our avatars alive for one more hour. We drink the power and control…the bombs…the graphic deaths and become satiated with our victories… all of this in the privacy of our homes.

     Tv and movies also are great desensitizing tools. Those reality shows that have nothing to do with reality…The fist fights, bullying, jackass jokes and collusion of pranks that are downright spiteful yet make us laugh. Talk shows where guards are used to keep the actors apart…we watch knowing it is not real but cheering and jeering just the same. We fill our time as voyeurs in this world staring at our 55 inch screen tvs. Watching our beloved action movies where buildings are blown up, the bad guy is mowed down as the hero holds a gun in both hands and one strapped to his/her back.

     Then we come to true reality on tv. The news shows us war, strife…killing of masses across the planet whether by natural destruction or human carnage. We watch as we eat our dinner…shake our heads and wonder where we are headed- and take another bite. This is all so much for a mature person to handle, but our kids are present too and soaking this all up to fit somewhere in their world. We must remember this.

     And now we have the glamorization of guns…beautiful steel, killing machines. Sorry, I know guns don’t kill, people do….and people do so swiftly in a blink of an eye with a gun. I know that there is never a simple answer to the complex problems in life. But we need to be willing to face them nonetheless and be real. Guns…loved by many as a symbol of freedom, and patriotic righteousness. Hated by others as symbols of war, hatred and death. There is such a divide, the bottom of the crevasse between beliefs is bottomless.

     But those who kill no longer look at life as valuable, only seeing through a screen of anger, rage and depression- the list is long. And they kill, successfully obtaining brief moments of power and control over their world. We grieve for the losses, valid tears of deep sorrow for the innocent. But we are not willing to change our ways. Too addictive, too seductive. Take our guns away? Our basic rights to bear arms? Never we say…just find a way to stop the violence.

     Desensitization is a drug of sorts. In little doses it helps us in a crisis. Combine it with adrenaline and we can run into a burning building to save someone, meticulously work in high stress situations with methodic rhythm and balance. But overdose and we become totally numb to the beauty of life. No longer feeling empathy, becoming self-centered…our mantra is self-preservation. We see the world as against us…must carry our concealed weapon to the park to play with our children. We eat with a sidearm strapped to us and dare not go out in public without one. This is not my reality. This is not what I want for my children and their children.

     So we must confront this new normal that we have all together created. We must sit together and discuss how to stop the tragedies from recurring. A real discussion about what this world means to us and what we want out of the future. A frank look at what is happening and the why. We must not be intimidated by corporate interests that are not human interests but money interests. We must not walk in the mist and fog of denial but face our problems, and create answers that serve all of us. A big task is ahead of us- I have hope that we are up for it.

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 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.

I Miss You Mom

Dilworth_609     October 13, 1934 is my mother’s birthday. Many years ago I would have gone to the “Five and Ten” store to proudly buy her a pretty pin or some cheap perfume for this special day. Makes me wish for the innocence of yesterday when life was so carefree and I thought she would be with me forever. Sometimes I would craft something for her and it would hang proudly for years- to this day some are still on the walls of the house I grew up in. Seems like yesterday I was a painfully shy little girl in awe of my mother who was so very outgoing and gregarious as she lit up the room with her smile and her stories. She could make everyone laugh and never ever stopped laughing at herself. I miss you Mom.

As I grew older I realized that this woman was really beautiful ( I know all mothers are) but she was seriously very attractive. She modeled some, did local tv commercials and taught “charm school classes” to girls. Mom also opened a health club for women. A woman years ahead of the times she was fearless in her determination to make her mark.

     In my teens, my mom was someone my friends and I could talk to- about anything. She did not always understand us but she would listen. In her own way she was very traditional in her thinking (very unlike me) but I am sure it was her love that helped me grow into my own person.

     Beloved Mema to my children, Mom was the ultimate grandmother. She lived and breathed love for her grandchildren. Upon her passing, my son- a college student at the time- looked at me with great sadness and simply said “ I just lost my best friend.” I knew it was true. They were SNL buddies, calling each other at midnight laughing about the show that was just over. He shared her wit and love for laughter. She had attached herself deeply in his heart. My daughter also shared a very special relationship with my mother. Amazingly they were so very alike in their appreciation for success, always striving to reach further. At times they seemed to butt heads- I think my mother saw herself so clearly reflected in my daughter that Mom sometimes felt driven to push  her even further forward. Oh, but they were powerfully connected and to this day I hold a secret belief that they were once sisters in a previous life.

     Losing your mother. It is tough, very tough no matter how old you are when you lose her. Like the unraveling of a favorite skirt hem, life remains intact but a bit frayed. It hurts, phone calls no longer made and milestones shared only in my heart. I miss you Mom. I thank you for being my mother and a wonderful grandmother to my children. Your life was a gift to us and you have left us with many exquisite memories filled with laughter and love. I think of you daily, and talk with you in my dreams. Happy Birthday…I miss you Mom.