Where’ve You Been?

“Bo Diddley Bo Diddley have you heard

My pretty baby said she was a bird.

Bo Diddley Bo Diddley where you been

Round the world, gonna go again” — (Elias McDaniel, songwriter)

I’ve been away a long time – or at least it feels like a long time.  Not sure whether I’m really back.  Blogger fatigue?  Not really.  More the sense that if I had nothing interesting to say, better to stay mum.  When I consult, I often say that if you put your bucket down a well for water and you get a bountiful supply, you’ll keep putting your bucket down that well.  If you put a bucket down a well and draw up dirt, how often are you going to return to that well?  Felt like a lot of dirt to me.  So I’ve been out dousing…

Serendipity, the universe, a smack upside the head – call it what you will.  I received a comment from a woman named Karen in response to my last blog.  I’m sharing it with you in part (you could check it out yourself, but it’s important to this little story to quote from it here).

“Dear Mimi,

I just found your blog and it could not have been better timed.  I find your writing to be so lyrical and admire your authenticity…I want you to know that you have made an impact on my life at a time when I needed inspiration and the strength to move forward; I lost my husband 18 most ago; we both had cancer at the same time.  8 weeks after his death I was diagnosed with a second cancer and went through 9 months of grueling treatment, alone, without my Beloved…[L]ife has a way of being arbitrary in how we learn the real lessons, yes?  Our life together was like a beautiful song – starting with an anthem of the wonder of finding one another, then verse after verse over 45 years playing out the excitement of creating a family, the expansiveness of gratitude for all our hearts could hold that spilled so lavishly onto us and those we held dear, and then even over the period of shock and awe, our determination to live in the ‘now’. to savor the tastes, the touches, the fragrances and sights of ordinary days.  Your writing has restored my soul, my heart, my mind and my body once again hear that beautiful song – the one we created together that chapter and verse comforts and sustains me, and the belief once again that though we ay not always cling to it, that the Universe is on our side, that it is Love that is always the answer to aching hearts.  Thank you Mimi, thank you.”

I was left humbled, silenced by such gratitude for something I didn’t realize I had done.  That Karen shared this with me – to give me such a generous gift.  I affected a life.  I. affected. a. life.  Is there a greater contribution one can offer – especially without any knowledge of doing so?  I am still awed.  I am still shaking my head and I am still so touched that my words helped this beautiful woman.  This beautiful woman who was willing to share her personal thoughts with me.

Flash forward to dinner with someone I used to know in high school and college.  Ok, we dated – but that was a lifetime ago and after forty years, it counts far more as someone who used to know you before you learned a lot about pretense and guile and the only games you could play were the most sophomoric ones.  Anyway, he mentioned a memory – I was 17 or so, and apparently was upset about something.  He asked me if he had done something to make me mad, was it about him, etc.  My response?  “You know, sometimes it’s not all about you.”

And here I’ve sat – with these two disparate, yet powerful moments in my hands.  I am heartened to know I still run true to form.  That I am still focused more on others than on myself.  It isn’t selfless believe me – it’s just where my comfort lies.

But do you realize that you change lives with your writing?  Those whom I follow devotedly, affect my day, my thoughts, expanding vistas and shrinking others that have been over-planted and tended.  You have changed my life.  And if we can do this with and for each other, are we not answering one of the highest of human purposes?  You matter.  You have made a difference.  You touch with tentative but determined intention.   How incredible is that?  We are here.  And when we hurt or thrill, when we cry or giggle – when we least expect it – we are gifted.

Post This

I did!  I have post-it’ed messages in lots of fun places today…This one was put on the napkin holder at Uno’s…

 

 

The Post-It notes had one of three messages – “You’re Terrific”, “Smile” or “Have A Wonderful Day”… I started at the gym, surreptitiously placing notes on the handle of an exercise bike, on the mirror in the locker room and on the windshields of two cars in the parking lot.  Honestly?  I felt both tremendously silly (and I do silly very well) and sneaky (I don’t do that as well) .  Onto a quick meeting, where I left one Post-It on the panel of the receptionist’s desk and again on a windshield.  At Starbucks I put one on the cash register (there was no one behind me in line – the place was empty for a change), left one on the sugar/cream counter and in the ladies’ room…Boldly I strode into the supermarket, where some unsuspecting soul will find a message on a package of chicken breasts, a yogurt container and the cover of a “Newsweek”.  And yes, another parking lot, another car…

Talk about stepping outside one’s comfort zone!  I haven’t passed hidden notes since junior high.  The best part of course is not knowing who the recipients are and recognizing that some will crumple them up and throw them away.  But maybe, someone will see it and smile, or laugh or shake his/her head while looking around to see if anyone remotely culpable is standing around.  Maybe it will make someone feel good on a really bad day, or maybe it will make no difference at all.  The best kindness is that which is extended with no expectation of anything in return, and given my stealthiness I am confident that I will remain unconnected to this crime of good fun.  My thanks to Christine for the inspiration behind this atypical day.  How fun it was to step outside myself  for a little while.  How intrepid and bold of me!!  And if it provided a small giggle for someone today, then all the better.

Perhaps as the karma truck keeps rolling along on its path, it will stop to pay the kindness forward.  Not to me, but to those I love – my sons and their wives, my son and his girlfriend.  Maybe the truck will make a pit stop in their respective driveways, and give them the blessings and peace and joy that they so richly deserve.  Perhaps it will stop near the homeless person who plays his sax on a corner in DC, or swing by someone who is bowed under the strain of getting through the day.  And that my friends, would be more than I could ask for – just because I ‘love-bombed’ a few unsuspecting souls today.

 

“How To Be Perfect”

English: Logo of NPR News.

English: Logo of NPR News. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wednesday morning, driving to the gym and listening to NPR.  At that hour of the morning, Garrison Keillor presents ‘The Writer’s Almanac‘ providing interesting factoids about authors that would ensure victory in a game of Trivial Pursuit, if only I would remember them.  He then reads from the ‘Poet’s Corner‘ – and I literally had to pull over to listen to his gentle voice intone excerpts from Ron Padgett‘s poem “How To Be Perfect”.  Given my post yesterday, the juxtaposition was almost eerie and definitely surprising in the best of all possible ways.  I wanted to share it with you, for in keeping with the belief that we could be a bit kinder to ourselves in many areas and more honest with ourselves in others – there is no one who can communicate this like Ron Padgett.

Excerpts from “How To Be Perfect”

Get some sleep.

Eat an orange every morning.

Be friendly.  It will help make you happy.

Hope for everything.  Expect nothing.

 

Take care of things close to home first.  Straighten your room

before you save the world.  Then save the world.

Be nice to people before they have a chance to behave badly.

 

Don’t stay angry about anything, for more than a week, but don’t

forget what made you angry.  Hold you anger at arm’s length

and look at it. as if it were a glass ball.  Then add it to your glass

ball collection.

 

Wear comfortable shoes.

Do not spend too much time with large groups of people.

Plan your day so you never have to rush.

 

Show your appreciation to people who do things for you, even if

you have paid them, even if they do favors you don’t want.

 

After dinner, wash the dishes.

Calm down.

Don’t expect your children to love you, so they can, if they want to.

Don’t be too self-critical or too self-congratulatory.

Don’t think progress exists.  It doesn’t.
Imagine what you would like to see happen, and then don’t do

anything to make it impossible.

Forgive your country every once in a while.  If that is not

possible, go to another one.

 

If you feel tired, rest.

Don’t be depressed about growing older.  It will make you feel

even older.  Which is depressing.

Do one thing at a time.

 

If you burn your finger, put ice on it immediately.  If you bang

your finger with a hammer, hold your hand in the air for 20

minutes.  You will be surprised by the curative powers of ice and

gravity.

 

Do not inhale smoke.

Take a deep breath.

Do not smart off to a policeman.

Be good.

Be honest with yourself, diplomatic with others.

Do not go crazy a lot.  It’s a waste of time.

Drink plenty of water.  When asked what you would like to

drink, say, “Water, please.”

 

Take out the trash.

Love life.

Use exact change.

When there’s shooting in the street, don’t go near the window.

 

Lots to think about, lots more to smile about.  Please let me know if this struck you as wonderfully as it affected me.  Here’s to a fun-filled, thoughtful Thursday!