Why Is Patience So Important?

“If you want to know strength and patience, welcome the company of trees.” — Hal Borland

It seems that in the fall, I spend a great deal of time feeling tremendous respect for trees.  More than the richness of their colors and the dignity with which they prepare for their fallow season, I feel humbled by their grace.  The manner in which they bend when the wind demands their attention;  the stately pride with which they accept that time will effect its plan.

A good friend of mine has been on a fantastic roll lately.  Meeting new people, finding that her voice has more range and depth than she imagined (reminds me of Katy Perry‘s song “Roar”).  Her life – her new life has reflected  her enthusiasm, zest and openness to the thrill of possibility.  I’ve shared in this delight of course, just as I am here today when the rhythm slows, the endorphins need replenishment and the bubbles are now on simmer.  Nothing is wrong, yet what happened to the effervescence?  The days of delight?

Jo wonders about her ‘next whatever’, feeling that its elusiveness is akin to a burr under a horse’s saddle.  Itchy and unsettled, we spend many an email considering the what ifs, could bes, and shoulds – and we end up back at the reality that life is going to unfold whether we are patient or not.

Patience.  The art of being still.  Of understanding that there are fallow periods, which require only that we gain strength and sustenance and an understanding of who we are becoming.  There’s something a little unsettling about it I think.  It took me two years to undo the pleasurable and neurotic remnants of working in biglaw.  To finally realize that the primary takeaway – the only takeaway – is that I made a difference, perhaps to a few people over the span of decades.  I choose to hold onto some cherished memories.   I didn’t leave the firm with grace in my heart – a story for another day perhaps.  I struggled to understand that my next whatever would be as serendipitous as the one I had just experienced.  I still do (struggle that is) – just not as much.

I write a lot about duality; it’s so much a part of our human construct.  Yet in the fall I look to the trees.  They are indomitable and unfazed, welcoming both bird and squirrel, a child’s foot nestled between its trunk and branch.  Silently knowing that regardless of preference or wish, hope or daydream, the most important element it brings to the fall is its presence.  Its being.   Time I think to take a moment  under the trees, sway under the harvest moon and just watch life and love unfold.

And so it has taken me all of sixty years to understand

This poem hit me viscerally…from the title through the last line. We learn so much, so late. Though arguably if we never learn, that would be the worst outcome of all.

Live & Learn

Taha Muhammad Ali

Neither music,
fame, nor wealth,
not even poetry itself,
could provide consolation
for life’s brevity,
or the fact that King Lear
is a mere eighty pages long and comes to an end
and for the thought that one might suffer greatly
on account of a rebellious child…

And so
it has taken me
all of sixty years
to understand
that water is the finest drink,
and bread the most delicious food,
and that art is worthless
unless it plants
a measure of splendor in people’s hearts.

After we die,
and the weary heart
has lowered its final eyelid
on all that we’ve done,
and on all that we longed for,
on all that we’ve dreamt of,
all we’ve desired
or felt,
hate will be
the first thing
to putrefy
within us.

–Taha Muhammad Ali, Excerpt from the poem “Twigs in “So What, New and Selected Poems


About…

View original post 247 more words

A Shameless Plug

 

I think one would be living under a rock not to know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  I know of far too many people who have found their lives upended with such a diagnosis.  People in my family;  people I love and have loved with all I’ve got.   Friends who are inextricably connected to me through shared history, experience or circumstance.   And to deny the insidious, silent way that one’s body can morph from one moment to the next is just folly.  It happens all the time.

As it did to my friend Jill Foer Hirsch.  Jill is a breast cancer survivor, writer and humorist (I would put the emphasis on humorist, for there is little that Jill can’t find the humor in).  She recently published a book When Good Boobs Turn Bad – A Mammoir.  When Jill received her diagnosis, there was certainly fear, shock, disbelief.  There were tears.  And then Jill returned to form – “I have good news and bad news; the bad news is that I have breast cancer.  The good news is I’m seeing a hot plastic surgeon who keeps telling me to take my shirt off.”

And so she shares her journey with total candor and gentle humor.  It’s how she managed to endure surgeries and chemo, the vulnerability of returning to work and the tenuous re-immersion into her life.  I’m not going to speak about Jill’s courage – that’s not her thing (though she is one remarkably strong and accomplished woman).   She doesn’t see herself that way.  She would prefer to make an acceptance speech, receive an award for her light touch and flair for the comedic.  And in my eyes, she deserves all that and more.

I was honored to review her book.  I am more honored to know her, to be able to laugh with her and celebrate life at the local diner where we both indulge in grilled cheese sandwiches and fries (before you tell me how unhealthy it is – I know that.  But it’s diner fare, and we don’t get together all that often).  She and her husband recently celebrated their twenty-fifth anniversary surrounded by friends and family.  I won’t even tell you how irreverent their new vows were to each other (suffice it to say that Jill felt that since their first wedding ceremony was in Hebrew and neither of them understood what they were committing to, it was time to define the parameters on their own terms).

Breast cancer isn’t funny.  Jill was diligent in ensuring that her medical care was excellent, followed her protocols seriously, and would occasionally wear animal hats to her appointments.  We all do what we have to do to get through.  Jill relied on humor.  Finding moments that could engage her funny bone.  To lose her ability to laugh would have been a concession that she was not prepared to make.  Her outlook is inspiring – and may be a balm for anyone who is navigating the challenging path of fighting such a  formidable foe.  I am one of her biggest fans – and have been since we met years ago.   The greatest takeaway from her book is the grace that is evident when taking circumstances seriously, but ourselves lightly.  I am proud of her for sharing her story; I am proud to be her friend.   And though this is a shameless plug for her book, it is representative of a perspective that I respect and applaud.  She is healthy and she is well – and we laugh.  Oh, how we laugh.  Congratulations my dear friend – I am hopeful this book will be a welcome respite for anyone who may be on this challenging path.

meltzer-friend-cracked

The City Mouse And The Country Mouse

This isn’t about the book – though I loved it as a kid.  It’s about the duality within me – for I am both in one very confused body.  I grew up in a city; I worked in a city.  I live in the ‘burbs;  we just bought a home in the mountains.   I’m writing you from this new house, looking out at the trees as their leaves fall like rain.  The vista is saturated in yellows and reds.  There is no one around, yet I couldn’t be less lonely.

Our house is sited in such a way that it feels like an aerie.  Perhaps that is why it is comforting to be here.  Protected as in a nest.  I’m getting to know this space, for we closed and moved in over the weekend.  We don’t know each other yet – its noises are unfamiliar, the whoosh of the heat turning on, the doorbell, the ticking of a clock.  The first night we crawled into bed with aching backs and weary legs, only to feel an adrenalin surge as the rain and wind magnified every creak and moan.  I spent some of the post-midnight hours walking through the rooms, introducing myself and listening to their stories.  Finally I fell asleep on the couch wrapped in a blanket and a better sense of my bearings.   When we got home on Sunday, I fell into the arms of the familiar.  I’m slow to commit, but once I get there,  I’m steadfast.

I came back yesterday to continue nesting (which included the third visit from the cable people with whom I’m now on a first name basis).  I went for a walk convinced I would find clues of the wildlife who are the rightful owners of this land.  Of course, I have no idea what bear scat looks like, nor  exactly what I would do if I met a bobcat along the road.   I only know what I’ve seen on “Mutual Of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom“.   And I always thought that Marlon Perkins had the better job – observing from afar as Bill would be sent in to tranquillize the grizzly.  The city mouse with a country spirit.  Or a country mouse with an urban aesthetic.

So I am beginning a new relationship in these calming and magnificent surroundings.  I am feeling protective as a mother with a new baby, holding each moment carefully,  realizing that this house and I are engaged in a transfusion of our spirits, our ‘mark’ if you will.   I love the splendor, the sense of being closer to the sky.  And soon this too will feel like home.

65a804eb-aff4-3b16-b5e2-7d09358af482

 

The English Plural

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!!

A Daily Thought

image0011The English Plural by George Carlin

We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,

But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.

One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,

Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.

You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,

Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,

Why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen?

If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,

And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?

If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,

Why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and three would be those,

Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,

And the plural…

View original post 312 more words