life lessons

Of birds and beauty, sort of

Hi my friend,

You’re well, I trust? Based on the magnificence you are finding in the world – be it the sun teasing the cove (davidkanigan.com) or a turquoise window frame weathered to imperfect perfection (windinmywheels.com) – my sense is that you’re doing very well, which in turn makes me pretty damn happy.

Ah, beauty – it’s ever present, depending in part I think on what you want to see. I see the suggestion of green on exhausted bushes, bent and weary from the crazy winter we’ve had, and I think that little promise is beautiful. The vibrant appearance of a passionately red cardinal on a bare branch – beautiful. Few could argue with natural wonder and the sheer gorgeousness of it all. John O’Donohue wrote that “beauty is the illumination of the soul”. I find that such images brighten my being, enhance my frame of mind, perhaps eclipsed solely by images of my kids and grandkids. (I do know this is not what O’Donohoe meant necessarily)

There’s a ‘but’ coming…

But, I wonder as I look in the mirror, as I commiserate with friends-of-a-certain-age, why it is that we bemoan what we see. I’m still searching for the perfect blush, spend far too much looking for the jeans that will forgive the muffin top, lift the butt and have an inseam for a 4’10” woman. I still fret over hair color and my total absence of style. I hear one of my mom’s mantras “an owl to one, is a nightingale to another”, and am grateful that to my husband I’m more nightingale than avian predator.

And I know that inner beauty is far more than a cliche – it is undeniable. The beauty of a generous heart, a compassionate soul, a belly laugh…the beauty of a soothing voice, a spontaneous bear hug, a sincere word. Without these, there is no depth to the definition of beauty. Yet the doubt persists – and we fake the outside to try and match that inside. I keep telling myself I haven’t peaked yet. Just wait…

Anyway, a musing that really has no place to go, just an observation of what is arguably the driver of a helluva lot of marketing. We’re old enough to know that we want and what we feel we lack, even if it is frivolous and fleeting. When I was wheelchair bound, I just wanted to walk again; when I was up and walking again, I wanted to run (and I was never a runner)…Maslowe had nothing on this pyramid of needs and wants. Which makes me laugh…which throws me off track…which brings me back to the weather turquoise wood and the value of its story…which brings this musing to an end. Be well, hug those you love an awful lot and I’ll see you soon.

life lessons, music

Paying Attention

Hi,

Not sure if you’re still here – if not, I totally get it, and if so – thank you for stopping by even though there is no rhyme or reason to the frequency of these posts.  First and foremost, how the heck are you?  What are you doing with your days that bring you delight without caveats?  Any epiphanies worth sharing with your Jewish pal over here (and yes, I think those in my tribe can have epiphanies too, of a kind)?  Thoughts that keep rolling around that you’d like to share (not mean-spirited stuff though, ok)?

There’s been little going on outside my head, given that I’m one of those immuno-compromised folks who are encouraged to adopt a hermetic existence until further notice.  I do try to follow the instructions – until I don’t want to follow them anymore (like when I stole all the Brownie merit badges out of my 2nd grade teacher’s desk, ’cause I wanted the swag, just not the stuff you had to do to get them).  I guess that makes me pseudo-compliant.

(And clearly a lover of the parenthetical)

So, here I sit with far more activity going on in my head than there was pre-pandemic.  To catch you up – Tom Brady retired and the bigotry in football management ranks is appalling; everything Lin-Manuel Miranda touches is gold – full stop; I despair over the amount of vitriol in the world; it feels like it is fomenting and growing more and more poisonous – a social virus.  Dave says it’s like we’re eating each other, some cannibalistic mindset that is fueled by polarizations and egocentric voices who have little good to say.  I’m trying to temper myself, for inside my temper is off the charts.  

And none of that is what I’m really thinking about right now.  My dad would have been 98 a few days ago.  I whispered happy birthday wishes to him and perhaps he was looking for a bit more.  A ginormous cardinal has been hanging out in our backyard for days; as I write this he is literally sitting on the retaining wall looking at me looking at him.  Dad loved to identify birds, and frankly I think he would wing it (ha! pun intended) and make up some non-existent species because if he said it, we’d buy it.  A message from the universe?  I don’t know – but there’s more…

I grew up singing, as you know.  One of my favorite singers to watch was Peggy Lee (pre-dating Streisand, Minnelli, Midler, etc).  My parents each had their song of choice – dad would sing ‘Fever’; mom would croon soulfully ‘Is That All There Is’  – a certain musical insight about both of them.  I gravitated to ‘Fever’ – even though I had no idea what I was singing about, the lyrics were easy and  I could snap my fingers.  There was something so sad about mom’s choice, even though the song encourages one to ‘break out the booze and have a ball’.  Party first, ponder later.

Why is this pertinent?  There was a segment about Peggy Lee on CBS Sunday Morning, and there she was, frozen in time singing as she did, without moving a muscle, yet emoting so much.  Fever.

And then a friend who seems to know me well without ever having met me, sent me a book recommendation “Lost and Found” by Kathyrn Schulz.  When I asked him why he though of me after reading it, he responded because of “her relationship to her father.  And yours.”.  I am in the middle of reading it, laughing, crying over some really dumb things, and nodding with an awareness of losses that are just rolled up into the very essence of who we become over time.

Now you tell me?  The convergence of all these messages right around his birthday – what is one to think?  Whether or not it’s all coincidence or kismet, star alignments or just the need to wish him a happy birthday, it brought me to this empty space deserving to be filled.  I’m going to try and see if I can offer up anything more – perhaps thoughts of more universal interest – in the days to come.  In the meantime, be well, hug everyone you can.