By the way, today is especially delightful in my own life as it’s the sixteenth anniversary of my marriage to the most astounding and outstanding man I know. Happy day, my love, and here’s to many, many more.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad! I know there was a time when you might’ve wished you’d had actual children and got us instead, but since you never left childhood entirely behind yourself, I think we can call it even. And just think, your offspring are following blithely in your footsteps to keep our own youthful high spirits intact via non-emergence into full adult behavior, so between us we’re all waving the old family flag pretty handily indeed. We’re only so good at it, of course, because we’ve had such an outstanding and irrepressible example in front of us all along.I’m grateful for the training in reckless enthusiasm, Teflon ego-building, rampant silliness, and all of the other life skills you have generously shared with us by guidance and example all along the way. I like to think I’m getting fairly good at all of that myself, but will never tire of knowing that it’s shared and that I perform my junior jollities in the shadow of a true master. A good father gives his offspring a happy childhood; a great father carries it on with his children so they never have to give up its joys completely. Thanks to your showing me the way, I can’t imagine ever losing my delight in the mystery and adventure and simple goofiness that life can bring, and that is a fantastic gift anyone less happy would have to envy. I hope you know how deeply–and yes, seriously–it’s appreciated, not just on Father’s Day but every day I can celebrate an untainted sense of the grandest laughing love of life. Thanks for that.
And as with mothers, I am doubly blessed, as I realized pretty much the instant I met the man who would become my other Dad, my husband’s father. It took no time to see that there was a kindheartedness and a very merry twinkle in the eye with which I felt utterly at home, familiar and safe, and these last sixteen-plus years have continued to prove my first assessment correct. To have two fathers who keep the days filled with generosity and warmth and love and my face always turned toward the smiling sun is truly a treasure that will never, ever grow old.
It’s too soon to find them in bloom. They’re mostly two feet tall at best, thus far, and not nearly ready to flower. And the sky is overcast today. Quite grey and a little bit dark. Any sunflowers would be hard pressed to find the sun and smile at it.
Red sky at morning: Sailors [Shepherds], take warning!
Funny, isn’t it, how we become so attached to our superstitions and assumptions about our daily experiences and expectations. If we put too much stock in signs and portents, isn’t there just a little bit of a chance that we might do the safe and predictable and wrong thing and end up so very much smaller and less interesting than we might have become had we taken a chance? Seems like it might be ever so much smarter to take a chance at growth and improvement and looking for enlightenment, don’t you think?
Nothing do I covet,
nothing lack and
except the serendipity of Light
that cuts the darkness open,
to less bleak,
and with its glinting stars sweetens the night,
that makes my thoughts reach higher,
to reach the peak,
enlightened now, and gladly there alight.
Imagine! There could be some lovely opportunities and surprises in store for us all if we open our eyes and look for whatever light can leak through into our ordinary, dim and easily influenced expectations. At the very least, why not choose the challenging and positive and exciting interpretation when those old signs and portents show up again?
Red sky at night: Sailor’s [Shepherd's] delight!
It’s so easy to forget my place. Oh, yes, you know full well that I am uppity and contrary by nature and will drag my heels at the slightest hint of insistence that I should do a particular thing or be a particular way, even if by the pseudo-polite stealth of passive-aggression. I’m just not that naturally Appropriate. A broad, rather than a lady.
I am well enough educated and naturally prissy enough to know the difference. On top of that, I’m smart and cultured and experienced enough to know a whole slew of ways in which I could and possibly should be a better person. I’m also self-aware and honest enough to recognize that the vast majority of those things are just never gonna happen. What you see is mostly what you get, now and forevermore.
But I’m an optimist, presumably quite the cockeyed one indeed.
So while I have openly confessed to you my many excessive loves–gastronomic outrageousness, all things intense and overblown in color and form and bejeweled wildness, baroque language, hardware store binges–I still believe in my own willfully naive way that I might moderate my urges when absolutely necessary. It’s in this hope, however vain or misguided, that I think I might at least periodically overcome my natural state of inertia, of fixity so granite-like on this planet earth that the mere thought of exercise tends to cause me hyperventilation and require smelling salts.
Yesterday, the sun smiled brilliance on me at such an opportune juncture that I broke stasis. The perfect confluence of a gloriously blue-sky cool day with a lunch date with friends a manageable distance away conspired to lure me upright from my characteristic hunched position at the desk and right out into the world.
How quickly one forgets that said world is rather alluring and full of wonders! How quickly I forget that, along with whatever position(s) I occupy in the world of my narrow influence and contact, I also live in the beautiful, messy, unpredictable, constantly shifting world that is my neighborhood, this town, this part of an entire planet.
The whole walk wasn’t necessarily impressive in and of itself. Recent longed-for and welcome rains have left the Texas clay in many areas (lacking sidewalks) converted to rust-colored mucilage, so I spent more of my focus on not being sucked ankle-deep or doing a banana-peel slide in those spots than on looking around me with interest. Fortunately, most of those zones are alongside the duller and dirtier of the main roads, where there mightn’t be much more than an onrush of traffic to engage the senses anyway. But in about seven miles round trip there’s a whole lot to awaken those dormant senses, too, and to remind me that while the sedentary state may have become my default position it isn’t necessarily the best or even the most desirable one.
Yesterday I saw the sun again, really saw it; felt it brush my cheek like a tender hand. Felt the breeze tug the hem of my coat and run its fingers sloppily through my hair. I heard birds whistling and chattering in their treetop congregations. Saw the wintry silver seed-heads of prairie grasses blink their brightness on-off, on-off as they swayed in and out of shade, and trees whose leaves have finally burnished to the exact same shade of red as the bricks on the facade behind them.
And I stopped partway home to have a walk through the cemetery, where I chanced on the headstone of a soldier killed at Pearl Harbor to remind me that it was the very anniversary of the attack that left him and many others dead and launched the US fully into World War II and the loss of millions more. The cemetery is old enough to serve as resting place too for a generation whose family plots often contain two, three, four children’s graves, as many in those days died in infancy or barely beyond youth. There are graves for those who lived long and fully, too. The thing is, I was the only person in this particular cemetery at the moment that wasn’t dead.
Which pleases me a great deal, I’ll tell you.
And it was an incredibly fitting reminder to me that while I was busy patting myself on the back over having been such an outstanding and exemplary being as to take a measly fair-weather walk, I too will join the hordes of the dead soon enough. So I’d jolly well better get out and about in this wide wonder of a world a whole lot more if I want to see the ravens tumble and leap among the tombstones, smell chimney smoke as it drifts between the sweet gums and cedars, and see that twenty-four-karat sun glittering in the enamel-blue sky like there’s no tomorrow. There can’t be an endless number of tomorrows, to be sure.
If there is a universal lament among the bloggers whose work I follow, it would seem they share with me the age-old refrain of mourning societal trends away from ‘the old graces’, if you will. We all bewail the lessening of everyday efforts toward gentleness, hospitality, patience and willingness to listen respectfully to another person’s story–especially if that story happens to differ from our own preferred version. As far as I can see, this longing for a simply more peaceful world at every level transcends the boundaries of any geography, religion, politics, biological condition I’ve ever encountered. Is it really so hard to “play nicely together”?
Clearly not, if a bunch of people as drastically different in background and taste and philosophical attitudes and personality as my ever-widening shoal of acquaintance and friendship in the online ocean can share so much good conversation, support, humor, wisdom and mutual delights. There surely can’t be any insurmountable barrier unless we build it ourselves. And that fills me with hope and optimism.
I’d say we are quite the shining school ourselves, constantly making our deliberate and sometimes very merry way, zigzagging across the supposed mainstream, even powering right straight ahead against all tides, obstacles and currents. I’m no great swimmer when it comes to pressing headlong against an undesirable norm, but the company of all my gleaming cohort–family, friends, and fellow wanderers of the web–carries me through even the chilliest and deepest of waters.
Peace is apparently attainable, if enough of us swim determinedly toward it. Whether we get there by means of a mutual journey, a shared song, a meal at the same table, or a conversation across the miles by any ethereal means doesn’t matter as much as that we’re moving in that direction. And that we carry each other along to share the strength and intelligence and compassion and hope that it takes to get there.