Saturday, October 13, 2007
Blessed is the man who knows how to sleep, says I.
I sometimes dream of writing a poem in honor
of all the great and good sleepers of the world.
We would gather once a year in a fantastic snoozing hall,
with a specially-built sound-proof room for the snorers among us,
an assortment of hammocks and tempur-pedics for all styles,
and an all-you-can-eat buffet of turkey, stuffing, and warm milk.
Dogs would merit much discussion, babies too,
and of course the hibernating bears in the basement below.
But after lulling everyone into their mid-afternoon naps,
I’d wander off quietly toward the deep, unchartered waters of my own sleep.
Careful not to wake the whales
recovering from their drunken moonlight dance,
I wade in with a smile, the gentle ripples of the ocean
cleansing my spirit, preparing me for the great road ahead.
Refreshed, I hike along the curved ridge of my ear,
stopping for a picnic on an outer lobe,
patiently awaiting the “all clear” signal on my radio.
A quick slide down the slippery canal and I’m in.
Feeling the fuzzy contours for a light switch,
I tiptoe cautiously across a mind bridge,
neurons firing their warning shots,
wary of intrusion, anxious for connection.
An infinite wall rises up before me,
tall with unknown words, spelling out
tightness and torture in its dark shadows.
I poke and probe, seeking out the magic code.
A crack of lightning and Rilke appears,
a curious question mark on the horizon,
his locked room full of books looming
large in the labyrinth of clouds above.
I whisper softly, “It’s me.”
He rumbles, “Do not now seek the answers.
The point is to live everything.
Especially your dreams.”
His words tumbling down in sweetness
like trumpets blaring Ode to Joy
in a German that was English.
I am sure that even Beethoven heard it.
His giant laugh explodes into a rainbow flare,
shining the way toward a secluded land of rivers and snows.
I float in a delicate rain, climb down into the trees,
sink into the ground, and swing on the roots of my heritage.
I’m nowhere again, inside myself.
One naked, swaying being, seeing the world for the first time.
The strange grooves on my skin the only proof of my journey,
their sandy footprints washing away with each breath.
It is said that on those sleep-induced marks are written
the eternal signs and mysteries of being,
a complete theory of the heavens and the earth,
a mystical treatise on the art of attaining truth.
The smooth sunrise wakens me from my drooling slumber,
and I turn to the golden beauty resting next to me.
Tell me, are you the fair rare one who lives to uncover the secrets of the body?
Will you join me in gently tracing the lines of life to the holy temple inside?
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Measure Twice, Cut Once
A carpenter who keeps his clothes clean by working in the nude was arrested after a client returned home early and found him building bookcases in the buff. Percy Honniball, 50, was charged with misdemeanor indecent exposure this week for the October incident. He told officers he stripped before crawling under the client's house to do electrical work because he didn't want to soil his clothes, police said. Honniball said Thursday that working au naturel gave him a better range of motion and that a skilled craftsman can work clothing - and injury -free. "In certain situations such as demolitions where you are smashing rock you want to be clothed and protected because this rock can harm you," he said.
Friday, September 7, 2007
Flaubert on Language
- Gustave Flaubert
Sunday, September 2, 2007
I feel, therefore I am
I am not worthy of my suffering. A great sentence. It suggests not only that suffering is the basis of the self, it sole indubitable ontological proof, but also that it is the one feeling most worthy of respect, the value of all values.
-Milan Kundera, Immortality
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
The Worriers' Guild
and I'll be there.
The problems of Earth are
to be discussed
end to end
for five days
end to end
with 1100 countries represented
all with an equal voice
some wearing turbans and smocks
and all the men will speak
and the women
with or without notes
in 38 languages
and nine different species of logic.
Outside in the autumn
the squirrels will be
chattering and scampering
directionless throughout the town
they aren't organized yet.
Sunday, August 5, 2007
Two Giant Fat People
And I have become
Like two giant fat people living
In a tiny
Keep bumping into
-Hafiz translated by Daniel Ladinsky in Love Poems From God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West p. 171
Thursday, August 2, 2007
By someone who is singing God's name
How could Wesmont know
Such top secret information?
Once we were all tomatoes,
Potatoes, onions, or
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
The First Snowflake
i awoke early this morning and stared in silence out my window at the snow raining down on the ivy. a snowflake appeared and i set my eyes on her, whipping and twirling, jumping and leaping, knocking on my window, beckoning me to join her dance. i asked her name but i don’t think she heard me as she slid off and joined her friends in their own snow version of red rover turn over i’m flying over...tell me, do you drop down on your knees and ask for meaning in such moments? i lost her in a haze and soon my thoughts turned to the first snowflake ever to fall from a cloud high above and how she must have felt when she dropped, suddenly alone in a world without end. I wonder what drew her to leave the warmth and softness of her pillow, did her friend triple dog dare her, did she and the other snowflakes draw straws, a game of rock, paper, scissors perhaps; or maybe the others, jealous of her shine, pushed her out, tumbling and shaking, a lone glitter in the sky. i prefer to think that it was something else, a grace, a gift of magic in the air that secretly opened, causing her to suddenly slip and slide down the trap door of her cloud, releasing her to the open sky, no longer enclosed by the fuzzy floating fog of her womb. a bright light in flight, she held on tight, unsure at first, nervous, but slowly, finding herself, a nip here, a tuck there, learning to lean into the wind and ride the wave, soon summersalts came and cartwheels too, her pigtails glowing in the breeze, her voice free, singing every song she ever knew, and then quietly, her flight in the night would come to an end, and she would land for the first time on earth – on a sharp blade of grass perhaps, or the crooked branch of an old oak, caressing her as she settled silently into a sad sleep, alone, waiting for the soft voice of her friends to comfort her and share in her shine.
Monday, July 30, 2007
THE CONSTABULATORY DEPT.
Suspicious: In Crescent Mills, a caller reported that a person was in her backyard inside her fence. He was wearing black pants and black shoes and was last seen running up a hill. She said he took a large bag of trash. A deputy reported that it was a bear.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
chic chica from chico,
my super t
the names remain the same
still float from my lips
like flowers of kiss
blooming upwards in search of bliss
how shall i call thee?
with longing for your presence
with love for your essence
the questions stand tall tonight,
infinite trees in a tearful sky
a breeze of sighs, their only reply
why did i never tell you?
how your smile soft with wonder
spread me out like the morning
how your shape of laughter
sang sunshine in my heart
how your simple goodness
opened me with grace
i loved you from afar
forever dazed by your gaze,
your eyes wise and bright,
dizzying me with delight
in my heart you will stay
your sweet soul and gentle way
a huggable hope for everyday
i pray at last that you fly free
a divine spirit that will always be
i love you, dear Sonja T.
THE MATCH DEPT
I have many layers, and my yoga practice is gently awakening them to each other. I have a mysterious gift for attracting eccentrics and setting them at ease. I have a sunny outlook, though I often find great beauty in sadness. I believe dogs are divine - spelling dog backwards is the first clue. Adventure stirs my soul, but the simple moments bring quiet and nourishment. Poetry envelops me, even while checking the mail.
My life is my art. Opportunities appear everyday and I am blessed to hop aboard for the ride. Once many moons ago, I was two days by camel from Timbuktu. A chief in the Dogon derailed my voyage by challenging me to a wrestling match. I talked him into a dance contest instead ... oh the laughs!!! Soon the entire village was dancing in the sand. Tell me, do you get down on your knees in awe at such moments?
Spiritually speaking, I feel like I’ve finally found my center, and it weighs about 20 pounds more than it did in college:) While friends describe me as the salt of the earth, I prefer to think of myself as the sugar of the earth. I add sweetness to life.
I am less concerned with being right than with finding peace and understanding. Sometimes it's best to agree to disagree. Each of us sees the world through our own lens and it's far more worthwhile to honor another person's experience and feelings than it is to deny, even if we see things differently. Kindness is the key, and forgiveness is the way forward into the gift of grace.
I've learned that the pain I feel is the breaking of the shell that encloses me and that wisdom comes in part through having the courage to reflect on the suffering we experience. With focus, I’m kicking out the critics sitting fat and happy in the balcony of my mind. After all, it’s my play, and I have a lifetime run.
I am curious about myself and the world. Is awareness the key to eudomania, or is ignorance bliss? Too bad Croesus is not around to Tellus. While we may look to Athens and beyond in search of answers, lets live out the questions together as Rilke councils. I think we humans can flourish, and it starts with our hearts and ... ends when we’re friends? Well, rhymes aside, it may take a little more than that, a silver lining perhaps? – a dash of poetry too.
I do not believe in games, but there is one game we should play and it goes like this: We hold hands and look into each other’s eyes and scan each other’s face. Then I say, “Now tell me a difference you see between us.” And you might respond, “Weston, your nose is ten times bigger than mine!” Then I would say, “Yes, my dear, at least ten times!” But let’s keep playing. Let’s go deeper, Go deeper. For if we do, our spirits will embrace and interweave. Our union will be so glorious that even God will not be able to tell us apart. There is a wonderful game we should play with everyone and it goes like this...
I look to water for guidance - forever flowing, without judgment, constantly cleansing and enriching everything it touches.
Most of all, I am grateful – for the opportunity to be here, to learn and grow and connect, and sometimes to simply bow to the mystery of it all.
As I lift up my signpost to the universe, I raise a toast to the song of the open road - to the infinite trees and leaping skies of life.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Harvard Class of 1986: 20th Reunion Report of I. Joseph Furphy
Retiring early has a lot going for it. While death remains certain, taxes are no longer a concern. That alone has probably added five years to my life. I don’t know that I’ll be able to afford those extra five years, but I’ve got them, just in case. The past seven years since retirement have been the best of my life, and it keeps getting better. I’ve finally had a chance to do most of the things I really wanted to do – I painted in the French countryside, ran with the bulls in Pamplona, climbed Little Big Horn, surfed the Maui Pipeline, dined with the Aga Khan, roller-skated in a buffalo herd, started a food fight, wrote poetry in Havana, had a three-way, pondered the Universe, and ... I still sleep late on weekdays.
It wasn’t always so easy. After graduation, I slaved away as a Teaching Fellow for fair Harvard for six years, but those tossers in University Hall didn’t care. Twenty billion in the bank and I get $500 bucks a month, with no mental health insurance. Come on, where’s the love? I wised up quick and gave all my students A’s. It’s not like they weren’t smart. Actually, I let them grade themselves. Self-grading is currently revolutionizing higher-education thanks to me, despite protests by those stiffs in the Bok Teaching Center and their anti-grade inflation ringleader, Professor Harvey C (minus) Mansfield. The students seemed to enjoy it most, and it sure freed up my life. I even applied it to myself come evaluation time. I won teaching awards all six years.
I liked staying close to Harvard – I got locked into Widener Library with my girlfriend (I’ve got the record I’m sure) and I sneaked peaks at the Primal Scream streakers during exam time. Sure, I was balding by then, but I kept the video camera focused on the nude ones. Girls Gone Wild beat me to it, though. To supplement my income, I took my brilliant ideas over to the Church Street Kinko’s and joined the fast-track management program. You may recall Kinko’s special ICU diversity hiring program for blind people. That was all me. I couldn’t believe no one else had seen the possibilities. Blind people are perfect copiers because that bright green copy light doesn’t damage their eyes, like it does regular folks. Just think of the increased efficiency in not having to close the lid for each individual copy, not to mention the millions saved in eye care premiums. Kinko’s received a lot of community goodwill for hiring such a challenged group. What’s not to like? It’s a win-win, and how was I thanked? I got the axe when FedEx bought them out. They claimed I was harassing customers who couldn’t see the white arrow on their logo.
I kicked around Craigslist a bit posing as an odd-job lifer. You won’t believe the things people ask you to do when they get you in their homes. Housewives were my favorite employers, especially Amanda, a lithe blonde in Beacon Hill. She was a LifeCoach, among other things, and also very depressed. I eased her out of her suffering with my hands-on sessions and soon realized my true calling as a LifeWhisperer™. Most people don’t know it, but there are times when even LifeCoaches need a coach. Enter me, the master LifeCoach, or LifeWhisperer™ as I termed it. It’s a niche market. I won converts the world over with my I Love Me™ tagline. We all need to love ourselves more. The New Yorker called my short mantra the three wisest words in the whole English language. Love of self is the key to happiness. If you can find yourself irresistible, nothing else matters.
Life was very, very good. Unfortunately, it all came crashing down when I expanded too fast into West Africa. I established a new weight loss-cum-service-and-tanning cultural retreat in Ghana. All these diet-for-life two-ton tessy Wal-Marters are depressing America, and giving the French room to claim superiority in shapeliness. Why not send our fat friends over to Africa for a little six-week community service course? Build mud homes for poor farmers, learn a new culture, get a tan, catch some light intestinal worms and lose weight – Guaranteed! And fun for the whole family. I even instituted a special spiritual add-on with a local medicine man. Kwame’s dolls are all the rage now on Ebay. Unfortunately, my admissions crew cut a few corners which led to a minor sex scandal. General Rawlings kicked us out of the country, and I lost it all in a Kipling-esque rendition of If.
I know many of you are wondering – seven years of no work and no savings – how do I pay for things? Well, I’m no dummy. I paid attention outside the classroom and some of it stuck. The credit card companies are working hard to end the injustice of overregulation in the financial markets. Six billion offers of credit were put forth last year, and I accepted hundreds of them – all at 0% APR. They have yet to catch on to my schemes, nor have my parents, especially on the big mortgage I took out on their home. It’s all in my name of course, so they are protected. Now don’t get the wrong idea. I have never had a late payment, never had a default, and I have an impeccable credit rating. There are ways; loopholes if you will, and if you’re interested, I suggest you buy my book, Passion for Life, which explains how to invest in yourself by having others invest in you – all at 0% APR. Debt looms, yes, but my next book, Pass It On, based on the Trump financial models, recommends an artful bankruptcy strategy. Besides, I know, like all economically challenged Americans, that one day I will win the lottery. That’s why I don’t mind when our government lowers the taxes for all of you – my wealthy friends and classmates. I have learned, like The Donald and The Dubya, if you love yourself, solvency doesn’t matter.
Many of my classmates realized early on that ten dollar-a-barrel oil would not last as long as we had a Texan in the White House. Unlike them, I did not invest in oil stocks, but those high gas prices are not a problem. Fast-food handles my fuel needs. I converted my 1976 Mercedes sedan long-ago to run on used cooking oil. I just pull up to McDonalds or Burger King, and fill her up for free. I have it my way, and I’m lovin’ it. I’m doing my part for Mother Earth, are you?
Health care remains an issue as I’m not insured. I moved to sunny Los Angeles last year to take advantage of the natural, active lifestyle. I eat a standard diet of greens, potatoes, and a tasty tofu-substitute: beef. It’s working fantastic. I haven’t been to the doctor yet, and I get a free massage everyday at Ceragem. Massachusetts is now offering health insurance for all, and I’ve got an inside-track on getting Coverage. My healthy California lifestyle will save the citizens of Massachusetts money. Heck, they should open their system to all Californians; we’re a lot cheaper than those sausage-eating Southies who spike the premiums every time they implode from constipation.
Spiritually speaking, I feel like I’ve finally found my center, and it weighs about 30 pounds more than it did in college. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve done the hard work – yoga retreats, male-bonding rituals, Indian sweat lodges, even the Hoffman Process. I haven’t reached nirvana yet, but I’m on the path. Rilke says, “I can’t make every minute holy,” but ... I have a lot more time to try now.
Believe it or not, life works out. Sure I miss out on those hip Xenii parties in LA, but to be honest; those parties are just a high class brothel one step removed, like a private game reserve where big bucks pay top dollar for the chance to shag the stag or doe of their dreams. Add alcohol to the mix and they don’t stand a chance. Just ask Dick Cheney. I prefer dating on an equal playing field; that’s why I go to the library, it’s free.
And the best news of all about early retirement: I can still have children. Yes, ladies, I am single, and I am ready and willing. And in twenty years, when my Social Security kicks in, I’ll have their Harvard tuition covered.
My dear classmates, I look forward to lighting up with each of you at our reunion.
I. Joseph Furphy ‘86
P.S. For you 420 friendly types out there, retirement is a game changer. Life’s a hit 24/7.
Monday, July 16, 2007
THE BACK DEPT
On a recent first date, the attractive LadyD across from me asked, “Do you ceragem?” “Do I what?” I said. “Ceragem,” she said, “you know, the free massage.” I didn’t know, but my ears perked up; I liked where she was going with this.
Soon we were walking down Wilshire Blvd to the Ceragem Center in Santa Monica. I was immediately struck by the peaceful quiet that filled the room, and the odd mixture of people in the beds. There were young, new-age types – the “aware” ones as LadyD told me (counting us among them), lying right next to elderly couples, the occasional businessman in a cuffed shirt, high society women from neighboring Beverly Hills, and more than a couple of homeless people, their bulging shopping carts waiting patiently outside on the sidewalk. I asked where all the masseuses were and LadyD simply laughed, “It’s a mechanized massage table, silly.”
Elan, the Ceragem representative, greeted us lightly, handing me a short form to fill out as I was a first-timer. We were directed to the waiting area to the left, where we sat alone surrounded by thirty empty chairs. Soon, we were brought bed sheets by another rep, Joni, who invited us to join her at the front of the room for a short demonstration.
Joni positioned LadyD and me near a Ceragem bed, partially deconstructed to reveal the inner workings of this dream machine first introduced in Korea many years ago. Standing directly beside us, Joni suddenly pulled out a microphone and turned slightly toward the empty seats in back. “Who here has back trouble,” Joni asked, her voice echoing through a killer surround-sound system. Enthralled by her excitement, I found myself waving my hand high, as if I were in the back row of the Price is Right. Joni seemed not to notice as she went on to point out the special “far infra-red” coilers and jade rollers that would soon move slowly up and down my spine, bringing 130 degree heat and strong pressure to soothe my back’s distress signals. The jade was chosen for its fine retention of heat, and its Qi-like qualities. The far infra-red coilers were intended to emulate the warmth of the sun, without all the harmful UV rays. Together, they worked to increase circulation, relaxation, and life force. Personally, I didn’t quite understand her – the far infra-red and UV talk brought images of some futuristic military tanning salon to my brain, complete with darkened rooms and camouflaged beds. I blame the microphone.
For a taste of what I was to experience, Joni had me sit on a special Ceragem seat, known as the Three Ball. A curious plastic piece in the middle shined with a far infra-red glow – this was the source of heat and vitality. The warmth immediately enveloped my groin, and I thought, for the first time in years, about an old college course where we had learned about the inverse relationship between heat and sperm count. I did the polite thing and offered my seat to LadyD.
By the time Joni finished her demo, half the seats were filled with a mix of America – blacks and whites, Hispanics and Asians, skinny and fat, young and old, rich and poor – all waiting eagerly for their 40 minute Ceragem fix for the day. LadyD told me of her friend who has come everyday for 4 months, and “she’s never been pressured to buy,” she said with a smile. No price lists, no pushy sales people, no buy-one-get-one-free discount – just a free massage in a room full of strangers where Ceragem’s motto – Love, Service, Kindness – rules the roost. To be sure, the wealthier clients would probably soon buy their own for use in their home, but there was absolutely no hint of commerce in the room. As we walked toward our beds to start our session, my mind returned to the silent mantra that often pushes me forward in such situations: “People actually do this... Everyday!?”
I took off my shoes and belt, emptied my pockets in a small basket and settled onto the bed, struggling to position my neck in just the right place in relation to the rollers. Elan appeared and spread a sheet over me, tucking my feet in and covering my eyes with a small towel. Thinking immediately of the gray beard on the person before me, I was afraid to ask if the sheets were clean. Yes, I’m a germ-a-phobe, but sometimes it’s better to be an amnesiac. The rollers interrupted just then, starting their slow march, raising sections of my spine to heights they’d never seen. It wasn’t entirely comfortable, but the warmth of the bed was inviting, and soon my thoughts settled on my breath. The overweight gentleman to my left began snoring, however, and my attention invariably shifted to a keen focus on his breath.
After five minutes spent kneading the spine, the rollers stop at strategic points on the back and rest for 2 minute intervals. When the rollers halted at T4 in my thoracic region, I knew I was in trouble. A sharp spike suddenly stabbed me in the back. I froze, grimacing and grabbing the sides of the bed, trying desperately to adjust myself. Pain is such a rush. Elan was there with a hand on my arm, “Breathe deeply,” she instructed, and to my surprise, my back began to soften as the far infra-red heat worked its magic. It was then that I heard Joni, once again on the microphone, this time playing to a larger crowd. “How does Ceragem make you feel?” she asked those waiting in the chairs. Gentle voices whispered back through the microphone, “Great,” “Relaxed.” Joni must have run to them in their seats as Phil Donahue once did, giving them each a chance to speak their truth. This was more than a talk-show though; it was a real live infomercial, without the hard sale. One man insisted on taking the microphone himself, wanting to share a piece he’d recently read on “The Transformation of Healing.” It reached me in a Dylan-like mumble; I didn’t quite catch the words, but it sounded soulful. Others followed with gifts of their own.
I suddenly realized the possibilities. Just add some cameras and we have a hit reality show, seducing the masses with our Ceragem-induced tranquility. But seriously, where else in the world could I get a free massage and the chance to improve my public speaking? There was no pressure, no judgment; the audience was captive after all, and peaceful. Most of them were actually asleep. I could share my latest poems, trade Marianne Williamson quotes on the power of the self, and speak of the “mighty kindness” that Rumi envisioned for us all. This was a world I could join everyday, for free. And who knows, it might even lead to a side business as a Life-Whisperer, a secret ambition I’ve harbored for sometime. I was definitely dreaming. In forty minutes, Ceragem had transported me back to the nap-time of my youth. There we were – the pretty blond girl to my right and the chubby fellow snoring to my left – sleeping sweetly again in kindergarten as the teacher silently patrolled the narrow pathways to our dreams.
The massage ended with a gentle pat on my shoulder from Elan. I was in a daze and quickly put a hand over my mouth, remembering both LadyD and my tendency to drool when in deep sleep. LadyD looked sexy despite her bedhead. We folded our sheets and walked past the next group, smiling eagerly as they waited for their massage. I asked Elan if Mr. or Mrs. Ceragem ever came by the store, hoping to get an inside track on the mysteries behind the massage. Elan smiled, “There is no one named Ceragem.” I pressed further, but she resisted. Perhaps I was too new for the secrets to be revealed, but you must also know that I’m one of those rare individuals with whom even Mormons refuse to speak in their daily meet-and-greets, despite my friendly attempts on occasion to attract them for a light spiritual chat.
I walked out entranced with LadyD at my side. She grabbed my hand and kissed me lightly on the cheek, suggesting we meet tomorrow for another Ceragem. Now this was my kind of date. Perhaps it was all a dream, but I’ll take it any day of the week. At Ceragem, even if you snooze, you don’t necessarily lose.
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others)
In his book “The Best of Plimpton,” you can find the following 4th of July
I remember Norman Mailer at one of our July fireworks parties in the
Hamptons. He wanted to fire a shell. He had his bourbon drink in a blue
glass, really more a vase, the sort of receptacle one usually finds in the
back of a kitchen cabinet when everything else in the house, even the
plastic cups, has been commandeered. He held the drink in one hand, safe
out behind him, and he approached the fuse with the railroad flare in the
other...The mortar held a six-inch Japanese shell. I watched him—struck
again by the grotesque attitudes that people get into when faced with
igniting a shell.In his case, he seemed not unlike a scientist intent on
catching a lizard by the back of the neck. The shell came out almost
instantaneously. His surprise at the shock of its emergence—a six-inch
shell of that type weighs about eight pounds—toppled Norman into a
complete backward somersault through the sawgrass. Astonishingly the
blue vase remained upright as he pinwheeled around it; not a drop of
bourbon splashed out. He got up and took a sip and asked if he could do
another. ‘Do you have anything slightly larger?’
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.
The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.
The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.
The idea you carry close to your bosom
is famous to your bosom.
The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.
The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.
I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back.
I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.
- Naomi Shihab Nye
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal
After learning my flight was detained 4 hours, I heard the announcement: If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic, Please come to the gate immediately.
Well — one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress, Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she Did this.
I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick, Sho bit se-wee?
The minute she heard any words she knew — however poorly used - She stopped crying.
She thought our flight had been cancelled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,
Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and Would ride next to her — southwest.
She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.
Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and Found out of course they had ten shared friends.
Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.
She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering Questions.
She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies — little powdered Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts — out of her bag – And was offering them to all the women at the gate.
To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California, The lovely woman from Laredo — we were all covered with the same Powdered sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookies.
And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers – Non-alcoholic — and the two little girls for our flight, one African American, one Mexican American — ran around serving us all apple juice And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.
And I noticed my new best friend — by now we were holding hands – Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,
With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.
And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought, This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.
Not a single person in this gate — once the crying of confusion stopped – has seemed apprehensive about any other person.
They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.
Not everything is lost.
- Naomi Shihab Nye
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
The Guest House
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Monday, April 23, 2007
I'm so grateful for the little gifts that spring into our lives through no effort of our own. Here is a baby hummingbird nest that rests in a tree above a 1oo year old snapping turtle at the home of my best friends - Max and Vicki. What beauty! I'm grateful for such moments.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Through my Feldenkrais body movement classes, I've been thinking a good deal about the role gravity plays on our bodies. Our bodies need to learn to make use of gravity to act efficiently. One only need recall the painful sight of heads cranked far forward in some of the elderly to see gravity's effect over time on someone with poor posture.
Childbirth should also make use of gravity, and that implies a delivery made by a mother who is squatting. Squatting allows gravity to do a good deal of the work, and seems much less stressful on the momma and the baby. Squatting also takes pressure off the mother's back and opens the mother's pelvis, allowing for more room for the baby. It seems this whole idea of delivery in a bed with the momma in stirrups was set up to make it easier on the doctors, certainly not on the momma and baby.
So I can't help but think of those EZ Lube oil change facilities where you drive your car over a hole in the floor and some guy below is able to get to your engine very easily to do all he needs to do. I propose that hospitals and other birth clinics revolutionize their baby delivery facilities by making use of the EZ Lube design. Baby delivery rooms should be on 2 floors (or at least 1.5 floors - perhaps a mezzanine?). The momma can squat over a hole in the floor. Certainly, the shape of the hole would be strategic to fit everyone's needs and it would have the necessary protections to prevent injury, as well as allow for comfort and support of the momma. The doctor could then work from the floor below the momma (perhaps on a step ladder?), doing all the things they need to do from below. If doctors developed pain in their necks from looking up, I suggest a horizontal platform for the doctors to lay on - not unlike the one Michelangelo used when he painted the Sistine Chapel. The miracle of life could happen so much easier for the momma and baby.
How's that for a reversal? - The doctor laying down and the momma squatting over the doc. What do I know? It sounds silly, but it makes sense. I'm also interested in the idea of giving birth in water (like the scene in Apocalypto) - the baby goes from the fluid-filled womb to another fluid-filled environment. I don't know if there are any studies on these ideas, but there should be.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
A Late Fragment
"And what did you want?"
"To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth."
- the last poem ever written by Raymond Carver