Thursday, March 18, 2021

The March of Memories

 


Your name is here! You are not (entirely) overlooked, forgotten, or uncared about.  We each process through so many people. And some of us move, relocate, and move again. We meet so very many persons; we can be forgiven for not remembering all. Affection aside, it still can be difficult to recall when, or where? After all, a face changes in the intervening years. Like impermeable mental membranes, walls among memories make much of a miasma of the past.

Robert Frost had it right: ‘Something there is that does not love a wall.’ Yet still, ‘good fences make good neighbours.’ We do not necessarily call across our familial boundaries. We do not easily write. We do not share personal information. We do not persist with contact. Yet still, feelings of ‘connection’ can be continual. Fondness, love, care, and interest can again be engendered. But often we then do needs move on; there are so very many others to meet.

Oh, yes, your name. It is A...; B...; C...; D…; E...; F...; G...; H...; I...; J...; K...; L...; M...; N...; O...; P...; Q...; R...; S...; T...; U...; V...; W...; X...; Y...; Z....

Found it? Yes, you are recalled. (For every letter, we may know others too.)

Sometimes, a letter about the past arrives, most unexpectedly, and it can revive an almost forgotten time, giving yet more wealth to the dimming memories.

But is it our sharing intimate details that makes for ongoing friendship? Is it only due to our past? Can a chemistry of accord once between us survive all the years? Do the present details of our lives make that much of a matter? Or can we delve into ideas? Wait, you are now married. You have children. You have a cat. Another has a dog. You are successful. At some time or other you were not fortunate. And so, the details about what, when, who, how, and even the why may enliven our reconnection. Certainly, they are interesting. We share. For a while. And then?

Perhaps hardest of all is receiving a letter that declares a difference of direction so strong that it disavows the friendship, terminates it with harsh phrases, cuts the cord. (Certainly, of all the people I have known in over six decades of living, such a letter has resonated in my sad feelings far longer than had that person simply gone away, and effectively merely lost contact.)

Family members can give one feelings of guilt. Particularly with very large families. Just how many nieces and nephews does one have? And just how is one to be expected to keep up with all the events in each child’s life? Especially if one is geographically remote. And especially if the years and years go by, without effort on either part, their parents, or oneself, or themselves, to foster a relationship. Still, guilt goes with being the adult. Connecting is up to the one with the most responsibility for showing an interest.

I stand guilty. My nieces and nephews, when you are adult, I shall entertain sharing time with you, should you care to. Ideas. Interests. Queries. Should you not reciprocate, well, there shall be no love lost, in any case. Yet I do surmise that we both are the poorer for it.

So too for the very many friends and acquaintances made along the pathways of life. We may no longer be in touch. We may be under too many constraints. But certainly, there are multiples of memories. And central to such memories are feelings of warmth, and blessings to you. Always.



Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Peace In The Present

 


Mayhap the old ways were better. Yet our history certainly does not show it to be so. The struggle to get here, now, for each of us, through the long lineage of our ancestry, is replete with hardship and strife. But there was also love. And there was happiness. All of it was felt, somehow, in however small a measure. Still, it is, however, the now, for now, that is at issue.

Sunlight. Rain. A bird. A deer. An insect. A dust bunny. A dry leaf. A blossom. Each little thing can be fascinating. If catharsis be a release from the self, as well as a connection with a greater whole, then our focus on each little thing, now for now, is a release from the very struggle of chronic pain, chronic worry, chronic unfairness, chronic grief. We might else but smudge every precious remaining moment of life into dearth and despair, were we not to practice this little delight of finding pleasure, release, gratitude, or joy in the daily diurnal of our very existence.

Existing everywhere, holons are micro and macro realizations of matter, concept, and recognition. Not seeing atoms, we yet are given to understand their existence. So too for molecules. So too for quarks and quirks. So too for fractals. (And yet, once fractals are noticed, like someone pointing out a particular beetle, they are everywhere). So too for the life-gleaned theories of others that delineate our existence, that hold fascination: A rubric; a pentacle of virtues; a theory of positive disintegration; a theory of spiral dynamics; a theory of four agreements; an eight-part template of moral choices; an enneagram of personality and character; and one has choice. In a comprehensive integral theory, we comprise parts of all and everything; at issue is what our differentiating degree of habituations are. What are our small meme choices, let alone our Large Meme cohesions? In this last measure, we do indeed curtail or advance our enlightenment. It can take much courage and conviction afore one can readily commit to a new paradigm. For some, a conversion can be virtually instantaneous; a rebirth, as it were. But given that we are purported to be parts of the whole, we might deny our own entirety at the risk of misunderstanding our own role of become progressively integrative, altogether.

Which part of Everything, is not? It is an age-old question. And the societies of yore (even the smallest of groups before the Sumerians,) had slowly but surely to incorporate a larger and larger world as the inevitable amalgamation of the inclusion of others spread and spread across the globe. Yes, war and strife and opposition and genocide and horrors and travesties and mans’ inhumanity to man grew and grew. We do not easily give in to the usurper. We do not easily give in to the heretic. We do not easily give in to the despoiler. We do not easily change. We do not easily give up our gods. We do not easily go beyond our beliefs.

Yet in each moment of all that went before, there too was sunlight, rain, birds, beetles, creatures, and insects. And there was love. We best trust that our own lineage was not necessarily just the product of rape and despoilment and despair and devolution. We can conceive that there was passion and love and care and delight and hope and a sense of progress and purpose. It all brought us to this moment, this very now in which these words reach you. Yes, you. And as you look up from the page, or focus your eyes away from listening to this missive, might you not see even a dust mite, wafting in air, to be as integral a part of our universe as is some distant star?

Peace is in moments. Machines snarling; dogs barking; traffic; people arguing; worldly atrocities; and perpetual problems interfere. Censure hurts. Yet discord and distraction are but integral parts of the whole; our greater and larger sense of acceptance and inclusion can become an integration that will enlighten our days; give peace to our nights. And so, chronic despair, unrelenting pain, or great grief finds not necessarily a surcease, as much as a relevant particularization within a larger whole. And paradoxically, the smallest of things, even a bug, can indeed put one in the larger picture. Peace with the now, and our changing, or not, becomes us.



Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Opposing Forces

 


The screw would not budge. Four inches long, its counterpart had come out, twist by twist, grudgingly, giving up its deep grip on the wood. But this screw, now, despite all the force I could muster, came out only half an inch. Ironic; to pull something out one must push so forcefully. As well, it was necessary to have the correct tool, so that purchase in the grooves of the screw-head would not slip, or worse, would not strip the flanges of the thing, altogether. One pushes to pull. One turns to back out straight. One aches to gain. Had I not wished or needed to use the same screw hole over again, I might just have hack-sawed the thing. But one pays one’s price.

It is in opposition that we find our true metal. Cursing and acting out is not so much ‘out of character,’ as it can be in our character. Deep down. To get something, we can be like children, behaving with some atavistic variant of yelling with deep frustration to get what we want. One strives for significance. But not all efforts are equal. There is little equanimity of reward for struggle. We each must find our measure in all the doing, the undoing, as well as the re-doing that goes along with our progress, in life. The marriage of the right moment, the right tools, and the right energy needs all meet, serendipitously, for one to have easy success.

The 2021 USA inauguration, this January 20th, needed much counterforce to unscrew the incumbent from his cherished position. Unyielding, recalcitrant, the inevitability of circumstance and event, time, and date, had old POTUS meeting with forces beyond his control, and petulant as he was, a new order took place. At issue is the time it takes for things to change. Throughout history we have witnessed the great onslaught of revolutions and upsets and plagues and pestilences. We have endured. But in the collective ‘we’ of that endurance millions along the way have given their lives. At Capitol Hill, with its dire insurrection preceding the Presidential changeover, five people gave up theirs. Each was there for a reason.

Reason would have us working with something, rather than against it. Reason would have us negotiating, and influencing, and urging, and even manipulating the course of events to have the sensibility of our impetus recognized, and acted upon. But history proves that we do not easily or readily resort to reason. Brute force is the habitual recourse. The one with the biggest bark, the biggest following, the greatest amount of strength, tends to prevail, even if only for a while.

Peace. Ease. Such is the stuff dreams may give us. We can cry in our dream with the begging of forgiveness; we can meet with the circumstances of yore. And by facing into them, like facing into pain, or to fear, or to regret, we can gain purchase on the slippery grip of our contentions, and by dint of supreme effort, or care, or consideration, we might well find our surcease. But it takes pursuing our course of action with an intentionality borne not so much out of desperation, as of unswerving attention.

Opposing forces create pearls; the piston stroke of engines; sporting events; and dramatic action. Themes of conflict stretch most yarns to a climactic breaking point. Tension for too long, becomes humorous. In short bursts, tension becomes an irritant. But stretched just long enough, opposing forces can yield a product that demands our attentive measures of application to task. And our reward.

Eventually, the screw came out. Using the thinnest drill-bit down beside it gave it room. Yes, we do well with assistance. Words, love, care, smiles, hugs; these are the salve of our lives. Yet where the real work of life is done (if one is not always to be screwed up, ha!) is encountered alone; where having the right tools, the right templates, the right rubrics, and even the right stuff, becomes not so much a by-product of our experiences, as a way of pursuing life.

Facing into one’s reserves of resilience, fortitude, endurance, and going beyond one’s habits, that is the stuff of paradigm shifts. (Or is it just that one wants not, ineluctably, ‘to be screwed’?)