What I’ve Seen…Reaching 60

Arteyes

Tomorrow is my birthday. It’s a big one. Sixty. At this auspicious moment I am wondering how the hell did this many years pass so ridiculously fast?

When my kids were young teens itching to do something they weren’t ready for yet, I would get out the construction tape measure. I would lay it out to 100 inches and chalk where their ages fell and how long their wait really was to participate in the activity that eluded them. Then I would point down the line to how many more times they could do that forbidden thing in the one hundred or so years they had to live their lives. It made the two inches from 14 to 16, when their driver’s license would come seem like the paltry eye blink that it was.

Looking back down my own line of numbers, already passed, I am embracing my million moments that drew together to make me. Gathered knowledge is just hoarding thoughts until you share it. For what it’s worth, these are some of the things I have seen.

Even if you grew up watching shows like Friends and assuming adulthood would be a constant coffee klatch with your across the hall neighbors, you will spend most of your time alone in this life. Unless you are conjoined, this is the way of the world. And if you can’t be at peace in your times of solitude, why in the hell would you think other people would be interested in spending time with you either? Learn shit. Get interested and then you will be interesting-to yourself and to others.

The greatest lesson for young teen abstinence should be the fact that the first person you get naked with will-in all likelihood-not be the last. With the exception of the four couples you will meet who are childhood sweethearts-you will swim into and out of tubs, ponds, raging rivers and oceans of love in all its forms until you find somewhere that becomes your place in the world. That’s where you will build your home- however early or late in life you find it and trying to pitch a tent anywhere else will give temporary shelter and nothing more.

When people close to you lash out it is usually because they want you to love them more than it appears you do. If you pay attention, people will tell you what they want-so listen.

Most people, even the most hardened among us, still have a soft, gooey center and if you are paying attention and listening you can figure out what they love. That is what made them gooey like that in the first place. If they showed you the gooey love, they shared the keys to their castle. Honor that.

There are seven billion people on this planet. When you are not famous, the statistical magic of finding one person who can see you for the blazing light you actually are is a gift rarer then the most expensive gemstone. Own that.

Real love never dies. It only changes shape to accommodate the way you live now.

The secret to happiness is this: figure out what you want and find a way to ask for it.

Love is your own personal experience. It sparks and blooms inside your own head-like a private revelation; a movie only you can see. Even if the object of your affection does not return your ardor with the same intensity or at all, never hold regret for having felt that feeling. To know what love feels like is like visiting the most beautiful place on Earth. Not everyone will go there in their lifetime but you have, and you can tell others what it feels like to stand in the center of all that beauty; what it is to see the blazing light of someone else and have it warm your soul even if it’s just for a moment. It will change you forever; no matter if life or death moves you far away from that other person, it will remain part of who you are now.

What I have seen while I have run, swam, played, danced, loved, fought, created, walked, crawled, bled, cried and laughed my way through the sixty years on planet Earth comes down to this: love. It always comes down to that. And on the last day I get in this life, it will still be about love; who I loved and who loved me.

That is where I have a cave of treasure like Aladdin. I remember all the love my heart has felt. It fills my pens, my brushes, my cooking pots and the large broken parts inside of me. It is my gold.

The Japanese have a practice called Kintsugi. It’s a ceramic pottery ritual where a beloved broken vessel is pieced back together with molten gold used like glue. It gathers the shattered parts together; making it whole again in a new and beautiful way.

Today, I will visualize all the love I’ve known as gold and let it fill the cracks and broken parts of me to make me whole like the day I was born only different…better. It will be my private gift to myself; the strengthening of my weak places. What I’ve seen in my sixty years has been a kaleidoscope of wonder and I am filled with anticipation as the curtain rises on the next act.
kintsugi bowl

Jar of Wonder

Jar of wonder

I’ve used the last of the lotion I concocted several months back and I can’t seem to toss out the cool jar. It’s squatty and round and it once held a moderately pricey and amazing royal jelly body butter from Savannah Bee Company.

Custom blending makes me feel like an alchemist; scooping and stirring and sniffing this and that to decipher its compatibility with the other bits and bobs. I do the same thing with spices, much to the entertainment of my family. Oh, crap. Here she goes again. It starts as a chore because I’m out of something that I need. Once I get going, I fall into the spirit of the scavenger hunt around my home. Every bathroom has some Bermuda Triangle area of lotions and potions and tiny tubes and bottles from hotel stays and gift baskets that I open and smell. If it passes muster, it comes with me to the kitchen.

I start with something thick and un-tinted like Nivea and add a few tablespoons of it to the jar; then the fun begins. A teaspoon of Curel, another of Jergens another of some cocoa butter weirdness and on it goes until it’s almost full to the top. At the end, I add a big dollop of some perfumed cream with a soft and lovely fragrance like the old Breathe Romance from Bath & Bodyworks which, of course, they no longer make just because I love it. Luckily, I’ve been a miser with my last jar so I save it for mixing like Merlin would have saved his stash of dragon blood for spell work.

I’ve made a tiny treasure of this oft used vessel and now call it my Jar of Wonder and the lid bears some of my artsy handiwork and sparkles like a starry night. It seems so much more lush and decadent with the beauty lid when I go to rescue my indoor-winter sand paper feet and hands.

The point of all this is that when I found the jar empty this morning, my first reaction was the same as it is when so many good things end; a downslide into an inventory of all that once was and is no longer at my fingertips. It’s just a jar for cripes sake. I know this. But, cut me some slack. I live in mid Michigan; the second cloudiest place in America, so my vitamin D sunshine levels are dangerously low in January.

And as it turned out, while I was on my search for ingredients, the more I found, the deeper it sunk in that I do indeed have far, far more of everything of this sort than I could ever need. Even if that means I have a whole lot of a little of this and a little of that.

So, it’s not a 40 oz. vat of royal jelly body butter. No matter. If I had a giant container to mix and stir in, I could probably make 40 oz. of my Wonder Cream and be up to my neck in it for months to come. And is that not the way of all our “I don’t have enough…” stories?

Maybe we don’t have Jay Leno’s garage full of cars and motorcycles to choose from that might match our outfits today, but we can always find a way to get from point A to point B and that was the goal anyway.

Perhaps we aren’t in the throes of big-big love at this part of our lives, but we may have a dozen friends and family members who collectively fill our cup with joy and that is really something.

So I don’t have any royal jelly body butter left, but I do have all this other stuff that, together, works remarkably well.

The point is, when you’re feeling like you’ve just run out of something and you’re going to feel its absence because you have come to count on it, go on a scavenger hunt in your life and see if you might have a variety of things you can notice and celebrate and bring together to make your own Jar of Wonder to soothe the rough spots in your life.

Look around. You just might surprise yourself.

Golden Time-Moments in the Middle

Oak in the yard November 08 2013

While raking leaves this morning, I noticed the big oak’s leaves had turned their final brittle brown. Forty-eight hours ago, I stood underneath it and took pictures of their blazing golden glory. Seventy-two hours ago they were mostly green edged in yellow.

Andy Warhol. That’s who I thought of while taking a break at the picnic table. He said everyone has their five minutes of fame. Apparently, so do trees. They stand around all summer in their green dresses looking all Southern Belle, swaying with the vapors over every sultry summer full moon and we notice them but we don’t stop in our tracks to take in their youthful beauty.

Come fall, they start to warn us that time is running out and if we are lucky enough, we might be there to witness their precious few hours of screaming glory as they morph through a color spectrum with their final breaths. Imagine that. Three hundred and sixty-four days and for less than twenty-four hours, they get to be at the most glorious perfection that they will ever be. Golden Time. I wonder if elves and sprites hear their song as music. Does it sound like this…

Which, of course, made me think of Baryshnikov. Yeah. That’s how my mind works. This man practiced in private for countless hours so that a few times a year, the world got to see how his body could fly across the boards. Just a couple of hours! If we were lucky enough to have been there to see it in person, the minutes he was on that stage burned their way into our memory. If we are still lucky enough to happen upon a recorded performance, we can relive it over and over, but it will not be the same intravenous jolt you would have gotten sitting in the darkness and feeling a drop of his sweat fly off a fingertip to smack you on the forehead.

The Samurai had a beautiful ritual of writing a brief poem on their death bed to tie a bow around their lives when they drew their final breath. Those who remember us will carry some blazing moment they witnessed with us; perhaps only a few seconds long, that occurred somewhere in the thousands of days we were alive.

Maybe it will be the sound of our voice or the touch of our hands, but one singular thing will comprise that glorious memory for them when they invoke our spirit.  I hope that mine are like those leaves caught on my camera the moment their perfect song was sung. I hope that I can blaze like that, at the least a few times a year witnessed by others, or not. Like my beautiful old oak, give me five minutes of golden, glorious splendor and one witness who holds the moment in a loving embrace.

Zen Monk’s Death Poem-

Empty-handed I entered
the world
Barefoot I leave it.
My coming, my going —
Two simple happenings
That got entangled.
Like dew drops
on a lotus leaf
I vanish.

(Shinsui, died September 9, 1769, at 49 years of age)

Mikael Baryshnikov practicing jumps-. Wow. Just wow.

10,000 Ways to Waste time

mimi morpheus cartoon

As if I need to find another way to get distracted when I’m supposed to be doing something productive with my day…
Now we have BitStrips- the App that let’s you star in your own cartoons and make avatars for your friends so they can join the fray.

Did I become enamored of this clever application and immediately start making a cache of ridiculous and obnoxious cartoons to include in posts and text messages?

Perhaps. But does it really exist or is it part of the construct?

There is no cart….I mean, spoon.
TheMatrixWallpaper800
Ponder that.

BitStrips App creation

BitStrips App creation