One Pearl Longer

On the eve of each new year I reluctantly don a necklace
of melancholic nostalgia
the significance of which envelops me.
Strung from pearls of wisdom gathered by my former selves.
One per year.
Each radiant globe a diamond of priceless memories
compressed by me into a diminuve crystal ball.
Offering up reflections of immense happiness
tempered by devastang tragedy.
Each precious gem a hard-worn, hard-won epiphany
of the ebbs and flows of life.

Midnight revelry trumpets
auditory triggers of inescapable images.
With each mind’s eye vision comes anew
the heartbreak of loved ones lost forever.
The chain grows heavier and heavier,
constraining tighter and tighter.
Joy and pain, light and dark
intermingle to murky fog.

Come dawn, a fresh new day’s light pierces the gray numb
clarifying each orb until only lightness remains.
The warm beads now comfort me with their familiarity.
Carefully I remove the gossamer strand.
No matter.
Once disturbed, the tenuous connection evaporates scattering mirrored circles of life to places unknown.
Hidden here. Tucked there.
Only to return in their circuitous configuration in 364 nights
to be worn hesitatingly, reluctantly once again,
yet with honor and thankfully
one pearl longer.

– Karen Brown

Image by Karen Brown

Viewpoint

I’m at a roadside park just off I-94 overlooking a part of the Badlands called Painted Canyon.

The sun is setting to my left. It highlights the layered colors of the sprawling valley below me in intense blues, fiery reds, bruised purpled, living greens and a hundred shades of grey and brown.

The clouds are lit from within on a background that slowly shifts from pale blue to a deep violet capturing all the colors of my imagination.

Just past the edge of this vantage is an ancient juniper with dark berries. Balancing on the edge of its sparse limbs a meadowlark sings. In the distance a red tailed hawk circles.

At my feet are perfect yellow flowers that iridescent green bees suckle at. Ants clamber in the deep grass, carrying supplies to stock their underground metropolis.

A child’s balloon floats by me. A red island drifting on a cool breeze. Dancing with the invisible.

In the distance a child cries. Another laughs. The incessant sounds of man, the murmuring chatterous monotony of high and low and hushed and shouted tones and nearby traffic and all their smells, sweet and masked and dirty, are all broken, drowned in a profound silence that has no name.

Standing at the fence that keeps humanity at bay, separate from the world we were born into, is a young couple, giddy with love, arms wrapped around each other, smiling, content, joyous. Their love shines so brightly that it adds to the glow of the setting sun. A stranger takes their picture, hands the camera back to them with a “You’re welcome” and with no more than a quick glance into eternity and a shrug, walks quickly back to their car. They have someplace to be. An itinerary. A plan. They will miss so much. Too much.

I take in the sight and am filled with a deep peace, with the miracle of this moment. It is captured within me and I am captured within it and it lives forever.

Not in the past. Not as a memory, now, because Now is all that ever exists.


Image by J M Greff

Long Nights Moon

Today I woke to this gorgeous nearly full moon illuminating the clouds from within and was reminded that even in the darkest days there is light.

I took some time to contemplate the shortness of our own days, the divine spark that resides in all of us which lights the darkness from within, and the eternal promise of life renewed, and I silently expressed my gratitude for every second of light and life I am given as well as for those inevitable periods of darkness that make the light so much easier to see and appreciate.

Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. The sun will remain low on the horizon for three days before rising back into the heavens. The nights will be long and cold.

This solstice is quite rare because it is accompanied by a full moon that brings with it positive change and pleasant and welcome surprises. The next time we will witness a full moon on the solstice is 2094.

To make it even more special it will be followed by the Ursids meteor shower on the 22nd and 23rd. I have no idea when this triple crown will happen again but I don’t imagine it will be any time soon.

It is quite literally a once in a lifetime event so I hope you take the time to bear witness and celebrate in your own way.

Tonight I will celebrate publicly. I’ve been invited to a Christmas party hosted by one of the companies I drive for that also happens to be a company I have contracted with many times over the years and was an employee of until last year. It will be a comfortable gathering among friends.

Tomorrow night I will honor this time privately by writing down my hopes and fears, my joys and sorrows, and release them all in fire and an offering of the ashes to the wind in gratitude.

Sunday I will connect with friends, family, and Beloved to reaffirm my presence, my promise, my commitment, and to thank them for being in my life.

However you decide to celebrate or honor this sacred time I wish you a happy and blessed solstice!

Be still

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Be still now
Let your breath slow
Listen to your heart
It knows you
Knows your needs
Fears
Desires
Listen closely
And you will hear it whisper
Be still now
Let the fire within you glow
Listen to your soul
It speaks to with love
Compassion
Tender care
It wants only the best for you
Only ever the best
Be still now
Let the world you know
Pass by without you
Just for now
Just for this moment
Here
Now
Be still
And let Love in

 


Past Present

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

How bright these lights that shine now. Here. In this moment. Blinding us between staccato strikes of darkness that seem to last forever.

Each flash highlighting a simple frame, like a silent movie lit with the phosphorescence of an atomic blast, melting the film it is remembered on and leaving only hallucinogenic traces in the impenetrable darkness that follows, relaying an entire history in the nuclear ashes of our memories over a cup of coffee shared in lament.

Each flash an anchor to any given moment that we revisit again and again until it defines us. Until we use it to define ourselves to others.

A moment of passion. Of fury. Of compassion. Of hunger. Each playing out in fractional tales that seldom, if ever, follow the lines of the acts laid out in steady progression, to ultimately mythologize the story of our lives.

And we, faithful fanatics of Life, believe the tale that plays, act after act, each read after played, and believed as if written by the hand of god itself.

But they are lies.

It is our adherence to these false memories, these golden calf we cow-tow to with learned and obedient humility, that rob the true essence of their meaning.

We are not the sum of our experiences, the memories of which we redirect to fit the image we carry of ourselves, we are the sacred being that stands now at the burning edge of reality, creating life as we wish it to be, or living, true to form, blindly, those maligned memories meant only to keep us beating on the shores of yesterday.

It is always a choice.

We can choose to live in “almost now”, that sleight of mind, the mirage of now we allow to be influenced by the past, as Observer, or we can choose to live on that burning edge of Now, here, mindfully, in each moment, created second by second with an understanding that what we believe to be true is most often contaminated by who we believe ourselves to have been and, instead, to see our Self through the eyes of the Divine as Creators because this, whatever “this” is, has never happened before, whether it be that moment of passion or of fury or of love or simply opening the refrigerator door.

None of it could have happened in any version of the story without you.

I choose Now.


Image by Jana.

Winter

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I was not dead then
I gathered life
Like wheat at harvest
I shed the seeds
That flourished and bloomed
I breathed the sweet air we all share
Bathed in the life giving glow of the Moon
Swam in the endless sea of light
Traveled months of darkness without fear
Sensing all I was a part of
With awe and gratitude
No, I was not dead then
But I am so much more alive
Now

Released

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Too long ago
A lifetime
Millennia it seems
I sheltered my heart
And bound my flesh
In hopeful anticipation
I wore the numb pain
Of isolation
Like a badge of honor
I learned acceptance
Became aware of something greater
Than I ever imagined
My Self
A connection to All
I learned to navigate the path of Life
With gratitude
Even for suffering
To live with intention
Compassion
Patience
Still
I was alone
My limbs
Once coiled springs
Memorized their routines
My nerves
Quieted by the absence of touch
Slept
My mind
Made up for what I did not have
With story and song
But neuron and synapse can not replace passion or union
I filled my soul
With all that I desired
Until it became a blazing beacon
That lit the way and carried my call
Across empty miles
To you
You heard my song
Flew to my arms
In a moment my world changed
The chains of solitude evaporated
In a single perfect kiss
My eyes fell upon a world made new
A world with you
How joyful
The pain of awakened nerves and patient flesh released
How perfect
The song resonating in spaces reaerved for Us
How sweet
The memory

Why I rewrote the narrative of my life

The following excerpt is from my latest contribution to Elephant Journal.

When I decided to change my life, the goal was not only to change who I am today but to change who I was yesterday.

I know that sounds a little sketchy, but follow me for a minute.

One of my brothers and I once had an argument about what color a particular car my dad owned was. I said red, he said blue.

That’s a pretty big difference and yet…


You’d be doing me a favor if you finished reading the article HERE.

A good heart

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My vehicle
Wasn’t always taken care of
Old as it is
It shows the scars
Of its rough history
It’s paint
Lacks the luster of its early days
The interior
Is cracked and stained and torn
Sometimes it requires repair
I have the tools
The ability
Patience
I do what I can
But some of the work
Is too little too late
And it breaks down
If I could do it again
Start from the beginning
With the skills and knowledge
I have today
I would take better care of it
So it would last longer
It would shine
Be clean
It would have fewer dents and scars
A better life
But I’d keep the engine from this one
Because I run good

 


 

Image: “A Good Find” by J M Greff

 

 

 

Victories

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I’m feeling a little defeated right now. I’m bruised and bloody. But I’m not beaten.

I had a three day pity party with all the usual guests; disappointment, failure, rage, grief, depression. We all commiserated and growled and grumbled and shed tears in our rum and then I sent them packing. Each with a hug and a “Thank you for coming.”

Now it’s time for a victory.

That starts with me.

First, a long walking meditation to silence the remnants of that black balloon affair where I logged their complaints and handled them lovingly.

They are not me, just my thoughts, and they deserve my attention and compassion, but not my life.

Then I sent out feelers to a few companies up north. Yes, back in the oilfield. It’s not where I want to be but it’s the one place I know, without a doubt, that I can get a job pretty much on demand with pay that is considerably more than I can make here. Maybe I mentioned this before, Mobile has some of the lowest driver rates in the nation. Barely enough to live on. Not nearly enough to pursue my goals. Right now I’m looking for companies that just need someone to finish up the season because I don’t want to make a commitment and I really don’t want to starve through another season of frozen roads, frozen trucks, frozen flesh.

Get in. Get out. Get back to what I’m trying to accomplish.

I am working on two backups:

The first, converting all my adjuster training to work with FEMA, will take more time than I have right now but it’s a viable option down the road. I have started taking the training they provide but to get myself on top of the list of potential hires I want to have a long list of their certifications under my belt. So, for now, it’s something that I will take my time with.

The second is a lead I received less than an hour ago. A company that is looking for adjusters to work from home and pays extremely well.

This second option is a strong contender to replace driving, and I’ll talk with them before making the decision, but heading north for a couple months has a distinct benefit: I still have things in storage in ND that I can simply bring with when I return to Mobile.

Yes, I plan on coming back to Mobile. Fate brought me here for a reason and though I really don’t know what that reason is I have no intention of working against such a powerful force. So I’ve made arrangements to leave most of what I brought with me in storage while I’m gone.

I’ll know more within a couple days.

Here’s the thing:

Shit happens and there isn’t a damn thing anyone can do about it but I am not defined by those things, I am defined by how I respond to them.

Yes, it sucks that I spent a year of my life working intensely to create change only to have it all implode but it’s only a failure if I allow it to be, and it’s not an end, it’s a beginning.

In a way, it’s a gift. I am being forced to start again.

I’ll get it right soon enough.

 


Image by Richard Felix on Unsplash