spin – part I

credit - science museum of MN

credit – science museum of MN

I admit it. I am one of those annoying folks who prefers to give others the benefit of the doubt. This way of life has served me (relatively) well over the decades. May have created some conflict from those who doubted my sincerity. May also have been a balm to others tired of the duplicity and derangement of present public discourse.

Which brings me to today. In place of last night’s sleep, seriously strange sensations surged through me. Something not unlike the spin cycle on high. I felt wrung out by morning, but neither refreshed nor sweet.

My first response to last night’s ‘presidential debate’ (yes, I need to use ‘ ‘) was to wish every candidate had some kind of truth-detector device attached to them. Clearly a bell would be of no use. They talk right through them. I began to wonder if a shock might be helpful. Something that would make them jump, create a visual for the listener to help distinguish between fact and fiction. I mean – how can they stand there and keep repeating utter falsehoods – about health care, about the economy, about Obama’s record, about the ease with which they would annihilate whole groups of people.

I get that memories are short, that their revisionist version of history is entirely spun from their own need to seem strong and smart. And electable – at all costs. I also get that the more forcefully something is stated, and the more frequently, the greater the ring of truth.

But here’s the rub. Saying something does not make it so. Instead of either finger-pointing or assuming an air of pious self-righteouness,  how about some simple fact-checking? Let’s start with this: just WHY has the current administration been unable to forge meaningful ‘across-the-aisle’ (how I hate that phrase) progress? Hint: it’s not because this President hasn’t tried – repeatedly, tirelessly – even, I might say, with his own belief in the ultimate goodness and humanity of his detractors. Who in their wringing away truth from all the spin, can only speak in ultimate polarities. Us – them; all good – all bad. That in itself should tell you something. It does me. (to be continued)

comfort dump

soul card copy

soul card by deborah koff-chapin

Yesterday morning, as I prepared to walk my dog in the crisp Vermont morning under a tentative sun, I felt a tug. Not a physical one – that would have been Loki’s leash. No, this was entirely visceral; or perhaps spiritual. Perhaps it is intuition. But I can say this has happened a handful of times in my life.

The urgency that moves me to do something that had not been on my conscious radar. The first time it happened I named it ‘grace’ — the knowing that made me create an escape plan ‘just in case’ from a doomed marriage. In fact, he returned and early unannounced from vacation filled with self-righteous accusations I later learned to be the MO of someone on the offensive to cover his own tracks.

The second time, I traveled the distance from New England to Texas to visit my aging parents – somewhat spontaneously.  We spent the late November week bringing me up to speed on their financial matters and end-of-life plans. Not a month later, my mother (the business manager of the two) suffered a stroke that left her with expressive aphasia and me with multiple year-end financial transactions to complete. Absent that earlier trip, I would have been utterly clueless. I still can only name that ‘luck.’

But yesterday it was something else. For the first time in the 18 months since we left our old condo, I felt an urgency to visit the one neighbor there I had come to know well and care for deeply. She responded to my knock hesitantly. At the first glance I knew Something Was Wrong. We spent the next hour-plus perched on her front steps while she talked. Poured out her heart. Shared the truly unimaginable layers of loss and pain that had just been dumped on her. I listened, held her hand, and listened more. Loki licked her face and lay quietly between us.

When she had drained herself for the moment, she said, “Comfort in, dump out.” I had never heard that phrase before. It describes a relational way to interact in extreme grief or other difficult interpersonal situations. But of course! When you are in the same crisis with someone, you need to bolster one another up. Only by turning to someone further removed from the pain can you just dump everything you can no longer carry. She was so grateful that I ‘got’ this – and many other things she shared during our sitting-in-January-snow-and-sun connecting.

After I left I pondered what had just transpired. Not close friends, we nonetheless share some deeper connection beyond words or labels. And what went between us was, in my view, a ‘comfort dump.’ It was so patently clear the comfort she needed, and received, from my simple presence, my listening heart. And what a comfort it was to me, having arrived on her doorstep at the precise moment she so needed it.

still going ’round


revolution 2

source unknown

“Revolution doesn’t have to do with smashing something; it has to do with bringing something forth. If you spend all your time thinking about that which you are attacking, then you are negatively bound to it. You have to find the zeal in yourself and bring that out.” – Joseph Campbell

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” ― Richard Buckminster Fuller
“Build the new in the shell of the old.” – Joanna Macy
I was surprised to find this lodged in my ‘drafts’ – from two years back. If I hadn’t known that, I might have thought it a political response to this week’s presidential debates . . .
As an exercise, I’m going to leave it at that; and invite you to respond with whatever it might be (hopefully it will be at least civil) – political, personal, or otherwise.
And thank you for sharing your thoughts here.

where did i go?

imagination - Caleb Pirtle

credit – caleb pirtle

Today’s Daily Prompt asks ‘what is your superpower? how and where will you use it to appear/disappear at will?’

Curiously, that feels like a continuing thread from my previous post about feeling unresolved about blogging onward. Which in turn elicited a back-and-forth with a blogging acquaintance in response:

PR: My bottomless self-doubt has paralysed blogging for the time not-being!
SB: Odd, how self-doubt cycles through us. When it’s gone, writing can be very very good; yet when it is upon us, all is horrid.
PR: Indeed, not only horrid, but self-perpetuating! Right now I am not a writer any more, and it’s like losing my identity! Where did I go, and was it all illusory, all along?

It is now clear, in the context of today’s prompt, how to define my superpower! To come and go as writer-illusionist. Sometimes writing is strong, powerful, has a will of its own. Other times, it is timid, shy, refusing to show itself. And since words are my identity, I must meekly follow along. Now you see me, now you don’t.

creative impulse


credit – panoramio

I love Brain Pickings. If you are not familiar with it, go to it directly. Well, read this first – THEN go. Because you’ll want to read what Patti Smith remembers of her first creative impulse. Reading her words transported me back to my own first stirrings of creative curiosity.

In Patti’s wonderful words:

Swan, my mother said, sensing my excitement. It pattered the bright water, flapping its great wings, and lifted into the sky.

The word alone hardly attested to its magnificence nor conveyed the emotion it produced. The sight of it generated an urge I had no words for, a desire to speak of the swan, to say something of its whiteness, the explosive nature of its movement, and the slow beating of its wings.

In my case, it was an old, battered and deserted boat on a beach in Provincetown, MA. I was eight or nine. The entire incident would have been lost to memory were it not for my grandmother, an educated woman far ahead of her time and an enormous influence on my growing-up years. She encouraged my childish words to the point of getting it published somewhere. I no longer have any scrap of the original – even a copy – due to multiple moves, floods and lost boxes over the decades.

I do however recall the opening lines:

‘And of the wonders by the sea
the old wrecked ship holds you and me
in mystery.

What magic powers do ships possess
lying beached, showing lost distress?
As if that power has but to say
‘go see the ship, I’ll have my way,’
we go …’

Recalling these words, that image, the (indescribable) feelings of then layered atop the soul-feeding experience of now – living by that same sea many weeks of the year – I am struck by still more veins of truth. How curious I have always been. How driven to create, use my hands in service to beauty, to invention, to capturing moments and connections. How long it took me to tumble to my need to write as a way into myself; and equally, as a way out to others. How long it took to value that need and its attendant requirements for solitude, down-time – all the apologies I have lived defending those things that, I now understand, are who I am and what I need.

My invitation to you, today, is this: give in to that ‘twinge, curious yearning imperceptible’ to others. Intercept it on your own behalf, in whatever form or medium speaks to you. Give in to a creative impulse.