Yellow crocus  in snow

Today’s WP Daily Prompt challenges me to think of the concept of ‘mask’. To me, the usual interpretation of wearing a mask entails intentionally hiding something. Keeping a cheerful countenance, for instance, to hide despair. Or appearing grim so as to hide the unbearable joy about to explode that might, in so doing, undo an important business transaction. Of course there’s also using tape to protect an area from the paint to be applied beyond it, so that you can create a crisp clean interface between the two.

But what if wearing a mask in fact works toward the reason for wearing it? Something more along the lines of ‘fake it until you make it.’ Wherein the mask itself becomes a helpful tool moving you toward the desired state. If you smile even when feeling down, you tend to elicit smiles from others. This, in turn, makes you want to smile more in response. Until, before you know it, smiling has become second-nature and a gift to all involved.

Yesterday’s surprise heavy snow — well, not all that surprising for late April in northern Vermont — masked the myriad green shoots pushing up from cold ground. Some of them I recall planting last fall. Others seem welcome interlopers. None seemed to welcome the snow that bent their just-opening faces as they sought the anticipated sun. Yet, they poked up even through the density of the surprise snow. And today it melts (as is the wont of late-season white). Those blossoms continue to exude sunny joy despite unseasonably low temperatures.

I appreciate their tenacity, their telling of the fact that winter WILL end, and soon. They testify and reassure that seasons still turn, though in oddly shifting and unpredictable patterns. Their perseverance gives me both hope and gratitude for what can emerge because — and even in spite — of masks.


getty image terrierHe’s an armchair vigilante,
posse of one, all fur and fury

signifying only
that he wants us to know

he is doing watchdogly duty
bark by yelp by frenzied yap

from the comfort of the upstairs
stuffed chair where he otherwise would nap.

WP Daily Post – and sadly, not my photo; though if I had had my camera, would have pictured his wooly head barely rising above the flowered arm of the chair whence his commotion continuously cascades down the stairs.


wayfindingI had occasion yesterday to revisit Hershey Medical Center. It is a beautifully and thoughtfully constructed facility with inner courtyards abloom with all manner of springtime color. All buildings are connected, so getting to the five-star cafeteria for a delicious salad after our appointments was easy. On the return, I found myself face-to-face with a sign I had missed on the way to lunch: “Wayfinding Map.”

Now I do appreciate good directions. Had I been unfamiliar with the layout of the buildings – which is mostly true of anyone visiting a hospital complex – I would have been most grateful for the clarity of this invitation. And, as a writer, I was struck by the underlying implications of ‘way-finding.’

For one thing, as the Cheshire Cat noted, the way you choose depends on where you want to go. So much of our lives are thusly directed. Goals abound in our culture – time, score, age, honor, place – all kinds of numbers, destinations and status toward which we are guided by all kinds of maps – curricula, degree programs, directions, advertisements, testimonials …

And yet, I couldn’t help musing, so much of our wayfinding is really far less laid out before us. AFTER the fact, we may look back and see a path or thread that pulls it all together, makes us realize the why and wherefore of one step or another choice. But a wayfinding MAP? Rarely is our life’s path so clearcut. In fact, it is often the unexpected, the detour, the mis-step that teaches and that opens the way to something we might never have imagined otherwise.

While I retain my great appreciation to Hershey Medical Center for its thoughtful and useful Wayfinding Map – and indeed many other helpful guides like well-marked street signs and exits and Google maps – for life’s general wayfinding I remain a fan of the mind and heart open to receive what comes.  Rumi says it beautifully in his wonderful poem:

The Guest House

This being human is a 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.