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.

spin – part 2

silent scream

touchdrawing by deborah koff-chapin

When I posted ‘spin – part 1 ,’ I had a long series in mind. In the days (weeks now) since, I have instead experienced a painful staunching of the throat. So filled with outrage at the sticky threads of injustice and untruth in the current political sphere (I cannot bring myself to say ‘discourse,’ though I long for it), my words have literally stuck in my throat. My hands are of no use. Everywhere I turn, I feel cliche. “Nice guys finish last.” “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” “What you don’t know, you make up.”

And I’m left holding so much inside that I cannot possibly express it all. Not in a lifetime. More to the point, I want so very desperately to DO something about all the silencing. For me, that’s what it comes down to.

One man’s spin is another’s silencing.

Images flood through me. From personal experience. From history. From popular culture… Marketers and mongers move messages. The hard workers, the deep thinkers, the ethical humanitarians, those motivated by compassion, truth and authenticity, those who understand that we are connected in this being human that we share – theirs are not the voices in the ‘news’ or the media. Meaning, it seems, is not a prime time value.

And why not? Because what actually needs to be done is not popular. Because the values that create change hold no commercial cache. Because some one needs to hold our world together while the angry ones rave. Because some of us would rather work on solving the long list of real issues facing us – ALL of us – rather than fomenting trumped-up fear by spinning the world around their own exaggerated axis.

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)

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.

headlining into the past

credit - rudylife

credit – rudylife

Know how little kids, in an attempt to wrest control from an uncertain world, cover their ears and taunt, “I’m not listening!!!” Often accompanied by a defiant stomp of the foot. Perhaps averted eyes. Definitely a stance of distance and refusal to engage.

Somehow this petulant image is what comes to mind before even reading the third headline on the New York Times front web page this morning. As if the justices, in refusing to hear Arizona’s appeal to revive the abortion law, were lined up in the classic ‘hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil’ monkey trio of my youth.

But I also lived through the years of hard-won abortion rights – we called it a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body. Just as the little kid and the justices choose not to hear. Only in this case, the choice sends women’s control over their bodies headlong into the past. Is ANYBODY listening???

Thanks to today’s WordPress Daily Prompt: to incorporate the third headline on the page of a preferred news source, in this case the New York Times, front page, into a post. It turned out to be “Justices Won’t Hear Arizona’s Appeal to Revive Abortion Law.”