I have been seeking words for birdsong pouring full-throttled from small feathered throats pulsating strands of layered tone neither drifting nor wafting but tumbling, lifting, braiding rhythmic clarity that spring is not arriving but here anticipating unencumbered walks into coatless sun.
Emerged from winter’s dark over-long cold, I unwrap the fur pelt, stretch heart to warming sun grateful for the open sky of birdsong returning after long silence, rising free on nature’s urgent rhythms.
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.
I love the concept of the new growing in the shell of the old. It’s the language of transformation. And the age-old reality of life. Which is what I’ve been focused on very intently for the past many months.
Full Circle Festival is just around the corner in Burlington VT, the first-ever festival to celebrate the heart and art of aging. We have an incredible line-up of dance, music, poetry, story-telling, art shows and talks, panel discussions, fitness, comedy, food demonstrations and interactive activities for the whole multi-generational family. Starting with one of my favorite poets, Naomi Shihab Nye giving the keynote on Friday night, April 11th.
While I have been gathering images, wise and witty sayings, and inspirational stories of creativity in the elderly (which, by the way, almost guarantees long and happy life, seriously!) to engender interest on the facebook page, I have noticed how all around me this simple perennial process is happening.
Yesterday, while staring idly out my kitchen window, I realized that the fat robin resting on the railing in the sun had just recycled the holiday berries lingering in the windowbox among fading greens and twigs. Making something new from the shell of the old!
I think of Gandhi who said/he might never have become
an activist for nonviolence/if the neighbor boys had not
beaten him up. – Naomi Shihab Nye, from ‘Communication Skills’ in Honeybees