June 2009 ARCHIVE
On being…

Some days my back pain is so fierce, so demanding, that I dissolve into it. On these pain-black days, all I do is suffer. Pain wipes me out. I know the exercises, I know the drill. But pain consumes my mind. These are pain-black days frailty consumes me. The stress is very embarrassing at my semi-mature age.
Most days, my “teeter-totter” is my solace. It is my first line of defense. I hang upside down so often that my office has been named, “The Bat Cave.” It is my best toy; I balance the board horizontally and take a nap. I can watch television upside down. Other times, I close my eyes to dream that swinging in the air. The swing is tied to the large tree limb with gnarled roots that trace across the ground. I am standing up in the swing, pumping towards the sky. I am young. I am home in Shuffletown.
Then a black day occurs and sometimes, lingers. It seems to steal my soul. Recently, I just gave in to the pain-black days. Now, this is where I spend most of my days are pain-black.
In this battle against pain. It becomes so easy to surrender. The mere thought of movement hurts. Then, I wade into that ever-constant, ever-seeking, river of pain.
To my astonishment, I fell out of my chair last week. I broke nothing, but it jolted me into actually listening, once again, to good advice. I was lost in pain and the strain was visible. Some, say that I begun each time I move.
I broke out the heating pad, blanket, and pillow. I spent three days stretched out on the couch or in my astronaut chair. I removed all conscious and subconscious demands on myself. I allowed myself to rest. I took an interlude. Consciously, I listened to good advice and took it to heart.
I stepped away from the hurt, gave myself breathing space and observed my pain, respected it. Inside my mind on the great stage of daydreams, I took a deep breath and blew all troubles away, I watched it all float away into a far, far universe away from me. I discovered when I have rested, I make better judgments…better choices. It is like waking to sunrise. You will find Spirit in rest.
Still. “It is what it is,” as a friend of mine says, Day follows day, but she and I know a secret. It is not what ails that matters. It is a given. It is how I live, for now, among these days. It is how I chose to live my life that matters. This is up to me, only me. I will count sunrises.

First Day

This is a strange choice for an example of what I consider a most sacred moment. I am not a basket ball fan. Still, this past Sunday, I was passing through the living room while Lee was watching the LA Lakers play Orlando. Since, the living room television is in high definition, I paused to watch.

It was then that a basketball player tossed a ball through a basket. As in a ballet, from finger-tips to toes, his body aligned with the trajectory with the ball, the goal… the stars. It that moment, I saw the grace and beauty of the human body that all artists have tried to capture. It was a wondrous sight.

In perfect stillness, his body lifted from earth disturbing only air, one with his desire, within and without. Nothing else existed. Until the ball slapped through the net, I held my breath.

“Look, look,” I said, “he just touched God.”

It is the moment a writer finds the right word, the moment an athlete excels, the moment of birth, the completion of an objective, a project is completed. This moment of miracles belongs only to the achiever. It is a personal miracle, a momentary awareness of all that is possible.

Daydreams Do Not Age

Great Aunt Ella once told me a secret that I believe she had kept to herself for a life-time. Late on a summer afternoon during a visit in which we were recalling old times, she leaned towards me and said, “I do not recall the year, but it was when they were building a new Rozzelles Ferry bridge by my grandparents inn. I was young and the war was a long time past. I was the first generation born after the Civil War.

We keep our daydreams inside a Cupid’s heart shaped porcelain box in the gables of our minds.

The bridge the government was replacing was burned by Stoneman’s Raiders in April 1865. After the bridge was burned; my poppa and grandfather began to ferry people across the Catawba River like our family had done since the mid-1700s. It was good to work, again, at the family trade. We were ferrymen.

“In that mess of Reconstruction,” she continued, “it was years before a new bridge was erected across the Catawba River. At noon, we rang the bell for them to come to dinner. It took a bunch of carpenters and laborers to build the bridge. They were all from different places. There were tall men, skinny men, laughing men, fat men, men who scared me on sight, foreigners, grumblers, and Yankees. Two young men wore their Yankee fathers’ blue uniforms. They expected us to bow and whine before them. I disliked them most. All those men from every where in the world could do some talking. Those men could do sure eat. I heard my first cuss words that summer.

“It took all of us to feed them in the time allotted. Polly, Cousin Ella, Grandmother Anne, my mom, Great Grandmother Elizabeth and me; we fed them as fast as we could. I have never forgotten that summer. I made a painting of the new bridge when it was finished. It is hanging in the dining room.”

Great Aunt Ella sat back in her embroidered chair; her grey hair rested upon a hand-crocheted doily across the back of the chair. Then, she took a deep breath, leaned forward, and, quickly said, “During that time, there was a good-looking Greek man. He liked to tease me and to make me laugh. Once, he touched my hair. When the bridge was finished, he asked me to marry him.”

In that moment, Great Aunt Ella was well into her eighth decade, but her eyes sparkled like someone’s sweetheart. Her blue eyes reflected a kaleidoscope of fantasies and daydreams where an exotic stranger dwells.

Like an unrequited love, daydreams do not age. Daydreams are never bruised by reality. We keep our daydreams inside a Cupid’s heart shaped porcelain box in the gables of our minds. Daydreams are our own personal, shiny ornaments. Daydreams often spring from paths not taken. That moment of youth, laughter remembered, and boys.
“How exciting,” I said, as I took her small hand, “what did he look like?” Great Aunt Ella blushed. Then, we laughed at it all…as women do.

In that moment, it was easy to imagine her in a long dress with a ruffled hem; she is wearing long white stockings beneath her dress and petticoats. Her long blonde hair is tied back with a ribbon; she is sitting in one of the many white rocking chairs that lined the Inn’s front porch. An exotic stranger, a golden-tanned Greek approaches. He wears a necklace around his neck. It is an orthodox cross stung on a coarse string. He winks at her when he passes and she drops her gaze towards the ground. I know she was blushing for she is still blushing these many years later. But she is pleased…like all young, pretty, and unwed sweethearts. But, she was a proper lady and her parents would never have tolerated such thoughts.

Life was good to Great Aunt Ella. She married a wonderful hard-working man and lived happily and, as far as I know, happily ever after. During her lifetime she nurtured a loving family. She lived to know her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren. But, Great Aunt Ella died before I married a Greek.

Maybe it is better that way, for I would have brought disillusion. I would have harmed her and her daydreams. On that afternoon, I wish I had made arrangements for the two of us to sail to Greece. The beauty would have swept her away. Sometimes, it is better to only daydream about temptations. We all need our day-dreams.