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Monday, April 30, 2012

Roots and Buds

There's a television series on PBS that I've found lately called Finding Your Roots. It is quite amazing to see how possible it is today to look into old records and examine DNA samples to find our connections, even hundreds of years back. I have a friend who's given up the better part of her retirement to such research and documentation for her children and for the fun of it. More power to her. I've considered going down that path myself and must admit some fascination with the idea, but in the end I've dissuaded myself with the argument, Does it really matter? Outside of small doses of bragging points to bring up in conversations the subject is so exhaustive it seems to me like setting out to eat a ton of cookies because a few taste so good. No matter where one root leads, it is, after all, only one root. Think of the ones I'd not trace!

Think again of the new buds coming out on my tree's branches and the ones that lie dormant, awaiting birth. How many of these! Someday they, too, will be classified as "roots." And then there are dead ends where families lose their name because no male heir is there to carry it on. No, the fascination of all this is undeniable, but does not compel me to spend my remaining years sifting the sands of generations past.

There is, however, another research that I find compelling. It is the delving into questions such as: What am I? Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? And not only the "I" of me but also the "I" of all mankind. Sometimes I think I've picked a more difficult quest in this than the tracing of my ancestry. Still, the answers, I feel, are more accessible in the ether than in the musty halls of statistical records. I believe the answers to every question lie within us as surely as the roots and buds of a tree. But they are accessible only by looking outside the tree, outside ourselves. Connection with Truth should be as natural as breath but the curiosity to explore Truth is a more calculated effort.

I love the family stories I know and have learned first hand. I'm working on getting them down on paper for my children, but these are enough for me. Like the one great grandparent I knew in person when I was between five and ten. He was real to me and I was not, like some of the cousins, content to let him sit in his rocker and smoke White Owl cigars while looking out over the room with blue eyes that spoke but did not see. I had to talk to him, hear stories from him of his own childhood, know how he came to this country as a boy and grew up to own a team of oxen that broke ground for new settlers and carried heavy loads of supplies from the Mississippi River towns to the tiny towns of southeastern Minnesota. How he slept under his wagon on those long treks. And now that I tell of this I realize how very little I really knew him, how much more I could learn of his life and wisdom if I had known him better. How did he meet Great Grandma Pulford? What was there about her that attracted him?

Great Grandpa Thomas Pulford was only one of four great grandfathers. There were four great grandmothers too. Can't you see how books could be written of all of them?

In their little beds lie five great grandchildren of mine. Life is so rich and full when you're a child you hardly have time to be interested in great grandies except for hugs and kisses and maybe a treat or two. On my family tree there is plenty of fruit to enjoy for today. The roots are there and they did their part. The buds are already here and on the way. They will do their part. But I am content to let the roots stay underground in restful contemplation and the buds not yet burst to gather up their dreams until their days of awaking. As for me, today is enough. My favorite author, Mary Baker Eddy put it best.

 "To those leaning on the sustaining Infinite, today is big with blessings."
                                                                                                                                (Science & Health with Key to the Scriptures)

Friday, April 27, 2012

This Mother Sings!

When someone asks, “What do you do?” I have to stop and think. How can I enumerate all the large and little tasks I do each day? Under what title does my name preside? I have to answer, “I celebrate the role of motherhood in big ways and housekeeping in little ways.”

Now that I’m not just a mother and grandmother, but a great-grandmother, I can say I do that with great satisfaction. How something so native, so natural, could evolve into such magnificence is more than I dare take three ounces of credit for. So, I just celebrate the wonder, the joy, the tears, the miracle of motherhood past, present and future, and give humble gratitude for my modestly homey home. 

I’m not one to brag, though I’ll merely say my children have done me proud. They have had, and are still having, exceptional careers in the arenas of aviation, (Wally), invention, (David), and art, (Robin.) And I have been their cheerleader since the moment I knew they were due to be born. I celebrate them, their dear spouses, and their beautiful, talented offspring every day of my life. 

“But what do you do with yourself aside from that?” one may ask. Well, I dabble. (dabble: to play, dip or paddle in water; to do something superficially.) Of motherhood I can take pride. Of the otherwise accomplishments in life, I hardly think dabbling is something to take pride in. But of these things I can credit myself, -  
1. gratitude; 2. appreciation;  3. lovingness.

In these I am much like Tommy, my canary. I am a caged bird with fantasies of flight beyond imagination. But I love the security of my “cage.” That would be my home. Tommy has the corner windows of my kitchen where he can enjoy a woodsy, watery view of what life might have held for him under different circumstances, but does he sulk over that? No, he sings!  Does he despair that he has not had more to do of consequence than eat, drink, and sing?  No, he takes great satisfaction in his role. Does he miss others of his kind? Maybe, but he can come back to his little mirror and chat any time of day. And I am quite sure he can dream. 

I, too, have a prime view of life all over the world and at my doorstep through books, travel, television and the Internet, which is as far as anyone can observe superficially. My chances for greater accomplishments are not exactly closed doors, but sentinels awaiting my decision to enter. One day I will, but which door, which promise beyond, which time to go through? These can wait. Today I have things to do. Small household tasks which, if not done, would brand me as slovenly. Personal grooming attentions which make me presentable to others and allow me to be forgetful of myself. I have bills to pay, papers to file, reading to do, errands to run, housekeeping, and where in all this does honor lie? 

Ah, there is the rub! In my advanced years I have no claim of my own to fame or fortune. Not that these are essential. But what grand contribution to society have I made? I guess you might say I’ve played a supporting role in life and have not been too burdened by the need to compete or excel in anything but those three qualifications above. They’ll have to be enough.

On Facebook I read of family preparations for an up-coming celebration. Funny, they have not been directed to me, but there is no doubt they are aimed to be for me. A pot luck dinner, a gathering of children, grown and growing. A day I have not been able to honor my own dear mother in since I turned fourteen, except in memoriam. Now I share the honors with my daughter, daughters-in-law, and even granddaughters. It will soon be Mothers’ Day.

I, like Tommy the canary, will not try to justify myself in what I’ve accomplished. I’ll just go on doing what I do best, being grateful, appreciative, and loving. These may not make headlines or draw wide praise, but who cares? They are enough to make me one happy “Mom” and housekeeper the rest of my life! 

And, oh yes, although I can’t begin to compete with Tommy,  I can still SING! 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My Big Bang Theory

I know I shall never persuade the Big Bang theorists of much of what I'm about to write, but I do know this: whoever, whatever, is true will be revealed in due time and that time can be at any moment for anyone. I think, too, that although a moment of truth may come like a big bang of sudden understanding to any one of us, it does not come at the same moment to all of us. Individually, it may seem like a bright and shining star. Collectively, it comes as gradually as the dawn of a new day.

If I may be so presumptive as to challenge the Big Bang theorists, I think they are in the wrong business. That is, they start from the assumption that you can reason out from the premise of what is seen, felt, proven, by physical sense testimony or empirical knowledge. Working with what they seem to know seems logical and yet what can a drop of water reveal about clouds and oceans? What can a candy heart say about affection? I think the physicists should get off their empirical pedestals and come back to Mind, not matter, as the one basic ground to build on. Theory, and even theology to some extent, start from brain. Fact starts from something outside the perimeters of brain, blood, bones, etc. just as intelligence starts from something more than a computer. I submit we should start with the subjective rather than the objective.

Maybe then we could realize that intelligence is universal, not something to be doled out in a classroom. Oh, classrooms can be useful in tracing history, promoting invention, exercising reason, but it takes more than the brain to reveal reality.

So, getting back to the Big Bang, I say a big bang takes place every day whenever someone leaps out of his skin and sees something spectacular that is entirely different from his former presumptions and says, "This is the truth!" Just as there is a world beyond the womb, a universe beyond our vision, an origin and ultimate of Being that is nothing less than infinitely perfect, so we should start there rather than from the one-celled conception, the sub-atomic particle. In other words, why not start from the whole rather than the part?

An old song put what I'm saying in this way, "Ah, sweet mystery of life, at last I've found you! Ah, at last I know the secret of it all, ...For it is Love and Love alone that rules the day!" From the big bang of this discovery we can reach out to find and express truths that form reality and occupy infinity. When love graduates from the personal to the universal and the ultimate answers we seek, then there's a big bang of Spirit and it can happen every day!

So, how does this relate to getting older? Only in that each day is a gift which can be put to use for more than mere perpetuation of a temporal body. Most of us have more time to think now, to start reasoning on our own and challenging the generally accepted premises we've been fed. Getting older should never result in dementia but rather in keener appreciation and discovery of good ideas. If gratitude accompanies our days, we'll have many "big bangs" along the way. We can contribute to the harmony that will come with world peace. Every right thought and deed will do that.

So, I have only this to add, Fellow seniors, Big Bangs to you today!

Friday, April 13, 2012

House of Mirrors

How odd, I thought, that whoever designed my friend's house should have put windows up near the ceiling. It was the first time I'd seen her house and as we visited I kept glancing up at those windows and wondering. The other room on the other side had a ceiling just like the room I was in and even the ceiling fan there was like the one here. Suddenly I realized, they were not windows at all but mirrors made to look like windows.

"Oh!" I interrupted our conversation, "those are mirrors!" Now, and through the years, I've tried to create that illusion by the use of mirrors in my own home. As I look around my mini-house I see more mirrors than I'd like to admit. They might seem to the newcomer like living pictures or TV screens or computer monitors. Or, they might suggest other rooms as if they were actually windows. I know I'm silly, but little mirrors are my "thing," like little lamps and little clocks. I've even placed little mirrors on my canary's and finch's cages. They seem to enjoy seeing those "birds of a feather," especially at night to cuddle down next to. I tried letting them share a cage after Freddy's mate died, but it didn't work. They wanted their own spaces, but proximity of cages was acceptable.

My mirrors don't fool me. I know there are not other rooms behind them, but they do add an aura of mystery and otherness about the house. When I pass by a mirror the "picture" moves too giving a feeling of animation to my space. I don't feel quite alone. The real window, those floor to ceiling sliding doors leading to the patio and the creek and other condos amidst tall trees and flowering shrubs, gives me a sense of community. Just enough. I'm glad my own place has relative privacy.  No walk-ways by that window, neighbors' patios not facing mine. Like my birds, they share the space but not the place, if you know what I mean. An occasional greeting and friendly sidewalk visit is enough. Like the canary and finch in their cages.

Mirrors make illusions at first glance. They suggest other rooms, other spaces, something more than they really are. And I'm wondering, is that what life is all about? Is this relatively short span we enjoy on earth a house of mirrors, suggesting other places, other persons, other thoughts? Are we, like my caged birds, happily content in our own spaces but looking out on a world of mirrors? Is there something more real out there than even the patio door can afford?

If we really do live this human story of ours in houses of mirrors, what might the outer world of outer space reveal? Are we not ready for that yet? Are we happy just to push the boundaries by wondering, by scientific  exploration, yes, even by going outside so far as we can? I applaud those brave ones who must explore beyond the comforts of home. I love to read about them, see their pictures, feel so far as possible their thrills. But I am, at least now in my advanced years, content to be a vicarious traveler. I puncture the confines of my little home with books and magazines and newspapers, and my new NOOK, and some TV. And I love to go for drives, occasional further outings, and then come home to my house of mirrors. In getting older I'm getting better at reflecting on things. I'm content to explore inner spaces of the mind and let my little home wrap its arms around me. As long as it has mirrors.

Monday, April 9, 2012

In The Meantime

I’ve just purchased two new books for my NOOK book.: Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think, by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler and The Rational Optimist, How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley. I’m eager to start reading them. 

The kinds of abundance I’m looking forward to most are abundance of time and travel. When anyone can write a book about the possibility of transcending time and space I’ll stand in line all night to buy it. But, of course, I won’t have to stand in line since I have the new NOOK book. I can simply put the name of the book in the Search box, tap on the price, and voila! it’s right there to read. When I have the time.

So, there you have it. How soon can the world and I wake up to Eternity? How long will it take to not just imagine but experience existence in a world free from the restrictions of time while at the same time using what is called time intelligently for the sake of convenience and order the way we use numbers and notes?

In the meantime I shall attend to the Must-Do’s. My calendar day is blank. That’s a first thing in my favor, but I’ve been up having breakfast and then reading for two hours. Then I got the idea for this blog, so here I am, still in my pajamas. For decency’s sake I need to dress, make my bed, do some household chores, and address the priorities of the day. I could read and write all day as if these were a nine to five job I suppose. I’d have to make room for housework, outings, walking the dog, and all the little and large interruptions a day presents. Besides reading and writing I love to play the piano and sculpt faces out of clay. The latter could become a full time career if my talents and industry and fate(?) prove to bring that about. Then I could afford to engage a real life Robatta maybe. (See Blog: My Robot, Nov. 11, 2011)

I’ve tried schedules and may try again. If they are the way to make the best use of my time and space, so be it. But if they continually remind me to work by the clock, the game is lost. Spontaneity always wins with me. No, I think I’ll just forget I have so many hours in the day, get on with what looms up as priority no. 1 and take it from there.

I don’t know how many of you out there are coping with feelings of limitations of various kinds, but I’ll venture that few of you, like myself, have transcended time and space. Maybe you and I are making a dent in these barriers though just by thinking about it.

When I get dressed and make the bed and tidy the house and walk the dog and clean the birdcages and go to the market for milk and attend to other unforeseen tasks and diversions that may come up, then I’ll get to my high priority list and maybe set about doing the things my talents and short-comings will allow. 

A current TV commercial starts out with people saying, “When I grow up I want to...” I suppose that is, after all, the answer. When I grow up I want to beat the odds against success in whatever I choose to do. I can only pray to experience abundance and optimism along the way. 

Guess I’ll get to reading those books now. After I get dressed and make the bed, and....

Monday, April 2, 2012

Old Age, Is It Good or Bad?

“There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” Who was it that first said that? I’d like to have a serious talk with him. When the title for my blog came to mind I soon realized that I’d need to do some serious PR selling on the subject that getting older is getting better. I’ve had to start with selling myself. Who’s to blame for the negatives I feel that are associated with old age? Could it be me, or is it simply tradition? Did I let down my mental guard whenever I observed others struggling with symptoms of age related problems? The halting step, the forgetful mind, the oochies and owies. For some, these are the facts of life, the news of the day. I confess, I’ve been guilty of pinning unlovely signs of old age on others and maybe those thoughts are boomeranging back to me. Even as I've joked about it I've said to myself, “But that’s not really me!”

 “You’re only as old as you feel.” That’s another thing people pass off lightly. Well, sometimes I don’t feel all that great. So I try to change my feelings but it's not always easy. If it’s true that longevity is increasing, then I say it should also be true that longevity is getting better. Many I’ve met say, “I don’t want to live to 100.” I know exactly what they mean. Yet change the terminology a little and you can call old age Advancing Years. Now that sounds better. “Advancing.” Would anyone choose not to advance?

I read about a fellow who owned a little farm. He kept working that farm well into his old age and one day someone said to him, “Joe, you’ve worked hard your whole life long. Why don’t you just retire and sit in your rocker on your front porch? Take it easy.”

His answer? “Well now, why should I do that? I never did see any sense in dyin’ before my time is come!” 

To those who profess not wanting to live to 100 I have this to say, “How old do you want to be when you die?” No one has told me they want to die this minute. My conclusion is somewhat like old Joe’s. I want to live each day with what is familiar, good, and sometimes surprisingly good. I’d rather not put up with bodily ailments but if I must, I can still be productive in ways I choose. And I can  also take time to sit and rock on my front porch. Since I’m speculating here I might as well say I’d want life, here and hereafter, to become better and better. I say to the powers that be, is that too much to ask? I’d rather think not. Maybe, just maybe, if I think about it hard enough my thinking will make it so.