While sheltering-in-place, our neighbors have been giving us gifts of food. Keeping our current neighborly distance, they place goodies in a fabric bag hanging on the fence, and we endeavor to return equally, or somewhat, but I’m not sure we can equal the gift of today from Portside Bakery Pop Up in Sausalito. Yum!!
I wake at 3, rise at 4, meditate with “Little Sweetie”, Bella, our cat.
Last night I began reading a book on the influence of classical Chinese poetry on this country.
I’m struck by this quote by Henry David Thoreau, in Walden, in 1854.
“They say that characters were engraven on the bathing tub of King Tching Thang to this effect: “Renew thyself completely each day; do it again, and again, and forever again.” I can understand that. Morning brings back the heroic ages. “
I check out King Tching Thang who was born in 1748 and died in 1798. He was King of Manipur, a state in Northeastern India from 1759-1762 and 1763 to 1798.
I think now of the poem Ozymandias –
I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.“
And so I travel to Brian Doyle and his book One Long River of Song which begins:
“Consider the hummingbird for a long moment. A hummingbird’s heart beats ten times a second. A hummingbird’s heart is the size of a pencil eraser. A hummingbird’s heart is a lot of the hummingbird. Joyas voladoras, flying jewels, the first white explorers in the Americas called them, and the white men had never seen such creatures, for hummingbirds came into the world only in the Americas, nowhere else in the universe, more than three hundred species of them whirring and zooming and nectaring in hummer time zones nine times removed from ours, their hearts hammerging faster than we could clearly hear if we pressed our elephantine ears to their infinitesimal chests.
Each one visits a thousand flowers a day. They can dive at sixty miles an hour. They can fly backward. They can fly more than five hundred miles without pausing to rest.”
We humans perhaps do the same with our minds, and now is the time for us to come together and unite to save as many people as we can, as we recognize the global rounding which brings our senses together in shared breath.
I believe this uniting, this renewing cleanse, requires a deeper recognition that the current leadership in the U.S. is corrupt, incompetent, and inept.
Here’s Heather Cox Richardson reporting on yesterday:
It’s April Fool’s Day though today is no joke. It’s also the beginning of poetry month.
Enchanted with stones and poems, I combine two of my favorite things.
The poem is by Charles Simic.
Go inside a stone
That would be my way.
Let somebody else become a dove
Or gnash with a tiger’s tooth.
I am happy to be a stone.
From the outside the stone is a riddle:
No one knows how to answer it.
Yet within, it must be cool and quiet
Even though a cow steps on it full weight,
Even though a child throws it in a river;
The stone sinks, slow, unperturbed
To the river bottom
Where the fishes come to knock on it
I have seen sparks fly out
When two stones are rubbed,
So perhaps it is not dark inside after all;
Perhaps there is a moon shining
From somewhere, as though behind a hill—
Just enough light to make out
The strange writings, the star-charts
On the inner walls.
Though we’ve been sheltered-in-place, it’s felt a bit like a lark, but now another month, and the reality of our household as independent is clear. Do we have enough cat food? That’s the big question as they look at us with huge eyes, and say we are here to comfort, and all we ask is a little food, well, sometimes a lot of food. They go in and out on consumption.
I don’t know what to say but this gives a lift, a gift of laughter and tears.
And there’s this poem by Martha Postlewaite.
Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worth of rescue.
― Martha Postlewaite
My son is incredulous. You spent 18 minutes watching a porcupine at the Cincinnati Zoo? Yes, I inform him, and though it’s for kids, adults, too, can send in a creative project showing what they learned.
“What did you learn,” he asks, adult now to my child. “I learned how cute they are, how curious, and how even in a safe environment, they might feel fear and lift their quills. They can’t shoot their quills, and they need interaction. They love to climb and this little guy had to learn how to use his tail as a fifth leg. Mainly I saw how much we and porcupines need and love stimulation.”
I point out to my son that he has the joy of being sheltered-in-place with his adorable five and a half month old son. He is stimulated. I want to learn something new every day too.
Mainly though I’m grateful for the gift of being able to shelter-in-place. I understand that travel from our country has infected people in other countries. A doctor in India points out that many people there, and here, too, of course, have no ability to socially isolate or sanitize their hands.
I’m a person of privilege, and I know and appreciate it. I Face Time with my sons and grandson every day, and yet, even so, or maybe because of it, I enjoy watching the Jellies at the Monterey Bay aquarium, and reading about Orangutans playing with otters at a zoo in Belgium, and seeing a porcupine explore his human-created environment.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, a five star general who not only served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe during WWII, but was also president of the United States from 1953 to 1961 said that: Leadership consists of nothing but taking responsibility for everything that goes wrong and giving your subordinates credit for everything that goes well.
Imagine if we had that kind of leadership now, and yet this requires each of us to wake up and enter into responsibility for our lives and responses. Our Interdependence is clear, and we thrive on interaction, touch, stimulation, connection, and Love!!
I’ve read many books on coming to slowness. I came to slowness when I trekked in Nepal, and when I went through chemotherapy and radiation, and when I broke bones in both my feet and couldn’t walk. Slowness. Stillness.
It’s so still here this morning the wind chimes hang, no sound. The trees and clouds are so still I feel like I’m living in a matte painting. A friend says to view this time of sheltering-in-place as being on a retreat. Yes.
Anne Lamott writes, Peace is joy at rest and joy is peace on its feet.
In this moment, I’m peace listening to the twitter of birds while all seems still.
When my children were young and at home, I savored cooking, made homemade soups, and baked bread and desserts. Then, we realized two people cannot realistically consume what a family of four might, especially when it’s been more, when you include extra children and friends, so with the current proliferation of prepared foods, cooking has become minimal.
Now, as we shelter in place, cooking is again an appreciated and celebrated gift. We discuss our meals with intensity. I cook in quantity, and freeze, something I’d stopped doing when our power was out for five days in the fall, and we lost everything in our freezer and refrigerator.
Now our lives swing around food, and when this is over, we may need to swing from very strong trees so they don’t break.
Like toilet paper, food right now, is gold. Today I made broth for soup, cooking chicken, carrots, celery, onion, ginger, and lemons for hours. After straining, I froze some of the golden elixir and some will become soup. The chicken awaits.
This care and presence reminds me of water rationing. Where I live, we are dependent on our reservoirs, so when it doesn’t rain water is rationed. Buckets are placed in the shower. The water is used to flush the toilet. Nothing is wasted, and again there’s a gift in noticing and honoring what flows through our pipes.
Recently we watched the movie A Hidden Life. The movie is beautiful and intense so we watched it in two nights. It shows the beauty, work, and wonder of being a farmer, of procuring food, milking cows, gathering eggs, growing cabbages and wheat. It also shows what a family endures for their values, ethics, and deep inner knowing of truth. Where does each of us stand? How much can we endure? Do we give way, or not?
The movie moves through me as does my life right now. I am a colander, strainer, sieve. The only way I can handle what keeps coming is to allow movement through. I stand, like a sprinkler, in flow and release.