Farewell

Nine years ago we built a tree fort.  My oldest son started the project. His younger brother and I join in. The three of us finished it together.  Nestled in a towering Maple tree it made for a great lookout, outdoor cafe, and hideaway.  

Today I dismantled the weathered, and in some areas rotting lumber and slowly but surely landed all the pieces without knocking my ladder out from under me.

It finally hit me.  The removal of the tree fort was symbolic in that today my youngest leaves home for college.  As I removed screws, cut straps, and pried free the old timber I was overcome with the realization that an era had come to an end, and going forward life will be changed.

Fare thee well on the adventures of your choosing you wonderful souls.

Metamorphosis

We are who we are, but only for an infinitesimal moment. Change may be happening, if we’re lucky. So we are who we are, but we’re not who we were. Not exactly.

Things that have “always” mattered, at some point stop mattering.  We may even pride ourselves on “consistency,” which is commonly held to be admirable but is ultimately impossible.  Perhaps it is for the better that consistency is at best a steadied mirage.  Immutability can be comforting, but in its soil, nothing grows.  

So we are who we are.  On a journey that may deliver growth, or abdication, or triumph, or discontent; more likely a combination of some or all of them.  At the moment of experiencing any of these possibilities we find ourselves to be “who we are.”  

Comfort can be found in the notion that “who we are” is but a momentary flash between who we were, and who we are yet to be.

Deep Down

Deep down, everyone wants to feel loved. It doesn’t seem like a big ask.

Oftentimes, facing our own history, unraveling it, then making peace with it in the present is a necessary first step. 

Gazing into the mirror we unknowingly ask, and answer a question in silence, “Am I lovable?”  

This unspoken answer serves as subliminal instruction for all those we come across in this lifetime.

Phosphorescence

Starry starry night.  Raging infernos casting tiny lights across the night sky.  Cool to our eyes they are, but at their cores emotionless, cataclysmic turmoil roils to near infinity.  All that they may exist and, that others who exist may experience their communal gathering as a hunter, a scorpion, a ram or a guiding light to the north.

So much energy, so much creation, so much destruction, and for what?  Is it better to burn out than to fade away?  Perhaps.  The life of a star is predictable, like the life of a human.  Birth, growth, temporary stability and ultimately death.

Light from without, a star, in our galaxy, the sun, draws the eye, warms the flesh, and the soul.

What about light from within?  Is it a myth?  Surely not as many have documented their experience of it in song and prose.  If we’ve never felt it how can it be found?  Once found how can it be sustained.  Is this inner light like that of a star; explosive, tumultuous, destined to consume itself?  At times this would seem the case.

When a fire ignites it may burn white hot, for a time, but like all fires it is destined to run its course.  Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

Out of the ashes of many fires may come a new perspective on the nature of what it means to bring light to one’s life.  Perhaps the raging of a sun doomed to extinguish becomes a burden.  Perhaps instead the desire for light, or meaning, sheds the thought of creation through destruction, and instead leans into a less brilliant yet more sustainable goal.  In this desire for light without conflict we may in time become phosphorescent.

Impressions

Impressions made by that or those who are no longer with us claim a homestead in memory. The aroma of perfume. The furrowed shape left on a pillow. The now absent sound of laughter, breath, words, or shared silence. These empty spaces are footprints on a rain-soaked path in late spring. When the rains subside, the touch points left by those who traveled leave whispers. As summer comes on, these impressions are set in our memories by sun rays of connectedness and loss.

Growth

If one is making progress toward a given goal, no matter how slowly, self-affirmation is due in abundance. If one has a goal but is making no progress toward it, both the aim and the reasons for lack of progress are to be called into question. If one has no goals, yet lives with discontent, the reason, however elusive, is ultimately self. If one has no goals and lives in bliss, then all steps of the ladder of life lay behind them.

A Moment

The past is just that.

The future is a mystery.

The present is you, and me and all the rest, fleeting, precious, open to being embraced.

We carry the sum of our experiences in the vessel of memory.

We imagine the future in the vessel of hope.

We honor the present by knowing it fully, in becoming the vessel itself each and every moment. We become the witness, and if so inclined, the fountainhead of gratitude for all we could easily if accidentally take for granted.

 

#formyfirstbornonturning20

 

Identity

Who we are is a concept. We are an idea forged in a cauldron into which we’ve poured our experiences, our reactions to those experiences, and spiced with a pinch independent action born of will (if we are so lucky). We make rules, set boundaries, claim ideals and call the outcome “self.”

Self-definition gives us strength, purpose, and focus. It may also give us rigidity, blindspots, fear of the unknown and ultimately weakness in the face of the ever-changing landscape of life marching on around us. Taking a stand is highly regarded in our culture. Flexibility, agility, and open-mindedness make for what some may call “indecision.” However, if my many years on a surfboard is any indication, taking a firm stand while riding a wave may well lead to drowning. This is not to say that abandoning principle is the goal. Rather it is to say that allowing for principle to be fluid and open to new information creates an opportunity for growth within the realm of that we at each moment believe to be right. Being trampled by one’s own dogma is not uncommon; nor is it a glamorous way to go.

Understanding of an everchanging world requires an elasticity of one’s point of view. Static mindsets limit the opportunity for personal evolution and so endanger relevance. “Knowing who we are,” is a healthy survival tool. It both differentiates and bonds us to portions of the spectrum of the world views that confront us. That said, knowing who we are, if not a work in progress, agile and open to at least reviewing information that runs counter to our present beliefs may well catch us unaware in the grip of a storm and take us to the depths chained to the anchor of identity.

 

Unraveling

Morning dew drops hang glistening on the vine leaves. The summer sunrise sparkles in them like prismatic starlight. Skyward has grown the vine in its natural way. Clinging, climbing, and encircling the trunk and limbs of the old oak tree. It is natural for the tree to grow, to reach for the sky. The vine, too, follows its calling to ascend, chasing the sunlight on the wings of the tree. The relationship is beneficial indeed for the vine initially but will inevitably bring calamity to both as the tree is constricted, ultimately to the point of collapse.

The vines of thought and action grow similarly in our lives, and may ultimately choke both mind and body to the point of decrepitude. Unconscious behavior patterns, habits, and beliefs take hold and left unchecked can control or cripple their host. These vines of thought, conscious or not, take on a life of their own. At one point, they may have served us well, may have been too pretty to cut, glistening in the morning dew. But as they deepen their grip, they are capable of distorting or debilitating the heart and soul of a being.

Finding our concept of self in the mirror is one thing. Seeing the inner, ever creeping patterns that twist and shape within us, forming the person only we do not see, is quite another. Left untended, we like the trees in the wild woods, run the risk of becoming misshapen over time, even broken, by that which once seemed harmless and small.

Sensing imbalance, a pull to the unhealthy, chronic discomfort in mind or body are all clues to the presence of these binds within. The human body and mind ache for freedom from pain, constriction, and servitude. All vines have a beginning. They have roots. These can be found (if we dare to face the less flattering interpretation of ourselves). There, at the source, the cutting and digging up of that which does not serve us may begin. As the loss of sustenance suffuses the severed unhealthy physical and ideological tendrils, they lose their power and eventually fall away. We see freedom glistening in the summer morning dew as the binds of a lifetime begin their unraveling.

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