baby’s first sea urchin

April 13th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

Screen Shot 2020-04-13 at 12.37.52 AM

 

Not all plankton wander for life. Some of us grow up, get sessile or rove a home cove. Right now the quarantine feels like a tight hug. So far I have been able to relax somewhat into the reduced circumstance, as there’s no where I’d rather be. There are many, many stressors right now, but I feel grateful to at least not be straining against the travel restriction.

 

visible repair

January 8th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

“Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in.”

Leonard Cohen

Two posts ago, I had just left the boat and had just arrived home. Home was Pittsburgh, New York and Georgia, which is to say that arriving home was no simple feat, and is still, in a way, happening.

In an attempt to think things through and hear some type of inner voice (and also, quite frankly, to absorb a portion of the sudden homelessness I was experiencing), I did a work-stay at a retreat center in upstate NY. The first snow of the winter came the day after I arrived, and I spent my time there shoveling snow as an “active meditation”. Between shoveling shifts, us workers could attend the meditation and mealtime activities, and co-mingle with the visitors, staff and full-time devotees. I was an interloper, just blending in, and I sat my cafeteria tray down in the rustic dining hall to a new group of stranger-comrades every day.

If there is one thing I can do, it is strike up a conversation with a stranger. It’s really just as easy as asking a question and then letting the other person answer for awhile. One evening I asked a dinner companion about his jacket – it was a heavily embroidered denim coat, tidy but also heavily worked, practically rendered. My hands drifted to my knees, feeling the satin patches on my jeans, stitched and re-stiched over the years with golden thread.

He appreciated my noticing the coat – “It’s visible repair!”, we said in unison. I showed him my jeans.

Visible repair is what you do when you are too stingy or nostalgic to let your belongings die of natural causes. On the boat, we were both. In Japan, sashiko embroidery in the style of high-contrast “little stabs” is used for boro, the patching up of tattered but valued material. On the Indian subcontinent, saris are recycled into blankets and cushions through kantha. Closer to home, industrious folx convert favorite scraps into quilts. His jacket was a calico denim blazer, in the sashiko-boro style. I remember the texture, as I ran my hand down the sleeve.

Your favorite soup bowl, accidentally dropped, may be repaired with gold powder, the walls around you with mosaic, colorful plastic blocks, or a lovely hunk of nature within reach. Accidents and erosion become the opportunity for artful care-taking.

So much of me right now is under repair. Sometimes I don’t know if there is enough textile for the stitches to bite. How much of me is me vs. the repair? Will I come out rough or smooth? In the groggy meanwhile I float above the operating table, hoping for this extended surgical procedure to take. If there is any lesson from my time under fiberglass, it is that everything is fixable.

year in rear-view

January 3rd, 2020 § 1 comment § permalink

Last year I took more selfies than in the previous 42 years of my life combined. Just checking out who is there, every day, what is this amalgam of particles at any given moment and how are they/we reflecting light? I wasn’t sure I would come back to this place of wanting to write here, and I had almost chucked it. Then…

About two weeks ago I started writing. Furiously! Like in a fever! Since this came over me I have been pawing at backs of envelopes, half-used legal pads, newly-nested folders on my laptop. If you have seen me in the past two weeks I have most likely asked you for a pen, pencil or paper.

But you haven’t seen me, have you? I haven’t been around. I myself am not privy to my precise location at all times. It is in the looking that one scoots away. Like that old butterscotch candy deep down in your bag, fishing around for it drives it deeper down through the tear in the lining, elusive.

Elusive and a bit sketchy. It has been a year! Everyone is going on about the decade and I am like hey now, can we just pause a bit and digest the year? It was a big bite. Bitter pill, just desserts, and ultimately just what the doctor ordered. Elusive and a bit sketchy.

So what now of me, here, where ever this is? Its time for JUBILEE. If the bags feel too heavy, set them down. If emotions become weapons, trade them for ploughshares. If you’ve been busy counting all the beans, cut it out already and plant them. I’m the one to talk, I’ve spent too long on trying to be seen as right and good. Enough, enough, enough. It matters less what you can give me/what I can give to you, and more what we build here in this time together. Is it peaceful? Is it beautiful? Fun? Does it just generate more transactions or does it build a nest, an ark, a space that grows and holds us all? Is it the ever sketchy and elusive “enough”?