Did you know that the habitable portion of the solar system where we live is actually called the Goldilocks Zone? Its not too hot, not too cold, but just right to support life forms like us. That started me to thinking, musing and well, you know.
The month of June in Southern California has run from excessive heat warnings to you better take a warm sweater with you kind of weather...and back again. There were days I thought we would never leave winter/spring behind and other days I friend proverbial eggs on the sidewalk. All in all, to be a bit prosaic, it ran hot, it ran cold, but rarely was it "just right." Where the heck is Goldilocks when you need her?
Tonight it occurred to me as I was summing up my experience of the month of June, the weather definitely reflected my personal rolly-coaster ride as far as what keeps me busy and interested. I worked like a dog at a couple estate sales with my friends at Orange Empire Estate Sales and Liquidations Then I was into the zone with my writing a few times my Inlandia workshop and the June summer salon I wrote about last time. I did my morning pages religiously, and worked on my personal memoirs and essays about my life and about my career (two separate projects). Not much in the way of photography this month, but I did do a lot for OEESL. So I guess that would be luke warm, but not just right ala Goldilocks.
All in all, it seems to even out. I think we are all a bit like Goldilocks in that if we are smart, if we have an adventurous soul, and if we are not afraid to try new things, we sooner or later find those things that are just right. And if we are very smart, we enjoy those things, savor them and then we go out again to try what might be too hot or too cold, but in the end, find what is just right for us.
And that's where I'm at right now.
Once writing has become your major vice and greatest pleasure,
only death can stop it.
Sometimes I come to my laptop, sit down, and don't have a clue as to what I want to write. The other day I was feeling inspired...it was yesterday in fact. I had been to an amazing writing salon with a young MFA graduate from UCR with whom I had taken a memoir writing class early in the spring. She is moving back east, but wanted to offer some summer salons for her students before she left. I was very excited. Just that morning, I had written a long list of blog topics I could write about...maybe even turn into personal essays for, are you sitting, publication.
For some reason I cannot recall now, I had to miss the first salon, so I was totally jazzed about attending this one. I rearranged some plans to go to a concert and even wrote something to be critiqued. As the appointed time grew near, it was not certain we would even meet. Only two of the students from the workshop were able to come. But Minda, (Minda Honey), decided we would go forward. We decided to meet at the Mission Inn's Presidential Lounge, just the three of us. And so there we were, the three of us, two of us with Margaritas and one with white wine.
Without going into too much detail. I have to say it was one of those experiences when I felt like, well, a writer. We talked content and message, word choice and tone, pace and flow. We sipped our drinks over the two hours and I felt like somewhere nearby Hemingway, Lawrence, Eliot and Fitzgerald might have been watching. Well, it my fantasies, this is what I always thought would be a part of my life as a writer.
Well, its not the Left Bank of Paris and I'm probably never gonna be a Hemingway. Not sure I want to be, at least as far as his lifestyle is concerned. I do want to write, though. And it is happening. I am a writer. Even when I am not writing, I am thinking about it. That is one of the true signs of being a writer. I am finding my own voice, in fact, I think I have found it pretty much. I imagine someone might even guess it was a piece I wrote even if my name isn't attached. Well, it could happen...
Anyway, that is where I am at. I am writing a blog about it. And that's what writers do. They write.
My father loved cherry pie. At least I think he loved cherry pie. He must have because every time I think of cherry pie and especially when I have a piece of cherry pie, I think of him. I hear his "Mmmm" in my ears as if he were there enjoying it. My mother made cherry pies now and then. She wasn't a regular at the baking thing, but I do remember helping with the lattice top crust, laying the strips carefully across, weaving the second layer in and out. It was at art. And then we'd pop it in the oven for an hour more or less. It would cool on the kitchen window sill for a while, until after dinner, when we would all have a piece with a bit of vanilla ice cream on top.
This memory comes to mind whenever I hear the song, "Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy..." At least I think it is a memory and not something my mind has created out of the bits and pieces of a rather fractured family life I had growing up.
Fact is I don't know a lot about my father's likes and dislikes. I know he was a good man who suffered from alcoholism. Because of that, he was not home a lot. Yet he went to work every day until he became so disabled he could not walk to the corner to catch the bus to go to downtown Detroit where he worked in a factory assembling shipping crates. Even then, he got himself a job with his bar buddy, Elmer, on the back of a garbage truck picking up garbage. He knew he needed to work to put food on the table and a roof over the heads of my mother, brother and I. We never went hungry for the necessities. What we lacked was the necessity of knowing my father.
I know he like to drive, and drive fast. He wrecked every car he ever owned. His younger brother confirmed this for me during one of the family vacations in the hills of Pennsylvania where we went most summers for two weeks. Even then, he didn't talk much so I never got a sense of who he really was. In those days many dads thought they needed to be silent, strong and aloof. He had a fiery temper, (his siblings did too), and that I remember well with the drunken rages and sober rants. I remember one time he was trying to do his taxes and he called the IRS to ask a question. The person on the other end of the phone either couldn't answer the question or didn't answer it. To this day I remember the crash of the received onto its cradle so hard it cracked in two.
Funny thing, I loved my dad. Even with all his fits and starts at doing anything, and never finishing much of anything, he was still my dad. And there were rare occasions he actually told me he was proud of me, like when I learned to type. He thought that was quite a skill to have. He barely made it through 8th grade...if that far. And when I graduated from college, well, he wanted to see me so badly he put on his three piece suit he had worn at my mother's funeral, boarded the train in Detroit and rode all the way to San Bernardino. When he got off and I saw him in that suit, beaming ear to ear, I knew it really didn't matter if I knew what kind of pie he liked. Maybe he had changed into the suit just before the end of the three day trip, (I hope so), but in my mind he just wanted to be sure he looked his best.
My dad died in 1991. Twenty-five years ago. We never really talked much, just brief conversations on the phone now and then. Once in a while he's say he loved me. He's say he knew I was a "good boy." I always wondered then and still wonder now how much he knew about me. But I guess that is how it is between fathers and sons sometimes. The most important thing is to know the bond is there no matter what, love is behind it and cherry pie tastes better when it reminds you of your dad.
There has been so much talk since the terrible tragedies in Paris, San Bernardino, Orlando. Throw in Sandy Hook, Tuscon, Aurora...and all the many other places that became synonymous with hate and violence run amok. Everyone is talking. But who the heck is doing anything?
Sometimes we just need to stop it all. We need to go inward. We need to listen to that still, small voice in all of us. We need to do this alone. We need to do this with our friends and our families. We need to do this at meetings, at nightclubs, at schools, at shopping malls. We need to just stop the cacophony of yammering and just listen. We need as I said already, to listen to that still small voice within each of us. Then we need to listen to the voices of those around us. Listen. That's what we need to do, what we must to do, the only thing we can to that will stop the madness.
When we are talking we cannot hear what is being said. We cannot hear the heartbeat of our surroundings. We miss the signs of what is bubbling up all around us from the murmuring springs of dissension, to the erupting volcanos of suppressed rage. It's all there plain as day. We just need to be silent a moment to hear it. The answer is within us all.
I remember hearing many years ago that you cannot legislate morality. I don't hear that said much any more. Morality is learned. We teach it to each other. Parents hopefully teach it to their children. Leaders share it with followers who respect them. Once the proverbial horse is out of the barn, though, it is difficult to bring it back. Training begins from the time the foal emerges from the mother's womb. The mother teaches it. The horse-trainer teaches it. The other horses bring the young one into line. It is not unlike a human. We all must be accountable to help the generations know that they, too, are accountable.
Practice silence. Turn off the sound of your TV. You can soon hear much more by watching the faces and gestures and postures of those speaking. You can even do this with those around you as you listen and observe in silence.
We can change the world one step at a time. That step begins with ourselves. Once we hear our inner voices, we can learn to come from a more authentic place. In being authentic, true to ourselves and others, we can truly make this world a better place, one thought at a time.