Prelude to this Post
These posts are basically somewhat like wills of the wisp: something that is impossible to get or achieve.* Or maybe a delusive or elusive goal.** I particularly like the legend described below at part of MW's description of the terms origins.
The will-o'-the-wisp is a flame-like phosphorescence caused by gases from decaying plants in marshy areas. In olden days, it was personified as "Will with the wisp," a sprite who carried a fleeting "wisp" of light. Foolish travelers were said to try to follow the light and were then led astray into the marsh. (An 18th-century fairy tale described Will as one "who bears the wispy fire to trail the swains among the mire.") The light was first known, and still also is, as ignis fatuus, which in Latin means "foolish fire." Eventually, the name will-o’-the-wisp was extended to any impractical or unattainable goal.
I can admit to it: I might be lazy. But in reality it is not just laziness, but I think my first draft should be it. It should just be perfect and just what it is. Editing? Bleh. No stinking editing for me. Publish and let the chips fall where they may...even if it is cliche riddled. When I "save" it and close it and add a picture or catchy title, I'm done. I don't want to think about it again. I lose interest. What's next? Good enough is good enough.
So I would like to think. I do to my chagrin still believe in magic.
Inevitably, though, I ask someone's opinion. Oh, dear, that can be the kiss of death or you might think so as I recoil and am devastated when the reader or reviewer says something like, "With some work, you might have something." I sigh, (to myself of course), and wish I hadn't asked. Oh that they could just say, "That is was good and they enjoyed it and they wouldn't change a thing?" Magical thinking again.
Dreamer. Lazy me. What, me work on it some more? Sigh. They're right of course. No first draft is ever perfect. This is a only first draft, far from perfect.
I like to think of myself as speaking from the heart, a free-spirited whimsical storyteller. After all, these things are basically ephemeral moments in the lives of the reader...aren't they? Great literature? I think not.
Quirky thoughts and musings come to mind. I write them down. I'm do that now. But I think often amusing and maybe even thought provoking.
Anyway, and that is my go to shrug off, whatever expression. I know really I do have some work to do. I might have something. I am not really lazy, just reluctant to wait. That bedeviling urge called "instant gratification" gets me every time. Like now. Like when I hit save and send this out. Most likely unproofed.
This image is from the home of someone who passed away sometime ago. I captured it when I was taking pictures for as estate sale, something I do as a sort of strange hobby. Anyway, it struck me when I was looking at it today that sometimes this is what happens to our memories, our souvenirs, or cherished trinkets.
My great aunt died years ago. Before she passed, she asked me to make sure all the family photos she possessed didn't end up in some antique store. That would break her heart. And it would mean that no one treasured those memories just as she had for all her 90 years. And, saddest of all, few of them were annotated, so no one would know who they were. Not until the people in these pictures shown here.
This picture evokes for me a peek into the lives of someone I never knew, never hope to know. I can only imagine their stories. That, I believe, is something good. I would only hope that my odd little treasures bring the same curiosity and perhaps inspiration to someone someday.
Someone else's memories are now in an odd way, mine.
This herd of burros were taking a pause in the heat on the ridge behind a ranch in Reche Canyon the other day. Donkeys are very social and usually live in a group called a herd. The herd is usually lead by one jack and consists of several jennies in the wild. https://www.livescience.com/54258-donkeys.html They are also called donkeys or asses.
The burros of Reche Canyon, halfway between Riverside and San Bernardino are well known to locals. As the canyon has become more and more populated, they have become more and more endangered. Yet they continue living much as they have since they were introduced to the area in the way back when.
I wondered as I watched them making their way along how they felt about the 100 degree heat we have here during the summer. I imagine them complaining just like we humans do. And I always am somewhat amused that we, as humans, are always surprised or caught off guard during the first days of high temps. Are the burro surprised?
Anyway, summer is here. Burros carry on. We retreat to our air conditioned cars and houses. And the summer does what the summer does: heat us up and drive us slightly mad. Just like mad dogs and Englishmen, we continue to go out in the noonday sun....or not.
Ever look at old photos and wonder what you were thinking? I do, but I don't have to with this pic. Picture it: San Bernardino County Admin Center. County employees called it (affectionately I think) the Taj. I am sitting there all duded up waiting to be presented to the Board of Supervisors to receive my retirement resolution certificate. No wonder I'm smiling, huh?
That was in June of 2009. I was a mere kid...at least it feels like it now. Never dreamed I'd still be kicking all these years later. Well, no, I guess I did kinda think I would, but even so, it is kind of a feat of accomplishment. I spent just days short of thirty years with the County. But it did pay off I guess.
Anyway, across the years things change and yet I look at old photos like this and wonder what I was thinking. What lay ahead? Did I do the right thing? Would I miss working? Eleven years later, I know some of the answers. And, still, here I am, still asking the same questions. What lies ahead? Am I doing the right thing? Will I miss working? LOL
I found this on a website called LoyalityLeader.com. "There's an old saying, “Smile. It increases your face value.” It also increases your success. Researchers conclude that people who frequently smile appear to be more successful than their less-happy peers in three primary areas of life: work, relationships, and health." See the original at LoyaltyLeader.com
And that's worth smiling about.
Well, it's Independence Day again and I find myself thinking of how I was born and bred to believe in the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." And now I wonder if that is slipping away. I find myself feeling that raising the flag today is not a celebration of our establishment as a democracy where all men and women are created equal. Why, then, are we still sorting that out?
Once again I debated whether I should fly my flag on this the anniversary of our declaring independence from what we deemed as oppressive regime. And early this morning, I hoisted it up once again by my front entrance. All the while I was thinking, it is my flag, my country and right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" we I celebrate along with every other American and this 244th anniversary of that day in 1776.
I listen to the current occupant in the White House speaking from Mount Rushmore and the lawn of the White Houes. I am alarmed by what he says. Inaccurate, untrue, and pandering to a base of which I am not and never can be a member.
A few years ago, I wrote: "I am thankful for waking up freer than most in a country that has more rights than most and may not be perfect, but is my home and we can agree to disagree." That is still mostly true. I realized if I didn't hoist up Old Glory, I was giving in. We cannot let the forces of darkness win. So once again, I may not celebrate as joyously this year, in part due the current pandemic raging around us, but I still claim my rights as a citizen and am thankful for what the flag has always stood for... "with liberty and justice for all."
The thought keeps rising in my mind about the idea of lost time. We've lost so much time. March, April, May...all of spring went by without the usual awakenings. Sure, nature did her thing. Flowers bloomed, fruit ripened, temperatures warmed. Some rain, some sun, some morning, some night. But what of the rites of spring? And now June has gone, too. Summer has begun. Did it "bust out all over"? If it did, I really didn't notice.
And now it is July first. Even the weather has been off. Is the corn as high as an elephant's eye? We there be firework displays in the usual places instead of every night in every neighborhood, scaring small animals and battle-scarred veterans?
I wish I had been more productive during these first months in the Time of Covid. Instead I stayed to myself, isolated, shopped online. I attended some zoom meetings with friends and church services. Little did those folks know how this became so important to me. Connection. I miss connection, I think. And freedom. I miss getting in the car and just driving somewhere. To Trader Joe's or the botanical parks or a museum. A movie. Up the coast.
Lost time. Time is never lost. It's currency is spent as we see fit. Did I waste my time? No, I don't think so. All of this has been valuable in its own way. Sometimes I felt like armageddon had come. Or perhaps the rapture. And here I was, left behind. And yet I never really despaired. I just hunkered down. I knew we would move through this season of the plague. And I still know we will.
Lost time last time lost. Lost time doesn't last and this is the last time lost time will get to me. Since we really only have the "now", how can it be that time is lost? Sure, I'm a little older, maybe a bit wiser, but I am not lost. I am emerging from the haze of spring to do what I feel called to do. I am finally enjoying time with myself, my animals, and with readers like you with whom in the virtual reality of things, are always with me.
You can't lose time. There is no last time. Time is time. And that's about it.
I was merrily writing a very serious blog about how today is the last day of the first half of this very weird and chaotic year. I had rational rationalizations, insights and ways to cope. It was really outstanding. You would have benefitted so much by reading it. Sadly, or maybe not sadly at all, you were spared reading it when my computer decided to freeze up and then erase everything I had written. Kaphooey. (Not sure that is a word, but I'm too lazy right now to look it up right now).
So that's just perfect for this, the last of June, the last of hurrah as it were, for the first half of a time of tribulation. It's been chaotic, challenging, scary, mystifying, demoralizing, inspiring, uplifting, insightful, discouraging....and so much more. In a nutshell, its been a time like no other, and one that shall be written about and studied for many, many years.
I have to say I am more than weary of it all. Life in the time of COVID. Political upheaval. Paradigm shifts, some which I pray will take hold and last, and others that need to be abandoned. It's all just too much to bear sometimes.
One thing I believe is in the power of mind. As Oprah once said, "You don't become what you want, you become what you believe." Matthew 29-31 say He touched their eyes and said, “Become what you believe.” Bruce Lee, the world renown martial artist, said, “As you think, so shall you become.” I'm sure I could find many more examples. But what I'm trying to say is, however, that as long as we let ourselves accept this particular "reality", we will never achieve the actual Reality.
We weren't meant to live as we have, especially for the past six months. Fear, angst, anxiety...it is not our natural state.
But how can we move past all that? Ain't easy. But it does begin with me. I know there is much work to be done. And I guess I need to start with me.
Tomorrow is July First. It is the beginning of the last half of the year. A new fiscal year begins. July 1 is the 183rd day of 2020. 183 days remain until the end of the year. It is up to us how we are going to live those 183 days. I don't know about you, but I'm tired. It ain't easy being worried all the time. I for one am gonna pray, meditate, spiritual mind treat, set my intentions, and all the other stuff I can think of to find hope and optimism back into my life, our lives.
One person can change the world. If it isn't me, then maybe its you. We've got work to do.
According to Webster's, kaphooey is a variation of phooey, an interjection.
The definition of phooey—it is a word used to express repudiation or disgust
That about says it.
While surfing the net, I came across an interview with the author of a new book, The Power of Ritual: Turning Everyday Activities Into Soulful Practices by Casper ter Kuile on NPR. It was a segment called Author Interviews. It was only eight minutes long, but it captured my fancy and I found myself ordering the book then and there on Kindle. What intrigued me was the author's premise that as the title suggests, sacred practices can be spotted in ordinary daily activities. It also seemed so relevant to these days when we are so very separated from our communities and social activities, although the books was written long before our current madness.
So, it being Sunday, as I said above, it is indeed a good day to think about spirituality and rituals. I found myself thinking about how as I worked in the yard, I was practicing the ritual of watering, sweeping debris, tending and trimming and the like. One ritual I often like is that of a nap. Today it was in the hammock. Looking up I could see my sycamore tree with its green leaves rustling in the afternoon breeze, the tinkling of my wind chimes and the distant sound of traffic and sounds of neighbors practicing their usual Sunday rituals of lawn mowing, playing ball, enjoying conversation and more. And then later I went to pick up dinner for friends and we ate together.
All of these things are sorts of rituals that Casper describes in the opening section of his book. And I realized how much these things need to be cultivated and practiced lest they be lost. And there is a very real danger, it seems, of this happening the time of wearing masks and social distancing. The good news is we are finding ways around those things to still practice social connection and find ways of soulful practice. We are a resourceful lot, and we will find our way, together while apart.
If you would like to hear this interview, it is only eight minutes long, here is the link at NPR.org.
I believe there is always a reason for everything that happens. At least I want to believe this. The problem is, we don't always know what the reason is. That's why it is so frustrating in times like these to not come up with a good explanation for why. And ultimately the most dissatisfactory answer is, we don't really know. And we may never know.
Oh, I don't mean scientists won't find the source of the this coronavirus. But then again, maybe they won't. Does it ultimately matter at this point? I do know they will figure out how it is spread and how it circled the globe so quickly. And I truly believe that a vaccination will be found sometime, somehow. Things always work out. Unless they don't. And if they don't, in this case, we will soldier on, adapting to a new way of living. But, is there a reason?
Perhaps it was just time. Perhaps the world had gotten to the point that we were well overdue for a global crisis. Certainly the way the world was headed was not really sustainable. Pollution & global warming, food insecurities, social dichotomies, endless wars, corruption and greed. All these things led us to this point. Perhaps that is the reason: it was just time.
There is an opportunity in all of this. The opportunity will be to change our ways, to rise to the occasion and become better stewards of our planet. I wonder, though. Even at the skies are becoming more clear and blue than they have been in decades, the air is more breathable. Congestion has lessened.
Having spent the past few days pondering my wondering and wonderings, I began to realize just how much my daily activities are influenced by all the mixed messages I get every single day. More than every day, it is just about every hour, every minute. Just when I think I have a grasp on reality, reality shifts.
For example, I just finished watching the latest White House briefing on the Coronavirus, (COVID 19) update. Vice President Pence, Dr Birks, Dr Fauci and others gave their prospectives on the status of the global pandemic. It appeared to me they may not have spoke with each other before the briefing since each seemed to be briefing the country on very different realities. There were prospectives on testing ranging from virtually no mention of testing to the concern that testing may not be enough. And masks. Masks have become such an incendiary topic. Political where politics should have nothing to do with it. It seems to me wearing a mask is a matter of protecting others while praying that others will do the same for me.
And what about Black Lives Matter? It is simple, obvious to me, that, yes, Black Lives Matter. And the whole point of the movement and the protests is that we as a society have been acting overall as if black lives don't matter. Keeping the lid on this boiling pot has certainly backfired. Yes, all lives to matter, but until that is true, we really, truly must be proactive in supporting the uprising realization that Black Lives (do indeed) Matter.
And there are the little things of every day life. I here that its time to get back to normal. Normal? What is normal? I here what we are living with now is the New Normal. It seems we can never go back to normal. Normal is shaking hands, hugging, crowding together, sharing experiences together like movies and concerts, in confined places. Just isn't gonna happen any time soon. Terms we had never really even heard of before early March of this year like "social distancing" and "coronavirus" and even "community spread" were not something we heard or spoke daily. Now we hear it everywhere we go and with everyone we talk with. That is all part of the New Normal.
So, yes, I have been wondering and wandering in light of this new reality. Wondering why, how did we get here and wandering through the new landscape of fear, isolation and hope. Yes, I said "hope'. I still have hope. I still believe we can move beyond life as we know it today. Mixed messages, including misinformation and denials, affirmations and facts, require us to do a bit of "community speed" of our own every day. Seek clarification. Get the facts. Learn who to listen to. Fact check. And always look people in the eye, especially when wearing a mask and keeping your distance. It overcomes the feeling that we are alone in this. From COVID to uprisings and protests, there is no mixed message in recognizing we are in this together. And together, we will go through all this madness, and yes, establish what may just be a better and more perfect "normal" way of life.