Monday, January 16, 2012

Letting Go

    If indeed your child is not yours, but rather given to you by the universe for a brief period of time, then I think my time is up.
    One of my most pleasurable memories as a child was the mysterious and secret peek into a bird's nest in my backyard, perched precariously on a ladder so as not to disturb the baby birds or eggs within it. Seeing the tiny turquoise eggs snuggled in these dainty nests, gently and creatively woven with bits of twig, strings and even a colored thread or two was so ... awe inspiring, endlessly fascinating.
    For weeks afterwards, I would patiently look through the grass underneath the tree for bits of eggshell, unsure of the fate of the small inhabitant, wondering whether this fledgling hatched or fell to its death while still inside its egg. Once in awhile there would be a bony little feathered carcass, its big head wobbly on its skinny neck... a sad reminder of what could happen during the in between stages of vulnerable, newly hatched baby and strong adolescent bird, able to confidently fly to its next destination. I often thought about the mother bird, and how she must have felt helplessly watching her baby fall to the ground in a feathery clump and stay there, for how on earth could she ever get it back up to its nest?
   How and when is the baby bird ready to fly? It's one thing to refine the ability to fly-- to teach it to land safely, to fly straight or soar on a headwind, but quite another thing to place the fledgling gingerly on the edge of the nest and give the push!  Is it a bigger leap of faith for the baby or the mother?
   For 18 years I have taught my baby everything I know, everything I could imagine. Currently the nest is quite crowded, and the the tiny chirps that used to happily greet me have become the angry squawks of an adolescent bird whose wings are almost grown-- strong wings, only the tiniest bits of baby fluff left amidst the feathers.  Her eyes no longer meet mine-- they are busy looking outward, scanning the horizon, peering past the leafiness of our tree to the sky above. I see her wings begin to stretch, twitching with the collective energy of a thousand such birds, a million--- all birds in history, in fact.
   I can, and do, envision her soaring above the earth,  joyfully catching a headwind on the way to wherever she has chosen to fly next.  Ruefully, I think of hawks, large and hungry... hunters with rifles... electric wires vibrating with danger. For just a brief moment I picture a baby bird laying on the ground under the tree, and then, willing that image away, prop her on the the edge of the nest, and with a silent prayer, push.

Monday, January 9, 2012


   In the moment. Every cell of your being is focused, alive. Quivering. Your eyes pierce, breath labors in and out. Sometimes you realize you are holding it in, chest expanded outward, lungs full, til you remember and let it out in one long hiss.
   It is as if every nerve cell is on alert. Paying attention as closely as a Masai on a hunt through the jungle, as an astronaut tethered by a thin cord to a space shuttle, floating through darkened space. Quiet. Or ears pounding. But always alone.
   When doing your best, you are always alone. You against time ... you against limits set from the outside-- challenges, doubts, others. Inside, there is no challenge that is too hard. It is a focus like a laser -- I can do this!  Pay attention. Watch. Your eyes slits, minimizing distractions. Dredging up talent and passion from the core of your being like lava from the center of the Earth.
   Perhaps the Earth, quietly spinning on its axis, its job to keep spinning, never wavering one inch, always holding the perfect angle to keep its living surface still living, day after day, century after century... does the earth forget that in its heart lies the molten core of passion that created the very life it must now protect?  Does the Earth still remember the rumbling that gave way to the explosions of volcanoes, erupting with one goal -- RELEASE!  NOW!
   When you are completely focused on the creation of a moment, time stands still as the passion begins to stir... and the crack begins til you cannot control it.  And out comes creation, leaving behind temporary exhaustion mixed with the exhilaration of a new birth. Of an idea. Of art. Of a record set. Of a lfe.
   That is doing your best. It will happen with or without your permission. It happens when it is time, whether you are ready or not. Creation bubbles under the surface.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


  I can tell you what is NOT perfect -- you, your spouse, your child. Your home, your career, your parents. Your hairstyle, your weight, your choice of words... your philosophy of life, your political representatives, and your lawn.
  Perfection is what occurs at the intersection of recognition and appreciation. It does not exist on its own in a vacuum. It needs someone to both recognize what this moment is, and appreciate it, to be perfect.
  Here are some things that ARE perfect. An egg. The summer sun sparkling on cool blue waves. That warm glow of the afternoon sun that sends long cool shadows across my emerald green lawn. The scent of lilacs wafting through an open window in the spring. A steaming bowl of savory chicken soup on a cold winter's day. Laying in bed on a Sunday morning after making love and have nothing to do besides read the Sunday paper cover to cover and drink coffee. A fragrant pile of clean, fluffy towels, warm from the dryer. The silky feel of sand on your beach-hungry toes as you make your way over the dunes on the first day at the beach. The look in your lover's eyes.
   The feel of a hug from your Mom. The first shower after being bedridden for a week with a feverish flu. The phone rings, and it's for you... you get the job!.. a date to the prom!... the positive pregnancy test!  
  Perfection is the feeling that if only right this moment, THIS SHINING MOMENT,  life would simply stand still. But it doesn't. Ever. The shadows on the lawn get longer, and the very light that caused them now shows the dust on the living room floor. The chicken soup is savored, and then there is the pot that needs washing.
  Your love looks at you for awhile, and then the moment shifts-- could you make him a cup of coffee, and while you're at it, could you run a load of laundry? He's short clean socks.
  Your garden, flush with glorious blossoms open and blooming, will start to get leggy and buggy, and will wilt in the noonday sun, and the job you won so victoriously will begin to bug you, too.
  Perfection is not a goal, not a result, not a cause, and not a cure.
  It will light on your shoulder randomly, like a butterfly.
  Your sole job is to pay attention, appreciate the moment, and watch it fly away.