This blog site that I started several years ago, has sat, as i have, without any excitement; in a state i have called ‘limbo.’ But now I see that any alive mind needs down time. Not to worry. Just see that the moment when I am ready to resume, I do take that chance. So this week it happened. I got into the wonderful essays and poetry of Mary Oliver, and, despite knowing i would never be better than a middling writer, I felt the passion to do it anyway.
More than once, but especially after retirement, seeing old friends pass back into spirit, and younger family members having busy lives of their own, it is time to decide on the rest of my life. My body that has contained my spirit for 87 years is wobbly, my heart is beating too fast without the passion behind it (well maybe it feels passionate at that speed), I have lost nouns within my over full brain so I can no longer trust myself to tell a story among young friends only to watch their eyes glaze over as I look for the punch line–okay, time to reevaluate.
A few months ago, i thought i had found my activist passion again at a rally for Senator Sanders. The young coordinators were so full of joy, having left their families and their jobs to take up the calling of a Sanders populist revolution. I fell right in, setting myself up to do different jobs. Then I discovered how much work is done on the computer or with the new phones that i never plan to own. I couldn’t do it, and had to back out. Despite living on less than i need from social security, I have sent several small donations. I do feel the passion of the possibility for a path back to democracy. But it taught me what my body is willing or not to do for even a national change.
At that point, i temporarily divided my body from my spirit. One was truly old. The other was ageless. My soul, like a raindrop out of the downpour sliding down the pane to join a pool of others at the bottom, had that power to look further for the passion I so missed. I bounced around: attending a Head Start nursery where i thought i might help by holding babies, and quickly knew my body would not let me chase 2-year-olds or sit on the floor with them. Nope. Recently I have thought to use my old skills to be a listener who might have a bit of wisdom to offer a seeker. I still might work into that, but even the idea of having set schedules made my body sag.
I discovered that I really liked being home, being silent much of the day, not even surrounded by music. And that is when Mary Oliver returned to my library with a friend’s gift of her latest book, “Felicity.” She is 81 and has fallen in love again, with another woman of that age. WOW! That isn’t my desire, but i loved that show of passion, and her new book.
This week, in my vital women’s class at Spirit Rock, a Buddhist center just three miles from my house, our teacher did an exercise where we felt who or what brought out that passion. I fell in love with the tree outside my back window that i put in when i moved to this ‘senior cottage’ sixteen years ago. It was a gift, a fir of some kind. Turns out it’s a giant red cedar rapidly heading upward to its 250 foot height. It now has two masts from its base, and branches that appear to float out gracefully from the trunks. (They go in all directions but not toward the house or porch. How do they make that wise choice kinetically?)
The cedar is a daylong playground and hideout for the little brown songbirds who all have PTSD, dodging back and forth from seed holder and tree constantly. I watch for the field rats and chase them away a bit sadly. But they grind the seeds into chaff that covers the floor of the deck. I think they only eat the sunflower seeds. I used to enjoy watching a few generations of them tussling on the deck like a bunch of kittens. But I was chastised by the manager of these places and so have had to become their enemy. When they hear me approach the back door they make Knievalish leaps into the cedar and run its branches like their own superhighways.
I had such an urge today to bring out a kitchen step ladder and (carefully) crawl up into the tree and hug its dual trunks, feel its warmth and know how inside it is surging with energy like all of our bodies do. (I just found out that one person’s blood vessels could circle the earth 2 1/2 times!)
Martha Graham, who danced into old age, is to have said, “A queer divine, dissatisfaction.” What does my own grumpiness foretell for my journey? Thanks to Buddhist wisdom on how to live a most satisfactory life, I have given up hatred (still hard sometimes when communities in Latin American and the mid-east are wiped out by wars that suit a very few leaders). The teaching (not unlike the more familiar Jesus language) presents the opportunity one has from facing negativity in events and people. What is the learning in limbo, in someone’s rant at me, in knowing how little I can contribute to adding love to our beautiful star, earth?
It has to start with discontent. Nothing much happens where there are no challenges. But today, the long-lost rain tumbling out of the gutter in front of my window, the world stilled otherwise, the birds filling up at the seed holder to get through the wet night, and me sitting here writing. Today, no grouchiness, a beginning.