Earthbound, solid structures surround me. My eyes shoot upward toward the moon. Life is so much more than my immediate environment. Hard and colorful outlines are surely blurry and insignificant when viewed from that other orb. I must remember this. I freeze the thought in a frame…and wish I could expand the edges to infinity.
How does anyone keep up with Pop Culture? I used to watch the Olympics; now I don’t have a TV, so I’m not even going to attempt to know who is making the sports news. I’m also not attempting to keep up with movies and music. Or social networking: no Facebook or Twitter for me.
Steve just asked me, “How much calmer would you be if you played in a string quartet every day?” Right now we’re listening to Haydn. I proposed an idea a few months ago that I thought would contribute greatly to creating political harmony. I think every member of the President’s cabinet as well as all the representatives in the House and in the Senate should learn to play in chamber ensembles together. Think of how good they would become at listening to each other!
So now I’m going to shut down the laptop and resist the “tyranny of the urgent”. I will not learn one weird trick to reduce belly fat or make a chocolate cake in one bowl or find out which celebrity wore the dress better. It’s not important, and it’s not worth my attention. Steve and Haydn are. ‘Night!
I was so excited to see this view from my front steps today:
We’ve had a few really good thunderstorms lately, after no rain at all for 4 weeks. I was so happy that I ran down the sidewalk yelling “Thank you!” to the Universe. Then Steve and I took a good, long walk around town for about 2 hours. I will share pictures over the next few days. I love the smell of rain, wet earth and wet wood. I love the feel of a cool spray coming through the open window in the middle of a hot night. I don’t even mind getting up to lower the windows to protect the books from a drenching! Looking forward to a good, cool sleep tonight…
The world is gearing up for another Olympic Games. National pride, sportsmanship, individual performance, athleticism, courage, and victory will be concepts that will get much press in the near future, I suspect. I like to push out the boundaries of concepts and see how they all interconnect and create a bigger picture. In this arena, I’m going to put all of those issues under one large banner: humanity. The Olympics give us an opportunity to look at humanity, albeit through a particular lens, and witness ourselves. What do we have in common? What are the responses available to us in certain circumstances? How do role models give us a glimpse into the possibilities we carry in ourselves? When I was growing up in the 70s, I would glue myself to the TV and soak in all those “up close and personal” stories. I found them fascinating and inspiring. Now that I have lived to be (almost) 50, I have lived some stories of my own that have taught me about being human. One of those is the story of watching my husband die of diabetes.
Human beings experience suffering; that’s one thing we all have in common. We can learn information and we can gain understanding and compassion by looking into that suffering and asking questions. What is causing this suffering? How does it feel? How can I help? The Galasso family looked into diabetes for the first time in 1991, when Jim was diagnosed. After he died in 2008, my oldest, Susan, came up with a way that we could help those who suffer from it. She organized the first Team Galasso and walked with 2 of her siblings in a fund-raiser event in Urbana, IL sponsored by the American Diabetes Association. The next year, she moved to Madison and Steve and I walked with her. Last year, the entire family gathered in Madison (including Susan’s fiance, Andy) to continue the effort. This year, the walk is being held on Jim’s birthday, August 26. How fitting is that?!
I invite you all to participate in this Team effort by making a donation to the ADA via my sponsor page here. I also invite you to spend some time considering your part in Team Humanity, asking your own questions about being human, about suffering, about living in a body. Who do you want to be? How do you want to live? What will your life model and inspire? My youngest daughter got her first tattoo a few months ago. She chose a typewriter font over her left shoulder, above her heart, to illustrate one of her dad’s most memorable maxims: “Pain is inevitable; misery is optional.” I am honored to be part of this team, this family of humanity. I want to acknowledge and include every member and recognize that each one is trying to work out the answers to those questions, even though there are destructive results in the process. I’ve had mine, you’ve had yours. We can learn and do better. I believe that. Thank you for your participation!
The season for Old World Wisconsin ends in October. Steve and I are gearing up for a 2-3 week road trip. We have about 9 possible itineraries, National Forests and Parks mostly. We’ve come to call this “our trip to metaphorical Maine” because although Maine is one of the top contenders, it is really just serving as the title of an unknown eventual destination. This is how Steve prefers to travel, and he is teaching me to appreciate the spirit of living in the moment rather than planning for safety and control. Not that Steve is an “extreme” kind of guy, a risk-taker for the sake of it, or anything like that. It’s really more a Zen kind of thing of being aware of conditions as they arise and dancing with them rather than putting on blinders and sticking to a railroad track.
We recently borrowed the DVD of “The Sheltering Sky” starring Debra Winger and John Malkovich. I’m sure the book was better, but the film has some terrific cinematic landscapes and brings up a lot of interesting questions. Like, “What is the difference between a tourist and a traveler?” A tourist wants the comforts of home. A traveler seeks adventure. I recently had a conversation with a co-worker who talked about a visit to France and only mentioned that there were no bugs or birds and that French waiters substitute Sprite for lemonade. This guy never thought he’d leave the country in his lifetime. Maybe he shouldn’t have!
I feel like I have been working on my personal demons (neuroses, grief, all that baggage) and have gained some courage and self-confidence since our last big trip. I did have one memorable meltdown in a rest stop off the highway in the pouring rain from about 2-4 in the a.m. That was April of 2011, and we were on the road for 4 weeks. Here’s a shot taken somewhere near the Colorado River in Utah that illustrates one of the many decision discussions we had. Do you want to take this road or not? Why?
There’s no “right answer” and there’s no judgement, Steve told me. “I just want to know what you think about when you make decisions.” What are we here for? What do we call “living”? Is it “to be safe and have children and grandchildren”? Is it “to learn to praise God and serve Him”? There are a million ways to answer that question. Steve describes his answer to me every time we have a conversation. He wants to meet life with awareness, engage in nuance and complexity, question and think critically, try to discover delusion, respond in the moment to what is before him, and participate in the adventure of living, as holistically as he can. Yesterday, I read a short science fiction story by E.M. Forster called “The Machine Stops”. It describes a futuristic world where the human race is run by Machine and never ventures to the surface of the earth. It’s eerie how much that could be the life of modern individuals plugged into the Internet with no experience of the physical phenomenons of Earth. What kind of life do I really want to live? What kind of courage do I have to face the adventure of living? Do I prefer comfort to challenge? These are good questions to take out for a road test. I’m looking forward to it!
Traveling ’round the sun, it seems we’re always half way done. Imagining the opposites, the contrasts, the dualistic ideals. If what is happening now is somehow unsatisfying, we’ve only to think that on the other side of the globe, things are completely different. Somewhere, life is cool and peaceful while we struggle with heat and violence.
If we expand our thinking, though, we realize that everything is…always. It is cool and hot and peaceful and violent and slow and fast and everything in between. It is then and now and never and always. The distinctions and boundaries are simply concepts in our brains like the lines on the map that don’t really exist when you walk the earth. All is. Particular conditions arise and manifest particular things of which we become aware, but those materials have always been and always are in the world. There are no beginnings, no endings.
‘Tis a gift to be simple; ’tis a gift to be free; ’tis a gift to come ’round where we ought to be… When true simplicity is gained, to bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed. To turn, turn, will be our delight; ’til by turning, turning, we come ’round right. – Shaker song
What do you think about on the drive home? (What can I make for dinner out of what’s left in the ‘fridge?) How do you get comfortable? (I take off my corset as soon as possible!) Do you eat first or relax first? (I eat and have a glass of wine. Then I put my feet up.) How long can you go before you fall asleep? (Not very long. I often nod off by 8pm, and then I have to wake up to brush my teeth and REALLY go to bed at 10pm.) Man! Do I sound OLD!?!
I have to be at work again by 8am tomorrow for an All Staff Meeting. It’s gonna take me 45 min. to get there, too. No boogieing for me tonight!
My prayers to the Universe tonight include appreciation for the cooler weather today (a fleeting phenomenon…in the 90s again tomorrow) and a deep grief over the violence in our culture, a hope that kindness and respect for all life will prevail some day.