Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Remembering to be Appreciative

I was visiting with my doctor today who told me that fifteen percent of people can maintain control of rheumatoid arthritis with methotrexate alone after getting it under control with stronger medications. I am lucky enough to be in this fifteen percent. I am doing extremely well compared to my limited functioning three years ago and can again use my fingers to type proficiently. Most days I tend to take it for granted. I am glad I was reminded today of my great good fortune.
(Me sitting in Herman Melville's pew- Seaman's Bethel, New Bedford)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


In the paper today were accounts of memorials to those who served in our armed services to keep our country safe. Several TV stations ran marathons of war related programs to remind us of the intricacies of what it took to keep us free. I thought yesterday of the people who over the years contributed to keeping me safe in so many other ways as well. I also thought of all the people who showed me that life was worth living, that their trials as well as mine were surmountable and it was still possible to laugh no matter how bad things got. Thanks everyone.
(Aunt June's Ninetieth Birthday)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Horses and Hot Rods

One of the fascinating things I found in A Natural History of Love about coming of age is that girls focus the romance of relationships on horses and boys on cars. These are the vehicles through which girls and boys first imagine what romance is about. I guess it should not have been any big surprise, but it is just one of those things I had not really thought about. Our bodies, minds and souls are fascinating as are the travels we have on the physical, intellectual and spiritual planes through our lives. I am always amazed that no matter how long I live there is still more to discover.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Barter and Handshake

Diane Ackerman describes evolution as taking place by barter and handshake rather than proclamation. Humans, like all other animals change in tiny ways over millions of years to adapt to our changing environment. I remember a principle from embryology, "ontogeny recapitulates philogeny" which means that the lifestory of the individual mimics the lifestory of the species. It seems to me that our lives are a series of barters and handshakes. We cannot just will the world to be the way we want it to be but must make a series of small compromises in order to survive.
(Herb and spice market, Vigo, Spain)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Our Warrior Culture

Not too long ago I read an article about the Los Angeles Police Department suggesting that they lived in a warrior culture. I have at times thought the same thing about our national culture. Often our first response is to fight back, seeing it as the only way to respond. Warriors do not often stop to consider what the conflict is about but are more focused on the best way to fight. Sometimes the outcome of the battle is that we become more bellicose rather than finding any peace. Maybe we need to first consider what we are fighting and how much the enemy lies within our own souls.
(Siege tunnel- Gibralter)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Sitting on the Porch

I have been reading Diane Ackerman's book Natural History of the Senses lately. I am interested in a better appreciation of the different senses and in heightening my awareness of them. I opened my journal for today's entry and started writing. To my surprise, almost my entire entry consisted of documenting the various sounds I heard while sitting there. I didn't know I could do that. Every once in a while I learn that I have a skill I did not think I had.
(Breakers on the shore- Curacao)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Art Therapy

When I first heard this term many years ago, I wondered what to make of it. Art seemed like creative expression and therapy was a way to address mental health problems. Over the years I have come to see that the two are interlinked. One of the effects of mental illness is to make people feel they are cut off from "normal civilization." They often feel others do not understand how they feel and are often frustrated in trying to explain their feelings to others. Art is a way of expressing feelings in a graphic way without the difficulty of words. People understand art in their own way and are often able to communicate through art in a way in which words do not allow them to.

(Acrylic on paper- Pete L.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Mystery of Love

I wrote a column recently about the power of love. When I started the column, I realized how little I knew about love. When I had finished the column, I did not know much more. I think love is largely a mystery. We seem to know more about war, hatred, competition and all the things love is not. I recently discovered Daine Ackerman's book, The Natural History of Love and started reading it this afternoon. I am hoping for enlightenment.
(Wedding in Portland, Maine)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The good is oft interred with their bones

At a funeral yesterday, I thought of the words of Marc Antony from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, "The evil men do lives after them while the good is oft interred with their bones." Fortunately this does not seem to be so in the twenty-first century. Now it seems that people's good points are stressed and remembered by families and friends. Although we can still learn from the difficulties our loved ones have faced during their lives, it is easier to remember and emulate the characteristics which endeared them to us. When we are not sure how to act, we have fond memories to inspire us.

(Rocky Mountains- Estes Park, Colorado)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Spring Breezes

I sat on my porch this morning with my coffee in hand. I felt the swirl of the spring breeze, watched the whispy clouds on the edges of the sky, listened to the birds sing and felt the long awaited warmth on my skin. As I watched the cars speed by, piloted by determined drivers, I thought back to the days when I ignored nature's beauty in my quest to get to work on time. I once thought that getting older was not something to look forward to. Now I appreciate having the time to commune with nature without having any pressing engagements.
(Gulls at Canadaway Creek)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Ready for Heaven

I did not know Pops well and only met him in his later years. I saw his delight in his wife, children and grandchildren. He enjoyed being among them peacefully, quietly celebrating the milestones of their lives. I did not know him in his more active years but only in his twilight. I was not acquainted with his life struggles, challenges or accomplishments. I did hear him practice his bird calls in occasional moments of quiet. The last time I saw him he was sleeping quietly in his hospital bed. I heard that several days ago, he reached out to God and asked to be taken. He died peacefully in his sleep last night. My hope is that when it is my time to die, I will also be at peace and ready to go as well. James, rest in peace.
(Sunset on Lake Erie)

Monday, May 07, 2007

Knowing You are Right

There seem to be plenty of topics on which people are sure they are right and others are wrong. I can remember times I thought I had my facts right and others were mistaken. In addition to remembering facts, which can usually be proven one way or another, are opinions to which we hold just as tightly. We can be just as sure of our opinions, although there might be no way to prove them correct. Our opinions come from our experience, what we have heard from others we trust, or maybe from what we know "must be true." Wars, fights and arguments are often based on these differences. What would the world be like if we all followed the adage "Never deny, seldom affirm, always distinguish?"
(Rainforest Cafe- London)

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Who Owns God?

Karen Armstrong wrote a book called The Battle for God. In it she wrote about the struggle over a period of centuries for people of the major religions to come to terms with the implications of the modern world and their age old traditions. It does not seem that this battle has ended. Some people have opted to reject the modern world and cling to their own particular beliefs. Others have chosen the modern world, rejecting all religions. Some have tried to forge their own way realizing that their solitary path has few guideposts to make their journey easier. Some people see it as their job to convert others to their view of God and reality. Others see it as their job to get others to see the fallacy of any religion. Still others have chosen to live the best life they can without help or interference from others. Those of us who think about why we are on earth struggle to make sense of our lives and discover the purpose for which we are here. Is there a way for us to help each other with this search without being dogmatic in our efforts?

(Stone relief in Santillana, Spain)

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Writing, Religion and Spirituality

In our writers' group meeting this week, we listened to each other read our writing and were able to make constructive suggestions to each other. Our final discussion was of a passage which centered on a spiritual experience. We had more difficulty with this one. It was interesting to me that of all the topics we discussed, spirituality should be the only one (so far) which has caused us any problems. Spirituality or lack thereof seems to be a very emotional topic for at least some people. There are people for whom their spirituality is their lifeline, those for whom the mention of spirituality recalls for them bad memories of religion being forced on them or or disappointments arising from unmet expectations of God. Others think the whole idea of spirituality is silly and illogical. Some don't seem to know what to think of the whole topic. It occurred to me that the difficulty of listening to others talk about religious and spiritual views which differ from our own is part of what makes nations war with each other. We can't change the whole world by tolerating differing beliefs, but at least it is a start.
(Westminster Abbey)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Rabbit on the Lawn

Yesterday morning, I awoke with my mind full of all the things I had to get done. I looked out the kitchen window and saw a rabbit nibbling grass in the back yard. I had not seen him since last fall. He looked up at me, or at least that is what he seemed to be doing. I looked back at him and was not in any particular hurry to accomplish anything at the moment. I stood for a few minutes in contemplation of the rabbit and of nature in general. I don't know what the rabbit was thinking. I was glad to have a few minutes with him.