Pause and Play

When I close my eyes, the sounds of the city awakening are the first memories. I woke up early nearly every morning, listening to the sounds of Santiago coming to life, readying for work, steadying the culture. The cool mist of morning haze swayed around the high-rise apartments across the tiny valley and our own building, teasing us to enjoy the cool sunrise that would soon give way to the heat of late summer.

img_2173Walking in Santiago has a soundtrack, a background stream of staccato notes that if I ever heard them again, I would be transported. The road outside the apartment is filled, traveling every which way depending on the time of day, with cars, trucks, and scooters. There are people bustling to the financial center of the city, of the country, near the U.S. Embassy. Well dressed even in the rising heat, they have quiet conversations as they scurry away. It’s not New York or San Francisco loud. It’s a more subdued dialogue inside the city confines.

As we take to the streets for a morning exploration, the sidewalks are filled with bicycles and scooters, zipping around the pedestrians. They are an irritant that could be a dangerous one. The people don’t seem to mind. As we travel through the city, there is no undercurrent of music that you sometimes hear in large cities. There is no undercurrent of public transportation. The sound is weirdly muffled, steamy, and strange to my ears. It is conversation. It is discussion, laughter, and serious direction. The voices of Santiago and clear and lyrical, regardless of the tongue speaking.

My companions are of this city, and have had a long love affair with this town. As with all love affairs, their vision notes the changes over time that irritate as well as inspire. The bicycles make people nervous on sidewalks and the tongues that speak are clearly not native to Chile. The incoming population from other countries is jarring. We travel through my friend’s lifelong journey, as we navigate days and lunches and dinners, parks and walks, ice cream and antiques. I learn more about my friends by listening to them guide us in this life. I learn about the Chilean people and the love they have of culture and the future. It’s more than learning why there is always vinegar and oil on the dining table (rather than salad dressing) or why palmitos are a favorite. It’s the way my friends spoke about everything Chilean, be it family homes or the food people eat. 

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There is this honest, underlying pride that permeates the culture. It’s at odds with itself right now, fighting to breathe in a culture that is struggling against new and old. We traveled through parts of the city that were devastated by youth and protests; lower walls covered with myriad graffiti and damage. Those not covered with spray paint are covered with steel sheets and wood, saving windows and precious architecture. Armed military stand ready in parks to disperse the crowds and hoodlums. Unemployment is high and immigration is high, causing the standard stresses. Who is stealing jobs? What about the cost of goods? What’s next? Fear flows through all cultures.

But underneath, there is a pride of culture, history, language. Chilean food speaks to the integration of European and Indigenous tastes, priding itself on fresh and pure. There is a crossroads of culture in language. My companion told me that they can tell when someone is not Chilean, by their language accent and words they use. In an antique shop, the owner complimented my friend on her way with language, noting that most people don’t “talk that way, any longer.” Slow, clear, lyrical, the language tells one volumes about a culture. This gave me the distinct impression that Chile is at a cultural precipice. Can they maintain this proud depth of identity?

img_2135In the middle of this trip, we spent a few days in Brazil, and there couldn’t be a more different culture than Chile. Chile has a well-spring of Europe under the covers. The memories of Spain, Germany, and parts of Northern Africa all influence Chile’s identity. Brazil has this crazy chaos, in every aspect of life. Maybe it is their leaders, maybe it is the closeness to Europe and Africa, maybe it is a deep tie to nature – I am not sure. There are vast chasms between what they say and do, what is important and what is actionable. There is an underlying tension in speech, driving, goods, living conditions – all of which are in your face when it comes to the canyons between them. The soundtrack of this country is the scooter beep. Incessant and irritating, they are gnats in your ears. Sleep is a relief.

img_2102Back in Chile, there was a comfort to me in that underlying European maturity. The days were filled with wine and food, laughter, and exploration. I would love to visit in Spring, when the city is alive with flowers and scents of new life, when the breeze is cooler, the beaches open and laughter walks the roads. I am grateful to see this beautiful country through the eyes of friends and loved ones; it was a rare insight that I am truly thankful to have received.

~TDD

Nobody’s Hero

When I was fourteen or so, I began listening to the radio, reading science fiction and fantasy, learned how to explore the world, and learned that my curiosity about it was not a failure of acceptance but a secret joy I could live in whenever the suburbs got me down. I lived in a modest neighborhood, with everyday people who went about their inherited 1950’s playbook. I wanted so much more. I was afraid to die and too naive to live. Music and writing became my escapes.

The radio was a constant companion – home or car. I would drive with my father to the store or with my mother to swap meets, and I would control the radio. They always listened to AM. I remember discovering the FM band and was so impressed with how good it was, how different, how alive. I could venture out into my own streams of songs, learning the words and worlds that others created. As a writer, I listened to the lyrics as much as the instruments behind them.

komeIt was somewhere around this age that I also discovered KOME radio, 98.5 in San Jose. Every Sunday night, at 9:00PM, I would take the old, thrift-store radio on my dresser, and turn the dial to 98.5 and listen to Greg Stone. “Stonetrek” was a show of progressive rock hosted by Greg, and it went for various lengths of time but always on Sunday night. A new world emerged and I found Yes, Genesis, Peter Gabriel, Saga, Marillion, Led Zeppelin, FM, Kayak, and Rush. The music was mesmerizing, lyrical, and so different than the silly pop that would encompass most of the people in high school. Even moreso, the lyrics were imbued with pictures of magical places and beings, space and possibilities. It matched the books I was reading and the poetry I was writing.

I remember walking through the Fremont Hub, an old shopping center in Fremont, that had a record store right in the middle of it, near the Longs Drug Store. I would walk there with my parents and always stop at the window, looking at the fantastic artwork, the beauty of Boris Vallejo and Roger Dean. And there, I will never forget it, was the first time I actually saw a Rush album. It was Hemispheres, and I thought it was so odd, a naked man standing on a brain. Whaaaa? I had to listen, it was so odd.

fleher-brucke-21-6-17-14I found The Trees, Cygnus, and Circumstances. I found lyrics I could not only listen to but understand. Understand. Not with my heart only but with my mind. I always read lyrics and with Rush, I was always enchanted. I was spoken to. Someone heard me, and it was Neil Peart. I started seeing Rush as soon as I could, and I never stopped. I knew every album, before and after Hemispheres, and in my highest highs and lowest lows, there was a lyric for me. I was as constrained as “Subdivisions” and as lonely as “Presto.” When I lived in Germany for a few years, “Counterparts” was released. They didn’t tour that year, much to my devastation as that is probably one of my favorite albums. I commuted to work every day, from just outside Koeln to Duesseldorf, about an hour. On that ride, I think I completely wore out that CD. I was lonely, in a country that didn’t speak my same language, terrified every moment of getting shipped home or fired for not being good enough. “Counterparts” was my friend, a voice speaking to me, Neil speaking to me through Geddy’s voice.

neil-peart-rush-1984-u-billboard-1548I know that Neil might be the first person to say he was nobody’s hero. Yet, for many of us who were disconnected and sad, lonely or feeling like we were the weird ones, his words comforted us. They connected us in some kind of soulful way, without the physics of the physical. They made us a community, like minds connected via Geddy’s voice and Neil’s words and Alex’s guitar. They were the voice we couldn’t have in the world, because the world was too glittery to listen. Neil inspired me to read Aristotle and Jung, and he expanded my world. He never knew me. But, he knew me.

ghostTo say that I am sad that he has passed has not captured the entirety or depth of the feeling. I’m not angry or fearful, tearful, nor morose. I am honestly not sure what I am. Silent. It’s not that the voice is now silent. It’s been silent for a while; and that absence helped to come to terms that there might not be a soundtrack for my life any longer. I think it might be more like losing your mentor. Your guide. A pen pal you have never met. You both get it but never meet. I believe his soul, though he might laugh at that, is now part of all of us. He left the physical work behind, and the words on paper were and are comfort. I’m not sad, no. I think, I am alone. And now, I have to write my own soundtrack, my own words, my own poetry. I have to finish the life I started with the work that I am tasked to do. He did his part. It’s time, now, for me to let go of the mentor, and do mine.

npFor all of you who are the weirdos, the strange ones, you who think no one understands…they do. Maybe, someday, if you read what I wrote, or Neil wrote, you won’t feel so alone. We’re here. The big, amorphous cadre of oddities has got your back. You may never meet me, but just by the words on paper, we will be kindred spirits.

Thank you, Neil. You were nobody’s hero but you are everyday glory.

Nobody’s Hero by Neil Peart / Rush 

I knew he was different, in his sexuality
I went to his parties, as a straight minority
It never seemed a threat to my masculinity
He only introduced me to a wider reality
As the years went by, we drifted apart
When I heard that he was gone
I felt a shadow cross my heart
But he’s nobody’s
Hero – saves a drowning child
Cures a wasting disease
Hero – lands the crippled airplane
Solves great mysteries
Hero – not the handsome actor
Who plays a hero’s role
Hero – not the glamor girl
Who’d love to sell her soul
If anybody’s buying
Nobody’s hero
I didn’t know the girl, but I knew her family
All their lives were shattered
In a nightmare of brutality
They try to carry on, try to bear the agony
Try to hold some faith
In the goodness of humanity
As the years went by, we drifted apart
When I heard that she was gone
I felt a shadow cross my heart
But she’s nobody’s
Hero – the voice of reason
Against the howling mob
Hero – the pride of purpose
In the unrewarding job
Hero – not the champion player
Who plays the perfect game
Not the glamor boy
Who loves to sell his name
Everybody’s buying
Nobody’s hero
As the years went by, we drifted apart
When I heard that you were gone
I felt a shadow cross my heart
Hero
 

~TDD

#neilpeart #rush #everydayglory #nobodyshero #alexlifeson #geddylee

 

End of the Year Wonder. Full.

And you thought last year was a long year? Not long enough, was it? This year has screamed by for me. You know, you have those years, months, or weeks that just drag on like laundry across a dirty floor. They gather up all the stuff you thought was gone, that you couldn’t see, and grind it all in. Then there are those times which flick at your brain, saying in loud, boisterous tones (replete with banging gongs and bird song): “HEY! It’s already August? Aren’t you done with Christmas shopping yet?” Before you know it, it’s October, Halloween, and there are sales on frozen turkeys.

What. The. Heck.

I think the shift of time, the moments of introspection happen at a certain age. What one, I couldn’t say. They creep into our consciousness more and more until they dominate. As we age, do we involve? Is that even a thing?

I always come to this point of the year and wonder what direction I will captain the next. It may be that I don’t even have time to grab hold of the rudder before it starts steering itself. Indeed, the months ahead may be plotted by the insidiousness of illness, disease, aging, and finances. The Universe, in all her Glory, may be sitting back on her haunches, scooping up the stars and Fate, and letting drip all over my hairy, dubious plans. She is laughing. Perhaps she is always laughing.

It seems that all there is for it is to move ahead. After all, what is the alternative? Yeah, that alternative isn’t for me. Not yet.

I’ve been using a program called MindNode. I do love to plan the next year, even if I never look at the plan over the coming year, I think that putting it on paper makes your mind and body conscious of where you want to go. MindNode is a mind mapping mechanism that helps you see the connections of things, as you think about them; it’s like your brain trying to connect the dots. It’s only too bad I can’t type as fast as I think. Maybe, one day.

The next year is one of exploration and decisions. Or at least, decisions of a semi-permanent nature. What do I want to do when I grow up? What can I do? What talents will I use to birth something into the world? What will that form be? What will I create? I’ve talked about a bookstore and coffee shop, I’ve talked about food travel writing, I’ve talked about being an herbalist or maybe some kind of health/food writer. The world is not an oyster; the world is a nursery for a host of dreams and ideas.

I have a plaque in my closet that says “Dreams don’t work unless you do.” It reminds me that every day, it’s the work that is important, not necessarily the dreams. Maybe both. Work builds on the creativity, though, and helps sustain it. It’s a foundation. As a writer, I know the thing that I have to do is write. Some of it is crap, some of it is good. But it’s in the doing that the creation begins. Inspiration sparks. Awesome happens.

So, here’s my inspiration for the new year, from something almost 200 years old. It’s 170 years old, exactly. It’s from one of my favorite authors, Tennyson, about the new year. Take heed, take heart, and take flight, and bring some Light to the world this year.

Ring Out, Wild Bells

Lord Tennyson (1850)

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
   The flying cloud, the frosty light:
   The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
   Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
   The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
   For those that here we see no more;
   Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
   And ancient forms of party strife;
   Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
   The faithless coldness of the times;
   Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
   The civic slander and the spite;
   Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
   Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
   Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
   The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
   Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

~TDD

Small Animals and Cookies

To me, my life seems rather mundane. I work. I love my cats. I hug my husband. I read, I write. I take pictures. I write some more. I go shopping. I cook. Sometimes I get to travel, sometimes I take more pictures of interesting things. I talk with my friends, I drop in to say hello, and invite them to sit in the hot tub and talk about philosophical ideas, while looking at the brilliant stars. It seems, well, kind of boring.

I do other things, don’t get me wrong. I am a Freemason and have been for 25 years. I have all the degrees. Yes, all of them. That in itself shocks me, but I’ll continue. I travel for that love of Freemasonry, and I help people, hopefully, on their Masonic journey. Much of my writing comes and goes through a Masonic lens. I love to cook and play in the kitchen, and I like to grow herbs and play with making things from them. Music is always high on my likes and listen-tos, as is art of all kinds. A symphony or a ballet? Yes. An art museum or a very cool art opening? Heck, yes. I believe in championing the arts and artists. I am blessed with original works from very talented painters an photographers. I am who I am and I kinda like it. No, I do like it. As Oscar said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”

I’m coming off a year of weirdness. Caretaker and handling the aftermath of a parental death, a new home, a new job (same company…), and yes, the kicker, menopause. Why say it? So every one of you can either sympathize or groan (I hear you, men. Sympathy for the spouse is acceptable.) No one is more aware of the weirdness and ugliness that can come from that hormonal shift than the woman going through it. Sometimes, it’s a body betraying me. What I knew to be true has fled. Things hurt. Things take longer to do and to heal. I forget the weirdest things. Sometimes, that forgetfulness is helpful in terribly awkward situations. I have no problem admitting I have no idea what someone is talking about now. At least in a personal situation. I care less about the highs and lows that emotions can bring. I get angry a LOT less. A. Lot.

Then, there are the cat videos. And stories of animal rescues. Oh, yes. I can sit for an hour looking at how the human beings of the planet, because it’s everywhere, can be cruel and heartless to creatures that offer them nothing except love. The last one, a dog shot in the face and blinded, put me over the top. Why do I watch them? Hell if I know. Hell. If. I. Know. Is that a Maiden-turning-Crone thing? Maybe it’s a Joan Baez thing – get the hell out and change the world before you can’t any more thing. What I do know is that I do not want to be associated with anyone who has that kind of cruelty. If you can be cruel to something that unconditionally loves you, how do you treat those who might actually, and most probably will, hurt you? I don’t want a life without animals. Torturing myself to watch these rescue videos… I think it keeps me from having my head in the sand about how people can really be.

The world continues and this year is now fraught with family sickness, dealing with trustee and social security issues, that new job growing into a monster, changes in travel, and figuring out how to keep sane in a world that wants anything but your sanity. I am blessed and tired and hopelessly sad at animal videos. At least I’m alive – right?

For a further escape, the new freak is cooking videos. Tasty. Kitchen Stories. It doesn’t matter where they come from. If I feel like I want to run away, I learn how to bake a new type of cookie. Can I eat them? Hell no. Because, you know, aging and blood sugar boojoo, But, I can make 12 dozen for Christmas for friends. Oh, and there are some very good videos out there. Talk about extremes. Learn a life lesson about humanity or cook for it. One of the two, bring it on. I can take it. Killer chicken jalapeño soup or chicken soup for the soul. Matzo balls, no charge.

Please tell me that the world is as weird or normal as me.

Random Musings

The coffee house music was playing in the background as I walked across the wide planked, oak floors to slump into a worn wooden chair. Newspapers littered the table, detritus of another morning in another life, a parallel human universe that intersected with black words and crossword puzzles. I imagined a man sitting here, reading glasses pushed up over his short, gray hair, leaning back, black pen in his teeth, as he contemplated the next word. White tee shirt over cargo shorts, lean tanned legs, and middle-aged arms. He’s thoughtful. He gets up quickly, startles his neighbors, tosses the papers into a pile on the table and leaves. Leaving behind the intersection for me to stumble upon. The shop is quiet, save for the music droning in the background. I am sad, for a brief moment, that it wasn’t me that could stop for a moment and fill in that crossword puzzle. That is wasn’t me that breathed in the slowness of the morning air, relaxed with a deep sigh into the chair, sipping my coffee, waiting for the day to be on. The sadness is more than that. It’s almost as if I could place myself in this man’s place, for as I said, I imagine him to be a man. I can sit here and be him, and once transported back to my own place and time, I am sad for having lost the being of him.

Its in moments like this that I feel like something is passing me by. Another life that was once mine or could have been mine, like a railroad track veering off toward the right, a spur of steel and wood that was one of my destinies slipping into a ravine, never seen again. A surge of sleepiness takes me into its hands, cradling my sorrow with small, fluffy clouds of ennui. I do realize that I am doing what I am is what I have made myself, and it’s far from something to be sad about. There’s a kind of disjointedness that takes over from the heart when the head kicks in. They reach for each other, yet never quite touch, but straining as each insistent organ send out tendrils desperate to interlace.

The afternoon brings a plane flight home. As we circle over the smaller and smaller landscape, I see the place I grew up, the places I envision when day dreaming about what might have been. The air strip seems too small to carry the vastness of what this plane means. I notice a single truck, cargo style, driving down the highway toward the bridge toll. I see where he’s going, I have been there at 10000 feet. I think down to that driver and wonder, who is in the cab? Does he have a passenger? What music is playing, what is he seeing in front of him that I cannot? What have I seen that he cannot? So many intersecting lives, from on the ground to up in the air, we observe and thus, we effect. I wonder, would my view from up here really change the course of someone down there? Am I really in the right place at the right time, in order to affect the change that needs to happen…there?

I imagine that the driver of that truck is dark haired, dark skinned, listening to streaming Spanish music, his muscular arms and hands gripping the plastic steering wheel and shifting foot to brake, to gas, and to brake again, as he urgently bounces on degraded asphalt in his bid to get across the bridge before evening traffic. He has no passenger. The windows are open, the cool fog-less night of the San Francisco Bay pushing out the smell of stale plastic floor mats. The sun is setting and streams of dust motes flicker golden on the slightly chipped windshield. All this from ten thousand feet. I wonder if I have created that or did it exist somewhere in time captured from memory or dream?

How much do our thoughts create? How wide and how vast does the energy of thought take our world? There’s the argument that there is an objective reality and that anything our thoughts provide in the way of backdrop is just that – window dressing on a world that exists as it is. Perhaps that is true. Perhaps the only reality that we can perceive is that which resides within our minds. Our minds take the sensory input of the world and through a creative process of interpretation based on experience, history, and knowledge we come up with a distinct version of the world that is ours alone. Does that mean it is reality? Perhaps, and perhaps not. What is reality anyway? Maybe this is a topic for another, less-tired moment in my life.

For now, I sip coffee and muse about the universe that is the one I know. I can create all kinds of dramas in my own mind to keep me amused. Maybe like a Twilight Zone episode, someday I’ll find out what I have created. Until then, another Americano, please.

-TDD

A Search for Meaning

I woke up this morning, this early Summer morning, at 5:21am, with the sun beginning to stream through the tall, thin pines in the forest behind the house. No curtains and festooned with three cats, I felt locked into place; prying eyes inside and out. There were no prying eyes outside; backing up to a forest affords us a certain set of “passes” that the urban dweller just cannot get. The moment my eyes open, the cats, with their keen sense of another’s consciousness, let their growing hunger be known. It was time to “rise and shine.”

I stumbled into the bathroom and get my glasses, herded the cats toward the kitchen with promises of love and kibble, and thought, do I really want to make coffee? The spouse is away and I gazed at the coffee leftovers from yesterday. It’ll do. I’m up, but inherently lazy this morning. I had to write a speech for an upcoming event, send a few emails, and do the morning necessaries. I glanced at the open library, sitting there, begging. I can’t, I thought. I have things to do.

Whenever the spouse is away, I am very quiet. I try to figure out what I want. What music should I play? Bath or shower? Do I want to eat breakfast or just wait for an early lunch? To game or to read? To write or to walk? It seems like it’s a time of exploration, and most of the time I just end up writing. It’s a fallback love. No, it’s a forever love.

I just wrote another blog on walking in someone else’s shoes. What does it mean to try to find empathy? What does it mean when you find it? Does it mean anything? I’m surrounded here by very smart, dynamic, energetic people with large vision and good hearts. I love my community and my chosen family. We don’t always like what each other does but we certainly enjoy who we are when we are with them. We shape each other to be better people. It’s nice to be older and mature enough to slough off the shackles of societal confines and just be…me.

Sometimes, though, even now or maybe especially now, I wonder who “me” is. I don’t want to be anything other than I am, and I am always questioning who I am. No, that’s not right. I’m not questioning it. I’m digging into it. I’m discovering it. I’m testing it. What do I like? What don’t I like? What is good for me and what isn’t? Job, family, friends, food, exercise. There’s a lot to think about and some of it doesn’t need thinking. Some of it just needs being. Some of it shouldn’t even be a question.

Sipping my warmed-up-leftover coffee, I flip through a recent article on global warming. Climate change. I think back to the conversation a group of us recently had on climate change. It was a civil conversation, no name calling, nothing divisive. People stated what they had read about (which was indefinable at best) and what they deduced. It’s difficult to have an opinion on science. Science is, well, science. There were lots of good pieces on why it’s happening and how some of it may *not* be human induced. Some of it may. It’s hard to take all the factors into account. When asked how I thought, I tentatively raised my hand on one side. I wondered if I could have this conversation with all my friends and family. Probably not. I am afraid to be me sometimes in the presence of judgment. I’m not as strong as I appear at times.

We tend to think of the meaning of life in terms of our deaths. How will it be when it all ends for us? What traps did we live in and how do we know what is right, wrong, or the purpose? Should we blindly put our heads down and plunge forward with “work,” or do we have a reason behind our work? Is it important that we know? Will we know once we’re done? Maybe our consciousness will just blend with everything else, and we’ll become part of a mass network of consciousness strung out across the stars. Then, will the meaning of our lives really matter?

When I think back on life, my life in terms of, well, my life, I think about all that I’ve done. It’s thin. There’s a lot of should in my silent, mental vocabulary. There’s a lot of how come I don’t have the energy to do that, or shouldn’t I be better at that now, or why don’t I already have that skill mastered. I feel failure often. I listen to others and think how wonderfully smart they are, how skilled a living, how joyous, how full of energy and ideas. Perhaps I spend far too much time alone. I have a secret thought, sometimes, and that is that I’m not fully baked yet. I’m not done being ready for whatever I’m supposed to be doing. That seems weird but there it is. I’m voicing it for the first time, and maybe the last. So, then, what do I need to do? What is the meaning behind me? And what if I’m wrong?

This all sounds dangerously nihilistic. I don’t think so. I think that we determine our lives, and if we don’t, the circumstances of our existence will. How we lived is our life’s meaning, even if we disregard it as important or even relevant. That is, in the end, we will have lived something and someone will review that something with a critical eye, good or bad, and learn something from it. A friend. A family member. Maybe this is why we have funerals and wakes; they teach us to learn something from everyone. The more people attending, the more education we’ve provided to a thirsty world.

We Americans live in a very thin society; the need to fill ourselves with things, experiences, and feelings. The drive to achieve success, defined by some 94-page magazine or celebrity TV show. The ability to achieve success with a rant and rage on Facebook or create an app to solve a perceived problem. We send money to organizations to do the work we’re unwilling to do – we don’t have time, we’re exhausted from commuting or families, no time for community or fraternity. We are children who get upset that someone took our toys and then move on to the next incident. The strong prey on our inability to focus. We’re an ADHD country. I don’t know what we are as a society but I do know that finding true meaning in all of this is difficult. True community. True work. True progress. These latter are slow, plodding, eventually successful but they take patience. I think it takes fewer of us, too. We can’t make change nationally; we can’t make change by ourselves. Small, concentrated groups make change. It seems we can only make change, and perhaps find meaning, in our smaller communities and states. Therein lies a greater identity. In the small, we find greatness.

I stare out the back window of the house, across the stairs, to the two bird feeders, hanging from iron rods near some trees. I sip my coffee and hug the cat that has climbed up onto my shoulder, and is now purring contentedly. My mind wanders across the view. A squirrel is hanging, upside down, from the feeder, eating happily. A raven, beneath him on the ground, is scooping up the dregs. The sun is bright in the east, above the hills, and creates a crisp view across the dark brown floor of the forest. Nature has no need for meaning; it simply is. Maybe I start there, with my community and family, and just remember that I can just be whatever I am at that moment, and perhaps that is meaning enough.

-TDD