New decade who dis?

Hard rain against the windows, turning icy as it hits. Dark and gray, quiet and warm inside, and Kitchen Man has biscuits and gravy in the works. No early-morning walk for him, no PickleBall with the crew. He’ll be here playing guitar while I do that thing I do… that space-off thing.

It’s a cold, cruel world out there this morning. It can be a cold, cruel world everywhere you look… unless you know where to look. Like the story about the six-year-old who’s raised $100k so far for Australian fire relief through the little clay koalas he makes…

Or the rescue on Wednesday of a 68-yr-old woman with dementia, lost for six days in the California mountains, her car covered with snow, who looked at her heroes and said “I’m very cold, I hope you brought a blanket.”

That same afternoon, Massachusetts State Police stopped a car containing an 11-yr-old girl who’d been kidnapped when she stepped off her school bus, in something of a miracle rescue, where she was a total champion through the whole thing and gets to go home and live her life.

So as the little icicles lengthen on the balcony railing, I’m thinking what a nice round number 2020 is, one we’ll not see again in our lifetimes. We won’t make it to 3030 or 4040, possibly this Big Blue Marble won’t either, so plump 2020 strikes me as the year to say what we mean and mean what we say, we don’t have forever.

This feeler has always had a hard time leaving things behind… sentimental trinkets, cards, letters… relationships. But after so many years, Steven Wright’s philosophy comes into play: You can’t have everything, where would you put it?

Reality bites:

  • Only certain things matter on this trip between birth and death.
  • People head that list, family in bold lettering at the top.
  • Energy is finite so I’m sticking with the people who are sticking with me.

To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it against your bones
knowing your own life depends on it:
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

~ Mary Oliver
In Blackwater Woods

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What scares you?

So what really scares you? Not BOOGA-BOOGA pants-crapping scared, where your skin crinkles up and makes little screeching noises with sparklers on the ends.  More like what are you AFRAID of … that fundamental sense of dread that a cog will drop into a random sprocket somewhere and life will change.  Fear of loss is a keen motivator — what else drives us with that same force?

But what if life changed and you lived through that?  And what if it happened over and over ’til you realized how brave you were and then you just started doing things and saying things you didn’t know you could do and say?  What if people didn’t get any of that and you didn’t care?  What if you just started kicking ass, including your own, and life really did change and you wouldn’t change it back if you had the chance?  WHAT IF?  Not the question I want to be asking myself when I’m gowning up for the choir eternal.  What if I’d done all those things I knew I could do?  What if I’d let myself be who I knew I was?  And to quote Captain Obvious, what if I’d just been nicer?  Regret, let’s not have to go there.

Holy balls, I’ve survived too long to let fear force me back into the box, and by now he’s like an old friend anyway, sort of.  You know, keep your friends close, your enemies closer, and your powder dry.

“I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise.”  ~Dawna Markova

*A previously published piece, lightly edited for re-post.

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Ready to leap?

Once again our little gaggle of planets have turned and rolled and done that thing they do that brings us to another trip around the sun, the great flaming Ra that keeps us just toasty enough to neither freeze nor fry if we have a lick of sense whatsoever, which every trip proves some do not, although many, sadly, don’t have a choice.

Now commences the ritual of preparedness for the arrival of another clean start – those things we do, the purging, the cleansing, the making room for the new. The things we swore this time last year we wouldn’t be staring at again, yet here they are, taking up space, morosely mocking us, flashing a hardly deserved middle finger since they were complicit in the fact of their existence. They called to us, those online purchases, with their suspect but irresistible sale prices. They cleverly rode in on invisible coattails, those ubiquitous email subscriptions that accumulate in stacks on the daily (!!). The paperwork we don’t need, don’t want, don’t have the energy to file but don’t quite possess the total abandon to toss – guess that’s never going away after all, despite our dedicated green-ness. Our shallowness would make me weep, but greater things preceded it and my tears are temporarily dry.

I digress, boys and girls, we’re vamping for 2020 and we’d best be ready – I heard on the interwebs it’s gonna be a lulu. But then, we’ve been training, so…

And what I DID NOT KNOW until this very moment as I was musing on a title, is that 2020 is a leap year, yes it is, so let’s all stay on our toes! Very best wishes to all as we say goodbye to the old we’re not keeping and hello to the new we’re welcoming. It comes to us every year, ready or not, so pull up your socks and let’s go!

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Waiting for the Wise Men

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Wait! Breathe…

 

One by one

dig the clods

from your throat

and recall what breathing felt like

 

Leave the answers

to people who have them

what you don’t know

hurts less than what stands in for real

 

Tell yourself you

don’t care that might makes right

that right doesn’t matter

that upside down is how we do things now

 

You don’t care

it doesn’t matter make a note

it’s what saves you until they turn the lights back on

and the night-critters scatter until next hoedown

 

Not to care

makes the days fruitless

and the nights frightening

but no other armor has been provided to the rank and file

 

So wait here in limbo stasis

until the rules change for better

to something your heart will see when right counts again

you know it always did no matter what the storytellers say 

 

JSmith 11/22/2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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That fragile balance…

Trading anxiety for peace is no small beans. It takes constant focused attention and intention. Attention to the little things, the small ingrained habits that carry us through our days, the attitudes that are dear to us, that come to define us despite our best intentions, and there it is, the second word. As a lover of words, sarcasm is dear to my heart and often shapes and moves my intentions far more than I’m aware, coloring my attitudes and leading me down rabbit trails that don’t look or feel all that peace-laden.

Twitter, one of my habits, is a bizarre world of its own, but it’s good for speaking unvarnished truth with an economy of words. I don’t advise hanging out there if a sense of humor isn’t your strong suit, and even then it takes a toll on us softies. Jeez, the viciousness is truly unbelievable, the worst of it emanating from equally incredible stupidity and thus fairly easily rolled off. When it issues forth from people who I know are educated and who should therefore know better, I have to bail out for a while and remind myself what the thinking, feeling, caring world looks and sounds like, wrap myself up in that, and consciously choose PEACE. Again. On purpose. Until I get it right and it becomes my new habit, and the state of my psyche rightly reflects the life I actually live instead of the insanity of a percentage of the population I don’t even recognize.

No matter how passionately we might involve ourselves in knowing what’s going on at the various levels of government and society, we ultimately understand the infinitesimal effect we personally have on any of it, and yet some of us can’t refrain from adding our words to the mix in the hope of either connecting with one other soul or ridding our own soul of a tiny portion of the burden we bear because maybe we care too much. It does help a little, especially the connection part, and so we persist, we feelers. We seek a place of workable peace while trying not to shirk our responsibility for our fellow humans and other creatures.

It’s a balance not easily won, and why would we expect it to be? This is the stuff life is made of, the big questions, the literal life and death choices. So it’s okay to spend a little time weighing the options, even when we annoy the partial life out of people around us. The ones who love us finally get it, cut us the slack we need, and try to roll with us, which is so cool. Because this (waves hands around) just goes on and on and nobody knows the endgame so here we are, and loving each other and being real are all that count. Life really is so fragile.

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Annnnd…

ROAD TRIP, BABIES !!

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We shall haiku on…

inspiration gone

could return if life sorts out

may be a long road

JSmith 12/08/2017

*****

falling asleep on

a pillow soaked with tears makes

for a soggy rest

JSmith 11/12/2017

*****

the rollercoaster

is eating my lunch today

walking away now

JSmith 11/9/2017

*****

doubt butts into life

and tricks us into sorry

paralyzation

JSmith 09/28/2017

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Of seasons, surprises & sass..

What a season of life this is. While I own up front to having been keenly honed in on the political landscape since at least Obama, a lot of heavy-duty things have gone right on happening on a personal level that have required all the strength, stamina, patience, and fire-proof humor I could throw at them.

This past year alone has been full of opportunities for natural growth. Kim shattered his wrist and went through months of healing and therapy, the PT part of which is ongoing via his guitar playing, which the accident could have ended but didn’t. It’s sweet when I can neatly tie up all the loose ends like that – it so rarely happens in real life.

I found out about a friend’s suicide – heard it from a stranger at Christmas time, and that’s exactly what I mean about loose ends. I’m still dealing with it, but I am dealing because I know from experience that when you don’t it gets all kinds of worse. Natural growth.

People we love dissolved their relationship, something we were not only the last to see coming, we never saw it at all. We’re either a) true believers, b) gullible, c) out of touch with the world, or d) all of the above. I’m guessing it’s d) and I don’t care, for all the right reasons – mine.

Other people we love retired and moved several states away. We’re deliriously happy for them, but tears have been and will be shed. Lots of great stories already, though, so on we roll.

A few people exasperated me this year with their strange need for me to think like they do or justify why not, so I changed my whole approach to social media and it’s been like a benediction – such sweet peace. Now I can in some ways, for some few moments at a time, order my immediate world the way I like it. And in seasons of life such as we find ourselves currently experiencing, that matters.

Namasté, friends. 🙏

If you could see inside my head, it might look something like this…

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Peace …

Best wishes for peace and joy to you and all you love throughout the holiday season and the new year…

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A disclaimer?

Something you discover when you start scooping sand into boxes as raw material for sand castles, aka readable pieces of writing, is that if you’re writing for yourself the content can get rough for others to wade through at times. Therapy is rarely pretty or pleasant, but instead of locking the door and writing alone in the dark I leave the choice to my readers who’ve signed on – stay or go, read or skip, understand or drop by the wayside – because it helps me to think I’m bouncing those thoughts and feelings off someone who might be persuaded to care.

I know it’s been increasingly dicey here on Playing for Time over the past couple of years as I’ve clawed my way through a mountain of shock and disbelief at the changes in the country I’ve always called home and tried to reconcile what I know with what I see happening out there. I’ve undoubtedly stepped on toes and caused offense, as haven’t we all, in trying to feel our way through a labyrinth we don’t recognize as familiar territory anymore. In a gene pool rife with bipolarism I’ve experienced for the first (or maybe worst) time the heavy hand of actual depression, not to the point of requiring extra meds, but a far streak past The Blues. 

That glow out there on the horizon this week – I want to think that’s end-of-the-tunnel-quality light, but I’ve finally earned my Cynic’s stripes so I’m not holding my breath. I do think democracy is going to win this one and that we’re eventually going to heal. I believe important things will have been won – and a few crucial ones will have been lost – by the time the smoke clears. We have risked much in being so willing to square off and choose sides – things we may miss as a semblance of normalcy returns – but we’ll survive this, I believe that now; whereas, there’ve been moments when I was none too sure.

If you’ve been here since early on, that’s cool and I thank you. If you’re a newbie, that’s cool too. If you take a quick romp back through the archives you’ll see that I’ve written about the most eclectic of subjects, so I could hit yours eventually. 

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Studies in human nature…

Solitude_IAC

 

“I vant to be alone.” ~ Greta Garbo

Except, according to Ms. Garbo, “I never said, ‘I want to be alone.’ I only said, ‘I want to be let alone!’ There is all the difference.”

There is all the difference.

You can’t do much writing, unless you’re journaling about one of the dustier sciences, without becoming a student of human nature, an endlessly intriguing and confusing subject. Who could ever comprehend humans? And having somehow done so, how would we ever live with what we’d learned about each other?

Once in a while the undercurrent of low-grade depression that accompanies my existence gets to be a bit much and I’m forced to acknowledge its existence to the point of taking a break from whatever seems to be the main problem. This time, Facebook was clearly leaving me in a state, so a Fall Sabbatical was an easy decision, and I’d no sooner closed the door than my normal sunny personality started breaking through again. Full disclosure, I also activated my sleepy Twitter account around that same time and started finding *inner healing* through shooting my mouth off.  To each her own poison.

Yesterday iMessage, which I can get to on my desktop now only through Facebook (I need a teenager, STAT), contained an odd and off-putting message that still has me in a mood. It was a clip of a skit enacted by young black students, male & female, dressed in scrubs, shooting police officers with automatic weapons, along with a personal message that said in part: “I have felt that you lean towards only seeing one side. I know you have taken a recess from FB and I just wanted you to see this. Are the youth in our schools being given permission to have such disregard for authority? This will only lead to more serious problems.”

Why now? Why purposely back me into a corner when I’ve said I need the exact opposite of that for a while?  I can wish mightily that I had answers, but I don’t. I’m tired. My head is tired, my heart is tired, I just need to go in a different direction for a few weeks and let some of the nastiness of recent battles filter out a little. I’m angry. Angrier than I’ve ever been in my life that lizardy old men think it’s just fine that other men assault and take advantage of young girls like I once was, and they laugh about it and celebrate it and elevate each other to the highest offices in the land. So angry. For the first time in my life there are people I hate.

It would have been an excellent time to let me alone. I asked nicely, after all, like any good little American girl would do. And we see, over and over and over again, how that works out.

 

 

 

 

 

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The good…the bad…the good…

silhouette-of-guitar-player-15

 

First things first: An important bit of business – Kim got a new cast yesterday, his second, but Dr. Huston decided to wait another week to remove the stitches. I got to see them and they’re perfect – and his arm isn’t badly bruised or scary-looking so we’re all kinds of encouraged. While I iPadded in the Waiting Room, new X-rays were taken and a lighter-weight fiberglass cast put on, leaving his fingers a little more free but once again reaching to his armpit, this time placing his arm in the supinate position rather than pronate, and incorporating a swanky but awkward elbow-rest configuration. In a week the plan calls for stitches out and a smaller, even lighter cast. Today the plan calls for addressing the severe case of Cabin Fever that has set in and taken up residence. Looking for our Creative Caps…

And while the Big Guy is taking a walk, for starters, in the crisp fall air, allow me to quote George Takei: “It appears the Age of Unreason truly has begun.” He said that on Twitter this morning and if you’ve been keeping up with the news at all during the past week you know exactly what he meant. And if you haven’t, of course, the only thing to do is leave it there, with the qualifying comment that I can’t decide if I feel any better for the fact that it now has a name.

I’ve learned three things this week, three things I’ve instinctively understood all my life but never owned out in the open: 1) incomplete men fear women – our intelligence, our anger, and our truth-telling; 2) we’re expected to keep those things quiet and behind closed doors; and 3) we will never be forgiven by incomplete men, and the women who protect them, for being vocal and public with our intelligence, our anger, and our truth-telling. It’s been a tough week in America.

Guess who has a cracked-up wrist and will be seeing Tommy Emmanuel this Sunday night? My Kim, who deserves every break he can get. Sometimes I’m so funny…

But seriously, folks, when he was out walking he saw a handbill for TE, one of his all-time guitar heroes, who will be playing a block away in a tiny historic theater in our smallish historic city, and there were actually a few balcony tickets left. I’m so happy for him – it’s been a tough couple of weeks in Kim World.

 

 

 

 

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