Category Archives: Current Events

The Roses of Our Lives

I know an animal sanctuary where love still wins, where love is always present. It lies in the heart of a family farm nestled deep in a Florida forest.

Here, the life-death continuum is celebrated moment by moment.

And in this moment, I mark the death of feline EmmaRose (ER), a tiny, gray-blue dilute whose top weight was 5.5 pounds. The last I knew, her weight dropped to just over 4 pounds.

At some point in her life she had been declawed but she was a lioness, nonetheless. Even in her waning days, she did not hesitate to attack a cat that was at least double her size.

EmmaRose decided the dimensions of her life.  I don’t think she ever found a dog too large to love but she would not abide a cat. ER grew up with a beagle named Cooper; she would remain a dog lover all her life.

EmmaRose did not begin or end her life with me–we had but six short years—we lived together until eight months ago. We were both chronically ill but my limited physical mobility meant I could no longer meet her care needs.

Maybe a day went by when I did not think of ER but that seems unlikely. We shared a two-room apartment, which was just right for us. After she left, it felt too large. Still does.

This is not a moment of regret. Sometimes, doing the right thing really is the right thing. Maybe it depends on how much it hurts. For me, there are no qualifications for knowing what is right except how my gut feels.

But this I do know: little ER spent the last eight months of her life receiving the love and care that every sentient being should know as death nears.  It was what I could no longer give her.

From the moment she arrived at the animal sanctuary, I not only knew how she was doing but two very thoughtful little girls sent me drawings to show how the rest of her life would be. And that’s how it was.

I received videos and pictures of her interacting with the girls and their toddler brother. It wasn’t all Disney, of course, but ER did enjoy some movie evenings snuggled up with a comforter.

And when it came time for ER to die, the children were with her. EmmaRose went to sleep in the arms of a little girl who loved her. These children, perhaps better than most, understand how precious life is and that it does not last but love does.

We are all star dust. The same energy flows through everything and everyone. No exceptions. We come into the world on it and that’s how we leave. Headed for home.

Until then, there are the roses in our lives, the many colors and kinds of love.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

 

Feats of Thoughtfulness

I cannot think of a moment when kindness is not essential. Yet, it remains a hard practice for me.

Always, I start with the small stuff–especially on difficult days—when I want to shout, not necessarily to be heard but just to shout at senselessness.

I “can build a whole world around the tiniest of touches” (Carol Rifka Brunt)–world building, moment by moment. A kind word or a gentle touch—a hug— interrupts my momentum, perhaps saving me from a slide down yet another slippery slope.

I like to think of world building as a balancing act with kindness keeping me in the middle-of-the-road, providing me perspective on both sides of the spectrum, saving me from the tipping point.

Perhaps this is how we effect change everywhere—in tiny touches with surprising feats of thoughtfulness.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

Forever But Not Forever

Monica de la Torre says, “The sky’s changeups are reminders that this will not drag on forever.” I never thought of the sky as an ongoing image of impermanence but, of course, it is. All I need to do is look up.

It’s rather like binge watching The Man in the High Castle or The Handmaid’s Tale. It takes me out of me to other times similar but not the same. Each story is its own ending.

So, forever but not forever.

In this moment, I am awash in autoimmune disease. Why not look to the sky? An in-the-moment reminder that no thing and no moment ever stays keeps me focused not on what swirls inside me but on what whirls above.

It is worth the walk outside just to watch the world in the sky go by.

Forever but not forever.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

Groundless in the Time of the Impossible

While it seems impossible at first,

you soon recognize that with everything

there is a point of balance

and you just have to find it.

(Amy Tan)

Experience has shown me that in each day a point of balance exists no matter how pervasive the impossible.

I find my fulcrum in the unlikeliest of places. It means going groundless as Pema Chödrön calls it.

I must trust in myself, go all in. After all, becoming comfortable with “getting tossed around with right and wrong” is a lifetime experience (Chödrön). No two times are the same but with practice comes acceptance.

Less and less am I concerned with sides. If I’m on one, I am not on the other. I am separate. It seems to me that survival in this physical dimension relies on connecting separate shores.

Maybe staying connected is our #DailyDose of the impossible. After all, each of us is unique in our expression as a human being. We are born to difference but animated by the same energy. We are all star dust.

Each moment is mine to find my fulcrum, some days a tipping point, some days not.

Every day you may have broken

down in guilt and failure.

Every day may have shown you

your helplessness a thousandfold.

Yet each new day brings

new sun, new air, and new grace.

(Eberhard Arnold)

Groundless in the time of the impossible.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

Upside Down and Inside Out

As I attempt to walk on my own again, my country seeks security somewhere, anywhere. Neither of us is sure of how far to go, much less where.

Yet, it is not our uncertainty that is the problem. We are right where we need to be, “unfolding a new myth” (Rumi).

“Life always bursts the boundaries of formulas” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote in Flight to Arras, a novel about the French Resistance in World War II. We know the outcome of that resistance but its success was far from assured.

Yet defeat—death–was preferable to life lived within a formula. Life turns on a dime— it is impermanent–change turns us upside down, inside out. And if we are Aleppo, we are all but obliterated.

“Defeat may prove to have been the only path to resurrection, despite its ugliness.” That is the history of the human spirit, its rising from a story stuck in repeat. We don’t remember our history so we keep writing the same story.

But what if we strayed from that story? What if we accepted that life turns on a dime–always has, always will. We would walk where uncertainty leads. Would that not be the unfolding of a new myth?

Life always bursts the boundaries of formulas.

Defeat may prove to have been the only path to resurrection,

despite its ugliness. I take it for granted that to create a tree

I condemn a seed to rot. If the first act of resistance comes

too late it is doomed to defeat. But it is, nevertheless,

the awakening of resistance.

Life may grow from it as from a seed.

(Flight to Arras, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry )

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

More Than a Title

I once wrote a blog post entitled “Forgiveness Is More Than an Afterthought.” The title contained more substance than the post but it did offer a fine quotation:

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.

These words are often attributed to Mark Twain or have been since the 1970s. There is no evidence he wrote or said them.  The sentence seems a compilation that crosses centuries.

Sometimes, words work their way out of one story and into the next anecdote until reduced to a single sentence. Words are like that, aren’t they?

They come together in ways we least expect or even hope, especially when we are careless with them. We forget they will come back to us or we hope they don’t. It is only when we are “impeccable with our word” are less violets crushed (Don Miguel Ruiz).

With forgiveness, debt is involved, and it includes all parties. I never really thought about debt and forgiveness until I read a story of a mother forgiving her daughter’s killer.

Over and over she told herself that she must be able to forgive the debt; forgiveness was not complete, however, until the man who killed her daughter no longer felt the debt, either. Only then was the fragrance released.

Few will ever know this mother’s love and strength. I will not but I carry her story with me as a reminder forgiveness is only possible when no one holds onto it.

M. L. Stedman wrote that “You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day.” It is a heavy load, this debt. Only when resentment and regret are crushed does the violet give its last breath.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

A Congress of Old–and Getting Older–White Men

This morning, I “celebrate” the latest GOP idea about healthcare with gluten-free, chocolate chip cookies dipped in unsweetened almond milk. Yes, I know. It is this kind of decision-making and behavior that leads to pre-existing conditions.

Gluten-free or no, what is involved here is sugar, even in unsweetened almond milk, which also contains very few almonds. I just like how it tastes. It is this lack of judgment that has characterized my life. And that is an unforgivable pre-existing condition.

So be it. As a Facebook friend pointed out, being a woman is considered a pre-existing condition by most of the old–and getting older–white men in our current Congress.

Mysteriously, male members have no pre-existing conditions or if they do, those conditions are covered. Just to be safe, Congress has excluded its healthcare system from its citizens.

How can one group of pre-existing conditions be acceptable and another not? That is such dangerous thinking. Human beings evolve. That is the life experience; it is why we are here.

We make disastrous choices–witness our current Congress–then, we learn, often soaring above original intention but not always, witness our current Congress.

If I had consumed less sugar and fewer grains, including gluten-free, would I not have a pre-existing condition? How could that ever be known? There are too many variables. It can be surmised, suggested but it cannot be known absolutely.

Medicine is a science and it evolves. As it learns, it changes. What was once an accepted practice is sometimes discarded altogether. “When we know better, we do better” (Maya Angelou).

It concerns me to come across conversations about pre-existing conditions that carry fault versus those that do not. It is buying into the mindset of exclusion, witness our current Congress. It is a scramble to safety not designed for everyone.

We do not come from the same mold nor should we. We are not here to be clones of one another. We are one for all and all for one.

Human beings need loyalty. It does not necessarily

produce happiness, and can even be painful, but we all require

devotion to something more than

ourselves for our lives to be endurable.

Atul Gawande

Be careful what you wish, old–and getting older–white men.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.