While my son is in his piano lesson at our local music store, I sit in the foyer tapping and swiping away on my phone. It is two weeks away from the end-of-year concert when budding musicians play their best rehearsed song on a stage in front of mostly parents. My son flat out refuses to do this. When he first refused, I made a couple of encouraging remarks to help him get over what I thought was his nervousness. But then I shrugged. No problem, I said, we can both just watch. He doesn’t practice, not formally. Some mornings, before school, he stands in front of his keyboard banging away at the keys overtop a terrible demo-song and sometimes he’ll turn off the accompaniment to play little tunes like Ducks on the Pond or Old MacDonald. While I am looking forward to his playing improving, I don’t encourage him to practice. He is only six after all.Read More
“How wonderful it is that nobody needs to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” ~ Anne Frank
Harold, my grandfather, was a bee keeper, a peach farmer, a gardener, a volunteer with the Amnesty International. He, like many radical pacifists, is someone who didn’t make a huge name for himself in the way we tend to think is most important. He did not get famous or make a lot of money. He was a quiet man who always seemed to be smiling. This inconspicuous way of living is something to admire and no less meaningful or impactful than those of us whose lives and words are booming in the daily news.Read More
I love the sounds in a coffee shop. Two men next to me in quiet conversation. Bjork unobtrusively singing out of the speakers and the milk-foamer giving off occasional bursts that sound like a television gone fuzzy. A woman laughing across the room at a joke I didn’t hear. All this company and, except for the occasional chat with other regulars, I don’t talk to anyone.
I came here to write about intimacy. I don’t know if being here is intimacy, but it is enough connection to cut the edge off the bleakness that often comes at this time of the year, after the winter silence turns stale. This proximity to others, even those who I don’t know, gives me the right amount of distraction from myself to start writing.Read More
I was a feminist before I would have considered myself a spiritual seeker. Growing up, I had an abundance of female role models who were politically active, outspoken, and unwavering in their march through patriarchy, whether they would have put it this way or not. I modeled much of their behavior, knowing that there was something we were pitting ourselves against but I could not have told you exactly what that was. To borrow a metaphor from Carol Lee Flinders, I was aware of a bad smell coming from somewhere but it took me awhile to begin discovering the source of this rotting stench.Read More
“Hope — a faculty decidedly different from and far more muscular than optimism.”
~ Maria Popova
Perhaps I am only beginning to understand hope. Last year, I wrote an article on the peace of hopelessness. This reflection came from studying a moment in my life when the specific outcome I had been hoping for in a certain situation vanished. In that moment, living the circumstances that I feared the most, I became hopeless and curiously enough, I relaxed.
After the article on hopelessness was published, a cyber-friend wrote me an email saying that maybe I had missed something. Then he sent me a story he wrote about hope, which he metaphorically likened to the tiny spring in a cuckoo clock he had been piecing together during a difficult time in his life. I have remembered this and have continued to wonder about hope. Because I knew even as I published the article that I was not ready to give up hope entirely. Hope is utterly necessary.Read More