Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

recognising change and transformation

via science dump

Sometimes we forget we’ve changed. Sometimes all we see is the old photo, out of date, blurred by time. But still razor-sharp in our mind’s eye.

Once, the story goes, there was a caterpillar. Who was bright green, ate stinky milkweed, and basically was rather homely. In a pretty green fashion.

Then there was a chrysalis, and it too was bright green. Until it began to darken, to a dark bullet of transformation.

And then, one day in late spring, there was a butterfly — gold wings webbed with satiny black, fascination of children & adults.

It was always going to be a butterfly. It always held within it metamorphosis.

I watch so many people I love concentrate on the caterpillar stage necessary to become a butterfly. The learning curve, the initial clumsiness w/ a new task. The fear that all you are is what you are now, and that not good enough. So that even when the chrysalis comes upon them, and you can almost see them changing? They only remember the chubby caterpillar. They never recognise the metamorphosis.

What if all this time, you’ve been a butterfly? What if the dream you remember is then, and the butterfly is now?

Just a thought. One you might consider, as you go about your days. Maybe all you need to do is look up.

dream big, think hard: for #Ferguson

via FaceBook

via FaceBook

Sometimes, when I wake up in the small hours of the night (as I often do), I lay there thinking. Last night, I was thinking in part about how lucky I am in my two sons. How proud of them I am, what nice men they are. How they phone home, what successes they are making of their lives.

I take very little credit for this — they’re basically smart, good people. What I do take credit for is how lucky they are. Which sounds crazy, I realise. But my sons are white, because I married a white man I met and fell in love with in college, and not the black man I loved my senior year of high school.

no hateWhite men are the luckiest of already lucky  Americans. Who profiles white men? Who would shoot a white 68-year-old, unarmed great-grandfather, in his own driveway? But a black great-grandfather? Dead. With little to no discussion. And if you go to see what this man looked like? You don’t see a picture of a great-grandfather playing w/ his family; you are directed to a booking photo for the victim. As if having tangled w/ the law (misdemeanours) somehow justifies his death. The same kind of profiling Michael Brown, shot in Ferguson, still faces.

A dear friend lives just outside of Ferguson. The day Michael Brown was shot to death, she was trying to drive the street where he lay in a pool of his own blood. For hours. Given the open season on young black men? It might have been her son. Might have been the son of another dear friend, here in Tulsa, where just two years ago a couple of young white men shooting five black Tulsans, & killing three of them. Any of them could have been a dear friend,  or the son of a dear friend.

no killingI am sick of death. Heartsick, literally sick at heart, w/ that heavy feeling that comes when pain is too deep for tears. We are killing our children, and leaving their children fatherless.  All in the name of law, pretending that a gun in a policeman’s hand is an acceptable judge & jury.

Just today, I was involved in a discussion of the Civil War, apropos of a comment by a Colorado state board of education member that “we [the USA] ended it [slavery] voluntarily.” (And yes, she really said that.) Another friend & colleague said that some states DID abolish slavery, and that was important to know. Yessss, but…

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technology gratitude

via google

via google

Technology — and loving sons — is a winning combination. My younger son emailed today, asking for book suggestions. The email said he was getting ready to go to India.

Now, I knew this. But you didn’t call first? And you know what? He meant next week, Mom, so chill.

Which I did. Eventually.

AFTER the Skype call. :)

Let’s hear it for technology. Let’s hear it for being able to call your son on a computer, see his handsome face and Viking beard (sooo appropriate, since he’s currently in Sweden), and visit.

Let’s hear it for back-facing cameras, that let him see his father’s new boot, the knee scooter my beloved whizzes through the downstairs on, and us.

via google

via google

Beginner’s hearts need connection, especially w/family. We need to visit, ideally over tea, but even over wifi will do. Or other tech. At lunch, my sister bragged that her youngest had FaceBooked friends that going to university w/ her mom was ‘dope.’ We sighed, happy to have such wonderful kids.

And happy that our mutual use of technology affirms & enriches those connections, immeasurably. If I can’t be w/ you? Skype (or FB) is a passable 2nd & 3rd. Not as good as tea, of course, but still passable!

fire, clouds, linings, and all that stuff

via wikipedia

via wikipedia

Fire destroys. Especially in parks. And yet, it can have consequences beyond the immediate destruction, even the resultants deaths.

This is a picture of the inferno that blazed on the Rim vista point, in the Stanislaus National Forest. It cost approximately $127 million to fight.

The fire that devastated Yellowstone still haunts visitors — there are thousands of sere lodgepole pine skeletons reaching skyward. They march across the horizon like their own grave markers, thin black silhouettes.  Even now, so many years later (13?), you can see entire acreages of bleak grey sentinels, standing watch over the younger vegetation below.

But fire also renews. Most of us who visit national parks know about the serotinus conifers —  pines, cypress, sequoias — that need fire to help seeds sprout. Fire helps habitat for grazers, as well, opening up more area for grassland beneath the denuded trees. Ash is an excellent fertiliser.

Still, no one seeks out a raging fire. No one intentionally sets fire, other than in carefully managed circumstances. Because fire, when uncontrolled, is so very destructive.

National Park Service / EPA

National Park Service / EPA

And yet… It’s beautiful, fire. From a distance — away from the killing heat, the fatal smoke? There are few things lovelier. Witness the picture of the recent Yosemite Half Dome fire.

That’s today’s lesson for my beginner’s heart. Sometimes what seems catastropic, or at the very least severely destabilising, is a form of controlled burn. We can be renewed through it. And no, it’s not particularly pleasant. I’m sure the deaths suffered in the great Yellowstone fires are still mourned. But the new growth? The new grazing, the young saplings, the revitalisation? That’s the legacy of fire.

I’m sure this is some kind of lesson, all gleaned from a picture sent me by a friend. Just a picture of beautiful fire, seen from a distance. Doing what it does best — both destroying & renewing. The destruction is obvious, as is the beauty, if you’re far enough away. But you have to look for the renewal. And it takes a while. I’m ready.


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