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Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

poetry, politics, and beginner’s heart

If changing the world is your fight, it will exhaust you.

But if it’s just your way of being, it will be effortless!

So promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate.

~ Buddhist Boot Camp

This is going to be my New Year’s resolution #1. Stop going off on things. Because I do, as anyone who knows me even slightly knows well. :)

grief3I’m going to remember what Robert Frost said: Poetry is about the grief. Politics is about the grievance. And be more a poet than a politico. :) Politics is important, certainly. Law can protect people from the actions of mean-hearted people. But it doesn’t often change the attitudes of those people. It doesn’t change hearts.

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That’s what poetry is for.  Dealing with the grieving fallout of racism directed at a child (those chilling pictures of Ruby Bridges running the gauntlet of hate), the battered psyche of a young boy beaten by homophobic bullies, the terror in the eyes of a girl who will never ‘date’ without thinking of its silent partner, ‘rape.’ new year resolutions

If a book can galvanise a country to illegalise slavery, then perhaps a poem (or an essay or a story or another piece of art) can change a heart. Without the acrid aftermath of anger.

I think it’s at least a good place to begin, this New Year’s Day. What about you? What do you resolve to do this year?

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farewells, and a goodbye belief

goodbye2I’m not good at goodbye. Nor farewell, nor see ya later. Nor any kind of leave-taking. HATE them. Too many moves as a kid. Too many folks I’ll never see again.

Buddhism is the ultimate goodbye belief. You know: the whole everything is transient thing? How everything passes? And you do realise: ‘pass’ is just a euphemism for IT DIES.

Sheesh. Talk about ending up in your discomfort zone.

Yesterday it was my elder son, DIL, & grandson. Today it’s my younger son. Every day it seems like there are farewells to be said. Sometimes just goodnight. Sometimes far more permanent.

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We didn’t think so at the time, but when my mother died, it took an entire day. She’d had Alzheimer’s, so we knew she was dying for a while. But the actual process took a bit. Which during the hours, seemed like hell. But now? How lucky we were to be able to say goodbye. To sing to her, to hold her, to let her go. goodbye3

Putting my sons, DIL, and grandson on planes is nothing like even the little death that is sleep and nightmare. But these days, life seems far shorter than it did even a decade ago. Anything can happen in uncertain times, it feels like.

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That’s the upside of a goodbye faith: everything is very precious. Because you KNOW it will pass — die a natural death, and change into something else. The seasons — those signposts of life for so many religious festivals — remind us of this: spring’s growth is burgeoning summer is autumn flame is the bare twisted branches of winter.

And saying goodbye remains my hardest task.

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Aftermas: the importance of taking/ making time

christmas hourglassThere’s an inevitable fall-off after Christmas. All the fierce anticipation — even for grown-ups! — of presents (given or received), the worry about dinner (especially for the cooks!), and just the fatigue resulting from late nights baking, wrapping, and picking up family from the airport.

And that’s for a relatively perfect Christmas holiday. Just imagine if you have no real home, no money for the have-to-have toy, or maybe have lost someone you love. What do you do after Christmas? I can’t imagine — our first-world, happy Christmas blues are all I want to ever deal with.

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In our family, we solved the post-Christmas doldrums accidentally. Trying to accommodate new family members, their families, and various work schedules, we have our huge family celebration late — this year on December 28th. We call it Aftermas. :)

Everyone brings things — we host at our house (it’s the biggest, and closer than my niece’s, the next largest). Vegetarians introduce us to great non-meat dishes that are more than simple sides. Meat eaters scarf the spiral ham and brisket that have become tradition. And I work hard at devouring ALL the many salads & sides; we haven’t even gotten to dessert! christmas hourglass2

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It takes forever to feed us all — there will be about 20 or so this year, including holiday orphans and partners and rug rats. And in my family, when you unwrap gifts, you do it one by one. Every year the next generation rebels and stages a mutiny. So far, the four sisters (my three sisters & I) have won the field, and we still unwrap for HOURS. It’s glorious!

There’s so much paper that we all feel a bit guilty. Even though as I’ve said, I save the ribbon and ALL the bags the kids haven’t squashed. There’s a LOT of loud laughter, teasing, bad puns, and talking with mouths very full.

But more important, there’s time. Santa has come & gone, and there’s been at least one or two days to calm down. So that the food is welcome again, and the grownups aren’t worn to a frazzle from wrapping. The kids aren’t up to their necks in sugar, and the whole celebration is…well, more celebratory.Even when my beloved & I each commit — w/out consulting the other — to keeping my wonderful grandson the WHOLE DAY I should be shopping & cooking & fixing.

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maslow's hiearchyThe more I think about it, the more I wonder if time shouldn’t be on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Right up there with love & belonging. Because time — the time to enjoy love, the time to appreciate your family, your tribe — is critical. Without it? I don’t know if you really CAN have the others.

When my husband & I were raising young children the big buzz phrase was ‘quality time.’ What we decided, as we talked about work choices and moves and our priorities, was that without quantities of time, quality time didn’t really happen in the same way.

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And this holiday, as I cooked a big dinner for only the five of us (and a baby :) ), I was so grateful to have time to rest & relax. To be able to sleep in Christmas morning, and make coffee for the later risers. To go present by present, oohing & aahing at each one. Knowing we didn’t have to rush to make room for another ‘party.’ holiday tea 2

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As you wind down from your holiday — hectic or not — make time. You can, you know. You can create it out of almost nothing. After work, on the way home, listen to a holiday song you didn’t get to before Christmas or Solstice. Make a list of what all you received — if you start it this year and keep it up, it makes a lovely record of past holiday times. If you were lucky enough to receive a bottle of wine, or a tin of tea, maybe some hot cocoa mix, fix a glass or mug and just sit. Preferably by a fire… :)

Time will drift like perfect snowflakes into your lap. I promise.

 

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remembering the Christmas Truce

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Tonight, I wish you magic. I wish you peace, love, & joy. I wish you the kind of unexpected miracles that happened a century ago, in the middle of a war. When men reached out across the line of fire, and exchanged gifts and blessings. A Christmas truce that remains, for me, one of the most hopeful of miracles.

May your holy days be full of love.

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