“And still, after all this time,
The sun never says to the earth,
‘You owe Me.’
Look what happens with
A love like that,
It lights the Whole Sky.” ~ Hafiz
The sky has not yet brightened on a soon to be snowy Sunday morning and the ivories are being elegantly tickled by the extraordinary pianist George Winston, as he plays his ode to winter, called “December. ”
A weekend ritual for the past 30 years has been listening to “Sleepy Hollow” on Philly-based station WXPN. Sometimes, I have listened with lovers as we awaken slowly for the day and linger luxuriantly. At others, like this morning, the other side of the bed is empty, save for a bowl of grapes, and to the right on the bedside table sits a soothing cup of ginger tea.
I am feeling content, with a twinge of wistfulness. My day will include writing and working out in my makeshift living room gym, which I have cobbled together over the past nearly one year since the pandemic made its way to the shores of this country. Perhaps it will include taking a walk in the wafting flakes, listening to music, speaking with friends, and maybe even a nap, since I woke up way too early. That’s the way of the Muse, who herself is like a persistent lover who has been with me for decades and won’t let me sleep until I do her bidding.
I am a party of one at the moment, a solo act who has many supporting players in the form of dear family and friends. They are my treasures who so enhance my life as to have me shaking my head in bewildered awe at my good fortune. Some I have known much of my life; some arrive new each day. Some are former lovers, and as our relationship dynamics changed, we have remained friends. My heart still pitter-patters remembering our time together, but now it is at a mellow pace.
I told someone recently that I collect people, but maybe a better description would be that I attract people. It is a skill I inherited from my father, who grew up in a multi-ethnic neighborhood and seemingly knew someone everywhere we went. The party got started when he arrived, although he was not a drinker or a loud and rowdy guy. He just instinctively knew how to touch people’s hearts. They felt important in his presence, and I like to think I have that same impact.
Each day, I set an intention to have an amazing day and connect with extraordinary people. Each day, it unfolds, as if by magic, as folks reach out, or I extend a hand to them. I am a resource who shares music, stories, videos, articles, and podcasts that I think they will enjoy. I offer a listening ear and a comforting presence, so I’ve been told.
I have a full, rich life, not incomplete, with an immediate circle that is my “bubble” at the moment, in the time of COVID-19, that includes my son, daughter-in-law, recently turned one-year-old grandson, and my daughter-in-law’s family, who are Dean’s Babysitter’s Club.
We take shifts watching him while his parents work and, on occasion, run errands. This child has never been inside a store, out of an abundance of caution. I wonder what it will be like when the whole world opens before him—hopefully, sooner rather than later.
I wonder what it will be like when the whole world opens to me too. This social butterfly who would flit here, there, and everywhere in “the before times” has folded her wings temporarily. A year ago found me spending face-to-face time with friends at potlucks, concerts, conferences, classes, interfaith spiritual services, and offering FREE HUGS. It is that which I miss the most. Embracing willing participants, spreading the love by opening my arms and heart and encouraging them to carry it forward and do the same.
Touch deprivation is real and skin hunger needs are vital. People are even more hungry for it now. It is one of the first things I will revive once it is safe to do so. Having just received my second vaccine, joining millions of others, we are on our way to that renewed reality.
I truly do feel like a budding butterfly encased in a chrysalis and, in the past year, have evolved physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I’ve shed pounds, added a few inches of hair, stretched my comfort zones, and gotten to know myself in ways I wouldn’t have been able to if I was moving at such a speed that I couldn’t see what was before me.
These days, I am more deliberate, intentional, and mindful. I move more slowly and leisurely and sometimes talk myself through activities. In part, it is a survival mechanism since my dreamcatcher-like memory has thoughts slip through before I can catch them. I have softened and eased back rather than being “on.”
Sometimes I think my passion for life scares men. I want to rewrite that narrative.
One of my favorite writers is John O’Donohue, and his work inspired a journey to Ireland back in 2018. Sadly, he passed in 2004.
One concept he spoke of touches my heart in profound ways. I am ever so blessed to have many anam cara (Gaelic for soul friend) and “water brothers” (if you are not familiar with that term, read Robert Heinlein’s classic novel, Stranger in A Strange Land) among the overlapping soul circles that so enrapture me.
Both of them speak to the sense of at-home-ness with the people I draw into my life. I marvel periodically that those for whom I feel a loving connection were once upon a time, not even on my radar; I didn’t even know they existed until…ta-da! One day they just arrived on the doorstep of my heart, ringing the bell, asking to be invited in. With them, there was a recognition.” Oh, there you are, old/eternally ageless friend. Welcome back. Don’t stay away so long next time.” And we sit and sip tea and eat chocolate and share memories from eons and lifetimes ago. (Metaphorically speaking sometimes, and literally at others).
Yesterday, I heard an interview with Ted Danson on the NPR podcast Bullseye. At first, I didn’t recognize his voice, and then he spoke of his relationship with Mary, and I knew at that moment, he was referring to his wife of more than two decades, Mary Steenburgen. Their marriage is one of those proverbial Hollywood success stories. Both had their own full, rich lives prior to meeting each other. Both had ups and downs in previous relationships. Both had, I imagine, settled in their personal routines, and then they encountered each other.
Blending lives, they now enhance each other. He spoke in glowing terms about her and the ways in which she challenges him to be the best version of himself (my interpretation). I see that as one of the highest functions of relationships. I smiled as I listened in the car and thought, “I want what they’re having.” When I hear stories like theirs, I am reassured that it is possible.
By the time people are my age, they generally have a routine and lifestyle that suits them, either by choice or default. I consider that somewhere out there in the world, there is another who is living his life, perhaps not even knowing I exist, and one moment, one spark, one intuitive glimpse will bring us together. I want to blend lives with him, to experience the daily magic in which I am immersed and conjuring new magic together. My life is unconventional, my path meandering. I desire to entwine fingers as we wander it together.
“Your beloved and your friends were once strangers. Somehow at a particular time, they came from the distance toward your life. Their arrival seemed so accidental and contingent. Now your life is unimaginable without them. Similarly, your identity and vision are composed of a certain constellation of ideas and feelings that surfaced from the depths of the distance within you. To lose these now would be to lose yourself.”~ Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
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