Monday, April 16, 2012

Stops along the way

Just thinkin' ....

I remember when over-the-top excitement was getting a new box of 64 Crayola Crayons  -  or purchasing one Beatles LP, - or saving up the money to buy  two  (gasp - two!)  Nancy Drew books  (they sold for $1.50 each in those days)  -  or receiving a wool. jumper at Christmas that fit,  now, rather than one two sizes too big so  that I "could grow into it" - or even, best of all, wheedling my mother for the money to buy her a gift at Jamesway:  a set consisting of  royal blue eyeglass, cosmetic and cigarette cases. Never mind that she while she did wear glasses, she only wore powder and lipstick and she never smoked a cigarette in her life.    But I thought they were beautiful and I wanted her to have them.  Let me tell you, I was more than touched when I found those cheap blue cases among her things after she died.

I don't think that my own daughters knew any of these ardent but simple desires, and you know, I think they are the poorer for it.  

(J and C, let me know if I am mistaken!)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

One of those places I always hate to leave ….

… is located on the Eastern Seaboard on the lower Delmarva Peninsula in the eastern United States.  Since my first visit to the islands of Chincoteague and Assateague in November of1965, I have always rued the drive back along the causeway to the mainland of Virginia.  From that first visit when we crossed and drove down from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Maryland, to subsequent trips arriving via the Bay Bridge Tunnel on the Virginia side, I have felt a continuous affinity with these small, narrow bits of land facing the Atlantic Ocean.  Return visits in 1970, 1996, 2010 and January of this year, 2012, prove the enduring quality of those feelings.

This affinity embraces the kind, strong, and close knit community of these small islands.  On that first visit as a child, I visited Misty on the Beebe Ranch, met Miles Hancock, carver of decoys and farmer of terrapins on Chincoteague, and peered eagerly through the car windows to see the herons, egrets, swans and wild ponies that ranged freely throughout Assateague.  Misty and Miles, of course, are no longer living, but the warmth of the community remains.  And this January, as on that first-- and subsequent – visit(s), the most compelling aspect, for me, occurs when I stand on Assateague’s unspoiled, windy beach and gaze on the infinity of the Atlantic Ocean.    

 As Henry David Thoreau so wisely noted, “we need the tonic of wildness.”


Monday, December 5, 2011

My Daughter's Room - A View from the Rocking Chair

Posted by PicasaThis isn’t a ‘travel’ related post, in the literal sense.  It certainly is one in the “real” sense, however; at least the way that I view travel; i.e. as journey that occurs sometimes in the world, sometimes in the heart,sometimes in the mind, and sometimes in the spirit.  The best journeys, of course, incorporate all these.  The journey I document here took place when I was taking a rest in a rocking chair in my own home, yet it stands as a 'best journey' for me.

Recently, I have been working on turning my older daughter’s childhood bedroom into an office.  Mine.  Green.  Soothing.  Full of books, pictures, and favorite mementos.  It’s a project I have had underway since 2006 when Sinead moved to the West Coast.  It’s been a difficult transition for me.  I didn’t want her to leave. Although I moved in my desk and some of my books, I kept most of her room as she left it.  Did I somehow think that she would  return?   I long for her, and I sorely miss her presence in my daily life.  But she’s an adult, and she has to follow the path she sees before her.  I want her to become the person she is meant to be.   In short, I love her beyond measure, and I try my best to give her that freedom, even though it’s hard to let go – both of the little girl I remember and the room that held so much of her presence. 

So I sift through the boxes of middle school mementoes, and I pause and sigh over her riding trophies, her books, her Breyers’ horses, her drawings and her collection of Grandpa’s swords that she brought from my childhood home in Western New York.  I take photos of her wall art and gently cover it with the soothing green that I need to make my own place in which to write, to read, to work.   I look forward.  At least I try to.

In preparing the ‘next’ wall for painting, however, my eyes light on my favorite Orthodox icon, Theotokos, depicting the Blessed Virgin holding her Christ Child.  Her eyes meet mine, full of pain and resignation, as though she knows what will become of Him.  And she misses Him, already, although He is just an infant.  He, a babe, clasps His arms around her neck and gazes at her with love.  “It’s all right, Mom.  It’s meant to be.  I love you, so don’t worry.”

What a perfect message for this ‘empty nest mom’!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mondays child is fair of face,
Tuesdays child is full of grace,
Wednesdays child is full of woe,
Thursdays child has far to go,
Fridays child is loving and giving,
Saturdays child works hard for his living,
And the child that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

From an early age, I heard my parents recite this poem.  My mother quoted it with the most vigor in our family, probably because she was a baby born on the Sabbath day.   As a child, I didn’t realize that the poem’s roots come from the telling of personal fortune based on the person’s birth day as practiced in the 1570’s in Suffolk, England.  I didn’t really believe that the poem had any marker of truth.  Nevertheless,  the life forecast by my birth day, Thursday, was always vaguely unsettling to me.  In my eyes, it was third from the bottom of the possible fortunes, only slightly better than Friday’s fate, yet greatly preferable to the miserable plight of Wednesday’s child.   Did being Thursday’s child mean that I had ‘a long way to go’ to being normal?  Did it mean I would never get ‘there’, whether ‘there’ was a state of normalcy, a goal or a place?  Was I destined to be a failure?
It wasn’t until I reached middle age that I suddenly realized that Thursday’s child’s fortune is neither a condemnation nor a curse, but actually a very great blessing.    Whereas I certainly have always had a long way to go in multiple aspects of my life and development --  and will continue to do so -- it came to me that the central focus of the rhyme’s forecast is that having a long way to go necessarily involves a myriad of things to do, see, and experience along the way.  Having a goal that is far off requires a sense of vision and commitment to reach – or at least attempt to reach -- that journey’s end.    It entails recollecting past experiences as well enjoying the road along the way.  Past – Present – Future.  The fullness of time, in a way.
Increasing, as is the case for most middle aged folks, I imagine, reflecting on the journey, where one has been, where one is, and where one is going, grows more important in the quest for the meaning of one’s life.   Both my faith and my philosophy show me that the search for meaning forms the heart of every individual’s unique responsibility and relates closely to his or her ultimate joy.  To that end, my plan is that this blog will document my own “captain’s log” of significant markers in life’s journey, allow exploration of the meanings they may hold, and  serve as a way to connect with other pilgrims along the way.