The long way home..

benehaelohimAutumn folds her variegated cloak around me, and the wind sends forth spiraling leaves that float momentarily on the disturbed air before settling on a crooked path winding through the trees. Some of them have been uprooted by winter’s strong gales, or cleaved by lightening. Before toppling into the supporting arms of their comrades, where they now repose like dying martyrs, they heave a sigh.

I walk alone.

Bird sounds echo off the pond. A squirrel chatters, and an airplane drones in the distance. Leaves comprised of coral and gold, form a gay ribbon of celebration. Their scent of spice and dying flora is reminiscent of a lover’s musky skin.

Did you love before you died?

You rose up to heaven on hesitant wings, a broken song bird. I envy you. You located your tribe who were camped out on the escarpment of night, eagerly awaiting your arrival. You now gleam like a newly formed star, radiant with secrets the gods withhold.

I long to quench my thirst from a goblet of hemlock, but the time is not now. My earthly trajectory unfailingly falls short of the open arms of cherubim. I am bound for glory on leaden feet.

I dream of you. Waking tears the shroud of dreams, where I momentarily fly above the tree-line.

We are particles of the same star, you and I.

Existential angst is a constant companion.

I’ve been taking the long way home, but I know a short-cut.

A soldier’s heart. Rest in peace Jacob David George.

The following is an excerpt from a eulogy.

Jacob David George, born in 1982. Talented, patriotic, athletic, gifted, musical, Arkansas storyteller, son, older brother, colleague, friend, inspiration. He served three tours of duty in Afghanistan by the time he was 23 years old. He took action to free himself of the horrors that dogged him. He cycled thousands of miles in order to speak out about his experiences. He wrote songs and played his banjo. He threw back his medals at a NATO protest in Chicago. He was using every modality he could think of to try and heal himself, but he wasn’t able to hold down a job, or sustain an intimate relationship. Jacob helped to found Afghanistan Veterans Against the War, a co-branch of Iraq veterans against the war. He kept traveling, kept telling his story, and joining with other veterans who understood the true costs of war. He was trying to find his way back and help others to find their own paths to healing along the way., as the music embedded on my page will interfere with your viewing and listening. http://vimeo.com/66857895

Mooney’s Pond

I am fortunate enough to live in the country in an old century house with an orange cat named Gus, with a huge Maple in my front yard that has stood its ground through more than a century of hurricanes and blizzards. Across the street is a walking trail and pond, which is where I wander to meditate and remind myself that despite the current state of this planet, there is still indescribable beauty in the world. Here are some photos from my latest stroll.

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The empathy gene

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My mother once told me that when I was less than two years of age, I accidentally knocked over a child during play. I apparently helped the little person to their feet, dusted them off, and then apologized, saying ” Sorry, honey”. This amused my mother as I was much smaller than this child, and a year younger. I also had starting speaking in full sentences before the age of two.

It appears I was born with an extra dose of the empathy “gene” and therefore destined to bear witness to other people’s pain. As a child, whenever I witnessed another child being hurt or humiliated, I vicariously experienced their emotional discomfort. If they cried, I cried. This quirk followed me into early adulthood, and I remember once breaking down at a mall as a teen after witnessing an elderly lady sobbing on a bench. Someone had stopped to assist her, and despite not knowing what had happened to her , her vulnerability and helplessness got to me. I hadn’t yet learned how to erect walls of safety.

I loved the world that I experienced as a child. I loved our large yard and the swing set my father had cemented into the ground in order to stabilize it. I spent long hours swinging back and forth, convinced that if I swung high enough I could clear the roof of our house and keep on going. I loved the rhubarb patch, and the bright hollyhocks that grew against the side of the house. As far as I knew, only good existed in the world.

As I grew older, I began learning that this was not so. People did mean things, and for no apparent reason.

I once watched from the safety of our back-yard swing as an assortment of neighborhood children pinned down a small child and then proceeded to stuff her clothing with handfuls of dried grass, recently cast off by the lawn mower. They told her that they were making her into a scarecrow and despite her tearful protestations, continued with their mean task. They laughed, and I cringed. As I grew older and thought back on the event, I wished I had intervened. A part of me was certain that in choosing to do nothing, I became complicit in their act of cruelty.

When I was approximately eight or so, my mother, five siblings, and myself were waiting to catch a Greyhound bus to whatever remote location my father happened to be flying in that particular summer. It was a long wait in the bus depot, and we were past the point of boredom. We obediently sat on hard resin chairs, swinging our legs and watching the bustling activity around us.

A harried mother was also waiting to catch a bus to a destination known only to herself. She had a child with her, a child still young enough to be in diapers. The child was at the crawling stage, and being the age it was, had absolutely no intention of sitting still. Whenever it managed to wrest itself free from its mother, and begin crawling away to explore a new and interesting distraction, its mother angrily dragged it back to where she had been sitting. When the baby began squirming to get away, she began lashing viciously at its small legs with the strap of her hand-bag while we looked on in shock and horror. Back then, no one dared to interfere in another person’s parenting domain.

Sometimes cruelty came from people in positions of authority. There was a young boy named Lorne. He had followed me from kindergarten into each subsequent new grade, until we reached grade five. By today’s standards, it is unlikely he would have been considered a difficult child. Back then, everyone listened. Everyone conformed. No one challenged authority. Back then, there didn’t appear to be childhood obesity, allergies, autism, or children with severe learning difficulties. Back then, children appeared to rarely get sick, and I have no idea why that was.

Lorne was small in stature and despite having blonde hair, his skin was dusky even during winter months when the rest of our skin had grown sickly pale. I can’t remember specifically what it was that he would either do, or not do that seemed to set him apart from the other children in our class of thirty five students. By the time we had reached grade five, he had been ostracized by both the teaching faculty and student body at large. While the rest of us were skipping rope in the school yard or playing marbles in the dirt, Lorne played alone.

Apparently a behavioral infraction had occurred the day the teacher suddenly chose to move Lorne’s desk off to one side of the room, and away from the rest of ours. What must have already felt like outright rejection, surely must now have been amplified a thousand-fold.

Once his desk had been removed to an area that isolated him from the rest of the class, he sat friendless and alone.

He had developed a terrible hacking cough one winter. He couldn’t have been feeling very well on the particular day when Mr. Davis our teacher decided to engage the entire class in what only can only be described as an interrogation gone horribly wrong, an interrogation that swiftly turned into a vicious free for all.

Mr. Davis had initially set the tone by asking Lorne why he was always so difficult, why he would never comply with directions, and why he never had his home work completed when he arrived at class each morning. He then encouraged the class to join in his query, and the class enthusiastically began to taunt Lorne, until Lorne’s face crumpled, and he began keening like a small broken animal.
While Lorne cried , tears of my own rolled down my face. He couldn’t stop and neither could I. I also couldn’t stop the teacher, nor could I stop the other children from hurling their pencil sharp words with the sole intent of wounding. I wanted to flee, and most of all I wanted to erase the image of this tiny shattered boy, weeping at his desk.

I was at Somerset pool the following summer, and Lorne was there. He was happily splashing in the pool, his shoulder blades jutting out like sharp wings on his thin body. I was wading close beside him when a dark shadow suddenly encroached on our space. The shadow was cast by a large scowling woman with bleached and dry hair, dark roots showing at the crown. For some unfathomable reason, and a reason known only to herself, she seized Lorne by one thin arm, yanking him out of the pool, his bare feet scraping against the rough sides. When he stood trembling beside her bulk, she placed her face inches from his and began shrieking at him.

I suddenly knew what was wrong with Lorne.

I have lived before

stonehenge092008A harvest moon with its pale torchlight announces itself to the failing light, rising above the row of pines standing guard against the eastern skyline. A ragged cedar creeping close to the house claws at the window pane, while the wind sighs and the orange cat dreams.

I lie amidst a tangle of sheets, the old clock ticking out the minutes and hours. It’s now, it’s now, it’s now, rhymes the old clock, and with each arrival of a new moment in the corridor of time, the moment is swiftly relegated to the past, never to be experienced again.

I have lived before, of this I am certain.

I remember another lifetime from days gone by, the same way a tree that’s been stripped of its leaves and left barren in Autumn, recalls another season when summer lovingly wove frothy dresses of leafy green around each delicate branch.

The spaces between one heart beat and the next, and the momentary pauses between one breath and the one thereafter, are the in-between places where memories from another era exist.

When I close my eyes, I can hear bag-pipes wailing on the frontier of dreams. I can smell the pungent odor of peat fires burning bright against dark, muddy banks, dense smoke hanging heavily in the crisp fall air. I can visualize ancient trackways leading from the mountain ranges of the Mounth to the north sea, so close in proximity to Stonehenge that the mystical stones begin exerting an irresistible tug, filling me with an indescribable yearning for a life I no longer live.

You are a silhouette, a lone figure standing in a misty shadow-land. A long ago voice carries on the wind, whispering my name.

I hearken to the familiar sound.

The good ole days…… when the dinosaurs walked the earth

I want my brother Ivan’s job.

He’s been working and living at a lighthouse on B.C.’s rugged cost for as long as I can remember. The beauty of it all, and the part I envy the most is that he lives in total isolation with almost no human contact unless you take into account the junior lighthouse keeper who lives next door. Due to the isolated location, groceries and supplies are flown in by helicopter.

His job, in my opinion, is the closest any of us could ever come to achieving absolute peace and serenity without shaving our heads and joining a Buddhist retreat or cloistered monastery. In a perfect world, his job would be mine.

The older I get, the less I want to interact with human beings, even though my work demands it of me. It’s an irony not lost on me. Weekends are spent alone in the country with my cat Gus. We communicate mainly through telepathy.

Kidding……..

I do in fact have one sided conversations with him, and for the most part he appears to agree with the majority of requests I make. For example, we have a tacit understanding that I will keep his food and water bowl full, litter box clean, and play fetch with him as long as he promises not to drop rodents at my feet when I’m least expecting it. I have enough grief already with Snakey the woodshed snake showing up unannounced and terrorizing me.

Because my brother has very little to do most days, with the exception of taking the occasional weather readings and passing them along to the coast guard, or engaging in leisurely strolls along the beach, taking magnificent photos of sunsets and wildlife, he has endless time to sort through old family photos and subsequently post them onto Facebook.

Old photos tend to do one of two things; either remind us of how old we have become in the mere second it took to blink, or else bring back pleasant and nostalgic memories. As some of my childhood friends have been added on Facebook, we have recently been engaging in an ongoing dialogue consisting of filling in one anothers memory gaps. What one person has forgotten, the other has managed to remember. Together we have been contributing pieces that comprise our childhood dating back half a century ago.

As my brother Ivan was posting a number of old photos, he noted that my best friend Patsy (my friend from the age of five), was in nearly all of our family photos. It wasn’t a coincidence, as she practically lived at our house. If she wasn’t at our house, I was at hers. Her mother who was like a second mom, repeatedly told me that I would never wear out my welcome whenever I landed unexpectedly on their doorstep, asking if Patsy could come out to play.

I began life as a blonde
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Yes, these are my people.
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Me in the middle with my grand-mother and two siblings, Ivan and Jocelyn.
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My dad washing the old relic of a car..
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My brother Ivan and grand-father on the John Deere.
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Me in the middle. (Halifax)
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My father and his helicopter.
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I’m on the right in my pj’s recuperating from chicken-pox. My partner in crime, Patsy is on the left in blue. My wee brother David is in front looking adorable and my sister Jocelyn, is taking up the rear.
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A brotherhood of trees

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The wind rummages through the branches of a stand of aspen. A burden of soft green bends low to the earth. The music from a choir of a thousand murmuring trees rises on the afternoon breeze, interrupted only by the faint hum of a passing plane. I sit and witness the passage of time, growing older with each second that briefly announces itself, and then is no longer.

Yesterday I belonged to the exclusive club of youth, but time, jealous as a spurned lover, surreptitiously stalked and then claimed me, just like everything else she fixes in her cross-hairs..

Long ago, life and death entered into a gentleman’s agreement. In the moment they paused to shake hands, I became doomed to roam the desert like a lonely bedouin, seeking asylum in someone else’s eyes.

I am forever running towards the moon with open arms, desperate to embrace its cool, silvery light, and forever singing to the stars, crooning the only lullaby I know.

I confer with angels, but they never reply.

I fall on my knees and my prayers travel heavenward, borne aloft on the wings of butterflies. How can I truly know anothers desperate longing unless I have first plumbed the depths of my own? How can I ascend a mountain of hope, when my feet are still mired in yesterdays valley of doubt. How can I soar on the wings of love, when they have long since been clipped by life’s cruel circumstance?

Truth is a lamp capable of lighting even the darkest corners.

I have yet to decipher the language of the wind or lyrics of singing trees, but one day I am certain I will crack their code.

Love is as fickle as quicksilver. Ethereal, and weightless, it flees into a waiting biosphere.

Night arrives on stealthy, silent feet, and yesterdays ghosts huddle together in dusty corners, gossiping amongst themselves while pointing crooked fingers. They have yet to realize they belong to days long passed, and therefore wield no power.

I’ve been falling like a cold, grey rain, banished by a disturbed darkened sky. I fall and fall to the ground in exaggerated slow motion.

My tribe has long since perished.

I’ve been claimed by the brotherhood of trees.

I like it here.