“Fate is nothing but the deeds committed in a prior state of existence.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

 Waves Crash Down
                    
“Midway in the
Journey of life
I came to myself in a
dark wood,
for the straight way was lost.” ~ Dante, Inferno
 
Waves on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, by Nico Nelson (Flckr Creative Commons)

Friday night now after a blastedly hot, tumultuous day. Details aren’t necessary. Suffice it to say that our lives just took yet another step down in our continuing downward spiral, the one that is taking us to the fringes of society, making us—more and more—mere onlookers. 

If I sit and reflect, which I try not to do lately, I wonder how our lives came to be this way. Which decision altered the fabric, imperceptibly but devastatingly? Was it the one that I made, when I felt that my body could not withstand the daily onslaught of full-time work? Was it the one that Corey had made a few months before that had him leave once company to return to his original employer—a decision made for all the right reasons that had all of the wrong results?Or do the threads begin to unravel long before that? Who can know really? This remark, that argument, this choice over the less obvious one? Could it go so far back as to my youth, my decisions to fall in with one group, my natural alliance with one editor over another? Not going abroad to study? Did it happen in Norfolk, Blacksburg, Alexandria, or some other city? 

A person could go mad, well and truly mad if left for too long with unanswered questions in the silence of an empty house. 

“Her career of ups and downs had rubbed most of the hall-marks off her, so that it was not easy to guess at her age, her nationality, or the social background to which she properly belonged.” ~ Jean Rhys, After Leaving Mr. Mackenzie 
California Waves by Isolino (Flckr Creative Commons)

Serendipity: “I’ll Follow You Into the Dark” appears on the playlist. “Fear is the heart of love, so I never went back . . .” 

Is it fate or is it free will? Joss? Karma? 

When I was about six-years-old, and we were still living in London, I told my first big lie and broke a big rule. I remember spending the evening in my bedroom imagining god with a slate, marking infractions. I prayed fervently that night. The prayers of the innocent are almost, dare I say, angelic in their sweetness. 

Another memory: A few years older, watching some program on television about people drowning and how the rescuers needed to take care not to be pulled down in the panic. Flash forward a few years, and my father is diving into the water to rescue a woman whose raft had been sucked under the Lynnhaven Bridge. I watched in fear and amazement as she latched onto my father’s neck and clawed at him as he tried to prop her against the beam of the bridge until more people could assist. 

Afterwards, my mother chastened him for jumping in, saying that he could have died. He replied calmly, “What should I have done? Watched her drown?” That was my father, a man of such clear intentions. He always knew what decisions to make, or at least, that is what memory tells me. So many years later, and I still immediately think of my father whenever things go terribly wrong, and I am glad that he did not have to see all of the messes that I have made, all of the wrong turns and brick walls. 

But another part of me thinks that maybe my father would have understood better than I think. The survivor of three wars, he has seen the worst of people. He has seen want and deprivation. Saw. Perhaps he would have been impatient with me for still failing to grow up and become a productive member of society. I will never know. 

 “i’m not sure what we’re running from. nobody. or the future. fate. growing up. getting old. picking up the pieces. as if running we won’t have to get on with our lives.”  ~ Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters
Rocky Shore of West Point Island

Trust me when I tell you that tonight is not the night for rationalizing, for telling myself that so many other people have it worse than I do, than we do. My brain knows this, but my heart? My heart is too heavy to be rational. 

So much in one day, like the echoing blasts of cannonade being fired in sequence. Here’s this. Oh, and here’s this. Oh, and just for good measure, here is this and this. Have a nice day . . . 

Oddly enough, just the other day Corey told me to cheer up, that one day we would be middle class again. It was an epic statement. I wonder how much of the middle class is left, really? How can an entire classification of people survive amidst such societal turmoil? 

I could not watch the news tonight as I have learned that it takes just the right frame of mind to be able to stomach the constant assault on the sensibilities. So much is wrong in so many places. So much want and need. So much fear-mongering. So much hatred and intolerance. It’s miraculous that 90 percent of the population isn’t surviving on mood-altering drugs, legal and otherwise.   

“What does it mean to know and experience my own ‘nothingness?’ It is not enough to turn away in disgust from my illusions and faults and mistakes, to separate myself from them as if they were not, and as if i were someone other than myself. This kind of self-annihilation is only a worse illusion, it is a pretended humility which, by saying ‘I am nothing’ I mean in effect ‘I wish I were not what I am.'” ~ Thomas Merton, from Thoughts on Solitude
 Rough Waters of the Adriatic Sea Beating Against the Rocky Shore

                     

It is impossible to prepare for these moments—the moments when fate and fortune ally at the worst possible point in time, to conspire against everything that makes life seem to make sense, that makes it all worthy of entering the fray yet again. 

And so it comes: The onslaught—the waves of sorrow and fear. Trepidation and uncertainty. Relentless wave after wave, so powerful and unrelenting that existence becomes reduced to how much can be withstood. The forces of fate, much like the forces of nature, toss about lives like unanchored shells, sometimes resulting in a beautifully-scoured creation, sometimes resulting in anonymous pebbles and stones which cannot be distinguished from anything else. 

Sometimes, this road that we’re on reaches a point at which a veil of thick fog obscures everything, leading us to believe that the path has been completely erased. Can it be any surprise then that the point of arrival in the distance seems unreachable? 

If I do not leave this house soon, I will truly lose my mind. 

“It seems to me that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension, which we feel as paralysis because we no longer hear our astonished emotions living. Because we are alone with the unfamiliar presence that has entered us; because everything we trust and are used to is for a moment taken away from us; because we stand in the midst of a transition where we cannot remain standing . . . We could easily be made to believe that nothing happened, and yet we have changed, as a house that a guest has entered changes. We can’t say who has come, perhaps we will never know, but many signs indicate that the future enters us in this way in order to be transformed in us, long before it happens. And that is why it is so important to be solitary and attentive when one is sad: because the seemingly uneventful and motionless moment when our future steps into us is so much closer to life than that other loud and accidental point of time when it happens to us as if from outside. The quieter we are, the more patient and open we are in our sadnesses, the more deeply and serenely the new presence can enter us, and the more we can make it our own, the more it becomes our fate.”
~ Rainer Marie Rilke

Music by Katie Herzig, “I Hurt Too” 

Grace in Small Things #42

beautiful-waterfalls-paradise

Goodbye to Grace

It’s getting harder to write these entries, so I don’t know that I’ll be able to fulfill the commitment that I made. I find this disappointing because I want to keep my commitments, but what I am finding is that I am only writing GIST entries and not writing other entries, and that is not the purpose of my blog. The purpose of my blog is to expand my writing, to write about different things, and not all of those are positive. I have appreciated this chance to try to look at more positive things in life, and I truly appreciate the concept of grace as I have written about it many times before, but I find this format too limiting.

When something becomes an obligation and ceases to be an insightful exercise, then I believe that it is probably not contributing to my creative well-being. So this will be my final GIST for a while. I may return to the concept occasionally, but more than likely it will probably be a spontaneous, one-time post.

1. Beautiful cards. I love to receive cards that show that the card-giver has really thought about the event and my personality. Corey has become a master at accomplishing this with the cards that he gives me. They are always so beautiful visually, and then he finds cards that have sentiments that are reflections of how he feels. Alexis has inherited the card gene. She loves to buy cards for people, and she is great at it.

2. Toasted bagels with fresh butter. I don’t eat these very often, but when I do, they are sumptuous.

3. Pedicures are a wonderful way to relax. I haven’t had one in a long time because they are a luxury item, but a good pedicure can restore your whole spirit.

4. I love water in all its forms—the ocean, the bay, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, swimming pools. I am a water baby, an Aquarius. I don’t swim all that well as I don’t have a lot of endurance, but I love the feel of water on my body.

1026536church-bells-in-greece-posters1

5. I love the sound of church bells. Whether they are just souding out one tone, or summoning people to church, the sound of the bells touches a deep place inside of me. I think that it’s because when I was a child in London, I heard so many church bells in towers with real change ringing, and I became so used to the sound. Now, there is only one Catholic church nearby that chimes its bells. But the sound of bells gives me a wonderful sense of peace.

That’s all for my Grace in Small Things. Peace.

Is it timing, or is it signs?

My husband Corey likes to give me a hard time about one of my favorite phrases: “It’s a sign.” I’m a big believer in signs, for example, the appearance of mourning doves versus the appearance of ravens. If I awaken to the caw caw of ravens, I always have a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that it’s going to be a terrible day; whereas if I hear the soothing coo of a mourning dove, I feel that it will be a good day. I have absolutely no scientific study to back up my morning bird meter. That’s just the way that it is for me.

Ever since I was a little girl, I have believed in signs or portents. Now don’t go off half-cocked and start to classify me as a wiccan, not that I have any particular feelings about wiccans; I don’t. I’m just not a wiccan. If anything, I’m a pantheist; to clarify: a pantheist is someone who believes that the greater being exists in all things in nature, including humans beings. It’s not any sort of religion. It’s just a belief system. I don’t carry it to extremes; by that I mean, I don’t believe that flies or cockroaches are sentient beings and deserve to be left alone. I’m sorry, and perhaps someday I’ll come back as some kind of insect, but I just absolutely hate cockroaches, having once lived in a townhouse in Alexandria that had a basement and as a result, suffered co-existence with cockroaches the size of small rodents. I have never quite gotten over the trauma of having one of these giants crawl across my arm while I slept. I cannot even find the words to describe the physical reaction that my body still has whenever I recall the memory of waking up to that. So let us move on.

I was expounding on signs and the role that these illusory portents have played in my life. For example, for as long as I can remember, I have been hyper-sensitive to smells, as they evoke instant associations in my subconscious. I remember looking at clouds when I was a child and trying to find meaning in the shapes. And I would look for four-leafed clovers and press them between the pages of favorite books to save up luck for the future. If I found an oddly-shaped rock or shell, I would save it, just in case. I was never quite sure what “just in case” meant, but for me, it meant something. Admittedly, I was an odd duck of a child. But only children tend to have wild imaginations, especially pre-cable, pre-video games. Egads! However did I survive?

When I became a teenager, I suppose I continued to feel things, although I was much too busy to notice. But the telephone rang one time, and I knew that I did not want to answer it. I answered anyway only to hear my uncle’s strangled voice on the other end telling me that my cousin had been hit by a truck at a rest stop, and he had died at the scene. I did not know this cousin very well lest you think we talked frequently, and we had some kind of connection. The same thing happened with another telephone call years later when the phone rang and rang and I could only stare at it. I would not answer it. Later, when my mother came home, the phone rang, and she answered it, only to find out that one of her brothers had shot himself. I did not know this uncle at all. I know, I know. It’s weird. Coincidence? Probably. Was it just timing that somehow on those days I had an aversion to the telephone? Perhaps. Who knows.

Electric Sky

I love a good thunder storm, and I don’t find lightning scary in the way that many people do. In fact, I find it very comforting in an odd way. That’s not to say that I don’t respect its power in the same way that I would respect any force in nature. I’m not an idiot. But the ocean and water are my elements and where the water meets the sky is always fascinating to me. I’m not sure how that fits in with signs exactly, except that I always tend to feel very much in touch with my inner being when I’m on the open water, and thunderstorms have such a calming effect on me that there must be something in the electricity that connects with me. Just a thought.

I’ll share just a few more signs or moments in time. After my baby daughter died and I thought that I couldn’t go on, I received what I believe was a very significant sign. One night, it was the night before Easter, the children were with their father. I was newly single, and I was having a very hard time understanding how I had arrived at this place in my life. I sat on the living room couch by myself for hours trying to decide if I had anything left to contribute to this world. I had written for hours, and I had nothing left to say. The house was completely quiet, and dawn was very near. Then suddenly, I began to hear the soft, sweet sound of a mourning dove right outside my living room window. She started cooing slowly, and then her song grew stronger. She didn’t move from my window for what seemed like hours but was probably only minutes. When I finally looked out, she flew away. And that is why awakening to the sound of mourning doves is a good sign for me because it is a sound that saved me. I met the dawn with peace in my heart.

And I will close with this: On one of the last days that my husband was to drive me to Alexandria for class, we got in the car, and I turned to him, and I said, “I have a funny feeling. Do the speed limit today.” He looked at me oddly, and then said he had the same feeling. On the way to Alexandria we normally see three or four state troopers. That day we saw 22. Timing? Maybe we’ve just been together so long that I’ve rubbed off on him. I’m not sure what the omen is for state troopers. And don’t even get me started on my dreams and how they’re signs for things because we could be here for another three pages.

I will end with this: I don’t read Tarot cards, but I do have rune stones that I have had on a string in my car for over a decade. But I tend to rely more on my funny feelings and my connections with nature. But as I said, I am a bit of an odd duck. But you already knew that. Didn’t you?