strike a pose

Look around everywhere you turn it’s heartache.  It’s everywhere that you go.

When you’re a reader it’s not just books that fascinate you.  You read everything, and I mean everything.  The Chinese ladies outside the vegetable markets in San Francisco who push each other out of the way to board the bus, holding those pink plastic bags full of offerings they’ll leave on their front steps with a stick of incense.  The way your daughters lit the candles during Mass, one struggling to reach each wick and the other looking down at her when it was all through as she blew out the taper.  Everything is a story to the reader.

I recently spent the evening with a friend who told me she never reads much into anything, that she was blessed with a bad memory and just let’s it all go.  I wish I was like that!  If you’re an artistic contemplative over-thinking-type reader like me, you just can’t do that.  No, you’ve got to enter into every story, get behind the characters, and feel what they feel, wonder at what they’re doing, go where they go.  It’s exhausting.  And while it’s easy to put down a novel whose characters you don’t like or whose plot repels you for whatever reason, we don’t have this luxury with life.  That’s a story we simply can’t put down.  And I don’t know about you but it’s been a pretty dismal read lately.  A barrage of bad news in the world, in my community and family, in my own heart.  I tell myself all things are passing, but underneath it all it just sounds like Dorothy clicking her heels.

I’m not unaccustomed to this kind of darkness; I simply don’t prefer it thank you very much and have worked hard to cultivate a perspective that casts my gaze toward the sunshine.  My spirituality steers me toward inspirational people who lift me up, remind me of my humble place in the grand scheme of things, and most importantly, instill peace and hope in my wavering lonely heart because I do believe that in this life goodness and light prevail.  Waves come in sets, and if I just keep swimming or float on my back when I get tired, calm eventually returns.  But what a raging sea we’re in right now!  Explosive violence, disease, despair, death.  Earthquakes, drought, dryness all around.  And then snow in August in the Sierras?  Awash in all this confusion and tumult, positive thinking can seem ridiculous.  Let’s face it:  Sometimes a pithy quote or a beautiful passage in your favorite book is just not enough.  There inevitably comes a time when you want to handcuff Deepak Chopra to Oprah and throw them from the train.  That little engine that could can just go to hell while you hide under your blanket a little while longer, right?  There will be no more tap dancing.  No more throwing rose petals in the air.  It’s OVER!

But in the silence afterwards, I just can’t help it, I know I know!  That little voice prevails:

There is a light in this world, a healing spirit more powerful than any darkness we may encounter. We sometimes lose sight of this force when there is suffering, too much pain. Then suddenly, the spirit will emerge through the lives of ordinary people who hear a call and answer in extraordinary ways.

~ Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

And who would have guessed for me that healing light would come from of all people Madonna?!

A few nights ago I decided while doing the dishes that I would not choose a moody playlist to accompany me and instead chose some favorites of my little loves, a playlist I created for them two years ago and titled “This was August (or all about my tween lovelies)” which you could find on Spotify, and it’s filled with summery pop sugar dance beats.  I thought, they can enjoy it whilst doing homework and I can avoid jumping out the window.  Yay!  We’re all winners.  I had forgotten that I’d slipped in one of my favorite Madonna songs, and when that song came on, I couldn’t help but flick the dripping water from my rubber gloves and dance.  You know the tune, I’m sure of it.  I know a place where you can get away. It’s called the dance floor . . . Well if you know me, I’m prone to ridiculous silliness — and I’ve really missed that lately — I can’t tell you how much I love to break into random dance around my house or in the car — wherever.  Immediately there’s infectious laughter and joy.  Singing, clapping, swaying, dancing.  There’s a reason we do those things in church, people.  And I don’t know about you but I’m pulling out my records and letting down my hair.

“Ah, music,” he said, wiping his eyes. “A magic beyond all we do here!”

~ J. K. Rowling

(Just know I would be holding an air microphone, swaying back and forth while lip synching this)

When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

And when the broken-hearted people living in the world agree,
there will be an answer, let it be.
For though they may be parted there is still a chance that they will see,
there will be an answer. let it be.

Let it be, let it be

And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light, that shines on me,
shine until tomorrow, let it be.
I wake up to the sound of music, mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be.

~ Paul McCartney


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  1. Maybe you are in need of a visit to the Happiest Place in the USA. 🙂

    (v. funny about Chopra and Oprah, BTW)

  2. Susan Board says

    I second the above, loved the Chopra & Oprah line!

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