The Art of Living

The Art of Living

For most of my adult life I have experienced something that feels a lot like hunger. At times the feeling lies quietly in the background like a dog waiting for the door to be opened so it can run free, only occasionally demanding greater attention.

There has always been an empty spot in my life. Commonly that feeling is almost unnoticeable because my attention is directed to accomplishing tasks I need to finish or to enjoying the completion of something I have worked on and am grateful to have completed. Still, when things calm down, in the quiet moments, I can feel it; the hunger for something I have never been able to clearly identify.

One of the positive aspects of Covid, if there can be said to be one, is that I have had a great deal of time to read and to think; Time to return to my Philosophical and spiritual life.

During the 11 months of this crisis I was fortunate to spend four months with my youngest child and my granddaughter. I flew to Los Angeles to see them in March, and given Covid, ended up staying for months before I felt I could safely go home. My granddaughters pre-school closed and I gratefully became her daycare provider and play companion.

The depth of love and closeness I enjoyed with my grandchild was a gift beyond conception in and of itself. The privilege of getting to know my youngest daughter as an adult: to appreciate her kindness, her generosity, and her intelligence, and the ways in which she makes things work with such skill was equally rewarding. (I’m convinced that anybody who doesn’t get to know their child all over again as an adult is missing something.)

The point of Sharing this is that these experiences silenced my nagging hunger. I have been home since June, and am only now beginning to understand the gifts I have received, and consider how next to apply what I have learned.

In striving to understand my experience, I have identified three main components of my satisfaction. The first and most difficult for me is self acceptance and self-love. I have worked toward this for years but, until now, never truly felt “Good enough”.

I realize I have begun to love myself. I am certain that this is the result of putting myself, my needs, and my desire for validation or consideration aside to pay attention to other people‘s needs and other peoples ideas. The choice to do this made my interactions more satisfying, the depth of my connection to others stronger, and the outcome of what we achieved together more beautiful. The same consideration also increased my experience of being appreciated and my appreciation of the person I was spending time with.

This brings me to the second Component of my satisfaction, which concerns the experience of myself as having a meaningful place and purpose in other peoples lives. Experiencing being needed, and having a purpose in my family, my social group, and my community, has left me feeling loving, satisfied, and untouched by the nameless longing That has been part of my life for so long.

The third component, Which I am only now addressing, involves finding a meaningful way to contribute to the world around me. By meaningful I mean one in which my activity increases the quality of a life, or lives in the world around me.

A friend once told me that trouble is the reward for growth. The idea is that every time you grow, the world unloads more responsibility on you. My latest growth spurt has left me once again looking for the next meaningful step in my life. At the age of 70 it seems I must once again ask myself who and what I am and what purpose I have in the world around me. I’ve been thinking deeply about this and have come to some conclusions.

My experiences over the last year have led me to believe the life is constructed to provide fulfillment and success. Given what we have all been through you may find this ridiculous, and yet, I believe I have found the secret to knowing the truth of this. The next few months I will be writing down what I believe it takes to live joyfully and find the answers you need to move forward. I have been away from This site for quite a long time And I’m not sure anybody still looks from my posts, Still, I hope my thoughts will interest some of you enough to engage with me on this journey. In the meantime stay safe and keep the faith.

I believe that each moment of life offers me everything I need to find my way in joy.

The Hammer

It’s easy to talk about how upset I am with:the new president,the threat of environmental destruction, cuts to Medicare and Social Security.

Yet the truth is not so simple when
I am no longer growing stronger with every passing year,
No longer the first choice among job applicants,
or as quick or agile.

My heart is deeper, I’m sure I’ve grown wiser, and my experience is important.
Why don’t they seem to care?

It isn’t just me I’ve talked to the others. They get the same responses from the same companies after 65. They want somebody younger, someone who will stay longer, and cost less.

It’s a little frightening, and sometimes more than a little.
Instead of keeping up my house and improving things, I find myself wondering how I will manage my expenses, if I will be able to keep my house or maintain a car.

I’ve worked all my life; many of the years I had two jobs.
It’s not as if I want a lot; Just a few new clothes each year;
A car for transportation, with tires that are safe in the winter;
to be able to go to the doctor when I need to and pay for medicine if I should need it.

Lately, every year, it seems more like the world is looking down on people like me, People who don’t have enough money.
As if we should be ashamed,
as if we had been lazy, as if we hadn’t contributed so much for so long.

All I really want is to have enough to enjoy the days and the people in them without worrying about losing everything. I wonder if they notice, me and if they do why they don’t care?

I won’t tell anyone that I’m afraid; just talk about the insensitivity, irresponsibility, and greed that fuels their need to destroy the new deal, to avoid the expense so they can add to their already incredible sums of money.

There are ways to stop myself from feeling fear. Anger is the tool I reach for when the fear is not acceptable and like a hammer it smashes the world of which I am afraid.

Kara –  A true story

The joy of feeling, at last, joy
lost young, 

through a life’s work regained,

was shining in my eyes.

You touched them with your gaze,

warming in ancient remembrance.

I gently turned to leave alone

to spare the cost I would not pay,

But you were braver than you knew

and chased me when I tried escape

And heated me with honesty;

that I would give you more of life

than ever I might take away.

So simply was I undermined

my solitude revealed as fraud,

my trust returned in taunting lines,

that ran as tears along my face.
Despite the fact that you have fled

Across the land unto its end

When all you sought was granted you

And proved more than you expected.

I keep the gift you left with me

I need not ever choose between

the beauty of your company

And being true and truly me.

So lover let me call you friend.

In the End

In the end it is not who we will love that is our choice,
but only whether or not we are willing,

In the end it is our acceptance or denial
of what we truly are that defines our lives,
for even in denial we create by intent.

In the end our bodies are maps,
indelibly marked by the paths we have traveled,

our strengths and scars historical documents,
marking our journey through folly and fate.

In the end what is most precious to us will be the presence of companionship and of certain love,

to comfort us as we begin our journey, into a world as yet unknown.

Re-post from November 2014

Haiku # 28

still water displays

life perfectly mirrored

yet shadows reveal

The most challenging aspect of my life is the constant pressure to attend to and adhere to current trends and accepted standards. Every day while considering my public behavior and expressing or repressing my opinions; I find myself confronted by the conflict between my perception of truth, my feelings about what happens around me, my commitment to integrity, and the potential consequences of honesty. The consequences of which I speak include: criticism, closed doors, literary rejection, political opposition, job loss, and verbal attack.

I find myself wondering if I should forget  all the pale spirits who started out to write their way to immortality and found themselves writing, 7 ways to…, for income from advertisers while gathering an audience of 5$ an hour hopefuls for content farms.

I want to write with, for and to somebody who wants and dares to read in order to: ponder, question, grow, change and understand rather than just to be placated, pleasured and reassured. Someone who touches and is touched by something Google AdWords never knew, Pinterest has no pictures of and Facebook never featured. Something they never stumbled upon or understood until they decided that living well and dying empty could never be enough.

I want to be read by those who want to publish writing about what nobody ever talks about. The smokers who can feel congestion growing in their chests, cough with increasing frequency and wonder daily if they have cancer yet and if they are, and will be, too weak to quit in time. The unspoken feelings of people who have been diagnosed with some disease they never expected to have who push down unspeakable terror, refrain from screaming what they know that no one wants to hear or can respond to and refrain from discussing things that might become too real to bear. The experiences that men and women have when they discover that they are finally growing old, see their first wrinkles, watch their bodies change, lack the strength to do something they have always done easily and discover that they are afraid driving, walking on ice, and losing control over their lives. People lying in bed with somebody they’ve just proposed to or been married to for a day, a week, or a year and suddenly wonder if they will ever want to make love to again, feeling trapped and wondering if they’re trapped forever. 

There are so many things we suffer alone, in isolation, as we imagine our flaws to be unique and keep them hidden in a world where so many others are so silent about feeling so much the same way.

Why is it we will view with our cameras, record with our pens, and focus our discussions on examining the most intimate aspects of our lives for sexual excitement or gratification, yet speak so little and disdain so powerfully these fundamental experiences of human life?

How many tell their children about the pleasure and pains involved in sexuality and how easy it is to let someone so far inside of you that they can hurt you, or change you forever and yet have never taken the time to know anything more about them than that they were attractive and would say yes to holding you at night.

Writers block! Take a breath, then, consider the fact that in getting interested in the fear or other distraction that keeps intruding on your writing time, you may find your greatest inspiration.

When

When the people’s common creed
mouths lies to justify their greed
life spurned lust named the only need
till affluence and gold preceed
All conceptions of wonder.

The poets word, the mages curse
the cantrip in the witches verse
the dreams of men begin to bend
In Oberous the dream will end

The need for power has won our rule
bending the law to justify 
while merchant kings revel in wealth
as darkness fills their empty eyes.

Truth and faith are bought and sold
Kindness shy and averice bold
Rage sun hot and love grown cold
Darkness revered by every soul

Leave all ire put grief behind
Let light and silence fill you
Seek the world in fluid time
Let no obstacle still you

Breathe what you have ever spent
Perfect focus clear intent
With your fear and darkness spent
The golden flower will crown you.

Manifest

A blink and then it disappeared
the world that I had memorized
soft green hills and quiet wood
my hearts wish granted, realized.

Another step to set me free
the sun, the breeze,the rain and wind
the quiet groves and mountainsides
the myriad parts of who I am.

The formless love of ever was,
source from which all dreams begin
Light dreamt, embodied, cast, in life
It flows out, my Hearts sacred wind.