April Come She Will

promise of seasonsI recently heard an old Simon and Garfunkel song called “April Come She Will” and was instantly reminded not only of how beautiful a tune it is, but also how true. There is much debate over what the song means… from the natural evolution of a short-lived love affair likened to the changing of the seasons, to a metaphor for the actual brevity of life itself. Here are the lyrics… you can decide for yourself:

April Come She Will

April, comes she will,
When streams are ripe and swelled with rain.
May, she will stay,
Resting in my arms again.

June, she’ll change her tune.
In restless walks she’ll prowl the night.
July, she will fly,
And give no warning to her flight.

August, die she must.
The autumn winds blow chilly and cold.
September, I’ll remember.
A love once new has now grown old.

Any of the theories as to its meaning would work for me, but the snow on the ground, the shorter days, the layers of clothing I pile on every day or the space heater cranking away at my feet lead me to think about the seasons and how they change. I reflect upon the uncanny way each one has of representing a new phase or marking the visceral passage of time.

The inevitability of change… the promise of seasons is the only thing we can truly count on in this life. What is that saying? “The only constant is change?” … or something like that. The marching on of the seasons is reliable. No matter what is happening in our lives at any given moment — the backdrops of April, May, June, July, August, September and so on rarely change.

April comes and thaws and fosters life with rain. May follows and we are so grateful to see her again. With her flowers and warmth we graciously hang on to every last drop of sun she offers. June finds us tiring in the heat with days that last so long they’ll draw us into the night before we ever even know it is upon us.

July goes so fast with its high blue skies and holidays—like a month-long celebration—we’ll truly wonder where she’s gone by the time August interrupts. She gently reminds us that soon it will be time to go back. Back to school, back to work, back inside as the days grow shorter, darker… colder. September, we will remember, all the life and love and laughter that came with the start of April’s rain.

Deep Freeze

ice-crystals
Like armies taking to the fields in battle, the ice marched steadily onward. Starting at the edges and meeting in the middle, its frozen grip grew briskly downward crystallizing all movement and solidifying that which was fluid mere hours ago.

Once again I stand in awe of nature and the uncanny way it has of taking over. It gains control of everything without ever having checked with us.

So too, life goes on without regard for our plans, our ideas, our dreams, our schemes. Time advances on us, like a freeze to unsuspecting open water, and we have no choice but to withdraw… to surrender… to survive… and to wait.

We wait—with overwhelming anticipation—for the sweet, sweet mercy of the thaw.

That Picture of Us

To say that a picture is worth a thousand words is true I suppose. But only if you’re counting all the ones that are left unsaid. The things it failed to capture and yet, were present all the same.

That picture of us that sits atop my second shelf only captured a moment. It is a mere sliver in time when you were smiling and I was smiling because the photographer told us to.

It does not tell of weathered hearts and dusty dreams… of successes or of failures… Nor promises kept and promises broken. It gives no hint toward the future or revelation of the past.

That time I made you laugh so hard you nearly choked to death is nowhere to be seen. The scar on my left wrist I got while running after you is just outside the frame.

Weekends on the water, midnight rides and long, late nights of talking are written behind our eyes but no one would ever know it — were they to pick it up and hold it. Should they ever really, really study it…

That time when you were smiling and I was smiling because the photographer told us to.

Do you remember? That image on my second shelf? It is the one collecting dust. That picture of us.

When All Is Said and Done

One of the reasons I am infinitely glad to have journaled faithfully throughout the years is the unique perspective it provides when all is said and done. I will often dig out my old journals and read through past entries with pure fascination and curiosity as though someone else had written them.

I am so surprised to read about (and be reminded of) the worries, concerns, fears, victories and priorities of the past. And I am even more surprised (at times) to see how the situations (i.e. worries, concerns and fears) have worked themselves out. To take a step back and see the picture that time has painted for me. An image that time and only time truly can.

Time is incredible in that it is the only thing capable of explaining our lives to us with the greatest amount of detail and accuracy. When allowed to do it’s job… it will reveal secrets, provide solutions and share with us endings to stories and answers we’ve literally been dying to discover.

If you think about it… sometime when things are quiet and you have a few moments to be alone with your thoughts — write them down. Record them. Because I promise you that they will change and they will evolve and if you don’t… those thoughts and feelings may slip away from you.

One day—when all is said and done—you will stumble into the answers and they will not hold the value that they could have had you remembered to make note of the questions.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

A New Year: Gifts Within a Gift

Nearly everyone is familiar with the idea of a gift within a gift within a gift. A large, beautifully-wrapped box that when opened, contains another smaller wrapped box that when opened, contains yet another even-smaller wrapped box and so on.

This came to mind today as I considered the notion of a new year and all of the unopened surprises it contains. As we put to bed the events of 2011, we cannot help but reflect upon them. Mulling over its unique highs and lows, celebrations and horrors we ponder both things that happened to us individually as well as collectively.

Each of our “gifts” looks different and of course contains entire sets of varying surprises. Some of the boxes will contain wonders and joys beyond belief while still others may hold heartbreaking secrets and life-altering circumstances.

In the grand scheme of things, it really is best not to know… until the moment has come to open each one in its own time. Naturally, in the dawn of early January we will ask ourselves the question: What does 2012 have in store for me, my family, my friends, my country and my world?

And I realized that if time is one of the most precious gifts (and I truly believe that it is) then the days of another year—a gift unto itself—is not unlike the concept of that beautifully-wrapped parcel. There are gifts within a gift within a gift. Each day intended to be unwrapped and fully experienced one by one… in the order in which they are presented to us.

Unrecognizable

I look in the mirror and do not know her.
This woman starring back at me. Who is she?
Where did all those lines come from?
Features completely foreign…
I search for explanation.

Answers swimming  in a sea of silver…
Revelations in the reflection…
Facts and figures float just beneath the surface…
of the glass.

Between the lines there is a story.
Some of the parts are good. Some of them are sad.
Some of them are silly. And a few of them are mad.
All of them are worthy
of being written down…
to be always recorded
before I’m all curled up and brown.

Where once there was a twinkle…
now emptiness prevails.
It wasn’t always like this…
but the colors now are pale.

Out of the Rabbit Hole

As the fog of slumber lifts and the reality of wakefulness settles upon me, it is there. A heavy stone—which may as well be a boulder—is pressing against my chest. The full weight of it constricting my breathing and creating a pain that radiates out into my limbs and up into my neck and head.

Putting my hand to my forehead I think: Not today. Please let’s not do this today. Yes, it is Monday, but that isn’t reason enough for this. Quickly I run down the bullet points of the day that lay in front of me and of the events of the week and evening prior… looking for any sign of trouble that might be to blame. But there is nothing there.

As I toss aside the blankets and set my feet upon the cold, hardwood floor my breathing quickens and my heart races. The bedspread doesn’t look quite right. The notion of making my bed like I do every morning without thought or consideration suddenly overwhelms me. I feel nauseated. Everything around me unfamiliar yet familiar at the same time, like walking down a hallway of funhouse mirrors.

Looks like I have fallen into the hole again and I have no choice but to climb back out.

For those of you fortunate enough to be unaware of what I am describing… allow me to introduce you to the adventure that is a panic attack. To help you gain a more accurate perspective, imagine Alice in Wonderland plus a sense of impending doom but minus the tea parties, talking critters and croquet—in other words—all of the disjointed creepiness and none of the fun.

As much as I want to fight it, I suppose this is one of those rare but “as needed” mornings that the prescription bottle clearly addresses. Like Alice in the rabbit’s hole, I follow the instructions of the container on the table. Hesitant and grateful all at once for the way this will transform me, I swallow the contents and grasp for my footing.

Note to (the Perfectionist) Self

Finish each day and be done with it…
You have done what you could;
Some blunders and absurditites no doubt crept in
Forget them as soon as you can
Tomorrow is a new day;
You shall begin it well and serenely.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I flipped to this quote one night before heading to bed at the end of a particularly difficult day. Lately I’ve been trying to read encouraging and/or inspirational thoughts to close my days and when I saw this quote on that day, I broke down in tears.

As my breath caught in my throat at the sheer timliness of reading these words, I felt the weight of the day literally being lifted from my shoulders. I felt relieved at the reminder that I did not have to take these worries to bed with me.

Finish this day and be done with it. It is over. You did what you could do. Not necessarily what others expected you would do or what they thought you should do. You did what you could do. Now let it go.

No doubt you made some mistakes or said some stupid things. Forget about it. Others probably have. You are your harshest critic.

Tomorrow is a new day! You shall begin it well and calmly. Choose peace over turmoil and serenity over fretfulness.

The day will be what it will be. It will bring what it will bring. You can only do what you can do. And when it is over… the second most important thing will be to know that you did your best… And the most important will be to release it.

An Honor Just Being Nominated…

Although it’s not a Pulitzer, I was honored yesterday when a fellow blogger nominated me for WordPress’s “Versatile Blogger Award.”  There is no trophy, cash prize or trip to Hawaii attached to the privilege. The only honor is that of the proverbial, but reassuring pat on the back from a fellow would-be writer. And I’ll take it. Happily. It is such a thrill to know that other people, many of whom I have never and will never meet, actually ENJOY reading the thoughts that I key in day after day after day! At times, when my creative juices are running on empty, it is the only thing that keeps me coming back to the cursor.

The first order of business is to thank the individual who thought my musings worthy of such mention. I “met” her not long ago when she dropped by Woman in Thrisis and left a comment. Commenters are usually the blogs that I tend to visit most often. I found her blog to be witty, fun and unique. Be sure to check out her writing at Becoming Cliche and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

The second order of business required of all nominees is to list seven random/fascinating/weird or odd things about themselves that their readers most likely do not know. So here goes…

  1. I am insanely fearful of ALL insects. Even gnats. In fact, I conduct my day-to-day life in such a way as to fully AVOID anything (living or dead) that exists in the insect realm.
  2. I am, however, completely cool with snakes, lizards and rodents. Once, on a trip to the beach, I carried a python around on the boardwalk by wearing it around my neck because I thought I looked totally cool. That is, until it started to wrap itself around my neck… and I decided our little bonding session was over.
  3. My cat is named Stanley, though he isn’t just ANY Stanley. His full, given name (the one on the microchip between his shoulder blades) is Stanley Kubrick… In honor of my favorite filmmaker. In case you’re unfamiliar with Kubrick’s work, think A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Full Metal Jacket. He was a cinematic genius. The filmmaker, not the cat. AND Stanley is completely mute. The cat, not the filmmaker.
  4. Though deathly afraid of insects, I will try just about anything for the sake of adventure… Scuba diving, mountain climbing and herding cattle on horseback to name a few. I know, I am acutely aware of the contradiction.
  5. At 5’2” and barely 120 lbs., I once won a grape-stomping contest at a New Mexico vineyard by producing the largest amount of juice in the least amount of time.
  6. As a small child, I had an intense obsession with stuffed bunny rabbits that I carried around in my mouth by the ears and then rubbed said soppy, wet bunny ears constantly beneath my nose until it was chapped beyond recognition. Suffice it to say… cautionary measures were taken.
  7. In addition to insects, I am disproportionately afraid of nutcrackers, marionettes, puppets and claymation. They scare the bejezzus out of me. Because of this fear… Christmas is a difficult holiday. My father likes to hide wooden nutcrackers all over my house in random places continually finding sadistic delight in his cruel little prank until ALL of the aforementioned creepy puppets have been located and properly disposed of. Oddest place he ever hid one: in my freezer.

And now for the third and final order of business to fulfill my duty as a nominee… naming OTHER fellow bloggers for whom I feel deserving of the same award… I hope you will take the time to pay them a visit as well. I promise you will laugh, ponder and find inspiration in their words.

I’ll be waiting / with a gun and a pack of sandwiches  The name alone is worthy of checking it out. Variety, truth and humor all rolled into one. Everyone will find something they can relate to.

My One Precious Life  Honesty. Sincerity. And adventure all rolled into one.

Storytelling Nomad  Travel and Literature. If either of these are YOUR things, you’ll really enjoy this one.

The Great Balancing Act  Health and wellness, recipes and great getaways in this blog. But also the incredible and transparent account of a young woman’s day to day battle with leukemia. Very informative and extremely inspiring.

The wuc  Simply HILARIOUS. Enough said.

Where Pleasant Fountains Lie  Beautiful poetry and well-written words of wisdom and self-awareness.

Side of the Leaf  Real and entertaining stories about life set to music

Craves Adventure Fun travel tips and beautiful photography. If you want to take a trip in just 10 minutes, give it a read.

Food4ThoughtFood4Life  Insightful, humorous and reflective… A one stop shop.

I have several other faves. Those are just to name a few. I’m sorry if I left anyone out. I’m sure I did. Please don’t hold it against me. Happy reading friends. Pour yourselves a cup of coffee and take a walk in someone else’s very unique shoes.

The Encore

I smelled Fall today. I think there are finally enough leaves on the ground that you can actually begin to smell them. You know, like when you were a kid and you raked them and raked them into huge, heaping piles and then dove head-long into them! You would plunge right into the center of that crispy-sweet, earthy scent. There is nothing else like it. It is in the air for just a few weeks… fleeting but heavenly. This is my favorite time of year.

Summer seems to yield to Fall so suddenly. One week you’re wearing shorts and flip-flops and the next you’re reaching into the back of the closet for that favorite sweatshirt. Bare feet search for fuzzy socks and slippers. Windows are opened at night and an extra blanket tossed on the bed. Shadows from the trees lay longer and longer across remnants of green grass… stretching for the last few drops of sunshine before the cold renders them silent. Darkness comes sooner than the night before.

With the glorious colors of the season I have searched and searched for the right words to describe this unique and transformational time of year. But nothing I come up with seems to do it justice. They say a picture is worth a thousand words… and that statement could not be more true of autumn. I guess that’s why—over the years—I’ve turned the camera’s lens to capture so many images of the brilliant leaves when the late afternoon sun is dancing on them. Words simply aren’t sufficient.

Though finally one day it came to me. I believe “encore” to be an appropriate word… if there is one. The dictionary defines encore as: an additional performance in response to the demand of an audience.

If we are the audience… and Spring, with it’s debut of flowers and tender new buds, is the Opening Act, and Summer, with it’s long days and warm nights is the Main Performance… then Fall must be the Encore. The verdant reign of Summer ends in one big blaze of glory. One final number before the white curtain of Winter falls.