I adore Mary Oliver and her poem, “I Have Decided” (from A Thousand Mornings, Poems). When I read this (or much of her other work), I feel understood. Yes, that’s what I mean to say —what I think —what I believe —want to believe…Yes, I’m following you. This is a precise capturing of complicated thoughts and feelings distilled into what feels to me like having the best ice cream sundae with a cherry on top on a sunny day where everything is clear and you’re with your favorite people.
I love that such big ideas are expressed in so few words. There’s nothing like reading something that resonates and feels true at exactly the moment I need to receive those words. They swirl around in my head, reaching into things I need or want to think about, or work on. They inspire me and answer questions I have and raise more questions, too. Gratitude to Mary Oliver.
Hi. It’s been too long. Rather than tell you a lot about January and February (nutshell: there’s been sickness, all non life threatening, yet relentless), I’ll jump in with right now.
Looking outside my window at the tree which has started to bud and rain that hasn’t stopped since this morning. The droplets of water on the tree branches are shiny crystals.
I hear the drizzle of the rain
Like a memory it falls
Soft and warm continuing
Tapping on my roof and walls
—“Kathy’s Song, Simon & Garfunkel.
It’s a quiet, grey day. It reminds of a day when I helped my father with a photography project in Northern Israel (late 1980s). There were olive tree groves we walked through after it rained, cows munching on grass, wildflowers growing like crazy in the green fields (red, purple, yellow), and people. We took pictures of the trees, cows, wildflowers, and people. My view is different today, but a rainy day like this brings back memories. Is the field still there? The people?
I’m sending you hearts, because I’ve got files of posts I wrote and abandoned. I figure since it’s been so long I’ll start by sending love to you for reading this and for being out there, for doing whatever it is you’re doing.
Maybe you’re digging out from under your own piles or sickness or winter or memories? Maybe you’re looking out a window and you’re remembering something from long ago, and you don’t have pictures, just fragments of color, the scent of rain and dirt, flashes that come to your brain when you’re alone. When you’re alone and you face your window or your mirror or the page.
The piles are in every room; toys, clothes, shoes. I could easily spend my day just opening old mail which needs to be shredded, recycled, or tossed. Time passes too quickly so that isn’t happening today.
Not saying much, just recovering after a few deaths of people I knew and loved (in particular, my friend’s mother in Israel, my far away, always and forever friends, like family. Is 36 years a long time? It’s gone so fast). And also birthdays, mine, and many others in my family. What do they call this? Transitions. I call it, people die and it hurts. We’re one year older. Things are always changing and staying the same.
Max said this about death recently:
“When someone you love dies, a piece of your soul dies.”
Inspiration is slow finding it’s way to me. It’s being unpacked, uncovered, dusted off. Yes, there’s the occasional shred-fest, clean up, and wonderful throwing out of nonsense, old, old, stuff that doesn’t do anything but clutter (in the rooms and in my mind). But not today. Not in any big rush, barely slivers of tiny moments of noticing, being, like fog clearing. From, “I can’t see the forest for the trees ” to “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel” to: the light is dim but it’s there and watch for other things that sparkle and shine, because they do exist, and yes they’re there even on the grey days but it’s also true that sometimes you can’t see bright light. I imagine if every day was bright, we’d get blinded by it, or we’d complain it’s way too hot. Or too bright. I do love a rainy day with muted colors and flashes of sparkle on the trees.
To wake up from a winter hibernation of sorts (but with not nearly enough napping), a hungry bear, ready to work.
The Man Who Has Many Answers from A Thousand Mornings Poems by Mary Oliver
“The man who has many answers
is often found
in the theaters of information
where he offers, graciously,
his deep findings.
While the man who has only questions,
to comfort himself, makes music.”
Deciding to write and then actually writing. Planning to paint and then actually painting, and all without knowing how any of it will turn out. This carving out, claiming time for the work. I will write and/or paint today between 10am-2pm and I’ll be happy if it ends up being two hours or one hour, or ten minutes as long as the words get out of my head and some paint comes out of the tube and ends up on a surface because I have sat at the computer and typed and saved, written in the notebook, or lifted my brushes and dipped them in paint and made a mark on the canvas or paper— not just wished I was doing that, but in fact did that. Creating the time in little bits requires stopping the outside noise, radio, TV, going offline, ringers must be turned down or off, doors closed, window blinds open.
Gathering the supplies, ink, brushes, tubes, rags, paper, notes written on scraps and stickies and ideas posted on my wall. Pick one idea. Do it. Today, not tomorrow. Start small. One tiny thing.
I’ve started writing a children’s book. Daffodils are coming up. Max made this and called it “Spring.”
Everything is terrifying. Everything is wonderful. Everything is in between.
I hope you’re well.
Back again soon.
all words and images by Elana A. Halberstadt except where noted otherwise.
Just had a technical problem. I published this earlier today. Just a few minutes ago, I was fixing a typo I’d missed. I somehow messed things up…the piece I had posted just disappeared…Long story short, I managed to restore my earlier draft, and I’m publishing it again here. Unfortunately, some of the comments and likes I’d received already seemed to have gone missing also. So sorry, folks!
Today, I’m celebrating one year of this blog. Cue the confetti and balloons.
Nah. But I did check my stats and was stunned and amazed to learn that people from at least 47 countries have visited this blog. Many are places I might never get the chance to visit. Some I’ve been to. I know people here in the US who are from some of the countries on this list. Others, I’ve lived in; the United States, Israel, and Ireland.
It is humbling and wonderful to take a minute and be excited about how great some things in life are. Being able to connect with people all over the world is really a GREAT thing. I’m happy to be a part of a community of bloggers who are reading and writing in all corners of the world. I follow quite a few and while I never get to read as much as I’d like to, I’m inspired when I do and am happy this forum exists for all of us.
I realize this is a long list, but I want to thank every single one of you who’ve visited me here from:
Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Bermuda, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, Netherlands, Panama, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Serbia, Singapore, Spain, Slovenia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Viet Nam.
Some flowers for you:
I just reread my first post. It seems like it was yesterday. Much has changed. Much remained the same.
Thank you for signing up, reading, commenting, and sharing this.
I’d also like to welcome and thank the newest subscribers and likers!
Many of you have encouraged me and lent an ear or kind word. Your support and kindness often arrived at the exact moments of my self-doubt, exactly when I needed them most. I’m sending virtual hugs and more flowers and hope you’ll like what’s coming in the next year, too. Things will probably change a bit. I’m not sure exactly how.
I’ve been playing around with the themes and design, trying different things. I haven’t written my ABOUT section yet. It’s on my list to do this year. And I still don’t have a nifty, catchy title for this blog. I can rename it. I’m thinking about it. This is an ongoing work in progress.
I recently upgraded to no-ads on my site, so you shouldn’t be seeing any more. If you do, kindly let me know. By the way, I’ve been very happy here at WordPress. When I’ve got a question or need help, the support staff is responsive and helpful.
When I look back, I see that the main topics I wrote about were: Max, our relationship, things we learned from each other and our experiences, feelings, a variety of social and environmental justice concerns, bullying, violence and gun control, art, writing, creativity and other life stuff about getting along in the world.
A dear friend and fellow writer shared this with me way back at the beginning of this blog. I use it as a kind of mantra when I get stuck:
“Stop worrying if your vision is new
Let others make that decision
They usually do
Just keep moving on.”
—Sondheim, Sunday in the Park with George
Just keep moving on.
I’ve been watching out for color (it helps when I get discouraged). I watch in awe as Max gets bigger and brighter. There is wonder everywhere I go with him. I’m thankful to be able to see the world through his eyes. It is both scary and safe. Dark and colorful. Fast and slow. We share a deep love for ice cream sundaes.
I’ve been thinking about this new phase we’re going into; Kindergarten and public school. The other day, I bumped into the parents of one of Max’s preschool friends and we had one of those on-the-run-morning-chats. The dad looked at me and blurted out, “Honestly, I’m afraid of Kindergarten. Afraid of the whole thing.” I was delighted to hear this, and said, “Yes, me, too. Let’s be scared together!” Then we laughed and the fear evaporated for that moment. I love moments like that. YES! You’re not alone. I’m not alone. We’re laughing.
I truly believe that the connections / friendships / relationships we have with each other are what make life worth living, worth fighting for, worth “Just keep moving on” for.
So, thank you to my family and friends, both near and far. And to you, Dear Reader, wherever you are, thank you!
Love & peace,
“The thing that is important is the thing that is not seen…”
—The Little Prince, Antoine De Saint-Exupery
All words and images copyright 2012 Elana Halberstadt except where noted.