Monday, February 20, 2017

Word of the Week - 155

Portion of "Window in Collioure" by Henri Matisse, 1942
Word of the Week: TIPTOE 

My thought for the week:  I'd rather not walk where I feel the need to tiptoe.  I am at home in art, in beauty, in poetry, color, music, laughter, all foods for the senses.  I find strength there, bedrock wisdom, grounding.  For whatever life has planned, I am better for leaning into what provides enduringly solid footing while acting as a timeless balm for my soul.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Word of the Week - 154

Illustrator Pablo Auladell and friend.
Writer/artist Edward Gorey as puppeteer.
Word(s) of the Week:  INNER CREATURES

Various sources tell us of our inner beings, the ways they inform and shape our lives.  Inner goddesses, the inner child, inner chef, inner entrepreneur.  I wish for us each to claim our inner creatures.

My creatures are closely tied to the inner child, their gifts the ones I wish she'd had to provide a greater sense of safety and of self.  My inner octopus, a master of camouflage and squeezing into tiny hiding places.  Tentacles, essentially eight additional brains, would have sensed when conditions required caution.  I cannot imagine an octopus behaving recklessly.  My outer child/teenager was a puzzling combinations of timid and foolhardy.  The creature's ability to move swiftly yet with the languid grace found in water-dwellers speaks to my inner mermaid.  The sense of becoming weightless, certainly less gravity-dominated in water still calls to me.

My inner bear, considered a light hibernator, enjoys long winter naps while being able to awaken and take part in Christmas festivities and a winter birthday, neither of which require actually getting dressed.  An especially thick, warm bathrobe could transition handsomely between cave and civilization and would, of course, have roomy pockets to carry foraged treats back to the nest.  There might also be an inner tortoise capable of hibernating more deeply.  The three which were family pets spent their winters in a well-protected location packed with dry leaves, hibernation by concierge.

There is probably a spot at which a spirit animal and inner creature intersect.  The attributes of totem forms supply what we most need: a moth, a crow, a fish and my most frequent visitors, parrots.  We live in one of the Southern California neighborhoods inhabited by flocks of wild Amazon parrots.  They roost and cavort just outside our windows.  At times their squawking drowns out conversation.  We invent dialogue for them, their loud exchanges sounding like accusation and complaint.

For at least the past 10 years or so I have identified with the story of Ferdinand the Bull, realizing that my activity of greatest comfort is a metaphoric smelling of the flowers, sidestepping conflict, declining to engage in rivalries, feuds, stink talk in general.  With the goal of a quiet mind and quiet heart, I follow Ferdinand's example, growing still as I celebrate beauty wherever I find it.

In another post, we may contemplate inner fictional human creatures.

Wishing you blessings of all the Animal Gods.  (Thank you, Rebecca.)  xo

Monday, February 6, 2017

Word of the Week - 153

Jimmy Corrigan by Chris Ware.
Word(s) of the Week:  A WIDENED MIND

I picked Jimmy Corrigan as this week's poster boy for his "smartest kid in the world" title without any connection to his story.  If interested, please read the article at the link, above.

And I will also use myself as a stand-in for the rest of humanity, speaking of my experience, trusting that it is more universal.

A closed mind in a hamster wheel, a spinning treadmill from which I would never escape IF I stayed there without allowing in light, air and other possibilities.  I can suffocate myself with narrow, pinched thinking.  I, and I assume many of us, am not the best judge of my better aspects.  Too often I fail to find any finer points when I bolt the doors, pull the blackout curtains and burrow into my obvious and plentiful, as I believe, shortcomings.  This happens most often under stress and when tired.

With some rather limited experience of meditation, I know how a quiet mind feels, what it says - or doesn't say.  The agitated mind is a liar, perhaps out of malice, perhaps simply from fatigue.  It, in my case, has compiled evidence of insufficiency in pretty much all areas.  Viewing the documents in the case, my spirits sag lower still.  The evidence is so compelling.

But wait!  Put the focus elsewhere, like, say, sinking into an interesting movie or book, seeing the world with a refreshed perspective.  It actually feels as though louvers have opened in my temples, allowing refreshing breezes in, letting stale notions escape, certainly thinning the noxious gasses they produce.  With a brain open to the winds and the world, I feel so much more connected to all that is not me.  I gain a sense of being part of a vast and benevolent entity in which good thoughts prevail, in which "thank you" becomes a mantra, in which unseen hands are joined in fellowship.

A widened mind is not so much the product of being really smart as it is about being open.  I thrive on ideas that are not just self-generated.  Like when somebody forgets to change the water in the fish bowl, things grow slimy, murky and, let's face it, deadly.  I remind myself, or outside forces remind me, to unlatch the windows, to grab the broom and sweep away sour opinions.  Perfection is neither a reasonable nor attainable goal, but expanded thinking is, a practice that lets me see myself as more than I seem.  We are here to be, I believe, the best versions of ourselves, something we find through being connected to each other and the infinite in which we dwell.