Friday Musings: Perfect Fall

Friday Musings: Perfect Fall

Last week I decided to reread Ghostwritten, one of my favorite books by David Mitchell. If you’ve never experienced his work, you absolutely should. Very soon. This particular novel was his first, and although it has always been highly praised for a level of complexity and finesse not often found in debut fiction, the one fault expressed by critics was that it was considerably reminiscent of books written by the Japanese author, Haruki Murakami. Because I love Murakami, I’ve read a fair amount of his writing and could certainly see how the comparison was fair, but rather than dissuade me from reading Mitchell, just the opposite occurred. I have been a fan ever since. Ghostwritten is a collection of interwoven narratives placed in many different settings that are linked together in a way that creates a very satisfying puzzle with the just the right level of challenge. In the second chapter, two characters are having a conversation in a Tokyo record store when one of them looks wistfully out the window and says, “The last of the cherry blossom. On the tree, it turns ever more perfect. And when it’s perfect, it falls. And then of course once it hits the ground it gets all mushed up. So it’s only absolutely perfect when it’s falling through the air, this way and that, for the briefest time…” Mitchell’s language is extremely simple here, and the concept he is expressing is equally comprehensible, but something about these lines gave me pause, and I found myself wanting to think about their deeper meaning a whole lot more.

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Friday Musings: Phantom Limb

Friday Musings: Phantom Limb

My daughter Wendy and I were recently away for a day or so, and we had one of those deep conversations that mothers and daughters tend to have when they find themselves sharing a bed late at night when the rest of the world seems to be sleeping. There is something about the darkness and the quiet that makes it the perfect time for remembering secrets long forgotten. I feel this way about late night talks with any of my kids. They always make me think of the countless hours spent together when they were very young, and I was the one who could make them feel safe from all the things in the world that had the potential to truly scare them. This particular discussion didn’t really begin as anything spooky, but it quickly moved in that direction as soon as Wendy brought up the house that we lived in from the time she was born in 1989 until my mom died in 2011. She described it as an epic place to grow up, which made me smile because I knew exactly what she meant. The house was anything but epic in size or stature; in fact, by many development house mini-mansion standards, it would be considered quite small. Yet if you looked at it from overhead you would see that the yard had many different areas: a pool, a deck, a vegetable and a rose garden, and two shady spots with benches, giant hostas, and ivy. There were flowers everywhere, a butterfly garden, a front porch, a back porch, a garage, and a row of large fir trees that bordered one entire edge of the property suggesting more seclusion than was ever true in reality. The inside of the house was similar with lots of nooks and crannies, making it seem so much larger than it appeared from the street, and there was a definite swirling energy that seemed to move as if on a current of air, rushing into this corner or that one and holding in places that became palpable for all of us at different times.

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Friday Musings: At Your Center

Friday Musings: At Your Center

As many of you know, I try to keep a fairly open mind when it comes to finding inspiration for the things I write about on this blog, even if what moves me comes from an unlikely place. Often the most unexpected enlightenment has come from my grandchildren, Nora and Jack. A month or so ago I arrived at their house in the morning to find them eagerly waiting to tell me something. “Freezie, Freezie, we have a new movie for us to watch. You are going to love it SO much!” Well. Who could possibly pass that up?? Certainly not me. The movie, as it turns out, was called The Rise of the Guardians and it is currently streaming on Netflix should you have some time this weekend to sit down and watch it. If you’re raising an eyebrow, and I know some of you are, just be patient with me. I promise you that there’s real substance here. The premise behind the movie is that the children of the world needed protection from the boogeyman, that universal bad guy responsible for our nightmares and the subsequent fear and sadness they bring, which prompted the Man in the Moon to assign a group of guardians to keep everyone safe. Are you still with me? These protectors consisted of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Sandman, and the Tooth Fairy, obvious icons of childhood who fill the world with good things and happiness. Something goes wrong, and the boogeyman begins regaining his strength. A new guardian is needed to fortify the group, and so the Man in the Moon chooses Jack Frost, a young mischief maker who is going through a bit of an identity crisis. When the other guardians are mystified as to why Jack would be selected, Santa Claus (a.k.a North in this movie and the best character) asks Jack to tell him what is at his center, or what is the core of his being. Why would the Man in the Moon have chosen him? He must be someone special. Yet Jack is unable to answer the question because he simply has no idea.

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Friday Musings: School’s Out

Friday Musings: School’s Out

Every year around this time I begin to feel a certain restlessness stirring in me. I’m ready for school to be over. That made a whole lot of sense when I was a mom of three young kids, and the close of the school year signified the end of homework, packing lunches, and driving everyone around to their various activities. There was even a certain logic to it when my kids were older and more free time meant more time together. I always did love being with them and still do. Maybe the answer is as simple as that. Or, since there are five teachers in my innermost circle, it’s quite possible that their sense of being ready for closure spills over onto me. Perhaps this is a universal thing that’s related to the fact that even if we don’t work in education, we certainly remember being in school, and longer days, warmer weather, and time outside trigger a kind of response in us. And yet, I think there is more. The other night I was looking through a book of poetry by Carl Adamshick (there will definitely be more about him at some point in this blog’s future) when the opening line of a poem called Emily caught my eye: “It is nice to be without answers at the end of summer.” I’ve turned these words over in my head all week and have come to the conclusion that the reason why they resonate with me so much has everything to do with the way I feel about summer, particularly these last two weeks of June. For some of us, summer begins with an invitation to change, improve, or evolve, which in turn leads to the question in late August that asks “How have you done so?”

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Friday Musings: Hummingbird Dance

Friday Musings: Hummingbird Dance

May and June are prime wedding season months when many of us find ourselves attending ceremonies or celebrations on weekend nights where we gaze upon happy couples exchanging vows, and we listen to speeches that pay tribute to the idea of love. As many of you know, I am a hopeful romantic whose favorite subject to write about just happens to be love, and so I listen to the words people say at weddings to find inspiration or a brand new perspective. I could, in fact, easily become a wedding crasher in the spirit of Vince Vaughn or Owen Wilson attending not for the food, drink, and dates, but rather for the speeches, for their power and poignancy, and for the possibility of being moved to tears. We all have our weaknesses. Two Saturdays ago I stood in the beautiful backyard of my two friends, Mike and Kim, a couple to whom I owe such a debt of gratitude for extending much love and understanding to me at a time in my life when I needed it the most. It was their son, Evan, whose marriage was being celebrated, a person that I have known since he was the sweet pre-school friend of my youngest, who has grown into a man whose light and grace fill any space he occupies. When that space is shared with the woman he married, Giselle, those qualities multiply, magnify, and disperse until they are felt by everyone. I’ve never witnessed anything quite like it.

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