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Seasons Past, Seasons Passed

IMG_3802Back to school shopping
cool weather,
shorter days,
acorns plop,
tinted leaves crunch under my feet.
yellow. orange.
red and brown.


iciclesChristmas shopping
bundle up,
day gives way,
a dusting of white,
hollow, whistling wind stings my face.
black. white.


humingbird B FullerEaster shopping
warm sunshine,
moist buds,
dampened earth encourages its blooms
merry pitches delight my ear.
pink. purple.
golden and lilac.


IMG_2968Travel shopping
blistering heat,
day, please stay,
humming cicadas welcome bright butterflies,
warm sprinklers douse my sneakers.
green. green. brown.

Come, go, come, go.
Regular as the tide,
as the sun, as the moon, as the stars.

I am
not a season,
not a regular,
not fixed in the universe.

I come
with empty hands,
with full heart,
with agile mind in slowing body.

It is
the me that changes
against the glory of days,
of season’s greetings and departures,
of life gone on
in neighboring houses.

IMG_6762I am
here, as ever have been.
what day?
what weather?
what smell, what sound,
what touch?

Does anyone know?

When life throws you change-ups

Routine, are you friend or foe?

How I do love to know what to do and when to do it. That feeling of confidence when, like clockwork, this ticks so that tocks. The alarm goes off at 5:45. The morning coffee. The paper. The blog post. The conference call. The lunch hour. The 5:00 rush hour (okay that’s getting earlier). The dinner, the news, the emails, the…regularity. The familiar is so comfortable, so reassuring, so bland.

I like it. I thrive in bland. It works. I know what to expect, so I do it. And so, rolled back and forth on the waves of life, I am cradled in calm. I drift off; my senses dulled by the back and forth. Forth and back. Over and under. Round and round. What a friend we have in rhythm.

Is it really friend? What if it’s wrong, or ineffective, or dulling, or blinding, or unhealthy? Would we know? It’s so familiar, so calming, so regular, and feels so right. We may not even notice that it’s rolling us away from where we want to go or getting us stuck in a muddy rut we ourselves have made.

Not unless we change things up. And change is hard because disrupting motion, slowing momentum, or slamming on the breaks take a lot of force. Especially when new direction is still pretty hazy. Familiarity has built momentum, and we’ve got a track record after all. Could what we have been doing for so long really be wrong? Is changing it worth all the effort its gonna take to stop and re-start?

This is what I’m wondering when the visiting coach comes to the field and says to me, “Watch this; they’re gonna hate me.” Then he steps onto the field and says, “Now we play only with the left foot.”

Only with the left? Hmm. This is going to be interesting. These girls are strong players. They’ve played many seasons and have a lot of natural ability. But there are no natural left footers out there. What will they do now?

I watch the game change. The pace does not slow, but the players step up. Knowing they may not play it with their right foot, their body reacts differently, automatically. They turn the other way, open up the other direction, run at a new angle. The game has become new simply by changing up the rules. Not only did their body adapt to a new challenge but their mind got into the act as well. A new stimulus invited new thinking. That felt good, and they saw themselves newly capable. Instead of hating it, they liked it.

What if disruption of routine is necessary to use all our tools? What if changing it up is part of the plan?

Yes, as babes, patterns were what we needed for understanding and differentiating ourselves from the rest of the world. Perhaps as we grow older, dynamism and disruption is necessary. Jarring our patterns is what’s needed to head us aright.

Then Mrs. Reed, my piano teacher was absolutely spot-on when she tut-tutted about that passage I kept playing with improper rhythm over and over again. “Play it all wrong” she told me, “The worse, the better. ” Sure enough, the disruption was just what I needed to get it right.

Could it be that our insistence on doing it our way is exactly what we don’t need? That the minor correction requires complete disruption. Can we trust that if we shake things up they’ll land just as they should?

The wide arc of change

Every generation sees change that needs making. Wrongs that need righting. Laws that need repealing. Injustices that need addressing. The young want to turn things around on a dime, right now. I love that about youth. They want things to be different and they want to be the difference.

Age and wisdom teach that change, a true righting for a change that will last, moves through a wide arc. It takes the long way ’round. It takes time and patience, not just energy and enthusiasm.

Having watched the movie Mandela: the Long Walk to Freedom, I was struck by this. The older Nelson Mandela got, the slower he went. The burden he carried grew heavier and heavier, and this slowed him to just the right pace. The urgency (and insurgency) of youth had been replaced by a calm, pensive plod forward.

Such irony, that we rush when we’re young because time seems to be slipping away, and we slow when we’re older when we know time grows short. What a paradox: the oldest or those with the least time left to bring about change take time to get it right.

The fiery young people keep the need for change before us. We need this. But what a responsibility to temper this with judgment and understanding and conversation. To discuss it with those who live it and those who administer it. And still to persevere, even where there’s antagonism, opposition and disagreement. It’s a long way home, and perspective that swings wide may be the best route. Settling for perfect pace may be our only means to finish alive. Our heart can only take so much.

But gradual training strengthens it: short runs, brief rides, casual walks, bouts of intensity sprinkled with rest and recovery. The quick fix disregards the details, just like the fad diet, or the exercise gimmick. If you’re in it for the long haul, you’re patient for progress. You raise your hand and don’t talk out of turn. This is the best way to get people to choose listening and for right to make its way forward.

It makes me wonder if this life isn’t just about introducing us to the perfect pace we will one day see and live. Allowing us to settle into it and feel at home in it. Things certainly need changing. But righting, now that takes time.

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