Take refuge. For now. Imagine your writing as a shawl, a cape, a beat-up hoodie. Enter this image and explore. Move through the layers. What time is it? Where are you? Who scrawled “Meow” across a window? Was it you? Were you alone?
We have been told to isolate. Some of us fight the act. Others luxuriate. Some know that it is in isolation that they create. Others are terrified to be alone. I once was.
I was thirty-seven years old the first time I was alone. I was, no surprise, in therapy, My brilliant therapist challenged me to go into one of the upstairs rooms in the therapy center for two hours. Alone. No pen. No paper. No – it was 1977 – phone.
It took me months to get up my courage to enter a safe and silent room.
I walked up the stairs to the room as though I was headed to the gallows. I opened the door and walked into a little room with one window. There was a couch. There was me.
I sat on the couch and began. I remember moments so ragged and eerie that I could have been on LSD. I occupied an ocean bottom, an ice age, a black hole. I forgot who I was. Words formed and broke apart. I persisted. I persisted sitting in a comfortable room in a safe therapy center on a ordinary Rochester, NY street. In the company of my mind – and my past.
Now, there is no such condition as isolation. I am, of course, in my own company – and yours.
Here is Elizabeth Venetiou, on Beauty: The sun melted the snow and ice in our south facing driveway. We never shoveled a thing. Alex and I took our white and brown dog Marc on the trail for a four mile walk. We talked about whatever was on our minds, noticeability calmer because I wasn’t trying to plan. There is a certain beauty to being present in the moment stretched before us. On the walk back I stopped and turned to look down the river. The trees bent with weight from snow. The sun up and glistening in the water. Alex said it was even prettier before that one tree fell down. I saw the stump. Lightning? Not sure what made it crumble. But I thought it was beautiful as it was in that moment. Even without the tree that was missing.
What is beauty? For me right now beauty is more of a feeling than an aesthetic. I know I’m older and I don’t know if I’ve ever felt fully beautiful even though I have been called that a few times. But sometimes I feel the beauty that is my health and strength, my humanness, my body. It is beautiful to be alive.
Our dog Marc was at my feet as I wrote last night. He was at my feet as I wrote this morning. He looked at me with huge brown eyes. How we love to love this dog. I don’t be believe in reincarnation the way that people talk about being a pharaoh in a past life or somebody else famous. But I do believe that we all come from the same soul blob. All connected before we’re splintered off into individual humans on the planet. I was staring at the dog staring back at me as he settled into the space on the blanket. I thought, if you were a soul in a past life who didn’t get the love that you needed, I hope that in this life as our dog, you are safe, sheltered, loved, appreciated and cared for.
I thought of the children separated from their parents at the border of Mexico and the US. How many of them may never be reunited with their families. Now children from Central America are being deported to Mexico without their families. Have we lost the ability to care for others? To see humanity in others? To be human ourselves?
True beauty is lasting in memory but fleeting in the moment. Beauty is always changing right before us. I choose to embrace the beauty of being human in this moment of change, of uncertainty, of chaos. I am willing to be open to new forms of beauty, to expand my definition of beauty, and, like joy, to seek it out every day.
And, here is Elizabeth Maginnis with an election lament:
. . . count on him to leave government health care protections like Medicaid, Medicare and Obamacare untouched if he wins a second term. He looks in my direction with a scornful expression. “Why should I? Anyone who feeds off the government is a loser. I don’t help losers. Only winners. Losers won’t vote for me anyway. And seniors will be dead soon. Why should we waste money on them?”
The only “winners” I see in the crowd are white men in MAGA hats, waving MAGA signs, chanting “Sacrifice the losers” as handlers encourage them from the sidelines to shout louder and louder so the American Hitler can feed off their energy. He needs this infusion of energy to keep going. He needs their love and adoration to drown out his father’s condemnation that continuously run through his very good brain.
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