Still “in the midst”; Always in the midst

27 November 2021 – There was a break; now it is raining again.

We have begun what is predicted to become a “parade” of “atmospheric rivers.”

I cannot help observing that this is a mixed metaphor: a parade of rivers? Yet the reality it describes is so worrisome that I would find it unacceptable to get all snippy about the scrambled language. (And I am one who can turn snippy at the drop of a syllable, let alone a whole scramble.)

All this somehow circles me back to my previous post, and dictates today’s follow-through. Because we’re always in the midst of it all, aren’t we? Life’s just like that; it’s a both/and package, all the time. Denying myself the joy of Saturday’s Culture Crawl would not have made floodwaters recede out in the Valley.

Concurrent realities. Both/and.

One of the joys, on Saturday, was the discovery of Samantha Reynolds’ poem, My Version of Aging, while prowling the Eastside Atelier over on Clark. I’d never heard of her, but liked the poem enough to show it to all of you, and some of you liked it a lot as well. So I looked her up.

Well! Turns out she is a BC entrepreneur, head of the ECHO Storytelling Agency with some pretty big brand-name clients — but she only founded ECHO as a consequence of becoming Bentlily. And she became Bentlily because one day, bored witless at some corporate luncheon, she noticed a bent lily in the otherwise impeccable flower arrangement on the table. That so perked her up she decided to write a poem a day, as a way to force herself to be present, to notice, to observe, and share the results.

Visit her Bentlily website. Consider signing up, and receiving more of her poems.

She encourages sharing them, by the way, and I am about to do exactly that with this one, because it’s the one I need right now, in the midst of our particular BC right-now. Wherever you are, you have your own right-now to navigate, and maybe this poem will be an encouragement for you as well.

Especially the final stanza.

No Shame in Happiness

“There is no shame
in the serene drunkenness
you get when you stand
under a linden tree in summer,
wearing the smell of honey
and the rumble of contented bees
around you like a bonnet.

“There is no shame
in careening downhill on a bike
with your legs out wide
as the wind lifts the heat
right out of the air
and you are going so fast
no one can even hear you singing.

“There is no shame
in loving the movie you saw
without restraint,
in reading whatever
you want to read,
in admitting
wholeheartedly
to hope.

“Who told you
it was ignorant
to be happy?

“How dare they forbid
something so close
to peace?

“Happiness does not ignore suffering;
it is what makes the suffering
bearable enough
so there is energy
leftover
for change”

Wired for Walking

11 January 2021 – I’m out walking again, with the same motivation that drove And Also. Medical & political turbulence aren’t going away any time soon, so let’s balance those realities with other realities — moments of delight, charm, generosity, fun, engagement.

French author Marcel Proust knew about concurrent realities when he observed that the voyage of discovery lay in having new eyes, not in seeking new landscapes. (The quote is on my home page. I’ve loved it ever since I saw it on a wall at the Art Gallery of Ontario, and I no longer remember why it was there. Though, arguably, it’s one of those anchor thoughts that need no further justification.)

One hundred-plus years later, neuroscience has caught up with Proust. Psychologist & author Rick Hanson (e.g. Buddha’s Brain, Hardwired for Happiness) points out: “Neurons that fire together wire together. Mental states become neural traits. Day after day, your mind is building your brain. This is what scientists call experience-dependent neuroplasticity…” Also: “When you tilt toward the good, you’re not denying or resisting the bad. You’re simply acknowledging, enjoying and using the good. You’re acknowledging the whole truth, all the tiles of the mosaic of life…”

So, hey, claim your favourite authority — from Buddha to Marcel Proust to experience-dependent neuroplasticity — but feel no guilt about also noticing what is delightful.

I have myself a truly delightful, absolutely guilt-free, and (for me) quite lengthy walk. I take lots of photos. I select a bunch for this post.

And decide to use only two.

Go find your own delightful moments — the ones that speak to you, for your own reasons, in your own environment. We’re each on our own voyage of discovery, each selecting our own moments that will select the neurons to fire together & wire together.

Two photos, I promised you.

And they’re all about wires!

Last few blocks in the homeward stretch, I am more intent on plod-plod than see-see.

And then I see — just peripherally, but the sight ambushes my eye, snags me, halts my feet. There, on that ground-floor balcony ledge, next to that winter-mossy tree.

I trespass, move in close.

She is perfect. She is exuberant, strong, literally wired for joy & walking & discovery & everything wonderful, and, in the multiplicity of her colours, totally inclusive. I shamelessly stole Michael Snow’s Walking Woman sculpture series for my blog title, but I’m now adding her as another avatar, another inspiration.

(Guys, you can claim her too. Just do a mental photo-shop, and substitute your dangly bits for her dangly bits.)

And here we are. Our very own Wired for Walking avatar, just when we need one.

  • WALKING… & SEEING

    "Traveller, there is no path. Paths are made by walking" -- Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

    "The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" -- Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

    "A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities" -- Rebecca Solnit, "Wanderlust: A History of Walking"

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