To Help Us All Relax . . .

In response to all of the wonderful comments on my previous post, and recognizing that many of us seem to be in the world of the frazzled today, I offer all of you wonderful people a little bit of this:

and maybe some of this:

A relaxing float in coolness. (Image by Steve Kramer)

Or perhaps you prefer this:

Image by Steve Kramer

Tori suggested this:

A nap cures many ills.

Or maybe we simply need a little bit of this: 

Or this: 

Too Scattered to Write

Have you ever had one of those days when your mind is going a mile a minute and you cannot accomplish a single thing because of it?

Today is one of those days for me.

The list of things I could be doing or might be doing grows, and yet I fritter around like a hummingbird in a field of flowers, unable to rest, to calm, to think, to breathe or to write.

And, in the typical irony of fate,  today seems to be the day that I should be producing a high-quality fabulous post to thrill the masses. Why? Well, yesterday I had one of those randomly successful days on the blog, with the most visits ever for me–and today, without me posting, the numbers are high. Don’t ask me? I’ll never understand it.

But, instead of creating something wonderful and spectacular I find myself babbling a mile a minute without a single clear thought in my head.

So, welcome to all my new readers. Please come back soon, when sanity prevails. For now, I think I need to take a few deep breaths and try to calm down.

If i could, I would go sit by the ocean to soak in some calm. But for now a picture will have to do.

 

_______________________________

Today’s Quote: 

‎”Action and reaction, ebb and flow, trial and error, change – this is the rhythm of living. Out of our over-confidence, fear; out of our fear, clearer vision, fresh hope. And out of hope, progress.”
Bruce Barton

Cosmic Dance

This post comes from the inspiration of three different women, which just shows the power and complexity of this magnificent world I call the “Blogosphere”.  Today, Darla at She’s a Maineiac wrote the lovely poem called “Radiance at Last” in response to a challenge made by Val Erde who provided inspiration in the form of this  magnificent painting by her

Painting by Val Erde at Absurd Old Bird

A few days ago, Priya at Partial View wrote “Dismissed too Soon”a magnificent post that incorporates photography and poetry to explore issues of life and death. She used the form of etheree, which she also explains:

An etheree comprises of 10 lines. It begins with a one syllable line, increasing one syllable per line until the last line of ten syllables. The syllable count of the entire poem is 55. The syllabic structure, therefore, is 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10, and is unmetered and unrhymed.

Since I seem to be dipping into the creative energy pool of the universe, I thought I’d make an attempt at an etheree based off of this painting.  Here I go:

 

Dance
Color
Twirls of joy
Celebration
Of passion filled life.
Cosmic forces singing
Creating a song of truth
Heard by those who feel the power
of life, of energy, of love and
the cosmic swirl of colors in the dance!


The Storyteller: Pictures in the Flames

Note: As many of you have pointed out or noticed, I seem to have a story project novel nebulous creation coming out of me lately–one that links the value of story with the lines connect and divide us, one that comes from someplace I have yet to understand. I don’t know what will come of it, but I have to go with the images and words that insist on pouring themselves onto the screen. So far, however, I haven’t found the body of the story, only the links between. The Storyteller. The camp fire. The dark woods. The Others. Sparks in the sky. These are the images that tie this project together, in whatever form it ultimately takes. So, giving into the whims of the creative forces guiding me, I’ve trotted myself over to my favorite coffee shop work space of this summer (pictured below) and share the meager offerings with you, my fellow travelers on this journey of words.

I find it helpful to write in a place filled with fun creativity. Prairie Chick in Okoboji, IA suits the bill, especially since I just discovered they have Chai!

Pictures in the Flames

Heart Beat! Drum Beat! Heart Beat! Drum Beat!

The people gather round the camp fire, swaying to the beat of the drums. As a unit, their hearts fall into rhythm together.

Ba dum! Ba dum! Ba dum!

They begin to hum a wordless chord that blends to create a harmony that bounces off the earth and flies into the universe.

Mmmmm! Aaaaa! AAaaaaaaaaaahhh!

Ba dum! Ba dum! Ba dum!

The Storyteller joins her voice to the song. At first she blends with the chord,  but then her hum turns into words.

Let me share the stories of human kind
Listen children, with heart and mind.
Learn the lessons that I must share
and from my stories you shall learn to care.

Her song continues with many versus, but the listeners fall into silence. A silence so deep one can hear the beating of their hearts.

Ba dum! Ba dum! Ba dum!

As her voice raises in glory, sparks fly from the fire, swirling and twirling into the dark sky. At first the sparks seem to join the stars, but then the stars and sparks come together in a complex dance of creation. Pictures join and depart for fleeting moments.

Each person around the camp fire sees something different. A hushed murmur builds as they point these visions out to one another.

” Look, a mother holding her child,” says the woman who had lost many children and yet holds a gleaming hope inside her womb.

“Three men pointing rifles at another man,” says the gruff man, carrying in hidden in his pocket a medal that represents his deep  sorrow. A son killed in war.

“A clown juggling balls,” giggles a group of children, who then began to toss small rocks in the air.

“Hush,” the women near them say, “Listen to the Storyteller.” The children obey.

The stars and sparks continue to dance, until they merge together to form the giant image of a woman hiding in the shadow of the trees, where no one ever ventures.

Silence descends again on the clearing, until a young girl speaks in a voice both sweet and confused, “That’s an Other woman, and I think she’s smiling. I didn’t know Others could smile.”

The Storyteller glides over to the young girl and places her hand on her head. “Of course they can smile. They can cry. They can scream. They can do anything you can do,” she says “and I shall tell you why. . . “

_________________________

Today’s Quote

The process of creating is related to the process of dreaming although when you are writing you’re doing it and when you’re dreaming, it’s doing you. Robert Stone

Stories of Laughter and of Tears

On the return drive from taking Nathan to the airport (for a trip related to the mysterious possibilities that I am still not talking about) I listened to NPR shows that he had downloaded for the drive. As usual, I laughed, I got frustrated and I cried.

But this time the tears came from a hurt deep inside.

It all started with This American Life as I tuned into Alison Silverman’s report on the 1950’s television show This Is Your Life.  I know that I watched reruns of that show as a child, or at least saw clips. I vaguely recall creating our own versions of the show when we decided to create our own radio/television shows. Somewhere in the collection of memorabilia at my parents house lies an old orange-labeled cassette tape containing a radio show filled with childish lisps, lame jokes, bad accents, sound effects and giggles. If I had the power, I would share a clip with you here.

But this isn’t about those childhood memories. This is about my focus on sharing stories. Silverman’s report brought to life the dual sided gift of sharing someone’s life story in a public venue. The first story to make me sob was that of a Holocaust survivor, Hanna Bloch Kohner.  Her initial reaction to the words, “This is Your Life Hanna Bloch Kohner!” was a somewhat agonized (or at least it sounded that way to me) “Oh, no.”   During the half hour show, she was reunited with a fellow survivor who moved from camp to camp with her and was reminded of the death of her parents and her husband.  She had to talk about her 7 years of horror, including being handed a bar of soap and not knowing whether the shower she entered would be one of water or of gas.

That story over, I thought my tears would diminish. But no, next Silverman shares another This is Your Life about a Japanese man who survived the bombing of Hiroshima and was travelling around the United States to raise money for reconstructive surgery for some young female survivors. He meets his past in as dramatic a way as possible; they brought the co-pilot of the Enola Gay on to shake his hand.

“How could they be so cruel?” I said out loud through my tears (appreciating the fact that I was alone in the car). I thought it was cruelty to both men; one who had to confront the enemy who destroyed his city with a bomb, and one who had to confront the reality of what that bomb did to human beings.

Why would we find entertainment in reminding people of true evil or about the most horrific times of their lives? I thought to myself. Why are so many people fascinated by “reality” television?

As I worked my way through my tears and the agony of my thoughts, I began to glimpse the answer in Silverman’s words:

Even in its heyday, ThisisYourLife raised hackles. Time magazine called Ralph Edwards a spiritual prosecutor to his guests. And Jack Gould at the New York Timesaccused the show and others like it of exploiting the raw and private emotions of the unfortunate. But the unfortunate, they liked it. ThisisYourLife might have exploited your story, but it also told you your story, gave it to you, and once you had it you could do whatever you wanted with it.

Hanna’s daughter, Julie Kohner, told me that her mother spent the year after the show traveling around the country with a copy of her episode raising money for United Jewish Appeal. On Passover, the Kohner family would play it on the gift projector they got on ThisisYourLife. Years later, Hanna and her husband, Walter, even published a joint autobiography, HannaandWalter:a Love Story.

And as brutal as his episode seems today, Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto had fond memories of his appearance. His daughter, Koko Kondo, who was on the telecast as a 10-year-old told me when English speaking guests would visit, Tanimoto would play them the episode on his gift projector. He wasn’t horrified by meeting Captain Lewis, the co-pilot of the Enola Gay. In fact, the two of them started writing each other after the show. And Koko Kondo says Captain Lewis changed her whole attitude about the old enemy. Seeing him tear up on stage at the El Capitan, she stopped hating American soldiers. (Silverman)

You see, it all comes back to the importance of STORY. When we share stories of horror, of sadness, and of pain, it allows us to heal. When we share stories full of laughter and joy, it allows us to celebrate. Through our stories, even through the ridiculousness of reality television, we come one step closer to recognizing the things that bind us together as humans.

For the truth is,  the only thing we have completely in common is that we all have a story.

____________________________________

Today’s Quote: 

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.
Washington Irving

Come One! Come All!

I decided I needed to do a second submission for the 100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups this week, because all my writing lately has been full of melancholy and depression. So, I challenged myself to include some joy!

“Come one! Come all!  To the Greatest Show on Earth!!!” Their cries were heard across the town, calling children young and old to a parade of joy and wonder.

Clowns frolicked from one side of the street to the other, teasing toddlers with flying balls and handfuls of candy.

Proud elephants moved their bodies in a ponderous display of magnificence and grace, trumpeting the news across the town.

Horses pranced with glittering riders standing above, the beauty of the animals competing with glory of the girls.

Popcorn tempted the nose as sticky children’s smiles let cotton candy melt in the joy of the show!

Circus!

. . . their cries were heard . . .

For this weeks 100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups, I am putting my poetry skill to the test. Join me in this challenge, it is inspirational and fun, although this weeks challenge is leaning toward the depressing. 😉

Shots rang across the water aimed at children

            . . . their cries were heard . . .

Animals fled the destruction of their home
            . . . their cries were heard . . .

Millions died in the name of purity
            . . . their cries were heard . . .

Thousands harmed as Mother Nature screams
            . . . their cries were heard . . .

Young people dying by their own hands because of their difference

            . . . their cries were heard . . .

There, cries were heard . . . but too often ignored.

Painting by Michael Horsley-Millman http://www.horsley-millman.co.uk/index.html

Simultaneous Stories

I wake up and somewhere a child falls asleep. I turn on my computer to start writing a blog post, and another blogger starts typing hers.  People dance in one part of the world while people die in another.

I walk outside to answer the call of the moon, and elsewhere others see the same moon as I do, while still more rise to worship the sun.

We all live simultaneous stories.

This movie intrigues me for a number of reasons. One is simply that one of my high school friends contributed to it. But, the idea of simultaneous stories intersects all of my writing lately.

Stories are what connect us and what divide us. As a newborn takes his first breathe in one part of the world, an old woman might breathe her last. Those breathes are connected through time and space.

As a couple consummate their love for one another in an elaborate hotel room or the backseat of a car, another one breaks apart in irretrievable pieces. Those stories connect through symbolism and meaning.

As our government falls apart in the face of greed and stupidity, people all over the country struggle to pay their bills, feed their children, and take their medicine. Those stories are connected by a lack of understanding.

As we live our lives securely here, someone dies brutally there. Sadly, those stories too are connected, because the explanation for them lies in belief systems that cannot meet half way, as well as a greed and a hunger for power that corrupts the stories of all human kind.

In the link between stories, between lives, between souls we touch, lie the stories that we all know, feel, live and breathe. All cultures have common stories, told in different ways. All cultures have their demons, their ghosts, their creation myths, and their justifications of existence. All cultures have their jokes, and their songs, and their fairy tales. All cultures have their stories, and they only differ in details, not in essence.

All cultures have the stories told around campfires or while  snuggled in under the covers of darkness.

These are the stories I want to write. These are the stories I want to share. These are the stories I want to hear.

“The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in.” —Harold Goddard

Join me, my friends, as we sit by the campfire and share each others stories. Help me, my friends, link those stories together in a glowing web of understanding and hope.

I am the Storyteller, but I am not the only one. Together we tell the stories we all need to hear. Together we create the stories of life.

Together we are The Storyteller.

And if life is a story, then we have the right to choose how that story ends. We can choose our own destruction, or we can recognize the ties that join us and create a story that allows room for us all.

Join me, my friends, as we sit by the campfire to share our stories.

The Storyteller

The woman stands alone in the field arms raised toward the skies. Invisible breezes lift her long hair toward the swift moving clouds in a dance of joy and wonder to the music of the universe. In between clouds the stars peek through, joining the dance with their own mystical movements.

In front of her, a fire blazes, sending sparks into the night sky that then join the ballet of courtship of hundreds of fireflies.

Her long silver-white hair continues to dance, the length and beauty revealing the years of stories she has to share.The woman shows no wrinkles in her face, and yet holds true wisdom  in the depths of  her dark brown eyes.

“Come my children,” the ageless woman calls. “Come hear my tales. Come share the stories!”

Children of all ages gather round her. Some sit in the cool grass, playing with the summery fronds. Some balance on stumps and stones. They come down paths in the woods surrounding the clearing, never through the trees.

Elderly children, so old that their wrinkles have their own stories to tell, hobble in helped by youth. They are ancient, but the Storyteller is more ancient still.

They come from all around, but avoid entering the woods. They won’t even look in the shadows of the trees for fear of seeing one of the Others. The Others come as well, in silent rustles and hidden shadows, never daring to come out from the safety of the trees.

“What stories will you hear my children?” the Storyteller asks in a sing-song voice that is low as a whisper but as clear as a bell. Nobody strains to hear her voice, not even the children sitting farthest away under the shadows of the trees. These children, the children of the Others, will not enter the field without permission. They know that they are not welcomed by the crowd around the Storyteller. Yet, the call of her stories cannot be ignored.

“Shall I tell you stories of life or of death? Shall I tell you stories of love or of hate? What stories will you hear my children?”

The children in the field call out their favorite tales, hoping the Storyteller will choose one of those ideas. But the Storyteller waits until she hears the distant voice calling from under the shadow of the trees.

“Tell us a story of acceptance,” a hesitant voice cries. The Storyteller catches a glimpse of the speaker as a spark lights up the young child’s eyes.

“Very well,” she speaks. “Acceptance begins in the woods  . . . ” The crowd gasps, glancing uncomfortably  at the shadows they make every effort to avoid.

“Once upon a time, not so very long ago . . .”

Humbled By Words Part II: Who Do I Think I Am?

“(The Ghost of sir Felix Finch whines, ‘but it’s been done a hundred times before!’–as if there could be anything not done a hundred thousand times between Aristophanes and Andrew Void-Webber! As if Art is the What, not the How!” (David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas, 357)

Have you ever read a book in all its brilliant and complex perfection and asked yourself, “who am I kidding to think I can write?”

I have. And I am reading one right now. It took me a while to get into Cloud Atlas but now that I am fully hooked I recognize the brilliance of this one writer. Mitchell acknowledges, as in the above quote, that most stories have been told before, and then proves that in the hands of a master storyteller every story can take on new meaning and told in a different way. Mitchell doesn’t use just one way, he masters the styles and traditions of many types of literature to tell a story unique, ancient and full of ominous predictions of a future that is not really that far from the realm of possibilities.

In other words, this book is full of meaning and tells a really good story.

As it has in the past, reading something like this makes me wonder who I think I am? What makes me think I have a story to tell that another writer couldn’t tell in a much more powerful way? What makes me think my use of language and words has any power or beauty compared to anyone else? What makes me think my ideas are worth reading?

The truth is, I don’t know anymore. I’ve been wanting to start a bigger project. Something to truly focus on. Something worth reading. Something that carries readers away into a world of thought and action, of joy and sorrow. And yet, I cannot begin . . .

Is it, perhaps, because I don’t really have any power over words? Or maybe I simply do not have a story to tell.

I read in the hopes of discovering my story. I write in the hopes of learning my story. I dream in the hopes of understanding my story. And yet the words escape me and I have nothing to say.

Do you ever get humbled by words?

 

__________________________________

Today’s Quote (I’ve decided to start incorporating daily quotes that help motivate or inspire, or simply reflect what I am thinking)

 

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity” —Gilda Radner

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