Monday, December 31, 2007

Searching for Auld Lang Syne

I’m willing to wager there are very few people on the face of the earth who would be as interested in this as I am. But as I sit here on New Year’s Eve and consult blog statistics, specifically the Google searches people did that landed them on my previous blog post (Auld Lang Syne: Lyrics, Translation and History), I'm strangely comforted by discovering the universality of the apparent desire to sing “Auld Lang Syne” tonight. The sweetness and human-ness of the many efforts worldwide is so touching.

All of the searches below were conducted in the last day. (I'll update later.) I have put the exact words in quotation marks, including exact spellings and misspellings that people typed in to look for information about Auld Lang Syne. Very few got the spelling completely right (although a surprising number of people got “syne” right, and a surprising number think it's LAND syne)(and each has validity within the context of the search engine-after all, each one worked!) but, however folks spelled it, it was a good effort to find the lyrics to this grand old sentimental song.

It brings me to tears to see how people from far and wide struggle to remember these words from Robert Burns, maybe remembering arm-over-arm quartets of swaggering singers, glasses raised high? I’m guessing they want the lyrics for old times’ sake, seeking tradition, and that auld acquaintances are not forgot. And it's all good. They're pretty sharp in Chicago and Newport in the wee hours, but I must admit I’m a little worried about that guy in Ithaca.

December 31, 2007 Eastern Standard Time from Google searches

“lang syne lyrics translated”~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Walden, NY ~ 11:37am

“auld ayn syne"~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Mountain Home, Arkansas ~ 11:38am

“ald land sine lyrics”~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Suffolk Ipswich UK ~ 1:00pm

“lyrics to auld ayne syne”~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Tunkhannock, Pa. ~ 1:23pm

“words to song ald lang sine”~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Denver, Colorado ~ 1:47pm

“ald land syne”~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~London, UK ~ 1:57pm

“the words to ald langs in”~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Luton, UK ~ 2:12pm

“ald auld lang syne lyrics”~~~~~St John, New Brunswick, Canada ~ 2:13pm

“play lyrics for old lang syne on youtube”~~~Guildford Surrey, UK ~ 2:46pm

“auld lang syne scottish pronunciation”~~~~Iowa City, Iowa ~ 3:17pm

“auld land syn”~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~San Diego, California ~ 4:02pm

“auld land syne lyrics translation”~~~~~~~Fernandez Beach, Fla ~ 4:06pm

“words to ald land syne”~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Houston, Texas ~ 4:10pm

“lyrics for ald ang syne”~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Portland, Oregon ~ 5:24pm

“auld ayne syne lyrics”~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Philadelphia, Pa. ~ 5:26pm

“history of ald lang syne”~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~United Kingdom ~ 5:53pm

“new year ald lang syne lyrics”~~~~~~~~~~~~London, UK ~ 6:16pm

“auld anxiety lyrics”~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Ithaca, NY ~ 6:41pm

“auld ang syn lyrics”~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Linwood, Kansas ~ 6:48pm

“ald langs syne lyrics”~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Derby, UK ~ 7:01pm

“auld land syn”~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Wiltshire, Salisbury UK 7:12PM

"why is auld langes ayne sung at new year"~~Northamptonshire, UK ~ 7:20pm

"ald lang syne lyric"~~~~~~~~~~~~~Oxford, Oxfordshire, UK ~ 8:43pm

“ald langs”~~~~~~~~~~~~River Forest, Illinois ~ 10:00pm

“lyrics auld ang syn”~~~~~~~~Seattle, Washington ~ 10:56pm

“old langs ayne”~~~~~~~~Bernardsville, NJ ~ 11:23pm

“old langs ayn words”~~~~~~~~Pittsburgh, Pa ~ 11:25pm

“love and truth”~~~~~~~~~Hanoi, Dac Lac, Vietnam ~ 11:27pm- this led the searcher to a post I wrote last month about Confucius and the I Ching – I'm including it for its poignancy here and now in the new year.

“auld langs ayn”~~~~~~~Brisbane, Queensland, Australia ~ 11:34pm

"auld lang syne lyrics translation"~~~Lewiston, Maine ~ 11:46pm

"ald langs"~~~~~~~Pittsburgh, Pa. ~ 11:56pm

"ald lang sine lyrics"~~~~~~~Fishers, Indiana ~ 11:57pm

"old langs lyrics"~~~~~~~~Wilmimgton, Delaware ~ 11:58pm

January 1st

"auld langes"~~~~~~~~~~Denver, Colorado ~ 12:00am

"'auld lang syne' lyrics translation"~~~~~~~Chicago, Illinois ~ 12:54am

"auld ayne syne"~~~~~~~~~~~Broken Arrow, Oklahoma ~ 12:56am

"lyrics auld ange syn"~~~~~~~~~Dallas, Texas ~ 1:20am

"'old langs ayne' lyrics"~~~~~~~~Sechelt, British Colombia, Canada ~ 2:12am

"auld lang syne lyrics translation"~~~~~Newport, RI ~ 2:19am

"auld langs ayn"~~~~~~~~~~Toulouse Mid-Pyrenees, France ~ 3:51am

"lyrics & olde ayn"~~~~~~Melbourne, Australia ~ 5:15am

Auld Lang Syne: lyrics, translation and history

Happy New Year! Don't forget Robert Burns tonight!

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne ?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup !
And surely I’ll buy mine !
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine ;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine† ;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand my trusty friend !
And give us a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne ?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stoup !
And surely I’ll be mine !
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
and pou’d the gowans fine ;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin’ auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin’ auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere !
And gies a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll tak a right gude-willie-waught,
for auld lang syne.
Shid ald akwentans bee firgot,
an nivir brocht ti mynd ?
Shid ald akwentans bee firgot,
an ald lang syn ?
Fir ald lang syn, ma deer,
fir ald lang syn,
Wil tak a cup o kyndnes yet,
fir ald lang syn.

An sheerly yil bee yur pynt-staup !
an sheerly al bee myn !
An will tak a cup o kyndnes yet,
fir ald lang syn.

We twa hay rin aboot the braes,
an pood the gowans fyn ;
Bit weev wandert monae a weery fet,
sin ald lang syn.

We twa hay pedilt in the burn,
fray mornin sun til dyn ;
But seas between us bred hay roard
sin ald lang syn.

An thers a han, my trustee feer !
an gees a han o thyn !
An wil tak a recht guid-wullae-wocht,
fir ald lang syn.

From Wikipedia:
"'Auld Lang Syne' is usually sung each year at midnight on New Year's Day (Hogmanay in Scotland) in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Hong Kong, Anglo areas of India, Pakistan, and Canada, and signifies the start of a new year. In the United Kingdom, it is played at the close of the annual Congress (conference) of the Trades Union Congress. In many Burns Clubs, it is sung to end the Burns supper.

In Scotland it is often sung at the end of a céilidh or a dance. It is common practice that everyone joins hands with the person next to them to form a great circle around the dance floor. At the beginning of the last verse everyone crosses their arms across their breast, so that the right hand reaches out to the neighbour on the left and vice versa. During the last chorus people might start jumping up and down. When the tune ends everyone rushes to the middle, while still holding hands. When the circle is re-established, everyone turns under the arms to end up facing outwards with hands still joined.

It is used as a graduation song and a funeral song in Taiwan and Hong Kong, symbolizing an end or a goodbye. In Japan and Hungary, too, it is used in graduation, and many stores and restaurants play it to usher customers out at the end of a business day. Before the composition of Aegukga, the lyrics of Korea’s national anthem were sung to the tune of this song. In the Indian Armed Forces, as well as the Pakistani Military, the band plays this song during the passing out parade of the recruits.

In the Philippines, it is well known and sung at celebrations like graduations, New Year and Christmas Day. Also, before 1972, it was the tune for the Gaumii salaam anthem of The Maldives (with the current words). In Thailand, it is used for Samakkkhi Chumnum (Together in unity), sung after sports.

In Brazil, Portugal, France, Spain, Greece, Poland and Germany this song is used to mark a farewell. It is also used in the Scout movement for the same purpose, but with lyrics that are a little different.

It has also been used on other occasions as a farewell. One occasion that falls in this category was in October 2000, when the body of former Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau left Parliament Hill in Ottawa for the last time, going to Montreal for the state funeral.

The song is also the official corps song for the Kilties drum and bugle corps."

-All information found in Wikipedia entry "Auld Lang Syne"

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Eat Drink and Be Merry for Tomorrow We Diet

This is not good. The encroaching deadline for the New Year's austerity plan is sending me into slight desperation, aka slightly gluttonous mode. (Will I chew on a bone? Do I dare to eat a peach? Will I have the willpower to walk along the beach?)

I think of all the things I'd like to eat before I go into relative starvation mode on January first, or maybe second. I've got to have one of those turkey club hoagies from the market down the road. And a double chocolate brownie from their brownie case. Really should run out to that place on the edge of town for that great eggnog they serve every year. Never did make my chocolate pinwheel cookies this year, there's still time! Won't have time to eat them all, and my kids and neighbors are all away, so I'll have to freeze some- but to defrost when? Will it ever end? Will I ever be free?

Oh good, for two more days I'll have croutons on my salad and put sugar in my coffee. I'll make hot chocolate for breakfast. May as well put sweetened whipped cream in it. And have an English muffin with butter and jam. It's been ages since I had a bagel with cream cheese- forgot to eat that over the holiday, better eat one soon! There will be crackers and great cheese, and pasta. My shopping list is growing. Only two days left. Oh lord, I'm going to have to get an extension on this- and of course there's noone to grant an extension, except me. So that's easy. Maybe I should work on my spiritual side first, join a class or something, and let my body catch up later. Why must it be so true what they say about a minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips? Maybe I need til January third to reign in my impulses and start anew.

I'm healthy, and not fat, but four or five pounds got the best of me over the holiday season, thanks to letting down the guard on carbs. But once the shell of self-discipline cracks, I get those old hungers of youth, those midnight cravings. Let a little sugar in and it's ok. Honey on the oatmeal, ok. But eat four or five pieces of chocolate after a crown roast of lamb with swiss chard-gruyere potatoes, and it's a done deal, the appetites are stirred: a little primeval signal goes off, and I'm in ferocious hunting mode once more. Ready to fall to the floor with the dogs and their bones. Well not really, and not exactly grovelling and snorting at the trough, but let's face it, there's an ancient carnivorous and gluttonous instinct of some kind, that rises up in most of us from time to time. Let's get at it!

Ascetism and austerity have their virtues, but holiday feasting has been heavenly. Ive been blessed - my children and friends are fantastic cooks and I'm not so bad myself, when the spirit's willing. So here's to the next few days...lift a glass and enjoy milk and honey and the fat of the land. There's a time for everything under the sun, we're told.

Friday, December 28, 2007

New Year's Resolutions- Postponed Already!?

I thought I'd get a jumpstart on my resolutions,ship-shape and all that, but damn! There's still half a baklava on my kitchen counter, and half a dozen cold lamb chops in the frig. A bottle of Veuve Cliquot stares at me languorously, orangely, from beside the lambchops: "New Year's Eve is coming. Don't clamp down yet!" It's not fair that it's so much fun to eat and drink with abandon.

Forty years ago, while visiting an elderly woman in rural North Carolina, I was offered a dish of fresh warm blueberry cobbler that was just sublime. I requested the recipe, which came with a very special caveat. She said "I use a lot of sugar in it because my taste buds is high. So if you have high taste buds, you'll want to do that too." Well honey, my taste buds is high so a resolution to hurry up and get fit is no fun thing at all.

It's my grandmother's fault, God rest her soul, and, come to think of it, her mother's before her. They baked the best ginger cookies in the world, huge round soft rolled-out things with one little chocolate chip in the middle. You would eat five of them just to get at the chocolate chips. So here I am, damned unto the fourth generation with the sweet tooth from hell.

But it's not all a bad thing. A piece of Christmas cake here, my son Will's superb sticky-toffee pudding there. There's time. The road to hell may be paved with good intentions, but the road to heaven surely is too.

Did Steve Fossett Find Shambala? (Redux)

One of the greatest adventurers of all time, a man who pushed himself to achieve physical feats that noone else on earth has ever achieved, has vanished from the face of the earth. He apparently removed his Breitling wristwatch with its Emergency Locator Transmitter, grabbed a bottle of water, jumped on a single-engine plane and disappeared.

Did he really crash into a remote Nevada cul-de-sac where even the best technology in the world can't find him? Or did this world class adventurer enter a place where he languishes in peace and from which he may still emerge? A man so interested in human limits as he was might not have ignored accounts of mystic transfigurations and superhuman accomplishments emanating from the Himalayas.He was a good-humored and down-to-earth businessman and family man, but certainly not a simple man. He could have read the most esoteric literature on earth for all we know. Few could know the heart or mind of a man like Steve Fossett. How many of us could inspire the likes of Richard Branson to engage with Google Earth to create a special set of all new high-resolution images so that computer-savvy people world-wide could conduct a search for his missing aircraft?

And yet, he's gone. Some conspiracy theorists say Fossett disappeared into Area 51 near Roswell. Some say maybe he had enough, was growing old, and went off to his own private island to live in obscurity with a newfound friend. Would a man of his caliber do that?

There are far more intriguing possibilities. For instance, ancient accounts tell of Shambala, a paradise that is not visible on this earth, to which entry is gained only by the achievement of certain levels of physical, mental and spiritual disciplines through yogic techniques. Why couldn't it be something like that? In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, the objectivist philosopher, wrote of a utopian society created by brilliant industrialist drop-outs who used illusion and mirrors to hide access to their mountain kingdom. How about that?

Listen to Shakespeare: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." And finally, remember the words of Christ: "In my father's house are many mansions. If it were not so I would have told you."

Let's hope that Mr. Fossett is somewhere in the universe reaching the new heights that he deserves to reach. I often take heart from this old Scottish proverb, and I hope Mr. Fossett would at least be able to say: "I am wounded but I am not slain. I shall lay me down and bleed awhile, then I shall rise and fight again."

Elvis Lives

And once more before the year ends, let's watch Elvis come back to life, thanks to Celine Dion and American Idol. Who would ever think that that combination - Dion and Idol- could produce such an amazing three-and-a-half minutes? But they did!

The Swan Silvertones with the Reverend Claude Jeter and Louis Johnson

All things are possible if you will only believe. Hear it told as you've never heard it before- get ready to slow down! I thank dear Nancy for turning me on to the Swan Silvertones. Watch and listen to this all the way through, and try to imagine how much better the world would be if everyone could express their faith with this kind of loving harmony. People just don't sing like this anymore! I wonder why. Cut and paste- All Things Are Possible if You Will Only Believe:

Our Presidential Candidates in Light of the Crisis in Pakistan

Strange how easy it is to see the candidates clearly these days! There are significant stressors impacting them. First, there's Christmas. Surely they all felt entitled to a day or two of relaxation and family time, and found those anticipated days compromised by the pending Iowa caucuses. They may be travelling to Iowa without spouses and children. God knows some of them look sexually frustrated and/or just a tad hungover!

Now they have to be johnny-on-the-spot with their reactions to Benazir Bhutto's assassination yesterday, and the situation in Pakistan. This morning on msnbc's Morning Joe program, candidates are being interviewed.

Bill Richardson, who sells himself as a been-there-done-that candidate, thinks we should just ask Musharraf to step aside and allow an interim government to take over and move forward with elections. As if there is time or space for even a split-second vacuum in a nuclear-armed country that is descending into chaos! As if Musharraf would go for that! He's harboring Al Quaeda in the northwest,isn't he, and we expect him to do our sweet little bidding?! Bill Richardson's p.r. kids apparently told him to stand out in the cold Iowan snow for his TV interview this morning- good move! But then Mr. Richardson had to mess it up by looking uncomfortably cold and top it off by complaining about the weather. Not so tough after all?

When Giuliani takes the stage, he's comfortable and tough, and can rest on some laurels. But why must he be a one-man show? How hard would it be to say "I promise I'll select the finest advisors in the land to help me?" Oh that's right- his track record on selecting advisors is crooked, something he may not want to reference right now.

Romney looks like a very well-dressed and polite life-long shoe-salesman in a fancy department store when he talks about the Bhutto assassination - OUT OF HIS ELEMENT!- no way we can let him be Commander-in-Chief in such a dangerous world climate!

Huckabee- with his fake bookshelf cross- and his preening folksy goodness- would be, as the latest catchphrase has it- "Huckicide." Obama and Hilary just don't fit the bill right now. It's Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban, Al Quaeda and nuclear weaponry we're up against! People who wrought the devastation of the World Trade Center, the Buddhas of Bamiyan and and so much more. Doesn't Obama need to be a few years older to deal with the villains in the Middle East? And who wants to see Hillary over there, getting shrill with the big guys? Not me!

Chris Dodd, so honorable, composed, competent and experienced- with years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee- knows what he's talking about, speaks clearly and firmly about everything, and on-the-spot about the dangers of a vacuum in Pakistan - Why can't people hear him?!?! Check out his amazing credentials at

Right now, in the ever-evolving perceptual gestalt of the field of candidates, only Dodd looks safe to me. He will have the best advisors, not just favored friends around him. He's strong and consistent. He makes sense.

Then what are these murmurings of a Bloomberg-Gore ticket? What then? How about if Bloomberg just uses his wealth to target and raise the quality of life for young potential extremists around the world? Then instead of being steered by fantastical visions of virgins in heaven, they could experience the satisfactions of capitalism and free enterprise. They could be educated to understand and appreciate all the world's greatest art, music, literature, architecture, history, nature, philosophies, and to join the greater human experience, including love, kindness, and democracy. But there's not enough money in the world for that. What could change them? Who could save us?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto Assassinated

The news this morning is that Benazir Bhutto has died from gunshot wounds following a rally in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Pakistan, a nuclear power, is in turmoil.

I am remembering seeing photos of her years ago, when she was a student at Harvard/Radcliffe, relaxing happily in a typical dorm room with roommates, wearing blue jeans. Those were brief moments of peace and normalcy, yet even then she bore a mark of greatness as she avowed her love for Pakistan. She has always been fervently dedicated to her homeland, and to the development of democracy, women's rights, all the peoples' rights, loving Pakistan to the point of this year's seemingly suicidal return from exile to martyrdom there.

There has always been an aura about her of a grand destiny, even at times a sense of sure doom. That doom has arrived. That destiny is unfolding now. Pray for her soul and for the future stability of her beloved country, and ours.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

After the Figgy Pudding: Pie Jesu

OK! Ship-shape! Hop to! This extra week we have in here is not all slack time, you know. No good making New Year resolutions at midnight on December 31, or bleary-eyed the next morning. Time to think and plan! As you wait in airports, as you ski, as you hunt, as you clean, as you exchange and re-gift, as you write thank you notes, as you become bored with the pointsettia and watch the orchid or the paper-white narcissus sprout, as you work or as you kick back - let that seed of renewed determination sprout and grow! Get ready for the diet, the exercise, the balanced checkbook, the enhanced job performance. Above all, pray for loving-kindness.

For focusing, I heartily recommend a good boy's choir- I have not been able to find a very particular version that I long to hear again, but this is so close- Oliver Putland singing Pie Jesu- just cut and paste and hear it through to the end as you do the dishes, get dressed, or relax and stare.

Eat and drink moderately! Be safe! Amen!

Pie Jesu
Qui tollis peccata mundi
Dona eis requiem
Agnus Dei
Dona eis requiem sempiternam

Merciful Jesus
Who takes away the sins of the world
Grant them rest
Lamb of God
Grant them everlasting rest

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Eucharist: Eating the Word Made Flesh

King James Version: John Chapter 1

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2 The same was in the beginning with God.

3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.

8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

King James Version: From John Chapter 6

53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.

56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

I Ching "Inner Truth"

Last night at my beautiful daughter's 30th birthday party, given by her beautiful siblings and their beautiful mates, one of her lovely friends freshly arrived from California, asked me about something I blogged last month - "Confucius on Love and Truth." She's interested in the I Ching, and like me, very interested specifically in what's known as "Hexagram 61 Inner Truth." For those who would like more of an intro, the original is at the end of today's post. I've continued to think further about that hexagram and a part of it that was so important in my life.

"Six in the third place means:
He finds a comrade.
Now he beats the drum, now he stops.
Now he sobs, now he sings.

Here the source of a man’s strength lies not in himself but in his relation to other people. No matter how close to them he may be, if his center of gravity depends on them, he is inevitably tossed to and fro between joy and sorrow. Rejoicing to high heaven, then sad unto death-this is the fate of those who depend upon an inner accord with other persons whom they love. Here we have only the statement of the law that this is so. Whether this condition is felt to be an affliction or the supreme happiness of love, is left to the subjective verdict of the person concerned.”

The above lines puzzled and fascinated me for years when I was young. I knew they must be deeply mysterious and worthy of the most intense meditation. Because why, thought I, should you not depend on an inner accord with those you love? It seemed so obvious to me that you should. My center of gravity belonged to my beloved! I took heart from Confucius' words "Things that accord in tone vibrate together" and "When two people understand each other in their inmost hearts, their words are sweet and strong like the fragrance of orchids." These words are heavenly intoxication to a young lover who doesn't yet know how to be judicious in love.

I found the cautionary words in the hexagram about affliction and being sad unto death so startling and improbable. And yet I, never really a womens-libber, always and still a lover and respecter of the sweet gestalt of the fifties, had experienced that same trajectory myself, sweeping it under the carpet again and again! How could these I Ching people know about this sort of thing?

I knew how good it felt to be absolutely devoted to another person, to forget myself and to stay "in accord" with someone else. Devotion is, by definition, so compelling! Even now, I find myself wishing for a big old hungry sleepy man to walk through the door and become the object of my devotion. Here, soak your tired feet in this big old basin of water. Let me start the fire, draw the bath, bring the tea, create a restful atmosphere! Beethoven's Appassionata, perhaps? Have you seen The Lives of Others, you good man, you?

Who else craves shared solitude? As my father used to say about appreciating the finer things in life, "There are very few of us left". I love when the Dalai Lama talks about "exchanging and equalizing" with people. I'm ready and willing to exchange and equalize! I've got the gist of it now, now that the years have run down. No getting lost, no more.

Apparently people who love well keep their gravity intact. They "exchange and equalize" but they hang on to their own equilibrium. They can retreat, with impunity, to their solitude as the heavy, deliberate and never-reckless pendulum of life occasionally thunders past. You can't go everywhere. You can't have it all. You can't have all the people. You can't have any one person completely. So in the end, without persuasion from Confucius or anyone else, I came almost sorrowfully, and then gladly, to the subjective verdict that one's strength must lie in oneself, and not in relation to the loved one. Now, with the perspective of years, it seems so trite and easy to see, but ooooh not easy at all in youth! And probably not easy at all in the young, heady, fulsome codependencies of the recent generation.

There are further, more subtle mysteries within this hexagram of Inner Truth, as I wrote last month, and which I'll reproduce here, since I don't yet know how to insert hypertext to create a link (!):

Confucius on Love and Truth

"Life leads the thoughtful man on a path of many windings.
Now the course is checked, now it runs straight again.
Here winged thoughts may pour freely forth in words,
There the heavy burden of knowledge must be shut away in silence.
But when two people are at one in their inmost hearts,
They shatter even the strength of iron or of bronze.
And when two people understand each other in their inmost hearts,
Their words are sweet and strong, like the fragrance of orchids."

"Things that accord in tone vibrate together. Things that have affinity in their inmost natures seek one another. Water flows to what is wet, fire turns to what is dry ... What is born of heaven feels related to what is above. What is born of earth feels related to what is below. Each follows its kind."

Confucius. I Ching, Great Commentary

I first encountered these lines from Confucius when I was young and throwing the I Ching obsessively several times a day. "Throwing the I Ching" is a thousands-year-old process of tossing some coins or sticks six times, and "reading" the result. There is some math involved and a text to consult to interpret the deeper meaning. Carl Jung worked with Richard Wilhelm to create an extraordinary text for this purpose. The fact that the great psychologist Jung, a hero for many in our generation, got so involved with this edition of the I Ching was reason enough for me to pay attention. Wilhelm's interpretations of the sixty-four possible juxtapositions of the coins or sticks are eloquent enough to deserve a very close read, even without sticks or coins.

I allowed the quotations from Confucius, above,and many other individual lines from the I Ching, to synthesize with other influences in guiding and inspiring my life. One of my favorites is the hexagram "Inner Truth" which begins with words that can still shake me to the core:

"The wind blows over the lake and stirs the surface of the water. Thus visible effects of the invisible manifest themselves. The hexagram consists of firm lines above and below, while it is open in the center. This indicates a heart free of prejudices and therefore open to truth. On the other hand, each of the two trigrams has a firm line in the middle; this indicates the force of inner truth in the influences they represent.

The attributes of the two trigrams are: above, gentleness, forbearance toward inferiors; below, joyousness in obeying superiors. Such conditions create the basis of a mutual confidence that makes achievements possible.

The character of fu ("truth") is actually the picture of a bird's foot over a fledgling. It suggests the idea of brooding. An egg is hollow. The light-giving power must work to quicken it from outside, but there must be a germ of life within, if life is to be awakened. Far-reaching speculations can be linked with these ideas."
Happy Birthday Ava!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Memories of the Captain

We've all heard the stories of the Christmas tree fights that children remember for a lifetime. Tensions build and the Norman Rockwell family has a mishap as they buy or set up or decorate the tree. Children remember it forever, into adulthood and beyond. Some feel stomach-churning anxiety every time the hoped-for perfection of Christmas is threatened by a bad mood, an insecure thought, a flopped cake or a failed shopping expedition for the must-have gift.

And then there are those rare breeds who thrive inexplicably at Christmas. The non-Norman Rockwells with the romantic hearts who love their families and love Christmas, come hell or high water. There are scrooges who bloom. Couples who live close to the bone suddenly throw caution to the wind. Holiday adrenaline torques things up. The shared delirium of a few shopping sprees enhances camaraderie. Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die-et! Santa Claus is coming to town.

In our family, Christmas never failed. One of the best parts of Christmas was how the man of the house loved Christmas and gave it his all. Dad was a sea captain, and a handsomer sea captain there never was. He was strong as an ox and funny as a clown. He loved to make magic. Once he climbed up on the snowy roof when the kids were asleep on Christmas Eve, and "dropped" a wrapped present up there, the ribbon hanging down from the roof outside the living room window, just where the kids would see it when they first woke up. I'll never forget the look on their faces when dad said "Uh-oh, look, Santa dropped something!"

We used to take our five kids to Storybookland at Christmas, to see the displays, pet the lambs, ride the rides, see Santa. One of my favorite moments with the captain happened there one cold Christmas evening while we watched the kids riding on teacups. A deserted life-size manger scene was off to one side, with a small soft spotlight shining on the straw around. A lone young duck, still clothed in his yellow fuzz, picked around in the straw by the manger, calm, content, nearly silent, well out of view of the teeming masses in the park, and from any other ducks. The captain leaned over to me as I watched the kids, and called my attention to the deserted creche. "That must be a special duck" he said. I'll never forget that holy duck, pecking gently in the softly lit straw.

All year long he brought home things from the sea to fascinate us all. In the clam dredge at the back of his hundred foot long boat, he found fossilized mastodon teeth and tusks, caribou antler, and rocks and stones from ancient times. Officials from the Smithsonian, and editors from National Geographic, came to visit us at the shore, to examine the piles of fossils in our basement. They took away a few bones and sent us back plaster cast reproductions of them months later, with a letter of acknowledgement for the captain. Regarding the human cranium among the bones, the Smithsonian folks said "probably a drunken sailor from a day gone by, fallen overboard while singing a song of the sea".

My sea captain husband also brought home live creatures from the sea for our children. Some we ate: scallops, lobster, cod. Some tired or wounded creatures were rescued at sea and given brief respite at our house before being set free again. How many kids you know took two live sawhet owls in a shopping bag to school for show and tell? Who else has had a live osprey in a box on their dining room table for a day or a barn owl in a clam cage on the front lawn when they woke up? Once when we had a beach grill business, the captain, with his bare hands, carried a live full-grown sea turtle into the kitchen at 6:30 AM while I was cooking bacon for the masses, and seemed to expect that we might be caught in flagrante delicto on top of the sea turtle, if only we had time. I was invited to kiss the sea turtle on the lips, as the captain had just done, but I demurred, sea turtles being carnivores and all.

We didn't have any problems at Christmas. We just had fun. We all had a particular giftedness and fondness for chaos. The decorations were full stop. Everybody got everything they ever wanted. Dad made wonderful toys from scratch and sanded and painted until they were perfect. Reggae Christmas, Elvis Christmas, Willie Nelson Christmas, all full volume. I danced around the kitchen while Elvis sang "Santa'll be comin' down your chimney tonight." Packages hung from the roof. Santa footprints of ash led across the carpet. Kids roller-skated through the house. Fossilized parts of ancient elephants adorned the bookshelves. Osprey feathers appeared randomly in corners. Birds dove through the chimney to gather bits. We laughed and loved. As he would hope we always will. So God rest his soul this Christmastime, and grant him, and all of us, peace.

Solstice Approaches-The Light is Already Shining in the Darkness

Last week I wrote a column about the Prologue to John, pretending I understood some of the deepest mysteries about it, and assuming I remembered the lessons learned while researching these verses for a college paper forty years ago. I asked the reader to imagine a light breaking forth in eternal darkness at the beginning of time, the birth of the Christ. I've been thinking about that this week and realize I made an egregious error.

As the days darken and we prepare for new light to break forth, the truth is abundantly clear, and in the words of Christ, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." But it can take a little time to think it through. Time spent meditating on the light shining in darkness can definitely be time well spent. It feels good to be attuned to nature!

Ancient stone monuments around the globe are arranged to align with the new light from the particular angle where it will appear at solstice. In England, Egypt, South America, ancient people made efforts to acknowledge and channel and honor the solstice. How can this be? How long did it take, how many lifetimes, to observe the celestial patterns and to plan and execute such monuments with precision? What kinds of brains did people have back then? Does modern man have such impulses?

We do, with our diminished minds, in our own humble ways. We have built our own monuments to the breaking light- shopping malls surging with energy at this season to prepare for the light breaking forth in darkness- Santa Claus rolling out of that dark chimney, bright white and red with his ho-ho-ho and his sack of bounty. It's a version of the light breaking out of the darkness. We're in tune with nature despite ourselves!

For those more subdued, the focus of the season may be the lighting of the Hanukkah candles or the thought of the radiant Christchild aglow in the manger. Festivals of new life and light occur over and over throughout the world's traditions. Still and always, light.

But the mistake I made was to ask you to imagine the light breaking forth in the eternal darkness. Suddenly. New.

If you truly think about it, you can mystically remember or realize that the holy light has been shining forever and ever. It's not that it suddenly breaks forth. It's that we become aware of it having been there all along, cycling through nature, renewed again and again throughout eternity in countless ways. We partake of it and, like in the Michelangelo fresco, receive the spark from the finger of God, and share in this life and in life eternal. We Christians say it over and over in the Creed and in our prayers, scarcely realizing what we are avowing, what some dim part of our most ancient collective brain still knows: that the light is always shining and has always shone in the darkness, that we are in a world without end. Forever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Love Song of Alfreda Prufrock- With Apologies to T.S. Eliot

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the gentlemen come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the sweet men come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With my chin held high, color in my hair—
[They will say: “How that girl is growing thin!”]
My best black coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My neck scarf rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: “But how her arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are muscled and tan and bare
[And in the lamplight, slung strong behind my chair!]
Is it remembering men getting dressed
That makes me so digress?
Arms that reach across the table, or help me wrap my shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?
. . . . .
Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the steam that rises from the pots
Of lonely women's soups, drifting fragrant out of windows?…

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
. . . . .
And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by strong fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head [a head grown old] brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophetess—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am a goddess, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by his head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after our skirts that trailed along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”
. . . . .
No! I am neither prophetess nor queen, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lady, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the queen; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the tops of my stockings rolled.

Shall I pull my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white linen pants, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the seagods singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen the sea-gods riding seaward on the waves
Stirring the white peaks of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-gods wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown

Saturday, December 8, 2007

How To Shop Alone for A Christmas Tree and Act Like You're Enjoying Yourself

Let's say you live alone. Nobody needs to know why. And let's say you're in a festive mood and have decided to buy a tree for the holidays. Through the years you've bought trees with lovers, family, and friends, of course, but this time, let's just say through no fault of your own, you're going alone. You put a scarf around your neck, and as you hop out of the car at the Christmas tree place, you think maybe a little frosty air just came out of your mouth, despite the mild weather.

You're not in a rush because...well, there's noone to rush you. So you head into the place, tabula rasa. You'll pick a tree and that's it. No fuss, no bother. Everyone has told you a Douglas Fir is best because it smells best, but you'll decide for yourself. Or wait a minute, did they say Fraser Fir? Didn't mother always say Blue Spruce was the best? Do they have those in this state? Well wait a minute. What kind is the one in Rockefeller Center? Those people would know for sure! What about the White House? Georgie Porgie wouldn't know, but Laura would. Wait! Shouldn't you get one of those with the long ultrasoft needles, in case a wee child should visit and reach out a delicate hand in tender admiration? But those cost so little! Why? What's wrong with them?! Grandpa always said to get a good pine tree, less pretentious. But remember that friend who had a beautiful sagging cedar tree that just made your heart melt with the loveliness of it?

You fold your arms and admire the trees with a smile, not a trace of melancholy about you. You greet the staff and customers with a wave of your unnecessarily mittened hand. You might just pick a Charlie Brown tree, something sweet and small you can stick in a galvanized pail somewhere alongside yourself and your TV. Oh what the hell it's only $15 more for the giant tree over there! No reason you can't have a big tree! Oh geez, but where are all your old ornaments? Would you have enough? In storybooks they always string cranberries and popcorn, but you've never actually stringed a string longer than three feet. Why is that so hard?

Ah well, jolly good. The teenager on duty asks you if you've made up your mind. You say you were just checking it out and will come back with "the boss" later. On the way home you stop at a convenience store and buy two hot chocolates, just on the off-chance the sixteen-year-old clerk with the nose-ring will think there's someone home in slippers and a robe, your big old hungry sleepy man, waiting for you by a warm fire.

Feeling Safe and Happy Flipflopping With the Romneys

At first I dreaded Romney's speech. Early in the week I had read and heard glimmerings of his intent to stake his heritage with John Fitzgerald Kennedy by separating his religion from his politics. I kept thinking "Oh dear, this is going to be embarrassing because Mitt is no Jack Kennedy." But it wasn't embarrassing. I think Mr. Romney has raised the bar in American politics and may have taught the evangelicals, no, all of us, a thing or two.

We know he has flip-flopped here and there. We also know he's politically savvy and pretty damn smooth. We know he's good looking. But did we know he could engage us in a national discussion that we've needed to have for a long time?

He has ostensibly stepped aside from the usual political parlance to give us a brush-up lesson in American History, the Founding Fathers, the Constitution, church and state. He has placed his religion in the grand and safe context of the original lofty principles of the United States of America. How can we fault him on this? He comes out smelling like a rose. Maybe like a Rose Garden?

I remember my mother in front of the TV in 1968, admiring Mitt's father George Romney when he ran for President. She thought he was handsome. I could see she was charmed. She laughed sympathetically about George's claim that he had been brainwashed into supporting the Vietnam War. She loved his flipflopping in a vaguely sensual way. I worried my father would get home early and see us, whiskey sours in hand, watching clips of George on the Merv Griffin show. I couldn't let him see those stars shining in mom's eyes for another man!

And now I'm doing it! The lights are on in my eyes for Mitt, though I know now that I may flipflop at any time. And that it's ok, and safe, to feel a little excited about a Romney.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Advent: The Immanence of Light, and the Prologue to John

I have a friend who loves the light. For twenty years she has marked our planet’s changing light by announcing the solstices over the loudspeaker in the elementary school where she works. When she was still young, before Seasonal Affective Disorder was a buzzword, she recognized an annually recurring attack of malaise as the days shortened, and a restoration of well-being as they lengthened. We've laughed often about our Druidic tendencies and our SAD.

As we raised our families and took long walks along the nearby shore, we talked about many things, and had memorable conversations about duty, responsibility, obligation, disappointment, and love. We skipped the small talk. But almost always through the years, our conversations lead to an observation or two about the setting sun, the rising sun, the sunlight in our children’s hair, the sparkling water, luminescence, phosphorescence, radiance. On a winter’s day we’d sit in chairs by a window and take care to allow each other generous portions of the sun, glancing with grateful hearts at the warming light on our arms or faces, or the light rippling through a tree or along a cat. We’ve basically always sought the light in our lives.

We were both single mothers with fairly limited means who raised wonderful children, some of whom attended prestigious schools. As proud as we were of that, however, these schools were not our chief goal or concern. I think I can speak for both of us when I say that we were probably more concerned that our children grow up to be honest and happy and sensitive to the beauties of learning, language, music and light. In life I probably placed the highest premium on laughter. I would say she has valued dignity and integrity above all. But for both of us, light has prevailed. And our children have truly been the light of our lives.

We have been soul mates in this regard, and in others too. We are both of Scandinavian descent. We were born within a week of each other, in different states. We have gained and lost weight in similar trajectories throughout the years. We can laugh at the ironies of life, and especially when the joke’s on us. We are both long-time members of the Episcopal church in the towns where we live, and have given much thoughtful consideration to the liturgy in the Book of Common Prayer. We prefer Rite One. We like the old stuff and the finer language, in any realm of endeavor. We were in our glory a few years back when my son and his partner hosted several Shakespeare readings, and we joined the group to read through Hamlet one night and MacBeth another night, taking turns switching up the roles, semi-costumed with scepters and crowns. My friend is far more cultured than I, having attended numerous opera and symphony performances over the last few years in New York and Europe. She knows what she’s listening to and has been fortunate to share this love of music with her recent partner, a man who appreciates it all as much as she does.

Now my friend is seriously ill and in the hospital. We talk on the phone. Still we laugh. Last night she asked me to read the “Advent Gospel” to her, the Prologue to John. Of course we have talked about these verses many times in the last thirty years.

Last night I started off reading from the Revised Standard Version Bible that was close at hand, but we both knew that would never do. It had to be the King James Version, the beautiful words that should never have been changed for any edition, ever. So I ran and got it and started again. Afraid that she was weary, I nearly stopped after ten verses but she urged me on, and recited it with me until we finished verse fourteen, “full of grace and truth”. She is so grateful to hear these words at Advent, and said “It’s always worth waiting a year to hear it read in church at the right time, with the seasons. But the churches don’t always read it at Advent anymore.”

In my sophomore year of college I wrote a lengthy paper on the Prologue to John, and am forever grateful that I did so, because having an inkling of the mysteries of it has enriched my life again and again. My humble collegiate research way back then covered theories and evidence that parts of the Prologue to John are an ancient text, older than other parts of the Bible, that the verses pre-existed Christ and set apart distinctly from the rest of the Gospel. When reading the Prologue, it helps to try to imagine a silent moment at the beginning of our universe, when all of a sudden in a deep darkness before eternity, there was a quickening, and a light started to shine for the first time. The Christ.

In either hemisphere, we are moving towards the fulcrum of light. Every one of us should read the mystical words from John at this most mystical time of waning and waxing light, and just try to ponder them in our hearts. Here in the north, the nights are long. Very soon the miracle of life, the holy light, will shine forth from the darkness once again, part of the eternal cycle that began when the first light broke through at the beginning of time. That’s what this is about. Take heart. Right here, right now, light and life are immanent in every molecule of our darkening days.

John 1:1-14 (King James Version)

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2The same was in the beginning with God.

3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

4In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

5And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

7The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.

8He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

9That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

10He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

11He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

13Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Boomers' Pills: More Vitamins Than You Can Shake a Stick At

I take more vitamins than you can shake a stick at. From the looks of my bedside table, you'd think I wasn't long for this world. I'm a good Boomer, on top of all the latest advances, so the folic acid and the multi-vitamin are prescription strength, with very pharmaceutical-looking bottles. It's not a good look for a Boomer, cause it hearkens back to grandma's death bed. What will our kids think? Sure there's the cholesterol medicine, and the thyroid supplement, maybe a blood pressure pill, but they're so tiny they hardly count.

With the advent of old age and what William Shatner's Boston Legal character calls "mad cow disease", I got a very large and uncool pill organizer to help me remember whether I took the daily dose yet or not. Doctor, doctor, can't I just take Aricept prophylactically? Time marches on.

This is really it, isn't it? This isn't pretend. It doesn't matter if the kitchen counter or the bedside table are cluttered with vitamin bottles or death-defying utterly-essential medications. After a certain age, they all suddenly look a little ugly, whatever they are. You tend to hide them.

Back when we were young our jars of exotic vitamins, ginsengs and papaya concoctions were a source of pride. Those were the days! I remember fascinating and highly conspicuous shelves of vitamins and capsule-bound herbs in youthful homes in Santa Barbara, Santa Fe, Key West and Amsterdam. Let's hear it for tropical consciousness! Look at me, I'm hip to kavakava! Now, the jars and bottles have an ever-so-slight look of urgency and desperation. It was ok to cling to youth for awhile. But now, if we're not careful, it looks like we're clinging to life. Not that there's anything wrong with that. We just have to go on doing what we do best: staying cool.

Uh...don't look now, but I'm doing a Google search for hip and nearly invisible pill organizers. Anyone? Anyone?

Saturday, December 1, 2007

How I Learned to Skip the Christmas Parade and Love Myself Anyway

I love parades, I really do. But I’ve done my bit. Over the years I took my five kids to parades galore, they got bundled up or adorned in costumes, they marched in them or not. At least until they weighed fifty pounds, I held them high so they could catch glimpses of Santa and pieces of flying candy. They drank hot chocolate and waved light sticks. We willingly froze for the Christmas parade. We survived the brawls in the car coming and going. Come hell or high water, we gave it our all.

And now, tonight, the parade is going on less than a mile from here, I can hear the thumping of the distant bands, and some of my kids are there, my granddaughter too. I have a wonderful friend who lives on the parade route and who always cooks the best stews or soup on this night for our fabulous group of friends. I could walk back and forth from this group of peers to various groups of young adults containing at least two of my family members. Most of the time I would think this was heavenly, an opportunity I couldn’t miss. But tonight I’m staying home. And that’s OK.

Could it be a cold coming on? Or could it be THE cold outside, those measly thirty-three degrees Fahrenheit? Just one little itsy bitsy dip and it will be one degree too cold for a spoiled old soul like me. Is it the lonesome walk from group to group? Did I eat lunch too late to be fighting my way towards that stew? Am I a little too far up the scale on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? Or too far down?

I heard there were going to be fifteen bands, and I think that’s probably it. Interlopers from far and wide are coming to compete with our very own community kids’ music, dance and flag routines. Fire trucks from towns I’ve never heard of will be there. Vendors I’ve never seen before and whom I have no reason to trust will be selling pricey balloons and light sticks. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, I just don’t want to go.

Then just now, thanks to modern technology conveying loving impulses across the swelling parade crowds, I get a text from my daughter saying “Miss you.” I picture my daughter and son-in-law at the parade, holding their daughter high. I picture my other daughter and son-in-law, bundled up in scarves and hats, offering cider and hot chocolate from the parking lot of their family store site. I picture my son and his partner, handsome, stylish, funny and warm. A silver flask of brandy in the deep lined pocket of a black wool coat. I picture my daughter in Texas, who's at the gym. I picture my daughter in New York, who's at the Laundromat. I picture my semi-gray-haired friends on the parade route with their mugs of mulled cider or beef bourguignon, steam piping out of their mouths as they cheer the floats on. And then I picture my precious granddaughter, her little face looking up - holding wonder like a cup - waiting for Santa.

OK. It's not too late. There’s no way I can skip this parade. Where are my keys? Where the hell’s my mother’s old mink coat?

Fountain of Youth?!! Soloflex Whole Body Vibration

People keep asking me what my secret is, they say I'm looking great. I thank them very much and assure them that I feel great too. I look different to them, but they don’t know why. How could they? What I’m doing is pretty new to the world, at least in this context. Just ten minutes a day a few times a week for the last few months, and I feel like new. It’s called Whole Body Vibration and my tool of choice is called a Soloflex, perhaps the least costly and most portable version out there.(@$350 from It’s a simple platform that looks like a big skateboard with a little motor underneath. You plug it in and set the speed, and stand, kneel, sit, lay or do asanas on it for five or ten minutes a few times a week, shaking every cell in your body, no matter how deep it is. Most people looking at me when I'm standing on it wouldn’t discern that I am vibrating but oh boy am I! No stasis in this body!! Every molecule and every atom is spinning like a top, nothing's stuck! It’s something I wanted to invent myself because it makes so much sense. But somebody got ahead of me. Must have been a boomer who realized that we need to VIBRATE every cell in our body to face down the last leg of our trip.
Actually it was the Soviets who developed the technology now known as Whole Body Vibration for their cosmonauts back in the day when they first sought means to keep the poor guys strong and toned while aloft.
Thus we now have Soloflex, Power Plate and a rapidly growing legion of vibration platforms to aid us in our ongoing search for ultimate well-being. Lots of gyms have Power Plates now. Sports teams use them for warm up. The platforms are very popular on the golf circuit.. Old folks’ homes have them because it’s believed they build bone and muscle with virtually no effort. The claims, proven and unproven, go on and on. You will have to research and make your own decision at your own risk. As for me, I thank God I purchased it ($300) because I feel so great these days, and I attribute a lot of it to my friend, my vibrator, as my family and friends refer to it. Take heart! Such slurs and innuendoes are part and parcel of the perils one encounters when one is a community trailblazer-- striking out into new vibration territory. Ah yes, this is the focus of endless jokes, and I can handle it pretty well, so it’s all fun. I hope this blog will not bring on such jokes, as I’ve already heard them all and don’t want to hear any more. I am here for the good of the order. My good-natured television repairman saw the thing in the living room (It can slide under the couch) and when I showed him what it was he said “Wait till the guys at the office hear about this one!” So if you’re going to get one – get ready, because the jokes never end. And it’s really fun. And you can be truly innocent.
I am not going to endorse or recommend anything to you, because the jury is still out. It’s all new. I decided to place my bets on it after hours of online research and writing to researchers conducting ongoing experiments who refused to commit til next month or next year when the study is complete. They all caution that you should use only a very low vibration but I am reckless and impulsive and voracious at times, so I always turn it up full blast, I love the energy and the changes it makes, and only time will tell what the damage is, if any. I acknowledge it could be dangerous. There are so many caveats in the literature that you absolutely must and will think twice. No artificial joints, pacemakers, recent surgeries allowed onboard. I wondered “What if I shake loose a clot or a carcinogen that would otherwise have rested peacefully until the end of time?” AH but the energy! I’m taking some chances. And so far I just love the chances I take. It's no secret!