I visited the Buffalo River in Arkansas when I was 7, with 3 other families with lots of kids in June of 1963. I thought I’d ascended to heaven. Andrea Place Fournet, Adele Fournet, and I moved to Fayetteville in 1993 after picking it out the entire country as our new home town. I feel very fortunate.
June 13, 2014, floating and paddling the Buffalo River with Adele Fournet.
Working at my computer last Saturday, I noticed that my brow was furrowed, my shoulders up to my ears with tension, and my breathing shallow. I was one tense old dog. I usually stand up and move around every 30 minutes or so, but I’d skipped my break. Happy to have woken up to the distress, I headed out the back door to refresh and restore.
Here’s what I wrote after ten minutes or so of sky-gazing:
“46F 11:30 or so,lying on my back on the back deck, calves on a chair, soaking up the sun like an insect released from the grip of winter. Blue skies with altocumulus clouds heading east with haste. Hawks and crows to the south and north discussing territories and predation. Peeping cheeping birds also discussing whatnot and who’s who. I see two crows flying northwest. Where are they going and why? I wonder. Breathing deeply, I let the tension ease, the stress release. I see a vulture or a hawk circling over the VA. Do I see a ”v” shape in the wings or are they more flat? The latter wing profile I believe would be a hawk.”
I’m grateful that I’m taking breaks from clerical-logistical projects more consistently these days, though sometimes forgetting and getting “wrapped around my own axle.” I appreciate that it doesn’t take much to relax and recharge: pick up the guitar and sing a song, go outside and just look into the distance, saunter on the street a bit, maybe pet a dog or talk to a neighbor.
I woke up last Friday wondering about an expression my friend Glenn shared with me, “follow your fears.” It dawned on me that when I think about drawing, I feel uneasy. I actually enjoy doodling, but there’s something in me that gets butterflies when I sit down to sketch. A bit later, during our morning ritual with my wife Andrea, I sketched this cartoon instead of using words to express what I was appreciating. We each write appreciated things down on one side of a 3×5 card cut in half, keep them in a bin, and read the ones from this year and last year (from a separate bin) aloud after we meditate. It’s one of our healthier habits.
I drew it in my journal while she was appreciating on her side of the card. After we read aloud our cards, she added a few strokes to make the possum look less like a big rat. I added the pill bug later (a “bug” that is actually a terrestrial crustacean!) .
That’s the actual lamp in our “Buddha Room” where we practice awareness and appreciation. That cartoon, and this post, which could be polished up in numerous ways, are a bit out of my comfort zone. I do relate with these animal allies and their musings. I’m glad I drew what came to me. May we all experiment with befriending our fears, maybe starting with their cousins anxiety, ambiguity, and ambivalence.
Some 30 years ago, in Kamuela, Hawaii, I used our small public library to help find our next home town. We’ve been in Fayetteville, Arkansas since 1993, and find great delight in coming back to the islands, and to other small libraries. Unlike then, wifi and computers are part of the wonderful world of exploratory tools. I’m enjoying my satellite Exploratorio here at the Wailuku, Hawaii Public Library (on Maui), where I savor the fragrance of molasses grass wafting through the window, along with the sounds of roosters crowing, doves cooing, and the steep slopes of Iao Valley inviting adventure.
Cacambo, who was as good a counsellor as the old woman, said to Candide:
“We are able to hold out no longer; we have walked enough. I see an empty canoe near the river-side; let us fill it with cocoanuts, throw ourselves into it, and go with the current; a river always leads to some inhabited spot. If we do not find pleasant things we shall at least find new things.”
Cacambo’s attitude and recommendation help me with my sometimes tiring daily deciding, as I find them both optimistic and practical, “if we do not find pleasant things we shall at least find new things.”
It calls to mind something I heard ascribed to Sir Richard Branson, “Screw it; let’s do it!”
Do you have similar expressions or attitudes that help you choose what to do next?
“On the other side of your maximum fear are all of the best things in life.” —Will Smith
(as quoted in AARP: The Magazine as Will turns 50)
That idea rings true to some degree with most of me. That last sentence is funny to other parts of me. And so it goes with being alive, a mixed and amazing happening much of the time.
I rarely encounter maximum fear. I got a wallop of it in January when my wife and I were on Maui when the alarm sounded that we were under missile attack by North Korea. I swear I could actually hear my heart pounding. On the other side of that episode of maximum fear was a very delicious dose of relief and appreciation that it was a false alarm. Those feelings are, at the least, very good things in life.
Right now I’m experiencing a mild fear, or maybe more aptly, unease. I’m fixing to post these musings on this website. I’m going to once again proceed with the idea that I can develop this site as I go, to more concisely and clearly share my Gleanings, Wonderings, & Wanderings.
Welcome to the wandering and wondering. May we meander upon wonderful things.
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” ~ Anais Nin (My augmentation: “to one’s exercising courage.” Come to think of it, maybe courage isn’t courage except in action).
Brad and I went for a walkabout around our neighborhood yesterday afternoon after Andrea and I made our daily inspection around Wilson Park. As is often the case, I found both outings quite rejuvenating and relaxing. Brad wrote about our ambulatory antics in his blog today. I sound like a pretty decent fellow. Feels good!
This poem was inspired by my friend David who embodies the gifts of play, laughter, and enthusiasm. It is such a pleasure to spend time in his company. A walk in the neighborhood becomes a healing retreat; full of laughter, acceptance, and connection. Dave has a gift for making fun of life and himself in a way that helps me let go of my stories and a mind that wants to figure everything out. Most of us are stuck in our stories, needing to endlessly repeat them in a hopeless attempt to gain the love, relief…