Monday, October 24, 2016

Thank God, it's almost over...

This political season is not for sissies. though the word sissy reminds me of that other word we rather nobody used. So, no, this political season is not for the shy, polite, well-mannered, respectful, gentlemanly, or lady-like folks we engage with on a regular basis, folks we might or might not know well, yet, expect they would think less of us if we just jumped in and said anything that comes to mind...

This season reminds me of the dilemma we all face in front of a wall of menu choices. Ah, what I really want is a meal I can't easily prepare at home, a juicy piece halibut, not fried or battered, but fresh from the ocean, filleted and grilled with a simple lemon sauce accompanied by some locally sourced fresh vegetables transformed in a new way, and served on the side...

But not at that price!

The dilemma of great expectations meeting available reality.
The realization that available choices are limited to what the organization can provide, under the local circumstances, and catered to the taste and pocketbook of people who frequent this place often!

In 2016, in America, we have two choices on our presidential menu, and a good number of people are still undecided, listing and shouting that what they want is not on the menu, and it is too late in the season to do anything about it. Will they leave and go home hungry? Will they make the forced choice? Will they pull a side option and make that their main choice?

We have had a year or more to vet these candidates; a year or more to be informed on all sides; a year or more to school ourselves on the consequences of not making such choices.

In a couple of days, we all have the opportunity to cast our ballot-early voting for many of us is available in our progressive states, by mail, with no lines and no other interference. And yes, we'll draw a big, deep sigh of relief, and hope for the best.

And if choosing a candidate is this difficult, imagine what it would be like if we lived in a place where we had no choice at all.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Looking forward.

Ever since I was a little girl sitting down to do homework by the light of a single candle, and by a fireplace that kept me warm on only one side, I had this little technique to make it through the long cold night. I looked forward to  the time I would be called up by my teacher to read my composition in front of the class, and be told I had done a good job. That praise was not just looked forward to by me, but also by my parents who made sure we didn't run out of candles-before electricity came to our neighborhood, or fire wood for those cold nights when my homework tasks required many hours to be completed.

Looking forward to one thing, no matter how small, makes critically difficult times go by and endured with as much grace as possible. In the last few months, when I had to endure radiation for breast cancer, I caught myself using the same technique, and imagined myself in a different place, at the Bandon Cheese Factory, having an enormous ice cream cone before driving all the way home for a deserved nap.

Take this contentious political season. In less than a month, a new president will be selected, and we can all go back posting our usual posts on Facebook or Twitter or Blogger. We can also look forward to being better people for all the discussions we have had lately, about the issues that got us excited and vocal. For me, this has been a monumental campaign season, and I know we can't go back to the people we were before, just as I cannot go back to the woman I was before my breast cancer. I learned then that medical care should not be a privilege but a right, for instance.

We belong to a civilized society ruled by laws and treating people equally, regarding of their political affiliations, and these discussions move us forward to being more just, more equal, more supportive of each other.

In a sense, our biggest guarantee of safety and progress is the form of government we live in, a democratic republic with checks and balances, a true beacon to the entire free world.

What do I look forward to in this political season? Lots of discussions, big waves moving us forward toward that lighthouse, our ultimate destination, our commitment to a more perfect union regardless of all the squabbles and almost mutinies that marked our voyage.

Looking forward is a good thing.


Monday, October 3, 2016

It really is all about you.

I'm honored to know the two artists who produced the works in this picture. While I'm not a close friend of either of them-Elaine Roemen's painting, Elk River, and Julie Hawthorne's sculpture, Birdland, I know enough about them to see strands of their work and their lives woven so intimately in their work. Yes, we are integral human beings and our work reflects our life, art imitating life, art hinting at the prevalent theme/mood/preoccupation of the artist.

And so with the rest of us, our work too. Well, not in the day-to-day details, but in the big sweep or arc of our history. After my son was killed, I could only write snippets of stories about him, snippets of poems about my loss, lines scrambled here and there, read well one day, got obfuscated the next. We tend to leave breadcrumbs, clues so we can say to the world, I was here, and here, and these were my preoccupations, my overwhelming goals during this period.

I love how we go back to the songs of our youth and wax nostalgic about those days, crying or laughing with the artist that embodied those moments that defined our deepest needs. In my life, around the time I arrived in America, eager to learn and discover, I found out that being seventeen was a precious time, a time to enjoy life and each other's company. Yet, I was lonely, and I remember vividly enjoying Paul Anka's "Put your head on my shoulder" as something that spoke to me.

We purchased the two works above right after our son died.
Each of us needed something to encapsulate our respective feelings. My husband picked "Elk River"; I picked Birdland. I don't know his reason; mine, the emptiness and yet the joy of having had the experience of being Brian's Mom, and in my recesses, that nest was still and will always be there.

Ask yourself often what you wish for, what you hunger the most in your life, what gets you up and what angers you. Ask yourself how the world of friends and books and art and purchases reflect your life, your wishes.