Monthly Archives: June 2017

Places to Ponder

I am a ponderer — of thoughts and words and events and comments and situations. I can’t help myself. Perhaps it’s because I’m a writer. Perhaps it’s because I’m an introvert. Perhaps it’s because I’m curious about the whats and whys and wherefores of people and life in general and moments in particular. I think about things. I consider them. They roam freely through the recesses of my mind. My musings often find a place in my notebook. My thoughts often become conversation over breakfast with a close friend.

Pondering can be like following rabbit trails. One thought leads to another and another until you’ve wandered miles beyond where you started.

Pondering can be like day dreaming and wishful thinking — wondering about the fantastical things that can’t happen in our real world.

Pondering can be like walking in someone else’s shoes, treading on their path, in an effort to understand their way of being.

Beyond all of this pondering is about opening our mind and giving it creative space to discover what we did not know or see before.

Over the years I’ve found great value in pondering, though it sometimes disturbs my sleep, and often creeps into my moments when I’m busy doing something that requires little awareness. Sometimes pondering is a conscious act. More often than not it comes unbidden, prompting my attention.

If pondering is not your custom, perhaps you might give it a try. Pick a quiet place to begin — a place that allows you to notice things, to focus on something small, to hear the breeze, or see an ant crawling on a twig. A paper and pencil is helpful — to jot down your thoughts or sketch what you see.

On a recent trip I took photos of pondering places to share with you. Just seeing the photos is sufficient to quiet my mind. Perhaps it will work for you as well.

Pick a spot and spend a little while.

Until next Tuesday . . .

 

 

 

Dance Instructions

I recently watched a dance instructor teaching a class of adult beginners. Here is what she said, among many other things:

  • Clarity of intention and clarity of direction: Before anyone even began to move, she explained, in careful, simple detail about knowing ahead of time how you intend to move.  She talked about getting one’s body in balanced position. Once that position is established it’s easy to move a leg or an arm without losing one’s balance. Once the intention is clear and one’s balanced position is correct, then the direction of movement also becomes clear. First things first: intention, then movement.

 

  • Check yourself before you wreck yourself: Continually remind yourself of your intention and check your position. This is the only way to avoid jerky movements, or leading with the wrong part of the body, or falling due to loss of balance. Setting one’s position is not a one time thing; it must be done over and over again — every time we prepare to dance.

 

  • If you’re dancing solo you’ve got options: Some in the class obviously came with a partner; many did not. The instructor began by teaching everyone as individual dancers. Later she began to differentiate between the “lead” dancers and the “partners.” With subtle movements of their hands and arms and bodies, the lead dancer directs his partner in how and when and where to move. While the partner knows the moves, the lead provides the guidance. The partner must be attentive and move accordingly. Watching a couple dance in tune and in sync with each other is truly a beautiful thing. However, the instructor never disparaged the single dancers. Not once did she suggest that the only real way to dance is with a partner. What she did say was “If you’re dancing solo, you’ve got options.” No need to be attuned to a partner; you determine your moves, within the conventions of this particular dance form. Sometimes we think we can’t dance without a partner. Not so!

As I watched and listened, her comments resonated with me, even though I wasn’t on the dance floor trying to learn a new dance. What she said applies to business, hobbies, families, careers, habits, lifestyles, creative endeavors. I’ll leave it to you, dear reader, to apply her statutes to your own life — wherever you happen to be at this moment.

  • clarify your intention
  • clarify your direction
  • check yourself
  • if you’re dancing solo, you’ve got options

          

Remembering these four things will allow us to dance our life with purpose and gracefulness.

Until next Tuesday . . .

 

 

Surface Safety

In The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton writes:

Better keep on the surface, in the prudent old New York way, than risk uncovering a wound he could not heal.

She’s right. If we stay on the surface we don’t have to worry about uncovering our wounds — either recent ones or ones from another time. No one else will discover our wounds either.

We can be pleasant. We can pretend everything is fine. We can do all the right things. We can keep our secrets.

We can keep everyone at arms’ length.

In my private ponderings I call people like that The Plastic People. The Perfect Plastic People. Their hair is always in place. Their clothes don’t wrinkle. Their face is never without its pleasant expression. Their life appears to be in control. Their homes are in order.

But here’s the problem with all of this. I don’t know how to relate to the perfect people. At my core I believe we’re all made of the same cloth, so to speak. The colors and patterns of your cloth will be different than mine — but it’s still fabric that wears and tears and ravels and gets mended and fades. None of us can escape those things that happen over time. So if all I see of you is exquisite unblemished silk and my fabric is ragged denim I experience a disconnect. Yet, I know . . . I know there must be more to your story, though it’s hidden, perhaps for a long time.  Perhaps your wounds are still open, still unhealed, too personal to be shared — at least so far.

I get that. I really do.

But I’ve learned, after playing the role of the Perfect Plastic Person for longer than I like to admit, that it’s not our perfection that draws us together. Rather, it’s our less-than-pretty, our imperfections, our mistakes, our ordinariness that call us to connection, that begin a friendship.

If I know your silk has some threadbare places . . .

perhaps I have some thread to offer as repair for your unraveling

perhaps you have some yarn to decorate my tear

perhaps in our stitching and careful mending and sharing of pins and needles and scissors we can come to know we’re more alike than we are different.

Exposing our rips and tears and worn places doesn’t come easily. It’s scary at first and requires courage we’ve not mustered before. Over time, bit by bit, we begin to trust another with who we are beneath our plastic exterior.

And so begins the mending of our cloth, the healing of our soul, and the choosing to share our journey toward wholeness.

 

Until next Tuesday . . .