It was my third day in Maine. The Writer’s Almanac for Tuesday, July 11, 2017 posted Rosie King’s poem, ‘Again.’ Her words expressed so well the experience of driving the familiar back roads of the Blue Hill region, walking the granite-strewn shores, and ending each day raising a toast with long-time friends.
Now is alwaysand forevermore becoming then. How is it that we manage to function in this confusion of time? Having traveled once again for the ‘crush of old sweetness’ that Maine offers up, I found myself in moments that gave, and yes, vanished.
Students ask, ‘How do I keep this balance and ease? What can I do to preserve this lightness of body and spirit?’ My answer is, ‘Don’t try to keep it. Don’t try to preserve it. It’s past, gone, over. Now we are in a new moment, and it is here that we return to ourselves.’
And so I too take instruction, from myself and the Alexander Technique, and continue rolling through the precious hours and days that are Maine. Here again, and again, and again.
May your magic summer placefill your heart and restore your body and spirit—–
Two handfuls of new.That would be Josephine. She slept nestled in her carrier on the living room floor as laughter, song, and chatter swirled. A band of rosebuds adorned her head, and with chin resting on chest, her rounded cheeks resembled a chipmunk’s full of nut treats.
So this is what new looks like. We who have been here awhile miss new sometimes. Our skin sags, our spirits lag, our curiosity dampens, our love of life somehow diminishes. Josephine is ‘all in,’ as the expression of the moment goes, and the rest of us long to live as she is, whether it be a dedicated nap or seeing June’s green for the very first time.
We all arrive in bodies and then there is the challenging business of living in them. We start out with inherent ease and balance, then lose it by degrees as we enter the world of schooling, of societal expectations, of familial patterning. Returning to poise and presence is possible, and I encourage you to—-
—find your ‘new’ today. It may be as simple as bending from the hips to look through your legs at an upside-down-world, or finding yourself renewed, as I was, in the fine company of a newborn.
(Next week I’ll be in Maine. Thursday posts will resume on July 20.)
Those ears! Sitting on the east porch with our morning coffees, we catch a glimpse of a deer along the meadow’s edge. The ears are prominent, sticking up above the grasses and bushes, one turning to its side, then the other. They remind me of the rotating scopes atop mountains, scanning for signs of alien life.
Mike and I were the aliens, and the doe was alert to our presence. Her eyes now visible, she studied us, and as I began to hum an improvised tune, she stepped forward. One step. Two. Stopping. Another step.
To be a Deer Whisperer, the following is recommended: Pause before singing. Feel your feet. Note the breeze bringing your scent to the deer. Receive your listener with an open heart. Have no expectation for a response. Send the sound wave and wait.
Back to the doe.She listens. She steps closer. Her gracious head leads with her graceful body following, just as Mr. Alexander exhorted us to do. She was born for beauty, and as I watch her finally leap back into the pine woods, she takes my breath away.
Let a four-legged creature be your Alexander Technique teacher today. Cats, dogs, hamsters or deer; all have something to teach us about living well in a body.
Worthington Presbyterian Church vocalists are meeting every Thursday night this month, preparing summer season solos and receiving coaching from me and from colleague, Sharon Stohrer. Talk about lifelong learning! Here are women, several of them in their mature years, continuing to make beautiful music as they hone the craft of singing.
They are an inspiration to this singer of 60 years. To inspire is to ‘infuse an animating, quickening, or exalting influence into.’ To inspire also means ‘to inhale’; ‘to take air intothe lungs.’ Isak Dinesen wrote this about her Ngong farm in Africa:
‘The chief feature of the landscape, and of your life in it, was the air….Up in this high air, you breathed easily, drawing in a vital assurance and lightness of heart.’*
The sound we produce rides the breath. Soundwaves require air. It’s what they travel on. And each full and good inspiration has in it the potential to inspire as the lyrics and melodies reach the ear of the listener.
May you breathe, and yes, sing, with ‘lightness of heart’ this first week of summer—–
9:07 p.m. Friday, June 9, 2017. It’s showtime and we are standing on the crest of the hill, facing east. Where’s the full moon? The sky has that summer haze, and the horizon is looking cloudy. So we wait.
How to Wait for Moonrise:
Feel the grass prickle your bare ankles.
Wrap your arms around your beloved and inhale his summer-rich scent.
Hear the swallows chortle as they ride the evening breeze.
Notice the cooling air on nape of neck.
Continue returning to the moment and practice patience.
The best things in life are free. There it is, whole and entire, now visible in the dusky sky. It travels quickly, changing from white to an orange-mauve hue, gaining in brilliance with every minute. Yes, I could be in the city indulging in any number of entertainments, but this is where I want to be. On the hill.
May you find a place, a moment, of beauty today. It’s worth waiting for.
Humid, sunny, no breeze, no water, no hat. A horse-fly repeatedly dive-bombs, then burrows into my hair with an angry buzz. Waving walking poles at it, I whack myself in the head. Good Lord. Did I mention 7 ticks on my person? S-E-V-E-N.
Trudging up the final crest, a litany of complaints was in rehearsal, performance scheduled for an audience of one (my husband). With gaze fixed glumly on the ground, I happen upon a pair of tiger swallowtails. Returned to the present moment by astonishing and surprising beauty, I stop in my tracks.
And you know what comes next. This stopping of whatever you are doing Mr. Alexander termed ‘Inhibition’. Having stopped usual habits (i.e.–trudging, mental rehearsals, downward pull compressing my spine, etc.), I then have the opportunity for something else. Usually something much better.
Please note: optimal conditions are not required for choosing optimal Use. In other words, you can, in the most unpleasant of circumstances, stop and receive whatever is right in front of you. This provides greater ease and comfort in the physical body, and a lightness of mind as well.
That performance of complaints? Never happened. The swallowtails stole the show.
May 26, 2017. At the kitchen sink, washing up the breakfast dishes, I realize there is an orchid inches from my face. It bloomed! It’s been ready to pop for weeks, and today was the day. Morgan! Thank you. Hello.
I see her in all things small and delicate.
She was born May 26, 1984 and had 9 months and 3 weeks to be here. 33 years later, Mike and I are sitting on the cabin porch, remembering the Saturday she arrived in our Oakland Avenue upstairs bedroom. Mike recalls when the midwives told us Morgan had physical markers for Down Syndrome, I was so captivated to have her next to me, it didn’t seem to matter what they were saying.
We look out over the fields, study the clouds, sip our beers. Then he tells me a story I had not heard before. The first Father’s Day after Morgan’s death, he was walking the farm. Along the north fence row a deer snorted and stamped, attempting to distract Mike, and sure enough, there in the grasses was a new fawn.