February 3, 2013.
This Sunday began with a heavy fog. When you write that in California you must clarify. It was literally very foggy outside. Fog is an invitation to dreaming out loud. So we began this Sunday with a walk ,with our coffees in our portable thermos tumblers and our dreams that were not so foggy.
My mother remains adamant that connecting with nature in some form every day keeps the doctor away. I wish I took a more prophylactic dose from earth instead of happenstance walks that lead to some cure.
The new Tiffany’s Jewelry catalogue just arrived. The marketing gods at Tiffany’s never forget; once a customer, forever a potential. The theme for this brochure, set appropriately for welcoming Valentine’s Day, is love. “Love is Heaven Sent”, “Written in the Stars”, “Unearthly Beauty”, “Over the moon”. Apparently the real celestial rides begin at $8,900. Love maybe divine but it must learn to walk on human legs on this unfamiliar terrain we call home. It may have been transcribed in the stars but our choices connect the dots. And to wish for unearthly beauty one must have missed out on the divinely dazzlingly available right now. And the moon isn’t everyone’s friend.
The aforementioned being said, the brochure does have a point: love is expensive. Who would have thought something so complimentary to human survival could be so costly? I think the exchange rate is beyond human articulation so we need Tiffany’s.
Companies had to understand that Christmas advertising was an investment drain and February, instead of December, thanks to Super Bowl and Love Day, makes for a better pitch. I hope that is because we have evolved as spiritual consumers and not because the economy was bleak in December and now we await our tax returns.
I am not sure how to describe being the vertex of two congruent feelings at a vertical angle.
I know I am precisely where I am supposed to be right now in my life without an iota of doubt. Doing exactly what I am doing. It is what I set out to do over a decade ago in New York City but no one was ready for what I had to offer. So I offered small doses without rocking the ship over. Yet I also know where I am now is not the final destination despite of the work I am doing. I couldn’t ask for a more meaningful job, or kinder colleagues, or a company/program that is more driven to create authentic change. I look forward to what I am doing every day. There are evenings when I am tired but never emotionally drained.
I went into education to help create change instead I became cynical after I was depleted working for and within a system that was hell bent against actually changing anything. So I went into law to remedy the situation only to realize the “system”—set to profit off of problems instead of fixing them—was of Brobdingnagian proportions. It wasn’t that there weren’t good people with the best of intentions in every profession. It just wasn’t enough of them against the many who were leeches on an already dysfunctional human condition.
So I did the only thing I could do: I changed myself. What did I really need? What did I actually want? What, if any, was the difference? How did I define service? What gave me joy? How could I make a difference in a world resolved on making a profit off of problems?
And then there was this enchanting compulsion called writing. I had never seen myself as a writer so I wasn’t attempting to take a shot at a different vocation in 2009. I was just running on full and stories were pouring out from every pore on my skin and the collection of notebooks was getting heavier and burdensome and my heart was getting clogged with words and it was only when my mother and closest friends intervened that I must do something—anything! or else!—that I stopped to seriously consider this predicament called writing. So I created this space to put the stories out there. I had no intention of publishing beyond this digital shelf given the point was just to get “clutter” out so as to focus on the actual manuscript. The work-in-progress novel still exists in fragments, which makes no sense together, but I do have a collection of stories. And for whatever reasons there are people I know who are interested in an actual copy. Long live print.
Only after the stories were “released,” I came into this sublime opportunity where I am now, away from my beloved New York City, to do what I had originally set out to do in education over a decade ago in New York City: to offer evidence that real, long-term, tangible change is possible if we can alter the way adults think about learning, teaching, and education itself.
Writing has never been in my control. Writing, like breathing, can be done more consciously, maybe even intermittently, but it can’t be stopped altogether if its truly in your blood. I don’t doubt that there will come another tipping point where the universe will bend the world just so I can do nothing else but write again. Until then I am once again collecting and writing fragments for the work-in-progress novel.
I know everyone is not in a position to leave an unfulfilling job at the drop of the hat without plenty of savings or support, some kind of strategic plan. But I also know one can’t give up. The world is spinning on an axis, however imaginary, made of those who actually care to make a difference. And making a difference doesn’t always look the same for everyone. I know I couldn’t have even imagined what I am doing now. Funny how ambition can destroy potential far greater than you imagined striving towards. Must continue listening to that voice that wants something more without being unhappy about the now.
Nothing convinces me that there exists some larger design of which I too am a part than when I sit with the written word, with or without a pen in my hand, whether to read or to write, a story or curriculum related to education.
Yesterday, I attended an arthritis and yoga workshop with my mother. It was about using props effectively. I was delighted to discover that there were 36 people attending and two others were there to support their parents and discover yoga for themselves.
On the way there my mother shared passages from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith which she had just finished reading for her book club on Sundays.
My mother began with:
“…the child must have a valuable thing which is called imagination. The child must have a secret world in which live things that never were. It is necessary that she believe. She must start out by believing in things not of this world. Then when the world becomes too ugly for living in, the child can reach back and live in her imagination. I, myself, even in this day and at my age, have great need of recalling the miraculous lives of the Saints and the great miracles that have come to pass on earth. Only by having these things in my mind can I live beyond what I have to live for.”
She shares another quote. Then a story. Then another quote. Then a memory. Then another quote. Then criticism. I drive with one hand and I can’t help but reach out my other hand and touch my mother’s hand, feeling how the joints on some fingers are more inflamed than the others yet it doesn’t stop her from doing so much. I am overcome with gratitude that regardless of what’s next for me, I have been given an opportunity right now to live not too far away from this woman who is such a fun and intelligent friend who also happens to be my mother. It is in that moment I also know that I will forever be writing stories, no matter what else I am doing, because there are just so many she has shared.
On our way out of the yoga studio we found this van parked next to us with this sticker.
There is only one way to find out if there is any meaning to any of it: living. And if we are very lucky, we get to experience fractions of moments where it all comes together, even if we don’t really have words for it.