I’m a sucker for Vows, the couple the NY Times features in its wedding announcements. The course of true love runs smooth or it runs into obstacles, but the couple overcomes and joins together in a great and joyful wedding. The happily ever after possibility gets me every time. Which brings me to something in the travel section this Sunday….an article about Japan, about how it’s doing since the tsunami, which was a year ago. Resilience, self possession, and community mindedness are what the writer sees in its comeback after such a blow from nature. You need those for a marriage, too, I’m thinking. And these two ideas, which the writer says the Japanese are able to hold at the same time: Happy moments in life cannot erase losses; nor can losses ever keep one from knowing happiness. I quote: “To see that life means a joyful participation in a world of sorrow, and that suffering is not the same as unhappiness is one of the singular blessings this seasoned country still has to offer.” Maybe that’s why I like to read about vibrant weddings and love overcoming all….
Posted in Before Versailles, Dark Angels, historical fiction, Karleen Koen, Now Face to Face, Through A Glass Darkly
Tagged "New York Times", happiness, hope, Japan, love, sotry and love, story and life, tsunami, weddings
Mother and I were watching Out of Africa, or I was watching and Mother was dozing. It was the scene where Denys has died and Karen is about to throw clods of dirt into the grave, and my mind went tumbling back to my friend Robert’s death last summer, to our throwing dirt on the grave, to how long it had been since I’d been to a funeral, to how final the gesture is, an extraordinary gesture that puts what has happened into sharp focus. And then I was thinking about Karen Blixen and how amazing her life was. Do you know her? Isak Dinesen was the writing name she gave herself and I’ve read two of her books of short stories, Out of Africa and Shadows in the Grass, and many of the exquisite overvoiced lines of the movie come from those stories. The stories are discreet, but her life wasn’t. Or maybe that’s the wrong paint color. She didn’t live soundlessly, in the box decent women were supposed to lie (and are still supposed to lie, for that matter). She loved a nobleman who didn’t love her back, married his twin brother for a title and security and who knows if spite was in the mix, went with her husband to Kenya to raise coffee, contracted syphillus from the philandering husband, started a school for native children, refused to stay home and knit when war came, and loved an English nobleman’s adventurer son, Denys Finch Hatten. I didn’t like Out of Africa when I first saw it, thought too many dramatic moments were crammed into the story, so that it was all drama, without valleys, but I was intrigued by her, and I read her biography and her letters, and I learned the director had recreated what truly happened to her….that her life in Africa had been full of drama and full of real life, loving hard, loving badly, hard work, doing what she wished when society around her disapproved, failing, losing her health and home. I cried some tears from a seldom visited place in me for what the ending of the movie brought up–she began another life as a writer, but she had to say goodbye to a life and people she loved to do it–anyway, I cried from a place that was deep and that it hurt to cry from. And my thought was, the fragility of love and life, the smoke and mirrors of it, it can’t be grasped and held tightly, love itself does live, die, change, transmute, and I thought, to everyone young, be tender in your love, be courteous to one another, revere the sweet green…..
To Japan: faith and courage and may all the gods watch over you…..
A science fair for my granddaughter’s school’s third grade: hilarious: brilliant: horseshoes with springs so horses run faster; bandages with art on them so they look prettier; mechanical dogs for people who have dog allergies; a goldfish crackers’ cruncher so you can put the crumbs in your milk…..need I say more…..America is in good hands……..and how was your week?
Posted in Before Versailles, books, character, creativity, Dark Angels, fiction, Karleen Koen, life, love, mothers, Now Face to Face, spirituality, story, story and character, story and life, story and love, Through A Glass Darkly, writing
Tagged Denys Finch Hatten, getting old, Isak Dinesen, Japan, Karen Blixen, Kenya, love, Out of Africa, watching old movies
My plants in outside pots are crushed by Houston’s icy weather, even though they were covered. The succulents look as if they were never fat and tender. Ivies are withered to nothing. I talk with a friend today and find out bids she’d been hoping for have been rejected. The icy economic weather is taking its toll, too. We can withstand so much, and then there’s a breaking point. Our faith cracks, and our hope. Fear or faith. Fear or love, we always choosing one or the other, say the psychologists. I’m going to carefully trim the dead parts off each and every one of my plants. It will be interesting to me to watch them make their comeback. I’ll be excited by the first little tender shows of green. I wish I could trim the hurt from my friend. I know she’ll green again. But does she? Someone said to me over the phone this week, this is a hard planet. Yes, and yes again. What do you do when the wind is not at your back, but pushing against your every step. It makes little blisters in the heart. At the beginning of the week, a group of us looked up an old blessing:
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
What do you do when it’s hard, when you’re in the valley, and the high mountains around cover the sunlight? When there is no rain on your fields? Our internal fields are so much more fragile than outside ones. How do you yourself hold the faith?
O, may the road rise to meet you………………..
Posted in Before Versailles, Dark Angels, family, Houston, Karleen Koen, life, love, Now Face to Face, story, story and life, Through A Glass Darkly
Tagged faith, fear, hard times, Houston, how to keep going, Karleen Koen, losing hope, losing your faith, love, what to do when it's hard
I heard an interesting phrase at a meditation retreat this weekend: compassionately let go. The wise man speaking (he runs in Deepak Chopra circles) was answering a question about wanting to help someone by telling them about your meditation practice and/or your God or guru or whatever it is spiritually that is working for you. You must do it without ego and without expectation, as a sharing, he said, as in this worked for me….and then compassionately let go. I liked that word compassion. I remember the first time I heard about letting go in 12-step….detach with love, was the advice. I could detach, but with love…nope. I was too angry, too fearful, upset by how another’s behavior was hurting me, but too afraid to walk away. Which reminds me of something another wise man once said, you always have a choice. Always. It’s just that sometimes the choice is between one pain and another. But I was talking about compassionately letting go: of another’s reaction, attitude, addiction, behavior, with compassion toward them. It’s out of our hands. Of course, it always was. Each person has his own path, his own guides and inner light for that path. We can’t make him turn on that light. The word love requires more than I can sometimes give, an energy of engagement that I can’t or won’t summon for various reasons. I can’t always love others. But compassion….I think I can go there, for the other, and also, for myself. Compassion is an interesting shade of love. Less red.
How do you see compassion and how do you see love? And how do you see letting go?
Posted in Before Versailles, character, creativity, Dark Angels, Karleen Koen, life, love, Now Face to Face, story and character, story and life, story and love, story and theme, story and writing, Through A Glass Darkly
Tagged 12 step, compassion, Deepak Chopra, letting go, love, meditation, why is it hard to let go, wisdom
Silly quarrel this weekend. Hurtful things said. How imperfect human love is, crushed by depression, thrown off track by random moods, despairing before the imagined unknown, changed into a monster by addiction, swayed by suspicious suggestion. How imperfect we are with our little internal dramas, half of which never occur, but we do like playing the movie of ourselves over and over. So I sat on my front porch and cried. And then I gathered myself up and went on, and later my loved one said, I’m sorry, and that was all it took for my heart to let go the tight bands that had fastened around it. How silly this matter of life is. What puny creatures we humans are. Petty and self-absorbed. And lovely, too, all of it–and us–imperfectly lovely.
What’s your imperfect life?
PS….For fun, I made each link a poem from Writers’ Almanac.
Posted in Before Versailles, character, creativity, Karleen Koen, life, love, Now Face to Face, story, story and love, Through A Glass Darkly, writing
Tagged addiction, despair, human imperfection, love, quarreling with a loved one, what is love
Tenderness is an interesting word to me. Affection is part of its definition as is delicate, gentle, sensitive. Once I had a character say, I’ve known love and I’ve known passion, but tenderness is best. There’s someone in our writing group. She comes in quietly. She talks little, but she has distinct presence. She often brings something unexpected. The first time I wrote with the group, afterwards, she gave me a book of poems, and said, Welcome to Taos. Another time she brought cake which she couldn’t eat, but which she wanted to share. She gives thoughtful prompts: am I a man who dreamed he was a butterfly or the butterfly who dreamed he was a man? Several of us wrote off that. As we were listening to others share, she tore a page out of a notebook to give out. It was information about Taos County butterflies. Their names were wonderful: skipper, dustywing, cloudywing. She reads quietly when it’s her turn. Her writing can almost be Zen in its simplicity. Heartbreak has been in her life. Somehow she personifies tenderness, fragile, worn at the edges by life, but there….
What do you know about tenderness? Why is it so unique? Is it its gentleness in our increasingly noisy world?
Posted in character, Dark Angels, Karleen Koen, life, love, Now Face to Face, story and character, Through A Glass Darkly
Tagged butterfly, emotion, love, Taos, tenderness, writing emotion, writing groups
You were like marmalade
sweet bold tangy
man I loved you so much
you kissed me lightly sweetly and my hope went seeding into the air
a dandelion blown apart by wind
I felt like sleeping beauty
waked from a long dream
the next time you kissed me fire grew
and pointed my breasts
and that night I stared sightlessly
above dishes in the sink
stared out at the darkness
waiting for you to climb over the fence
and take me
The prosaic: this poem came from a writing prompt at a writing workshop at Brigid’s Place when my good friend Sandi ran it. The facilitator put a list of words on the board and then asked us to use several of them. Among them were “dishes in the sink at night” and “dandelions.” The word “marmalade” is what got me started. A draft of this poem just flowed out of me, always a wonderful experience for a writer, that tapping into something under the surface that appears like a dolphin arching out of water. The poem captured a special time; when you’re so attracted to someone, and there is respect as well as spark in the attraction, and the potential for a love affair is there. I write a lot about love in all its aspects: familial, romantic, friendly, broken, forbidden, spiritual. It seems to me that is our reason for being here–to learn how to love life and the people in it in the fullest way. My definition of full continues to grow.
Posted in Before Versailles, creativity, Dark Angels, Houston, Karleen Koen, life, love, Now Face to Face, romance writing, story and love, theme, Through A Glass Darkly, writing, writing process
Tagged "Brigid's Place", Karleen Koen, love, poetry, someone I loved, what is love, when writing just appears, writing a love poem, writing process