Friday, September 21, 2012

Joy in the morning

This morning, just before I woke up, or maybe as I was waking up, I had one of those rare dreams that you remember. It was vivid. A joyous mash of my trip to Colorado and a wonderful lunch I had yesterday in Oklahoma. It was all transported to my old home in Dublin, Georgia.

The backyard began as it was, but was somehow transformed to a great garden maze. The colors were brilliant with flowering trees everywhere. The old cherry laurel tree was full of brilliant humming birds. An impossibly yellow woodpecker was on the neighbors fence. Somehow my fathers tomatoes were changed to rows of corn.

It was beautiful. Just before waking I thought, "Dad will love this."

There is nothing like waking to joy in the morning.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Atticus' daughters

I have started three different blogs and diverted each time.  Travel can do that to me.  My trip has taken me across the panhandle of Oklahoma, where dusty wheat stubble and abandoned homesteads paint images of the dust bowl.

New Mexico was singed by fires, but here in Southern Colorado the air is crisp and clear, the mountains are just tinged by the rising sun, and a snow capped peak is just over the next ridge.  I decided this morning, surrounded by all this beauty, to write about one of my first trips.  It was the journey that I now realize played a part in opening my mind and expanding my perspective about the world and it's people.

I had lived my life in rural Georgia where people around me had shown a civility that melted away as racial tensions in the south came to a head.  People I had respected began to use the "N" word and to speak with a vicious venom that frightened me.  I am going back in time to a different type of journey, to the early 60's when the adults around me began to show their human frailties, and their prejudice.

Just before I turned 13, after a summer of escalating violence and demonstrations, four girls, my age, were killed when a church was bombed in Birmingham Alabama.  I identified with them and from that moment on looked for something to help me understand what was happening around me.  The adults were wrong.  I lost my faith and looked for something that could help me find a moral center.  (Alright, moral center is my older way of thinking about it, but that truly is what my 13 year old self did.)

Then I read a book.  It was a journey, a trip to a different place and time to an earlier version of Alabama than the one that I saw burning, but to a version that had the same forces that were driving the horrors of the day.  To Kill a Mockingbird.  Harper Lee gave me such a personal gift when she shared her father through Atticus Finch.  I was Scout sitting on his knee as he talked calmly and wisely and with a truth and rightness that I so  needed to hear.  I became one of Atticus' daughters.

I have found many other of his daughters, women of an age, who found strength and hope from Atticus, and steered by the compass he set. Sin is to go against your heart, to willfully do what you know is wrong.  I think we all have the ability to know right from wrong.  It sometimes takes energy and courage to make the right choice.  Thank you Atticus.  It is a sin to kill a mockingbird.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Humane humans

Humane humans

My friend Celeste wrote about civility and my mind started wrapping around that word.  Civilized, civilization, civil, civil war.  We need a better word for it.  Civility makes me think of cold politeness, of manners that hide contempt.  Civil is defined as acting just good enough to not be seen as rude.  Civilized seems just barely so.  Civilization has applied to cultures that were monstrous.  

As herd animals, we cling to groups that are as tightly knit as a family group or a loosely formed as strangers in an elevator.  A nod and a smile as you enter and the connection is made.  We scream at drivers in our cars, we cut them off.  And yet strangers instinctively help when help is needed, comforting injured motorists or survivors of some tragedy.  What part of our brain drives these behaviors?  How is it that some circumstances trigger help and compassion and others rage and animosity.  How can we change our environment to generate more of the former than the latter.

You know how it happens.  Some point of contact, a look or smile or circumstance, humanizes the stranger who may have cut you off.  You suddenly see them as like you, lost or frazzled or just having a bad moment.  It is like a release, your anger melts and you feel better.  On the other side, you are desperate to merge in heavy traffic, a some kind soul smiles and waves you in.  Kindness.

That is the word.  We need more kindness.  Kind.  A synonym is humane, the original spelling of the word human, but changed 300 years ago.  Could it be as simple and as complex as kindness.  We learned the secret in kindergarten.  Do unto others?  Simple, but not easy. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

No wake

No wake

Ever have a day that needs a soft touch, when it seems the slightest ripple will make you overflow?

No wake.

Those are the days to find that friend who calms you.  The one who can tell you don't need action, that you need solace.  Solace, a beautiful word. 

No wake.

Some people go through life creating wakes.  They churn everyone around them.  They work themselves up over anything just to find that adrenaline rush.  They leave a rooster tail behind them and a wake that lingers.

No wake.

There are days when that wave is great, and action and motion is just the ticket.  But the dose must be measured when it is time to idle.  For those in perpetual motion, who's throttle is full on, look for the sign of need for safe harbor.  Divert.  Change craft. Change scene.  Change something.

No wake.