Uncover the Sun

Transitions

 

When I was young, I had a hard time switching from a creative dreamy state to a linear, homework mode, and vice versa. I needed quite a bit of transition time between different kinds of tasks. Reading books helped calm down my brain and make the shift back and forth easier. Certain times of the day, like morning, were easier for me to focus my mind on left brain activities like math, and I loved having unscheduled hours from late afternoon into nighttime in which to ponder and create.

 

After learning to write analytical essays in 9th grade, it became more difficult for me to write creatively. My head actually hurt trying to make myself conform to school work. I got the same kinds of headaches in college while moving between right to left brain activities and back. Years later,  a woman hooked me up to a biofeedback machine. Apparently, I spend a great deal of time in dreamy states of mind similar to small children between the ages of three and five, which explained a lot.

 

As an adult, I still need transition time between right and left-brain activities. While doing bookkeeping for example, I put music on  and start in the morning. For right-brained activities like art, I start later in the evening after the mundane tasks are finished. It remains difficult for me to shift from doing art to linear activities, for example, but after left brain activities, right brain ones seem like I escaped from jail and made a break for freedom. It is important for creative folks to figure out how to transition back and forth between such different kinds of tasks effectively.

 

Since I’m self-employed, I am able to establish my own hours and have a lot of freedom to organize my day in the way in which my brain works best. When I tried the traditional, 40 hour per week job, of which I lasted exactly three years out of my entire life, I experienced increased ill health, not to mention frustration creatively.

 

Many of our societal structures work well for people who can make their brains operate a certain way. But for those who cannot, it is awful. They may be the artists, writers, musicians, and creative folks that don’t conform, not because they don’t want to, but because they can’t. Some may call it a lifestyle choice, but for many creative types, it’s the only way their brains function properly. Unfortunately, this isn’t a friendly society for nonconformist brains. Or as a woman from another country told me, “Your society is soul crushing for artists.”Continue reading

Uncover the Sun

No-fig Days

 

Some days

are no-fig days,

no fat fruit

plumply waiting

to be picked

 

No sweetness

hanging

lushly among the leaves,

the pulp juicy

around the seeds

 

No surprises

beckoning in the garden

to delight the eyes

and pique

the palate

 

Some days

are no-fig days,

undistinguished

from other ordinary days

except by anticipation

 

Of fig days,

full of flavor and devourings

and the glory of nature

bearing and sharing

most fruitfully

Uncover the Sun

Rituals

 

For the dead,

we swallow past

the lump in our throats

 

We stand up to speak

in the face of those

whose misery matches ours

 

We struggle for words

to share our hearts

and our loss

 

Birth and death dates

are inscribed in newspaper articles

or etched on stone

 

to become part of a story

of a life that no one

wholly knows

 

Most of us only meet

in the middle, missing

the birth or maybe the final moment

 

And every day

and some day

each person here

 

will have to grieve

the dead or be grieved

by the living

 

Year after decade

we mourn

and remember

 

Our rituals for the dead

become love

honoring love

Uncover the Sun

The Third Death

 

The first death is the physical,

the shock of the person gone,

no longer there to hold

or see or hear,

all of their possessions

no longer theirs

 

The second death is the realization

that they will not be here

for the rest of your life;

at any occasion of family and friends,

through further losses and celebrations,

they will be missing

 

The third death

is how they disappear

from most conversation

into the realm of thought and feeling only,

as if being alive is a requirement

for inclusion

 

The third death

includes the awareness

that most of the living shun the dead

and that someday, we too

will be an occasional thought or feeling

unspoken

Uncover the Sun

Dreams

 

There’s a dream country

unfamiliar, unknown

only reached when imagination

leaps from now

to someday

 

Like words that send

sentences careening

into paragraphs

and lift an old plot

into something novel

 

Some dreams vanish

into never,

while others take time,

love, and courage

to create

 

Such dreams

move us past the loss

of what once was

to fascinating places

we could not imagine

Uncover the Sun

Great Measure

 

Every soul wants to breathe

in the rich round sound

of true voice

curling up inside the chest

and spilling out of the throat

like the coolest clearest water

drunk on life and love

 

Every heart wants to beat

more closely

to that first melody

that danced every babe

out the womb into the world,

singing a welcome

to be

 

Every thought wants to touch

the tune

that keeps open

wonder and hope

and putting the best song forward

into creation’s soft longing

for itself

 

Every foot wants to dance

in great measure

with the music of the world,

the essence of beauty

in rock and tree

plant and creature,

you and me

 

Uncover the Sun

Look Up

 

Look up

through tree branches

to sky patterns

of angels opening to flight

and chubby pears dancing

out of still-life bowls

and rounded clouds resembling

anything mind allows

 

Look up

through leafy possibilities

high above

any human here

and imagine

the top of your own head,

hair parted and scalp smiling

right into the sun

 

Look up

past airplane trails

and azure sky

to see every person

you have ever loved

gazing right back at you

wherever you are

right now

Uncover the Sun

Great Measure

 

Every soul wants to breathe

the air of your true voice

for the rich round sound

curling up inside your chest

and spilling out of your throat

like the coolest clearest water

drunk on life and love

 

Every heart wants to beat

more fiercely

along with that first melody

that pulled you from the womb

into the world

and made you welcome

to be

 

Every arm wants to reach

for the touch of the tune

that keeps you open

to wonder and hope

and putting your best song forward

into creation’s soft longing

for itself

 

Every foot wants to dance

in great measure

with the music of the world,

the essence of beauty

in rock and tree,

plant and creature,

you and me

 

Uncover the Sun

After Years

“It’s been two years and it’s still awful.” This from a fellow after his partner of over 35 years died. And he went on to say that people think he should, at the age of 86, “be better at getting over it by now.”

It may take years to process the trauma of losing a beloved, including the way the person died, how family members were notified, the behavior of family members, and other peripheral events. Initially, we may only be focused on the fact of death rather than the circumstances. Later, however, we may start to process how we were treated by others at the time, whether we felt like they were present for us and if we were allowed to be there for them. Given that shock tends to insulate us from reality, we might have delayed memories of events that only come to the fore years afterwards.

And those who treat us harshly or kindly during our most vulnerable moments have a huge impact. I will always remember how incredibly courageous one of my daughter’s friends was, to call me, someone he barely knew, to make sure I had been notified of her death. And her friends organized a memorial for her, helped us clean her apartment, and provided many hugs, songs, and stories to comfort us.

Mourners may believe they are through the worst of the grief, and then have it re-ignited years later from subsequent losses that bring up old traumas. Grief has a long memory. We may forget a few things, but our bodies do not. Mourning is an intense process that can impair our physical bodies and affect our mental health. Heart and throat issues, lung problems, and other ailments may be a direct result of loss that goes unacknowledged and unsupported.

I recently overheard a therapist say to a still grieving person, “But it’s been 5 years,” as if there is an expected expiration date for mourning. And that’s probably why so many of us do not grieve honestly and thoroughly. No one wants to hear that you are still sad years later, and may always be grieving in one form or another. Our friends and family members want us to be well. And everyone processes loss differently too, which may stress already shaky relationships.

There is a kind of grace that comes from honoring our losses, while still maintaining hope for the future. And that balance is the tricky part. Focusing only on grief without a break may lead to severe depression, while completely burying the grief in order to “move on,” plays havoc with our psyches. But even the most honest acknowledgement may not keep us from long term pain. Our bodies feel everything, particularly the deep ache of losing those we love most. And we have not only lost a person we loved, but also who we were with them; it feels as if a part of ourselves is gone as well.

Six years after my daughter’s death, I still have people tell me to “smile,” on days when grief is hitting me hard. I have moments of utter joy, and great sorrow. Some days my body hurts despite all of the support I receive. One bereft mom said it very well, “I still grieve deeply, but after four years I don’t share it with others as much. They really have moved on, and don’t want to hear that I haven’t, whatever the hell that means anyway. My son is gone, and I miss him every day of my life, and that’s just how it is. And sometimes no matter how much company you have, it’s a damn lonely business.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uncover the Sun

Great Wealth

 

There is great wealth

in releasing

out of your life:

clothes you never wear,

unhelpful ideas,

unsatisfying work,

and unkind people

 

If you sit quietly

and feel love inside you

it will be easier to tell

what is missing around you,

what supports that inside peace

and what does not

bring you joy

 

There is great wealth

in knowing

who you are

and who you aren’t

while still

not knowing

who you may become