Rose, part 4

Chapter : Shades of Fear

I woke up in darkness, my throat so closed up that I was gasping, and tiny cold fingers seemed to be pinching me all over.  I was paralyzed for a moment, not knowing where I was, or even more frightening, who I was.  The voluminous white cotton nightgown which had so pleased me earlier tangled around each of my limbs like a straightjacket, tightening, preventing me from moving at all.

I thrashed harder, and felt myself first falling, and then landing with a muffled thump onto thick carpeting.  Once there, I was able to unwind the flowing nightgown from my arms, and struggled to my hands and knees, and then to my feet.

Staggering, I fumbled about in the dark, waving my arms gingerly.  When my shins struck it, I patted the edge of the oversize Victorian chaise where I’d been sleeping, patted the the fluffy warm quilt.  The darkness was impenetrable, overwhelming.  I shook all over, and though I knew it was important to slow my breath down, because when the breath is calm, the mind often follows, it still came in smothered little gasps.  I shuffled to end of the chaise, using my hands to guide myself.

I made a real effort to draw in a deeper, possibly calming breath, although my throat felt full of feathers, the quills poking, the fluff choking.  Then, I shuffled away from the chaise, not knowing if I would ever make it back.  There was something heavy in the pocket of the nightdress, and it thunked gently against my thigh as I crept.

Ice slid down my spine as I heard something snuffling, sniffing.  I jumped and yelped when something warm and living bumped against my knee.  I heard a soft “whuff?” of inquiry, and I remembered– dimly.  “Doggie?” I whispered.  “Little dog, is that you?”  A cold wet nose touched my hand, and I delicately explored the poor little patient dog with my fingers.  Her fur was silky and plush.  She had a collar on, which I curled my fingers around, and when she moved forward, I went with her, sliding my feet cautiously across the floor.  She was kind enough to go nice and slow.

The carpet ended, and I felt cold stone beneath my feet.  I wondered fleetingly what had happened to my sandals.  But these kinds of questions– where, when, how, what?– didn’t last long in my mind; they seemed to float away, captured and borne away in rainbowed soap bubbles as soon as they surfaced.

I noticed, once again, warm orange firelight lightening things to the color of dark ash, the fireplace growing brighter far off to my left.  I walked on, releasing the dog’s collar when I could see. I left the cold stone floor and walked first across polished wood planks, then onto a thin, rumpled carpet with images of large ruffly flowers– peonies, maybe– worked into it.  The threads felt very fine against my skin and I could tell that it was very old, perhaps ancient.  The little dog walked with her hopping gait ahead of me, toward the fireplace.

I followed.  The sight of the fire (did it only flare up when I approached?) soothed me a little, as did the sight of the familiar wing chairs upholstered in burgundy velvet, their arms faintly worn, and their low, oval companion table, which was still bearing a tray.  I hurried to my chair, lifting my feet now that I could see.

On the seat cushion was a small, folded blanket and a diminutive book.  I picked up the blanket.  It was dove-gray knit and as soft as the down on a baby bird.  I stroked it, and then threw it around my shoulders.  I was still shaking and shivering.  From fear or cold, I didn’t know, perhaps both.  I never knew fear had a temperature.  I picked up the book so I could sit, held it in my lap as I looked at the fire.  There was much charred wood, as if it had been burning for a while, and huge sullen embers glowing deep orange.  Flickers of movement, almost like old friends.

I twitched at a noise– why did I keep forgetting the little dog?  She hopped back into the circle of firelight, looked up at me and wagged her tail.  She seemed to be expecting something.  The firelight shimmered across her shiny fur, her thick ruff and sleek head.  Her tail was shaped like a crescent moon and swept swiftly side to side.  Her eyes were  star-bright, the tip of her little pink tongue stuck out..

I nodded at her, and I whispered, “Everything’s all right.”  It was a terrible lie, but she seemed to believe me, because she came forward and settled herself at my feet, curling up into a coin shape with her nose tucked under her tail.  I hoped she had food and water somewhere.  I hoped the shaman hadn’t left her behind accidently.  I stroked the top her head.  She sighed, and after a moment, I turned my attention, distracted though it was, to the book.

It was bound in worn, faded, coral-colored linen.  There were no words on the cover, just an incised image of the sun, picked out in delicate gold lines.

I opened the book.  The title page was elaborately painted with gold and lapis and bright scarlet red, very beautiful, but the words were in another language– thin, spidery characters with many spirals and curlicues.  The pages were thick, the edges rough and uneven, and I thought that the book was probably a hand written and illustrated manuscript.  I turned to the first page, where the strange language was closely crammed onto the page, filling the whole thing.  The first character was oversize and highly decorative, with tiny golden suns and spiral shells and flowers.

Although I couldn’t decipher what it said in the least, it was a beautiful piece of artwork, and I scanned the page appreciatively.  I even ran my fingertips over the long-dried ink.  I wished that I could read it.

And then the images on the page began to swim and swirl, until they were nothing but a bright, colorful smear.  I watched avidly for a moment, but the movement and formlessness made me feel nauseous and headachy and dizzy, and I closed my eyes.

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House of Rose, cont. (part 3)

I started to rise and he waved me back down.  He approached in his nimbus of animals, all silent and throwing off light, although not nearly as strong anymore– more like moonlight than sun.  He sat lightly and comfortably in the twin of my chair.  He just sat.  The look on his face was one of slightly pleased gratitude.  Not wanting to stare, and realizing that, whoever he was, he wasn’t going to jump straight into small talk, I glanced down at my cup.  I noticed the tiniest bit of firelight playing across the surface of the coffee in it, and then I took another sip.  Minutiae like this seemed to be sucking in my attention so fully and completely, it was like being hypnotized or drugged, but I accepted it totally, and the strangeness of it was only a floating awareness in the back of my mind.

I looked over at the newcomer again– he must be some kind of shaman or magician, I thought, although his energy seemed very down to earth and not hocus-pocus-y at all.  Though, I supposed, time would tell about that.

As it did.  For when I turned again to him, he no longer occupied the chair.  In his place was a huge, shaggy timber wolf, looking straight at me.  I didn’t even have time to gasp or be shocked or anything.  The light flickered and the air shimmered and it was just a man again.  He helped himself to some coffee, drinking it black, as I was.  His movements were clipped and efficient, yet graceful.

I knew then that he had to be wise, that he had information that could help me.  I fidgeted with my cup for a second, and then blurted out, “How can I heal myself?”

He looked at me mildly over the rim of his cup, and I noticed that his eyes were still the eyes of the wolf, unblinking,  penetrating and metallic.  Then he took a long draught of his coffee, set his cup down and stood.  He walked around the little tableau of wing chairs and tables, going back behind them, walking straight and steady.  I hurried to follow him, having no idea how big this room was and afraid I might even lose him in it.

There was a thundery whisper, and light sliced into the room, a cool and rather pitiless pearly light.  The shaman pushed the heavy drape back and then let it fall in graceful, dusty pink folds.  He looked out the window, which was very tall and very wide, although he had only revealed a fraction of it.  There were a million book-sized panes of wavy, old, irregular glass.

I saw acres and acres, it seemed, of a broad expanse of grassland, bordered by towering, shadowy trees.  Mist still hung in curtains, and the color palette was pearl and white, gray, umber, black.  It had a haunting beauty, I could not deny.  It had a stillness bordering on mystical.

The shaman opened his mouth to speak.  I could see him much better in the pearly wedge of light.  He was slight, neither particularly young nor particularly old, though there were threads of silver and gray in his loose braid.  He wore a long, belted vest, with a white, possibly beaded, shirt underneath. Coyotes, foxes and dogs swirled around his legs to check in, then swirled off again to do whatever else they were doing in here.  There was stardust in their fur.

“You can start,” he said finally, his voice quiet,” by trusting yourself.”  He reached for my hands, took them.  His hands felt big, warm, rough on mine, which were still a bit chilly.  He folded a cool pyramid-shaped object into my hands, curling my fingers around it.  I felt a deep soothing hum wherever my skin made contact with it it.  “It’s a beautiful world, and you’re part of it.”  He gestured toward the window, and I tore my eyes away from him and looked out again.

Streamers of sunlight were unfurling through the mist, burning it away in tiny flares.  Steam rose from the fawn and gold grass.  The trees in the distance rustled with leaves of emerald, amber, new spring green and jade.  Swatches of the purest blue showed through the clearing clouds.

I felt his presence beside me for some time.  I never looked at him again.  Instead, I stared out the window, each color and detail of the landscape fascinating me in turn, and was immersed in his words.  I heard the actual words, in his voice, echoing through my mind, but also I felt something bigger, deeper, wider, the shape of which I could not describe, echoing through my physical body.  My palms and the soles of my feet tingled.  I watched the sunlight change, spill apricot juice onto the horizon and limn every cloud with shining gold before diminishing, the sky fading to color of the ashes of roses.

I looked down at the stone in my hand.  Unworked, its surface was rough but worn, resulting in a smooth, pebbly finish.  It glowed a soft rose color in the twilight.  It was heavy.

At a slight noise, I looked over where the shaman had stood, and there was a petite black dog with shining eyes, a pointed nose, and bobbed little ears.  One of her front legs was missing.  She ginned up at me and wagged her tail, clearly saying hello.

House of Rose, cont.

The entryway seemed larger even than I would have expected the entire size of the building to be. It was blocky, and some of its polished gray stone walls held woven hangings.  It was hard to see what kind of colors they were in the gloom.

Far to my right, there was inconstant, orange light lapping from a doorway onto the thick dark carpet.  I took a shivery breath, pulled my shoulders back and down, and headed for the light.  The darkness between the door and the firelight was palpable. No soft dark brown or green or twilight-purple were these shadows.  They were black.  They fell over, and it seemed, through me, layers piling on my head, shoulders, heart.  I slogged through, feeling like I was walking in slow motion, holding my hands up to ward them off, but of course they just fell on and through my hands and forearms.  My long hem dragged against the carpet with an eerie scraping noise.  I could barely lift my feet, but I was propelled forward anyway by my fear of what the shadows might do if I stopped, and by that orange light, which had come to represent to me all that warm and light and peaceful and good.

When I reached the light, brighter than before, when I’d seen it through the shadows, the weight of the shadows seemed to slip and drip away, and I stood up straight again, my arms falling loosely to my sides.

The doorway was fine grain stone, deeply carved and polished, reflecting swatches of light and shadow.  I leaned my hand on it and looked into the room.  The stone beneath my hand was cool, almost glassy. The room beyond was draped in shadows, but regular ones, not the black and heavy kind. i felt no fear or despair from these.  It was a huge room; I couldn’t t see the walls or ceiling, they were lost to shadows.

To my left was the fireplace and I went there with relief.  I got as close as possible, rubbed my hands together, closed my eyes gratefully as the golden-orange light fell on me.  I could hear it burning, the first sound I’d really heard since coming in this house.  All I was aware of for a moment was each hiss and cloud of sparks, the deep orange ember glow and pale gold crest of flame.  The shadows and light and glow shifted just so, and I could swear I saw something moving in there, something alive, something small and lithe and quick, the shape of fire.

The mantlepiece was a single slab of stone worked finely, but without the decorative carving and shine of the doorframe.  A single silver candlestick stood on its left side.  I saw smears and flickers and soft-seeming spots along it, disappearing arcs of shadow, as if there had at one time been other objects here or would be or could be.

Abruptly, I abandoned my scrutiny of the mantlepiece and looked down at myself.  More specifically, at my clothing, which had been soaked a moment ago and was now soft and dry.  To the right of the fireplace were two wing chairs.  They were small, looking to be scaled down to fit me, since in most normal size chairs I looked like a child, having to either slouch or kick my feet out in the air.  I also noticed a low table bearing a tray with a silver pot on it.  I debated whether I hoped it was tea or coffee.

It was coffee, good coffee, dark roast and although I debated, I decided to drink it black because it was that good.  There were cream pitcher and sugar bowl, but I didn’t need them.

I stopped still, with the thin china cup halfway to my mouth.  The smell of the coffee was rich, hot, tempting.  Steam rose in streamers, caressing my face.  Struck by the hollow feeling of something being not quite right, I lowered the cup and stared silently at the flames.  A wave of unreality crested and broke over me, and I moved to put the cup down and get up.  Then the wave receded, and I wondered why I was half-standing.  I sank back into the chair.  What could be more real than this?  I was fully inhabiting my body; I was conscious of my hips in the chair, my feet on the floor.  Skin, muscles, guts, bone.  Eyes and ears functioning.  The heat of the fire and of the cup in my hand.  I sat back and sipped.  A pleasantly bitter kiss.

I drank half the cup of coffee, just watching the fire– sometimes I would see things moving, but the fire itself moved so quickly and erratically that it was difficult to say whether I saw anything more than flames.

I looked up as bright yellow light filled the doorway and spilled into the room like rays of sunlight.  Then the light dimmed, and there was a slender figure in the doorway.  He moved forward, and animals– all manner of canines, it looked like, coyotes, a red fox, maybe a wolf– surrounded him, flowing around his legs like quicksilver.  He walked toward me and I smiled to myself, the way you do when you recognize a long-lost friend. He did look familiar, but I did not recognize him.

Just Write

What you are about to read is a really shitty first draft, the kind of thing you’re not supposed to show anyone, not even your mom.  I’m trying to get my head around the truth that you have to let yourself write some laughably terrible stuff, because that’s the only pool where anything good or finished ever comes from.  Those initial words on paper.  I don’t know when writing became equal parts longing and fear for me, such an internal battle.  But I know that it sucks, and I’m ready for a new approach.

This piece is over-written, too descriptive, corpulent with adjectives and adverb, repetitive, meandering and likely boring and/or confusing as hell.  Bad writing, is what I’m trying to say.  It’s one thing to allow yourself to write shitty first drafts, but why am I bothering you with them?

Because I’m still the praise-junkie exhibitionist I was in high school, when I was writing bad vampire serial stories for my friends.  I’m sorry, Stephen King, you may be my writing guru, but I am incapable of writing with the door closed.  I guess I want SOMEONE to read my words, even the worst of the dreck.  Maybe someone will even like it.  I know there’s no accounting for taste, since I couldn’t tell you how many best sellers I’ve picked up that made me throw up in my mouth a little.

So this is just a thing I write on every day, and I’m going to take a puddle dive and post the bits here.  May as well use this blog for something.

Chapter 1:  House of Rose

I was to meet the boat on the silver and gray shores of the lakes. Pebbles slid and clicked under my sandals. Mist hung, pearled in the air. It touched my face, my clasped hands. Water lapped the tongue of worn stones and rough sand. I ventured to the water, and paused. I could see nothing, no sign of the boat I was promised. I kept my body still, pretending a placidity I only wished I truly felt.

The air was cool and windless, and the mist created a clinging sort of dampness on my clothes.  The hem of my dress was soaked; my cloak, heavy.  I could smell the metal tinged water of the lake, wet stone, the green reek of the forest behind me.

Soon, my ears registered the drip and trickle of water from oars, and with a slight rushing sound, a small wooden prow crunched into the pebbly beach, inches from my defenseless toes.  The vessel was a rowboat, solidly constructed of weathered wood, once painted brightly, but now faded and textured by wind and water.  It rocked complacently in the tide.  The oars were still, no oarsman evident.

I leaned and reached for it, grabbing a pleasantly rough edge.  I dragged it toward me, stepping into the water to meet it.  It bumped against my shins.  I gathered up my suddenly excessive-seeming clothing with one hand, bunching it against my waist, gingerly climbed in.  Somewhat without grace.

After a moment, I figured out that although the boat may have propelled itself to the shore, I was responsible for propelling it hence.  I took up the oars, their surfaces dragging on the skin of my hands.  I had never done this before, and it took several moments of floundering before the boat moved in a way I liked.  I did not know where I was rowing to, but if I had no faith, I wouldn’t be here at all.

A cliff loomed through the veils of mist, layers` of stone, stacked centuries. Wet and gleaming mellowly– ochre, taupe, gunmetal gray.  The prow of the boat turned gently, as if attracted by a magnet, and I found myself headed toward a dark, yawning break in the stone. I and the boat slid smoothly into it, and for a long moment, all was dark and chill.  My hands faltered on the oars, letting the blades dip and drag in the water.  I no longer needed to row, anyway.  The current of the water had picked up and I could feel the boat slipping along with it.

A faint silver-green light began to grow, and I could see that I traveled through a narrow tunnel, the sides of it lined with shaggy moss that bore tiny, star-shaped flowers.  The light was being emitted by these flowers.  The tunnels twisted and turned, but now so wildly that it was difficult to balance.  Holding onto the sides of the boat for stability, I looked over the side and into the water.  It seemed I could see vague figures made of ripple and pebble and shade, twisting in the swift current.  Fish, perhaps.  A turtle just the size of my palm, turquoise and jade green, swam past, its tiny webbed and scarlet-clawed forefeet propelling it.

I looked ahead again as the tunnel began to grow brighter and the heavy mist, which had slacked, once again grew thicker. Before me was the end of the tunnel, glowing with subdued daylight.

Soon enough, I was out of the tunnel, the current still carrying me, making water-chime music. The mist still hung in veils, but it seemed to me there was a more pearly shine to it.  This lakeshore was a turf of thick tough grass, some of it the green of an emerald, some of it faded gold, all of it dripping.

The rowboat ran aground once more at a conveniently low spot in the bank.  As I climbed out, the long blades of wet grass seemed to twine themselves around my ankles and calves.  One arm held out for balance, the other clutching a huge hank of my dress and cloak, I picked my way slowly to a narrow path of round white gravel.  I stepped gratefully onto the path, swiped my now-sodden hair off my forehead and looked down at my feet.  They were covered in clods of mud and grains of coarse sand.  My soles gritted against the worn leather of my sandals’ insole.  I took a deep, cool breath.

The mist was thickening into drizzle.  I looked up to see where the path might lead.  It was a gray stone building, shaped like a castle but the size of an ordinary house.  It looked to be chiseled entirely from a giant boulder; I couldn’t  see a join or crack anywhere on its front.  My eyes riveted themselves on the disproportionately large door.  It was was made of thick-carved wooden panels, a honey-brown wood that glowed– that was suddenly the only color in sight.  I never remembered what, if anything, else I saw on my short journey up the path, as the round stones clicked and rolled around my feet.  It was only as I neared the short flight of stairs to the door, that I realized I was walking on hailstones.  A path made of piled hailstones.  My feet were numb.

I climbed the steps, and found myself hesitating at the door, reluctant to make any further move.  Not only my feet felt frozen– my breath was cold in my throat, my lungs.  I looked at the utterly smooth, polished wood of the door.  Then I glanced down and was fixated again.  It was a handle, not a knob.  Long and tapered, it ended in an elaborate swirl of silver.  Drops of moisture clung to it, both absorbing and generating the light.  I pushed it down, shuddering against the chill of it, bone deep. With a click I felt in my hand, the door unlatched and swung open.

I stepped through, over the broad wood threshold, pushing the door open.  I glanced around the dimly lit entry hall and then pulled the door shut behind me.  I jumped a little at the sound of it shutting, a louder sound than I would have predicted.  I dripped on the flagstones and shivered.

“Hello?” I whispered.  There was no response.  All was still.

New Year’s Rulin’s

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New Year’s Rulin’s
(Mere guidelines.)

1. Actively rejoin my Misfit creative group.  I miss the people there terribly.
2. Clean up my eating habits and maintain physical health better in general.
3. Develop a basic routine, however loose it needs to be, and follow it instead of bouncing around like a pinball.  Will be easier when I’m able to give Indi her regular walks again.
4. Continue Yoga and Buddhist practice/study.
5. Follow my own creative path. Process over product.  Meditative art.  Release attachment to outcome.  Enjoy it.
6. Work on balancing screen-related activities.  Better yet, less screen (Candy Crush, I’m looking at you, Baby), more  other stuff.
7. I hesitate to put “write” on here.  But I hope it’s in cards at some point in 2015.

Compendium

20140704_130158Today I feel the urge to document some of what I’ve put down the memory hole, just a tiny snapshot of Sammee’s brain. It’s a relief to feel moved to write anything, because although I’ve thought about writing a lot lately, I haven’t actually sat down at the computer.

The night before last, I stepped out on the porch to call Zelda in (fireworks were starting up), and at the foot of the porch steps was a silk moth. If you’ve never seen one, they are huge and beautiful, and this one had its wings outstretched. Just gorgeous. I felt awed and privileged, and I spent some time crouched watching it, even though I uneasily felt that it was not well and that was the only reason I was even seeing it.

The next morning after my walk, I lifted it gently by the wings and put it under the dogwood. There had been ants surrounding it, and though it was moving its legs feebly, I felt it was probably done for. Zelda pounced on it, and I put her inside. She looked at me like I was insane. Maybe I am.

I tried not to feel sad, life and death are a continuous wheel, that’s the way life is set up on Earth. Death is not wicked, it just is. Still, it’s always sad when something beautiful dies.

But! When I checked later on, I found it had crawled up a plant and was checking me out as I snapped its picture. Its wings are a bit ragged, but it looked pretty lively. Next time I checked, it was gone. Into a predator’s mouth or into the sky, I have no idea.

Moths are powerful symbols for me– of ethereal beauty, passion, longing and the fleeting nature of life. The adults of many species, including this one, don’t live long enough to even eat; they have no mouths. If anyone in the world lives for the moment, it is a moth.

This photo was my daily entry, the seventh, in a photo journal project I’ve undertaken on Facebook (A.K.A. the memory hole). Every day, I post a picture and a poem to go with it. Here is the poem:

Awe
Of alien beauty,
Held breath,
Honoring life
And death
As best I can:
The wheel,
The dance,
The ephemeral
The constant.

A pro-union quote from Utah Philips, a Nietzsche quote, a Dalai Lama quote, a quote on happiness that I believe with every fiber of my being……I approach Facebook like a hunter-gatherer, I’ll share 10 posts an hour if I like them. Sometimes, I hesitate on some because they are snippets of great teachings, and if you read just a snippet, you’re not getting the whole teaching. But then, I think, what if that one little snippet is exactly what someone needs to read today? It could even inspire them to seek out the teaching. I know, I over-think this stuff.

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I did finish my lily painting today and included it in my Daily Cup picture. I like this picture a lot; the sunlight is great. It’s a sweet little painting. I meant for it to be more abstract.

I’ll end with a lyric from Ani DiFranco, one of my favorite songs of hers and kind of the way I feel about life. It popped into my head this morning.

“When I look around, I think this, this is good enough, and I try to laugh at whatever life brings. Because when I look down, I just miss all the good stuff. And when I look up, I just trip over things. I got no illusions about this. When I say I’ll take it, I mean as is. As is.”

Hmm, maybe I should just write this blog and not post so much on the memory hole. But instant gratification is sweet. And life is fleeting.

New Year’s Rulin’s, Revisited

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It has been almost seven months since I set down my New Year’s resolutions, and I thought I might have a look and see how reality compares to the goals I set for myself.

1. Get my ass on the yoga mat every. single. day.  It doesn’t matter if I don’t “do” anything there, it is the place for me to be for a certain amount of time every day.  Also, go back to yoga class at least once a week.

No.  I haven’t done that. I’ve consistently chosen to do other things besides get on my mat every day.  But I haven’t given up; I’ll be a yogi til I die.  Daily home practice is something I run hot and cold on.  I always feel better when I’m doing it, but getting there can be difficult.

On the brighter side, I have gone back to class weekly.  I went a couple times to a Gentle class, but found myself frustrated with the asana sequence and with the instructor.  I really tried to stay with my irritation and see why I felt that way, but ultimately, it was a red flag that I never experienced before and I decided it wasn’t the right class for me.  After that, I went back to the studio and teacher I first learned with, and I am so happy there; it was most definitely the right move.

I am a flexible yogi (my brain, not my body, ha ha), but I also firmly believe that you can’t reap the benefits by doing just any hippy-dippy thing you want.  You need to anchor yourself through the teachings to the Universe.  It’s a discipline, we don’t get to just make it up as we go along.  I deplore my laziness when it comes to both study and practice, but the beautiful thing about yoga is that it meets you wherever you are, out in that field beyond right and wrong.

2. Be more contemplative.  Find the quiet under the hurricane more often.
3. Pay attention. To the moment, to the sky, to my companions, to myself.

Yes.  I’ve actually surprised myself with the depths I’ve gotten to with these two rulin”s.  With the help of the writings of Eckhart Tolle, Pema Chodron, and the Buddha himself, I have experimented with witnessing the risings of thought and emotion, being totally present in the moment, watching my breath, and I’ve even had a couple of fleeting moments when I believe I truly felt the connected-ness of all things (which feels kinda crazy, honestly).

The epitome of how far I’ve walked this path is how I approach my monthly IV treatment at the hospital.  I’ve gotten them for a year and a half now, and when I started, I had a lot of fear.  There was a time when I would start to cry the minute the IV therapy nurse walked in the door.  I feared the needle, the pain, and I carried the memory of that first horrible allergic reaction I had.   But each time, it’s gotten easier to be present in that moment, to stay with fear and physical pain all the way through.  Thinking about it today, I realized that yesterday, I watched the whole time the nurse was putting the IV in, and when the first stick blew the vein out and my blood spurted out all over, I was *fine*.  I really was fine.

The freedom that being willing to stay in the moment and not escape into thoughts or daydreams is really amazing.

4.Get up and walk the dog in the morning. No waiting until lunchtime.

Yes.  We go between 10-11, depending on what I want to do.  I generally drink coffee, practice complete stillness for a few minutes (not quite meditation), maybe listen to an Eckhart Tolle book for a bit, eat breakfast, take a few pics with Instagram and check Facebook.  For a minute there, I played Candy Crush, but I’m getting bored with that.  It’s not exactly the dawn walk I had envisioned, but it’s the best I can do for now.

5. Spend as much time as I can at the shelter with the dogs and cats.

Yes, then no.  Between not feeling physically up to it and not being able to get a ride there, I haven’t been there as much as I’d like for the last two months.  Hopefully, things will come together and allow me to do it more often.

6. Continue working on setting aside Sam in order to really listen to others.
7. Work harder on giving people the benefit of the doubt. I might be wrong about their motivations, but at least I will be kind.

These two are hard to say.  Maybe I haven’t focused on them as much as I could.  I have been pretty self-focused lately, but I think these two will come out of paying close attention to myself.

8. Do creative work every day, but without expectation.

Yes, but not in the way I expected.  Which means, I guess, that I followed this one to the letter!  I’ve worked toward letting go of attachments, and the attachment to the identity of artist has undergone a shift.  Creatively speaking, I do what I want, when I want.  Much of it is on Facebook, much of it scribbles in a notebook that I don’t show anyone.  Some of it is not creative work at all, strictly speaking, and merges more with the whole paying attention thing.  If you pay enough attention, anything you do becomes creative work.  I’m ecstatic to have a Samsung Galaxy tablet named Andromeda now, so that I can take pictures again. I was really missing doing that.

I’ve done less work on Puddle Dive than I wanted to, but I have written poems, thoughts, quotes and recently posted pictures on Facebook.  The fleeting quality of work posted on Facebook appeals to me: here today, gone tomorrow.   Bob and I call it the ‘memory hole’.  Embracing the ephemeral qualities of life is part of my work right now.  But I have posted a dozen or so blogs in seven months and I’ve flashed (fiction) almost every week; I’m happy with that.