K is for…

Kathleen.

The name given me at birth. Too long! Soon chiselled down to

Kathy.

Stuck for a time, until adolescent independence pared it down still further:

Kate.

Monosyllabic. Harsh beginning. Eh? Dental stop.

Vibrational designation.

Ahamkara.

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F is for family…

– and fun and frenetic and FOOD and – farewells. (Those will happen far too soon.)

The holidays have been a delightful dance of train and airport pickups and drop offs. With three out of four children living at a considerable distance from the family home, these times of confluence are beyond precious.

As we each create our unique choreographies in our own home bases, there is always a little period of adjustment when we come together once again, and find out how to dance together now.

Listening. Observing. Connecting in the dance.

What a blessing!

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C is for Christmas…

…and for cancer. We just learned last night that a close family member received a diagnosis a few days ago.

There’s a kind of lie that we all want to buy into at Christmas – that everything is good, and whole and full and there is an abundance of overflowing  joy and goodwill. We want to freeze-frame all this and live what we see on the front of the Christmas cards that drop through the mail slot. We hang on to this vision with desperation – a bulwark against encroaching darkness and chaos: war, terrorism, pestilence,  even our own bodies, turned against themselves.

Where is the light?

We are fast approaching the shortest day of the year. The longest night. And then, the balance will start to tip back… gradually, gradually. We will slide toward the longest day, the shortest night, and then… Nature see-sawing from light to dark, with us along for the ride, trying to derive some sense from the cryptic, never-ending process.

Light and dark, and all the pairs of opposites, disappear under closer scrutiny. C is also for cyclic, and continuous. There is only flow punctuated by our moments of blindness as we look at it.

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B is for… breath

I have been reading a riveting book: James Maskalyk’s Life on the Ground Floor – letters from the edge of emergency medicine. He observes:

The airway isn’t a real thing; it’s empty space over which a body pulls in wind as breath, then moves it out, vibrating it into cries and words, truths and lies. The hole there, at the vocal cords, is about the width of your smallest finger. I wonder how few of the thousand strangers we pass on the street know this secret, that their entire life depends on something so small?

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A is for… absence.

(As a little writing challenge, I have decided to create a lexicon of musings… This is the first instalment.)

Today I listened to a radio recording of Stuart McLean’s Christmas special.

Stuart worked in various capacities for CBC radio over 40 years. The Vinyl Café was a much-loved show that focused around his heart-warming story-telling. This broadcast was recorded live last year, just before he took a leave of absence for cancer treatments. His last words on the show:

See you next year!

But that was not to be. He passed away some time after that recording. Today’s broadcast was poignant – a celebration of his warm-hearted presence on the airwaves, and in people’s hearts, for all those years.

Hearing his voice today I acknowledged his presence, and felt his absence.

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3 leaves left

The leaves are left. They haven’t left. Yet.

Their leaving is highly likely though – when the winds blow strongly and the snows come.

…one day, there will be no leaves left…

Will they leave together, or one by one? Will I be witness to their leaving, or just notice one day that they have left?

If a leaf leaves and no one sees it go, has it really left?

(Of course it has! I mean, it’s not there anymore, is it?)

(I hate that question. It pretends to be philosophical but it’s just highly egotistical. As if the leavings of the universe depend upon me witnessing them.)

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give freely and abundantly!

I am in the process of reading Stephen Cope’s book The Great Work of Your LifeThis is a wonderful reflection on discovering your vocation, your dharma, and committing to it without reservation. In it, he quotes Annie Dillard writing about writing – her dharma: 

“One of the few things I know about writing is this: Spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book; give it all, give it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. The impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you.” (Annie DIllard, The Writing Life)

How wonderful! Find out what the universe is asking of you, in every moment. And then pour yourself forth, freely and abundantly, without reservation. If you have found your unique work, your unique dharma, then the energy of the universe will flow through you to accomplish this work. You won’t need to worry about “pacing yourself”, or “holding back”, or “saving something for later”.

You will be plugged into an inexhaustible source of energy and delight.

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