Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Love and Power

Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other.
~ Carl Jung

Saturday, March 28, 2009


There are all kinds of friends - childhood friends, college friends, work friends, intellectual friends, friends of happenstance or neighborhood - but there is also a transcendent kind of friend, the friend of spirit.

Spirit friends reverberate at your own frequency - a sympathetic vibration. Any time together goes by far too quickly, and it seems as though the most important interactions are going on at a level that can never really be articulated. What is created between you is paradoxical - a new and always-changing thing that nonetheless somehow vectors the eternal.

It's stunning to me the way that existential effects can overtake any discernible cause. I've wondered sometimes if that might have been the kind of thing that the "communion of saints" or the Buddhist "transmission" were trying to describe - that resonating recognition of spirit-friendship. Have you experienced that?

A spirit-friend reconnects you, atunes you. It's not mystical as in a meditation, because there is content. Details matter. When you see the face of a spirit-friend, hear the voice, catch the cadences - your heart is glad. That heart-gladness beams me on.

I tend to shy away from socializing very much. I'm in many ways a very private sort of person. Also, as my hubby's ex-wife expressed it, I have a tendency to "try too hard" when I do get out and about. If it's a social situation where I feel uncomfortable or nervous, it can be painful.

This week was nothing like that. After darkness, joy.

No one is as capable of gratitude as one who has emerged from the kingdom of night. ~Elie Wiesel

This week's rhythms and syncopations wrenched me out of myself. I had been feeling so numb, so utterly sad - and then, from everywhere, gifts! I feel healed, and grateful. It's like a sweet angel observed me, just watching me think I'd pull a rabbit out of my hat. When I pulled a rhino instead, he turned to the cosmos audience and said, "Now here's something we hope you'll really like" and sent some friends to lift me up.

Yeah, that's it. My guardian angel is a form of Rocky the Squirrel... and I'm a deluded moose. I like it.

Gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic. ~ John Henry Jowett

Sunday, March 22, 2009

No Beams

Sometimes there's nothing that can beam me on. Today is one of those days.

Oh, there's no earth-shattering catastrophe. I'm just too sad to beam.

For us there is only one season, the season of sorrow. The very sun and moon seem taken from us. Outside, the day may be blue and gold, but the light that creeps down through the thickly-muffled glass of the small iron-barred window beneath which one sits is grey and niggard. It is always twilight in one's cell, as it is always twilight in one's heart. And in the sphere of thought, no less than in the sphere of time, motion is no more. ~ Oscar Wilde

I'm floating right along that teetering edge of despair. I can't explain why in any sort of convincing way, even to myself. In some ways, I'm just irrational.

I try to bolster all sorts of positive things inside, but it's not working. My happy place has slid away from me. I can't write. I can't sing. I can't seem to distract myself with any of the things I would normally enjoy. I can't even cry.

It happens to everyone, sometime.

So this blog is all about sharing things of joy, things that make me beam on and on and on, but I feel alienated, joyless, incapable of beaming.

Maybe it's a good time to ask others: What beams you on - especially when you're overwhelmingly sad for no good reason?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Performing a Flamboyant Set

It really beams me on to get in touch with my inner flamboyant performer.

An impromptu performance in the living room started out as an attempt to explain something that had amused me that day. Hubby thought it was very fun and said he much preferred this to the "whiny" set (you know, Tori Amos, Kate Bush, etc.).

What exactly is a flamboyant set? Take a look-see.

So, imagine how challenging it might be to perform these - and to convey the full effect of each - without costumes. In some cases, he had never seen that expression on my face before, much less seen me slap my hip.

The humor of it all is layers deep and years long.

Making Something All Better

This week, our third-grade son came home very upset about an incident at school. In order to motivate the kids to write an effective persuasive essay, they had told the kids that the superintendent wasn't going to allow them to have recess anymore. Third graders were far too old to have recess, you see. The initial mindgame was compounded by rumors among the children that the next day's recess was going to be the very last one. After the essays were handed in, the kids were told about the deception.

At the end of the day, my teacher said it was all just a trick to make us put more effort into the persuasive essay. I was really upset, and I was crying at school today because they tricked us. I still think that was really mean. Why did they lie to us?

I wrote a letter to the principal (who had participated) and the teacher. Here's a bit of it, edited for privacy:

Why would you so undermine the caring, safe environment that you have all worked so hard to create? This is so damaging to his trust in you and in the school.

From an educational and developmental viewpoint, it would better have been presented as an imaginary scenario so that they could understand hypothetical thinking.

If, on the other hand, there is a real threat to the children being allowed recess, it would have been better to ask for a response from the parents. You could certainly count on either one of us to write a “persuasive essay” on this topic if this is an issue being discussed at the superintendent’s office.

What most concerns us is the emotional impact. We would like to be able to tell B that he can trust that you and his teacher(s) will not lie to him.

Manipulation and mind-games are completely inappropriate in any educational environment, but even more so – more compellingly so – when children are involved.

We’ve heard you giving the morning announcements and talking with a wide range of people, and have always had the utmost confidence in your abilities and your motivations. We know how much care and energy you put into creating a supportive environment in which the children can learn and grow.

That is all the more reason that we would like some kind of explanation - and an assurance that this sort of thing will not happen again.

Hubby and I both signed it, and sent copies in the next morning. It didn't take long. I got a call from the teacher on the way in to work. That afternoon, we also received a letter from the principal:

Words cannot adequately express my sincere heartfelt apologies for my part in causing B to be upset and putting his faith in adults in question. I cannot disagree with you on any of the points that you brought forth in your letter. You are totally correct.

When the third grade teachers came to me asking that I do this to inspire passion in the children's writing assessment essays, know that they were going to tell the children afterwards the purpose of this theatrical staged event, it never crossed my mind the concerns that you brought to my attention. The teachers were so excited about their idea and felt that this was a creative avenue to elicit the students' best writing samples. In hindsight, it was not a good decision.

I did speak to the class this morning and sincerely apologized to them. I am so very fortunate that they are so loving and forgiving, as I would never do anything intentional to cause a single child harm. Again, I am so very sorry and I hope you can forgive my poor judgment. I can promise you that this will not be repeated in the future. Sometimes the best intentions do not lend the results we thought, but what a valuable lesson can be learned.

Thank you for your understanding.

When I got home from work, our son ran up and gave me a big, big hug. He said they admitted that they made a bad decision, and they said they were sorry, just like people should do when they make a mistake. I think he has more respect for them for doing that than he did before.

I don't remember ever hearing an apology in an educational setting myself.

He sat with me and told me all about it. "It's all better now, Mommy."

Ah. Sweet.