My Ordinary Skills

Today’s WordPress prompt asks, “what ordinary skills are you bad at?” An interesting question. I guess we’re all “bad” at something although that’s such a subjective and judgmental word that I’m not sure “bad” is an effective way to describe anything.

So, okay. What ordinary, daily thing am I less than effective in doing? The first thing that comes to mind is remembering what day it is. In other words, I’m not so great at the skill of memory: ask my husband, my children, my friends, my students. If I don’t write it down, I probably won’t remember. And this isn’t an age thing, it’s a pretty much all my life thing.

So I got to thinking about that. Actually, I wonder about memory a lot, write about memory a lot, try to figure out why I remember some things and not other things a lot.

Now here’s the funny thing. My son just called and asked why he couldn’t get on a family website anymore and when he repeated the password, I realize I’d changed it and forgotten. Oh. Good thing I write things down. Especially passwords.

I’ve thought a lot about memory, and one of the things I’ve considered is how much I rely on what I call “messages.” In other words, much of what I rely on are the words that come into my head to tell me what to say. For example, most mornings when I wake, I ask myself, or my mind, “what day is it?” and wait for an answer. I find that odd. Not that it happens, but that I do it at all.  

In some circles that would be called schizophrenia and in others mysticism. I was somewhat startled, reading the book Muses, Madmen, and Prophets to learn that hearing my name called from somewhere outside me (i.e. not in my head) was a signal of schizophrenia. I’ve heard my name called most of my life. What? I ask. Sometimes I get an answer and sometimes the call simply turns me in another direction. I’ve considered those moments spirit’s promptings.

But then it’s also true that many mystics have been medicated out of their minds, so to speak. Seeing signs and wonders is not necessarily a valuable commodity in our world. At least, not since Freud. Carl Jung, on the other hand, was a little wiser and willing to be filled with wonder.

So there you are. A musing on musings. A wondering attached to what do I do least well. But then again, another question arises: perhaps our weaknesses are also our strengths if we recognize and accept them. Perhaps by allowing my hard drive memory, as it were, to remain empty of unnecessary verbage, I’ve allowed it to fill with space dedicated to spirit. I suppose the argument could be made that spirit resides in our hearts not our heads, our solar plexus not our amygdala, but perhaps spirit, in whichever way we follow it, resides wherever it wants to.

Right now it said, find an image of hands knitting. So I did. Hopefully that image means something to you.

Happy New Year! May your journey bring you peace of mind, peace of heart, and a healthy body. What more could you ask?



Being Present

This morning I’m sitting at the confluence of past, present, and future. In reality, we’re all sitting exactly there at every moment of our lives; however, sometimes we’re more aware of the moment than others.

My present moment just happened, so actually it’s in the past, but it set off my thinking about the confluence. As I filled the bird feeders, I thought about a reader of this blog who commented that she liked the way I brought the world of nature into my writing. And when I came back upstairs to my corner of the world and looked out the window, I wondered if the goldfinches had despaired of my care and decided to move on. I’ve not seen a hummingbird for a few days. Has their migration begun?

My thoughts turned to the past, to yesterday, when I was absent from home and bird feeders and observation out my window, and traveled to Powell Gardens, outside of Kansas City, for a presentation on  Carl Jung’s “The Red Book” – his journal of nature, dreams, and drawings. Entering Jung’s work, as it always does, set off a deep rumbling in my soul. As we drove back in the afternoon, the friend who went with me helped me reframe an interesting dream I’d had of rocks and caverns and water.

Which all ties in to my immediate future of driving up to the farm today for a three-day trip. There’s farm business to be done at the county seat and the camper to shut down for the winter. The blood-ripe milo fields will stretch to the horizon as I drive through September’s ripe sunshine.

Tielhard de Chardin, my favorite theologian, wrote an essay called “Mass for the World.” He was riding a donkey across the mountains and came to a rise and looked out over the world. He wrote how he had no bread, no wine, only his thanksgiving and joy to offer.

The above photo is one I took in early summer driving across the Kansas prairie. I understand why most humans, used to the human scale of life, might find the expanse of land and sky empty, but the prairie expands my body, heart, and spirit. A Mass for the World is what I felt like when we topped a rise on the highway and the roll of prairie opened out, a holy place filled with spirit and wonder.

The natural world is a temple all around us and yet we so rarely treated as such. Humans pollute, dig, plunder the earth in a way that would raise an outcry if done in a human-built temple – and probably send the offenders to jail. Interesting that we treat nature’s temple less honorably than human built temples.

I remind you of this gift of nature, this soft September day of ripe sunshine. Reconnect. Empty your head of the prattle of Have-To and see anew.