Wednesday, January 28, 2009


The photo to the right has absolutely nothing to do with this blog. Problem is, I am deficient in the area of photographs - just don't have many other than Eli pictures. Until I have more, to add color to my communication, I will simply add images that appeal to me. This very old Verdi poster, with copyright expired, is my random choice for the day.

Something has been troubling me, niggling at the edges of my awareness, floating in and out of thought, and has turned into full-scaled burrowing into my core. It's so annoying when that happens unbidden, when something prompts you to think way beneath the surface, to realize your first thoughts were cliche. It's annoying when you have been comfortable in a state of not looking (Slum Dog Millionaire shook me out of the state of not looking, but I digress).

My latest attack of the fidgets began a few days ago when Tara Bradford at Paris Parfait requested that her readers write briefly about what freedom means to them (and a drawing for something French was involved). This closely followed the inauguration. The word freedom had been fairly hanging in the air, floating like a great blimp, as we all witnessed the very fruition of freedom on many levels. It took me just a minute to write a response:

Freedom is being able to whisper into my Grandbaby's ear that the limitations to his future are bounded by his own imagination and his will. His Grandmother sometimes imposed limitations out of fear on her own life that were not imposed by law or opportunity. I want him to embrace this free world of possibility that I have so often taken for granted, and fall in love with it with a passion that will help ensure its sustenance. If we don't love it truly, we can contribute to its quiet demise, tiny piece by tiny piece.

After the comment was published and I reread it, I felt unsatisfied. It was thin and lacked the fullness that freedom deserves and demands.

There is the foundation of freedom to be acknowledged, that usually is comprised of hope made real by blood and bones of the hopeful whose hope was fortified by unconditional commitment. Then there is the element of responsibility on those of us who inherit blood-bought liberties. Inherent in freedom must be the acceptance of responsibility for others. I wrote above that Eli's future had limitations of imagination and will. But, it must have another boundary and that is compassion. Freedom is not license for pursuit without restraint, without the modulation of a deep caring for humanity and our earth. The exercise of freedom should, if anything, be threaded with humility and gratefulness. Otherwise, we are a country, a world, of narcissists, jostling shoulder against shoulder, craving supremacy. Now there is a picture of thin freedom.

So, what is missing from what I said? What can I tell Eli about freedom that will ring true?

I think the essential balancing element, the force that puts flesh on freedom , while we pursue our own choices, whatever they might be, is love. Freedom has to be tempered by love for it to be sweet. Love for everyone's liberty, though I may disagree with another person's path; love for the unfortunate and disenfrancised who are free in law, but bound in circumstance. Love that is alive with words and action.

We owe homage to the freedom we possess by following dreams ... and dreaming big. There is nothing wrong with discovering ourselves and striving to be the best we can be. There is nothing wrong with stretching as far as we can stretch in every direction we can envision - as long as we love. That takes care of the big picture and the small picture. If I take with one hand and give with the other, I am free, otherwise it is a lopsided, counterfeit kind of life.

Those are my decided thoughts at this moment, but I have a feeling the thoughts will continue. Freedom is a big thought, after all.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Stretching my Blog Muscles

It has been a long, long time, and the why of it is not evident even to me. My blog and the bloggers world gave endless joy for such a long time. Why, why did I stop writing - abruptly? So many excuses. I won't bother. Suffice to say that I have been in a lulled state way too much. I've seen many mostly worthless television programs in the interim. Turning off my brain in front of the set took the place of creative thinking, I fear. This weekend has, for some reason, snapped me back into clearer thinking (that I hope will survive!) about how much junk, without purpose or real entertainment value, I waste time on. I can recall so little when they are over. I'm done. I'm vowing to watch only with intention from this point. Surely I am not alone in my assessment that there is not much on any of the hundreds of channels that is worth watching.

And, I'm still trying to shake myself into a new routine for 2009. The 2008 holidays spread before me like a two-headed creature, at once relentless demands and yummy anticipation. Being a grandmother now (oh yes, friends, that's him), I think I felt pressure to make these special times even more special for everyone. The mind and body reeled and rebelled in the face of this self-imposed screw-down for perfection. All I could do somehow fell short of perfection at every turn. I was internally distraught while trying to maintain external togetherness. When I finally confessed my inability to juggle full-time work, family and friend time and over-blown preparation for those fantasy holidays, I found a sense of relief from those I was confessing to - first and most importantly my daughter. Bethany has grace beyond belief, I must interject parenthetically. For instance, when I asked what she and Brad would like for Christmas Eve dinner - traditionally the most lovely of the lovely gatherings of the year - you will not believe their request. They asked for grilled cheese sandwiches and homemade soup.

I can hardly describe my relief. Instantly, my shoulders, then up around my ears in their most stressed position, moved back down to their right place and my arms fell freely. Do you know how warm the night can be, gathered before the bedecked tree with your most loved ones, eating oozing sandwiches, slurping from crocks of steamy soup? It was the best!!! I say it again, it was the best!! That was the tone for the sweetest time. And how much sweeter because Eli has become the center of our world! This Christmas took on a slightly golden cast, like the light from the Christmas tree was softly covering life itself.

It is impossible to go back and capture the past six months. I used to be able to do that, to wind months or years into a spin of words. Since Eli came, I see time in terms of the days of his life. Every day is miraculous. Little lights in his brain gently flicker and then burst bright, signalling a brand new discovery or development or recognition. How does this happen? It is my constant question. How has God wired such perfect sequencing? How is it that on Tuesday of this very week, Baby Boy pulled himself to his hands and knees and began rocking back and forth. Will next Thursday be the day his right knee inches forward followed by his left hand? How is it that one Monday in December, he flung his left leg over and flopped himself to his belly so as to reach an alluring squeaky alligator?

Compared to my acute awareness and wonder over Eli, I go through all the other parts of my life like an unemotional automaton. A marketing campaign will never occupy the same place in my heart that his fat little, dimpled hand patting mine can occupy. Helping a corporation make millions can never thrill me like that! Actually, he has made every part happier, and helped put every single aspect into a new order. The old value system has been upended. You have no idea!

So, as I step again into this conversation with who knows who, but mainly with myself, I am blissful. Nothing is perfect from the perspective of an unknowing observer. My life might look more than a little disheveled, with the edges of the painted exterior bumped and scarred like a well-used piece of furniture, sporting an allover aged patina. But all is as it should be. Really, it is.