The only thing to do.

There is so much hurt in the world and also so much goodness and love.

I think the only thing to do is live with open hearts and feel it all.

gerbera daisies

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Peace Transferred

Today when we were flying back from vacation, my son leaned over to rest his head in my lap. I was reminded what a gift that is.

Many times in my life I have noticed what it does to me physically as well as emotionally when I am holding my son or a tiny baby or a pet in my lap or against my chest. A couple of things happen: when a living creature is resting on us, they are immediately entrusting themselves to our care. That sounds clinical. What I mean/feel is that they are allowing themselves to be so vulnerable, and they open their hearts to us and show us, “Here I am. Could we just be together for a few minutes? Could you hold me and protect me and look after me while we breathe together?” And not only do I feel humbled and thankful and so very connected in those moments, but I also feel empowered and called to protect and love, and suddenly my priorities are completely in order, and everything else must come second to caring for the life in my arms.

Something else that always amazes me and goes straight to my heart is how, when the person or creature relaxes into us once they feel safe, there is a peace that emanates from their body that is effortlessly transferred to us. My whole being is transformed.

I read a question in a survey recently that was trying to project what kind of future you’d have. It asked, “Are you high tech or high touch?” This reminded me of the first time I heard something like this, when Teresa Eyring, the Executive Director of Theatre Communications Group, noted that as the world grows more high tech, we crave human touch. We crave connection. We crave being present in the moment with another person. It’s definitely part of what moves me so deeply about theater and about being an actor: that shared moment in time where we are all connected and breathing the same air and going through something together. And it’s what moves me more and more each day in terms of compassion and connection and why I believe we are on the planet.

It’s kind of like the moon. I love the moon. I have several friends across the country who love the moon like I do, and invariably, on a night when the moon really moves one of us, I will text one of them with “MOON!!”, or one of them will text me. And in that moment, no matter where we are or how long it’s been since we have seen each other, we know we’re looking at the same moon and are connected and are sharing in that moment in time.

I believe there is a peace that comes when we are connected, even if it’s in an extremely difficult moment. And maybe it’s impossible to tell who initiates that peace, or maybe it is born out of the moment itself.

What I do know is that more and more I find myself saying, “We’re all in this together.” And I am really thankful for that.

Jumbled Heart

Sometimes my heart is a jumble of all sorts of feelings, and I just don’t know why they’re all there. I know they are part of me. I know they may have something to say that I need to hear. But the jumbled sensation is not always a lot of fun.

Tonight I find myself jumbled inside, lots of love and gratitude floating around mixed with some melancholy* and questions. Tonight I am reminded of all the pieces of myself living in this jumbled heart of mine. I’m reminded of the story and journey of the open-hearted-marvel Elizabeth Gilbert as she sat in her deepest, darkest time, sat with herself, and invited all the parts of herself into her heart, blessing them, loving them, assuring them they could rest there in her heart and be at peace. (from Eat, Pray, Love)

So while I am deeply grateful that I am not in a place of great distress but rather just in the midst of a jumbled heart, tonight I try to bless the melancholy and the questions. “It’s okay. I love you. You can rest here. We’ll get through this together,” a variation on EG’s offering to herself.

I also want to recognize the love and gratitude of my jumbled heart, so tonight I am grateful for loved ones who wrap their arms around me with their words and love, grateful for connections with new friends who say “welcome,” grateful for dear friends who share that I am with them in their hearts even when I can’t be in person, grateful for my precious son, his open heart, and his indomitable spirit.

I know the jumble is part of Life. It’s part of having an open heart. I’m glad for that. I just want to become more connected to the peace and the blessings of all parts of the jumble as the confusion swirls around.

Peace

I think this is what my friend Brandon meant when he wished for all “a courageous sense of abiding peace.”

May we find peace in the jumble. May we find peace with the jumble.

* https://dearworldhereismyheart.wordpress.com/2015/07/25/melancholy-and-the-open-heart/

For the Three

Within the last 24 hours there have been memorial services / celebrations of life for 3 people to whom I was tangentially connected, though not closely. I am humbled by that ratio and extra mindful of the great gift of life.

I did not go to but one service, though my heart and thoughts have been with all. But tonight as I watched my friend in deep grief for the loss of his love, my heart ached so for him. At the same time, the celebration for his partner was truly joyful: it was an actual party, according to his wishes!

So I just wanted to pause and honor those gone and those who remain behind and also express gratitude for my life. 

  

Argonaut

Okay, I’m captivated by this:

I saw it 2 days ago and can’t stop thinking about it. Mostly the word and the definition, but also the whole image Dictionary.com created, the whole presentation of this marvelous word.

I’ve long known of Jason and the Argonauts and the Golden Fleece and Medea, but I don’t think I’ve ever really considered what a non-Jason-related argonaut is.

I think maybe I want to be an argonaut.

I don’t want to do anything physically dangerous, I don’t mean that. But I read this as a person in quest of vulnerability, knowing that there may be some hurt that comes from that vulnerability, from opening your heart, from trying something new, from going to an unknown place, from being an adventurer in new territories of your life: and knowing that it is and will be so rewarding.

Yes, I want to be an argonaut.

Let’s see. Let’s go find it. Let’s go seeking. Let’s live fully.

Let’s be argonauts together.

Maria

This morning I was in the grocery store before I headed to work and was staring somewhat absently at the dried fruit section. An older but very lively woman came up next to me and said, “It’s hard to decide isn’t it?” What happened next was one of the most other-worldly, powerful experiences I’ve ever had.

This sprightly, fiery, feisty, vivacious, loving, gentle (yes, at the same time as being fiery and feisty), Grace-filled Open Heart of a human being engaged me in a moment in time unlike any I have ever been part of. I came to learn that her name was Maria, that she was in her mid-70’s, that she didn’t marry (“by choice!” she insisted, repeating it several times) until she was 42, that she had married a man in his 70’s, that he knew how responsible and independent she was, that she had worked 3 jobs at the same time and was working them when she met him, that he had told her she would never have to work again if she didn’t want to, that he lived into his 90’s (and she clearly loved and cherished her time with him), that she had re-married, that her second wedding ring (which she showed me) had 5 diamonds in it because her mother had been born on the 5th, that she didn’t care what she looked like (she was nicely but humbly dressed), that she really loved her watch on which you could see the inner workings of the gears from both the front and the back (it was a simple fashion watch, clearly not high value, but made her so happy), that she believed in God, that she didn’t need a bodyguard (anyone to take care of her): she had herself, and she had God.

But that’s not really what she was there to share with me.

She was there to share with me that everything I need I have within me.

As she told me her story, she talked of how she had always stood on her own, how she believed that everything she needed she had within her – and so did I – and to trust myself and that I am so young and have so much time. Her Grace and sweetness and strength were palpable. While I had a few cynical questions float through my mind about whether or not she might be crazy, I realized it didn’t matter. Because even if she was, she was giving of herself to me, she was reaching out, connecting with me so genuinely, from such an incredible place of wanting to help and be kind and share of herself and be strong for me – and I didn’t even know that I needed someone to be strong for me and reassure me, but she literally just appeared, and before I knew it I was in tears, and she hugged me, and blessed me and told me she loved me (and not at all in a creepy way). She talked about how we are so busy we don’t find time for kindness. She talked about how we need to find time for it and stop and just make it happen – like I realized she was doing for me, with me, right there next to the dried fruit.

And she kept telling me her story and assuring me that I could do anything I wanted. I couldn’t even find words. The tears just came, and she kept hugging me and reassuring me of these things I didn’t even know I needed to hear. And I briefly had a moment of worrying that I needed to get to work, and I quickly banished that thought as I knew I was supposed to be right there, right then. With Maria. It was Quick Wonder for sure, as I was very aware that this was a moment of extraordinary wonder that was living and breathing through me and with me.

I have tears again as I write this, as I remember this Open Heart personified. Maria then showed me her cart and the great vegetable deals she’d found and took me to the bag of tomatoes on sale, and I put some in my cart, too. Then we hugged again and she blessed me again, and we finished our shopping separately.

We met up again after we each checked out, and we walked out together and hugged again, and I just kept thanking her. And we decided that if it was meant to be we would meet again sometime.

I just stood there, next to the dried fruit, listening, feeling, weeping, grateful, in awe, moved beyond measure by this open-hearted woman who believed we shouldn’t carry hate around, we should say what’s on our hearts and minds and move on, that the world is big enough for everybody. I just stood there letting her bless me with her love and strength, not having anything to give her except my presence and gratitude and honesty as I didn’t try to hide my tears. I just stood there as she truly did bless me and heal me in some way and gave me new life. And when she told me she loved me, I told her I loved her, too. This was not a time for holding back. This was a time to show up and be open to whatever was happening.

Maria is her name. Maria changed me. Maria showed me what genuine compassion and connection are, what a truly open heart is, what it is to experience Quick Wonder – and what it is to be Quick Wonder. Maria is Quick Wonder. She is a loving whirlwind of Quick Wonder.

And she let me whirl with her for a few minutes right there in the grocery store, next to the dried fruit.

Joy Begets Joy.

Yesterday I felt like the world was bathed in joy. There were so many moments that made my heart overflow — and they were all moments of human connection, with loved ones, with family, with friends, and they all arose out of us being truly present in the moment. I’m still smiling as they stay in my heart and as I strive to hold them there, not let them replaced by anything lesser. I know the day will eventually fade. But maybe I find ways to hold onto some of the moments or at least that “bathed in joy” feeling. I’m so grateful.

Today I was watching this video that’s gone viral:

Now, I know sometimes these things are staged, and often I am too gullible. But even if this was staged, it has brought so much joy as it’s made it’s way around the world. And if it’s real, well, then, it’s got to be one of the most wonderful examples of joy begetting joy I’ve ever seen.

Those people shared in a moment in time. And they didn’t let their inhibitions get the best of them. In fact, they couldn’t help but be moved by the laughter into laughter, by the joy into joy of their own.

Today when I picked my son up from camp, he was so happy. He kept telling me how “awesome” his day was. He was so happy that I couldn’t help but be happy. Granted, he’s my son, but he was just so genuinely ebullient that I’m pretty sure he would have brought me a smile even if he weren’t my wee one.

When my son was tiny and his joy was clearly bringing me joy. Happy sigh.

When my son was tiny and his joy was clearly bringing me joy. Happy sigh.

I love how joy can sneak up on us and open our hearts without us even trying. Joy is alive, it is immediate, it is present, it is RIGHT NOW, it is Quick Wonder.*

To feel joy necessitates an open heart. An open heart naturally fosters connection. Genuine joy can’t be stopped, won’t be held back. We crave that joy, that connection, I believe.

I wish you joy, and I know your joy will beget more for the world.

https://dearworldhereismyheart.wordpress.com/2015/07/31/quick-wonder/

P.S. My son and he exclaimed, “You cannot contain the joy! We must release it into the wild!”  Amen. 🙂

Stillness Reflection

It is quiet now, and there is a palpable stillness that fills my heart with peace.

I am reminded of a time, a moment  of stillness I will never forget and will keep close in my heart all my life. Years ago, my very dear friend asked if I would be present (along with her husband at the time) for the birth of their second child. I was deeply honored and readily said yes. One night it was time, and off we went to the birthing center in the hospital while their much-loved 2 year old stayed home with grandmother. My friend astonished me with her grace and strength in bringing that sweet tiny somebody into the world: my friend always astonishes me with her grace and strength, and this was a new level I hadn’t been able to imagine (my son was still many years away from being born). After her delivery of this amazing little girl, my friend drifted into a greatly earned sleep. Father asked if I would mind staying a bit longer, staying with my friend and their newborn long enough for him to run home and check on their other daughter and the grandmother. Of course I was overjoyed to stay.

So I found myself there in the middle of the night, for it was about midnight, sitting in a rocking chair, high up in a tall hospital building in the midst of crazy, wonderful Manhattan, holding this tiny marvel, this precious child, this gift to the Universe. And everything was so, so still. My friend was gently sleeping right there in the room with us. All was perfectly quiet. And this sweet tiny someone and I shared this moment in time that I will never, ever forget. I try to recall this memory with some regularity so that I never let it go. So that she stays right there in my heart, and so that that moment of utter Grace, of what, after yesterday’s exploration, I now believe was Quick Wonder,* never leaves me. So that I can honor that moment in time, that beloved baby (who is now an extraordinary young woman), and her mother who is one of those friends whom I will love to the end and beyond.

As I write this, I am having what my son and I call “happy tears. ” There is something about stillness. It can be so scary sometimes. It can feel impossible to bear. It can be maddening or give way to melancholy. But  it can also be genuinely awesome. It can open our hearts in a way we’ve never experienced. When we can be still, we can be present to Quick Wonder: we can be fully connected to the wonder of living, of being, of sharing in a moment in time.

I am so grateful for you, sweet tiny somebody. I’m so, so very glad you came into this world.

* https://dearworldhereismyheart.wordpress.com/2015/07/31/quick-wonder/

 

Quick Wonder

Last night I was reminded/re-introduced to some of Herman Melville’s gorgeous, passionate language from Moby Dick.* Among the words that landed on my heart were these: “It was a sight full of quick wonder and awe!” How marvelous is that. “Quick wonder and awe.”

It comes at a time in the story when Ahab and his men are in the thick of the pursuit of the great whale. It’s a mad rush of action and fury and fear and – well, quick wonder and awe. But while things are wild and terrifying, I love that Ishmael is still present to the wonder and extraordinary nature of this moment in time.

And what if quick wonder is not just that crazy mad rush of wonder as their world is literally whirling, but what if it’s “quick” in the sense of being alive. An active wonder, a wonder that is not observed from afar but rather a wonder being lived right now. This is happening, right now, and I am part of it, and this is opening my heart, and I am really here, feeling this, living this, part of this, this quick wonder.

And might it be possible to be so very present to a moment that we ourselves become quick wonder? My life, my quickness, my being is part of a greater phenomenon.

Quick wonder.

I wonder.

Could we start a movement to be Quick Wonder? Present and open to the marvels of this Life?

I wonder.

* http://www.getswallowed.com/