What if our religion was each other
If our practice was our life
If prayer our words
What if the temple was the Earth
If forests were our church
If holy water – the rivers, lakes and ocean
What if meditation was our relationships
If the teacher was life
If wisdom was self-knowledge
If love was the centre of our being
That, my friends, is the most beautiful thing I read all day, and thing number 26 of 101.
Thirteen: Today’s sunshine. It’s above O°C, for starters, and that is always a bloody beautiful day this time of year. But the sun – whooo boy do we need it. I take vitamin D supplements but there’s an extra dose of something in that sunshine – like some secret vitamin that worms its way through your pores and bones and finds its way to your soul.
But it’s more than that today – the sun is different today. It's closer, more present. I could feel it enveloping me down there on the ground, as opposed to just shining down and filtering its way through the blanket of winter. It’s as if spring is hovering at the door deciding whether to come in. I say come on in Spring – you’re never more beautiful than you are when you’re hovering at the door.
Fourteen: This post by Steve. My friend – women everywhere are going to be jealous of your beached goddess. Finding wonder in long-established love, what could be more beautiful?
Fifteen: This cookbook, which I bought on the weekend. I have to make myself not buy cookbooks; I could sit and look at them forever. But I allowed myself this one because I buy the magazine often and I justified the cookbook thinking that instead of buying the magazine every month, I would buy this at the cost of less than two issues. (Who am I kidding? It’s a beautiful magazine.)
These days I'm particularly enamoured with cookbooks featuring natural, unprocessed food. Natural food is of the most beautiful gifts this planet shares with us, and meals that are simply and lovingly prepared from it is more beauty for the soul. This winter I’m in love with food more than I’ve ever been – maybe it was my way of enduring embracing the winter months. When my television is on, it’s on Food Network most of the time – when I'm not cooking and eating, I'm watching somebody else cooking and eating.
Recently I had to put a moratorium on kitchen activities because I had too many things saved in the freezer for my lunches and dinners. I’ve used it up and am rocking the kitchen again. Last night I made Turkey Chili Taco Soup and I’m counting down the minutes until lunchtime so I can eat it.
Sixteen: How I feel when I do yoga. My body is not a lot of things. But it continues to be flexible and bendy and for that I feel fortunate, because the little bit of heaven I feel at the end of a yoga session is something you just can’t bottle. I’m so ready for serious some outside action again, but in the meantime, daily yoga makes me happy – and beautiful.
Happy Valentines Day.
I’ve often said: I’ve been rather unlucky in long term love, but I’ve been VERY lucky in romance. You know the kind of romance I mean – not that icky, Hallmarky, splashy valentine card, sappy love song kind of romance. But the sharing experience, living in the moment, richness in seeing kind. I don’t suppose the kinds of men I meet will ever make me rich like, say, a sugar daddy would – but what they’ve given to my soul and imagination is the richest reward. I’m really grateful for that.
On this Valentines Day, I’m celebrating my romantic perspective, and the romantic perspectives of lovers and friends, past and present, as beautiful thing number eight.
Considering beauty, and things number five and six of 101:
Number five: Seeing the world through the eyes of a daughter is beautiful. For me, it is the opportunity to live life again through them, and be reminded of what it was like to be in the world when I was young. Being in the world with my daughters is to be reminded of what it feels like to love completely – and to be loved, unconditionally.
Today is a particularly striking reminder of that, and today I'm particularly thankful for these daughters. Read the last part of this post from last year to find out why.
Number six: This photographer – Miroslav Tichy, who I discovered at one of my favourite blogs, Accidental Mysteries. The haunting photographs were taken with homemade cameras, and finished with homemade frames. The photos were controversial because his subjects were usually unaware they were subjects. The beauty of his images is unarguable.
I suppose I also feel akin to Tichy because the subjects of my little stories are most often unaware of my attention to them, and I, too, have been taken to account for it. What seems clear: this artist loves his subjects as much as I love mine.
The foundation set up on his behalf has set up this website:
The gruff, drawly voice of one of my oldest and dearest friends, which I haven’t heard in at least five years, growling “Jenn-i-ferrr” when I picked up the phone the other day, was one of the most beautiful things I’d heard in a long time.
Beautiful things considered, first day of self-imposed challenge.
Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
~William Butler Yeats, 1899
I hope you have a very Happy Christmas. And whether or not you celebrate the day, I hope it's filled with lots of love, good cheer and peace in your hearts. And I hope you carry that peace with you in the new year to come.
The other day I go down to the atrium for a cup of tea and a quick read. Not long after I sit down an old guy sits near me. His wife follows right after, fiddling with a bag and says, “so you’ll just wait here until I get back?”
“Yeah! I’ll wait here,” he snaps as she walks over to a medical office.
The man’s voice is as craggy as that of his demeanour. He looks to be in his late 70s, but perhaps the demeanour ages him. He flips open a cell phone and calls someone’s voicemail and complains about what he calls an unfair charge and demands, as a 35 year customer, that the charge be rescinded.
I’m annoyed. I came down here for a few alone moments with my book and it seems I’m going to have to listen to this guy’s private conversations. As I’m considering finding another place to sit, the man connects with someone else, presumably a friend.
“Listen Jimmy I don’t want to make you mad or insult you or anything, but I need to talk to you about what you said to Dotty the other day…
“Listen, when you told me, in front of her, that I need to talk to her nicer, you made my life a living hell. Now every goddamn time I open my mouth she’s on me for not talkin’ nice to her…
“No… listen, I’m not mad, but you gotta know what she’s like! You have no idea. When you see her, when she comes by, she’s all nice and sweet. When it’s me and her, my life is HELL.”
And then he starts to up the tone – and the ante.
“Ya, ya, but wait. You really don’t know her. You don’t know what she’s like at home. She LIES.
Wait, wait – here she comes.”
The offending Dotty returns and fusses in her bag again and her craggy man has magically switched his voice over to a conversational tone and is talking about the Blue Jays and the weather. She returns to the medical office and the agitation is back.
“Your words are now written in stone man. EVERYTHING I say to her makes her fucking jump all over me saying I don’t talk nice to her and she deserves fucking better and all that. She's a BITCH.
He’s like a pot coming to a boil. Sitting at the edge of his seat his voice gets louder and I get more uncomfortable, wishing I could say “Yo, buddy – I’m right here! I didn't need to know this!”
“Nobody knows how she talks to me. She’s nice when everyone else is around but with me. Well… no… listen, really… Jimmy… Jimmy! She’s a BITCH. I have to be so fucking careful and it’s impossible to please that woman. Maybe if someone gave her a hundred thousand dollars or somethin' she’d just fucking leave…”
Finally the Craggy One seems to notice he’s not alone and walks away to another area to finish convincing Jimmy of Dotty’s double personality. His voice has raised up another notch and I hear regular crescendos of the emphasising the wrath of Dotty because Jimmy said the Craggy One should speak nicer to her.
I think about the years that have passed in the life of Dotty and the Craggy One and wonder when it was that love turned to such bitterness. I wonder if they’ll, at some point, look back on their lives together and see any value in their days turning over, seasons evolving into the next, and their having grown old together, choosing each other to finish out their lives with.
I go back to my office think I’d still like to grow old with someone. Whoever you are – let’s not let it come to that, ok?
My girls and I leave the city Saturday morning and head southwest to my hometown for an oft-lauded wine festival and visiting with old friends. We listen to classic rocks songs on the radio which instigate one memory after another - a nice accompaniment to the flat, boring stretch of highway. As we get close to Essex County, the sky gets more and more overcast and we curse the imminent rain for intruding on the much anticipated party.
Navigating the once-daily haunts due south of HWY 401 is like I always say: everything’s strange and everything’s the same. I drop the girls off at their dad’s and go to Debbie’s where we catch up over a Guinness. I hope you have a friend like her.
The rain is coming down hard and steady and we carry on cursing it over a drive to the grocery store to pick up what will become the beautiful spread of a breakfast the next morning. Once we’ve all gathered back at the house we pack up golf umbrellas and plastic sheeting to cover wet picnic table seats, and the rain lets up just then. Even the weather gods shouldn’t mess with serious wine drinkers intent on a good time and happy homecoming.
The grounds are a bit mucky but certainly not “Woodstock” as some grim souls had predicted. As soon as we walk into the place and before I can get some wine into my glass we start running into old friends. I didn’t send out a “facebook blast” saying I was going down, thinking that with the short turnover in time I’d be content to bump into people as the fates would have us do.
There are lots of long hugs. I don’t know if I can describe my gratification in the love I got from my old friends – to still "belong" to them. I make my home in Toronto now, but despite a number of moves around different neighbourhoods I still don’t feel as if I “belong” anywhere. Maybe that’s related to my single, empty-nester state. But whatever it is, these wonderful old pals can’t possibly know how easily they filled what has been a rather empty vessel for quite some time.
Next morning at Debbie and Len’s we all sleep late, maybe a little groggy from all those bottles of that excellent D’Angelo Foch. After the big breakfast, Deb and I sit out in the backyard with spiked orange juice and admire the day – particularly the clouds.
Not willing to waste the weather gods’ change of heart, we go back to the festival site and see some more people, and try some foods. It's such a beautiful spot beside the river, and it is great to look around the town and all its changes.
As I told a couple of my colleagues about the weekend Monday morning, one said she thought I looked particularly happy. She’s right. This sort of weekend is one of those reminders about what exactly it is that sustains us. I don’t care what they say. You can go home again, and they will all love you as much as they did the day you left.
I see bed-head and sleep-squashed skin. You see cosy and tousled. I see lumps and new sags and wrinkles. You see respite and contentment in the white cotton sheets; knees that would be salty and wet, lolling in a rowboat off the coast of somewhere, or red painted toes offering a playful kick in the jaw.
You find hearts filled with the scent of forests or minds intertwined around the harvest moon and symphonies of crickets. Earthy songs, tales of hill walks, lakeside trysts and kitchen tables in the morning.
Or the translucent morning light recalling my beauty in your forever loyal eyes.
“We may be gorgeous to each other, like chocolate,” you said, “but there's something that transcends oceans.”
Despite your penchant for Barry Manilow songs, you are more gorgeous than chocolate, and I’ll always get cosy and tousled with you.