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What is that weird, tingling feeling? Could it possibly be … hope? — Live & Learn

But then the sun came out where I live this week, and I was alive again. Dunno if you’ve noticed this, but it’s been the longest year since records began, and the timing of lockdown restrictions easing this week coinciding with warm weather in parts of England – which the press was more than happy […]

What is that weird, tingling feeling? Could it possibly be … hope? — Live & Learn

I don’t recall when I began following David‘s blog, but it has been a number of years. He shares wonderful daily posts and this one is no exception. He shares a part of a newspaper article with us about how we might be feeling as the light seems to become increasingly larger at the end of COVID tunnel. Of course, it could be a train hurtling down on us, so we must not let our guards down.

Hope is a recurring theme in my writing, publishing, and the publishing I hope to do as I move forward. It is grounded in reality . COVID-19 sharpened my awareness of challenges others face and made me realize there are taken-for-granted challenges. For example, how we treat our elderly, BIPOC humans, sexual and gender minorities, etc. are real challenges. How do we help lift up others in times of need? How do we help infuse hope in the lives of others?

Hope is essential to our dreams. Despite this, what we each dream for is not guaranteed. There is a realistic side to hope that suggests to get to the other side or the end of the tunnel we each need to be resilient. Like passion, which includes suffering for what and who we love, hope has an element of potential failure and suffering. Passion moves to compassion when we share the suffering of others and accept their lives and experiences are different than those we experienced. Hope has a similar collective feel to it. We find hope in community, what we have in common with one another, which is our humanity, how we communicate the common and disparate features of our lives, and how we live in communion with each other.

Hope and its relationship with resilience remind me of the Zen proverb: Fall down seven times, get up eight. How do I compose myself as I get up each time? Is it with grace, compassion, and kindness or do I lash out at others? I find Emily Dickinson and Langston Hughes‘ poems meaningful in days like these, so I share them again.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

Mother to Son

Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
Bare.
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

Have a wonderful weekend.

What Can I Do?

I posted What Can I Do on December 12, 2012 as a response to the Sandy Hook school shootings.

Several weeks ago, Kathy asked if I Google myself. I replied I had, but there was not a lot. I told her I thought there was maybe a page related to Teacher as Transformer, my Twitter account, Facebook, presentations I made, etc.

Kathy Googled me and found a link to Amazon. It was a book review for a poetry anthology published by Silver Birch Press.

I have poems in the anthology. The review included Barbara Mojica‘s comments: One of my favorites is “What Can I Do” by Ivon Prefontaine. Here are a few lines: Change begins in me./I am a catalyst/I look inside:/Call forth a gentle spirit-/Give it voice.

As I explore mindfulness in daily life, I thought this was an example of two related phenomena. First, as a writer and teacher, I do not know how my words and actions might transcend time and place. Second, as a result, there is a demand on me to be mindful of how I speak and act.

Here is the text of the poem and below is a video with a reading and more context to the poem.

On a sombre day–

Grief and sorrow the order,

Message heard:

Change begins in me.

I am a catalyst

Look inside:

Summon forth a gentle spirit–

Let it speak.

In light, love happens–

Resonates,

Reaches out its hand

Beckon others to join.

Rings on clear pond,

Ripples of love touch,

Love cascades forth,

Good people meet.

Good touches good,

Prayer meets prayer,

Love conquers hate

Join together.

Good people summoned–

Their tears catalyze,

Grieve and heal as one.

Simplicity, Patience, Compassion

Simplicity, Patience, Compassion.

The link is to a short poem written by Lao Tzu. The world is a complex place, but nature operates in simple ways. Because of this, the phenomena we experience and how we experience their essence is not easily revealed.

Being mindful requires patience. It takes time to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. It is there and it speaks to us when we stop and listen with our heart. When we are patient, we can show our gratitude for those things that slip by unnoticed in life’s busyness.

Being patient, begins with showing compassion for ourselves. Without this compassion, we can hardly expect to care for the world, sentient and non-sentient, we continuously encounter. Being patient and compassionate, allows us to be grateful for what we experience, our living.

There`s what you do

We live a personal story based on personal perspective.  I find it hard some days to not live too deeply in my story and forget the good things that happen. The kindness and generosity of people helped overcome many challenging times. I felt the breath of compassion.  I thank students and their families for lifting me up during difficult times.

Al Zolynas wrote this Zen-like poem and reminds me my narrative is only my narrative. Others see their truth differently and sometimes quite differently. And then there is poetry the act of doing, feeling, and sharing all wrapped up in one.

and then there’s what you feel
while you do it
and then there are the words
that come later
to describe, recreate, narrate it–
all at a third remove
from the doing. And
then there’s poetry,
a doing in words, the act of writing
and a pointing back to
the ultimate and absolute
the relativity of words
their limited and limiting circumscriptions,
their stalactites of feeling,
their penumbras of meaning,
the deep cave of their origin.

Compassion

Thich Nhat Hanh provided this beautiful quote about compassion and embracing who we are in this world. I need to be inside of someone else`s skin to build compassion.

The essence of love and compassion is understanding, the ability to recognize the physical, material, and psychological suffering of others, to put ourselves “inside the skin” of the other. We “go inside” their body, feelings, and mental formations, and witness for ourselves their suffering. Shallow observation as an outsider is not enough to see their suffering. We must become one with the subject of our observation. When we are in contact with another’s suffering, a feeling of compassion is born in us. Compassion means, literally, “to suffer with.”

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