Friday, January 23, 2009

Drama Dweeb

So after I created the drama around losing my wallet (last blog), I opened the passenger door of my little red car and there it was peeking out of the door side pocket. Little buggah! Little pink wallet with the Trader Joe's sticker on it. Oh yeah, I laughed so hard. Like finding an old friend playing hide and seek standing on her head in your closet hours after the game ended. The things it takes to get me to post.

Snow is coming down like its heading to a half off sale. Snow is one of those things I can't imagine having too much of, though I've never lived in the Yukon. Here along the lake, we sometimes get snow deprivation because of the banana belt effect. However, we did get a bumper crop in December. Wasn't that impressive!

So back to the wallet. By the time I cut up all the credit cards I had to cancel and replace, I had a pile of colorful plastic confetti that looked like the aftermath of a hamster chewing its way out of a lego set.

Sort of a warm fuzzy to see your former ID mangled. Sort of liberating. Now I start fresh. Howboutchu?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Little Gal with No Name

Losing a wallet is not something that I have done often in the last couple decades. Before that, however, it was a frequent event, at least a couple times a year.

So this time, I
canceled my credit & debit cards, knowing the bright pink wallet will show up under a pile of clothes or in the pocket of a winter coat that fell behind the couch. I went to put my hands on the passport, which I recall being in a drawer with the birth certificate. Ah, wouldn't that have made it easy. But it was not to be found. My house eats identification!

The dilemma started to dawn on me. No credit card to order a new birth certificate, no birth certificate to get a social security card, and no ID of any kind to get a new driver's license. Whoops! I became the gal with no name.

The good news is that I found some tracking slips for three packages of my Mom's possessions, one of which never showed up. I couldn't find the slips so I couldn't track down the missing box with irreplaceable treasures. Instead of a passport, I found these after 6 months. A good trade.
Losing and finding is a major theme of my life. It all started when I was about seven, right after I came out of a several week hospital stint with spinal meningitis. Yowza. Don't get that one, folks. At that age, I wasn't sure if they were trying to cure me or kill me, but it all scared me into being a very good little girl.

The following year, I would go to school with all the stuff-books, sweater, lunchbox.
I would arrive home with nothing.
It was disheartening for both my Mom and me. Mom even asked my doctor if it could be residual brain damage from the meningitis.

We laughed about it years later, but at the time it wasn't that funny. As I recall, arriving home from school with empty hands involved lots of yelling. It didn't seem to matter how hard I tried to remember. I would get past the key moment, i.e. boarding the school bus, and it was all over for another day. So really, just losing a wallet now and then is a huge upgrade for me.

Another major lost item was my senior college thesis. My procrastination writing it had cost me three years on my diploma. When I finally went to deliver it, I hitched 3,000 miles to my college and lost it en route, when the suitcase was set on the ground during some reorganizing of the trunk. So a wallet is really small potatoes compared to that.

Because I've been reading about the structures that contain our lives but have nothing to do with who we really are, I 'm wondering if this 'wallet losing caper' might be a lesson plan with my name on it. Every scrap of my ID vanishes in one week- the paperwork that proves I live in this body, have a right to operate a motor vehicle, have a credit history, collect paychecks, get library books, work toward a free latte. Being without it does free me up somehow. I found myself dancing today for no reason. Slipping on the icy parking lot became a little soft shuffle boogie. Walking up the stairs got a dance rythym going. Just because my purse was lighter? Or was it something more?

Yeah, I'm getting used to the idea that all that paperwork really is not me. At least not the me I seem to be becoming.
I mean, the absurdity of stuffing an infinity sized spirit into this little human body...
and then pretending that the body is who I is, you is, we are.

I am little, too, only 60 inches even if you stretched me on the rack. So why do we do that? When the evidence points toward large spirits capable of remarkable powers, we try to convince ourselves otherwise. We treat babies and children as though they are inferior little people who intentionally interfere with our plans, instead of the spiritual giants they are.

So perhaps Marianne Williamson hit the nail on the head when she said (and Nelson Mandela so eloquently quoted),

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. "

So I have shed my outer identities (or maybe the elves stole them) and am reveling in the essence that I find outside of all that. There is something liberating about not having a wallet. I go into the gas station to write a check, and actually talk to the salesgal, instead of letting the machine just munch my card number. I stuff bills all over the place instead of having them tightly corralled in that little slot inside my wallet. It feels really disorganized, but it's just different. Maybe it's a good thing to get booted out of the comfort zone, no matter how trivial; just for a while to have to wing it without all the little cards that tell me who I am and how much credit I have.

T.S. sure had a handle on this...

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
is that which was the beginning;
As the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between the two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always-
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding" in the Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, ed. Richard Ellman & Robert O'Clair, 1973

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Fellow Travelers through the Seasons

My friend Jan took this photo of her log home outside Polson, Montana a couple days ago. Over New Years, we had several inches of new snow falling like it was getting paid for it. This is more snow than I've seen any winter in 14 years. Yee Haw. My friends are enjoying the slopes and lifts but I haven't pulled out the skis just yet.

In an older body, I find myself weighing the pros and cons of exposure to speed and ice, enjoying my current euphoria of mobile joints and the absence of concussions, wrenched muscles, or torn ligaments. I'll give it one more week.
You might recall last winter's post about the final run down the mountain at Blacktail, complete with a 30 foot cartwheel, whiplash, and a mild concussion. Skiing back to the lodge that day after my 'yardsale', I promised myself a helmet before next season.

Yes! Snow dresses up a little town like nobody's business. Gazing up at the mountains today, it looks like this could be Switzerland or Germany. The roadways are paved with vanilla frosting and the trees, buried under a limb bending load, look like splendid decorations. When the setting sun sparks the snow draped mountains with a peachy glow, it is all you can do to keep from shouting for joy. Here is another Jan Myers work of art taken from her house, I bet.
Montana is the quick change artist of the world, going from summer to winter, and back again, in the blink of an eye. Or as my friend, Sailor Bill, puts it so wryly, "If you don't like the weather, just wait 5 minutes and you still won't like it."

Attempting to tackle my 'big guy' yesterday on a snowy slope at the dog park (in a moment of pure winter driven madness) I ended up face down in the snow, while he was still standing. But it was worth it, because somersaulting, frolicking, and making snow angels was the inevitable next thing to do down there.

For Christmas, my friend Mary gave me a photo from five years ago of the two of us hugging a snowman. We had built it the day before when the world was white. By the next day, everything had melted except our giant snowman with the crazy hat. He was listing to about 45 degrees and we couldn't get him upright, no matter how hard we grunted, but it made for a great photo and yet another memory to share.

This past year, my maternal cousins-Martha, Matt, Cody, Mary & Lucia- have become beloved friends as we recently supported each other through the deaths of our two mothers, only months apart. Martha and I (the oldest) were already like sisters from decades of shared experiences.
In the tub, she and I are the two on the right, with my brother Bill and her brother, Bo.

So strange how these little kids (Mary, Matt & Lucia) grew up to be the absolute coolest friends, not just to me and my brothers, but to their older sister Martha and to each other, as well. Wouldn't our recently deceased mom-sisters, Tony & Barb, be happy about that.

On the left is Barb & Jim (Mom's brother) on their wedding day.

Tony and Barb had ridden the school bus together when they were twelve and thirteen years old. They were there when each of them met their future husbands. They didn't know at that dewy age what agony their lives would hold and what it would take to survive it. Nevertheless, they each moved through over 80 years with a lot of grace and a devastating sense of humor-right up to the end.
On the left, Marth & Matt are imitating our dog, Sam, instigated by Mom, (though she looks a lot like their mom in that photo).

Let's face it, the friends & family we treasure are what make any season memorable. Aging has taught me one thing. The things I thought mattered over the years are Nothing compared to the value to me, of each of my friends, siblings, cousins, and many of my acquaintances.

My youngest cousin, Lucia, had a dream the other day that Mom and Barb were bicycling together in that yonder place, like when they were kids. That thought put a giant grin on my face for the rest of the day!

So Remember...
Tell them how important they are
how beautiful they are
And keep them laughing!