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Posts Tagged ‘fear’

Why I Smile at Strangers

In difficult times, carry something beautiful in your heart.

          

–Blaise Pascal

And so today, I walk the streets

with vermillion maple leaves inside me,

and the deep purple of late-blooming larkspur

and the lilting praise of meadowlark.

I carry with me thin creeks with clear water

and the three-quarters moon

and the spice-warm scent of nasturtiums.

And honey in the sunlight.

And words from Neruda and

slow melodies by Erik Satie.

It is easy sometimes to believe

that everything is wrong.

That people are cruel and the world

destroyed and the end of it all

imminent. But there is yet goodness

beyond imagining—the creamy

white flesh of ripe pears

and the velvety purr of a cat in my lap

and the white smear of milky way—

I carry these things in my heart,

more certain than ever that one way

to counteract evil is to ceaselessly honor what’s good

and share it, share it until

we break the choke hold of fear

and at least for a few linked moments,  

we believe there is nothing but beauty,

growing beauty, only beauty.

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            with thanks to Rebecca Mullen

but what if I can’t do enough

I said, and love said

what if you don’t try?

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So In I Go

And if I felt into that dark ache

in my gut, would it cover me

with its stench? Would it stick

to me like tar, like muck, like pitch?

Would it suck me in like quicksand

so that the more I tried to save myself,

the deeper in I would sink?

And if I waved from its depths,

who would save me?

And if I don’t meet it at all,

what if I don’t meet it at all?

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Hello, Fear

How does she do it? She hitches a ride on the blow, a stowaway on that which brings her down.

            —Teddy Macker, “The Mosquito and the Raindrop”

There I was, making tea in my kitchen,

when fear hit me like a school bus.

I didn’t need a scientist or therapist

to tell me it hurt.

I screamed: Arghh! I shouted: No!

But after smashing into me,  

fear just opened the folding glass door

of the bus, yanked me on,

then plopped me into a green vinyl seat.

I’m scared, I said.

Yeah, fear said. ’Cause I’m scary.

Yeah, I squealed, as the bus careened

through the couch, through

my bedroom, through the splintering

dining room table.

What if I lose everything? I said to fear.

Yeah, said fear, what if you do?

And who will I be when everything changes?

Yeah, said fear, who will you be?

Then he opened the door

and shoved me off the bus

and I was standing again beside

the familiar green counter,

tea cup in hand, not a drop spilled.

Who will you be? he shouted

from the half open window.

I took a deep breath,

not knowing how to answer.

Good, fear said, as if uncertainty were a gift.

And who, fear said, as the bus peeled away,

who are you now? Who are you, really?

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Bargaining

Wholeness does not mean perfection. It means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life.

—Parker Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life

Brokenness, I am still learning

to embrace you. I would rather fix,

would rather mend, would rather solve.

Today, the hole in my security

is big enough to let fear blow in

like a strong winter wind.

I want a patch, want reinforcement,

want to stitch the seams closed.

And here I am, brokenness,

my needle and thread in hand.

Is it so wrong to want to repair?

My fingers are willing.

There is work to do. Here I am.

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Oblivious

Don’t tell the woman

walking on the dirt road

that there’s a large bear

six feet to her right

in the dense spruce woods—

at the rate she’s walking

she’ll be past it soon,

and what she doesn’t know

isn’t hurting her for now.

What good comes

from knowing all the dangers

life may not have in store?  

See, she’s past the bear now.

She’s talking to the squirrel

who chatters wildly above her.

And, looking across the road

at the light glinting off the river,

she’s smiling, not even knowing

just how many reasons

she has to smile.  

*By the way, friends, I DO think it’s important to be prepared, even if (especially if?) you’re oblivious. I carry bear spray with me on my walks, and I really was six feet from the bear, yikes. But we stared at each other and it was disinterested in me, whew. And I hightailed it outta there.

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The News

IMG_0329

 

Just as I had settled into doom,

I heard the wild call of the first geese of spring

come screeching through the window.

 

I leapt up like a woman desperate

for good news—leapt up and ran to the window

in time to see a pair land on the pond,

 

splashing against the water. They quieted

immediately after alighting. And then,

there was only the sound  of me watching them.

 

How graceful they were in the pond,

the water wrinkled behind them, as if their arrival

were the only news, the only news worth telling.

 

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And when fear comes to the door bringing flowers

acting as if it’s a friend,

it’s okay to not want to let it in.

It’s okay to lock the door—

it’ll make you feel as if you’re doing something.

Fear will enter anyway.

At least it won’t expect a hug.

It won’t wash its hands,

not even when you ask nicely.

And it is more contagious than any virus—

spreads without sneezes or coughs.

It won’t leave when you ask, but

there are ways to make it quieter—

like inviting a few others to join you,

preferably gratitude, compassion, love,

kindness, vulnerability. These friends

always come when asked, wearing

the loveliest perfume. They change

the conversation, the way lemon

and honey change the bitter tea.

They remind you who you are,

invite you to look out the window

and see how beautiful the world

when the shadows are long.

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Grace

 

 

 

After all these years of falling, falling,

terrified of my own weight, terrified

of gravity, after all these years of dropping

through the sky, through all these fears

of not good enough, certain I will crash,

I will die, I find myself now wearing

a great white parachute that appeared

as if I were dreaming, to save me.

 

After all these years harnessed only to fear,

I land gently, as if on a flat green lawn.

And I’m not just safe, I’m smiling.

I try to reason it logically: Air resistance

with a chute is greater than gravity.

But there is no logic here. How

did the parachute appear? I

didn’t even ask to be saved. Here I am,

good enough, two feet on the ground.

After years and years of falling,

I’m okay. I’m wildly okay.

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It’s not adrenaline after all,

but the bones that tell the body

to fight, to freeze, to flee.

The bones send the hormone

that tells the heart to beat faster,

tells lungs to breathe quicker, tells glucose

to pump through the body as fuel.

The odd gift: the same bones

that tell us to run away

help us stand and see it through.

 

 

 

*

 

 

Check it out: https://phys.org/news/2019-09-bone-adrenaline-flight-response.html?fbclid=IwAR1FsGbaAaoLL5jB1esEouhf7E0SMLnSWwQDjh3hANvvqRNbXmhKGtDPmFw

 

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