Archives for category: infinity

The morning birds are chirping and the days are getting longer, but it’s a stretch to say that spring is in the air. Not in Chicago. Usually not ’til May, because we are known to skip straight to summer, seemingly bypassing the season of rebirth altogether.

Personally, this winter has tested my resolve in many ways, least of all the globally-reported weather. Yet out of winter’s dormancy comes growth.

Somehow this season has always been a comfort, despite the howling winds. An Ayurvedic doctor suggested it was in my Northern European blood. I’m more content on gloomy days than on sunny days; a mild storm does me better than a picture perfect day. I veer straight away from drama and chaos, but if a gray cloud wants to settle above me for awhile, I’m okay with that.

So I don’t mind still facing down the snowbanks, teetering cautiously on ice, and moon walking on two feet of packed snow to get to the compost bin. It’s only February; the winter wolf is still roaming these parts.

Time will move forward and as we approach the vernal equinox, I’ll be ready. A spring morning with the scent of new earth, a balmy and still summer afternoon, a succulent summer night. I look forward to all of these.

But I will still bid a longing goodbye to winter.

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As far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to go whale watching. I think that if I was lucky enough to encounter a sperm whale bursting out of the ocean just a few feet away, those fleeting, thrilling moments would last a lifetime.

We often go through a lot of effort and expense to have a great experience that lasts a short time but remains forever in our mind’s eye. We wait in line for 45 minutes for a 2 minute ride at the amusement park. We travel halfway around the world to see with our own eyes a historical landmark or a natural wonder.

And sometimes, very rarely, these moments come to you. I had a landlocked version of the whale experience many years ago, and I still think of it surprisingly often.

When I went to college in a small Southern town, I rode a motorcycle (a beloved vintage ’73 Honda CB350) everywhere I went and for a short time lived on a farm 25 miles out of town. It was literally an over-the-river-and-through-the-woods commute.

Riding home late one perfect Autumn evening, I was heading out of a wooded area into open land. Even with the din of the motor and with my helmet on, I heard a loud, crazy screeching sound. For some reason I glanced up and what I saw was the white underbelly of a massive Barn Owl just a foot or two above my head. Its impressive wingspan fanned over me, at the same speed I was traveling, and I swear I also heard the whoosh of its wings. I don’t know if it dove down to fly above me or if it noticed me at all, but I felt like a mere mortal in the presence of a higher being. It was an absolutely magical moment, and it lasted probably four seconds. Then, as quickly as it made itself known, the owl disappeared into the night.

This experience was perhaps more modest in scale to a sperm whale bursting out of the ocean, but it was equally transforming. And I remember it as one of the best moments of my life.

Have you ever had a day when things keep going astonishingly wrong, hour after hour as the day ticks by, and you wonder what kind of bad karma you’ve projected to create such a day?

And have you ever had a day when things just click into place, hour after hour, and you wonder what you’ve done to deserve such a day?

Earlier this week I had a simple day of driving through the state of Michigan, and it totally rocked.

Starting just north of the Canadian border, I crossed the International Bridge and headed through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to the famous Mackinac Bridge. As I pulled up to the toll booth, I was ready to apologize to the operator for not having correct change when she said, “The driver in front of you paid your fare.” I was shocked and asked, “Why would they do that?” and the toll booth operator shrugged her shoulders and said, “It’s an act of random kindness. And the driver asked you to drive safely and have a good trip.”

This small and generous gesture had its intended effect:  my heart completely swelled and I felt like all was right with the world.

An hour later I headed toward Traverse City to attend a reading of the fantastic memoir I had just read (Bootstrapper, by Mardi Jo Link, a Michigan writer). I was running late and kicking myself for not getting an earlier start. This part of the drive follows along the shores of Lake Michigan and is postcard gorgeous. But since I was afraid of being late for the event, I barreled along at top speed past the pottery shop, the cherry orchards, the farm stands, and the wineries where I usually love to stop.

As I reached the venue, I resigned myself to the fact that I would be walking in 15 minutes late. However, I quickly learned that the event schedule had changed, and now I was an hour early. I had time to enjoy lunch in a spot overlooking the entire bay before returning to the venue. The reading was lots of fun, the author was just as kindhearted and smart as she appeared in her book. and I had a great chat with her.

As I left Traverse City and bumbled along a country highway through farmland and forest and canoe bases and small towns, I wished that I had had a chance to pick up some produce and wine from the region. Far further downstate I stopped at a gas station with a big store featuring lots of things to do with guns, hunting, beer drinking and…. a lovely selection of wines from the Traverse City region. I happily chose a few while waiting for the freshly brewed coffee that the clerk had put on just as I walked in.

Further down the road I came upon the most picturesque farmer’s market I had ever seen, and I gathered up peaches, plums, apples, giant cauliflower, oblong tomatoes, multihued peppers, and candy onions, After paying for these and loading up the car, I headed on the last stretch to Chicago.

Perhaps I’m easy to please, but this long day of driving down the length of this Great Lakes state, tuning into local radio stations along the way, felt charmed and beautiful and very much like a very good day.

Riding the bus today, I felt a slight tap on my knee. I looked up, and the man across from me asked, “Are you a poetry lover?”

I very much am, so I laughed a little in surprise and responded, “How did you know that?”

Turned out that this polite man was a Vietnam vet and a street poet. He was selling 10-page booklets of poems he had written himself. In the interest of poetry and in the interest of helping out a fellow human being, I paid him for a booklet, dropped it in my bag, and exited the bus.

After I was back home a while, I pulled out the booklet and was delighted to find a genuine effort and beautiful work. The poems are accompanied by drawings which I assume he also created.

The gentleman’s name is Marcus L. Green, and he wrote a poem that is aligned in thought to my recent post about forces beyond current scientific understanding or the laws of nature, so I wanted to share it:

ENERGY

Energy – We are electro-magnetic fields
Encased in ectoplasm, embodied in prototplasm,
And as such, permanent fixtures of
The universe forever because of
The first law of thermodynamics
Which states: Energy cannot be
created or destroyed, only changed
In form. That is reincarnation.
We come back again and again.
The universe does not deal in vacuums.

          — Marcus L. Green

Peace and good health to you, Mr. Green.

Metaphysics. Astrophysics. Chemistry. Parapsychology. Hard sciences and conceptual hooey. What is proven, what is real?

When I learned we are made of stardust (embarrassingly, not too long ago) … well, that did it for me. Energy can transfer in all kinds of astonishing, scientific, and mystical ways. Based on a few life experiences, I’m open to them all.

Our world and the way we interact within it and respond to it is infinitely complex. Throw in relationships among ourselves, and the layers get even deeper. Thinking of someone and receiving a phone call from them minutes later is not a coincidence that keeps happening over and over. It’s akin to the way my dog senses the kids getting out of school and heading home… she perks up and stares out the window toward the bus stop at the same time each weekday, long before she sees the visual cue of them walking toward her.

An incident that stands out most in my mind, though, makes me a believer in precognition, and I’m eternally grateful for it. When my son was eight years old, he was sitting at the kitchen table, engrossed in an art project. I was two rooms away in my home office. Russell wandered into my office and asked for an art supply, glue or something. At that moment, I heard an indescribable sound — a combination rumble, loud crash and long flowing noise, if that makes any sense.

I thought of my daughter and her friend, also young, playing in the house, then of the tall bookcase in the den. I rushed out. The girls were fine and the bookcase was intact. Then I walked into the kitchen, where Russell had been working.

A large three-shelf cabinet, completely filled with food in glass bottles, cans, and other packages had seemingly jumped off the wall, clearing the narrow counter below and crashing full on to the kitchen table and landing at a crazy angle on a chair. Cans and bottles were strewn in a huge path over the table and onto the floor.

The wonderful scent of pure Madagascar vanilla extract filled the room, as the small bottle of vanilla and a bottle of oil were the only containers that broke.

I was a bit in shock and didn’t start cleaning up the mess right away. The kids were, of course, shaken as well, and I immediately called my neighbor to come pick up her daughter who thought our house was haunted at this point.

And it wasn’t until much later that it hit me…. my son had been sitting, happily busy, in that chair, the chair that was now contorted and bent under the weight of the cabinet. He would most certainly have been deeply injured or even lost his life under the weight of that huge fallen cabinet and its contents.

We learned later that the cabinet had been improperly secured to the wall. But I will always wonder… what led a child to get up and walk away seconds before a horrific weight would cascade down upon him?

I know Russell well enough to believe that he had sensed something more important than the immediate need for a bit of paper or glue. I believe that the atoms or electricity or whatever in his body went on high alert and prompted him to move away from danger.

Close call? Coincidence? It happens every day. Most we win, and some we lose, which is when tragedy strikes, but I think we all have powers within us that have saved us more than we know.

And although I’m fascinated by studies of science and phenomena, I don’t really need all the explanations. I just think they are a wonderful part of experiencing life and our world and ourselves.

I don’t use drugs, my dreams are frightening enough. – M. C. Escher

The dreams I remember upon waking feel like a strange little gift presented by the subconscious. Even if I have a horrific dream, at least it is something interesting to tumble around in the back of my head the next day (or sometimes for the rest of my life).

We forget most of our dreams, of course, shortly after our feet hit the floor. Some of the best stories and songs ever written appeared first as dreams, and those dreamers had the good sense and well worn skills to immediately record a few notes before the brainwaves settled back down.

My first memorable childhood nightmare was a harrowing adaptation of the Norwegian fairy tale “Three Billy Goats Gruff”, with my parents and brother as the three goats clip clopping across the bridge. I watched in horror as an ugly troll emerged from under the bridge, pulling them down and and eating them alive, one by one.  I slept the rest of that night in my parents’ bed.

Perhaps we’ve all had the classics.  Falling perilously and waking up just before hitting bottom was a repeat throughout my childhood. It was coolest when it involved a waterfall, but I usually fell from a mountain or foreboding cliff. I’m glad I outgrew this set of dreams and thankfully never hit rock bottom.

Another childhood classic (I say hopefully) is walking to school naked or taking off my coat at school and realizing I had forgotten to get dressed. Social anxiety, not prepared for my third grade quiz? This one I looked up online, and the questionable source suggests an inflated sense of self. OK then, perhaps I was a confident eight year old.

Somewhere in adulthood I started having “vision dreams”. There is no memorable plot or story line to a vision dream; you simply awaken with a wildly vivid picture in your mind. In my favorite I’m up on a mountain looking down at a tropical bay and boats and fireworks and thousands of stars in the sky.  Years later I found an illustration that doesn’t depict it, but the colors and mood are exactly like that in my dream.  I definitely dream in color.

I haven’t taken out books from the library to study dreams or anything like that. I can usually piece together the two or three elements from recent events that curdle into mind blips that then surface as dreams.

But I was inspired to write this post because today I had my favorite kind of dream… in which a close, beloved deceased relative or friend pops in, for a few lifelike moments, to say hello. While I was taking a 20 minute power nap, my father appeared. It was just for a second;  only a quick look at his combed hair and his glasses and his bright blue eyes, wearing his favorite tan jacket over a tall wiry frame, smiling and stepping up a curb to approach me as I stood somewhere outside.

So thank you, dream, for giving me back my Dad, just for a moment. That’ll keep me going for a while.

Reading, in fact soaking up art and ideas in all forms, feels as important and sustaining to me as eating and drinking and sleeping.

To me, reading and writing are simply different entry points into the same energy space of communication and expression.

So I hope that the way I write here, and the things I write about, creates a place where you might want to come when you have a moment to kick back, have a cup of tea, and read something that might strike a chord with you.