In very different ways, both of my grandparents taught me that life is a never-ending series of choices. While some choices are huge, most are those small decisions that create the twists and turns on the road we travel. My grandmother’s lessons were heavy with regret. My grandfather’s centered on preparedness. Once I accumulated enough life experience, I realized that the combination of the two equals mindfulness for me. And at the heart of this is trusting my instincts. Like going to Frostburg instead of Radford University…where I met Jim Graybeal…who had followed his instincts by coming to Frostburg where he knew he was going to find his lifelong companion. But, just think…what if I/we had:
- followed the recommendation of the Head of the Sociology Department and headed to graduate school at Columbia?
- moved to the Great Smokies when Jim had an offer from the National Park Service?
- decided not to come to Delaware for unstable, seasonal employment with Parks?
- not taken the Admin Librarian position with the Division of Libraries?
You could go crazy…that’s what I mean when I say “If only we could see a little farther…” Now? Imposed and self-selected changes are in the wind…brand new paths are coming into view. Cool.
On April 30th & May 1st, I joined archivists and historians from across the Mid-Atlantic for their Spring conference. A whole new world for this public librarian. But, not a strange one. There has always been a part of me that wanders ancient sanctuaries, carefully handling rare books and cultural objects with gloved hands and whispers. That’s a conversation for another time.
Yeah, I’m a few days behind here…life happens. But, as I look through photos I have collected/scanned/found, I’m disappointed. There are so few of “us” t-o-g-e-t-h-e-r. How did that happen? It just strengthens my conviction when those around me now whine about getting a few shots – like they did yesterday morning – to capture this single moment…this flash of time.
“I think that I shall never see…a poem as lovely as a tree…” Joyce Kilmer That’s it. And, that’s all.
Those old vivid childhood memories: 1966-ish April 15
The library as refuge is not a drum I beat too often. But when I was a child, it was. The tables, the library chairs and the books, the books, the books. The world reached out to me there. And, I learned to reach back. During the mid-1960s, my mother, brothers and sisters lived on Circle Avenue in the post-WWII development of Potomac Heights. Their house perched at the top of the circle and a local library sat at the bottom.
When I visited, I would ride my aqua Spyder bike down, return with a basket full of eclectic titles and park myself in the orange naugahyde rocker to read for the remainder of the day. However, it is a different vivid childhood memory I want to tell.
My youngest brother, Darren, was my baby. I mean, really, does anyone care more for babies than a 10-yr. old girl? I carried him on my hip; fed him bites from my mouth. To this day, still the sweetest baby I’ve ever seen.
When he was about 18 months old, Darren cried after me so hard one day that I parked the bike, hitched him onto my hip and headed down to the library. Since it was later on a Summer day, chances are we were both pretty dusty. And, I’m sure we were bare-footed. But, the blast of frosty air welcomed us in…and so did the librarian. First, straight to the ice-cold water fountain for a drink. Then after pulling a book from here, a book from there, building a pile in the kids area, I sat us down to look through a coffee-table book or two. Probably about animals…not my favorite subject but always good to keep the little ones occupied. Eventually, the librarian came over and asked if we were making out alright. We had been sitting there for nearly an hour she said. I looked at my little guy and I swear he looked me right in the eyes as if to say, “Wow. That’s a surprise…and a nice one.” The librarian also commented that she had never seen a child so young behave so well for so long in her library. And with that, I checked out way too many books, balanced Darren on the other side and we made our way back to the house. I guess we both needed a little refuge that day.
It’s not all there in black and white April 9
Traipsing through conferences, business meetings and general confabs, I usually stick out like a sore thumb. You may see a flash of vibrant red or bright blue or a green geometric print in the crowd. It’s me. In the sea of black, white, black & white stripes/dots/swirls and shades of each, I am in color. I tried to go that “professional attire” route. I really did. But no more.
Nature wears color…and we respond to it. How can you feel down when you spy acre after acre of peach trees covered in pink or the lush greens of early Summer? I can’t and I’m not even a big fan of pink…or Summer.
Color makes me happy. And, well, since I’m fortunate enough to live at a time that colors across and through the rainbow are there for me to pick as clothing, I’m picking them. Unprofessional? Who wrote that book? Bet it was black with white pages.
April’s Fool April 1
April 1st, 1982 ~ upon returning from an appointment with my obstetrician, I informed my husband that I was having twins. Jim stopped moving…he may have stopped breathing. He was paralyzed. (He wasn’t scared or disappointed…we were just poor) Since my sister-in-law, a high school junior, had accompanied me to the doctor, she was my partner in this April Fools’ Day prank. I was absolutely not having twins. We continued the masquerade all through that afternoon and evening. Poor Jim would simply look at me periodically and say nothing. If the dear old thing had just thought about it…I was 6.5 months pregnant. We would have known about twins much earlier on. Finally, it was just too painful. We yelled, “Surprise! Happy April Fools’ Day!” Trust me. Happy in no way applied to what was going on at that moment. Jim was furious/hurt/confused. And, Samantha and I? We felt like total rats. It all went to confirm my conviction to never, ever pull a practical joke. I hadn’t before then and I haven’t since. I still blush with shame a little when I think about it. Yep, I was April’s Fool that time round.
“Individuality is only possible if it unfolds from wholeness.” David Bohm, American physicist
One Little Word ~ originally connected to a now-discontinued-challenge ~ the idea of pausing/considering/choosing a single word to guide you for the coming year appeals. Simplify has been my touchstone for nearly five years and will remain so; but part of simplification centers on moving around/over/through our personal barriers. Enter One Little Word (OLW).
Wholeness is my OLW this year. Those who know me were a bit perplexed about the choice. I maintain a good balance between life/work/family and experience real contentment fairly often…these things are not easy in our world today. However, this is not wholeness.
Wholeness recognizes a landscape as is. Accepts a landscape as is. Then, pulls together our varied landscapes ~ spiritual, intellectual, physical and emotional ~ into a true (you guessed it) whole. I will share stories here along the way. Today, just know that my OLW has tested me this first few months. But there have been more “A-h-h, I see.” moments than “Oh no, was that really me?” moments. So, we’re good.