Archive for November, 2010|Monthly archive page

Winter’s Song

The landscape speaks this morning, with many voices.
The trees are bells, each twig encased in ice.
The car tires spin and spit in their ABS bliss, ingenuity meeting recklessness.
The snow hushes, the slush shushes.
Geese squawk just handspans above my head, indignantly looking for the land amidst the wet.
My boots crunch and slurp, in syncopation with the slick surface.
The wind sighs of melt and freeze, both at once.
My wet pants urge me in to the warmth.
As I pry open the door to my building, wind crescendoing in its attempt to transform itself into inside air, I remember:
“Momma,” my son murmured to me last night while cuddling in bed after an exhausting day, “You’re my best of all.”
And the world stills.


The Properties of Cork

Today, my depression is so bad that even news of a potential new job could not crack my face into a smile.
I feel muffled, enclosed, slow.
Like cork.
Cork muffles.
It stoppers.
But it also prevents breakage.
It breathes, though minutely and slowly.
Cork is the inner bark of the cork oak tree, which grows mainly in southwest Europe and northwest Africa.
It is the name of both an Irish city and a county.
It is an international sailing race held annually in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
Made into a bulletin board, you can stick sharp pins in it repeatedly.
It is a last name.
It can taint wine.
Cork is impermeable.
It is buoyant.
It is flexible and elastic.
It resists fire.
It prevents water from penetrating.
It forms an important barrier to harmful solutes, and thus serves as protection from damage.
Cork can be harvested without killing the tree – but only every nine years.
52% of its annual production comes from Portugal.
It makes a lovely floor.
Cork is a good insulator.
It can be used as bricks.
It is used to fasten together sections of musical instruments, making them airtight.
It forms the core of a baseball.
Hung from hats, it keeps insects away from the face.
Footbeds are made from it.
It is sustainable.
It is used in spacecraft heat shields.
Place enough corks in a glass vase, and they become art.
I may be more like cork than I know.

A Reminder

I was having a hard time the other day, too wrapped up in myself to be effective at anything. In my soul-searching, I found this site: To Write Love On Her Arms. It is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping youth battling depression seek help rather than harm. They believe that “rescue is possible, and are committed to communicating hope to others who know the daily struggle of living in a broken world.” They called their organization what they did because of a story beautifully and powerfully written, much like any blog post you might stumble across. In the story, a young person came across a friend who was so torn up inside she felt the need to tear up her outsides – she wrote “fuck up” on her arm with a razor blade. The friend wished instead to write love on her arms, and this organization is the evolution of that wish.

They say:

“You were created to love and be loved. You were meant to live life in relationship with other people, to know and be known. You need to know that your story is important and that you’re part of a bigger story. You need to know that your life matters.

We live in a difficult world, a broken world. My friend Byron is very smart – he says that life is hard for most people most of the time. We believe that everyone can relate to pain, that all of us live with questions, and all of us get stuck in moments. You need to know that you’re not alone in the places you feel stuck.

We all wake to the human condition. We wake to mystery and beauty but also to tragedy and loss. Millions of people live with problems of pain. Millions of homes are filled with questions – moments and seasons and cycles that come as thieves and aim to stay. We know that pain is very real. It is our privilege to suggest that hope is real, and that help is real.

You need to know that rescue is possible, that freedom is possible, that God is still in the business of redemption. We’re seeing it happen. We’re seeing lives change as people get the help they need.  People sitting across from a counselor for the first time. People stepping into treatment. In desperate moments, people calling a suicide hotline. We know that the first step to recovery is the hardest to take. We want to say here that it’s worth it, that your life is worth fighting for, that it’s possible to change.

Beyond treatment, we believe that community is essential, that people need other people, that we were never meant to do life alone.

The vision is that community and hope and help would replace secrets and silence.

The vision is people putting down guns and blades and bottles.

The vision is that we can reduce the suicide rate in America and around the world.

The vision is that we would learn what it means to love our friends, and that we would love ourselves enough to get the help we need.

The vision is better endings. The vision is the restoration of broken families and broken relationships. The vision is people finding life, finding freedom, finding love. The vision is graduation, a Super Bowl, a wedding, a child, a sunrise.

The vision is people becoming incredible parents, people breaking cycles, making change.

The vision is the possibility that your best days are ahead.

The vision is the possibility that we’re more loved than we’ll ever know.

The vision is hope, and hope is real.

You are not alone, and this is not the end of your story.”

These were words I desperately needed to hear, arriving when I didn’t know I needed to hear them. I borrow them here, to honour past, present and future. My needs aren’t quite as dramatic as those of many who visit that site. But I’ve known that depth of despair, and found my way out. Now, I just occasionally skirt about the edges, having a much greater appreciation for my own warning signs and limits – and resources and strengths. I’ve learned how to write love on my own arms, and to have it written when need be.

But others aren’t as lucky, or simply haven’t yet tread the miles I have. It is my eternal hope that my words bear witness; that they too, write love. Because the world is broken. But I do not aim to stand idly by.

A Letter From My Future Self

I’m worried about you.
There are only so many pieces of yourself you get to lose before your core begins to hollow.
It’s possible that stripping your soul may be like losing bone density;
a one-way process.

I’m worried, you see,
because I have a stake in this, in you.
What will be left when you get here,
and you become me?
That’s a one-way process too.

He’s Growing Up

Tonight, I went out to an evening with my friends, to discuss jewelery and crafting and other such things. With my son. I drank wine and nibbled and chatted and tried on necklaces. With my son. With my rambunctious, flamboyant, expressive, attention-centric, mischievous son. And it was AWESOME.

He played with the other little boy there, half his age and a third his size. That is, Bonhomme dictated the terms under which he would deign to play with the other little boy, which included monopolizing the toys and ordering imperiously. He sat and watched TV with my friend’s husband, who got the same treatment (and whose vampire movie mysteriously transformed itself into Dora along the way). He got all the ladies dancing to the beat of his Fisher Price keyboard. He got served snacks, on demand. He advised me on my necklace trials. He entertained us, but more importantly, he entertained himself.

I’ve waited three and a half years for this. This is the kid who requires constant stimulus, interaction, choices, ideas, and movement. He’s the most extroverted person I know. Everything comes out with him; he literally is a stream of consciousness. He is astounding, exhilerating, inspiring – and exhausting.

There will be much more of this, I know, as Bonhomme learns to define himself and his place in the world. What I won’t tell him just yet is how long that process is going to take. But tonight, I got a tiny bit of space to breathe. To sit back and watch the show. To converse with my friends, indulge in one of my passions, relax – and still be there for my son. I, for once, was not subsumed. And it was awesome.

Out of Reach

The corn stalks are silvery with dusk and frost.

The cello solo on the radio is the voice of my heart: aching, heavy, skirling, edgy, grieving.

I’m late heading home, once again, due to work and traffic and too much of both.

This universe has not enough time or space.

My life is a trail of fragments and shards, haphazard.

The sky is light still, the land dark. It is impossible to tell which silhouettes which.

The music has crescendoed and faded. I now hear French lyrics, my mother tongue. But in this song, it is unintelligible – I understand one word in five.
It seems as if this is perpetually true – as if I go about each day understanding only snippets, soundbites, spoken in accents too strange and dialects too fast for consumption.
Result: constant bewilderment.

My sorrow is a weight on my chest, a wait on my self.

It pervades my pulse.

The open sky mocks my lack of wings.