~ ‘The Old Poets of China’, by Mary Oliver
~ ‘The Old Poets of China’, by Mary Oliver
The five year old whose dad says “Stay here, I’ll be back in a minute,” and leaves his kid kneeling on a bench surrounded by backpacks and bags and the kid stares in the direction of the washrooms like a puppy until he comes back.
The teenage boys who fist pump goodbye like it’s nothing. The face on the one that stays.
The lads that take pictures with real cameras with real lenses.
Why did the green program start with blue boxes?
Why is the Canadian Tire logo a triangle?
Why is men’s and boy’s clothing made to fit so much looser than girls’ and women’s?
And can someone please design a better bathing suit…
Why does no one know the name of the first person who survived going over Niagara Falls in a barrel?
“There’s one famous study showing that women treated the exact same babies differently depending on whether they were dressed in pink or blue. If the clothes were blue they assumed it was a boy, played more physical games with them and encouraged them to play with a squeaky hammer, whereas they would gently soothe the baby dressed in pink and choose a doll for them to play with.” Valid point or bollocks?
Why do we need three title options for women: Ms., Miss and Mrs. and only one for men?
Why does *he* always drive?
What are there more of: snowflakes, grains of sand or blades of grass?
Is the book always better than the novel? Examples?
How best to handle the guy in the next seat who doesn’t realize his ‘space’ is only as wide as his legs unspread… without turning it into a ‘thing’ that ruins your movie/play/flight/bus ride?
Why is there no Toddlers and Tiaras for boys?
How do ducks keep their feet warm in winter?
Why is there no major religion where women are the leaders?
How is it possible for a work of literary fiction to be in such dire need of editing and still go on to win awards?
If I’m right (as I most definitely am) and you’re right (as you most definitely are), who’s right?
Tell me the beautiful bits, things I might not see if I walked where you walk.
More than ever.
And through the eyes of each other.
Tell me about the litter you pick up or don’t pick up and about the bike you once found abandoned in the woods just there and how you wonder where abandoned bikes go… and why ducks’ feet don’t get cold.
How he appeared at the window one day when your cat was sitting on the sill and they both nearly scared each other to death and how neither of them have gone anywhere near that window since.
And the splash of red you see in a bush, which you assume is another Timmy’s cup and when you get closer you see that it’s not litter but a bird.
Tell me about the man doing tai chi in the park and how you’re grateful for all the goodness he’s putting into the air. And how in the very same park someone left a hoover and a giant bag of household garbage.
Tell me it’s to clear your mind, to remind yourself there’s more than madness in the world. Tell me it helps you see that despite all the anger, fear and hate, there’s no value in anger, fear or hate because that’s not how things work, that’s not the essence of what we are.
Despite all appearances, that’s not the essence of what we are.
Tell me you walk to refuel because refueling is necessary… because this isn’t a time for idleness.
Tell me you walk because there is so much beauty.
And so much work to do.
Not encouraging anyone to be wordless today.
It’s #BellLetsTalk and every single form of online communication using that hashtag (until midnight) will generate five cents for mental health initiatives.
Am writing this not so much for a friend as because of them, someone who is an inspiration to me in ways he’ll never realize. Twenty something years ago his bipolar disorder and psychotic episodes got bad enough that it was recommended he move into a residence designed for people with mental health issues at every level. It’s become home and he says he’s lucky to be there and feels safe, but he also says that most other residents are very low functioning and it can be a depressing environment. So he keeps busy. He listens to the radio in his room. Local news stations, every kind of music, sports. TV is less interesting to him, too much an assault on the senses and, anyway, it’s in the common area, which he prefers to avoid.
Not that he’s anti social. Quite the opposite. He’s forever in search of a good conversation. It’s just that where he lives it’s impossible. So, every day, without fail, he does something to work around that.
He once told me he tried to speak to at least three people a day. Even if it was just to say hello in passing on the street.
He loves the phone. Computers are beyond his ability. He’ll spend weeks composing a letter he sends by mail. He doesn’t have a lot of money but he likes to go out, so he spends afternoons walking and drinking coffee or tea in various cafes where he always asks if there’s anything he can do to be helpful. One place said they’d be grateful to have him tidy up their bulletin board occasionally. He does this with extraordinary devotion to detail and all kinds of pride and tells me why he arranged things on the board as he did that day. This place has become his new favourite haunt and he’ll spend money he can’t really afford on too many muffins just to support them, so grateful is he to be able to tidy that board.
Sometimes at night he’ll go out to hear a local band and if likes them he’ll tell everyone he knows and several he doesn’t that they need to hear this band. Not pushy, just passionate.
He goes through phases of doing things left-handed, brushing his teeth, holding the phone, eating soup. Someone told him it’s good for your brain.
For awhile he took it upon himself to report street lights that had burned out. He would note the location and call the city works department. He gets involved with various local groups, folds envelopes, whatever needs doing. He discovers a second hand shop that’s struggling to make ends meet but the people are nice so he buys a belt he can’t afford, just to help them out.
What he doesn’t do is complain. Which is astonishing to me.
He knows how some people see him. He doesn’t fool himself, he knows what his limitations are, what he’s dealing with. He’s just somehow able to override all that and keep going.
Though he gets weary of it all sometimes.
Occasionally his disorder turns psychotic and he ends up at The Royal, the mental health centre in Ottawa, where he might spend months at a time.
There are aspects of his life that are so frightening I don’t know how he copes as casually as he does. He says he’s used to it. But surely becoming used to something awful can as easily destroy spirit as it can be the reason to work even harder. That his spirit is not only intact but shines as brightly as it does…. is extraordinary. I never take it for granted.
And so he is an inspiration like no one else I know.
I tell him all the time. But I’m not sure he believes me.
He called the other day to remind me of #BellLetsTalk. And he’ll be calling everyone he knows today, at least once. It’s what he can do, so he does it. So, yeah, not wordless today. Let’s talk up a storm.
This one’s for all of us, but especially for E.
Shine on, my friend.
Other (not always) wordless friends: