Fortress of Legos

"We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world"

Category: Life?

Excuses and Updates

I’ve been lax in my posting again, something I’m not particularly proud of. I am however proud of some of the things I’ve done while distracted.

I’ve been writing! I’ve had my hand in two separate projects that were published on Skyd Magazine, as well as two articles for the site, How to be a Redhead!

The first project on Skyd was an article series about building a college Ultimate frisbee team. It had five parts, each covering a different element of the process involved with creating and maintaining a successful team.

The second project on Skyd was also an article series, this time about what players need to be healthy athletes for their entire lifetimes. Each article went a little deeper into the types of activities and mindsets necessary to play at your best for as long as possible.

My first article for How to be a Redhead was all about how to wear your red hair with pride! It was fun to write, particularly because I got to write from my own experience. The second article was an exploration into the variety of hair colors redheads tend to have!

I’m enjoying the freelance process and expect to continue it indefinitely.

Returning to Gift from the Sea

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I wrote about my appreciation for a quote from this book almost a year ago, and in rereading the book, I’m finding it’s still just as important to me. Last time was a quote about patience, this time is a quote about relationships. It’s a doozy but it’s worth the read.

When you love someone you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, or relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is the growth, in fluidity – in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass but partners in the same pattern. The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what it was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. For relationships, too, must be like islands. One must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits – islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, continually visited and abandoned by the tides.

Isn’t that stunning? “Continually visited and abandoned by the tides…” is an incredible and comforting viewpoint from which to consider our relationships. There will be lulls, but there will be times of great abundance and they all must be appreciated.

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

Ann Patchett

Reading this collection of essays, I felt almost as though I was reading well-crafted letters from a close friend. Having finished the collection, I find myself missing Ann Patchett. She resonated with me, a kindred spirit the likes of which have previously been relegated to poets like Robert Hass, Louise Glück, and Tomas Tranströmer.

Sitting on the condo balcony overlooking the ocean on St. Croix, I’m framing each experience I have here in a story, an essay, that I want her to resonate with. Her essays fit inside me better than I myself do sometimes.

Some highlights —

“…both novels and dogs…are so beautifully oblivious to economic concerns. We serve them, and in return they thrive.”

“Forgiveness…is the key to making art, and very possibly the key to finding any semblance of happiness in life.”

“The ability to have a friend, and be a friend, is not unlike the ability to learn. Both are rooted in being accepting and open-minded with a talent for hard work. If you are willing to stretch yourself, to risk yourself, if you are willing to love and honor and cherish the people who are important to you until one of you dies, then there will be great heartache and even greater reward.”

“…marriage, a deeply worn path of mutual acceptance.”

I underlined many more quotes than that, but figured I probably didn’t need to retype the entire book here for you. I recommend this wholeheartedly, and would love to hear your favorite bits.

Passing through MI

After too many hours driving through too much awful weather, I had the opportunity to explore the frozen tundra of Northern MI. The cold was incredible, but the beauty more so.

Elegy Composed in the New York Botanical Garden

Eugenia Leigh

Catmint – tubular, lavender, an ointment
to blur the scar, bloom the skin. My mouth has begun
the hunt for words that heal.

In the garden, I am startled by a cluster
of sun-colored petals marked, Radiation.
Piles of radiation. Orange radiation, huddled together

like families bound by a hospital-bright morning.
And behind them: a force of yuccas
called Golden Swords. A bush or mound

or sheath-like leaves sprouting from a proud center.
And isn’t that the plot?
First the radiation, then the golden sword.

I remember, incurably,
your mother. The laughter that flowered
from her lips. I’m sorry I have no good words

to honor her war. It crumbled me to watch you
overwhelmed by her face
in the daffodils outside your childhood home.

There is incredible distance and longing and sorrow in the line, “It crumbled me to watch you / overwhelmed by her face”- I am so touched. Also the line, “My mouth has begun / to hunt for words that heal.” Don’t we all want that?

André Trocmé

I am like a decapitated pine. Pine trees do not regenerate their tops. They stay twisted, crippled. They grow in thickness, perhaps, and that is what I am doing…

Speaking of the loss of his son, a pastor of a Huguenot church during WWII spoke to the changes that happen when someone experiences great pain. This quote was in the book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants which I thoroughly appreciated (I might be biased, but there’s an enjoyable review here).

I recommend the book as well as some research into André Trocmé himself. Both are fascinating.

Crassula

Looking at the crassula sitting on my windowsill today, I realized that it’s sprouted entirely new leaves. How could I have prepared for that?

It seems a small thing — my plant grew. It’s infinitely more than that though; time slid forward while I blinked. Why do I never feel ready when I realize when it is? I am the age I used to imagine as ‘older’ but I couldn’t feel younger.

I haven’t done the things I expected my ‘older’ self to do, but I’m doing things my younger self couldn’t have imagined.

My life keeps changing. I fit inside my skin differently than I used to. I quit one job to begin a new one and restart an old one. I still love some things while others matter less to me. I called North Carolina home before planting my roots in Minnesota. Illinois was home during college, and I’ve spent the last few months calling North Carolina home once more. In a few days, Michigan will be my part-time home, while I spend the other half of my year couch-surfing around the country. During that half of the year I will be calling the people I love my home.

My crassula is growing alongside me.

That Thing We All Want

beloved

 

And what did you want? To call myself
beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth.

-Ray Carver

There is something comforting in these words — a stability and nurturing quality derived from the earth tied to our innate desire to be able to say “I am loved.”

This feels like sand being brushed by the ocean, or wind through tall pines, a shelf full of worn books, an infant waking to keep meeting the world.

I think this is my favorite quote right now.

Light

I’ve been making my way through a 365 project – a photo a day for a year. I’m compiling them in an album on my Facebook page, but as I’ve hit 50 days, I was curious to reflect on my progress so far.

Looking through them, I’ve noticed a theme of light: particularly interesting because I’m slowly reading What Light Can Do by Robert Hass. I bought a Kindle copy years ago but it wasn’t until I bought a paperback copy that I’ve been able to fully immerse myself in the book. Having restarted at the beginning, this collection of essays “on Art, Imagination, and the Natural World” is challenging me to slow down and keep a dictionary on hand.

I’m going to save further exploration of his essays for a later time. Right now, I just want to share the photos from my project that I think are especially relevant to the idea of light.

A PART OF THE FOREST

Another poem by Tomas Tranströmer, this one translated by Samuel Charters.

On the way there is a pair of frightened wings clattered up, that was all.
There you walk alone. It’s a high building completely made of narrow
cracks. A building that is always swaying but never falls. The thousandfold
sun slips in through the cracks. In the play of light an inverted law of
gravity prevails: the house is anchored in the sky, and everything that falls
falls upward. You can turn around there. You can mourn there. There you
dare look at certain old truths that otherwise are always kept packed away.
The parts I play deep within float up there, hang like dried skulls in the
ancestors’ huts on some remote Melanesian island. An atmosphere of childhood
around the spooky trophies. It’s so mild in the forest.

"The thousandfold sun slips in through the cracks."

“The thousandfold sun slips in through the cracks.”