And yet we know it’s all just one continuous unfolding as one day or year slips seamlessly into the next. This marking of time is an illusion and has no more weight than what we give it.
In reality, there’s just this present awareness of the here and now before it too dissolves into what we call the past and evolves into what call the future. But what we call the past and the future are just part of one continuous, seamless, whole.
What we experience as the passage of time is simply the process by which we come to know that wholeness—intimately, inch by inch—as it reveals itself to us through it unravelling. As if the totality of existence is one huge ball of yarn that we are experiencing as it unfolds, moment by moment. And yet we too are woven into that wholeness, each of us separately and together. And what we are witnessing is our own self-revealing.
Nothing we cherish is lost. Nothing we aspire toward is unfulfilled. It’s all part of the one Whole.
The longer I live, the more I see things this way, and see myself as an essential part of it—as ever fresh, and as ancient as time itself. A time out of mind, or mind out of time.
2022, I embrace all you revealed to me of what forever is.
2023, I welcome all you will unfold of what was and will be.
It’s been awhile. I traded in my pen for my paintbrush these last few weeks. The new novel I’ve been writing is off with beta readers who will give me the feedback I need to continue revising. In the meantime, I’ve been wanting a seascape to go in a special place in our home to complement the model of the USS Constitution that my husband spent three years creating.
I saw an online paint-along of a seascape from a photo reference I liked, and decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, the paint-along format didn’t work for me. I’ve never been someone to draw within the lines. I wasn’t happy with the outcome and turned off the video and, using the photo reference, worked on my own, adding and deleting elements as I went along. It went through several transformations before my husband and I decided it would suffice.
It’s signed and framed and ready to hang. At first I thought this frame was too busy for the painting, but when I tried it with other, plainer, frames, it didn’t look as nice. Besides, I love the frame. The antique look blends well with Old Ironsides.
I haven’t worked a lot in acrylic. Although I’m starting to get the hang of it. Most of what I’ve been doing has been in water color and pastels, or a combination of the two. I just finished another acrylic that I’m pleased with—a birthday present for my grandson. I’ll share that here soon too.
In the meantime, I’m wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving Day with friends and loved ones.
It’s about the need to catch every falling cup “with soft hands” and fill it to the brim “with brimless being.”
This happens sometimes when writing poetry. A phrase will swim up from some primal depth, like a gift or some pressing urge—a fuzzy felt-sense of something that wants to be known, and, in the writing, becomes clearer, although not fully plumbed. Thus it returns, as if it has more to teach.
It means different things to me at different times. Sometimes it connotes a deep kindness that reaches out to save things that seem to be lost, fallen, ready to shatter—to hold them gently in our hands, our minds, and cherish everything good about them so much they become full to overflowing.
Other times it seems to suggest catching every moment before it disappears and just holding it gently in our awareness, feeling its fullness to such a degree that the moment stills and becomes its own kind of forever unending.
Doing this when it’s still and quiet is like stepping into a pool and swimming luxuriously through it. Steeping ourselves in every sound, texture, color, scent of that still moment—breathing it all in.
Trying to do so in those harried moments when you’re full of feeling—perhaps stressed, anxious, in a hurry and rushing around—is harder. But even then, the attempt to do so creates its own magic. Even as everything around you is in a rush, the moment slows and softens as the mind merges with its surroundings, savoring its suchness. That moment melts into the next in a never-ending stream. Nothing is lost. All remains full.
Me, you, our lives, each passing moment—We are the cup that must be caught with soft hands and filled to the brim with brimless being. That’s the urgent need.
When I created this blog ten years ago I named it “Living on the Edge of the Wild.” I saw this space as a place to explore what I saw as the borderlands between what we know as humankind and the vast wilderness of what we do not know. I wrote in my first blog post on July 12, 2012:
We all are, in some way, living on the edge of the wild, either literally or figuratively, whether we know it or not. We all are standing at the edge of some great unknown, exploring what it means to be human in a more-than-human universe.
We encounter the “wild” not only in the natural world, but . . . at the edges of science, the arts, and human consciousness.
I began my exploration into the wild quite literally, when our family was living aboard La Gitana and traveling around the world for six years. It became starkly apparent when I was sailing across the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by nothing but the sky above and the sea below, that I was living on the edge of something primitive and uninhibited, vulnerable to potentially terrifying forces that could rip us apart or swallow us whole. And yet those very same forces are what filled our sails and moved us forward, and what cradled us below, harboring in those depths the creatures that astounded us with their beauty and power.
I came to appreciate in the most intimate way how tiny and insignificant we humans appear in the natural world that surrounds and supports us. We are indeed living on the edge of the wild, the largely untamed and unknown world into which we are born, exploring the borderlands that lay between the human and the more-than-human worlds, and the ways they overlap and mirror each other.
Looking back over the past ten years of blogging, I’ve tried to stay true to that original vision. sharing my thought on what fascinates me in nature, the arts and sciences, as well as my own creative endeavors and explorations of what it means to be a mother, a writer and someone who worries about the world—who wants to save it and savor it—all its beauty and joy—at the same time.
Over the years I’ve managed to gather 10,000+ followers (according to the website metrics which is not always accurate). But interest in my posts wane and flow, and sometimes, for personal reasons, I’ve let the blogging trickle to a near stop. Eventually, I’ve always returned. Because there’s still so much I want to explore, so many things I discover (books, artwork, music) that give me such pleasure I want to share them with others, and because blogging meets a basic human need—to touch others and be touched in return.
We’ve all heard how physical touching is essential to human health and happiness. They say people can shrivel up and die for want of being touched or having someone to touch. A simple pat on the shoulder, a hug, a hand squeeze can make all the difference. Merely having a pet, they say, saves lives.
But there’s a basic human need for another kind of touching—from the inside out. Touching others with what means the most to us, our deepest responses to the world around us. Keeping those unspoken, unexpressed, can be as withering as being untouched physically. Which is why, perhaps, so many writers and artists will give their work away for free if need be, just to allow what’s inside out into the world where it can touch others, and “evoke responses.”
I’ve enjoyed reaching out and touching others over these past ten years, and being touched in return by your likes and responses, and by reading and responding to your blog posts. I’ve made several dear blogging friends whom I’ve never met but feel I know quite well. I’ve learned so much sharing this space with you.
So please accept my heartfelt thanks to all of you who have been with me from the very beginning, to those of you who have stopped by from time to time, and to those who have only recently tuned in to see what this space is all about. Thank you for helping me celebrate a decade of “Living on the Edge of the Wild.”
I took two months away from blogging, most of May and all of June. Some of that time was finishing the first draft of a new novel. Some of it was spending time with family. Much of it was preparing for a trial that has now been continued. I won’t go into the details, except to say it’s part of a long, ongoing saga dealing with the guardianship of my granddaughter. Not something I’m worried about, but due diligence is needed to keep her safe and in good hands. And this is the first time I’ve represented myself in the matter. A long, steep learning curve.
But I’m back. Kinda.
In a weird way, I feel like I’m standing at the prow of a ship and trying to decide where to go to next—with this blog, and the rest of my life. The way is wide open before me. So many choices.
Mary Oliver once ended a poem with this question: “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
We sometimes forget her question comes right on the heels of another: “Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?”
And that follows this: “What else should I have done?”
Which leads, perhaps, to that old clich: “This is the first day of the rest of my life.”
I feel a bit like that now, with all the uncertainty and promise that comes with it.
“We create ourselves out of our innermost intuitions” is another favorite quote.
The seed knows within itself what it will become when it falls on fertile soil. But what of the acorn still clinging to the leaf? What does it dream of? Rebirth in the fertile soil below? Or that wild flight through the crystal air when the way is still wide open. Tethered neither to tree above (the past) nor the earth below (what is to come), but for one brief, infinite instant seeing the whole round world in all its wonders, and itself at the very center of it all.
Far at sea with no land in sight the horizon is round and there is no end to it. We lie at the still center of a vast spaciousness.
Still, the wind will rise before us, the seas will roll beneath, and our eyes will seek something within that vast spaciousness to set our sails for.
And so, while I’m back, I know not where I’m headed next. And, for now, I like this free-fall feeling. The round horizon. The way wide open. For now.
Please Do Not Disturb: That’s how I’ve felt these past few months, and even more so these past few weeks, so immersed in the work of finishing up my second novel, that I can’t spare the time to do anything else. And when I must take time away, I feel somewhat distraught or guilty, as if I’m cheating on a lover, or playing hooky from school. Even writing this now, feels like that, although I’ve been working eight hours straight since this morning.
I do this 7 days a week now and am making enormous progress. So I’m not complaining. I’m happy, if exhausted, at the end of the day, and looking forward to the next day of writing—revising mostly now, polishing, tying up loose ends, getting it ready to send off. My husband can’t understand how I can feel so exhausted sitting in a chair all day! It’s mental exhaustion, I try to explain. My mind feels washed out after 8 hours.
Even so, it feels good. There were many years when my problem with writing was the inability to find the time to write or the discipline to stay with it so long. So this is progress.
I wrote another blog post a few years ago about being “Immersed In One’s Art” using the same image of Frankenthaler. This is what I wrote then:
There’s something immensely satisfying to see Helen Frankenthaler immersed in her art this way. I found this image on Facebook, along with the following quotation:
“I’ve seen women insist on cleaning everything in the house before they could sit down to write . . . and you know it’s a funny thing about housecleaning . . . it never comes to an end. Perfect way to stop a woman. A woman must be careful to not allow over-responsibility (or over-respectabilty) to steal her necessary creative rests, riffs, and raptures. She simply must put her foot down and say no to half of what she believes she ‘should’ be doing. Art is not meant to be created in stolen moments only.” ― Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Why is it we women (is it only women?) too often put our personal passions last in line behind all else?
I’m trying more and more to put those passions (my writing, painting, music-making) first on my list of to-do’s. But it’s hard. Somehow even blogging comes first, although it too is writing, a kind of art-making. Or at least I try to make it so.
Perhaps because I’ve set firmer deadlines for my blog, or I see it as a commitment I’ve made, to keep this up and running, to not let readers go too long without hearing from me. And blogging is just another way for me to “riff and rapture” about the things I love, to share what inspires me with the world.
Still, to imagine myself immersed in my art as she is in this photo, surrounded by bright splashes of color, my bare legs curled beneath me on the cold floor, and that Mona Lisa smile, that dark gaze . . . it does my heart good.
Yes, it does do my heart good, to be immersed in my writing this way—Finally. But it means I’ve been blogging less these days and will probably be doing less in the coming weeks as well. But I’ll be back to “riff and rapture” again before long. I promise.
Blue and gold are my favorite colors, so much so I created a Pinterest page named Blue & Gold to capture those radiant images that inspire me.
Now it’s the Ukrainians’ fight for freedom that inspires me, under that radiant banner of Democracy. So I’m sharing some blue and gold images from my page today in their honor, although I wish I could stand with them and fight at their side. I wish the world would.
I don’t think it’s enough to cheer them from the sidelines, or to merely send in arms and ammunition. If my neighbor’s home was under attack by Putin’s thugs, if their family and way of life was being threatened, would I simply stand at edge of my yard and not step foot into theirs to help them? Even if their attackers threatened me and my home if I did, would I bow to such threats?
And would I refuse to do so only because they did not happen to belong to my NATO club? I think not. Honor and love and the Golden Rule would not allow me to do so. If my home was under attack, wouldn’t I want my neighbor to come to my aid?
Why is it we are leaving Ukraine to fight this war alone? I know what the fear is—that doing so would start a World War III. But when we stood by and allowed Hitler to take over the Czech Republic in 1939, it didn’t stop world War II from happening. It seems a travesty to me that we are repeating past mistakes. Stop the bully now, don’t wait for him to defeat Ukraine and hope by doing so he won’t attack some weaker country later on. It will only encourage him.
There’s little I can do here to help the Ukrainians, but I dedicate this page to them and the colors of their flag. And I will pray for them. As well as for the United States: to do the honorable thing, the just and righteous thing, to step across that border and help them as the Golden Rule and love of Democracy and Freedom and plain decency demands.
Like many, I’ve been finding it difficult to write my normal New Year’s “Looking Back, Looking Forward” blog post. Looking back at 2021 is just too messy and confusing with so many conflicting emotions and dimmed expectations. And looking forward . . . ?
“This year, I’m resolving to find the joy in the work, and to embrace that joy the way a person in the ocean would cling to a piece of floating debris.”
I’m with you, Chuck. Now has never been a better time for living in the present and squeezing every ounce of joy out of everything that comes our way.
“If not now, when? If not us, who?” Remember that old activist chestnut?
I never thought to apply it to embracing the here and now of joy. But honestly, it works. And it’s not as selfish as it might seem. If we fill our hearts and minds with the simple joys at hand, and stick with it despite all that would tempt us to turn away, the joy that fills us is sure to spill over to all around us.
My simple solution to a world gone awry! But hasn’t it done so again and again over the ages?
Maybe in times like these our purpose should be to focus on the joy at hand and multiply it.