Speak kindly. Touch softly. Give hugs. Bless indiscriminately. Each of us is a bright light that shines into our world and makes it better.
This is Deshun Wang, an 80-year-old who knows what it’s like to re-create himself.
At least seven times, Mr. Wang started over again. At one point, he was homeless. Now, at 80, he says with a laugh that he is an “internet sensation.”
Mr. Wang believes that no one can keep you from being a success except yourself. Each of us has a different definition of success. For myself, if I can get through life with compassion and kindness and appreciation, I consider that I’m doing pretty well.
“When it’s time to shine,” Mr. Wang says, “be the brightest!”
May we remember this week that we are always shining, even if we feel ourself a dull, low-wattage light. it’s never too late to make a difference in this world made up of interconnected strings of light.
Sweet is the sound of the pouring rain,
And the stream that falls from hill to plain.
J. R. R. Tolkien
Rain! Rain! Glorious rain came to the Midwest last night. The cost of the rain was three hours’ power outage, but watching—smelling—the rain in the darkness, and gentle conversation by candlelight seemed more like benefits than a price to be paid.
I wish we could share our rain with California, where wildfires are uncontrollable, and share our heat with Louisiana, where 30 inches of rain fell in three days. Here in Kansas, the rains were a blessing.
To mend dry winds of summer heat
And weary grass beneath my feet
The rain has come to moisten air
And wash away my spirit’s cares.
“Every cloud has a silver lining,” my mom used to say. Looking back over my life, I can see that some events were blessings in disguise. At the least, the traumas constituted lessons to be learned.
Today shall we find a silver lining? A blessing? I know I am blessed because people care about me—and I care about you!
About the time Kathy Rigby was qualifying at the World Championships, I needed courses to satisfy my Phys. Ed. requirement. One course I chose was Women’s Gymnastics. None of the half dozen of us attendees had ever been exposed to tumbling, vaulting, beam or uneven bars, but we loved our class and loved our teacher, Mrs. Ann Laptad (Schiltz).
After the brief, six-week course was completed, we decided we wanted to compete and our teacher gamely put us in the collegiate schedule. As inept as we were, we did win one meet when the opposing team could not travel through the blizzard to reach Iowa City unscathed.
Michelle on Uneven Bars, 1970
The only meet I remember, I had to compete on the uneven bars (with “rippers” on my palms), and on the horse, which terrified me. “You can do it,” Mrs. Laptad encouraged me, so I stood. (Quavered.) Ran…and fell over the horse, for which I was awarded a 2.25.
I was happy about that score, and amazed that the judges awarded any points at all for falling over the apparatus. I was afraid, but I tried.
If you are always trying to be normal,
you will never know how amazing you can be.
Once, when I was substituting in a classroom, the little kids gathered around me, gazing at the marks on my hands. A daring child traced the veins with a finger, and they ooed and ahhed over the tendons (ligaments? bones?) beneath the skin. What was normal for me amazed those students.
As I sit here drinking apple juice with protein powder mixed into it, I don’t feel very amazing now. I feel fat. I’ve never weighed more than 106 pounds my whole life, except for during pregnancies. This extra twenty pounds of swollen tissues is wearing me down.
I might hope I’m in the pre-chrysalis stage—still a fat little caterpillar waiting to be transformed. Except that we are already What We Are, divine spirits clothed in flesh. Angel wings and feet of clay?
What we focus on is what we get more of. So, shall we make time to imagine flying? Spreading our amazing wings and, in free flight, adding to the beauty of the world?
Here I am, living Quantum God again. In a week when an acupuncturist surmised that my all-over swelling comes from hormonal imbalance, the doctor’s diagnosis differs. Dr. Alex says that my kidneys are failing, in spite of them testing fine four months ago.
Whew! That’s nothing I choose to claim!
“I am who I am,” I read, “because I have made myself so.” What made this statement momentous was what it implied: If I am who I am because of me, then I can be anything I want to be. The thought sank deep into my bones, and I am trying to claim it as my own. (Quantum God, Part Two: 6)
Well, I’m working on it. Working on getting some insurance (Medicaid). Working on not feeling afraid. Working on remembering what it’s like to feel good. Working on living in a quantum fashion.
Why? Because everything in this universe is made up of quanta, little packets of potential that can do absolutely mind-boggling things. And Jesus said, “You are gods.” Yogananda said, “You are all gods.” Dr. Bruce Lipton says our biology follows our beliefs.
And I know I could heal myself. After 15 years of “I’m always healthy” and being (mostly) just that, the knowledge that I can heal myself makes all the trials of the last few months aggravating.
But aggravation isn’t going to get me anywhere. Peace. Gratitude. Confidence (which means with faith). These are where I start.
When my children were in school and my mom was working, she gave me money each month for their hot lunch program. At the end of one school year, the kids’ cafeteria refunded six dollars, which had not been needed in May. I, in turn, gave the money back to Mom, but admitted I’d struggled over that six dollars, for it would have bought three gallons of milk.
The next time I saw Mom, she handed me an envelope containing six dollars and a note that said she was proud of me…And now she is gone from this lifetime.
No more milk money. No more homemade chili sauce or beef vegetable soup. No more conversations or advice. No more hugs or laughter. In the spirit of a generous heart, though, comes the following poem from Meditations Before Kaddish.
When I die, give what’s left of me away
to children and old men who wait to die.
And if you need to cry,
cry for your brother walking the street beside you.
And when you need me, put your arms around anyone
and give them what you need to give me.
I want to leave you something,
something better than words or sounds.
Look for me in the people I’ve known or loved
and if you cannot give me away,
at least let me live in your eyes and not in your mind.
You can love me best by letting hands touch hands,
and by letting go of children that need to be free.
Love doesn’t die, people do.
So, when all that’s left of me is love,
give me away.
When we were teenagers, the job of clearing the dinner table fell to Nancy and me. Invariably, our brothers would leave milk in their glasses and, not wanting to waste food, Nancy and I drank the leftovers. Often, though, we’d end up saying, “Yuck!” and spit out big globs of grape chewing gum from the bottom of the glass.
We are children of a child of the Great Depression. This week that child, our mom, Sandra Lou, left her frail body. On Independence Day. How appropriate, I thought, for a spirit going Home.
Mom was quite ready for her journey, and we kids and grandchildren are left with ashes of memories—and our own characters. Her integrity, kindness, strength, generosity. Qualities instilled by Mom.
May we rest in peace, knowing that those we hold dear who have gone ahead of us now enjoy freedom from the weight of the physical.
This last Thursday I turned 24—that’s not including the first 40 years, which Carl Jung calls “research time”—and passed the eye test at the Driver’s license bureau. (The young man behind the counter was exceptionally lenient with me.)
Another year older and, it is to be hoped, a bit wiser. I’m still learning, at any rate. My current lesson sounds cushy but is proving to be surprisingly difficult.
In all my life, I’ve never not lived by a budget. A budget in which the bills got paid first and if there was any money left, I got to buy groceries. And there were some very slim times in the past.
Now the freezer is full, the pantry stocked. The only deterrence to eating is an ulcer and lack of appetite. A manifestation through the body of resistance of the mind. What an enviable life lesson to be learning!
Well, another year older and certainly grateful. Grateful for our break in hot, dry weather. Grateful for family and friends (the family we get to choose). And grateful for you, dear heart.
My daughter wrote that I should celebrate myself on my birthday. I agree. In the coming week, may we focus on celebrating the good.
Playing for Change kids around the world singing “Celebrate” at