Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dreams Are Not About Being Sensible

Today I almost let someone take my dream, but I snatched it back.
They brandished words that left me small, and I almost decided that I didn't deserve my dream. Then I realized that dreams are not about being sensible and accepting your limitations.
Dreams are what help you  to soar, even when it looks like you are falling.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Solstice: Behind the Scenes

You may have thought that winter solstice was all about the tilt of the earth's axis and the length of the day, etc. You would be wrong. It is about depression.
Toward the end of the year, the sun sinks, sinks toward the horizon and spends more and more time by itself, sulking in front of the TV in its jammies, a glass of whiskey in its hand. Then it drags itself up every morning, groggy and hung over. Some mornings it doesn't even brush its teeth.
That's why we have those end-of-year rituals: Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year's Eve. Office parties, gift buying and baking. Putting up trees indoors. It's to say: Come on, sun! Come out and have a bit of fun! You'll feel better, we promise! We have cookies! And listen to that determinedly cheerful music! Life couldn't be that bad, could it?
There ya go!
And we get the sun propped up. The fresh air and camaraderie do it good.
It forgets about its funk, then gets perkier and perkier until about the 20th of June, when, after a manic blitz of late nights and early rising (It's getting so much done! Having so much fun!), it starts to burn out. By November it is exhausted and overwhelmed, and so there we go again.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Santa and His Blues Band

The holidays have begun in my new neighborhood, and it's like Vegas on every block.
We have creches and menorahs, of course, because you get those everywhere, and fairy lights and twinkly icicles dangling from rain gutters.
There are candy canes, snowflakes, nutcrackers, ginger bread houses, trees bound up like hostages in strings of lights.
A dinosaur in a fur-trimmed shirt. Polar bears, oxen, a walrus. Deer, elk, elves. A giant arrow-shaped tree on the roof of one house, possibly disrupting air traffic.
Santa in a helicopter. Santa popping in and out of a chimney. Santa and his blues band (who knew he had time for hobbies?).
All of it blinding, glaring, blinking. And it is wonderful!
Is this what Christmas is all about? Yes it is, if Christmas is about joy. Because every night when I pull into my neighborhood after work I shake my head and laugh.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Hero

In their deepest heart, everybody wants to be a hero, and they're pretty sure it has something to do with wealth and fame and power.
So we have a lot of people chasing those things.
But heroism has nothing to do with wealth and fame and power. It's about transcendence. It's about overcoming circumstances. It's about bringing hope or peace or joy to an imperfect, sometimes painful world, whatever your station in life and whatever your trials.

And compared to that, wealth and fame and power are a piece of cake.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I Should Have Been Afraid

Two hundred yards from the summit of Grizzly Peak, I drank in the view. A wonderland of lush emerald green nestled in the valley below, dotted with flashing lakes and fortified with turrets of granite. If I squinted, I could imagine the ruins of an ancient, magical kingdom. A place that I alone had discovered.
Mountainsides swept up into rocky grey peaks patchworked with snow fields. All was silent, save the whistle of a marmot.
Tears came to my eyes. It had been too long. I had let the city and my job take away what was most precious to me. Now it was August, and it was the first time I'd been above timberline in a year. How could I have let that happen?
The usual afternoon storm marched down the valley, a roiling wall of purple cloud. The wind picked up. Directly overhead it was still clear, but I heard a distant rumble of thunder and smelled moisture in the air.
I figured the worst part about lightning was the thunder. When it sneaks up on you and goes: BOOM! and sets your eardrums ringing and knees trembling. "Ha!" It says, "Made you flinch!"
I was a tiny animal in a sea of rocky peaks. There was no reason for the lightning to single me out.
Taking out my phone I filmed the horizon: "Magnificent storm coming in from the west there." I panned to the summit. "I'll be back down to the saddle before it catches up to me." I turned the phone's camera toward my face. In the video I'm wearing something between a grin and a grimace. My lungs had that high-altitude burn, and my heart hammered in my chest, both  with the exertion and the game of racing the storm.
You can hear the click of my walking stick on scree, and then-- zzzt! the video ends.
 It turns out I should have been afraid of lightning.