Christmas 2015 
Friday, December 25, 2015, 05:02 PM - Trips
Posted by Administrator
It was nice to be home for the holidays but my grandfather's health has been visibly weighing on the family - especially my grandmother. Alzheimer's, dementia, senility, and weak knees have put him in an old folk's home in a state of perpetual confusion, where nothing that has happened in the last 10 years or so. But he was thrilled to see me and exclaimed "Jaybo!" when he saw me. That said, short term memory has been vaporized by the mysteries of old age. It was particularly hard to hear grandpa talk about how proud he was of my father and everyone in the family. There was an unspoken understanding that I would most likely not see him again - and the same for my brother. We took grandpa back to his Washington home (about 4 blocks away) for Christmas presents and dinner, but the following day he couldn't remember what happened.

In the last 6 months I had read through a book of my grandfather's poetry. I was struck by a number of themes: acceptance (satisfaction?) in his life and his difficulty with growing older and becoming a greater burden and embarrassment for my grandmother. My grandpa commanded language better than I ever will and it was tough to see how his mental capacities had eroded over the years - especially since he was fully aware of the degradation. Yet, at the time I was reading grandpa's poetry, I was struggling with some powerful emotions surrounding my dating struggles, difficulties connecting with people, and the inability to reconcile my life choices. How could I selfishly ski every weekend when I should be doing more for the community? Why fly around the US and world to chase feelings of freedom and adrenaline when I know those flights are destroying the planet? Was my current research path going to result in the global impacts I wanted? And so forth. Those questions remain unresolved and still trouble me today, but I found a lot of comfort in my grandfather's words and I'd like to share some of them for the rest of you. Here are a few verses from the book of poems "When I Be Still" by Rod Johnson.




Sitting By, Frisbee in Hand
Senior citizen stage
confusing
choosing to go along
with family belief:
I'm out of it--
Or for real out of it.
Probably both.
So now what?

Is my life-long way
sitting on the bank
watching life's messiness
pass by
accelerating--
or am I evolving
to take integrity's road
to God energy
LOVE?
"Let go and let God"?

Am I more
coward than spirit?
Hiding out or
being in not of
the world?

I limit
second chakra energy
the "Honor of one another"
the wade into life's stream.
What is life about
if not to live fully?
What would such be like?
A perennial question.

Now this question
has another out: Age
How much do I use it?
How much does it use me?
How much from pre-conscious?
From beliefs? Habits?

Unanswerable.
Come and go of tides.
Yet one
to be pondered
pulled apart
played with
tossed back and forth
like a Frisbee.



Scampering
squirrel scampers high
twig to twig
head first to ground
digs but for a moment
back up
around
over over
ever different
only purpose fun
pleasure in being
so it seems to us porch sitters
we few no longer
desperate for survival

how busy be my fellows
what thrills us?
makes us feel alive?
roller coasters haunted houses
grandkids picking their ways

we use age to lean back
celebrate such energy
relive the show

ah yes other shows
purposeful business
force heaven into being
hold high one-way beliefs
that resent the every which way

that squirrel
smarter than we

Harder
The tide of time
Keeps rising,
The waves lap higher,
The surf pounds harder
Or so with age
It seems
Easy to be knocked
Off balance,
Fearful one will be.

The wise say to
Go with the flow,
Enjoy the ride,
No need to collect
More toys,
No need to sweat
The swells of the sea,
Just be,

One joy
Of aging
Is observing
Such wonders:
The marvel
Of forgetting,
The discovery
Of new creaks,
The surprise
Of needing
To catch breath,
The inclination
To sleep in spurts,
The effort
To bite life off
Given less oomph,

A bit harder,
To adjust,
To find joy that is
In each re-
meaning moment.

Hunger
In this out materialist world
Time is money.
Painting maybe makes 5 cents/hour
Poetry even less
So why do they pay?

When an image grabs one of us
More than for prettiness, pertinence
Painting becomes a joyful emergence
Perhaps like the high of drugs
Without withdrawal symptoms
More like meditation and prayer
Calling us from deep within
Adrenalin jumps, brain gulps, I'm driven,
Drawn to a different colored space.

So too with poetry
Words come when they come
Capriciously
Muse blesses with live phrases, fresh constructs
Drops them in poets' ever salivating mouths
Ambrosia
We love the chewing, swallowing
Digesting, building highs
But often we're stuffed with basic nutrition
Calories to keep the engine chugging, meeting
Commitments in what's called the real world.
Still our mouths stay sagape
Impatient for such elusive necessities
Our jaws triggered to clamp down.

Up-Springing
Long have I scanned,
settled for overviews,
filled with assumption.

But with this April's quickening,
my slowing down, growing old,
less dependent on independence,
my kneeling in loam planting,
the earth has pushed me up
like it sprouts
of which I am a part
subject to the same forces,
invites me to look about,
join pond wee goldfish,
backyard squirrels, rabbits,
its exquisites,
native birds missing winter hand-ons,
they and trees color-tipped for come-ons,
garish to soothing,
red, rust, burgundy, yellow, white,
lavender of rebuds most prefuse,
flower even more wildly experimenting,
the perennials readying to herald the annuals,
all among barely peeping green leaves.

Time to wake up,
Live worlds within worlds.

Gruel
I think of out leader of conviction
Spellbinding us with drowsing takes
Spooning us what slides down.
Gruel.
But, like undernourished kids,
We're beginning to crave solids
Ready to chew on all the squalor
Thanks to New Orleans' scream.

Leave it to us Americans
Who thoughtlessly gulp mush
When what we need
Is our own good heads
Mount our fresh steeds
And gallop into the fray.

Family centered (Excerpts)
….
Family is relationship;
Relationship, energy.
Energy seen blue from space.
In the joy of dancing through our lives
Everything mingles in a splendid
Spindled swirl
All held in the white hand of Love
And Mother Earth.
….
Love possible in family:
Parents crazy about a kid no matter what
Respecting her thinking for herself
Not buying any illusion of separatedness,
Steadfast bonding with penalties.
She pushes away yet ever tethered
Needing interface for self-definition,
Paradox creating lifelong
That kid in each of us.

The void among the sculptured heads
Undifferentiated energy.
Those who resolve the paradox
Awaken to find all is one,
The core meaning of family.

Christmas 2015
The family also shared gifts and ate a lot of good food. We also held the 4th (?) annual photo competition. I spent a few days back in Alto Pass, helped out my dad with some chores around the house, cooked dumplings with Mom, and hiked to the cross.






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