Thursday, September 17, 2009

Up, Up & Awa-a-ay

Fall nudges its way into our lives, a few leaves at a time, one brilliant branch spreading to another. In a mere eight weeks, our skis will have likely touched snow.

Over the summer (that some call miserably wet, but I think was more than half dry), I heard Jackson Browne, Emmy Lou Harris and several others sing to their hearts’ pleasure on a hillside meadow at The Shelburne Museum, their backs to breath-taking sunsets over the Lake. I thought it must be such a gratifying experience to perform to so many surrounded by so much beauty, wishing some day I might have the experience.

Last week there was a balloon festival on the grounds of the museum. Bright, clear dawns and more breath-taking sunsets over-hung the launching of brilliant colored balloons from that same meadow that had heard such sweet music over the previous months. Only a week before, we were invited to play music between the launch and “the Glow” Saturday night when the balloons would be set up all over the grounds and illuminated from their fires within in the darkness of a cooling late summer.

Only when we had set up and begun to perform—as the last balloon lifted and the setting sun was revealed—did I make the connection that it was the same meadow and it was my own music making the little kids dance and their parents tap their feet scurrying after them. Instead of performing with our backs to the sunset, it was spread before us in all of its glory, interrupted only by magnificent colors of balloons.
The vision imagined had so quickly come to reality I was dizzied for a moment by my powers of creativity. This manifestation of a dream coming true was too perfect a circle, as beautiful in shape and splendor as the radiant balloons overhead.

Due to soft winds, the Glow was postponed to the next evening, so Kip’n’co became the entertainment. Balloons aloft and drifting out of sight, no reason to stay longer, still the crowd lingered and enjoyed their picnics, listened to the music and grazed among their conversations. The evening was so pleasant we were invited to repeat the performance the following night.

This time we struck up our first rousing notes in time to the inflation of the first balloon. Fifteen instead of five were filled and launched as we sang our most uplifting songs. With each floating overhead, the crowd cheered and the band roared. I changed words spontaneously to fit the occasion: “…I should be on my way in a balloon to you.”

As if from bolts of lightening, the air was charged in a perfectly clear sky. Summer’s end—with a celebration of labor, picnics, music and color—could not have been more perfect.
Please share with your friends

Sunday, September 13, 2009


At a certain point in each circle around the sun, even though it continues moving forward, from our perspective, a planet appears to reverse its motion and comes back towards us. According to astrology, Mercury retrograde is particularly a time of confusion, miscommunication and failed attempts. I used to humor my first wife about this, but after thirty years of coincidences, I give the concept much more credence now.

The advice is to proceed cautiously, avoid serious decisions, and allow the month to pass without concern for results. It is wise, they say, to reserve the time for contemplation. Retreat is prudent; meditation productive.

This week, I suffered frustrations galore on many levels, things like arriving at a jobsite without vital tools and dashing to a show behind too slow vehicles. Trying to print a simple document for a friend, we corrected one typo and, rephrasing, committed another, reprinting and reprinting to the point it ran out of ink with no spare cartridge on the premises. My help to hang art resulted in crooked lines, droopy labels and multiple trips for supplies in an untimely manner.

Internally, my heart has both beaten with ecstasy and sadly adjusted to a flower that has bloomed to a different color than was hoped. For weeks now, the return to focus on carpentry to pay the bills leaves me pressed for time in the morning and listless at night, with energy enough only to gaze at a movie on my tiny computer screen. Prolific in my journal, at least, I despair that potential blog entries have read without inspiration and ended unfinished.

Knowing Mercury is retrograde, whether I really believe it or not, allows me to breathe into this time with patience, notice the difficulties, and absorb the lessons. I give myself a little cushion of forgiveness for what does not go smoothly, what might be said ambiguously or how little gets accomplished in a day.

This is a time when my life appears to be going backwards, returning to a place of distraction from creativity, half-hearted focus on the work at hand, and emotional turmoil around a desired relationship. Once addicted to hourly peeks at my blog statistics, I can go a week now without a glance, recognizing and appreciating you faithful readers, while accepting that without regular entries and comments on other blogs, visits to mine dwindle proportionally. Just so goes my bank account: dependent directly on the hours worked for income, for now, carpentry wins the day.

In so many ways, much to the concern of friends, family, and mostly myself, I could be banging against that same wall that nearly crushed me two years ago. Depression and self-flagellation dance close by my side. In the middle of the night, I lie awake fearful I will not have the energy or optimism to greet the next day.

The difference is that I have better tools to scratch the surface, creating the tiny crack that leads to the opening and clear the blockage. These are with me all the time, never left on the bench at home, but reside in my heart, brain and loins, ever present and ready to burst forth in word, song, or simply expressed in a hug.

Instead of working so hard for the external love and approval—the accolades from others, the dollars in my pocket, the connection with a woman—I turn inward and learn to trust the bearings of my own compass. I begin to luxuriate in the confidence of my own self-worth.

A dear friend has showed me the healing powers of truth and forgiveness, taught me that partnership, in any form, even when strained, thrives with bold communication. She has shown me that being a disappointment does not always lead to conflict and catastrophe, but can actually bring two people closer when handled respectfully. There is an amazing safety in open, heart-felt vulnerability.

In embracing my creativity, other friends have joined me in celebration, so glad to be with me in joy instead of commiseration. New friends appear as each new chink in my armor breaks off another piece and exposes me more. We are mutually supportive, inter-dependent, so that when life is retrograde we can keep our spirits moving forward.

Please share with your friends