Adrift

lostatsea

2018 was the year that if anything in my personal life could go wrong…it did.

I had my first tooth pulled in January.  One sister began chemotherapy in January.  A month later, a second sister started chemotherapy.  My best friend became gravely ill.  One of my daughters faced a serious issue that took months to resolve.  We experienced a summer of smoke and encroaching forest fires in the surrounding mountains where I live.  I took a short trip and ended up in a hospital away from home with a kidney stone.  My ex-husband had a major stroke.  My sister and best friend died in December.  There was more but you get the gist, right?

I painted this piece in my journal as this torrent of challenges was only starting.  Already, I was feeling lost at sea.  Without a paddle.

Seeing this painting, one of my daughters thought I should call it The Bell Peppers…as their clothing is the color of bell peppers.

I appreciate when my art gives me an outlet for feelings.  Sometimes I’m overwrought and life is just too much for me to even consider putting brush or pen to page.  Most of the time, it’s the best elixir for the despair or trauma or whatever is at hand that seems too big to handle.

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These days we feel things coming at us right and left.  Top it off with a pandemic!  Yet, there has always been an undercurrent of unrest with social injustices, political and corporate greed, economic inequities, media manipulation, repercussions of climate change.  The list goes on.  What’s been undercover is now on the surface.  I’m told that this is good because now we know what we’re dealing with.  Now, we can begin to address these inequities and other imperative issues.

What is your way of dealing with “TOO MUCH?”

 

From War and Peace

I came across this quote that I had copied many years ago from Tolstoy’s
War and Peace.

Natasha said:

“You’re like this house, you suffer, you show your wounds, but you still stand.”

It’s odd.  Words, quotes, the thoughts and ideas of others come to me in moments.  If I write a quote down, it’s usually because I need it at the time.  In that single moment, with the particular circumstances of my life, I was snagged by this quote.  Sensing its significance, I wrote it down on a scrap of paper (as I tend to do).  And, however many years later, I rediscover it.  Like a beacon.  Or at least a reminder.

I read War and Peace once upon a time.  I doubt that I’m going to read it again.  But I remember that I valued what I received from it.  I went through a brief period of reading Russian literature.  Perhaps it was because my life resembled a Russian novel at the time.  It seemed I could connect with the array of characters and some of their circumstances in ways that I could not connect with my friends who seemed more frivolous or superficial in those days.

The thing about a quote is that if it continues to resonate over the years, it could be placed in your file of quotes that ring true over time.  Do you have such a file?

For today, do you have a favorite quote that you return to time and again and feel either validated, supported or refreshed by?  Would you like to share it here under comments?  Thanks.

 

 

Existential Loneliness

polarbear2.jpg

This painting had an evolution…it started off as three women disco dancers, then two polar bears, then a single polar bear with a different landscape and now this rendition.  Finally, I wrote the following sonnet on the canvas as a part of the background in the meadow.  It’s not meant to be legible, only a design element.

One cold night at the beginning of another long winter in the mountains of northern California, I fell into that state of existential loneliness.  I happened to have this painting in process on the wall in front of me.  My own loneliness expanded to include the polar bear at the north pole.  I considered his solitary life, that his habitat is dissolving due to global warming.  There is the real possibility of his extinction.  In writing this sonnet, I connected to the polar bear and as a result, I felt less lonely.
Is that the secret to existential loneliness–to expand our circle to include more of the life that is?

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© by Christine O’Brien

It’s cold and I’m alone again, at night.
The stars, so far away, no comfort there.
Is the polar bear aware of its plight?
Ice floes are melting, does anyone care?

Across the tundra the northern lights dance;
radiant colors blast the starry sky.
If we change our ways, would he have a chance?
“Global warming; couldn’t be helped,” we sigh.

We’re safe in our cozy habitats, home.
The borders of our lives within these walls.
The far arctic circle, his place to roam
outside of our range, his frozen cry falls.

What’s it to us, a whole species demise?
Could it have gone better if we’d been wise?

Living with Uncertainty

Uncertainty (Senryu) 

A poem by Mihaela Pirjol

Life Promises Change
Morphing humans’ destinies:–
Make no promises!

A few nights ago, there was a community meeting conducted by the local law enforcement and fire protection agencies.  The hall at the city park was full to capacity.  Living in smoky northern California for the past two months, gives us a sense of urgency.  And uncertainty.  And stress.

There is a fire southwest of us, gratefully not too close.  However, we were urged to be ready to evacuate in a moment if we get a Code Red Alert.  Today I’m planning on getting the necessary supplies together–three gallons of water, three-days supply of non-perishable food, clothing, valuables, a security box with important papers, first aid kit, flashlight, batteries, radio run on batteries, etc.

My stomach gets nervous thinking about the possibility.  Yet, isn’t life always unpredictable?  Obviously, there are times when the routine is disrupted.  However, emergencies or preparation for an emergency situation really throws this in one’s face.  The old boy scout motto “be prepared” comes to mind.

We live our daily lives with the unspoken trust and hope that there is a tomorrow.
While we also live it as if tomorrow might not come.  That, my friend, takes great faith.

Writing Prompt:
Senryu is a type of haiku. Like haiku, it is  a 3-line unrhymed Japanese poem with 5-7-5 syllables per line.  The difference is that it treats human nature in an ironic vein.
Try writing a few senryu on uncertainty.  Share them under comments if you like.

Mystery

Life is mystery, even with all of the belief systems we apply to explain it.  Life remains a mystery.  We learn to live with the unknown.  Though we might be seekers, with all of the seeking, the mystery remains, winking at us from the sidelines.  The unknowable.

Like, how did this plant end up in my garden?  Then, what prompted it to take over one third of the garden with it’s shoots and tendrils that wrap around anything along the way?  I posted a photo of it on Facebook to see if someone could identify it.  I got these responses:  some sort of vegetable, citron watermelon, crossbred squash, disguised watermelon, some sort of melon, Cinnamon Girl pie pumpkin, courgette (zucchini), Cucurbita pepo (round zucchini squash).

mystery.jpg

I like the surprise within the mystery.  At times, the clouds part and I get a bit of clarity.  But then, the veil drops, the sight is limited, the mists conceal truth.

Writing Prompt:
How do you live with mystery?