"Spin" in aviation training: a "stall" or loss of lift, a subsequent nose-down spin, the specific actions required for recovery, and the feeling, after recovery, that you could tackle absolutely anything!

Monday, 1 January 2018


At the time of writing this, the late day light is beautiful. The sun appears fire-hot, as if some great god is burning a hole in the sky with his cigarette from the space side. There is a line of pink clouds that resembles some kind of meteorological toupĂ©e set carelessly above the burn. I could have taken a picture of this with my phone, posted it, and that would have been that. I wouldn't have had to describe it at all, but frankly, I take terrible pictures, so would have likely fallen short of my honest intent to share the thrill: My picture would have failed to convey the sacred feeling sparked by the ethereal cigarette. You would have been bored and compelled to scroll past the shot with barely a pause. The only benefit of the process would have been the meagre amount of your time I wasted. 

Why bother at all?

This phone business was getting stupid. I would find myself, in whatever scenario I was in, let's say I met Mr. Tumnus, the faun from Narnia, focused, not so much on his attention, but on how I could take his picture and post it on Instagram. Then, I would be trying to compose a clever line to support the post. In all of this planning, I would miss Tumnus's words; his invitation for me to join him for dinner. Yes, I might get some acknowledgement from the internet world, but I would eat dinner alone. My chance of having some fantastic faun sex ruined by my blinkered, misplaced energy spent on a picture that, despite the phone's ding, doesn't really exist.

I realize, here on the door sill of 2018, that much of this, the ways that I want my interactions to go, –my time spent, is up to me. I would like nothing more than a string of holy moments this year; meaningful connections, one after another. It's time, but how can I have a holy moment with Mr. Tumnus if I look away from him because I'm fussing with my phone? I can't. It's that simple. For me, to try to take a picture of him, or the sunset, or the super moon, actually degrades the intimacy of the moment, and everybody loses. I am much better off bathing in the moment, then, later on, describing the view with words if I feel moved to share.  Sure, I can take a quick shot of Tumnus for proof, but there would be little about the work that would move you. I could take a quick shot of you for proof too, but I'd much rather see you, gaze at you, fully take you in. And Mr. Tumnus, well –

I've decided to leave the art photography to the photographers. I may still take quick shots of oddities: an elevator full of snails, a scale cole-slaw sculpture of a giraffe, a shaggy-headed faun the morning after, but no more attempts at pictures of natural beauty. I'm going to be selfish and enjoy the thrill, whatever it is, with rapt attention. Luxury. For me, I think a description with words is miles better than any picture that I could take with my phone. Plus, I might get lucky!

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Hilarity in 2018?

I don't know how this coming year will play out. I don't have the stamina for another 2017. The man across the hall is dying of brain cancer, yet the new KFC is almost ready for business here in town.

Do you see the problem?

In my own life, I am subject to soul-crushing loneliness, perfectly fuelled by the busyness of others and my own robust inwardness. I don't fully exist, so every morning, I am charged with devising a clever phrase – an existential carrot, poised to lure me into participating with the day.

–I'm writing this because I know that I'm not the only one draped with this problem. I'm just not sure where you are, and if your facade is as strong as mine, I probably can't see through it. Nice job though! 

High-fives all around!

Don't assume that I'm not fighting this; I am. At least I was. Sorry to rain on your day. You have my permission to stop reading here and go complain about the cold. The KFC will be open shortly and you can go sit in the drive-thru, because we still have those. 

I have no idea how this is still possible considering the state of the world.

Why in hell should I fight? What is going to be so different about 2018? Is there something that you know and I don't? Are you, for once, going to take me seriously? Of course, you could simply donate to the cause, and there, you're all done. You'll get a t-shirt and a dope medal for your valiance. How glorious! That way, you don't have to risk engagement, and you can still refer to me as "sweet," in passing. (The best one was someone who thought of me as, the happy girl. I almost laughed out loud.)

Pick up a flat of Nestle, bottled water on the way, because you're that skilled at avoiding any involvement at all. 

Truly, this is a miraculous time!

I have done work; lots of it. I know that I am worthy. I know that I am enough. It's just the planet that's wrong. I can hardly stand it. Everything is in passing, which starves the days of punctuation.

Yes, I will try to come to your event/opening/performance, because there is a part of me that hopes that this freak perspective/affliction passes.  That part is growing smaller though, and yet it demands twice as much energy from me. 

I'm ready for that one tumbler to click and release that perfect idea down into my head; you know, the one that changes everything? It had better come soon. –no reason in particular. I just don't want you to have to roll your eyes so much. The strain must be unbearable.

Hey, so, sorry there was nothing funny in this post. Of course, that's all perspective, right? If you clock things a little, maybe to the left, and pull back, the whole charade is mind-blowingly hilarious! So – there; I guess I have nothing to apologize for.


Friday, 22 December 2017

The Trail

Today, a fox and I shared the trail; both of us respectfully avoiding each other. I was glad not to be in a mall or anywhere near a store. The fox, I imagine, was glad not to be part of a coat, for sale in the same mall/store. 

For that brief few hours on the trail, we loved each other, and the snow, and the quiet.

Monday, 18 December 2017

Winter Solstice Again

Feel her.

Feel her roll, and sigh,
Gently, gently feel her under the stars,
Shifting, turning, sighing in the dark;
Deep, deep in well-earned slumber.

A shame not to look on her, to not
Be there and watch as she dreams,
Remembers the summer's work,
Autumn's glory, and
Delights in themes of spring's surprise.

Hold her close, our earth, in all her beauty,
As we nod tonight to the sun and its return.


This moment of change, tipping toward
The blink of dawn;
A flicker, now charged to beat the last,
Marking the coming of puffed days,
Fuller and fuller of trumpet's call;
Duty, adventure and the hunt for love's blush.

The night gives way, with each of her turns,
Until, once again, she finds the longest day
Adorned in sun's tender shadows.

But now, tonight, we are a half from that,
And though eager to pass right to spring,
Slow here at winter's door.

Take stock of yourselves.

Soften your edge, and rest.
You too have turned;
Weathered the seasons, some easily,
Others with great effort.


All of us.

Be grateful for these, and look to them relentlessly
Summoning the very best that is in you:
Your strength, your brilliance, and the 
Realization of just how powerful you are.

And you really are.

Those triumphs you had, those successes;
Bring them forth again to revisit;
Sharpen their images and reinforce how
Important they are, each and every one.

Through all of this adventure comes opportunity,
The gift at just the right time to
Tap into something bigger than all of us;
A wellspring of love, rooted deep within the earth.
It's always been there, turning with her, but now,
Tonight, we can feel it tugging at us,
Offering its embrace and guidance as this 
Dark gives way to light.

Take it.

Shake free of the past.

Brush off the old dust and tedium and
Emerge to the new light with all of the
Love, and grace, and beauty;

Fill your lungs.

You are remarkable.

Stand and raise your glass. 
Welcome the sun, the lengthening day, and the
Fresh chance to move ahead with clarity,
A fierce, reenergized heart, each, and the
Fondness, and respect we have for each other Here, and those dear to us presently elsewhere–

To the sun!

Friday, 8 December 2017

Hear That?

Learning. So much learning! And at the centre of it all is the fact that I cannot tell you that I love you, because we just don't do that.

What if I wanted to tell you how sad I am? Or you wanted to tell me? What if that young man ripping the sugar packet open with his teeth is tortured with an enormous pack of dark dogs that you can't see, breathing their hot breath down his neck? It's hard to, out of nowhere explain that, but if you put a hand on his back, he may tell you about how much he hates them. He may just fall apart in your arms.

What if, instead of marching on through the streets, a woman simply stopped, stood, and held her head in her hands. Anybody. Somebody's mother. What would happen? Would you adjust your earbuds and look away, or, would you step in and make contact? 

A holy moment perhaps? Anything?

Listen. Could you listen?

This Sunday is the thirteenth anniversary of my father's suicide. I love you. I love you and would you listen? 

Every year as I revisit this event, the brutal Hemingway ending that sent shock waves all along the timeline of my life, I try to figure out if we are any further ahead. We are not. We are terrible listeners; stunningly so.

I know a handful of people who are good at it, and one of them I pay.  Goddamn it.



Try. Please.

Stop talking. Stop stepping on my sentences. Now I have to take them home and shake them out, and I can't get away from you fast enough.

Stop preaching. That's a lovely speech you're giving, but the dogs don't care. You know nothing about these dogs, do you? How can you? They don't belong to you. In the middle of your speech, the young man is edging towards the exit. You've made him feel invisible, and ashamed because, well, that was a great speech. Seriously. If he was any sort of a decent human, all of your advice would have worked and the day would be dogless and sunny, right?

Did you hear him at all? I know he didn't speak, but he told you his whole life story in the way he was breathing, gasping. You invalidated his pain in the space of two sentences.

Yes, there are worse scenarios, but her story is unique. She is the only one with her DNA that has that specific history of emotional and environmental influences that have made her life what it is. Telling her to count her blessings will only make her hate you. She has counted her blessings, in fact look at the worn corners from her rifling through them every day. She knows this should be enough, but it isn't and now she has the guilt of this on top of her own torture. She would die if she could.

And that's the problem. So you need to figure out this listening deal. 

I lied earlier. I don't revisit the event once a year. I go through it repeatedly. My father is with me every day. I know him better in his death than I did in his life. 

I won't go into the details of my childhood, Dear Reader, except to say that my parents were the worst communicators. Add gin to the mix and there was the perfect storm. But I know my father struggled. I know that he tried.

Let's leave it at that.

My God you are beautiful. I love you, do you know that? My heart is full of you. 


Did you hear that?

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Perspective: A Christmas Story

I find myself spending much of my time trying to figure out how everything works on this planet. I lose hours parsing the secrets of the universe, karma, ancestral shortcomings, and especially, Zumba. I'm curious as hell, and hopeful that it's not simply chaos...and fucking Zumba. That would be the worst.  For example:

Recently, I was to attend a Christmas choir concert in town here. Minutes before its start, I pulled up in front of where I thought I should be, but the vast choice of available parking spaces clued me to the fact that I was at the wrong church.

Remember, small towns have their guilt covered. This town has four churches, plus the Quaker Meeting House, for all of your sin and redemption needs. I knew better than to waste time guessing and risk being  abominably late and damned to hell–more than I am already. I flagged down a friend. We made quick jokes about how glad I was that this wasn't my wedding, or my funeral that I was going to be late for, and he told me where the right church was.

I got the better address, drove there, found parking a block away. I quick-stepped it to the main road and walked across towards the church. As I stepped up onto the sidewalk, I found myself walking in sync with an elderly lady bent over her walker, heading for the same event at a glacial, uncertain pace. I noticed her husband (could have been just a strange man, but my gut told me, husband) standing beside his car, watching her with a worried look on his face. The lot he was in, closest unloading zone to the church, was full, so he was charged with finding a space elsewhere while his wife, freshly egressed, was left to fend for herself on these mean, guilt-laden streets.

I made eye contact with him to let him know that I would accompany her and not to worry. I leaned down and asked my new friend if I could help her into the church.

"Well, that would be very kind of you," she said, looking up briefly with red-rimmed eyes. "I don't know how I'm going to get up those steps."

She was lovely. I assessed the layout and let her know that there was a side door and probably an elevator, so not to worry about the steps. We took our time, she and I. I could tell that she hated this. She didn't want to be late, or a bother. She just wanted to hear the damn music. Either that or she had money on the soloist inhaling a fly before the half. It was not my place to pry.

We persevered to the side door. I opened it, then reached down and lifted her front wheels over the door sill, and we were in; basking in the glory of the church lift. 

Oh it was such a wonderful shade of–grey! 

I wasn't sure how to make it go, so a friend came down the steps and fiddled with the controls. There was no manual. You'd think there would be a handy Book of Elevations, because that would be some welcomed holy hilarity, right? 

It took us a while, but finally the door opened and my new friend walked in, fully trusting us, complete strangers, like a lamb to, well, that thing.  I stepped in to ride up with her because she seemed frail, but her husband arrived right on cue. I flourished him ahead in my place, and stood down. The door closed slowly to allow for any stowing problems, and also, you could have a quick nap before the ride. Also, a good idea to eat before you load in. Get the picture? Slow door! 

At the same time as my pals launched, the choir members began coming up the stairs from the basement in a fierce, tight line. They were dressed in black. They had folders, a mission, and reeked of scales and harmony. I tried to step into a gap and sneak up the stairs but I almost lost a leg. I looked past them to the top of the stairs, keen for news of my new friend's safe arrival, and then resigned myself to wait. As I stood there, one of the choir members glared at me with a robust dollop of disgust – me in my red jacket, hanging out by the church elevator, you know, in that way as if I was one of those lift lizards, wasting time, ridin' for free on The Saviour's dime. Every town's got one. 

"Why don't you just walk up?" she said, in an accusatory tenor voice.

I was so surprised that I think I snorted, or choked, or both. 

"Why don't I just walk up?" I immediately tried to explain that I had met a complete stranger on the sidewalk and had just helped her into the lift, you know, like Jesus would have done, –and then I heard a harsh, matronly SHUSH.

Not only had I been unjustly judged, I had been SHUSHED as well! 


I stood back, and if I had been wearing hockey gloves, I would have dropped them and then shirted my accuser. AND the SHUSHER! We would have had ourselves a Christmas Donnybrook in B Major with Accompaniment!

"I give up. I'm going home," I threatened. 

Why don't I walk up?


My thoughts at that moment were less than jolly. It's frustrating being misjudged and then denied your efforts in defence to, you know, set the record straight. I settled down, pouted in my pew, and read the messages on the stained glass windows that reminded me that I was a sinner, but that I could be delivered from evil, or probably to evil if I rode the fucking lift down. 

The concert went on. I sat quietly and without fuss, but all the while I kept trying to figure out what had happened. It started with the wrong church, but the timing was perfect for me to discover my focused friend embarking on her own. Nobody else had come along. If I had not arrived when I did, she may have attempted the stairs and that could have ended badly. 

So? Was it the universe? 

Was it karma? 

Of course, I could be missing the lesson completely. Perhaps it was my goofy great uncle Ephraim arranging for my new friend to get me to slow down enough so that I could learn how to throw a punch in a tight space and still get to my pew looking freshly pressed. Never happened, but it could have. 

I don't know what it was. At least it wasn't Zumba, and for that I am grateful.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, 24 November 2017

What's That in Your Eye?

I watched Richard Linklater's Waking Life, recently. It came out in 2001. I don't know why it took me so long to find it, but, later, in perhaps a longer post, I will explain how perfect the timing was. I've been replaying parts of the movie in order to process the sometimes complex theories described, but it is the Holy Moment, that stands out for me. 

The oddly animated movie shows two men, Caveh Zehidi and David Jewell, discussing cinema and literature. Caveh explains the idea of God and moments in time – Holy Moments, and says,

 "We walk around like there's some holy moments and there are all the other moments that are not holy..."

 There is more discussion and then they decide to try it, to have a holy moment with each other. They stop talking, and look into each others eyes – and I went out of my mind. 

The effect was powerful. Even as a spectator, far away on the other side of the computer screen, I could sense the thrill of the characters committing to the process, then the delight of exploring the details of the connection, as if they had walked into a fantastic new room. Jewell speaks of the layers he experiences and admitts to being drawn in by Caveh. It felt sacred, even to me; an honour to witness.

Personally, I want to clarify that when I watched this, I grokked it not as "Holy," as in the annoying-letting-children-suffer-God from the bible. For me, this Holy Moment was about the tremendous, remarkable power that we have to deeply love, connect with each other if we are brave enough to open ourselves to it. The vengeful, judgemental God that requires you to stand on your head has nothing to do with it. This, I think, is the power of the cosmos; the deep thrum of the universe rippling its way into the core of your body through the core  of another. This is the unwavering gaze. This is what got me into trouble, but also what revealed a previously cloistered, untapped depth that I didn't know I had. That gaze. It's not a stare. Rather, it's an invitation to open up, to be vulnerable, and to deeply feel. It is accepting, empowering, and everything else falls away.

As beautiful as it is, the truth is that not everyone is willing or ready to risk this kind of a connection, and frankly, sometimes it's just not appropriate to try to gaze into the eyes of whoever happens to be next to you. It could be an officer handing you a ticket. It could be an NRA supporter. Or, you could find yourself drawn to the most remarkable, shocking case of pink eye – nature has boundaries that serve us. Look away! But if you get the chance, have a Holy Moment on me, and let me know what happens. I happen to believe that this kind of drawing-together is exactly what the world needs right now, you know, without the pink-eye, and definitely without the guns.