The last thing you expect

William Durant preferred carriages, but took another road and changed history. Visitors enjoy a December evening at Colonial Williamsburg, 2004

Durant preferred carriages, but took another road and changed history.
Visitors enjoy a December evening at Colonial Williamsburg, 2004

“The last thing you expect or want in life is often the first thing to take you on your journey to life.”  – Timothy Shriver

Not long before he died, John Lennon wrote a song that popularized (although it did not originate) a much-quoted truth: “Life is what happens to you while you’re making other plans.” I know I’m far from alone in being able to say unequivocally that in my youth I never imagined what the next forty years of my life would be like.  I hope I also have lots of company in feeling no real doubts about where I’ve ended up.

I’m reminded of yet a third quote, from one of my favorite movies, Chariots of Fire. It’s the (mostly) true story of Eric Liddell, who refused to compete in the Olympic race that would require him to run on Sunday, a day he held sacred.  In the film, despite pressure from friends, coaches and even the Prince of Wales, Liddell remains steadfast to his principles even when it means sacrificing the opportunity of a lifetime.

Near the end of the story Eric is in the stands watching the final of the 100 metres – the one he was supposed to run in.  His friend asks: “Any regrets, Eric – that you’re not down there with them?” Eric nods and replies: “Regrets, yes – no doubts though!”

If you’ve seen the film, you know that Eric Liddell went on to run in a different event for which he had not trained, and he won the gold.  He also set a new world record; an astounding feat, under the circumstances.  But today he is most remembered for holding firm to his beliefs. The loss of one dream became the now-legendary fulfillment of another.

Sometimes we choose our calling, but often, our calling chooses us, and we may fight it, thinking we have better ideas.  But some of the greatest achievements have come from people who started out with other plans.  Matt has a page-a-day history calendar with an interesting tale each day, usually about lesser-known aspects of famous people, places or events.  I was fascinated to read just recently that General Motors was begun by a man who didn’t like cars.  William Durant was a high-school dropout who found success manufacturing horse-drawn carriages, but it was his applications of lessons learned there to a different pursuit that would change history.

It’s a familiar pattern.  Babe Ruth was a record-setting pitcher long before he left full time pitching at the age of 22 and became the legendary home run king.  Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star newspaper for not being creative enough.  Fred Rogers was an ordained minister who went into television programming because he didn’t like television, and decided to try making a difference there.

It’s a good thing to have plans, hopes and dreams.  It’s also a good thing to be open to the possibility that your destiny may be something you never wanted or expected…and it may take you to a future that’s beyond anything you can now imagine.  I wish you few regrets in life, but whether or not there are regrets, I pray you will one day look back and feel no doubts that you did what you were called to do.

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

Autumn asks

These Blue Ridge Parkway trees are still beautiful even after losing their leaves in November 2011.

These Blue Ridge Parkway trees are beautiful even after losing their leaves. November 2011

“Autumn asks that we prepare for the future —that we be wise in the ways of garnering and keeping. But it also asks that we learn to let go—to acknowledge the beauty of sparseness.”Bonaro W. Overstreet

Maybe autumn has such widespread appeal because it embodies the continual dilemma facing all of us, almost on a daily basis: when to start, when to finish; when to continue, when to quit; when to keep and when to throw away.  At least as far back as Ecclesiastes, people were acknowledging that the wisdom of letting go is every bit as vital as the wisdom of holding on.  The trick is knowing when to do what.

Although New Year’s Day is a popular time to take stock of our lives, and springtime is traditionally associated with “spring cleaning,” we might find that the fall is a perfect time to clear away the clutter — mentally and physically — in preparation for the festive season to come.  As we enjoy the dazzling beauty of the leaves, and then sweep them up or mulch them into compost, let’s observe the uniquely calming beauty of the sparse landscape, and ask ourselves how best to prepare for the future.  Chances are, it will involve some storing away for the winter, just as the squirrels are stockpiling acorns.  But for many of us (and I would suspect most of us) it may involve letting go of even more than we keep.

OK, so I’m the world’s worst at letting go.  But I’m working on it. Today, please join me in appreciating the increasingly rare beauty of sparseness. It’s the perfect season to do it!

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

I am glad

Jeff at Pompeii, a nice place to visit-- but I wouldn't want to have lived there! May, 2008

Jeff at Pompeii, a nice place to visit– but I wouldn’t want to have lived there! May, 2008

“Let others praise ancient times; I am glad I was born in these.”Ovid

There’s a lot to think about in this brief quote.  For one thing, isn’t it amusing to realize that Ovid lived in comparatively modern times, at least as he saw it?  Terms such as “ancient” and “modern” are relative, aren’t they?

But even though Ovid lived thousands of years ago, I think he was right to be grateful for being born when he was.  Can’t most of us say the same?  I have no wish to be younger; I have fond memories of growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, and though I find many exciting changes on the horizon for the generations to come, I also regret the loss of much that I took for granted most of my life, and worry about all the usual things older generations fret over.

When I was a child, I had romantic notions about past centuries, and I still sometimes fall into that way of thinking.  But I know better than to believe the fantasies that go along with romanticizing the past.  I know that the attractive but elaborate clothing would not have been nearly as easy to live in as the comfortable attire we wear now.  I know that horse-drawn carriages mean lots of smelly excrement in the roads (just visit Colonial Williamsburg sometime if you don’t believe me).  I like smoke-free public buildings and antibiotics for deadly infections and clean water for drinking and bathing, anytime I want it, at whatever temperature I choose.

I probably will always find the past fascinating and instructive.  Most likely, I will always love historical fiction that takes me on imaginary adventures in different places and eras.  And I find it hard to accept the argument that students need not learn history to have a complete education.

In spite of all that, though, I am glad to live in these times.  Aren’t you?

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

Made better

Drew naps on Matt's bed with Pasha and other cuddly critters, December 2006

Drew naps on Matt’s bed with Pasha and other cuddly critters, December 2006

“No day is so bad that it can’t be made better with a nap.”Carrie Snow

It always amazed me how Jeff would never, ever want to nap.  While he was taking his first course of chemotherapy this past winter, he took more naps in a few weeks than he had taken in the rest of his adult life put together.  But I love napping.  Before our children were born, snoozing for an hour or two (or even three) on Sunday afternoons was one of my favorite pastimes.

I rarely ever have time for a nap anymore, but the older I get, the more I think I might take up the practice again.  I’ve read several studies that indicate napping is good for us, as long as we don’t overdo it.  And I certainly find the idea appealing.  Apparently, if I do decide to start indulging in the occasional nap, I’ll be in good company. The internet is full of articles about famous, accomplished people who took regular naps.*

Napping on Monday might be especially appealing, but any day you are having a bad day, maybe a nap would help.  Do you ever indulge in a quick afternoon doze?  If so, do you awaken feeling refreshed, or groggy?  Any words of wisdom about catching winks?  Share your siesta secrets with us!
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*one really interesting bit of information provided by Jackie Kennedy in the recently released tapes of her interviews with Schlesinger was that JFK would always change into his pajamas for a nap, even if he would only be sleeping for 45 minutes.  I find that very endearing.  Makes me wonder if he had a teddy bear.

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

Time for finding

Sometimes the journey to what we seek appears to have no end. Inside Currituck Lighthouse, September, 2013.

Sometimes the journey to what we seek appears to have no end.
Inside Currituck Lighthouse, Corolla, North Carolina, September, 2013.

“When we are trapped in seeking, nothing is enough.  Everything we have mocks us; we see only what is missing, and all that is already here seems pale and unsatisfying. In Sabbath time we bless what is there for being.  The time for seeking is over; the time for finding has begun.”Wayne Muller

I’ve always thought of myself as a seeker, and I think seeking after what is good, true, and beautiful is a noble thing.  So when I read this quote, I had to give it some real thought.  It had never occurred to me that seeking might be a different task than finding, which I had always imagined as something that “happened” when you looked hard enough, or in the right place.

But the final sentence of this quote resonated with me.  For the past year, I have been continually seeking information, scouring Medline and other databases for advice, research abstracts, case history precedents, or any other source that might help me help Jeff to get well.  There’s nothing wrong with that, to a point, but Jeff himself has put some fairly firm boundaries on my tendency to get obsessive about it.  I have come to see the wisdom in that.

Likewise, for the past 28 years, I have been seeking one way or another to help Matt survive, heal, and flourish in the midst of the constellation of disabilities that go with his extremely rare genetic disorder.  While I often feel as if we’ve met with failure after failure, perhaps part of the problem has been my inability to understand that we must do more than seek in order to find; that we must be open to discovering what we didn’t realize we were looking for.

Several years ago, the world-renowned expert in autism, Dr. Gary Mesibov of UNC-Chapel Hill’s TEACCH program, along with his clinical team, conducted a two-day vocational assessment of Matt, evaluating his strengths and weaknesses in preparation for the transition from high school to community working and living.  While they did prepare an impressively detailed and accurate written portrait of Matt’s significant skills and challenges, the meeting that followed the evaluation was an unexpected gift.  After years of IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meetings at schools all over the USA, I had heard repeatedly about what Matt could NOT do, and about what we should NOT expect of his education and life opportunities. I expected a similar summary from the TEACCH staff.

Instead, Dr. Mesibov congratulated us; something I’ve rarely heard from educators. “I love kids who have autism,” he said, and you could tell he meant it.  “They are my life’s work.  But ‘pleasant’ is not a word I typically use to describe them.  Your son is a star!”

After I recovered from the surprise, I mumbled something about wishing Dr. M could be at the next IEP meeting with us, or could convince some of the vocational training providers who seemed far more dubious about Matt’s potential.  Dr. Mesibov gently suggested that we simply enjoy the person Matt had already become.  While he understood and supported our goals to help Matt improve his skills and succeed in the community, he also said, “The time has come for you to enjoy the fruit of the hard work you have been doing for more than twenty years.”

That’s easier said than done, of course.  Life since then has been anything but easy, filled with disappointments, tears and fears.  Yet I am finally beginning to understand that Dr. Mesibov was telling us that the time had come for finding.

At this point, with Jeff and Matt each having three surgeries behind them in the past year, and more scheduled in the near future, as well as a very uncertain long term prognosis, I am learning to cherish every single day.  I’ll always be a seeker; that’s just who I am.  But I am learning to be a finder, as well.

Some of us who are Christians set Sunday aside for practices often referred to as “observing the Sabbath.”  Many people of other faiths, as well as those who observe no particular faith, also set aside one day each week to rest from all our striving.  On this day, we pause and reflect on our lives, seeking (and hopefully finding) connection with what matters most.  We worship, give thanks, or simply bask in the blessings that often go unnoticed in the hectic pace of life.  I wish for you a day of refreshment each week, a time for blessing what IS, rather than focusing on what is missing.  May we all learn to find, as well as to seek!

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

Don’t pass it by

Jeff mowing our back yard on November 3, 2006, York County, Virginia

Jeff mowing our back yard on November 3, 2006, York County, Virginia

“There it is round you. Don’t pass it by—the immediate, the real, the only, the yours.”
Henry James

Until this year, this would be a typical sight for a Saturday in November; Jeff mowing the grass for perhaps the last time until spring.  I took this photo seven years ago, but even if I had taken it more recently, I could not have known at the time how much I would miss this seemingly ordinary sight, and how glad I am that I captured it in at least one photo.

I continue to hope, pray and believe that next year Jeff will be mowing that grass again (until cancer forced him to stop yard work, he had steadfastly refused to hire a lawn service, and he hopes to return to mowing one day).  Till then, I am looking around me with new appreciation for the daily gifts and treasures that sometimes hide beneath the mantle of their familiarity.

Right now, today, these gifts are all around you, too.  The everyday will one day be exceptional.  Don’t pass it by!

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

Exciting today

With this view, you can't go wrong! Virginia Beach, September 2013

With this view, you can’t go wrong! Shall we begin with TEA? Virginia Beach, September 2013

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.”   A.A. Milne

I love, love, love breakfast, even though I seldom eat it except on Saturdays.  But sometimes I eat breakfast for dinner, at Cracker Barrel or IHOP or Denny’s or even at home.  I’ve also learned to indulge in breakfast when Jeff or Matt is in the hospital, and the rising comes early (with medical rounds seemingly at sun up and uncomfortable chair-beds that make it impossible to sleep well anyway).  Hospital cafeterias do breakfast well, or at least cheaply, and in the hospital, I know that may be the only real meal I get that day.

But my hands-down favorite place for breakfast is the tiny but very popular Belvedere Coffee Shop in Virginia Beach, a place Jeff discovered a few years ago on Trip Advisor, when he wanted to plan a fun weekend for us.  If you go there, be sure to ask for the “honeymoon table” in the corner, with a single seat for two, facing outwards. No matter what you order for breakfast, it will go PERFECTLY with the view you will enjoy there.

Are you a breakfast person? What are your favorites? You have my permission to indulge, today or sometime soon!

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

Merry October!

UPDATE – scroll down for photos of Halloween fun in our Alexandria neighborhood!

I scanned this very old photograph of a long-ago jack-o-lantern I carved for the boys.

I scanned this very old photograph of a long-ago jack-o-lantern I carved for the boys.

“October, tuck tiny candy bars in my pockets and carve my smile into a thousand pumpkins…. Merry October!” — Rainbow Rowell

I can’t remember what year it was when I carved the jack-o-lantern pictured above, but it’s probably representative of what they all looked like before my kids were grown and I quit decorating for Halloween.  My skill with a knife never matched my father’s, but the design is copied from my  memories of the deliciously fiery grins on the ones he carved for his own children for so many years.

For you and your family or neighborhood children, I wish a safe and Merry Halloween!

And treat yourself to some laughs – thanks to Eric for sharing this hilarious video:

Here are some shots of the Halloween fun in our neighborhood:

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This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

Something haunting

The Harvest Moon shines on Dam Neck, Virginia, September 2013

The Harvest Moon shines on Dam Neck, Virginia, September 2013

“There is something haunting in the light of the moon; it has all the dispassionateness of a disembodied soul, and something of its inconceivable mystery.”Joseph Conrad

The children out trick-or-treating for Halloween this year won’t enjoy the light of a full moon, but perhaps it will shine in their imaginations.  Of all the seasons, autumn is most closely associated with the full moon.  Maybe it’s because of the beauty of the Harvest Moon, or maybe it just seems a perfect backdrop for all the spooky tales we hear at this season.  Whatever the reasons, I hope you had time to enjoy the Harvest Moon in September, or the Hunter’s Moon of October 18; if not, there will be another full moon on November 17.  May the haunting beauty of moonlight enhance at least one evening for you this fall!

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

A graveyard can teach you

A centuries-old graveyard in Oxford, not far from Headington Quarry. December, 2005

A centuries-old graveyard in Oxford, not far from Headington Quarry. December, 2005

“Spending time in a graveyard can teach you a lot about living. When I stopped at each grave I swear I could almost hear the silent stories of perfect strangers. Their tombs like silent philosophies of all the ways a life can be lived.”Simone Nacerima

Graveyards are a common motif at this time of year, supposedly spine-tingling places of dread.  In reality, though, I’ve never found graveyards the least bit frightening, even back in 1975 when I was blindfolded  and driven out to a rural cemetery during a sorority initiation that fell on Halloween.  I was left sitting alone on a tombstone in the dark, and I didn’t even peek to see where I was.  I remember wondering about the name on the tombstone, whose grave I might be disrespecting (through no choice of my own), silently apologizing to this person’s soul, and wondering what kind of life he or she may have led.

One December evening in 2005, I was alone in another small, unlit graveyard adjacent to an old country church in Headington Quarry, England.  I was searching for the grave of C. S. Lewis, and I felt a panic that increased as the darkness closed in quickly. My primary fear was that I would have to leave, disappointed, never having spotted the earthly resting place of my favorite author.  I also felt afraid that I might not be able find my way back in the dark, across fields and through neighborhoods, to the bus stop where I started — at least, not in time to catch the last bus to Oxford where I was to meet my son at Christchurch for vespers.

Though it was so dark I could scarcely read the Lewis marker when I did find it, the graveyard itself was not spooky at all to me.  As with all cemeteries, it seemed filled with stories I wish I had time to learn.  I left with some regret, and though I did make it back to the bus stop just in time, the images of my twilight pilgrimage to Holy Trinity church have stayed with me, one of those otherworldly experiences that never fade from the imagination.

I hope the cartoon-like portrayals of graveyards that are so abundant at this time of year do not close our eyes to the lessons such places have to teach us.  May their silent stories bless you with wisdom, contentment and resolve!

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

Costumes tell a story

EN GARDE! Halloween in Hawaii with Indiana Jones and Zorro, 1993

EN GARDE! Halloween in Hawaii with Indiana Jones and Zorro, 1993

“Clothes make a statement.  Costumes tell a story.”Mason Cooley

I mentioned a couple of days ago that my siblings and I much preferred making our own Halloween costumes over buying them in a store.  Perhaps it’s because the store-bought costumes in those days were cheesy little plastic masks coupled with cheap apron-like printed garments worn loosely over regular clothes.  I look with amazement and perhaps a twinge of envy at the elaborate quality of embellished princess gowns and pirate gear available for purchase seemingly everywhere nowadays.

But pulling together our own costumes was very much a part of the excitement of the holiday.  Our parents allowed us the fun and rare privilege of plundering their closets, accessories, props and Mom’s makeup to use as we saw fit.  Then the ritual of photographs, followed by heading outdoors when there was just enough light to see and compare our friends’ creations, usually as unique as our own.

One year a friend (with the help of her parents) became an amazingly realistic mummy, covered in gauze made from her brother’s old cloth diapers, taped all over her body and head (except for eye holes and a small mouth hole for breathing).  That might have been the best costume I can remember seeing.  Creating original Halloween costumes is one of the best ways to “go green” by recycling materials already on hand, at home or at thrift shops.

We followed the tradition of home-created costumes with our sons, and they do indeed tell a story that brings back happy memories of their interests and preferences at various ages.  Their costumes call to mind the tales they enjoyed that prompted their choices, as well as the stories I remember of that particular year.  As Halloween approaches, I hope you will enjoy seeing, and maybe creating, the many costumes that fill this season with memorable scenes.

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

Of courtesy

Strolling past Poseidon on the boardwalk, Virginia Beach, September 2013.

Strolling past Poseidon on the boardwalk, Virginia Beach, September 2013.

Of Courtesy, it is much less
Than Courage of Heart or Holiness,
Yet in my Walks it seems to me
That the Grace of God is in Courtesy.

 – Hilaire Beloc

On a beautiful September day not long ago, Jeff and I enjoyed a few hours on the boardwalk at Virginia Beach.  As we strolled along I noticed an elderly man ahead of us, taking in the sunshine and cooling breeze with the help of his attendant, who walked beside him with patience and kindness.  I was happy to see this gentleman able to be out and about on such a beautiful day.

Bikes whizzed past and children played, but all were mindful of each other, sharing the space with the sort of collective joy made manifest in such agreeable surroundings.  It was not unlike the neighborly accord I experience on my daily walks.

It’s easy to get caught up in the notion that great and courageous deeds are needed to make the world a better place, and of course they are.  But they are perhaps less pervasive — and maybe even less needed — than simple, common courtesy.  How often has your day been made more happy (or less) by the cordial (or rude) behavior of a stranger?  Don’t you love it when people you’ve never seen smile and greet you?  Courtesy may not be the flashiest or most obvious way to demonstrate our understanding of grace, but it carries the potential to change the world, one person at a time.

I wish you a day filled with courtesy, flowing in grace, to you and from you!

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

A child in every one

Halloween 1986, the first of many that Matt and Drew enjoyed together.

Halloween 1986, the first of many that Matt and Drew enjoyed together.

Backward, turn backward,
O Time, in your flight
make me a child again
just for to-night!

~ Elizabeth Akers Allen

There is a child in every one of us who is still a trick-or-treater looking for a brightly-lit front porch.Robert Brault

Perhaps no holiday brings back more childhood memories than Halloween.  The festivities of November and December belong to people of all ages, but Halloween seems created for those who are still young enough to be excited about candy, uninhibited about parading around in costumes, and energetic enough to visit door after door in quest of just one more treat.

If you’re my age or older, you probably remember a time when candy was a relatively rare privilege, which made the prospect of Halloween goodies all the more magical.  That exciting trip to get the pumpkin(s) for carving, the fun of spending time with adults who participated in the merriment by creating jack-o-lanterns and other faintly frightful decorations, and the enjoyment of themed activities at school (perhaps with a reading of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow) all combined to build the suspense until October 31.

The crisp autumn air was a perfect setting for the anticipation of choosing “what to be this year” and then creating a costume to wear on the big night.  (Store bought costumes were scorned by us, as they may have been by many of you.)  What could surpass the sheer delight of dressing up as darkness fell, then seeing creativity on parade in the costumes of friends as we ran from house to house, sometimes greeted by enthusiastic parents dressed in costumes of their own for handing out treats.  The fiery grin of a jack-o-lantern would welcome us at almost every door.

On returning home to dump the contents of our bags or pillowcases onto the floor, sorting and trading and eating until past bedtime, we would critique the evening.  Whose costumes were best? Most creative? Scariest?  Who carved the best pumpkin?  Then when bedtime finally came, the regret of knowing one more Halloween had passed was tempered by the candy stash, which would last for weeks, and the knowledge that the grandest festivities were yet to come in the holidays just ahead.

Do these memories sound familiar to you, or are yours different?  Did you celebrate Halloween, and if so, how?  I hope this season you will remember and share some of your best Halloween memories.  Feel free to tell us about them here!

This post was first published seven years ago today. As always, when I schedule these posts for re-publication, I go back and read through them. I’ve forgotten so much of what I wrote, so it’s often a process of rediscovery. If I have time, I also read the old comments, and there I find more happy than sad memories. In this particular post, I especially enjoyed the comments of my extended family members as we reminisced about Halloweens in our past. I still miss Daddy so much, but in his comments, he lives on and speaks to me again.

The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

Stimulating loneliness

Sunset on the ocean at Captiva Island, Florida, January 2013

Sunset on the ocean at Captiva Island, Florida, January 2013

“The loneliness you get by the sea is personal and alive. It doesn’t subdue you and make you feel abject. It’s stimulating loneliness.”Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I connected immediately with Lindbergh’s words in the quote.  I’m seldom if ever at the sea all alone, but it always wraps me in a calming sense of solitude.  Maybe it’s the immensity of it, underscoring my relatively insignificant presence.  Or maybe it’s the sights, sounds, scents and sensations; the rare setting that taps into all five of our senses, leaving the faint taste of salt in our mouths.

In any case, as Lindbergh describes, the loneliness I feel by the sea is never an unpleasant experience.  In my case, I think it may be the paradox inherent in feeling, through such rich isolation, the presence of deity.  It’s as if I am experiencing the omnipresence of God in a highly personal yet universal way.  I realize that may sound like so much new-age doubletalk, but if you’ve ever had the sensation yourself, you will know what I mean.

In any case, I wish for you today the stimulating loneliness of the sea (so like that of the sky), if only in memory or imagination.  As we share the common experience of sanctified solitude, we are brought together in the unending mystery of being part of a vast sea of global humanity, each of us remaining unique, and uniquely loved by God.

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

History that teaches

Jeff stands in front of the reconstructed McLean House, where Lee surrendered to Grant. Appomattox Court House, Virginia, July 2005

Jeff stands in front of the reconstructed McLean House, where Lee surrendered to Grant.
Appomattox Court House, Virginia, July 2005

“The march of Providence is so slow and our desires so impatient; the work of progress so immense and our means of aiding it so feeble; the life of humanity is so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope.” — Robert E. Lee

Perhaps no decision in history has been more analyzed and second-guessed than Lee’s decision to refuse command of the Union army in favor of leading the troops of the Confederacy.  His decision is all the more noteworthy as it was made, not only in the face of conflicting loyalties within his state and his own family, but also with a greater realization than many of his contemporaries of how long and bloody the war was likely to be.  It’s impossible to imagine the grief, disappointment and despair that Lee must have endured in the years that followed, witnessing the horrific suffering and loss of so many lives, culminating in acknowledged defeat with his surrender at Appomattox Court House, Virginia.

How, then, to explain his statement quoted above, which was penned years after the war ended?  It would be easier to understand if Lee had indulged in bitter predictions of doom, or cynical observations about the human limitations he so eloquently describes. Yet he chose to focus on the larger picture, and to believe in an ultimately favorable outcome for much that was yet unresolved.

With these words, Lee reminds us that no matter how powerful (or not) an individual might be, all of us are part of something far more immense than our immediate circumstances suggest.  While some might argue that history teaches us to be pessimistic, I like Lee’s assertion that the trajectory of human existence moves primarily in a forward direction, despite the many setbacks that seem to get more press in the archives of history.

Whether you’re a history buff or not, I hope you will find time to reflect on the blessings available to us every day that would have been ardently appreciated by past generations.  We don’t have to look very far to see much reason for hope in history.

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

All gates

This must be the most purely symbolic gate I've ever seen. Captiva , Florida, January 2013

This must be the most purely symbolic gate I’ve ever seen. Captiva, Florida, January 2013

“The world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

One of the best ways to defeat despair is to see the opportunity that lies in almost every situation.  When I am able to view a difficult time as a gateway to something new, I am better able to tolerate the sadness, grief or frustration that can too easily take over my thoughts.

I love the idea of “strings of tension waiting to be struck.” It made me ponder how stringed instruments can only make beautiful music if the strings are tense.  It’s the action of contacting the tension that creates the sound. Too much tension, of course, will snap the strings and damage the instrument.  But it takes just the right amount to enable the instrument to do what it was designed to do.

Perhaps there’s a symbolic lesson for us here.  While we all love the times of relaxation, we usually need a bit of tension or urgency to kick us into a productive, energetic mode.  Next time your day is fraught with tension and frustration, think of the beautiful music that can be produced when strings are tensed.  Think of the gates that are open to you, inviting you to walk forward into new opportunities.

Today, I wish you eyes that are opened to the gates in your world, and the opportunities to make beautiful music with your tension.

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

Any tea

Too bad Kipling didn't have a nearby tea shop like this one in Bar Harbor, Maine, June 2012.

Too bad Kipling didn’t have a nearby tea shop like this one in Bar Harbor, Maine, June 2012.

We had a kettle; we let it leak:
Our not repairing made it worse.
We haven’t had any tea for a week…
The bottom is out of the Universe.

Rudyard Kipling

…and speaking of reasons I love to be in England, I think the top three would be tea, tea and tea.  Of course, one can get delicious tea pretty much anywhere, but my love of tea is most connected to Great Britain.  I was just beginning to have a real taste for it in May 2001, when I had tea at the home of my longtime British pen pal in Essex.  We had been out touring on a cold drizzly day, and our coming in to sit by her fire and drink tea is one of my happiest memories.  I’ve forgotten how many cups I drank (some with cream and sugar, and some without) but I think I was hooked from that point on.

And “hooked” is not too strong a word for it.  I can hardly get through a day without tea, much less a week, so Kipling’s verse made me smile.  I know coffee drinkers who feel the same way about their morning cup, and while I don’t share the same enthusiasm for coffee, it’s beginning to grow on me.  But I doubt that it will ever replace tea in my affections.

What simple pleasure does Kipling’s verse remind you of? What seemingly trivial loss would cause you to declare “the bottom is out of the Universe?”  It’s easy to take the commonplace for granted, until we are without it.  Today, let’s remind each other of all the small blessings woven so tightly into our days that losing them would make us feel everything was unraveling!

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

The maxim of the British

One of many tourists who pose with the Queen's Guard. Windsor Castle, August 2005

One of many tourists who pose with the Queen’s Guard. Windsor Castle, August 2005

“The maxim of the British people is ‘Business as usual.'” — Winston Churchill

This quote, and the photo posted above, capture one reason why I love being in England.  I must not be the only one, because the now-ubiquitous, quintessentially British wartime quote “Keep Calm and Carry On” has been revived and printed on all sorts of items.  It’s now also cleverly parodied by more than one producer of novelties.  The legendary “stiff upper lip” is admirable to many of us, it seems.

Contrary to what some believe, the Queen’s Guard (one of whom is involuntarily posing with a tourist in the photo above) are not just a ceremonial detail, but are fully operational soldiers.  When I saw the tourists taking turns posing beside the guards, I thought it was funny and decided to give it a try.  I thought better when I got a bit closer and saw the razor edge of the bayonet and the barely noticeable tightening of the soldier’s hand on his rifle as I approached.  I felt a bit disrespectful, and more than a little edgy.  So the only photo we have of me with this same solder shows me standing a few feet off, looking ready to run, with a sheepishly undecided grin on my face.

Can you imagine what it must be like to stand silently and endure the constant stream of tourists for hours on end?  These men are fully armed and responsible for the safety of a castle full of people (to say nothing of being a potential target for some deranged attacker), yet they are expected never to move and supposedly never to crack a smile.  What if that huge hat gets unbearably itchy underneath?  What if he had too much tea and needs to go to the loo?  What if he has to sneeze?  Business as usual, which for the Queen’s Guard, means keeping a poker face and standing firm in all sorts of irritating circumstances.

I over-react far too often, so this trait is something I need to cultivate, and I have had a great example in the past year. It’s been amazing to see how Jeff has taken the “business as usual” maxim as his approach to life with stage IV cancer.  Almost every day that he has not been in the hospital or at a treatment appointment, he’s been busy working at the clinic by day and at home by night, going about his routines as if none of this nightmare had ever hit us.  He manages to restrict how much we discuss it or even mention it, far from the obsessive worrying that I tend to do.  It must be his British ancestry coming out.

In any case, the next time you are dealing with unforeseen and unpleasant surprises, or maybe just the annoying presence of distracting people, remember the stony endurance of the Queen’s Guard.  Business as usual.  Keep calm and carry on!

ADDENDUM 10-23-13:

OK, by popular demand (meaning at the requests of people who are popular with me), here is the photo of me with the sheepish grin.  In posting this photo I am breaking two blog standards: 1. use only photos that are focused and attractive; and 2. if I am in the photo, it has to make me look better than I actually look in real life.

Without further ado, see the following three photos:

Sheepish

Do I appear to be gritting my teeth here?  Well, this couple seemed to share my hesitation:

Wary Couple

But this guy in the yellow shirt seemed to have the best idea:

he's outta there

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

Let us love

One of countless love notes from God, this one at the Montreal Botanical Garden, May 2009

One of countless love notes from God, this one at the Montreal Botanical Garden, May 2009

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”John, apostle of Jesus (I John 4:7-8, NIV)

In a chapter that opens with ominous warnings about false teachers, John gives us these beautiful words, along with many others that describe love as the way to know God.  For all the beauty of these words, though, they set the bar quite high.  Love is not an easy task, particularly when it is commanded without conditions.  We are not told to love only those who are worthy of love, nor even to love only those we know.  “One another,” “everyone” and “whoever” are fairly all-encompassing terms.

Taken in the context of the entire Bible, this description becomes all the more daunting.  It becomes quite clear that love is not seen as a limited or qualified thing.  How could it be limited, if the surpassingly infinite being of God is love?  When we read the command to love our enemies, we tend to come up with internal, possibly unconscious parameters: “Yes, but that doesn’t mean…” or “I can love someone and still…” or even “Well, that sounds good, but nobody I know can really pull it off.”

The words themselves are simple, but not easy.  We are the ones who turn it into something complex, mostly as a way of dodging the frightful implications of putting the needs of others before our own desires.  Some people say “all love begins with loving oneself,” and while this may be true, John pointedly says nothing here about self love.  I can’t think of a time when Jesus did, either.

What’s ultimately comforting about this passage is the confident declaration that God is love.   When we focus on that, we tap into the energy and power to do what seems impossible.  Every day, in countless ways, the love of God is poured out through the beauty of creation and the blessings that come from the hands of creative, competent and compassionate people.  When we immerse ourselves in all the manifestations of what is true, just and lovely, we naturally want to become part of that loving force.

It’s a pretty safe bet that this very day, as all others, you will be called upon to love someone else, through some big or small task, or perhaps only through patience and kind words.  In fact, chances are you will be in a position to show love to more than one person, through more than one opportunity.  If it seems hard, just look around you for examples.  God sends us love notes on a continual basis, and if we look closely, we can learn from them.  How will we be asked to love one another today?  How will we respond?

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

Drinking in the surroundings

I snapped this photo just behind our townhome in our Alexandria neighborhood, November 2011.

I snapped this photo just behind our townhome in Alexandria, November 2011.

“I was drinking in the surroundings: air so crisp you could snap it with your fingers and greens in every lush shade imaginable offset by autumnal flashes of red and yellow.”
Wendy Delsol

I had never heard of Wendy Delsol until I came across this quote, but she described exactly what I was doing the day I took this photo.  I’ve written a lot about our York home and our beloved little patch of woods there, but our Alexandria townhome also has a lovely view from the back deck, or the patio below it, of the woods you see in this picture.

With surroundings like these, along with unlimited digital recorded books from my local library to keep me company, how could I NOT love to walk?  Some of the best things in life really are free. It’s often hard to carve out the time to put in my two or three daily miles, but I’ve learned to make it a priority.  I hope this photo may inspire you to do the same, even if your walks are much shorter.  You might not have fall foliage where you are, but you surely have something else beautiful, interesting or stimulating to enjoy.  Go out and drink in the surroundings — and then come back and tell us about it here!

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

So many stupid remarks

As usual, Jeff and Matt heard more than they said. At the Louvre, Paris, September 2005

As usual, Jeff and Matt heard more than they said. At the Louvre, Paris, September 2005

“Surely nothing has to listen to so many stupid remarks as a painting in a museum.”
Edmond & Jules de Goncourt

When I read this quote, I laughed.  Then I wanted to talk back to it.  “Oh yeah? Try being a parent at an IEP meeting.”  But I realize that’s a fairly esoteric thing to say.  So I thought of other examples.  What about:

  • a gorilla at the zoo?
  • a judge at traffic court?
  • a middle school vice principal in charge of student conduct?
  • a mother with a screaming toddler?
  • anyone listening to a sports event’s “color commentator?” (You know, the ones who make immortal observations such as “this is a situation where they really need a hit” with the score tied and bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth.)

Admittedly, the Goncourt brothers came up with an interesting angle here, but let’s have fun with it.  We all have to put up with stupid remarks occasionally, and sometimes we make them ourselves.  Who (or what) do you suppose draws the most stupid comments?  What are some classics you’ve heard (or said)?  Sometimes, the best way to defeat despair is to shrug your shoulders, shake your head and laugh!

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

Not just a noun

This beautiful shrub almost leaped out at us. Corolla, North Carolina, September 2013

This beautiful shrub almost leaped out at us. Corolla, North Carolina, September 2013

“All the other colors are just colors, but purple seems to have a soul. Purple is not just a noun and an adjective but also a verb – when you look at it, it’s looking back at you.” Uniek Swain*

I’m tempted to begin with Alice Walker’s well known quote about the color purple, but let us just say that I agree with those who think purple a remarkable color. I feel the same about most colors (I would never classify the others as “just colors”), but this never detracts from the singular beauty of the hue that happens to be in front of my eyes at the moment.

We came upon this enormous, lovely shrub in the historic village of Corolla, North Carolina, near Currituck Lighthouse. I could not remember ever seeing anything like it before, nor could Jeff. Can someone tell us what it is? Mike, perhaps you know?  I asked the other visitors around us if any of them knew what it was, and none did, though all agreed it was remarkable.  I’ve seen smaller versions of it before, but this one was taller than we are.

In any case, this plant stood out among many other varieties in a very lovely setting. As with some irises, the vivid purple and arresting form set it apart. It may not literally have been looking back at us, but its size and color did give it an animated feeling, as if it was there to greet us.  I wouldn’t exactly say that the color purple seems to have a soul, but I confess to being something of a synesthete who experiences a kind of character or personality to colors, and purple seems active rather than passive; almost a verb.

What are your favorite colors? Do any of them seem to you to have personalities? Or do you scratch your head and wonder about the sanity of those who think that numerals, letters, automobiles and other abstract or inanimate objects have qualities that connect to animate traits in our minds?  Either way, I hope these purple blooms brighten your day!

    1. (*This quote is widely attributed to Uniek Swain throughout cyberspace, but I have been unable to find anything about this person other than quote attributions. Readers are invited to enlighten me on this, too.)

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

We must free ourselves

A sailboat off the coast of Barbados, March 2010

A sailboat off the coast of Barbados, March 2010

“We must free ourselves of the hope that the sea will ever rest.  We must learn to sail in high winds.” Aristotle Onassis

Whatever else might be said of Aristotle Onassis, he certainly learned to make the most of adverse circumstances.  His family’s experiences could have led him into poverty.  Instead he became one of the world’s wealthiest men, though the details of his biography suggest his ethics were not equal to his determination.

Ethical questions aside, I appreciate his words quoted above, because I have found them to be true again and again.  It might seem strange that a blog called “Defeat Despair” would highlight a quote about freeing ourselves from hope.  But freedom from false hope can actually be an important part of overcoming setbacks. It allows us to adjust to misfortune or grief rather than denying it with wishful thinking.

When Jeff was first diagnosed with stage IV adenocarcinoma, we read up and immediately came face to face with the bluntly unfavorable prognosis that was confirmed by his doctors.  A blessing we did not expect was the upbeat attitude of those who have provided his treatments.  They are candid in discussing the battle he faces, but many of them have encouraged us to look at cancer as a chronic condition rather than a death sentence; to resolve to live with cancer rather than focusing on dying from it.  To the extent that we have done this, we have been more able to weather the many difficult days, and cherish the relatively easy or peaceful ones, no matter how few and far between.

The next time you find yourself using the words “if only” or “I can’t wait until” or “when things calm down a bit,” remember the words of the Greek shipping magnate who harnessed the power of the unruly seas to bring himself legendary fortune.  Don’t wish for easier circumstances that may never arrive.  Learn to sail in the high winds.  It will be good experience — and perhaps it will be unexpectedly invigorating.

This post was first published seven years ago today. The ideas expressed herein among those most relevant to how the past four years have unfolded in my life. I’ve been freed from whatever hopes I had left for my life, and I’m learning to focus (at least for now) on harnessing the winds, or in some cases, simply staying afloat. 

The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

Eyes turned skyward

A US Airways jet approaches DCA in FAA-choreographed precision. Taken from the Arlington Memorial Bridge, April 2013

A US Airways jet approaches DCA in FAA-choreographed precision.
Taken from the Arlington Memorial Bridge, April 2013

“When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
Leonardo da Vinci

I’ve written here before about having grown up in an airline family, surrounded by relatives and friends who were pilots, and hearing endless talk of flight from my earliest memory.  In those days, few of my friends had flown (except for the many who, like me, grew up with airline employees in their families, of which there were plenty in Atlanta).  But I can remember flying before the days of jet engines, when even the major airlines flew propeller planes.  In just my lifetime, aviation has changed tremendously, and not all of the changes have been for the better.

I don’t know how Leonardo da Vinci nailed it so well without having tasted flight himself, but he’s right.  My experiences growing up with airplanes, and later my years working for US Airways, have meant that I pretty much walk with my eyes turned skyward, figuratively if not literally.

If you had told me when I was a child that there would come a day when flying was almost as common as riding a bus, and people would talk of it with contempt and even disgust,  I would never have believed you.  When airline deregulation passed, my father predicted just such a scenario, but even then I could not imagine it.  And still, when I’m flying on a sunny day and happen to be near enough to a window to glimpse the brightly-lit clouds below, all the magic comes back.  I just don’t understand how we came to take such a phenomenal experience for granted.

On a recent trip into DC, I decided to get off at the Arlington Cemetery metro stop and walk into the city across the Arlington Memorial Bridge.  There were several sights I planned to take in, but my timing was such that when I crossed the bridge it was a very busy time for air traffic, and I ended up spending much of my time there with eyes literally turned skyward.  I watched in fascination, snapping away with my camera as plane after plane shot staggered approaches into Reagan National Airport, just seconds apart.  The risk and precision of it amazed me, although it was nothing I had not heard of hundreds of times before.

A few weeks later my brother, a retired Northwest Airlines pilot, accompanied us into DC for Matt’s arm surgery.  As we came into the city, he remarked that he couldn’t cross those bridges over the Potomac without feeling an anxiety-related adrenaline rush conditioned by years of shooting harrowing approaches to the short runways of DCA.  Again I thought of how much we take for granted about flying, and how ungrateful we usually are for the relative safety and convenience of modern air travel.

I stay so busy that I don’t have much time to miss my years at USAir and the wonderful flying privileges I grew up with and later enjoyed as an airline employee.  But just as Leonardo said, there I have been, and there some part of me  will always long to return.

Do you like to fly?  Or has the negative press related to delays and fare increases, scary (though relatively rare) fatalities, and hassles of security searches ruined it for you?  Notwithstanding all of the aforementioned drawbacks, can you at least enjoy the occasional glimpse out the window that shows you a different view of our world, one Leonardo would have given so much to experience even one time?

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

All the beasts

I photographed this elephant at Disney's Animal Kingdom, August 2003.

I photographed this elephant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, August 2003.

“If all the beasts were gone, men would die from a great loneliness of spirit…”
— attributed to Chief Seattle

The oft-quoted words above were purportedly from a letter written by Chief Seattle to President Franklin Pierce. At least one historian has researched and dismissed the authenticity of this claim, and his arguments against its supposed provenance are rather convincing.

However, the quote lives on because the beauty of the words have the ring of truth to many of us.  Animals are not only an adornment to our world; they are essential for its survival.  With photo and video technology, we have a front-row seat for viewing the diversity of the animal kingdom.  The stunning variety of their appearance, behaviors and habits are a never-ending source of fascination for those of us who enjoy watching creatures who share this planet with us.

Just as the fictional wizard Merlin taught the young Arthur about life by turning him into various animals, so we too have much to learn from the beasts.  I’m thankful I’ve been able to watch all sorts of animals wherever I’ve lived and traveled, and while films will never replace the thrill of seeing them face to face, I’m grateful for digital glimpses of the inhabitants of regions all over the world.   Cheers for the marvelous photography and painstaking research of humans who dedicate their lives to learning more about our animal friends.

A link to the video below was sent to me by one of the readers in this online community.  When I watched it, I thought of the quote above, because I did feel less lonely in spirit as I watched the movements and expressions of the video’s stars.  Many of them are not the first animals we think of when we talk about the delights of “critters,” but this clip captures the amazingly wide array of life on earth by focusing in closely on just a few examples, and each is beautiful in its unique way.

Today, I hope this video will spark fond memories of animals you’ve seen or loved, and gratitude for their presence with us here on earth, sharing and dispelling the loneliness of existence.

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.

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