Charting life's circuitous path

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Tilted Smile

What is almost depression?

Alone Oil by I. Mudrov

Alone Oil by I. Mudrov

It’s the dark day smothering your eyes, your ears and your mouth.
It’s a suffocation from the inside pouring out with tears, wet and hot.
It’s wanting, knowing, desperately hoping to be happy, to be content,
but only able, capable, of so little, so slowly.

Walking a fine tightrope of light and chaos.
Shaking for fear a tip to one side, dark and silent,
Continuing to baby step slowly and carefully,
but not strong enough to sway towards the embrace of love.

It’s stuck within a grey fog, unrecognized.
Fear of a diagnosis, but failing to gain validity.
The horror of a downward spiral speeding towards oblivion
And not being able to justify it either to oneself or to a doctor.

Screaming for help, but only hearing “think positive”.
Looking for answers, but only receiving pamphlets and hollow reassurances that you’re not really depressed.

It’s a half turn, step to the right of a chasm gaining breath,
even as your own get shorter and shorter.

What is almost depression?
It’s real.


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10:30 am Rapid Ride

seattleThe tall, triumphant, disk rising to blue swathed heavens
competing with steel, glass and the footsteps of thousands.
Bundles of bright blooms, bags of earthy produce,
spontaneous showers of protest
rights, rights for all! rights for me and you and them!
subdued to a murmur of energy as water
ebbs and crests with the caws of black, ancient eyes.
A hazy peak slides in and out of life’s daily chores –
majestic, grand, eternally situated at the corner of the eye.
Sweet, peanut layered toast mornings
Filled with pre-run milky tea reflections.
To be there is to be caught in a daze
a high that reaches to gray snowy caps
with the sea tugging us down.
Stay, just a little longer.
Rise high with us just a little bit more.
Stand tall with the tips of the marching trees
along the highway that takes you into the emerald city.


Two weeks after our vacation to Seattle, I’m finally coming back down to my Midwestern reality.  Our weeks have been filled with post-break appointments and chores as daily life comes back in full force.  I want to end my Seattle series with a few last tips.  If you ever plan on taking a break to Seattle, here’s a few things we’ve learned:

  1. Rent a vacation home for a real city experience.  Our rental home was cheaper than any hotel and it was well stocked and felt like home every time we came back from a full day of sightseeing.  It’s definitely the way we’re going to plan our vacations from now on.  Just be sure to shop around a bit to find the best deal and the best location.
  2. In amongst the ins and outs, the goings on of every day sightseeing, take breaks.  LOTS of breaks.  With coffee and preferably a nice sweet bun on the side.  Those are the moments that you’ll really remember because life seeps into your skin and you absorb not only the moment, but the day-to-day life of the city.  Some of my favorite moments were when we stopped, sipped at a cup and watched life walk by.
  3. Be prepared to be surprised.  We knew that Seattle was known for being progressive and socially conscious, but we didn’t know just how nice the people would be.  Strangers would ask us if we needed directions on the street.  Overworked grocery store clerks were efficient and nice as they trusted us when we told them the price of our unscannable cheese.  Even bus operators chatted over the intercom about the weather and wished us a great weekend at the end of a Friday!  If a city that gets rain 9 months out of the year can still be happy, then why can’t the rest of us?  A smile and a friendly face makes life easier, nicer and welcoming.
  4. You will eat and you will eat a lot.  Be ready to put your diet on a brief hold (unless you have a will of iron) but make sure that you’re still taking every opportunity to exercise and eat only what you’ll not regret.  I experienced some of my best runs on vacation as I ran along wide sidewalks, past succulents and mountain skies.  I ate some of the best food and while I regret the extra pounds, I don’t regret the wonderful flavors that crossed my tongue.  Taste and smell are both critical aspects of memory.  When that museum fades into the misty shadows of memory, the joy of sinking teeth into a sweet, chewy bun will not.


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Screechy purple robots emit commands as
high pitched lasers blast against tired ears.
Contentment strings out into brilliant infinity.
Zap. Bang. Zap.
Ice skitters up to frozen fingertips.
Life’s steady flight falters and flaps vainly to take wing.
Death, a minute ago so far away,
Now abruptly elbowing inside a too full chest
like a rude passenger in a packed train.
One dirty foot inside, hands clutching at the shutting door.
Eyes turn, inferno, panic
Then all subsides.
The Darkness gently covered by warmth.
Thawing fingertips clutch
Soft breaths in and out
Eyes refocus on retreating robots.

I wrote this poem trying to convey the split second when my own mortality creeps up on me like a mosquito.  So close, ready to strike with reality and yet my body moves instantly to squish it before it can settle and cause an itch impossible to scratch.

Thich Nhat Hanh in his Your True Home states that
The future is being made out of the present, so the best way to take care of the future is to take care of the present moment.
If we sweep away our fears of what will come, then we can’t fully live in the present because we are still worrying about the future.  In order to face that future, to face death, we need to be completely immersed in the present moment.

They say that when we’re young we feel invincible – like nothing can hurt us.  I say we still feel that way even when we’re old. Because once we do fully comprehend, even if for that briefest of second or two, when our defenses are breached, it’s downright scary.  That blankness, that looming end to what is the now, brings on the threat of an engulfing wave.  What haven’t I done?  What will I miss? When will it happen?  Very few want to face it fully and so we continue to ignore it. It becomes almost taboo to speak of it.  But to acknowledge the end is to acknowledge life.  If we acknowledge life fully then we can learn to live fully.

I have no way of knowing when my life will end, but I do have some control over the now.  That night we were watching an old episode of Transformers from the 80s.  Cuddled on the couch, I suddenly froze.  Hubby didn’t notice because by the time a million thoughts ran screaming through my head, I had (for the first time) faced the true fear for what it was – my own inevitable death, my own beautiful life.  All the times before I would shut the thoughts out and ignore them. This time, I named them. I refocused and clutched tighter to his arm.  Here is now.  What I’m doing now is life.  I can’t and do not regret a single moment.  That’s my comfort.