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Seeing Anew


Last night, Paul and I had dinner at Peking Gourmet, our favorite Chinese restaurant. We love the food, the kind and cheerful owner, Kim, and our regular server, Judy. At the end of the meal, we always read our fortunes — and they usually offer the standard hopeful predictions about money, friendship, and travel. But last night, we both received apt philosophical fortunes. Mine was: “Clear your mental, emotional and psychic space and you’ll see.” Paul received: “To live your life in fear of losing it is to lose the point of life.”

The watercolor, above, was created by my mother for the book we created together with her mother, The View in Winter. This book, published in 1992 and still available in print, includes Grandmother’s poems written in her eighties and nineties, mother’s lovely black and white watercolors, and one poem I wrote in honor of my grandmother. It was a project I didn’t think I had time (or resources) to do — yet, once I read the poems, I dropped all else and have never regretted it, never.

I am clearing, as I wish to see the way I saw when I worked on that project with my mother and grandmother. I am ready to reconnect with that vision and certainty, that focus.

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The practice of good-bye

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I was chopping celery for dinner three weeks ago, when the chirpy Brit-Indian inflection of a BBC World announcer interrupted my flow:

Technology Giant Apple
the death of its cofounder
Steve Jobs

Why was Apple the subject of this sentence? As a Mac aficionado, I mourn the loss of Steve Jobs’ edgy spirit in this world, but as an Apple stockholder, I’m less concerned. “Technology Giant Apple” will survive, or not. I’m more interested in the way we speak about death, our public discourse. When did it become acceptable to frame loss of life in the syntax of a product launch? I left the half-chopped celery and walked into the next room where my husband Paul surfed Facebook. He had just learned of Steve Jobs’ death, also, but in the unscripted, human-centered messaging context of social media. Better.

My poem about letting go, and not letting go, “Explaining the Urn on the Dining Room Cabinet,” was selected by Lindsey Lewis Smithson for the current issue of The Coachella Review. In her blog, she congratulated the selected poets as having been chosen out of 1,000 entries. The issue has been up for a week now, I’ve posted on Facebook, but no response. Could it be that I’ve moved into territory we cannot acknowledge? In conversation, I’ve learned that many people have ashes of beloveds waiting in their homes. Can we talk about this?

Ten years ago, I grieved my mother’s recent death and turned my attention to the practice of writing and yoga. I still grieve, and practice. For me, this practice lights the path of letting go.