Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Walking the Habit

You see the same people week after week. And you hear their stories or you make them up. (Tweet This)

You see the handsome man with an older dog. You see them each winter’s morning. He acknowledging you with a tip of his head, you recognizing them at a distance. Whose ritual was it, you wonder. Man or dog. It was a long way around the lake. And then one day you see him alone and the next time too. And you want to say, sorry about your dog, you must miss him. But you wonder if that is too forward. Because what story has he made up about you when he passes? That you walk too fast and are always alone? Must have no friends?

You see people in funny combinations, are they out on a first date? You’ve done the same thing to see if this man can keep up with you and hold your attention for 6 kilometres. You see one of them turn to the other, but the other’s eyes never stray from the walking path or looking for an escape. Did their online profiles identify who they really are or was it all fabrication? Will you ever see them together again?

Walking the Habit
She is usually wearing pink, her hair is  substantial, blonde messy. You wonder if she has  just stepped out of bed and wound that big floral   scarf around her neck as an afterthought. You never really notice the man with her. He is secondary. All year long she wears pink. What does her closet look like?

There’s a big man, he walks like someone who has lost a great deal of weight recently. Like his knees hurt with every step but still you see him with one new walking companion after another each week and he doesn’t give up. When Spring finally arrived he had removed his long inappropriate coat and my, he had lost so much weight. He was almost slim, although he still walked with uncomfortable knees. Does it hurt badly? you think as you cross each other.

You see the children grow, they start off unstable on their new bikes, they fall behind their older siblings. And then one day, they make it up the entire hill without stopping or whining. They begin to recognize you too, and they wave their little hands when you go by. And you think to yourself, please put your hands back on your handlebars I don’t want to see you fall.

You think about the elderly man you used to see walking slowly and saying his prayers. He used to put his hands together and bow and quietly say Namaste, but you haven’t seen him in so long.

The fast runners go by, you cannot catch their conversations. What a shame. Some call “hello” and “good evening” when it is only 8am, just to make you laugh. Some are constantly recovering from another injury. They have been known to laugh and whine too.

The cycling teams fly by. They look pretty fit and have great thighs when you see them at a certain angle. And you think, ah 40 years ago I would have fallen for those legs. I know they are practising for some event, but they definitely miss out on overhearing the passing conversations or notice the gal dressed in pink.

All this happens before 10am on a Sunday morning. It is a good way to start the day. Then you continue your habit and go have a cheap cup of coffee at McDonalds.

The stories you hear when you walk. (Tweet This)

Do only writers notice the stories that walk by? (Tweet This) 

Habit = Glenmore Reservoir, South West Calgary

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Box of Favourite Toys

It was a box, just a box. It held nothing that meant anything to me but were the treasures held for decades by someone who used to be close to me. How did I get possession of this box, you ask?

Box of Favourite Toys
A life time ago, I was young and in love. Those feelings I eventually gave away too. But the owner of this box kept adding to it with the loss of each female relative. And then decades passed, these “jewels” were eventually left to me, and ended up with assorted other bits of history that had no story. Glassy, audacious, sparkly, set in garish ornate, old-fashioned brooches and hat-pins. They sat in the equally absurd bronze stained wooden box at the back of my closet, ignored.

The more I’ve read however of cleaning out our loved one’s closets made me consider my own mortality. How could I leave all this stuff for my own children to sift through? How could I leave them with all my junk, incomplete projects, scribbles in notebooks, scraps of fabric and this box of jewelry. How would they know what was important to me and not just filling up my spaces, preventing me from discovering myself. (Tweet This)

You might think, ohmygoodness, but she’s old, surely she should know who she is by now? But guess what, you are ALWAYS learning and growing. I am not the person I was last year, or last week. I have learned and lost and shared and grown some more. And in that passage of time, I’ve discovered that “things” have lesser meaning, because I will leave this world alone without any of my favourite toys. And those who know me best will get to choose which leftover piece of my heart has any value to them. (Tweet This)

And that is why, I have worn the (less!) ugly brooches on my jean jacket, or taken some apart to hang on a chain, have used another to decorate a gift, and given many away. The monetary value might be a little or a lot, I do not know. 
But I like to think that each trinket will arrive on the doorstop of someone who will appreciate its uniqueness. And the story they tell of how it reached them is really none of my business.

Because we all leave this world alone without any of our favourite toys. (Tweet This)

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Poem in Life Lines

Poem in Life Lines - Glenmore Reservoir

I rather write a poem where each word is chosen for impact
where the sounds of the clip of time are imbedded
moving a reader along into your world and out of theirs.
Quickly brutally sharply.
I want to create a space where when they are gone
they choose to come back and linger and savour
the letters I have strung together.
Without dragging a book on the train a plane
and finally into their bed.
I dream of them
repeating my words,
the ones that touched them
caressed them
made them ponder.

Why they let that lover go.
How they crossed the waters felt wind on their dry lips.
Cried tears on the ferry
and went inside.
Touching where the slap was so hard.

I might write a book one day, a short one.
One which will not leave a reader
feeling mystified betrayed confused
because the character they had grown to know
during their 300 odd page journey together
was lying to them throughout.

No, give me a poem
to write.
Where it is black or white
with not enough room for excuses.
Because in only so few lines
there is little chance
to hurt
but enough time
to heal.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Not a Medal Every Day

We’ve all got something to complain about, don’t we? We all have something to celebrate, don’t we?

Some days it’s easier to lean one way. The next day to the other. What about those who are just plain stand up straight? You rarely find out about their accomplishments because they take it in stride. They can make it look easy even when it isn't.

Every half-marathon I participate in, I answer the same questions. How did you do? How do you feel? What many people don’t recognize is that the medal you get at the Finish line (yes, everyone gets a medal, it doesn’t matter “when” you finished) is not just about how it turned out that day. 

The medal is for what you did everyday before that day. Each Sunday morning you got out the door at 7 or 8am when your neighbours were sleeping. When you tied up your running shoes at the end of a work day when all you wanted was a beverage of some sort or a big fat piece of brownie. It’s for the days you crossed off each training week with satisfaction and relief, did the hills, put a scarf and toque on to walk outdoors (we’re Canadians, eh!) or trained indoors staring at your own face while you put in time on the treadmill.

We like the excitement of a race but most of us are not facing life-changing events. We’re doing it just to stay in the game of Life.

On the race path, you can see some who are doing it for a reason. You hear the encouraging words as they pass you just as you might in your everyday life. You see some with tears running down their faces who are still plugging along. You see a big man putting one foot in front of the other on a hill that must have seemed endless. You see the 81 year old pace bunny smiling and motivating others.

And you ignore that you are getting thirsty, bored, your knee hurts and that you’re getting tired.

This year, I had another reason not to complain. It came in the story of a young man, a friend of my daughter, whose leg was lost in a boating accident. Whose other leg and foot had to be reconstructed. Who did his first 5km race. He did this less than one year since the accident which could have destroyed his life.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Finding the Worthwhile When You’re Over 60

Finding the Worthwhile When You're Over 60

My hometown is a beautiful place, to the west the majestic Rocky Mountains, it is found in the rolling foothills and provides spectacular sunsets. In spite of the downturn in oil prices, Calgarians are generous. The Food Bank is hosted by committed volunteers, the New Public Library is scheduled to open in the Fall 2018, there are a lot of things happening. Donations, financial and otherwise reach gigantic unheard-of numbers during personal catastrophes and weather related disasters.

It continues to be a land of plenty, regardless of the levelling of the economy. People might complain about the gas prices this week, but no-one says they’re giving up their SUV or gawd forbid choose to carpool.

It is a city still justifying itself however in many ways. The beautiful fashionable people grace the covers of some pretty home-grown publications. I too have been known to pick one up because they are just too darn cute to resist. The pages are filled with overabundance and showy wedding profiles. Everyone is special.

But now here is the difficult part… I am no longer 20 or 30 or even 50. I flow in a direction and have not a thing to prove, so sparkly things can only hold my attention just that long. The glossy curls I had, the freckled hands that have appeared in spite of dedication to eating colourful vegetables and working out several times a week are Me. And I still have dreams, goals to accomplish and much to learn.

And I continue to seek the Worthwhile.

Where is the publication for me? To bury myself in, ponder and cherish? Where are the words that make me laugh, make me think, make me create?