Thursday, April 21, 2005

Open Hand, Closed Hand

Our little inclusive homeschool group had a little informal talent show today. On the one hand, I hate the idea of “talent show” in that you are showing off, doing something only about an audience. On the other hand, I lovelovelove the actual talent show because there is such a wide variety of interests and talents and I’m always amazed and awed and frankly I wish more people would participate with that kind of an open spirit more of the time but I am grateful for the talent show bringing it out even if geography day doesn’t. I mean, did you know that some of the chain mail in the Lord of the Rings movies was made of PVC pipe sliced into rings and then linked together as rings of metal would have been? Or do you know how to make a pot pie that isn’t a pot pie but that still makes a grand lunch? Or how to knit with your fingers?

On the way home I studied the clouds, the sky. Great fluffy cotton candy clouds. And I thought of my hero and uncle, who along with his brothers somehow learned to fly airplanes deep in the Coalfields deep in the Great Depression. He became a navigator in WWII, then career Air Force, then stayed involved in aviation, running airports and teaching flying lessons and selling planes and flying chartered flights. I remembered being up in the air with him on just such days as this, looking at those clouds form and disperse, looking like you could jump out of the plane and bounce on them. And I know he saw that sky differently than I can, that he could read it. And I wondered if he would see a storm coming behind.

And sure enough, there was a storm. I have not read enough bodice ripper novels to be able to describe the storm we are having tonight, but it certainly has a sexual edge of relief to it. It has been hot and dry for this early in the year, for April. Not that we haven’t enjoyed it and gotten a lot done too. But the electrical storms of spring smell so grand, wash the pine pollen off of everything that it covers which is everything, bring refreshment at a visceral level.

The cherries trees are in bloom and it is supposed to turn cold after this storm and the cold holds the possibility of nipping the blossoms off before the fruit is set. Ah, but there is the possibility that it won’t too. It depends on so much. We could try to cover the trees with a giant bed sheet or something but we’d have to fly it like a kite over the top branches and would probably knock half the blooms off trying to do that.

And I am so tired. I think I philosophized over my head on that last post, the “life is held only in an open hand” bit. I think that because it has been rolling through my head and making it obvious how often I try to close that hand, worry, try to control, find myself frustrated by the flow instead of delighted by it.

But often enough I am delighted by it too. Like last night, after having to get a belt for the mower and it being the wrong one (why is the first one always the wrong one?) so I couldn’t mow for the neighbor like I had planned, I looked around the garden at what was needful there. The kids have been supposedly cleaning off the corn patches for days, with little to show for it. So I played leader and slave driver and did it with them and prohibited swim in the creek breaks until the word ‘done’ was appropriate. And husband wanted to empty the truck of manure but to do that needed the wheelbarrows empty and to do that needed to put in that potato patch and to do that needed to trim those bush cherries. In the end with all efforts combined together we had a small fire for the bush cherry brush and the end of last year’s corn haulms from all the corn patches and potatoes put in in a new place that next year is likely to become something else like maybe another strawberry bed, and the truck emptied of manure and put on the beds and the cherries trimmed and kids creeked too. A cat caught a mouse, the moon watched, the fire smoked and there was never in the history of the universe a more pleasant evening for family or garden.

And then my hand closed on it again, back at the house. We are not neat people. But sometimes I feel like I need to make us that. I cannot. Life struggles in my desperate grasp. I go to bed to dream of my girls sweet singing, to dream of the dead who might love me still, to dream the vision of what an open-handed life might look like.


Jim said...

Whether you "over-philosophized" or not your words were like fresh air and we all need to breathe deeply sometimes.
We humans are often fatigued in our efforts to become who we want to be, and it seems we always revert to that closed hand thing when we don't know what else to do.
Peggy and I are not "neat" people either and sometimes I enjoy that fact, yet at other times it aggravates my on & off again desire for organization.
Yin & Yang...such is life!
And by the way, I think you're a writer and philosopher, as much as you are everthing else you've listed in your profile.
Your literacy is absorbing, your honesty disarming, and I love reading your thoughts.

Joe Tornatore said...

one of our daughters had a talent show this week too. her band was suppose to play a rock song. they practiced for weeks. band leader got suspended day before the talent show. it is hard for 13 year olds to find a lead singer and guitar player with only 24 hours notice. Cancelled...

justrose said...

read one bodice ripper, read them all.

the Contrary Goddess said...

Jim, you are going to have to quit it before my head gets big or something. I mean, I'm gratified you like it, I am touched by kindred spirits, but . . . my mother raised me to "be somebody" and I have spent a lifetime (or two) overcoming that. I admit I have not actually read the book, but I ran across this quote and knew the truth it held for me: "[Have] the courage to be an absolute nobody." (J.D. Salinger in Franny & Zooey) So please, don't make me into a somebody!!!

Joe, I'm sure your daughter was really disappointed. How is the BSG book?

Justrose,lately your blog should be enough! LOL! Oh yeah, I'm reading, and loving it, just don't know WHAT to comment! Proud Southern Lady and all. Still, there was something about that storm rollin like thunder under the covers.

Jim said...

My humble apologies Contrary Goddess!
I actually share that view with you about not wanting to be "somebody".
People often treat me differently too, as if I have answers for them, when I truly believe the only answers lie within each of us, individually.
If we humans practiced more humility in our lives we could probably learn to live sustainably within Nature instead of destructively upon her.
I have no heroes, and the celebrity worship in our culture today repulses me, but there are people in the world who I find inspiring, and they are always humble folks who are trying to live simple meaningful lives.
Scott & Helen Nearing were those kind of people, as is Joe Hollis at Mountain Gardens, a website I found through your blog.
I just appreciate the honest wisdom in your down-to-earth sensiblities, that's all, and you've become part of an expanding community of thoughtful people where I find common ground and inspiration.
My comments here have probably sounded a little too much like praise, when all I've really meant to say is...
Thanks for being you!
Like I would say to a good friend in casual conversation.

the Contrary Goddess said...

Hey Jim, we're cool! And Joe Hollis is really cool too. And I don't know anything at all about California geography but how close are you to Ojai? My sister/midwife/friend is there and if it is close, you all have to meet!