cronechronicler

Exploring the poetry of everyday life

Who Will I Be When I Grow Up?

I remember being a child living in a safe and not very large world. I knew about World War II because my neighbor put a chicken-wire pen in her front yard to collect scrap metal. I remember ration books and my older cousin coming to visit looking handsome in his white Navy uniform. We children were not aware of adult conversations about the horrors and fears of war. We were incubated. I never thought about what it would be like to be an adult. I understood that it would naturally occur.

I grew up removed from reality. I learned to tell stories that skated on top of any situation, covering up anger, pain and disappointment. It was part of the Hollywood-inspired culture of the time that people got married and lived happily ever after. When it took me almost thirty years of marriage to see the impossibility of that myth, I created another story to rationalize my decision to get a divorce. Telling “stories” is not what real grown ups do.

I repeated this when I abandoned my second marriage. I felt it was not polite to tell the truth to people in my apartment I was meeting for the first time. I created a story out of a half truth. Eventually I told my true story.

This blogging enterprise has brought out a “real me” that I did not know lived deep inside. It began when I named my blog Cronechronicler. I didn’t think twice. It seemed a natural choice. Several years ago I went to a workshop about crones. The definition of a crone we were given is “an archetypal figure, a wise woman marginalized by her exclusion from the reproductive cycle.” We took part in a “croning, a ritual rite of passage into an era of wisdom, freedom and personal power.” My writing and the comments of other bloggers uncover these attributes in me. My wisdom has accumulated over the years. I gave myself freedom when I moved to my present home. Power is increasing with living my truth. I could never have foretold who I would grow up to be. That’s part of the fun.

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Alternative Vision

When I was in junior high, my friends teased me. They said that  I saw this as “the best of all possible worlds “, like the character in Candide.  In South Pacific Mary Martin sang that she was “a cockeyed optimist.” I preferred that comparison. And then came Monty Python’s movie The Life of Brian with its  sublime ending and the song “when you’re chewing on life’s gristle, Don’t grumble, give a whistle–and always look on the bright of life”. This I took to heart. I certainly no longer (if I ever did) think this is the best of all possible worlds but I’ve stuck with looking at the bright side of life – eventually.

About seven years ago I suddenly lost most of the sight in my left eye. I had glaucoma in that eye which did not respond to pressure-lowering drops. In the same eye, I had experienced two minor episodes of  blockage in the central optic vein leading to my retina. Both had healed on their own. Then came a perfect storm of eye pressure through the roof and a blockage which left me with severely impaired vision. My right eye still worked fine, though  I’ve slowly lost all sight in my left one.

At first I was stunned. It took a while to get used to the idea. I was fearful and hesitant about walking around outside. I had no depth perception now and stepping off a curb was an iffy proposition. Walking on uneven surfaces, like the bumpy grass patch in front of my townhouse,  was a challenge. I thought about it and realized that neither the curb nor the grass had changed. Only my vision was different. I decided to trust  my feet to know where they were going. I’ve learned a lot about muscle memory. Another problem was I now had a  blind side on my left. Driving on the freeway was out, though I still felt safe driving around my neighborhood. Walking on the sidewalk presented a new lesson to learn. I wasn’t aware of people coming up on my left side. Sometimes I drifted into their paths. Then aha! I discovered on a sunny day with the sun at my back I could see people’s shadows approaching an act accordingly.

Life went on much as usual. I began to like the new world I lived in. I discovered that not being able to do everything myself meant I had to rely on other people. One day I took the bus  down town. I had learned to trust the yellow painted railings to guide me down the steps and off the bus to the sidewalk. On this day I didn’t get off at my usual stop. I made my usual safe, if not graceful, descent from bus to sidewalk and was on my way. Except that this stop had an unexpected little step up to the sidewalk level that I tripped over. With a sinking feeling  I felt myself pitch forward. And before I hit the ground two men waiting to board the bus caught me by my arms and set me back on my feet. Another person who had seen my near fall and rescue commented “That didn’t take long.” And we all went our separate ways. My life intersected with those people that afternoon in ways not possible when I was a solitary person driving my car.

I am connected to the world in new and surprising ways. I trust that I can open my front door, walk out into the universe and have awesome adventures that teach me new things. I like “chewing on life’s gristle”.

 

 

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Writing 101, Day Fifteen: Your Voice Will Find You – Actually I Think It Did

Annual conferences are a thing of the past for me. I don’t remember when I stopped going, or even why. Being with crowds of people no longer appeals to me. I now live in the smallness of things.

Several years ago a row of one-story businesses around the corner from my townhouse, including a two-story car garage that extended to just behind my backyard fence, was scheduled for demolition. A seventeen-story apartment building was to replace the little businesses. We, the inhabitants of the townhouses, were distraught over the impending loss of light and our view of the city skyline. I had recently experienced the sudden loss of vision of my left eye and was adjusting to a new way of seeing. There was a lot of change all at once.

Brick walls were the first to go in the demolition process. I walked over to the lot to investigate and found the man who was re-moving the bricks talking to the manager of the wrecking crew. I learned that the bricks were destined for New Orleans to become part of rebuilding the city after the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina. I spent two years in New Orleans when I was in college there. I visited the city shortly after the hurricane as a concerned friend to see how everyone was doing. I marveled at the recycling of my neighbor’s torn-down bricks in the process of rebuilding the city.

I don’t have to leave home to participate in events of the universe. They arrive at my door. It only takes opening my eyes to what is going on around me.

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How it all began.

 

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.

T.S. Eliot

It all started while watching old family slides at Christmas time a couple of years ago with all my children and grandchildren.

At that time I was remarried. My second husband and I had become grandparents a bit late in life and both delighted in our grandchildren. His lived in the same city as we did. I visited my children and grandchildren who lived some distance away as often as possible, but there is no substitute for on the ground, everyday grand parenting. I wanted to get to know my grandchildren by being a part of their everyday ups and downs. Deep inside I understood that if I reached the end of my life and hadn’t made this move I would regret it.

I didn’t know how this would come about. And then we watched the slide show of family photos. I felt the indescribable and irreplaceable pull of BEING FAMILY. There is nothing like it. It gave me the confidence and energy to make my life changing move. When I told my sons what I intended to do they replied that I sounded so free. They could hear it in my voice.

I had no idea how to tell my husband about my dream. I was afraid he would be terribly hurt and angry. A friend suggested that instead of telling him my decision, I ask him how we could work out plans together for me to move and rent an apartment. And we did. What I so dreaded never occurred. It’s like the words of the poet William Cowper in an old hymn, “Ye fearful saints fresh courage take, the clouds you so much dread, are big with mercy and will break in blessings on your head”.

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Sometimes everything has to be enscribed

Sometimes everything has to be enscribed across the heavens so you can find the one line already written inside you.

Sometimes it takes a great sky to find that small, bright, and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart.

David Whyte

When I was fifty-five I decided I wanted to be an original. I wanted to stop doing what others expected of me and discover the person who emerged. For the past twenty years I have been exploring new ways of experiencing the world I come in contact with and how it changes me.

On Mother’s Day one of my sons said “Mom, you think about life a lot and like to write so why don’t you do a blog” When another son called to wish me Happy Mother’s Day, I mentioned the blog idea. He put his eleven old son on the phone to offer advice. This grandson has a blog and walked me through creating one of my own on Word Press. Voila! Here I am, ready to write my stories about that great sky and find the unique line written inside me.

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