Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Week That Was

Some of the very last roses from the garden

A quiet, cold Sunday punctuated with a few sunny interludes. The golden leaves of the cottonwood tree ornament the yard with a delightful carpet.

Was it just Election Day on Tuesday? It seems so long ago already. I had already voted by mail two weeks before. I felt rather confident that Obama was going to win. He did win, thankfully.

We are in a big enough mess in this country and on this planet without voting in a person more like a replicant than a human being, or a political party with such harsh, antiquated stances as Republicans seem to have right now. Why are they called parties, I wonder. They are hardly party like. I myself could use a good party. That would include good friends, good food, dancing, laughing and singing, and sun would be a bonus.

Yay! Obama won.  On Election Day, I headed for the Enneagram class I've been taking at OLLI (Osher Life Long Learning Institute--do you have one in your community?) I enjoy reflecting on the Enneagram, a system of personality typing that comes out of Sufi teachings, yet the class has left me rather bored. But it is almost over. That's the thing one can count on--things will end. Just as I would like to attend a really excellent party, I would enjoy being in a challenging class. I am looking for both of these items.

On the eve of Election Day, I headed out to Tashi Choling, the Tibetan Buddhist temple that I belong to. It was a holy day and we celebrated with a wonderful puja. I have been practising with this sangha for over 30 years now. Ah, what a fortunate woman I am. When I got home, I found out that Obama had won the election.

The next day, I went to the assisted living facility where my dear friend Kate lives. I presented The Poetry of Aging, a program I will be offering soon at the Ashland Library.  Most of the people who live in that assisted living facility have cognitive impairments. In the group that attended, only one person was cognitively impaired. She was 66. Other people told her that. She didn't remember it herself, though she was quite lively and engaged. There were also 3 people in their 90s, a retired college professor who loves poetry and my friend Kate who is a mythic figure in my book of life--maybe 8 people in all. I read poems from Neruda, Yeats, May Sarton, Anna Swir, A. R. Ammons, Donald Hall and others--all on the subject of aging.  It was quite wonderful. You can convey things by reading poetry that go far beyond ordinary conversation.

Kate told me that I was like the person bringing water to the people in the desert. I have thought a great deal about that, how people can be cared for physically, but suffer because their psyches are neglected. The dumbing-down process, Kate calls it. It pervades our culture, but is especially obvious in the way we care for or relate to older adults. I would like to offer another program there sometime soon, creating a space where people can talk about their inner lives.

Performing poetry is something that I enjoy tremendously. I plan to offer this program through Sage's Play.

An autumn still life in the kitchen
The 93-year old yogini and dancer Tao Porchon-Lynch
I create still lives throughout my dwelling. They change with the seasons or because I feel the urge to shift things around. This is a still life that collected itself in the kitchen near the stove.

This week flew by. I went to a yoga class at the senior center (which could stand some philosophical updating as far as I'm concerned--the senior center, not the yoga class). I love the yoga teacher who is probably in her 70s and is very sensitive to the limitations that many older adults have when doing yoga. She teaches people to pay attention to their bodies and not stress their bodies out to the point of pain.

 Someone posted this wonderful photo of Tao Porchon-Lynch on Facebook the other day. I wrote about her a year or two ago in this blog. She's 93 now. Just look at her vibrant beauty. Tao has been doing yoga since childhood. She has a yoga center on the east coast. I think she is a wonderful example of positive outlook and lifestyle.

This morning, I got to Skype with Ina Albert, one of my Sage-ing friends. Ina lives in Montana, where she teaches Sage-ing classes at the local community college. I love connecting with her. I also connected with Carol Scott-Kassner, who is the current leader of Sage-ing International. She suggested that I might like a creative movement called InterPlay. I went to their website, and boy, it sure sounds like a lot of fun. Like a big party! I plan to get in touch with them and see how I can connect with their very interesting creative work soon.

 I've been working on a new song for our musical revue. It's about Social Security and Medicare.  The title is When I'm 65.  I am nearly done. That was my week, or part of it. I finished reading Rick Moody's book The Five Stages of the Soul and started in on Connie Goldman's book Secrets of the Late Bloomers. I played with my daughter's dog, whose swift and hilarious runs in the yard were quite delightful. I lay in my bed and gazed out the window at the chartreuse striated leaves of the lilac bush and the shiny dark green leaves of the climbing rose and the gray green of the fir tree. I looked at the sky at night. I baked corn muffins. I meditated. I mused about the brevity of life. I thought about my daughter traveling in Europe. I put my hands in the wet earth. I put my face up to the rain.  What about you?


  1. What an uplifting description of your activities. Your joy in life's pleasures so obvious. I couldn't help thinking about some of the alert residents in retirement community skilled nursing(SNF)settings with which I'm familiar who would appreciate a program like the one you presented to those in Assisted Living.

    Some of the activities or entertainments provided those in SNFs sometimes cater to individuals with a lower functional level than a number of those patients possess. Even if some words escaped those less able to understand, a presenter like yourself would capture them visually, musically -- with the rhythm and prosody of language.

  2. Thanks for your comment. There are so many places where each of us can appear to share and uplift the lives of others. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.