It's that time of year again! One of my most favorite holidays. We were fortunate enough to obtain several large pumpkins this year. We plan to disembowel them on Saturday and carve them Sunday morning. I am not sure what design I will use yet, though I have several ideas. We hope to be frightening!
Where there is no imagination there is no horror.
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
With a tiny bit of encouragement, Herself's Beloved made her not one, but two, omelets this weekend, and followed that up with a stir-fry yesterday evening. Herself is quite delighted with this turn of events and is very happy that he has taken an interest in cooking with, and for, her. While Herself regularly prepares food for others, it is extremely rare that someone prepare a meal for her, and it truly pleases her when someone else takes an interest in feeding her for a change.
We look forward to many further culinary adventures with him.
Herself's cherished friend has started down a new path very recently. It is an avenue that belongs solely to her friend, and not to Herself, and so it is not Herself's place to provide any details upon it. Nevertheless, Herself is delighted to be witness as events unfold. It warms her heart, fills her with hope, and brings her joy to see her friend happy upon this journey. Herself's greatest wish is that this pathway will unfold exactly as her friend wishes it to do.
A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. - Lao Tzu
WARNING: this post has some slightly adult theme and content. All those who are squeamish or underage should find something better to read. Or go watch videos on wimp.com.
Herself was slightly amused to find a particular message in her e-mail this morning. It began:
Your baby is finally here! The Fisher-Price® Family extends our congratulations and warmest wishes to your new—or growing—family. We hope the prenatal e-mails we sent over the last nine months or so were interesting and informative as your pregnancy progressed.
On the one hand, it is quite entertaining that a woman who acquired a medically-necessary divorce from her uterus just over a year ago would receive this advertisement. "A medical miracle!" Herself quips. "Call Oprah! I can sell my story and retire a wealthy woman!"
On the other hand, it's really not funny to her at all.
Herself still has not come to terms with the fact that she can no longer bear children. Not that she would want another baby. There is just something that pains her deeply about knowing that door is permanently closed.
Is it a sense of somehow not being as much of a woman, now that she is incapable of pregnancy? Is it a reminder that she has reached the age when men do not look at her as an attractive woman, but only as a mother of nearly-adult children? Is it the loss of the heart-opening vulnerability when lovemaking might result in a baby? Is it nostalgia for days when a colorful cloth diaper covered a sleeping infant's behind, or for times when a comfortable toddler curled up to her in the baby sling?
All this, and more. Is this some kind of mid-life crisis? I think not; it is more of a time of evolution of the spirit. It is quite painful. I know, though, that she will bring herself through in time.
We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey. - Kenji Miyazawa
This past weekend, Herself's Beloved purchased a Suzuki Samurai. This transaction was, in short, quite discombobulating for Herself. Nevertheless, it inspired some quite creative work. I present to you, the story as described by Herself, in haiku format, complete with a preface couplet.
It was a desperate struggle. She contended with things she did not understand, with feelings previously unknown, with thoughts dark and furious. She wept bitter tears, and yet found no relief in the crying. There was no resolution in sight. Agony. She despaired.
And then, through the void, a glimmer of light. She was brought backwards in memory to the times when she felt the guidance of the invisible hand. How she has missed those flashes of understanding of the path before her. This is, she now understands, but another waypoint on the journey.
She has embraced and taken the darkness into herself, and in doing so, has calmed the tempest within. The night sky is clear and starry. The path stretches out in view once more.
No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.
Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.
When I was but a tender young Ninja, I kept most of my emotions to myself. Happiness, sadness, frustration, love, longing, anger, fear, disappointment, all bottled up inside. I didn't show how I felt - for to do so was to make myself vulnerable. With my sentiments safely locked away, I could protect myself from heartache, heartbreak. So I thought.
Now that I am greater in years, I have come to realize that to protect myself is to shield myself not only from sorrow, but also from joy, for they go hand in hand. Without the one, the other cannot fully exist.
I learned this when I discovered that my heart had quietly escaped the confines in which I had placed it. It now roams freely over the earth, seeking experience and wisdom. It trips and falls; it is bruised; it is hardened; it is warmed by the glow of one individual and cooled by the callousness of another; it is shattered by a harsh word, or by a silence; and it is nursed back to health by a soothing word or a tender touch.
I cry more, and I laugh more. I make a greater effort to reach out to people. Even though I embarrass myself and make conversational mistakes more frequently, I nevertheless succeed in bridging the gap between myself and others more often. The abyss of loneliness does not yawn before me as it once did. There is warmth, and light, and hope.
I tell the people I love, how much they mean to me. I say, "thank you," and I truly mean it. I am grateful for all the small moments in which I can lend a listening ear, provide a gentle hug, offer a muffin, or give consolation. And it is only because I have survived the bitter sorrows and failures of the past, that I can truly appreciate these joys now.
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
- Kahlil Gibran
On the one hand, to write about yesterday's adventure would diminish it, since any penned description will be quite inadequate. On the other hand, not to write about it would also cause some of its splendour to be lost as well. I will try, fruitlessly, to capture its essence in words.
Herself, her Beloved, her cherished friend, and I drove out to a geologic point of interest - Kilbourne Hole, New Mexico. The roads were rough but the Jeep handled them effortlessly. The volcanic rock and the sandy soil were weathered into various interesting shapes and held small colorful stones. There was silence broken only by the sound of the flies and an occasional vehicle passing by. They poked about in the rocks, had lunch, sat comfortably in the shade.
It was a glorious reprieve from It All. All ordinary thoughts and worries were displaced by the quiet and the tranquil landscape. Only the movement of the shadow of the tarp showed that time was passing. Herself wished for profound and meaningful things to say, inspired by such a serene environment, but could not muster a single complex thought, for her brain was resting.
It was a much-needed respite. Blissful. Peaceful. Comforting.
We returned refreshed, but with a sense of loss for having left the Hole.
We'll go back someday.
See how nature - trees, flowers, grass - grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence.... We need silence to be able to touch souls. - Mother Teresa
In the past week, two of the three Offspring have suffered heartbreak. While they are learning the vital skills of interpersonal relationships that are so important to adolescent children, it is nonetheless a painful process. We do what we can to offer solace. They will learn, and grow, from their experiences.
How shall my heart be unsealed, unless it be broken?
- Kahlil Gibran
Do not assume that she who seeks to comfort you now, lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes do you good. Her life may also have much sadness and difficulty, that remains far beyond yours. Were it otherwise, she would never have been able to find these words.
Tonight is the Homecoming Dance for Offspring the first -- her final Homecoming, as she is a senior in high school now. She chose her dress carefully, and selected the perfect accessories and shoes. She spent much time on beautification and preparation, and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. She looks lovely. How did she grow up so quickly? I do not know.
Herself is wistful. Where did the time go, she wonders, that she should be here at this unexpected milestone so quickly? How did she come to be so firmly middle-aged, she asks, trapped in work and family and house and bills and pets and daily grind, with some dreams lost (though other dreams found) and moments passed, never to return again?
She says, "My daughter, so beautiful and youthful - and I am neither." My heart breaks for her, for I know not how to comfort her. She must find for herself some new dreams for her own future, and only she can determine what shape those dreams will take.
Today, I turn the blog over to Herself.
I have written an essay that has been brewing in my head ever since I went to my high school reunion. It's a part of the tapestry that is my personal history. I know you have heard all of the pieces at one time or another; I have finally woven them into a cohesive story, carefully and plainly.
It is a love story.
You can easily imagine what I was like when I was young: rather nerdy, fond of science and words, socially awkward. Like most teenage girls, I was interested in those elusive creatures so significantly absent from my all-girls' high school: BOYS. Some of the adult women I knew, including my mother, periodically informed me that all men (except perhaps my father) were pigs; nevertheless, I aspired to spend time with males of my species.
To this end, I participated in the theater projects that my school had with our brother school. Disliking any kind of spotlight, I usually worked props or costumes rather than being onstage myself. My senior year, I gathered up my courage, and auditioned for and obtained a part in the chorus for the spring musical. Nothing spectacular, but it enabled me to interact occasionally with the boys at the rehearsals.
The vast majority of the boys gave me no more than a cursory hello on occasion. Imagine my surprise and delight when the lead actor in the musical, "Bobby," began to pay me some attention. Ooo! I, who was nobody, attracting the notice of the sought-after Bobby. I was SPECIAL.
We dated for three weeks. He stopped by my house at the end of the third week, which was one week before the prom, to break up with me. Why? Because he and I had a clear-cut difference of opinion: he felt that three weeks was sufficient dating time for me to sleep with him, and I disagreed. It turned out I wasn't special after all; I was just what he had thought would be an easy lay.
His parting shot began with, Let me give you some advice. He then informed me that no guy would be interested in me in college unless I "put out," so I'd better think about doing so. Oh, and he'd already invited someone else to the prom, so he and I would not be going to the prom just as friends, either.
Dark and angry were my thoughts about Bobby. I vowed that I would prove him wrong when I went to college.
Much to my chagrin, it oftentimes appeared that Bobby was right. Guys who espoused Bobby's point of view were plentiful in college. Furthermore, while making female friends was difficult enough, making a male friend was a near impossibility. It wasn't until midway through my junior year that I made what I considered to be my first male friend.
I was dating someone else at the time, yet this guy still went out of his way to say hello, to ask how I was, to invite me to sit with him at meals on occasion, and to always be friendly to me. He talked to me, listened to me, and though he flirted with me on occasion, was always respectful of my personal boundaries. I was drawn to him.
He was an extremely rare man, one who understood that my acts of kindness towards him were neither an indication of my willingness to put out, nor an attempt to indebt him to me, but were gestures of caring that implied nothing else and required nothing specific in return. His company refreshed and renewed my soul. It was as though I had been buffeted by a strong wind for years, and his sheltering presence brought me quiet and tranquility at last.
He singlehandedly proved both Bobby and the naysaying women wrong: not all men were pigs.
The course of my friendship with him subsequently changed one August morning nearly twenty years ago, when we exchanged vows to become husband and wife. Had we not been friends first, though, we would not be where we are today. The foundation of our friendship has sustained and fortified our marriage during the most trying of times, and has brought increased joy during the happiest of times. Thank you, my Beloved, for extending the hand of friendship to me, so long ago.
NinjaHead resides with a muffin-baking woman known herein as Herself. Herself has a Beloved Husband, with whom she shares three nearly-grown Offspring. When she is not writing Things, Herself nurtures a visceral fondness for small furry creatures. The household menagerie, which has varied in size and composition over the years, presently contains solely a minuscule middle aged chihuahua and a lovely red fish named Ruth Betta Finsburg. Someday, there will be more critters, for she loves them tremendously.