Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Music of Love

"You don't love someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear." (Oscar Wilde)

A song has been skipping along, innocently and happily, in my head today. It's a song I heard long ago when I was a boy and I always sang along to it when I heard it. It was by The Beatles (my favorite band - still today!) and it was called "I Will". Here are the lyrics:

Who knows how long I've loved you
You know I love you still
Will I wait a lonely lifetime
If you want me to, I will
For if I ever saw you
I didn't catch your name
But it never really mattered
I will always feel the same
Love you forever and forever
Love you with all my heart
Love you whenever we're together
Love you when we're apart
And when at last I find you
Your song will fill the air
Sing it loud so I can hear you
Make it easy to be near you
For the things you do endear you to me
Oh, you know I will
I will
It's a sweet song about love and about faith. I'm not surprised that it touched me, or that I still remember it today - I'm kind of an "old-fashioned romantic" at heart.

The song speaks about the magical power of love to touch us in an instant, yet change us forever. It's about knowing the beauty of love - not through thought, but in allowing its melody to stir a chord within us - a chord that leaps in happy recognition of its complement when it hears it. It is a song about an eternal longing, that one would make any sacrifice, wait any period of time - an eternity if necessary - to fulfill.

I'm sure the song has been the gentle soundtrack in my head all day today because it's Valentine's Day, and because I feel like such a lucky guy. Lucky to be married to a beautiful woman, whose heart and being has helped me learn what glorious "music" laid within me: waiting to be played, waiting to be heard, waiting to be shared.

Deborah at Carmel CA - Spring 2014
Thank you Sweetie for being my muse, my inspiration, and my soulmate. May we continue to allow Love to make us its instruments, and to help us always find the song within each other. 

McCartney and Lennon. Rodgers and Hammerstein. Great duos.

The two of us at Benham Falls (Cent. Oregon) - Summer 2015
But I'll take you and me. Anytime. Forever. You've helped me hear all of Life's symphonies.

I love you always.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

100 Walks Around the Lake - Discoveries Made These Last 5 Years

"Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake." (Wallace Stevens)

Have you ever gone on a long walk - perhaps in the woods on a misty day, or along the beach in the morning sunshine - and just been so immersed in the beauty, in all that was new that you discovered, that you didn't realize just how long you had walked? "Wow!", you might say to yourself. "How did I get here? It seems like I just began".

That's what I was feeling when I realized that this was the 100th entry I had written. Though I began this blog over 5 years ago (5 years, 5 months, and 20 days...1999 be exact), it has often seemed like I just started writing it. And over that time, my dedication and interest in scratching away has ebbed and flowed. I began with a great flood of enthusiasm - entries of all sorts gushing out - and then in the last couple of years, they came out in just a thin trickle. But they still came, and I'm grateful for that.

I had boldly said in my 1st entry that I was starting this blog because:

"I want to use it to explore - to learn..I called this "Looking For Pearls" because I am interested to see what unexpected "lessons" I will learn from doing this.  What types of "gems", of insights, will I stumble across on this journey?"

So this morning I sat and reflected, wondering what I had learned from the previous 99 "walks around the lake". What had I discovered or stumbled across that was most meaningful to me? The answers that came to me were unexpected, which I think proves it has been a journey of true value.

"It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters, in the end. " (Ursula LeGuin)
  • I have learned that I would never really have known myself without having done this. Each time I write an entry - each time I re-read a past one - I shake my head in wonder, thinking "I wrote this? Wow - Where did that come from?". The truth is it came from a creative, thoughtful, emotional, and spiritual part of myself that rarely expresses itself anywhere else. Writing invites those shy parts of Jon to come out and encourages them to blossom and grow.  The most valuable thing I've learned through my writings is not what I've seen about nature, or events, or other people. It has been the marvelous opportunity to discover my true self; to discover who "Jon" really is. And to realize that that journey of self-discovery never ends.
Me along the Deschutes River - July 2014
"No man ever steps into the same river twice, for it's not the same river, and he's not the same man." (Heraclitus)
  • I have begun to learn what it is I really love...and what I fear.  In looking back at what I've written over the last 5 years, I'm struck by how so little of what I wrote was "newsy". What I was drawn to write about were more nobler things. The titles of almost 1/4 of my entries included the words "Love", "Treasures", "Beauty", "Joy", or "Light". It's clear that writing helped me connect to something higher; something Divine that whispered to me. But I could also see in the great gaps between entries something else that whispered at times to me as well. Fear. Like a curtain descending on a stage, like the fog creeping softly down the hill in quiet cat steps, fear would sometimes tell me "Don't try to write. There's nothing there. If you write, it must be perfect. If you write, it's only good if someone else likes it. You don't have time to write. Just wait for the right moment". And sometimes I would listen. Sometimes I would let fear lull me to sleep. But Love would never leave me asleep too long. A gentle tap would always awaken my heart and stir me to try again. I'm grateful to learn of Love's persistence with imperfect me.
Jimmy Dugan: "Baseball is what lights you up. If you leave, you'll regret it."
Dottie Hinson:  "It just got too hard."
Jimmy Dugan:  "It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great."
(From the movie "A League of Their Own", 1992)

Writing is hard work - but it is a "worthwhile struggle". I've learned from writing, just a little, some things that only a writer can know. Writing takes discipline. It takes a willingness to sit down in front of the demanding blank page, and to hammer, and chisel, and pick, and dig to express something that you can't know before you've done this inner mining.  It requires honesty: with oneself, with what one sees, and with what one is really in touch with in that moment. The things that I've written that I've been most proud of have been produced, not by my imagination, but simply through my willingness to observe what was around me or in me all the time. Learning to be patient and to wait to be given something to write about is a challenge at times. It still requires that I "show up" and put forth the effort.  It can be hard and frustrating. But the hard is what makes it great.

Today I celebrate the journey I've made so far with this blog, and I renew my wish to continue on. I know there's much more I have left to learn and to discover; so much more that is waiting to be expressed.

"You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover will be yourself." (Alan Alda)

So, off I go...around the bend...down the road...and over the hill. I'll let you know what I discover along the way.

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Lunch Date

"The great majority of men are bundles of beginnings." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

My, my, my. It has certainly been a long time since I've sat at my desk - gazed out the window - and dared to wait until a trickle of creative thought slowly wound its way from my brain, through my fingers, and on to this blank page. For so long, I've felt empty; waiting for "inspiration" to come so I could then write. But that's not how it works. I've learned (but sometimes forgotten) that I must dare to scribble first - timidly and slowly if I must - in order to awaken the muse inside. I must dare to be a beginning; a work in progress.

It's funny. After writing that very first sentence, I actually felt a little shiver of excitement pass through me. It was like the dry "river bed" of my mind felt a spring flood wash through it and was refreshed and brought back to life. Not sure where it will take me, but you can come along!

How about for a Lunch Date? I haven't written one of those for quite awhile. A chance to just chat and muse. To talk about whatever's on my mind while fixing lunch for the two of us. I've got some Spinach Tortellini soup heating up (made by Deborah - best soup in the world!) and some ciabatta bread to sop it up with. Yum! (Or as the Italians say, "Mangia!")

So, as I'm stirring the soup, what shall we talk about?

"The hardest thing about any political campaign is how to win without proving that you are unworthy of winning." (Adlai Stevenson)

Politics, politics, politics. The 2016 Presidential campaign has begun in earnest, and Deborah and I have been deeply interested in it - more than we have been in the past. So far, it is a race unlike any in our lifetimes. Americans are deeply divided. The dominant theme expressed so far, on both the right and left, is anger. Anger at the current Administration. Anger at politicians in general. Anger at the rich. Anger at immigrants. Anger at those who "refuse to compromise". And because this dark emotion is what's ruling the day, two unlikely candidates are currently leading: a rich, egotistic billionaire for the Republicans (Donald Trump) and a cranky 74 year old self-proclaimed Socialist for the Democrats (Bernie Sanders). I can't see either of them winning the election in November. But all the other candidates (Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Ben Carson, Hilary Clinton) have struggled to gain much interest from Americans. I'm hoping that someone who is willing to lead positively and intelligently - someone willing to do the hard, courageous work needed to end the bickering and distrust that characterizes American politics now - will step forward. That's someone I would vote for. Still waiting to see who that will be...

"Retirement is wonderful. It's doing nothing without worrying about getting caught at it." (Gene Perret)

Yes, semi-retired life is still good!  I'm still working a few days a week as a substitute teacher and am flattered that I've become a "highly sought after" sub. I've only worked at my 3 favorite schools this year (Hedrick, South Medford, Grants Pass High), but gotten all the work I could want. Very lucky! And when I'm not working, my days are quickly filled with working out at the Club, helping take care of our home, and a healthy share of just "putzing around" (as Deborah calls it!)

"There are worse crimes than burning books. One is not reading them." (Joseph Brodsky)

Finally found a good book to read. For a long time, I struggled to find any book that interested me (which just added to my intellectual atrophy). Out of desperation, I picked up a book that I'd tried to read a number of times, but was never able to finish: Stephen King's "11.22.63" And, miracles of miracles, I'm enjoying it now! It is a richly creative story about a young high school teacher who in 2011 stumbles upon a time tunnel that takes him back to 1957. He learns that he can change history when he goes back to the past (though not always with predictable results). His greatest mission becomes to go back and try to stop the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas which he believes led to so much that is negative in the U.S. today. King masterfully weaves together American history, 1950's Americana and culture, as well as spine-tingling suspense (and a little horror) in this tale. Deborah is also reading the story (listening to an audio version of it) and it's nice to share our impressions of it.

You want to see a video that just cracked me up? It's called "Dogs and Bathtubs". Hilarious! Click on the link below.

"Dogs and Bathtubs" video

(A Lunch Date "discussion" doesn't have to be "all serious" !)

Well, it's about time to wrap this entry up and enjoy a nice chocolate truffle for dessert (a preview of Valentine's Day treats to come!). The sun that was shining when I began this entry has gone away, and now gray raindrops are spattering and splashing my window. It was fun remembering the pleasure of stretching my mind a bit again. I plan on doing it again soon.

"The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

I began with a little Emerson. A little Emerson to end with. Nice.

One acorn. One tentative scribble. One step. Out of each can come a whole universe. I'm glad to be reminded of that today.