Lie in the Grass

Lie in the Grass

 

I am feeling the beginning of the dog days of summer with heat bearing down on sun drenched skin. It is in August that one feels the inevitable return of darkness on the doorstep, a change of seasons in the air. It is also with this knowing that I wrote this poem.

My intention was to try and capture the very best of summer as a temporary experience. Seasons are a great reminder of our mortality. Even the very best weather will fade.  Flowers bloom and lose their petals, blades of grass turn brown under the heat welcoming the layers of leaves and snow pack to come. No matter the occasion, all things will change…even us.

 

Lie in the Grass

 

Let’s lie in the grass until the sun leaves today

Staying as long as the world let’s us play

Asleep to the pressures rumbling below

Awake to the brightness of flowers aglow

 

Stretched out among the blades of grass

Letting our worries melt and bypass

This glorious field filled with love and light

Devouring every bit of precious daylight

Let Stillness Speak

Let Stillness Speak

 

Quiet the mind, let angry voices of unrest 

settle, by sitting in silence until 

all that can be heard is the 

steady beat of a broken heart

 

Steep in this stillness, allowing a sacred

balm of reflection to permeate every

cell, giving breath to all that

remains unanswered, all that festers

 

Listen to this stillness speak 

of ancient heart songs singing

 stories of adventures not yet

taken and mysteries left to be discovered

 

What is Intelligence?

What is Intelligence?

 

Of late, I have been completely consumed with the idea of intelligence leading me down the murky path of curious discovery. Always an above average student, one would believe I had a handle on this concept. On the contrary, bouts of low self-esteem and social anxiety left me afraid to take risks, challenge others in debate or share personal philosophies. It has only been through writing that I have discovered hidden strength and allowed parts of myself to be seen. To this point one of my favorite authors, Parker Palmer, states,

 

As teenagers and young adults, we learned that self-knowledge counts for little on the road to workplace success. What counts is the “objective” knowledge that empowers us to manipulate the world. Ethics, taught in this context, becomes one more arm’s-length study of great thinkers and their thoughts, one more exercise in data collection that fails to inform our hearts.

 

What speaks to me is Palmers use of the word manipulate. We often choose to show up each day as society expects us to and with the information required for each interaction. In my field we call this data driven decision making. In doing so we hide our authentic self and shield our hearts while navigating a professional life. We gladly put on errs and dish out facts and figures to support positions, forgetting the points we argue remain eternally elusive. Intelligence of the heart gently reminds, it is better to be kind than to be right. Parker speaks further with,

 

Not knowing who or what we are dealing with and feeling unsafe, we hunker down in a psychological foxhole and withhold the investment of our energy, commitment, and gifts… The perceived incongruity of inner and outer-the inauthenticity that we sense in others, or they in us-constantly undermines our morale, our relationships, and our capacity for good work.

 

I have felt this inauthenticity in both myself and those in my workplace. If I am not showing up as myself, trying my hardest to be as others wish me to be, am I not doing a disservice to everyone? If I had to define true knowledge, I would have to say universal intelligence fits the bill. It is a knowing that no matter how much we think we know, it is never as vast as the great unknown. The divine light in each of us, no matter how we name it, holds this universal knowledge and tries desperately to show us the smallest of sparks during our lifetime.

 

What we name it matters little to me, since the origins, nature, and destiny of call-it-what-you-will are forever hidden from us, and no one can credibly claim to know its true name. But that we name it matters a great deal. For “it” is the objective, ontological reality of selfhood that keeps us from reducing ourselves, or each other, to biological mechanisms, psychological projections, sociological constructs, or raw material to be manufactured into whatever society needs — diminishments of our humanity that constantly threaten the quality of our lives.

 

My writing is a playground for self-examination, self-reflection and philosophical interplay. I debate with myself as I write and the outcome is never predestined. I flirt with new ideas and old tales of wisdom, never really settling into one frame but rather enjoying the entire picture, even the odd brushstrokes and frayed edges. The universe is such a creative space and the joy I feel when floating in this galactic sea of creativity is unmatched by any measure of intelligence we know of.

 

I have no name for this other but know it is with me and is relentless in providing learning opportunities for my soul. Sometimes I fail miserably while other times I shine brightly, soaking in the love of a perceived success. It is only with this duality that we learn, grow and come home to ourselves. The journey can be frustrating, but maybe this is the only way to truly earn our intelligence wings.

 

Why I Write

Why I Write

 

The written word and I have always had a close relationship. As a young child I wrote short stories and enjoyed the escape other characters and worlds allowed. Poetry spoke to me as well, specifically the darker tone of Edgar Allan Poe. Reading the Raven in middle school was life changing. Until that point, I didn’t known that others felt so intensely, flirting with complex emotions. Writing provided a safe space to explore these feelings beyond my dreams and internal dialogue.

 

As an adult, I struggled with all of the things that one experiences in the real world. Relationships, finances, parenting, career, the list goes on. The words on the page became my counselor, my salvation. Only in this medium did it feel completely safe to express how I was feeling. Just putting thoughts on paper brought instant relief from whatever was troubling me. Putting words to my jumbled mess of feelings somehow made for a softer landing.

 

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

Maya Angelou

 

In early adulthood, I went through what can only be described as a constriction of self. I put down the pen, embarrassed by what I saw on paper. Overcome with emotions and with no creative outlet, I became closed off thinking I could stop the onslaught of feeling and effectively mute the voices that had been my guide and comfort for so many years.

 

I wish I would have known that living in a manner that is counter to self never ends well. Self will come torpedoing back in the most uncomfortable of ways. Faced with my own darkness and unable to deny my imperfections, I was brought to my knees. From this low point, the only way I could see the light was by the pen. I took to writing in a bedside journal and creative energy came rushing back. The words danced on the page as if taunting me to follow along.

 

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”

― Anais Nin

 

 

Today, after many years of this practice, I still hear the same words when faced with uncertainty. I hear a very clear voice saying “Lavinia, just write.”  I know in some small way what I write matters. It gives voice to all the many things I cannot, exhibiting much more bravery than my actual voice alone. Yes, I dream of the day when I can write as often as spirit allows, but life has a way of walking down the path in its own time. Patience is a necessity.

 

In the meantime, I will continue to commit all that lingers to paper. Just as a stone must continue down the hill to conclusion, so too must I until this crazy life journey ends. Writing is not a conscience choice but a part of who I am. Self-doubt and criticism no longer matter.  I write because I must.

 

 

 

Time

Time

 

Time is too slow for those that wait,

Too swift for those that fear,

Too long for those that grieve,

Too short for those who rejoice,

But for those who love, time is Eternity.

Henry Van Dyke

1852-1933

We are all only here for a fixed amount of time, life is a terminal condition and the question is not if this journey will end but when. To a person such as myself, this is a comfort rather than a fear. I have always known that I am not from this place. Never one to feel any sense of unease with the unknown of the thereafter, I chose to embrace this other with hope and joy.

 

Each day I look at my body with curiosity as it begins to make this aged transition. My hands, wrinkled and worn from years of work. My face a canvas the shows brush strokes of both sadness and joy. My legs, more tentative and careful with a slower pace. Everything is in reverse now. I catch myself forgetting the title of a book, the name of a street or the ingredients for a favorite recipe. I witness it all and know that this part of my journey has just begun. I call on the Divine for grace, guidance and strength when feeling overwhelmed.  With each new reckoning I continue to shine a light toward home.

 

“The world’s thy ship and not thy home.”

St. Therese of Lisieux

 

The poem by Henry Van Dyke speaks to a curious fascination with time, specifically death. We are energetic beings and as such will persist even after biological death. Whether you believe in an afterlife or not, one cannot deny that the moment of passing is one of unimaginable transformation. No amount of worldly success can be called upon to make this transition. We venture into eternity alone, taking with us only the love and connections we have shared with others.

 

Believing that the soul is eternal can be reassuring for anyone struggling with the peculiarities and challenges of life. Energy never ceases, it simply changes form. I choose to hold in my heart a knowing of a time when all the hustle and bustle of the day will stop. The constant worldly distractions, to do lists and commitments will be replaced with a restful and glorious peace. Silence will prevail and all will become clear. This knowing is enough, it must be.

 

Allowing

Allowing

 

“The one close to me now,

even my own body-

these too

will soon become clouds,

floating in different directions.”

― Izumi Shikibu

 

 

The all too familiar feeling of being ill suited for this life has returned. I understand this earthen existence is not home as a familiar longing takes hold. So much of the routine of life mean very little to me. Each day I muster up courage and head to work knowing about this disconnect and the loneliness that is my all too familiar companion

 

As has always been the case, I find solace and heart in poetry. Reading Shikibu brings clarity to the confusion of the moment. Clouds float effortlessly in the sky seemingly unencumbered by what is happening on the surface below.  There is a freedom to their flow, the way they change from a raging lion to a delicate flower in an instance. This idea of metamorphosis is appealing in so many ways. We are all complicated beings and it is crucial we feel the freedom to change. If something is not as we would like it to be, we have agency, we have a voice. Likewise, if facets of our character become abrasive, it is never too late to change direction and become a more loving and tenderhearted person.

 

Clouds are also the keepers of possibility, they are the trumpeters of weather and the shelter from the sun. Clouds are the master imitators, faithful companions and a distant reminder of the expansive energy constantly at play. One never really knows what the skies will bring. Spending an afternoon stretched out in the grass, watching the sky dance, I am reminded once again of the impermanence of all things. I question more earnestly, what is of real importance? Is it meeting a deadline at work, or taking an extra moment to stop and let someone know you care about them? Perspective is everything.

 

Becoming a part of this universal heartbeat speaks to me so deeply. We are everything yet nothing. So very small in the moment yet full of life energy. Looking to the clouds I am reminded of the value of allowing rather than resisting. Life has a rhythm and we are able to be most true to ourselves when we allow this flow to lead the way. Surrendering all fear and believing in a grander purpose we live more fully in the moment, less restricted by worry and circumstance.

 

Celebrating the spring equinox this week, I sense an ushering in of the light now more than ever. It is as if constantly looking towards a horizon with sunrise off in the distance. The light is there, but not yet fully expressed. I stand in wonder and absorb every bit of this warmth knowing that it’s full brilliance is yet to come. It is time to embrace this light, let go of resistance and float. Float above, expectation and judgment and allow metamorphosis as you would a welcome guest. Let YOUR cloud become true and light up the sky brilliantly, into the next part of your journey.

 

 

Nothing Speaks

Nothing Speaks

 

Lips pressed so tightly sealed, eyelids close as emotion yields

Everything slowing to a crawl, vision narrowing down the eternal hall

Wanting to run but legs remain, stuck in quicksand from the rain

Face to face with a godly mirror, reflecting ideas falsely clear

 

Suddenly now I feel the growl, a voice stifled and becoming foul

Rising up from the darkest place, around my throat with fingers laced

Willing any sound to be heard, trying to shout like a morning bird

Crumbling apart and thought as weak, no matter the effort nothing speaks

 

-Lavinia Busch

 

How does one find their voice after many years of holding back, willing it to silence because of insecurity or scrutiny? I have made my fair share of mistakes learning how to speak up over the years. It is very difficult finding the right tone when freeing an idea that has been wanting so desperately to emerge. Often, the result is a harsh exclamation…not a good look.

 

When I wrote the poem “Nothing Speaks” my mind was in deep consideration of this contradiction. When a voice has been silent for an extended period of time, it is unbelievably difficult to change course and exercise a willing openness. The give and take of daily conversation can set off all sorts of alarms. “Is it safe to say what I know to be true?” or “Will people think less of me?”  The self-doubt never ceases, and the easiest road is to just keep silent.

 

It takes great courage to finally speak up, especially for one like myself that prefers to keep most thoughts tightly held. In my rush to seize the moment and speak to an issue I am passionate about, sometimes the words tumble out more assertively than I would like.

 

In general, my goal is to find the balance between not speaking, as in the poem, and sharing my thoughts openly. Some days I am better at it than others. I have learned that as in all things, balance in conversation is a muscle that must be exercised.

 

 

 

Nothing Remains

Nothing Remains

 

Nothing Remains

 

Pictures drifting as before, when frailty roamed with an audible roar

Apparitions lifeless and complete, in precious memories so very sweet

Blink and the fragile forms will change, faces and stories all appearing strange

Set your watch and shed your chains, at long last nothing remains

 

-Lavinia Busch 2019

 

Having just returned to work after a six month sabbatical, I am caught in a fog of “work stuff”. As a librarian in higher education, I have the wonderful opportunity to work with young adults excited about learning and exploring new ideas. By the same token, the culture of busyness and the hierarchical structures of university life have left me conflicted.

 

What I am left with is the idea of impermanence and contribution. Well aware of the fragile nature of life, it is striking how much energy is expended doing things that have nothing to do with permanence. Pepper this with what can be real injustices in the world, and I find myself constantly thinking about an elusive other way forward.

 

“Anyone who has lost something they thought was theirs forever finally comes to realise that nothing really belongs to them.”

― Paulo Coelho

 

As a person attempting to let go of all that weighs heavily, what remains clear is that the practice of minimalism is not just about stuff. Minimalism is what we allow into our lives and what we set free to move along on the rivers of fate. Nothing remains static; no problem, institution, relationship, river or mountain. Everything is in a constant state of change. Stepping away from my workplace for six months really demonstrated this concept for me.

 

When I am gone, my work contribution will remain as if an echo bouncing off the walls of a vast and empty hallway as new voices, ideas and leadership step forth. What then is really important to me? How should I be spending my precious life energy?

 

The answer I always return to is family and writing. Both are extremely important to me and deserving of my very best. Through my family, I leave a bit of myself in all that I do. My children may not grasp the value of this work, but I am convinced my job is only to plant the seeds of hope and inspiration. They must tend their own soil and allow unique flowers to bloom.

By writing, I contribute my voice, my heart, in a format that will far outlast my physical body. It would be lovely if in 100 years, someone picked up one of my poems and felt unfamiliar emotions after reading. To me this would epitomize life energy well spent.

 

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

― Heraclitus

 

Remembering that nothing remains is also a comfort during times of unease. Everything that confounds me about this life will pass. The discomfort of this physical body, awkward relationships and the many mind numbing tasks that make up a day. In the future, the world will no longer be as I see it now.  A new landscape will emerge as the cycle of life returns and repeats.  Taking this in, my desire to spend more time doing what speaks to my heart is pressing. We must all ask ourselves, if these were our last days on earth, what would we do with the time remaining?

 

 

Gentle Brushstrokes

Gentle Brushstrokes

 

Solitude resides with a peaceful clarity, a sharp

 picture of what is and what might be

Only in this quiet can a heart beat freely, unbound by

the constant blur of thought running errant within

 

In silence, the tsunami of emotions

rubbed raw by the roughness of the day

subsides, leaving a softness, colored by

the gentle brushstrokes of a rolling hillside

 

-Lavinia Busch 2019

 

With the intensity of the lunar eclipse this past weekend and the air as vessel for all that remains, I find myself wishing everything to slow down, lending more time to consider things as they are. So often, when the stakes are high, I get caught up in the swell of emotion as if a leaf in a tsunami. Returning to the work environment has sent a cascade of ever turbulent waves my way and it is taking all that I have to swim rather than sink.

 

Honoring my need for quiet, I spent some time at Vasquez Rocks this weekend. The air was crisp and the hillside called. Acting as if young again, I found myself scrambling up the rocks wishing nothing more than to get to the highest vantage point. Feeling the cool wetness of the rocks against my hands, I climbed and climbed. As I reached the highest point my legs would allow, I took notice of the pools of emotion laid bare on the hillside. The surrounding area looked like a beautiful painting created with gentle brushstrokes rather than the jumble of people I had left on the ground below.  Perspective really is everything.

 

Storms will come and go. It is and has always been my personal work to weather the storms with gentleness and love. At times I fall short and suffer the consequences of reacting in an abrupt or harsh manner. In these moments, it is up to me to forgive myself and reset intentions. If history serves, there will be much more opportunity for forgiveness as I stumble along the turbulent shores of life. My salvation continues to be writing and nature.

 

To that end, a random flock of birds caught my attention while walking on a busy street in my neighborhood. The birds looked to be rehearsing a ballet with sharp changes of direction and shape. The whole spectacular took my breath away and for a brief time, the waves of turmoil quieted. Stopping to feel the calming heartbeat in all things has become my hope and aspiration. No matter the circumstance, beauty can be found in a morning sunrise, the whip of the wind or the quiet of a winter night. These gentle brushstrokes allow for a respite from the hardships of this flawed life and a reminder of the universal breath in the most honest of ways.

 

Castle Up In the Air

Castle Up In the Air

 

Living in my castle up in the air

Floating softly without a care

Clouds as pillows, stars as light

Nothing but beauty both day and night

 

Tranquil sounds fill the sky

Symphonies of angels passing by

Oh how I miss this ancient lullaby

Rocking me gently way up high

 

The ground is rigid as hardship looms

Soaking in regret, resting in tombs

You shall find me light and fair

Forever in my castle up in the air

 

-Lavinia Busch 2019