Showing posts with label meditation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label meditation. Show all posts

Monday, September 11, 2023

Here We go, Under the Maple, conversation #4


"How did your week go, guys?" Ollie asks as the entire gang comes chattering through the gate.

"Fantastic, guilt-ridden, Great, Better." All give Ollie a hug.

"Look what Twinkie brought," Simad says, finding his chair around the table. "Brownies, my favorite chocolately thing. Thanks, Twinkie," He sat down then bounced up. "Why do we always sit in the same place? Isn't that strange? Let's mix it up. Twinkie, I'm sitting in your chair."

"You're welcome, Simad." Twinkie sits her plate down, runs over, jumps on his lap, and throws her arms around his neck. You're in my chair," she says.

 Somewhat taken aback, Simad finally collects himself and says, "Why didn't I think of this sooner?"

She kisses his forehead. "You sat in my chair, you get sat upon." She pops up and runs back to her plate, rips off the plastic wrap, and places it beside the tray on the table set with coffee, tea, hot water, an ice bucket, cream, sugar, and lemons.

"Is that laced with anything, Twinkie?" asks Harvey.

"Nope, It's pure unadulterated melted chocolate, flour—you know, from scratch, regular stuff." She opens a jar and begins to dribble chocolate across the tops of the brownies.

Everyone dives in for a brownie, coffee, tea, whatever is already on the table and settles into their seats.

"Twinkie," says Harvey, "I'd expect Twinkies from you. Oh, do they make Twinkies anymore?"

"I don't think so," Twinkie says finding a chair, but I loved them as a kid—that's how I got my name. But when I learned that if you place one on a porch railing, it will still be fresh six months later. I envisioned one sitting in my stomach like a petrified rock. That stopped me. These are to thank you guys for last week. I'm unflappable today."

"How so, Twinkie? Tell us."

 "I was so anxious to tell you guys.” She sat forward in her chair, “I did as Shal suggested. I meditated every day for six days—today will be the seventh."

 "What happened?" asked Shal.

"I was miserable for the first two days. I couldn't stop thinking of a zillion other things I'd rather be doing. And then, on the third day, I got this message. It read: "Dear Twinkie, I gave you a heart, a brain, and courage. Use them." Signed, 'God'."

"Where did you find that message?" asks Harvey.

"Oh, Harvey, I didn't suddenly go bonkers and hear voices or find golden tablets. I wrote it in my notebook. It was a message from me to me—or from God. It got me thinking. I want to do what I want to do. And you know what that is?"

"No, tell us," said Ollie, sitting in her not usual chair. "This is sort of like who won the Design Challenge."

"It was sort of like that," says Twinkie. "I watched "Blown Away," the glass-blowing competition for inspiration. I've always wanted to try my hand at blowing glass. And not those little figurines you see at fairs, but the big stuff, bowls, and artwork. I thought Glass blowing was for big husky men, and I'm 5 foot 5 and what they call petite. With that show, I saw that a woman can do it. In fact, a woman won the competition.

"My arguments against it were that I thought I didn't have the strength or couldn't take the heat. I wasn't creative enough, or that I couldn't learn it. I thought my skin would dry up in front of a furnace every day, but I noticed the women had beautiful skin. Maybe it's like a sweat lodge where you sweat out the toxins—like from all those Twinkies I had as a kid--I'm strong. I can run five miles. But then there are those people who have 30 years of experience, and I'm 28 and just starting. And then there is the time and money. My roommate and I are just squeaking by working at Sacs, but I'm doing it. I found a teacher at the coast, so I'm driving over every Saturday and apprenticing under him."

"I can see it, "Twinkie's Twinkling Glass." Says Sally. "I'll commission a chandelier. Here's to you, Twinkie."

[Applause. Cheers!]

 "And you have a customer already, "says Ollie. "Who has a customer before they have a product?! Twinkie, look what you did."

"It will take a while, Sally, before I produce a reasonable piece. I have a lot to learn."

"I know, but you got started. I'm proud of you."

"The idea," says Shal, "is to begin wherever you are. When a gardener told John F. Kennedy that the tree he wanted planted would take 100 years to mature, Kennedy said, "Then you better plant it now."

"Is that tree still there?"

"I don't know."

"So, says Shal, how did everyone else do?"

"I completely zoned out one day," says Simad. "After writing until about midnight, I collapsed into bed with all meditation forgotten, then felt guilty the next day."

"Hey," says Ollie," don't beat yourself up. Just take a step back and regroup. We aren't saints, you know."

"I meditated the next day."

"There you go."

"Well," says Harvey, "I didn't do so well. It was painful. Every time I sat down, I thought of Liz."

"Oh Harvey," says Sally, "how long has it been?"

"Liz died two years ago on October 2."

"I'm so sorry you must go through that, Harvey," says Sally.

They could see he was beginning to tear up, and led by Ollie, the group gathered around his chair. Everyone put their arms around him, around each other, and genuinely wanted to take away Harvey's pain.

When they released him and each other, Harvey had tears rolling down his cheeks.

"I nev-er- cri-ed that day. I was too angry to cry. I loved her."

"We are here for you, Harvey, "Ollie said when they were seated.

"I know you guys try to stay upbeat," Harvey leaned his forehead into his palm. "I didn't want to bring you guys down."

"Nobody stays upbeat when they're hurting Harvey. We're here for all our feelings, not just the happy ones. Yes, we emphasize looking on the bright side,  but, Harvey, all feelings are important, and we want the sharing to be whatever is going on in our lives. I would love to hear about Liz. How about if you introduce her to us."

"Yes, I would like that. After a while, my friends and family stopped talking about her. It's as though they forgot her or don't want to remember, and it seems they want me to do so as well. Let it go...and you know this stupid thing about closure? Well, it's a damn lie." 

"Oh, Harvey, we never forget about the people we love. To this day, I miss my mom. I ask her advice every couple of days. Of course, she usually says what she said when I was a kid. 'I trust you. You'll figure it out.'"

People chuckled, even Harvey, who blew his nose with a big honk.

The groups almost laughed but stifled themselves.

"All the sweetness of Liz's family went straight into Liz. That's in contrast to me being a big lummox."

"You aren't a lummox, Harvey," said Twinkie, 'You're a big teddy bear."

"That's what Liz said. She was the light of my life; at 60, her light went out, just like that. One day, it was on, the next day off. You know how you come home after work? 'Hi Honey, I'm home.' I went to her office, and she wasn't there, but I knew the next place to look, the garden. In those days, she was hauling in cucumbers by the bucketful’s. I found her on the ground like she had decided to nap among the carrots. When I realized she was gone, I yelled until the neighbors heard me and came to my aid. The coroner said she had a heart attack. I didn't know she had a bad heart. I thought her heart was the grandest thing about her. Well, she was pretty, too. And a good mom and a good wife. I believe in soul mates, for she was mine."

"I'm glad you found yours, Harvey."

"It isn't fair, is it?" says Shal," Sometimes it seems as though the sweet ones leave early and the ornery ones stick around until the last cow comes home."

"When I see Liz, I will ask her if her cow came home."

"I'd like to hear her answer," says Sally. "Harvey, do you see your kids?"

"Yeah, I see them a couple times a year. They're busy. They love their pop, but it has been different since Liz died. We're careful like we're glass."

"Maybe you could have a ceremony of some sort when you get together, somehow honor their mother and your wife, and let people talk about her, not just like at a funeral." Simad offered.

"Would you guys come?"

"Yeah, of course, you betcha." Everyone agreed.

"We'll have a barbecue in my backyard," said Harvey.

"What say, I put on some music, and we dance a bit. I heard Liz Gilbert say that after losing her soul mate, she dances every morning to ease the hurt and honor her mate."

"Let's do it." Says Harvey, hoisting himself from his chair and offering his hand to Twinkie, who takes it, jumps from her chair, and begins whirling around the yard. "I love you. Harvey." She says, "Come on, let's boogie."


Monday, September 4, 2023

Conversation Under the Maple

“Hi Guys,” says Shal, coming through the gate. “Gosh, I’m excited about today.”


“Hi Sal, Hi, Hi’s,” echo around the group. Laffy, the coon hound ambles over to give Shal a greeting. “Hi, fellow,” he says, scratching the dog behind the ear. “I’ve hit on something really fascinating.”


“Great, Shal,” says Ollie, “We can move on from sex, lies, and videotapes.”


“Did I miss something?” says Harvey, “I thought we were only talking about lies.”


“Whoops, I padded it,” says Ollie, “Want an iced tea Shal?” She holds out a frosty glass. 


“Indeed, thanks.” He takes the glass and sits on the one vacant chair.” Sally, you fixed Bruschettas?” 


“Yeah, I just toasted them. They should be hot.”


“Oh Sally, I’ll love you forever.” He picks up a slice of a toasted baguette smeared with olive oil and topped with fresh tomatoes, onion, garlic, and vinegar and takes a big bite.”


“Hurry and chew, Shal. I want to hear what you came up with.”


“Mumble, Yum. First things first, how do you make something so simple taste so good, Sal?” 


“TLC Shal.”


“I’m grateful for you, Sally. I’m grateful for this Bruschetta. Where do you get your tomatoes anyway? I’m grateful for all of you.” He washes down his Bruschetta with tea and says, “Here’s what I heard from Dr. Joe Dispenzia:”


“Yeah, I know of him,” says Harvey, “my daughter went to him when he was a Chiropractor in San Diego. He’s become quite a scientist with a grand audience.”


“He’s into healing and genes, and physiology and all that. Did you know that genes are like Christmas tree lights in that they turn off and on? It rather negates the old idea of mixing a blue-eyed gene with a brown-eyed gene, and viola’ you get a brown-eyed person—dominant and recessive, brown wins.”


“Maybe some don’t turn off and on.”


“But some do, and here’s the rub: they are affected by stress.”


“No wonder people are running hot or cold. Their genes don’t know whether to be on or off.” 


“And how we think affects them. When we’re stressed, worrying, and thinking the same dismal thoughts day after day, our body is operating in survival mode. Cortisol, the stress hormone, pours into the brain.”


“We have flight or flight for survival, a built-in system,” says Harvey, “Get the heck out of there, or fight it.”


“That works well in the short term. Even herds of antelope settle down after a lion kills one of their herd. They calmly graze until a lion gets hungry and antsy again. Then all hell breaks loose. But people can’t settle down. Most live under constant dread of something: financial worries, relationship worries, world conditions, political conditions, health conditions, and if that isn’t bad enough, we worry about dying. Even us. Last week, we were stewing over what to believe and how people manipulated us. We just don’t let up.”


“And then there is that chattering brain,” says Ollie, “You drop something, and your mind says you're clumsy. You say a wrong word, and somebody corrects you, and then you add to it by berating yourself for being stupid. It’s constant.”


“Yeah, like we’re never supposed to muck up,” says Simad,” Do it right all the time.”


“You guys, see how easy it is to get into the ‘Ain’t it awful game?”


“Shal, we did that, didn’t we? I fell right into it.” Says Simad. “As a writer, I deal with rejection all the time. How are we supposed to manage in a competitive world?”


“Give yourself some wins, Simad. Celebrate those milestones. You know when you have written a good chapter. Acknowledge yourself, then write another. You know you can do it. You are getting better. So what if it doesn’t appeal to everybody. It never will. That’s the name of the game. It’s only a game, Simad. Stop comparing yourself to others.”


“Yes, sir.”


“Sorry Simad.”


“Tough love,” says Ollie, “sometimes hard to take, yet often meant in the kindest way.”


“I feel better already,” says Simad. “I know I’m being too hard on myself. I need to be reminded to lighten up. Thanks, Shal.”


“Yeah, we have this minute time on earth. Let’s live it gloriously. Even if you believe in reincarnation, don’t wait for another lifetime to get it right. Or wait for heaven where you will be happy.”


Here, hear. How shall we do it?”


“Back to Doctor Joe, he says to take time every day to have an elevated emotion. Do it three times a day. It is like dropping a pebble into the water, and another and another, keep those rings going. 


“Energy affects matter. The more energy, the more matter can be affected. Without positive energy, we are shoving matter with matter, and you know how stubborn that rock of matter can be. Fire it up with grateful thoughts. Doc Joe found 10 minutes of gratitude daily is better than a flu shot. And it only took three days for his subjects to become measurably better. He says you can heal yourself that way.


“Stop thinking the same thoughts you thought yesterday,” Twinkie ruminates. “Why do we have such talkative brains anyway?”


“It’s narrating our lives,” says Ollie. The reason to meditate is to stop the mind chatter. It gives our poor little thinking brain a breather.” 


Shal asks, “Would anyone like to join me and spend at least 10 minutes a day in gratefulness or meditation for the next week?”


“Sure, I’ll do it, Shal,” says Twinkie.”


“Me too,” says Ollie.” 


There followed unanimous agreement. Six people would meditate for 10 minutes three times a day, or 30 minutes total, until next Tuesday. 


“I’m coming back 40 pounds lighter next week,” says Harvey.


“Isn’t it strange how committing to 30 minutes seems immense? Thirty minutes. I spend more time washing dishes than 30 minutes. I’m more important than dirty dishes. ‘


“Leave’em until next week, Ollie. I’ll wash them for you.”


“You’re a doll, Shal,” says Ollie, pushing herself out of her chair and rushing into the house.


Soon, music booms through the speakers on the porch, with Joni Michael singing Both Sides Now


Startled to hear Michael’s voice, Twinkie gives a “Whoop! This song has gained new popularity recently. Come on, Harv.” She stands and offers her hand to pull Harvey to his feet. They all stand, join hands, and sway as Michael sings her 55-year-old song that is as pertinent that day as the day she penned it. Harvey has tears flowing down his face, remembering clouds from both sides. Now he knows that those clouds of Michael’s song rain and snow on everyone, not just him. And he can choose his sides.