alskuefhaih
asoiefh

Sunday, November 14, 2010

mud, branch and sky

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I said in my untethered donkey post a few days ago that I am the author and authority of my life. What arrogance! Was it arrogance? Was I setting myself up for a heavenly lightning trident to spear me into humility, pinned to this red leather chair, writhing in ego pain? I do see myself on a throne, Leo that I am. It is a perch somewhere between heaven and earth, close enough to drop to the mud and claw for wormy sapphires and garlic, and open to the empty sky above for ascending into perspective taking. . . .

Garlic and sapphires in the mud
Clot the bedded axle-tree. 
The trilling wire in the blood
Sings below inveterate scars
Appeasing long forgotten wars.
The dance along the artery
The circulation of the lymph
Are figured in the drift of stars
Ascend to summer in the tree
We move above the moving tree
In light upon the figured leaf
And hear upon the sodden floor
Below, the boarhound and the boar
Pursue their pattern as before
But reconciled among the stars. 
    ~ T.S. Eliot, from Four Quartets

Where are scars reconciled among stars? How can I find that centering, bedded axle-tree?

I can’t control the circumstances and authorities that tell me what to do. Students ask for advice, I must answer. I have to pay bills and make deposits to cover them, which means Don and I have to earn a paycheck. I brake for stoplights. I make food for us and our hungry bellies. I can’t just tell it all to go take a hike. Well, I could, but where would we be?

So what am I the authority of? I am the authority of my attitude. Like a bird who drops to the earth for thistle seeds, bugs, worms and juniper berries, I, too, keep hunting for body and soul food. Like a bird who carries scraps to her perch for a nest, I transport words and ideas from literature, art, music, world events and relationships -- especially relationships -- to this branch in me where I weave the nest of my soul. And like a bird, I dash up to the expanse of air above to see what it all looks like below. This is a continuous cycle. Dig in the earth. Carry to the perch. Rise above on air currents in an open space of sky. Back to the ground. Up to the nest. Fly to the sky. It is that rising above where I scan, reflect, and rewrite my mindset, remembering that life is not all mud and toil, or just nesting, or only flight above the touch, labor and pain of life.

In the nest, something gets created in the cycle. I find that I don’t, and can’t, create something inspired and fresh (ideas, writing) if I am only stuck in the mud of duties and stress, nor can I create something of value if I am only in the sky of my heart-mind. Beauty and new life are born in the nest when the air pulled down from above in arcs of flight meets the mud from my claws, in the nest embedded in the axle-tree. Whoooshh -- thwapp -- piing! . . . sapphires and garlic.


GO WITH MUDDY FEET
When you hear dirty story
         wash your ears
When you see ugly stuff
         wash your eyes.
When you get bad thoughts
         wash your mind.
                           and
Keep your feet muddy.
    ~ Nanao Sakaki

Here's a twig I gathered from my husband last week: Did you know that birds sound different from each other in flight? Have you heard a parakeet flap its wings? Loud! Have you heard an owl flap into flight? Silent. Their feathers have different textures of softness, as my dear Susie discovered when she rescued an injured barred owl from the side of the road and felt her silky-soft downy feathers, so unlike her chickens' feathers. Glide and scout, silently on a thermal. 






50 comments:

Elisabeth said...

How blue these eggs, how beautiful these words. You are an authority, an author of words and ideas, despite your doubts. Thank goodness fr your doubts. They colour your writing. a paradox perhaps. Writers need both authority and doubt. Thanks.

Friko said...

I think you are the author and authority of your life.

Life comes laden with burdens and joys, for life to continue you must accept responsibility for it.

It is true that attitude towards this life you have been given determines how you 'perform' the living of it.
Your emotional and physical balance depend on this attitude; we can only hope that every experience, every muddying of feet and every soaring above the need to labour enriches rather than diminishes our life.

Sapphires and garlic, both are necessary, both are part of the human condition. How else would we live and know that we live?

The pigeon, which works so hard to rise from the ground, whose harshly, noisily flapping feathers sound like dull and perfunctory applause, eventually rises and soars freely.

Sakaki has the measure of it.

Ruth said...

Elisabeth, I am intrigued by your comment, mostly because while I do have doubts, I didn't know they were transparent in this post. :) The questions are always there, the reflection, the scanning of motive and perspective. But I feel pretty OK about my authority, in the sense I've written here. I see doubts as different from questions, of course (and I'm sure you do too).

Ruth said...

Friko, thank you, I hope it's true. I don't really have doubts about it, but I like reflecting and introspecting, asking questions evermore.

I tend to get lost in my mind and sometimes my emotive side, so getting hands dirty and being active outside is a good way to "relax" besides sitting on my duff and thinking too much. Taking a long walk outside, stacking firewood in the corncrib, hanging laundry on the line, these are ways I can be meditative without simply navel gazing.

Bonnie said...

Beautifully articulated thoughts Ruth. We are constantly making adjustments from mud to nest to soaring flight. A perfect metaphor for the accomodations we make to outer and inner demands. As you indicate, there are treasures to be found in each adjustment, each accomodation ... garlic can be gold to someone hungry or to a chef.

Your husband's twig reminds me of discovering that a special sound when mourning doves take off from their perch, was not a 'call' but a unique noise emanating from their wings.

So much to discover ... even on a lazy Sunday morning by clicking on a blog - yours.

George said...

Good Morning, Mrs. Mowry. Having completed my diagnosis, I have concluded that you have nothing more that a mild case of chronic eliotitus, a small inflammation of the brain cells that comes from trying to penetrate the meaning of the more esoteric passages of T.S. Eliot's poetry. Ordinarily, I would prescribe garlic and sapphires in equal amounts, twice daily. In this case, however, I think you have already discovered an alternative path to full recovery. First, you have recognized that it is in the mud of everyday life that one finds the embedded axle-tree, the core of which is your values. Secondly, you have recognized that there are things that are better reconciled among the stars — up there beyond the mud, in the infinite sky of the heart and mind. The only question remaining, of course, is proportionality, and, frankly, I think you have found the right balance. If some anxiety remains, I can only suggest, at the risk of aggravating your condition, that your remember Mr. Eliot's observation that we are always "wavering between the profit and the loss in this brief transit where the dreams cross."

Beautifully, honestly, and thoughtfully written, Mrs. Mowry. I enjoyed every word of it.

Ruth said...

Thanks so much, Bonnie. Yes, those adjustments come after reading of Aung San Suu Kyi's release from imprisonment, of taking a look at the rest, of other human experience. It all contributes to perspective taking.

Your writings are helpful to me in this cycle. I need tools, and there are lots out there I don't know of, and you provide them. Sometimes it's just that minor and subtle shift of thinking that makes all the difference. Or recognizing that I am not alone.

How wonderful about that dove sound, emanating from the wings, and not the throat. What sounds do we make in life, that are not from our throat, but from the rest of what we do? How wonderful to contemplate that. Thank you.

Ruth said...

Oh thank you, Dr. George. I want you to know that I changed some wording in that first paragraph. I originally asked the question, Is it arrogance? and changed it to How arrogant! and now have changed it once again to Was it arrogance? Do you have a treatment for fickleness? :)

It's so encouraging to know that a man such as Mr. Eliot found himself always wavering between the "profit and the loss ..." What a magnificent way to express this coming and going, breathing in and breathing out, high and low, peace and conflict, heat and cold, joy and sorrow, all the contrasts of our existence that challenge us to find ways to come back to the center. The dreams crossing is an elegant image. Thank you, Dr. George for this session of validation, for transmitting Mr. Eliot today, and for your November orange reflections that are still reverberating in my sacral center and in my ears . . for going out, I found, was really going in . . from Mr. Muir.

rauf said...

create ? oh no, you have created a lot you are not aware of Ruth.

The trust you have created makes your student come to you for advise. you wouldn't be sitting on that chair otherwise. Love that you have created kept the family together and and made the bond stronger. Apart from other things you have created like, Synchronizing, poetry essays stunning artistic pictures, educate me and your readers.

Being an Indian i have to use different word. i will not use the word authority. Pardon my lack of English knowledge Ruth, i have no authority over it like you and Claudia do. i would like to use the word dictate. i thought i don't let anything dictate my life. i am wrong. Again being an Indian i have to learn to adjust and learn to compromise with the circumstances in my life. i gave up all my beliefs, follow no philosophy or ideology as they cloud my mind, blunt my reason. i try my best to have clarity of thought. i realise i cannot dictate anything happening around me and not even my own life. i can only wish and hope.

rauf said...

Synchronizing is a University

Ruth said...

rauf abi, you used the word authority right, in this post and the other one. You have terrific mastery of English, and in many ways better than mine, since you have British English there. But I do like your word dictate for what you mean, that others dictate certain things for you, for me, for us. Compromise is the key. It is essential in families, if we want peace.

I can't dictate my state of mind. But I can choose a path, that's what I mean by authority. I decide how I will interact with family and friends, and with circumstances. When I have negative emotional reactions, I try to look at them and see if I need to change a belief that's causing me that conflict. Some conflicts can't be avoided! Of course. But some are just a result of my errors in thinking, or pigheadedness, or feeling insulted in the ego place, when really I can rise above that if I put my mind to it.

We learn from each other, rauf. My first blog university was Daylight Again. It changed how I view so many things, helped me think better. I think I should get a bachelorette of arts in raufology.

*jean* said...

i can see you in your perch, you are fitting right in...attitude is everything..that certain egg blue suits you..i loved having coffee with you, thanks

Margaret Bednar said...

Wow. When you write "up to the nest" you really mean it literally as well - that is if you took this beautiful photo, and somehow I think you did. I just laughed when I thought of you climbing this tree and hanging on with one had as you snapped away. Love your introspection and the previous comments (Let's here it for no moderation! ;) I love Rauf's referring to your blog as a "University". I couldn't agree more, as the best schools teach us how to question ourselves and search for the answers. You do that, Ruth.

Barb said...

Many questions have no answers, but I still like to think about them. Have a good day, Ruth. Play in the mud a bit.

kenju said...

What glorious color in those robin's eggs.

Bonnie said...

Ruth,

Are you the one in charge of consultations with Dr. George? I'm sure you don't want to keep his saavy prescriptions all to yourself ... :-)

Ruth said...

Hello, Jean, I'm glad you came in from the cold and snow (not here yet) for some hot coffee. You have an eye for blue, and robin's egg blue is definitely one of my top favorites of just a couple. I love it paired with brown. Thank you for your kind comment.

Ruth said...

Thank you, Margaret. I climbed, but I climbed a step stool, not the tree. :) I really appreciate your super kind and thoughtful comments.

Ruth said...

Barb, it's the unanswered questions that keep me going! Thanks for your visit.

Ruth said...

Kenju, I know, it just sends me too.

Ruth said...

Bonnie, are you too suffering from Eliotitus? Or maybe some other malady the good doctor can help with? Please go to his office today for some orange reflective therapy. If you don't know what that is, you'll find out soon. Oh wait, I thought I saw you in his waiting room . . . !

Gwei Mui said...

We are the authors, we are the readers, we are the speakers of our own lives. At best we learn from past experience and we use those lessons to steer ourself down a "better" path. Arrogance I believe would be to ignore and ride rough shod over one's experiences. What we experience, how we use those experiences help us to grow to evolve. So yes you are the author and the authority of your life - arrogance does not enter into it. That would only become a factor if you were dishonest.

Pat said...

Your words are exquisite; the photos stunning. Your analogy of the bird to you was so visual and memorable.

Char said...

in reading this, i think of a story i heard rosie o'donnell tell this morning on radio about her child. she was so in awe of her child that could tell what kind of bird it was by how it flew....and this child that couldn't be bothered to pay much attention to himself, has learned to distinguish birds apart and could pick nine deer on the side of the road when she couldn't see them. life is often like that - what is important to us becomes the focus of our lives. much like your posts... i always feel centered when i read here. thank you.

The Bug said...

I'm the opposite of you in that I am more often down in the mud & have to work to pull myself back out of it. I spend very little time in the sky - my goal is to just get to the nest every now & then!

Ginnie said...

As an Air sign, sister, I can totally relate to being up in the sky so much of the time. Astrid, as an Earth sign, helps to bring me back down to groundedness. Then, perhaps, as we build a life together, we meet somewhere in the middle, in that nest, to balance each other out. I do like how you have pieced this together because in the end it really IS about balance. But there's no balance unless you go back and forth between the extremes? I wonder....

Ruth said...

Gwei Mui, what you say so very well is the precise reason that I try not to think of anyone I know as the same person they were the last time they did something disappointing or silly or crazy. If I want people to think of me as an evolving being, one who may not make the same mistakes I've made before and to give me a new chance, I have to offer the same grace to others.

Ruth said...

Pat, thank you for those heart tingling words.

And I just have to thank you here, as well as at A View from the Edge for recommending the film "Babies", which I watched last night. I laughed, sat with my jaw dropped, felt exhilarated, and was completely convinced that I would have been a better more laid back mom if I had seen it before my kids were born. I am loving the genre of film I've seen lately, documentaries without commentary. Besides "Babies" I've watched "Baraka," which is incredible, and "Ashes & Snow" which is something else altogether . . . a meditation.

Ruth said...

Char, how wonderful that is, for a child to notice such a thing. And yours in turn reminds me of my friend's great niece, who at age two begs her parents to read her anatomy books. She can't get enough anatomy! The other day, after a bad, messy diaper, her mom asked, "Wow, how did that happen?" The toddler replied, "The food went into my stomach, through my intestines and came out my rectum."

:|

Ruth said...

Boots, I imagine that some persons are naturally more balanced than you and I, and live closer to the nest, with equal parts earth and sky tugging them in a soft, natural swing. I don't mind being more comfortable in the air, I really do relate to birds. It's the farm though, that has pulled me down into the mycelium roots.

Ruth said...

Oops, Dana, sorry, I jumped you in queue. You are like my friend Inge. She longs for the sky, maybe more even than for the nest. I hope you find time and energy for both.

Susan said...

Grounded in mud or mired in it can be a fine line. I think even if you found yourself in the latter category, you would find something profound in that as well. Is there anything on which you can't speak or write intelligently? If there is, it must be very obscure.

Arrogance? I think a certain amount of it is required for this level of creativity. In your case, your gracious, deserved arrogance is balanced by your understanding and compassion and love for your fellow human beings.

Your passage about the owl was simply beautiful. I still haven't heard about its condition. Maybe I will call today.

Oliag said...

I am afraid that I don't fly very much...I am either digging in the dirt or working on the nest. When I sit down and read your blog though...then I often do feel some wind under my wings and get a better glimpse of a bigger picture.

Another blogger I visit just wrote about attitude saying..."We have the choice to create a good day with our attitude." I like the idea of having the authority over my attitude....

Terresa said...

What breathtaking blue. And this:

"I am the authority of my attitude." I needed to hear/read/feel that this morning more than anything. It will be my mantra today, after a turbulent weekend. Thank you, Ruth.

♥ Kathy said...

I'm a Leo too Ruth! I just loved this post...as usual. You speak to my heart so often!

Babs-beetle said...

Wow! If I had seen that photo on Google images, I would have thought the eggs had been painted that beautiful blue.

Peter said...

The difference with the birds, who do things instinctively, is that we have to think, hesitate, take the initiative to get up in the morning or not... This is perhaps what makes life sometimes tough and frustrating, but sometimes, fortunately, also passionate. Or...?

Jeanie said...

I recently heard someone say we can't always control our lives, only our attitudes about the things that happen. I liked that, and I like this post, very much. A good deal of food for thought here -- and some lovely poetry, too!

Oh said...

Aha! so they DO sound different in flight. I have often wondered. The turtle dove is one noisy flier. But not the finch. But the owl? you can "feel" it - difference in the size of the wings that makes it so. I love this.
ANd TS eliot and his axle tree...and your thoughts about "authority" and how glad I was to hear this "aloud" wondering wondering wondering about so many such things myself as I sit in my chair, and it is also a red chair!!

Fabulous photos, too, Ruth.

Ruth said...

My dear Susie. I hold your praise in my heart, always. It makes me happy that you like how I write. As for intelligence, maybe it is heart intelligence? I just go inside and listen. But I do like tweaking the writing until it says what my heart says as closely as I can get it.

What you wrote about deserved arrogance is kind, and quite interesting if you think about all of us. Maybe we each have something to be arrogant about, in the sense of being supremely confident. I am arrogant about my friend Susie.

I know you'll let me know about Barred Owl and how he is doing.

Ruth said...

Oliag, what a deeply lovely thing to say. Thank you. Yes, attitude is a choice. I find that when I keep focusing on the thing in the mud (or the nest) that is causing me indignation or grief, I have to shift my focus away, and this is best done from the air.

Ruth said...

Terresa, is anything more beautiful than robin's egg blue? Tiffany's knows.

I'm glad you received something you needed here, so glad. I'm sorry for the turbulence though.

De nada.

Ruth said...

♥ Kathy, hello, fellow Leo. Let's be queens of hearts together.

Ruth said...

Babs, I know. Once I posted these eggs, and someone in another country (maybe England, was it you?) did not know what bird's they were, not having robins. I was so surprised! I thought everyone knew and had robins. So this time I labeled them.

Ruth said...

Peter, oh so beautifully said and felt . . . YES! It is truly and wonderfully beautiful to be human, even though it is also hard. Amen, my friend.

Ruth said...

Jeanie, thank you. It must be in the air then, the need to adjust our attitude. Life's circumstances have gotten harder and more complicated for most of us. It takes constant adjustment to keep our minds and hearts free.

Ruth said...

Dear Oh of the also-red chair, I hear your flight in its silent reverberation with my post! Thank you, unique bird.

deb said...

you know, I would like to have a book of so many of these posts. to keep on my bedside table, or here at my computer , or on the coffee table in the front room, or in a bag in the car for long waits, or ....

I want to be able to hold this in my hands as well as my heart. To read and savour and gaze and gasp and clutch it to my heart and think... yes. Yes.

Loring Wirbel said...

Authority of your attitude, yes indeedy!

Kate said...

Thank you.