An Open Letter to My Son’s Friends at the Prom After-Party Weekend
May 14, 2018
21 Days of Yoga
May 17, 2016
Where the Light Enters You
February 6, 2019
June 16, 2016
"Don't give yourself over to despair," the Alchemist says, in a strangely calm voice. "It prevents you from being in touch with your heart."
"Death makes us more attentive to life. "
I'm not given over to despair, and I'm certainly not dead. I am learning to hold sadness and hopeful anticipation in both hands at the same time. But when a part of you passes through a transformation, it's kind of like alchemy. I have the alchemical symbols for all four elements tattooed on my inner arm. I am catalyst and alloy; I am raw and I am gold.
There's a word in Japanese, natsukashi, that loosely translates, “happy nostalgia”, good memories that, when evoked, are healing or satisfying. Natsukashi can also be interpreted as the act of creating those memories, knowing that they will evoke happiness, healing, or satisfaction when remembered in the future. Irena took me roller-blading down by the river this morning. She held my hand as the wind whipped through our hair and we cruised at breakneck speed down the roller coaster hill. (Okay, it was about the slope of the escalator at Kaufland, but it felt extreme at the time.) And I knew even as I felt that breeze and opened my eyes wide, that I was creating natsukashi.
Camilla taught me that word. She is the same chou-chou amie who cooked the most sinfully delicious truffle pasta for me and who sent me these quotes from The Alchemist last week.
Since then I have been in Goodbye Mode. I said goodbye to Jiři at the Hudebni Kavárna and Petrushka at the pet store. She kissed me twice and I smeared her orange lipstick on my cheeks and wore it all day like a blushed-up badge of courage. I said good-bye to the lady at the pradelna who never learned to iron Conan's shirts the way he liked them, so he spent the last three years in workaday wear looking a bit like a flailed-out Central European Tony Manero. I went to Kutna Hora and wiled away a sunny afternoon discussing the vagaries of metaphysics, archaeological disinterment, childhood in the Bronx, Italian Catholicism, farm-raised salmon and strawberry pickers in the fields. I wandered into the Botanical Gardens and marveled at tropical orchids growing in the air and African succulents, equally out of their element.
Me, an American, out of my element among a people I could not understand and grew to love. At one point, as out of place as an orchid in the snow. Now, at home as a poet in Bohemia.
Good-bye Mode makes me Attentive to the end of my time here in Prague. Attentive to life, what the future holds, how sweet the past three years have been.
How the light catches in the trees and how the valley holds
the mist rising up off the forest floor after a hail storm.
How candle light in a medieval bone church shines like a beacon to the soul, how birdsong blends into the late afternoon witching-hour cries of the twins across the street, how the music of the Summer Fayre band carries across the years, rocks like a cradle through friendships and children growing up
and the same crazy purple sunglasses that I keep wearing to the same school function.
In my previous entry on this blog, I wrote that every damn thing changes. That's not true. What changes as the background music plays, creating a soundtrack for the movie of my life, is not the authenticity (I don't have time for anything less), not the tears (damn waterproof mascara. Never works.), not the gift of my unfiltered emotions or the flexibility of my spine or the love of my children, my husband, my faith and my dog, and not the trust I put in Chiara to understand me, Kim and the Frenchies and Riverside Yoga and my dad and my brother and sister and Facebook and God and the Universe and the written word and a lotta wine and a little bit of caffeine to shore me and bear me and lift me up, not what's at my core or how I will miss it all or how I am generous with my feelings. None of that changes. What changes is THE LENS.
Don't give me some hackneyed expression about rose-colored glasses. Nor am I talking about a zoom lens or a telephoto, though those are both applicable. I'm talking about the lens of the heart. For "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye." --Antoine de St. Exupery. I have seen this place through the lens of my heart, and when I leave it, I will leave a piece of my heart here. My changed, changed heart.