The Return to A Better Normal

The Things We Will Still Do

The Return to a Better Normal

By Jane Tawel

April 4, 2020

The Problem With Being Normal - A Better Way To Health

 

Yes, it is true as perhaps never before in most of our lifetimes, that this is a great time and opportunity to really look more deeply into our beliefs about our lives, our souls, our jobs, and minds, and hearts, and relationships, and communities, and countries and planet.  Not necessarily in that order, but. . .

 

And by “looking more deeply”, I mean, assessing the importance of things we have taken for granted and weighing the consequences of past behaviors and attitudes – behaviors and attitudes we all had a mere couple of months or weeks ago. For most of us, there has been a paradigm shift in thinking about “What do I want for the future?” to “What do I want for Today?” There has for some us perhaps been an opportunity to meditate on the question: “Do I really want to keep my beliefs and actions from Yesterday”? Most of us are at a minimum needing to look at Time in whole new ways, as our Time both contracts and expands in rather mind-bending, choice- assessing, and relationship-shifting ways.  This is something that many of us are finding, would have been a better way to think all along, and so we have a unique opportunity if we survive this latest means to death (there is always some means, don’t forget). We have an opportunity to change the way we think and live, and to determine, “What are the things I want to keep doing”? “What must I really stop doing for the benefit of any of the stated arenas of a life as listed in the first sentence of this essay”?  “How do I want this gift of Today to change the World’s Chance at a Tomorrow?”

 

I like the philosophy that has been going around in various constructs, that as we hope to someday return to normal, we should decide what of “normal” is worth keeping.  So, although I didn’t feel like writing today, I do feel that writing about things and sharing ideas with others, is a normal I want to keep.  Hence, I started a list of things I have been doing while quarantining, and fighting the Corona Virus one immune strengthening regimen and protective action at a time; and a list of a kind of “off the cuff” reassessing of what I would like to change, if I am lucky enough to have a tomorrow to change for. I started thinking about what I want my new “normal” to be more like than my old “normal” was.  I highly recommend you start your own list, much as people used to do with Bucket Lists.  Maybe share your list with people who will stay important to you in tomorrow’s normal, and find out what they hope will change or stay the same for them. May you seek goodness and find love wherever and whatever your normal is today.

 

My “Return to a Better Normal” List

 

  1. I want to continue to be a better “reacher-outer” to friends and family. I want to keep calling, texting, face-timing, emailing them about their health, both physical and spiritual and mental. I want communication to be both more important as well as something that feels normal, not special.  I want to listen more and enjoy more the little stories and shared perspectives.  I want to keep giving advice to people I love and taking advice from them seriously. I also want to stop giving advice, and just “be” with others. I want to just enjoy the presence of another human being in that very moment as the most wonderful miracle of my day.
  2. I want to keep believing that it is important to take care of the animals that we let into our lives. I want to keep spending ridiculous amounts of money for my old dogs’ care until they just can’t go on living their happy little lives.  I want to forgive their incontinence and grumpiness and Daisy’s Sundowner’s barking at all hours of the night and morning, and hope some human will do the same for me when I am like that.  I want to treat the neighborhood cat that comes calling as the majestic beast he considers himself to be, and enjoy his willingness to hang out with me sometimes. I want to really listen without commentary to the songs of birds. I want to mourn the death of every bee and feel anguish at the wild animals displaced from their homes by people’s greed and ignorance. I want to think of the friendly beasts as my brothers and sisters, and regain some sort of native spiritual relationship to their presence on this planet.  And I hope someday, that when I am on my way out, that I will die with the same amount of dignity and love that animals die with, leaving behind as much joy in people’s memories of me, as our animals do for us.
  3. I want to keep listening to music, but I also want to keep making music, even though I am not good at it or famous and never will be. I want to sing and play guitar and piano more often, and be an active participant as well as an appreciative, listening audience. Music feeds. That’s all that needs to be said. We need music like we need food, and listening is nourishing, but creating music is like cooking a homemade dish to enjoy. I don’t need to be a competitive or famous chef to make a meal that I and others enjoy.  I don’t need to be a concert pianist or a rock star to make music that feeds me. I just need to enjoy “eating” it.  This is true for my writing as well. I thrive on reading other’s writing, but I grow from writing myself, not as an ends but as a means.

 

There are many things in the world of art or nature, that you might want to substitute for my thoughts on music and writing. Whatever it is, take time to feed yourself and feed others with those things whenever possible. If you are never going to climb Kilimanjaro but you love hiking or walking, do more of it, for the sheer pleasure of feeding yourself. Nature is Eternity’s Best Artist, after all.

 

If you love museums or movies or plays, imbibe more of them more often, and then find your own way to create. You don’t have to be a great artist to enjoy painting, or quilting, or gardening.  Using our senses to see and taste and hear and touch and move are those things that most deeply feed our souls. Using our abilities to create, no matter how small or humble that creation, is a gift – to ourselves, to others, and somehow, mystically and spiritually, to the Created Universe. Food is meant to help us grow, after all. So dine on what best feeds you and grow by creating it yourself.

  1. I want to stop buying so much stuff. I want to accept that except for food and drink (and of course, now we realize, toilet paper), I have enough stuff to last me three life-times, probably. I want my new normal to see constant shopping, as the raging addiction it has become in America, at least, and in my own life. I want to believe that true simplicity is something I can still accomplish, even though I will never realize my dream of becoming Amish. I want to believe that it is better to “hold things lightly” in my hands. I want to stop grasping so much and so hard, and  walk through the world with open hands and an open heart.
  2. I want to keep focusing on the humanity of anyone who is within six feet of me at any given time. I have long thought it oddly frightening to see people pass within “hello-ing” distance of other people – on a sidewalk, or a grocery aisle – and not even make eye-contact, not say “hi”, not even admit that there is another sacred, valuable, important being right there close by.  To me, that has been one of the most telling indications that we have become zombies. During this quarantine, people have ironically been friendlier and more connected now that we are more aware of the community around us and have more time on our hands to stroll outside with six feet of separation. But there are still people who think that even if you are six feet away, they will still “catch something bad” from you and I have no doubt these kinds of people will, once released from quarantine, continue to wear the Mask of Stranger, and wield the Protective Weapon of Busy with My Cell Phone, and be The Inhuman Zombies who no longer act human except for the fact they can still locomote.  My family laughs at me for being a “stranger- magnet”, and I hope if I survive this illness, that I will continue to be that person who considers another human being important enough to take note of, even if they don’t take any notice of me. I hope I will still find even a stranger within six feet of me,  more valuable than anything but the most important of cell phone calls. I hope I will not give up my humanity, even when we are all back to long lines at stores and jam-packed freeways.
  3. When and if, I get to be one of the privileged ones to return to normal, I hope I will continue to think about dying soon. I hope I will, as the ancient monks used to do, “keep death daily before my eyes”.   Some monks used to have a real human skull kept on a shelf in their bedrooms to remind them that death is only a heartbeat away, and that we are to “die daily” to the bad things and live for Good. Thinking that today is possibly my last, is a good way to embrace life. But I want to embrace a life worth living – more worth living that my life was yesterday.   I want to live for Good. I really want a more normal view of the importance of a life that strives for truth and love in equal parts, that speaks out against injustice, ignorance, and lies, that is kind and forgiving without expecting anything in return, that is spiritual without being proud or hypocritical, and a life in this very moment, that is humbly accepted with joy – a momentary gift that is given, not as something I am owed, but as a great and miraculous gift for this glorious day.
  4. In the new normal, I want to remember this time as the time I learned that you have to care for others if you want to survive. I want my new normal to be putting others before myself. I want to understand that the World’s Great Golden Rule, is exactly that:  a rule. Loving others as I would have others love me, is a rule like sheltering in place, like washing my hands, like coughing into my elbow, like only taking essentials and not hoarding, like taking better care of  first-responders and medical personnel, like caring for the least of the least, like old people, and homeless people, and like giving up something I merely want to do or have, for the good of others, to protect them and care for them, and treat them with the respect for their lives,  hearts, souls, and health, that I would like others to do for me – living into the idea of a perfect world for myself as I do for others.

This Great Golden Rule is meant to be a rule, like our communal rules for survival during this pandemic. I wish that religious people had been living according to The Great Rule, but now we may understand that the Great, True Rules of all Beliefs, All Peoples, and for Eternity are not rules for religious reasons. Just like rules during a pandemic cross all political and religious barriers and lines, so must I believe that the rule of “Loving God and Loving Others as I would be Loved” are not held uniquely by any belief system but by a Reality that crosses all Time, all History, all Space, all peoples –All . We are not following rules right now for our own selfish gain,  but for survival reasons. And that is what the new normal must realize– that  true, even sacrificial, loving is necessary for the survival of the planet, for the survival of our very lives, and, if one does believe in a spiritual world,  for the survival of our very human souls.

 

  1. I want my new normal to be as slowed down as these quarantined days and I want the world’s children and this young generation to realize they can – must!—slow down. There is nothing worth more than this very day and this very day is all there is. I hope the metaphoric treadmills across this nation will stay as still as the gym treadmills have been during our stay at home times. I hope this time of enforced slow-down, will make a new generation (and my old one) realize that we have been speeding our lives along to no purpose; we have allowed ourselves to work too much and take play too seriously. We have forgotten how to live as we work ourselves to zombie-like existence.  I hope when we all return to normal, that we won’t allow power and money and fear to keep telling us how we have to live to get ahead. I hope we will value much more the people and professions that truly add value to all of our lives.  I hope resistance will be the new norm, and that by resisting together, we may find rest together.
  2. There is actually a town I used to live near, called Normal, Illinois. I want to think of the future as a place as real as that city of Normal in that Midwestern State.  I want to think of Normal, America (or whatever country one finds oneself in) as a place that we will make better, clean up, care for, think of as our home that we share with others. I want to make a home in Normal, The World, and help others realize it can no longer be a place where living as a loner is accepted, or where being an individualist, while it may take you far in terms of money and position, will not protect you from pandemics, from loneliness, from unhappiness or despair, and will not protect a single human being from the inevitability of death. I want Normal, The World, to be a place where we love our community and realize how much we all need each other.  I want the tombstones in Normal, to all have this epitaph: “We Cared for Each Other. We Put Love First. We Live-On Forever Because We Loved.”

 

Seeing the future as a real place is a little like people used to see Heaven or Shangri-la.  I say used to, because now people see Heaven as a reward for certain beliefs, rather than a place we are meant to work for.  I want to believe that this Earth is also meant to be, as the prophets say, “The Kingdom of God” and I am meant to work for it, in it, and for all those here, now as if they too, are meant to be in a different kind of Kingdom, a different kind of Normal.

 

If we can learn anything from this pandemic, shouldn’t we learn that we are all connected, all in this together, all worthy of life and love and all a part of making the world a better place?  And most importantly, can we not at least remember what is truly better – what we truly need for a better world, what we need to start doing? Can remembering what was good and best about this difficult time, not help us take that good and best into a new normal? Can keeping the new normal of our sheltering, quarantined days, please help us create a New Normal that, with a bit of imagination and individual sacrifice for communal survival, can be a Real Place? Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing to walk out of these dark days into A Kingdom of Heaven here, among us, a new normal of love and light and kindness and hope and joy and sharing and peace?

 

My List of Items Today for a Better Normal:

Joy in the Journey.

Gratitude.

Care-full-ness.

Giving-heart.

Hope.

Resistance.

Simplicity.

Truth.

Love.

 

What will be my new Normal if we survive?

love

 

And now, for the closing “ditty” to lighten your load perhaps.

 

I’ve found myself uprooted,

Cuz going out’s been booted,

Not to the curb exactly,

But since matter-of-factly,

We have to shelter in,

If Life is going to win,

Rather than think this strange,

We must decide to change.

 

Let’s buckle up and live right,

And let this dark, sad night,

Help us to stop our moping,

And get-on some group hoping.

 

It hasn’t been too easy,

And most of us feel queasy,

From fear and boring pursuits,

But let’s put down some deep roots.

Let’s plant seeds in our souls and hearts,

And make some headway, or a start,

In caring for each other,

And for the Earth, Our Mother.

 

And while we talk morality,

Is that the same normalcy,

We really want to have again,

For future X, Y and Z Gens?

 

This is it —  our only time.

So please forgive this silly rhyme,

But please find ways among these days,

To toss the bad, and keep the good always.

And may your best loves guide you,

And when I hope you’ve got through,

I’ll see you on the other side of sorrow,

To make together, a better Tomorrow.

Stay strong. Stay sane. Seek love and joy. Seek change. Be healthy and hopeful. And care for others in the way you would like the future world to care for you.

With Love, From, Never Exactly Normal Jane

 

 

 

 

And Now, Love — a short love poem

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Raoul and Jane, circa 2018

 

And Now, Love

By Jane Tawel

March 30, 2020

For Raoul

 

*

And now, Love, we wind down,

As Memory’s lane leads on,

 of shared passion and old fuss.

There is no longer need;

But mere desire, hotter than mere lust.

*

Once, Love, we shall again

Be true to greater selves than them;

And we will paint woods green, and dance,

Finding sun and making rain,

Imagination spooning romance.

*

Ah, Love, Tomorrow never comes

Divorced as it must be from Life.

Your face, your hands, your touch,

All elemental to my Why;

To our wed meaning, you are much to much.

*

And Now, Love, we re-learn, re-grow.

We find our way, anew.

And Now, Love, we may finally know,

That you are all to me, and I, to you.

If It Were the Last

Recorta Renova

“Recorta Renova” by Gui Silva is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

 

If It Were the Last

By Jane Tawel

March 26, 2020

About a year ago, before this “WHOLE THING”, you know, before the pandemic that shook the foundations of everyone’s world, I started giving myself little talks about how I should live if this “were the last”.  As an old-school grammarian, I find it best to use the combo of “IF- WERE”, as good grammar used to have it, because using the subjunctive form  ie the hypothetical philosophy of projecting things onto the future of my dreams, desires, or hypotheses suites my worldview best.  And I think especially this idea of using the plural form of a verb implies that this is just a hypothesis – IF – and not a done deal. There could be many things that happen in the future, IF. But I digress…

 

I belong to a particular group of worldview enthusiasts who have this idea that we should live each day as if it could be the last day.  Well, yes, and no.   This “as if it could be your last day on earth” doesn’t really mean you take unacceptable risks with your life or anyone else’s. It also doesn’t mean you waste all your money on a frivolous pursuit or go skydiving if you really hate the idea of falling from any height at all, especially with only an oversized handkerchief inflating above you – hopefully.  But there are many, many good attitudes one can adopt towards oneself and towards others, if we really live as if the end of the, or at least our world could come at any time. Living as if it could all be taken from us  “like a thief in the night”, as  the wise Teacher said, has many advantages.  And doesn’t it seem, really as if this latest thing, this corona virus, has snuck-up on us suddenly and caught us completely unaware with our moral, ecological pants down and our treasures stored away with Wall Street con artists rather than in things that really might last and stand the test of eternity?  Just like a thief in the night, this virus has robbed us of what we were literally banking on and figuratively secure in. Our treasure ended up being stored in plain sight and rather useless and flimsily secured against the thief. Indeed, it seems to make a bit more sense now to meditate on the truth that where our treasure it, there our heart is also.

What I have done over the past year, though is more in the  practical arena than the philosophical.  I have tried to live a more aware and caring life in relationship to the planet I love, and the home I inhabit and love, because long before the virus, I began to realize that I am responsible for how I live my life, my day.  And if I lived my day as if something could be the last of something, then maybe the naysayers are right, and while I wouldn’t exactly save the planet, — I could possibly save my soul. And who knows, maybe just one person or a few persons, doing the right things, doing the moral things, doing the things that need to be done, will save the whole world. After all, it’s been done before.

 

There are a few people in the world who are connecting this horrible pandemic to the ills we have long foisted on our Mother Nature and on the Earth, but it’s hard to hear them when you are afraid you personally are going to die.  But we are all going to die, aren’t we?  Or did we forget that?  But should we be allowed to keep ruining the planet for the people and animals and fruits and vegetables and flowers and insects who want to live after we are dead?  Should that be an option for any one, no matter their age, nation, income, religion, politics, or worldview?  If  nothing else, this whole thing about toilet paper, should surely make some kind of dim light-bulb go on in everyone’s faulty-wired, blinking chandelier. Shouldn’t it?

 

So, as I said, about a year or so ago, I started doing some things as if they were the last – not everything – mea culpa, pleaseforgiveme, really I feel truly sorry and I need to apologize to the future children of the world who hopefully will have a world to inhabit.  But I did start to do some things as if they were the last. And it sort of began, ironically with toilet paper.

 

I have a friend and long, long ago before either of us married or had kids, she told me about how her father would make her, my friend and her five siblings count the sheets of toilet paper they were allowed to take in to do their business in the bathroom.  If their business was the Number 1 kind, then they got two sheets of T.P.  If their business was the Number 2 kind, they got four sheets.  Now, this family was rich, but the dad I guess still believed that even if you are rich, there is no need to waste either money or toilet paper. He also really believed in that old adage of “waste not, want not”.  Might be how he got so rich even with that many kids.  He wasn’t an environmentalist or a religious person at all —  he simply thought that his family should do what he considered to be the right thing to do – for the family.

 

Now – aren’t you wondering if all those people out there hoarding toilet paper for some godforsaken reason or other, are at least, for God’s Sake (and I mean that, For Her Sake), making sure every one is using only enough TP to do their business? Are you a little bit wishing that everyone out there who bought up all the toilet paper will conserve it, use it wisely, not waste it – so that if there really is a shortage, they might be convinced it is in their best interests to share it with the rest of us? Aren’t you hoping that if we really have seen the last of the toilet paper, that people will conserve it and use it wisely?

 

The real question  that I started asking myself about a year ago, and that maybe we all need to ask ourselves as we take a closer look into our own hearts is this –

What am I hoarding or wasting?  And how do I stop doing it?

 

Isn’t is horribly strange that many of us live in nations and cultures who think nothing – NOTHING!—of hoarding or wasting?  We hoard money, we waste food. We hoard space, we waste time. We hoard stuff, we waste relationships.  What kind of insane, unbalanced Society? Community? Culture?  Worldview does those things?  Shouldn’t we have figured out a while back that any group of people who do that for long, won’t exist forever? That any species, any planet that does that for long won’t exist forever? Shouldn’t we have figured out that “like a thief in the night”, death eventually comes and all those things will one day be taken from us? And then what? Have we really become so amoral, so heartless, so short-sighted, that we really don’t care what happens to anyone else after we ourselves die?

I do believe it is important to do the BIG MATH IF’s.  Those are the “If this were my last moment with this person, what would I want them to know?”  or “If this were my last day at work, how would I want my coworkers to remember me?”  or “If tomorrow is Judgement Day, what should I change about myself today?”  Those are good ways to live, indeed, and we should all take more time to live by them, and waste less time on the things that get in the way of the BIG MATH IF’s.  We need to.  BUT – we also need to realize that the LITTLE MATH IF’s  are actually just the yin  of the yang, the flip side of the coin, the reverse view in the mirror of all those BIG IF’S.  What I do with my time  and money– and my metaphoric and literal toilet paper– may some days seem small potatoes to me, but it’s really at the heart of all my Big Worldview Answers to Life’s Big Questions.

 

When I am more aware and mindful of what I do in relationship to the small things around me, things that on a daily basis might seem small in comparison to the Big Things, then I am in fact, doing what humans are truly meant to do as beings with souls and spiritual essence. When I think about how much toilet paper I really need to go Number 1, then I am actually practicing a spiritual discipline in order to form a habit  in order to create a self-sustaining worldview about how important I think a single human being is to the planet, to other people, and possibly even to Whatever, Whoever is Out There in The Universe.

Imagine?! What I do with the small things has endless significance and importance to the Big Things. This is the Butterfly Effect Theory, the small pebble in the shoe of the king or the fork in the road, the drip of water that starts a flood, or the stone that kills a giant. Or maybe the virus cell that changes the heart of the world.

This reminds me of a book I read long ago, and whose title I will riff and satirize here – Imagine – “The Unbearable Lightness of Toilet Paper”.

 

So now for the nitty-gritty.  Here is the way I have tried to change my way of seeing my life, my things, my belief system:  By asking What – If questions about The Last Days. It works for me, a strange nerdy, geeky  lover of Literature and Writing and as a believer in an ancient and ever-evolving worldview that There is Something / Someone Important – more important than I, but also that makes me more important – “Out There”.  Whatever you call that “More Important” thing – please find it – Whether it is your God, your loved ones, your future, your planet, your people – please find that which motivates you to be better than you were yesterday and less better than you hope to live to be tomorrow. I find asking myself these If-Then Questions helps me. I hope they do you, too.

 

  1. If this were my last roll of toilet paper, how much would I use right now to go pee?
  2. If this were my last loaf of bread, how much would I snarf down now and how much would I save for tomorrow or for someone else, and how much would I enjoy each bite while I eat it?
  3. If this were my last light-bulb, would I turn the light off when I didn’t need it? Do I need it on right now?
  4. If I were only allowed a few gallons of water per day to use, how long would this shower be? How would I wash my dishes? How much do my clothes really need to be cleaned? How long would I let the water run to get hot? Or cold?

    How much would I enjoy drinking this glass of water, this cup of tea? How sure would I be to drink it to the dregs and not waste one drop?

  5. If I were only allowed to be on the computer, online, on my cell phone for one hour per day, what would I do with that time? Or if my computer or cell phone was on a timer and if it were left on for ten minutes when no one was in front of it using it, it would self-destruct, would I remember to turn it off when I walked away?
  6. If I had the choice to walk to the store and get all the benefits of being outside moving, to slow down and enjoy the journey, and reduce my carbon footprint just a little bit – would I do it? Don’t I often have that choice, if I’m honest? Shouldn’t I make that choice whenever and wherever I can? What if this were the last time I could use my legs, my eyes, my body to walk somewhere?
  7. What questions can you add? And how can you let those questions inform your choices in order to create habits in order to create character in order to live a more meaningful life?

 

How can we help each other, see the world differently, even after this whole pandemic has, I hope, receded into the past? I am hoping that we do remember, that though this time may pass, and this danger may recede, there is never an end to the real Human Condition. But alas,  there is also  never an end to the dangers to our health and our souls and the dangers to the health and the soul of our planet. Can we ensure, can we plan, can we be practical, can we be in this together, and can we try to also make sure that there is never an end to what we of faith, hope and love, and some good old practical uses and conservation of our stuff and our time — are willing to do to make all things better. Just better. Not perfect, no, but surely, truly, oh please yes — better. Here is to a renewed joy in the journey in this present age and present danger. Here is to many people grasping the “IF I’s” so that the “Then We’s” will thrive for a better brighter and healthier future for everyone – now and for our children’s children’s children.

 

I have long pondered the questions that Cat Stevens raised in his iconic song,  “Moonshadow”.  I am quite partial to my sight and being able to see the world around me and to read books with words and watch my loved one’s faces.  But I confess, I often take my sight for granted for most of the day. I am wrong and wronging, sinful and sinning, and guilty and judged of taking so many, many things for granted. Let’s start with owning up, with confession to each other, and then let’s humbly help each other do better.

 

I had a high school friend who was born without one arm due to her mother’s taking thalidomide before anyone knew it was dangerous. Her poor mom didn’t know, she is guilty of nothing but bad luck. My own mother had an old-school doctor who didn’t believe in giving drugs for natural things like pregnant nausea so that is the reason I and my siblings lucked out. This friend learned to do many amazing things with one arm, and she could actually snap her toes really loudly – a “feat of feet” we all thought pretty cool. She had a great life, married with kids, but I won’t ever let myself think that if she had had a choice, she wouldn’t have chosen to have been born with two arms and hands. So if her mother had known about the dangers of thalidomide, there is no doubt in my mind she would never, ever, ever have taken it for what ailed her.

 

People, we know about the dangers of thinking that we can take whatever we want for what “ails us”. We can not plead ignorance that what we are continuing to do to the planet and to other humans is not dangerous and just as life-changing as if we lopped off all our limbs. We must stop. Change. Turn Around. Make Better Choices. We must ask ourselves the Big Questions and make all the Big People hear us when we ask them to do the Big Things. And we must ask ourselves the small questions and we small people must do all the small things, daily, “never growing weary in doing good”. And then maybe, just maybe, the children of the future will be born with all the advantages for living on this planet that children have always deserved. We must suffer the pains of first-semester nausea, now, while we give up dangerous habits and practices, and we must know that even though child-birth is painful, at the end there is the joy of healthy  birth and thriving life for someone that we suddenly realize — hopefully not too late — someone — our child –that we love more than anything. Someone we would do anything for. Maybe even stop hoarding and wasting toilet paper for?

 

While you are stuck sheltering and maybe feeling irritable or scared today, think about all the things you have right now – at your fingertips, in your sight lines – and yes, these are real physical blessings most of us have as well as metaphors for how we should be more mindful and aware of all our gifts, joys, abilities, etc. We must ask ourselves what it would mean to have them taken from us and what it means about our responsibilities to them, and to each other.

Enjoy and Seize the Importance in what you have today, and if you are willing, enjoy your stuff as if it might all be gone tomorrow. Enjoy and Seize the Importance in the world around you today, and if you are willing, enjoy it as if you were put on the earth to take care of it wisely. Enjoy and Seize the Importance in your time today, and if you are willing, use each moment as if it could be your last. Enjoy and Seize the Importance in your people today and everyone in it, and if you are willing, treat them importantly enough, as if tomorrow you might wake up to find them gone, or they find you are gone. Enjoy and Seize the Importance in your very own life today, and if you are willing, understand solemnly, as true (and if anything is true, this is), as if someday your life will be robbed from you like a thief in the night — so ask yourself — Where shall I store my Treasure? What if this were the last day on earth?

 

If you like, listen to Cat Stevens while you love your life, and I hope, while you begin to use less toilet paper.

 

And back to good grammar, which I guess isn’t a digression after all — If It Were — the Last…… then subjunctively, hypothetically, with all the options still on the table — How Shall We Live Today? Because this is not (yet) a done deal, people. There is hope and a dream for tomorrow — IF?

Image result for image for IF

Oh, I’m bein’ followed by a moonshadow, moon shadow, moonshadow
Leapin and hoppin’ on a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow

And if I ever lose my hands, lose my plough, lose my land
Oh if I ever lose my hands, Oh if I won’t have to work no more

And if I ever lose my eyes, if my colours all run dry
Yes if I ever lose my eyes, Oh if I won’t have to cry no more

Oh, I’m bein’ followed by a moonshadow, moon shadow, moonshadow
Leapin and hoppin’ on a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow

And if I ever lose my legs, I won’t moan, and I won’t beg
Yes if I ever lose my legs, Oh if I won’t have to walk no more

And if I ever lose my mouth, all my teeth, north and south
Yes if I ever lose my mouth, Oh if I won’t have to talk

 

 

 

What If We Discover How To Live?

Abandoned Shelter

“Abandoned Shelter” by carva822 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

 

 

What If We Discover How to Live?

By Jane Tawel

March 24, 2020

*

What if we discover

that this is how we were meant to live?

What if by sheltering from the world,

We find shelter in each other?

*

What if we discover

That this is how we save the planet?

Not by using, craving, hoarding, earning, making, shipping, storing

more and more and more and more and more and more,

But by simply doing less?

*

What if we discover

That life is more entertaining when lived,

Than when watched?

That love is more meaningful when given,

Than when received?

What if we learn that

Hope is more fierce than fear ever could be?

That waiting and watching are more pleasant than grasping and greeding?

That Good will conquer both ignorance and evil if we believe it can?

What if we learn our best lesson

While school is out?

*

But….

What if

We never discover anything

more lasting

Than this unsettling moment?

What if we return to what we were

Before?

What if we go backwards,

Again,

Not forwards,

For once?

What if we forget–

And by forgetting

Lose all?

*

What if we find

we really would still rather discover far-off places,

than seek the places close to heart and home?

What if we keep gaining the world

And losing our souls?

What if some of us still believe that

 tax shelters and oil

Are more important than birds and bees?

What if we continue to worship

At the trough, like sheep,

believing the world’s money players will save us

While we cheer from the sidelines?

What if we still believe that morality is

A problem for them, not us?

What if our convenience and comfort

are still more important than our existence?

And what if we discover

that we liked things just fine–

Before we thought we might have to die for them?

What if we never learn that we’ve been dying for them all along?

*

What if we discover too late that

we have already abandoned

the shelter of each other?

 

*

But what if we can finally, truly, earnestly, humbly learn

like a eureka,

like an epiphany,

like a salvation —

That every day always has had

Always will have

Always

holds a choice

Between death and life?

*

What if the only questions we should have asked are:

What are we dying for?

What will we live for?

*

What if we discover that it was actually quite practical —

(Not esoteric at all)

To believe:

That the meek will inherit the earth–

Because they were the only ones who learned how to care for it?

That the last among us–

will be the honored ones

 because they were the first responders?

What if we discover that the least will be the greatest–

Because they learned how to survive and still love

 with so little?

*

And what if we discover

 that the only thing that matters

In the end–

When the clock stops for each of us—

As it will

As it surely will–

The only thing we have ever needed to learn—

Is what to do with love?

*

What if we discover that—

In the shelter of each other,

We will live?

*

Please enjoy this video of the beautiful song by Jars of Clay, entitled “Shelter”.               May you be bound to hope today.– Jane

Cheer Yourself Along — A poem

481941531_4ce7a5307f_b.jpg

 

“Foot loose” by magnusfranklin is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Cheer Yourself Along

Cheer is Closer Than You Think

By Jane Tawel

March 20, 2020

 

I’m in the mood to write a ditty,

About our need for staying witty,

And in this time of deadly virus,

We need to keep our hopes and eyes up.

For finding laughter, look within,

And with some help, keep up your chin.

 

I told myself, just this past morning,

That this dark time can be a warning,

And when I’m biting on my knuckles,

I still can find some good hard chuckles.

A wise sage, (though not Edison),

Once told us– joy’s good medicine.

For what the doctor orders after,

A case of fear? — is good, hard laughter.

 

So, look around and if you’re down,

Then force yourself to be a clown.

Just pull a prank or tell a joke,

And even if there are no folk,

To laugh with you or clap or boo,

Your grins will do,

For you, yourself, and you.

 

And so today I told myself,

That even with the empty shelves,

And though the days will get much harder,

Before we can refill our larders,

There’s something I can do today,

To make my grumpies go away.

I won’t inflict my need for solace,

By hoarding stuff or being lawless.

I won’t think I need people more

Than I need to remain indoors.

And if I can’t watch one more show,

I’ll think “How humorous is the toe.”

And gazing at my foot’s protuberance,

I’ll manufacture some exuberance.

Perhaps I’ll find a shower cap —

that’s always good for a hard laugh.

Cuz hope is just a laugh away,

And glee can keep our fears at bay.

 

 

Whatever you can find that’s silly,

Is the best way, and I mean, really.

To take your hardships and your lumps,

And get us past this viral bump,

You’ve gotta give yourself good care,

So with yourself, please, a laugh share.

 

And while pandemics are quite serious,

It is okay to be delirious.

With just a bit of humor, friends,

You’ll change the color of your lens,

And see that after this dark storm,

Ahead a rainbow soon will form.

 

Today I feared I’d lose the fight,

‘Gainst sadness, loneliness and fright,

 I could not find my inner comic,

To ease life’s dangers anatomic.

 

 

I put my hands around my head,

And to myself, I firmly said:

“You have and always, will, my dear,

Be your best source for finding cheer.

So even though you’re all alone,

And stuck with sheltering in your home,

Instead of outwards, look much nearer,

And find a good laugh in your mirror.”

IMG_4406

Hang in there, y’all. Be strong enough to take others’ health seriously.  Be brave enough to let yourself still love your very own life.  And find joy in the journey – if you can’t find it right now, look for it around the bend, maybe by letting yourself have a good chuckle. Life is good, even now.

Shalom,  Jane

 

A Pick-Me-Up

A Pick-Me-Up for The Present Time

By Jane Tawel

 

IMPORTANT NOTE:  My poem below and this post are not meant any way to make light of people with ongoing depression.  It also is not at all meant to imply that people with depression or who are sad, should not seek help professionally, personally, from the experts, and from friends and family who love you.  This poem is merely an attempt on my part to address my own dealings with loss and sadness at the current time as I am having to deal with certain issues.

 

 

Perhaps because you are more isolated and alone, you too, need just a small reminder to look on the bright side of your life as soon as you are possibly able.  Perhaps you are feeling more vulnerable in yourself, or your relationships, or your beliefs. When the world seems dark, keep looking for the light. And if you can’t find the light yourself, follow the person with the flashlight or the candle.  Believe in your heroic ability to do what you need to do in such a time as this. And if you can’t believe in your own abilities, lean hard on and use without guilt, the gifts and guidance of those people who have suffered much and still managed to have big hearts and a lot of love for other people.

Image result for image tolkien frodo time

 

 

I often have felt, at least in my own culture, we lack the ability to truly grieve and truly angst.  We do need to go completely through the process of completely grieving or mourning the loss of something or someone, and that takes time, which we are seldom given enough of to do it all properly. If you are feeling down today for big or small reasons, or even for reasons that you can’t even put your finger on to explain what and why they are – let yourself feel sad. Let yourself feel down.  This too is part of the journey that leads to something and somewhere and sometimes Someone or someone. We can’t always succumb to fear of sadness in the same we can not always succumb to fear of viruses. Neither one is something we want, but neither will any of us remain unchanged by the reality of both in the human experience. Change can be good, even when painful. But as one of my favorite quotes, says, fear can be a super-power if you use it the right way. And so can sadness and even a manageable amount of depression.

Image result for dr who quote on fear

 

I am not recommending that you fast-forward to denial and I am not recommending that you skip ahead to self-medicate yourself with a false sense of happiness. It is not wrong to grieve or feel scared, or even to feel depressed, if you go through these things with the idea that it is for a greater purpose than wallowing in them. And if you make quite certain that you know somewhere inside your deepest self, that you are never meant to stay there in any of those things – not fear, not sorrow, and not depression.  You are meant to go on to that feeling that makes you know you are bigger than anything small enough to live inside you – virus or fear or depression. You are meant to believe that hope and all of those actions and that particular life that only you and you alone – that all of that can come out of suffering to be something better.

Believe that there are big good things waiting for you, and that those things are strong enough and plentiful enough to defeat the small bad things — big things like smiles and laughter, and kindness and trust, warm food and warm touches, and lovely smells and lovely sights, and sweet dreams and sweet words, and of course, there will be the biggest most powerful weapon against all the bad stuff, the greatest of all — Love.

We may have to wait, and we may not like waiting, but perhaps we should remember that it is better to be out here pacing in the waiting room, than in the metaphoric surgery or morgue. Waiting means there is time to learn and learning means there is hope, even perhaps, in life after the surgery or morgue. So if you are feeling helpless, imagine instead that there is something, someone  that needs your love. And love is worth waiting for.

Image result for image of quote by rainer maria rilke on waiting

You are the piece of coal today, that tomorrow can be a diamond.  You are cocooning today, so that tomorrow you can be the butterfly. You are feeling the gritty sand behind your tired, sick, sorrowful eyes right now, so that tomorrow your eyes can be clear, and you will become as transparently real and as beautiful as glass. Today’s grinding sand are tomorrow’s windows to a cleaner, brighter soul.

 

 

The more sand has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it.      Jean Paul

 

Grieve and moan, angst and hide out for a bit, but take care of yourself. Let yourself hope even if you can’t feel it yet. Let yourself love something, even if it is something small or inanimate, even if it can’t love you back.  I have been loving the actors on old Netflix TV series who make me laugh, even though they will never love me back.  I have been loving the sound of the birds outside my window, the smell of cinnamon raisin toast and coffee, and the dredged-up memories of wonderful times I have shared with people I love.

Let yourself own your feelings for now, but realize you have only checked out those feelings for the time being. Like a book from the library that you don’t enjoy, return it as fast as possible and find another reading on life that can make you smile and feel hopeful again. Seek and find the very best parts of YOU, and of others, and seek some modicum of joy wherever and whenever you can, in those people and things around you.

 

Image result for image on  quotes on joy

 

*******At the end of this post, as in some of my past posts, I will share several links that you can text or call if your depression has reached such lows that you do not want to live any more. Please skip ahead to those links if you are feeling that way right now.

 

Please know that you are an important part of the lives that surround you and even if you don’t feel it right now, there is help and there is a way out of this and a way forward.  Don’t give up.

 

 

 

A Poetic Pick-Me-Up

By Jane Tawel

March 17, 2020

*

I can’t stay sad for long,

It isn’t in my nature.

Unless I have done wrong,

To creature or Creator,

I’ll find the brightest side,

And let that be my guide,

To muddle on,

A smile to don,

And not stay down for long.

*

If I’m not in the right,

I’ll muster all my might,

To ask to be forgiven,

And then get back to livin’.

So, if I have hurt you,

Then please, just tell me true,

And also what to do,

To change your point of view.

*

But if I’m blue because,

The universe seems flawed,

And I am sad inside,

I’ll let Love be my guide.

I’ll cry or rant or rave,

 But soon, I will be brave,

Enough to see the glass

More full– and greener grass.

Because when all is over,

I’d rather be in clover,

Than sitting on my bum,

And feeling mad or glum.

*

For a little while I gave up,

And then my mind, I made up,

To find the strength to burrow,

My way towards tomorrow.

There’s light and love just round the bend,

So, I will let my sore heart mend,

And find some joy in living

And then get back to giving,

Myself the right to heal awhile,

And find some peace, and find a smile.

*

 

 I hope that if you’re weary,

And like I, maybe teary,

That you won’t give up either.

Just give yourself a breather,

From worrying or angst-ing,

Or in sor-row ensconcing.

I’m here for you, and you for me.

And surely, we can both agree,

That if we really need each other,

Our grief and woes, they will not smother,

The best in you and best in me,

And that is what humanity,

Can do, and live, and hope, and be.

*

With just a little happiness,

And trying to look on the best,

I think we’ll overcome the rest

Of what has made us feel depressed.

And letting go our pains and woes,

And seeing how this next bit goes,

We might to joy and peace succumb,

And our depressions overcome.

*

So, I will hope, but I won’t rush it,

And even when life’s lost its luster,

I’ll trust and love and faith I’ll muster

For if I shine just one more smile,

Then I’ll feel happier in a while.

Yes, happiness can be a plan,

To counteract and to demand,

That I care for my heart and soul,

And make some joy my greater goal.

Yes, I can cry and I can grieve,

But I am meant for joie de vivre.

*

Tomorrow I may mourn again,

And feel more sorrow and more pain,

But now, I’ll store fear on a shelf,

And take good care of my wee self.

I’ll find a smile, and do my part,

To heal my mind, soul, bones, and heart.

*

For life is good and love is long,

and hope can never do us wrong.

For fear is small and passing’s strife,

So, grasp at love, and re-love life.

 

*

 

Don’t ever be afraid or ashamed to get help with serious feelings of sadness or depression. The links below are to services that are available 24/7. Your call or text will be anonymous, and free.

 

Be brave enough to think you matter enough to someone to find hope in your journey.  You are worthy of another day here with us. Believe it.

Quotes image of Joy is a decision, a really brave one, about how you are going to respond to life.

 

 

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BELIEVE YOU ARE SUICIDAL TO CALL OR TEXT THESE NUMBERS.  YOU JUST NEED TO KNOW YOU WOULD LIKE SOME HELP WITH LIVING TODAY.  

PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH ANYONE YOU THINK COULD USE A HELPING HAND TODAY ALONG WITH YOUR OWN.

 

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/   CALL 1-800-273-8255

 

You can also text the Crisis Text Line:

USA: Text HOME to 741741

UK: Text 85258

CANADA: Text 686868

 

Or

24/7 Crisis Hotline: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network
http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
1-800-273-TALK (8255) (Veterans, press 1)

Crisis Text Line
Text TALK to 741-741 to text with a trained crisis counselor from the Crisis Text Line for free, 24/7

I Had Forgotten How to Live – a poem

Bird

“Bird” by CollegeRocker is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

 

I Had Forgotten How to Live

By Jane Tawel

March 12, 2020

*

 

I had, too long, forgotten how to live.

And letting Time control my thoughts,

And taking more than I could give,

I had forgotten what I aught

pay heed to more than I should not.

*

 

And then one day while waiting

And slow-drip coffee, hating,

I stood beside my own back door

And heard a bird song, me, implore,

to stop and listen, look, and find,

because to beauty, I’d been blind.

*

 

There, just there, in my back yard,

Were little birds, like crossing guards,

Directing me to safety in,

The joy that could be found within,

The world at large, and lives at small,

If I would simply sense it all.

*

 

I think I hadn’t really lived,

Or taken time to sense and breathe,

Not since I was a little kid,

And for lost years, I now did grieve.

But rather than waste one more day,

Determined I to savor,

To listen well, and learn to play,

And find a Mother’s favor.

*

 

Oh, I’d forgotten how to hear,

And how to truly see.

But though I wasted life and love,

Life still believed in me.

*