Theme: As snow flies, so too thoughts about hermitage
On All Souls Day, 2Nov 2014, the first snowstorm of the season knocks out electricity. Rural Maine acts like just what it is.
We start to think again about a place in the marketplace. Here's a dialogue with a student about the mind-set of age and growing old. It sideways began again the conversation meetingbrook has been sitting with for years:
J... T…. It's All in Your Head
I truly am a believer of the saying, "you're only as old as you feel." That being said, I also believe that after you retire, you need to pick up a new hobby. If you do nothing you're essentially going to wilt away. Your mind won't be as sharp and your body will start to deteriorate. If you retire and you "feel old" because of it, yes, you're going to get old. I think it's a prerequisite in the US that after you retire you do mediocre things like play golf or even worse, sit around wondering what to do next. People get old because they get bored. They need something to focus on, like the plant. It's so simple, but it gave them something to do and they lived to keep that plant alive, it gave them purpose. People also need to remember what made them happy, like the older gentleman in the study who got to live like they were back in the 1950's, which was probably their heyday. Of course they came out looking younger, they were happy, they got to relive probably the best more simpler times in their lives. So, don't just retire, find you nitch and make it your "semi-retirement" job. Not sure what you would want to do? Get a plant, make it your goal to keep it alive for a year.
William Halpin, RE: It's All in Your Head
"People get old because they get bored. They need something to focus on, like the plant."(JT)
I agree. I've been thinking about opening a shop in town. It would have a recessed center circle of sorts that remained open and clear. Surrounding it would be an upper cascade for tables, bookshelves, baking area, shelves for specific items for sale, art showings, crafts for sale, lounging chairs for musing and napping.
In the center spot a multitude of activities would take place: yoga classes, zazen sitting, sufi dancing, tai chi, qi gong, walking meditation -- as well as, square dancing, folk or jazz playing, poetry reading, talks and lectures, AA meetings, Quaker Meetings, inter religious dialogue, environmental arguing, new notions of civil life, civic or spiritual discussion meetings, hospice support gatherings, a place of sanctuary and healing, and ongoing conversations on as many topics that can be thought of.
Mostly it would be a place where young, middle age, and elderly connect to gather persons, recipies, and memory -- bake together at the salon (see below) and feature the product as a work of connective compassionate community to be sold or share with the featured "chef" taking the lion's share of money made from their work. (Simple stoves, not restaurant, just the kind you might have in your house, only with more burners. Nothing fancy.)
Nursing homes, independent living residences, shut-ins, church and support groups, civic clubs, and others would be invited into the connecting process of active community creativity surrounding food and conversation. Of course the place is wheelchair accessible. It is also skeptic and non-joiner accessible. And it is accessible for those stepping through addictions, incarcerations, mortality, and the ordinary befuddlement of baits (being alive in today's society). It would struggle to embody presence and acceptance.
The place would strive to be self-supporting with assistance from individual and group subscriptions, business organizations, grants, kindness of strangers, and simple passing love.
We had a small place on a smaller scale like that for 13 years. Its been 5 years since we lost that lease. Instead of thinking "I'm too old for that headache again," I'm beginning to think...hummm...get me some plants to hang along the scorched timbers of the whole place!
The 1959 film On the Beach ended with a banner fluttering, "There is Still Time ... Brother" [and Sister].
The need for good places, community places, is vital for the health of people -- body, mind, soul, and spirit.
Perhaps the place could have signage reading:
The Last Chance
meetingbrook bookshop & bakery
"A community engaging"
Full Definition of SALON
1: an elegant apartment or living room (as in a fashionable home)
2: a fashionable assemblage of notables (as literary figures, artists, or statesmen) held by custom at the home of a prominent person
3a : a hall for exhibition of art
b capitalized : an annual exhibition of works of art
4: a stylish business establishment or shop salon>
See salon defined for English-language learners »See salon defined for kids »--bh
We are contemplating heating the cabin for weekend practices through the winter. A Buddhist group is thinking about a change of venue. Perhaps we might help.
In the afternoon of All Souls the 50mph gusts joined with the foot of wet heavy snow to split and fell the over-150yr cedar tree at northeast corner of house. It fell in three directions -- a triangle splaying out across driveway, gateway, and roadside front. Our shaded privacy from Barnestown Road is gone. Moreso, our twenty-two year friendship with that dear tree now enters new rites of departure.
It is hilarious to think we consider such a return to marketplace monasticism.
And yet, and yet, and yet…
We think. And we continue to contemplate the poem we read at prison Friday (to tears) and again at Friday Evening Conversation with folks from Brunswick up for the circle:
While spoon-feeding him with one hand
she holds his hand with her other hand,
or rather lets it rest on top of his,
which is permanently clenched shut.
When he turns his head away, she reaches
around and puts in the spoonful blind.
He will not accept the next morsel
until he has completely chewed this one.
His bright squint tells her he finds
the shrimp she has just put in delicious.
Next to the voice and touch of those we love,
food may be our last pleasure on earth—
a man on death row takes his T-bone
in small bites and swishes each sip
of the jug wine around in his mouth,
tomorrow will be too late for them to jolt
this supper out of him. She strokes
his head very slowly, as if to cheer up
each separate discomfited hair sticking up
from its root in his stricken brain.
Standing behind him, she presses
her check to his, kisses his jowl,
and his eyes seem to stop seeing
and do nothing but emit light.
Could heaven be a time, after we are dead,
of remembering the knowledge
flesh had from flesh? The flesh
of his face is hard, perhaps
from years spent facing down others
until they fell back, and harder
from years of being himself faced down
and falling back in his turn, and harder still
from all the while frowning
and beaming and worrying and shouting
and probably letting go in rages.
His face softens into a kind
of quizzical wince, as if one
of the other animals were working at
getting the knack of the human smile.
When picking up a cookie he uses
both thumbtips to grip it
and push it against an index finger
to secure it so that he can lift it.
She takes him then to the bathroom,
where she lowers his pants and removes
the wet diaper and holds the spout of the bottle
to his old penis until he pisses all he can,
then puts on the fresh diaper and pulls up his pants.
When they come out, she is facing him,
walking backwards in front of him
and holding his hands, pulling him
when he stops, reminding him to step
when he forgets and starts to pitch forward.
She is leading her old father into the future
as far as they can go, and she is walking
him back into her childhood, where she stood
in bare feet on the toes of his shoes
and they foxtrotted on this same rug.
I watch them closely: she could be teaching him
the last steps that one day she may teach me.
At this moment, he glints and shines,
as if it will be only a small dislocation
for him to pass from this paradise into the next.
(Poem by Galway Kinnell, “Parkinson’s Disease” from Imperfect Thirst. Copyright © 1994 by Galway Kinnell.)