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Archive for the ‘Internal Reflection’ Category

I’ve been thinking about why Juneau is so special – aside from the gorgeous scenery and immediate access to outdoor activity of all kinds.

I had put Juneau’s terrific sense of community and mind-blowing high level of cultural activities and involvement to the fact that it is small (30,000 souls) and roadless. If you want to go somewhere, it’s a major production involving cost and logistics associated with flying or taking the ferry.  So people stay put in a way that they don’t in places that are linked by major highways.

Laying in bed awake for a spell in the night (looking at the stars out the sliding glass doors through the branches of the spruce tree shading our deck) it dawned on me that, probably, the average commute for Juneau workers is not more than 15 minutes.  I, who walk to work, get to my place of (part-time) employment in just about that amount of time.  Likewise, the commute to the supermarket and everything else is minimal.

This means that, compared to dense urban areas where people spend up to 90 minutes or more at each end of the work day commuting to or from work, and then spend hours more each week visiting, shopping, and traveling to and from the other activities squeezed into their lives, people in Juneau have a lot more time on their hands.  They put it to good and creative use.

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Great email from cyberspace this morning.

Recently I overheard a Father and daughter in their last moments together at the airport. They had announced the departure.

Standing near the security gate, they hugged and the Father said, ‘I love you, and I wish you enough.’

The daughter replied, ‘Dad, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Dad.’

They kissed and the daughter left.  The Father walked over to the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see he wanted and needed to cry.  I tried not to intrude on his privacy, but he welcomed me in by asking, ‘Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?’

‘Yes, I have,’ I replied.  ‘Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?’

‘I am old, and she lives so far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is – the next trip back will be for my funeral,’ he said.

‘When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, ‘I wish you enough.’ May I ask what that means?’

He began to smile. ‘That’s a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone…’ He paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail, and he smiled even more. ‘When we said, ‘I wish you enough,’ we wanted the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them.’ Then turning toward me, he shared the following as if he were reciting it from memory.

  • I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.
  • I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.
  • I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.
  • I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.
  • I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
  • I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
  • I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good- bye.

They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them; but then an entire life to forget them.

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Laying in bed the other night I reflected on how we humans seem to have an instinctual need to nest, make a roof over our heads. Even though we’ll occasionally sleep in the open, in every culture (I think) we “nest” in caves, tents, igloos, cabins, boats, mcmansions, and all kinds of other dwellings.  Is it the need for a roof – or is it because we’re hoarders/collectors of stuff and either we don’t want it to get wet, or we need to mark it as “ours.” Territoriality infects everything we do. Property lines, and town, county, state, and national boundaries. Me, mine.  How truly silly. Our world is ruled by that imaginary idea called ownership, the source of interminable conflict and fueled by greed.  We’re on this earth for a brief moment in time, then we’re gone. And we can’t take nothing with us…

Not just humans, but birds and bears too find or make nests.  Nice article in today’s Juneau Empire about where the local bears hibernate. Maybe the one hanging around our neighborhood in the fall is hibernating under our new deck.  If so, he’s welcome. And if he’s a she and produces cubs in the spring, perhaps we’ll have a cub to enjoy instead of a new puppy….

Among other careers in my next life (?lives) I’m going to be an ocean pilot, a tugboat captain, and an anthropologist – if there are any humans left, that is.

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Been busy lately, forgot to post.  Bill is now home again from his month-long sun-soak in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Extremely happy to see him, we missed each other hugely.

But in the interests of maintaining some documentation about my meandering internal world (if for no-one other than myself), here goes.

First, some links that caught my interest in the last week or so:

And now a few stories/links to organizations that may explain the incredible sense of community that makes Juneau so special to me :

Tonight we have a dilemma. It’s the First Friday Art Walk (see above link) which in December each year is huge. It’s also Family Fun night at Harborview Elementary School where one grandson goes, and we have tickets to see Leading Ladies at Perseverance Theatre. Tomorrow we eat a 5-course Cuban dinner at the Canvas at REACH as a fundraiser for studio scholarships, Sunday it’s A Wonderful Life put on by Perseverance in the new (and lovely) Thunder Mountain High School theatre/auditorium. Other tickets on our desk are for Dracula (Perseverance students, including a grandson) on the 12th, The Nutcracker (Juneau Dance Unlimited) on the 13th, and The Gift of the Magi/Last Leaf (Opera to Go) on the 18th. And the best part of all of this: the admission fees are low, the performances are high quality, and we can walk to most of them…….

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Beauty

Short on my own thoughts and behind on posts, so instead here are Audrey Hepburn’s words to ponder in old age – and more immediately, light up the darkness that’s beginning to shorten our days:

“For attractive lips, speak words of kindness..  For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.  For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day. For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone. People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.  As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.”

It came to me via a friend. Nice bit of viral health. Thanks Barb!

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Last spring the flowing sap triggered a desire in me to do something about our small and raggedy yard. Ideas floundered all over the map before settling on building a deck. Our lot is long and narrow, as is the house.  A short driveway shares the front with a square of open grass. (Next spring, a raised vegetable garden?) The backyard is a jungle under two giant spruce trees. A string of smaller trees and shrubs (two look like the rowans of my youth) provide some privacy from neighbors to the rear.

We were lucky to have stashed away the wherewithal to undertake a significant project, and lucky to be led to John Staub (double-bass player par excellence) as our contractor – though we had to wait a few months ’til he was free. We used the time to order and have shipped up on the barge a sliding-glass access door (6 weeks)  and hot tub (4 weeks.) And we found Patrick at the Glory Hole who labored  to make a gravel walkway along one side of the house, thus providing necessary access to the back.

Since Labor Day John has knocked out the wall from our bedroom to the back yard and  installed the access door with adjacent window (for night-time air)  Next he built a sunken pad for the hot tub and around it a roomy deck. Then 4-5 steps down from the deck on each side, and now he’s building a ten-step stairway up to the yard of our dear ones next door.  The tub was delivered a week ago, requiring a day’s work by an electrician to do magic so the thing actually works. Then we needed professional help from the tub distributor (Lyle’s Home Furnishing) to overcome our intimidation at the knobs and chemicals that came with it. Turned out to be much simpler than it appeared from reading package directions and owner’s manuals.  I think.

Last night, once dark arrived (around 8pm) Bill and I geared ourselves up and, swathed in towel, prepared to open the sliding door and sally forth for the tub’s baptismal sit. Well doggone it, there’s a frigging bear on the deck, sniffing around the tub. Next it ambled across to the (by now tightly locked) glass door to see what was up.  Thankfully the animal was fairly small but still big enough to worry about.  There have been  a few in the neighborhood lately, and one walked behind the deck last week while John was at work. Maybe the same one.  If it has become a “garbage bear” and habituated to finding urban leftovers, it may have a short life.  Decided to notify the authorities, and sent an email to the Juneau Police Department “Ask the Dispatcher” to find out who has the thankless task of removing bears and trying to get them back into the wild out the road.

Meanwhile, it’s Sunday morning and I have a hot cup of coffee in hand. Think I’ll go sit in the tub, look up through the trees, and listen to the birds.  Yesterday, aside from many robins, our back yard hosted a varied thrush, a grey-cheeked thrush, a bunch of juncos, and a pair of song sparrow.  Until now, I didn’t even know they were there.

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I’ve had several “Aha!” moments in my life – seconds when all of a sudden I see something in a totally different way.  My awareness shifts, and I feel it reflected in tingling and openness through my whole body. Afterwards, I’m not quite the same person I was before.

Today I write about three of these.  In chronological order.

  • Yesterday I heard a presentation by Eric Brown, founder of Impact Games. I consider myself pretty technically savvy and aware of the incredibly fast rate of new things, concepts, and methods erupting via the Internet.  But something had gotten past me (what else has?)  I had a stereotype in my head of “video games” based on Nintendo, the WII, and video parlors.  x$W%*zk@#/&?…. Throw that viewpoint out the window, Pat, video games are fast becoming a new media for news, social change and education, as well as mindless (entertaining?) violence.  A whole new way of informing ourselves.  After doing a bit of research, I am dumfounded by what’s happening, my mind is boggled.  Please, go and PlaytheNews or Darfur is Dying to get a feel for what’s out there.
  • I love lying in bed in the dark.  I lie on my side and kind of meditate.  I feel my heart beating.  If I’m relaxed and unstressed (how lucky I am to experience that fairly often) I see in my mind’s eye pictures of suffering around the globe.  About 3-4 four years ago, at one of those moments, all of a sudden I experienced a rush of warm energy emanating from my heart towards those pictures. x$W%*zk@#/&?…….   This is what love is I thought.  It’s being, noticing, awareness…  Not doing.
  • Back in 1979 I gave myself a new TRS80 computer for Christmas.  I installed the suite of software that came with it:  Scripsit (word processor), VisiCalc (spreadsheet) and Profile (database.)  I’d prepared by learning how to program a 128 step Texas Instrument calculator, and was keen to find out how a computer worked. Disc drives weren’t yet available, so I had a tape recorder ready to use for storage.  After the setup, I was completely hooked.  I installed the software, poured over the instructions, and began to try them out.  I started VisiCalc, made two columns of numbers, and then typed in the formula for column total at the bottom.  The math was correct.  Wow – it shows the total.  Then…..    I changed a number in one of the columns, hit the Enter key, and x$W%*zk@#/&?……  The total at the bottom magically changed.  This happened automatically! Things have never been the same since – and now we take that profound change for granted.

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