Friday, September 12, 2014

13 Years Later

The House of Belonging by David Whyte (excerpt)

I know this house,
and this horizon,
and this world I have made.
I know this silence
and the particular treasures
and terrors
of this belonging
but I cannot know the world
to which I am going.

I have only this breath
and this presence
for my wings
and they carry me
in my body
whatever I do
from one hushed moment
to another.

I know my innocence
and I know my unknowing
but for all my successes
I go through life
like a blind child
who cannot see,
arms outstretched
trying to put together
a world.

And the world
works on my behalf
catching me in its arms
when I go too far.

I don’t know what
I could have done
to have earned such faith.

But what of all the others
and the bitter lovers
and the ones who were not held?

Life turns like a slow river
and suddenly you are there
at the edge of the water
with all the rest
and the fire carries the
feast and the laughter
and in the darkness
away from the fire
the unspoken griefs
that still
make togetherness
but then

just as suddenly
it has become a fireless
night again
and you find yourself alone
and you must speak to the stars
or the rain-filled clouds
or anything at hand
to find your place.

When you are alone
you must do anything
to believe
and when you are
you must speak
with everything
you know
and everything you are
in order
to belong.

If I have no one to turn to
I must claim my aloneness.

If I cannot speak
I must reclaim the prison
of my body.
If I have only darkness
I must claim the night.

And then,
even in the closest dark
the world
can find me

and if I have honor
for the place in which it finds me
I will know
it is speaking to me
and where I must go...

And though all the things I love
may pass away and
the great family of things and people
I have made around me
will see me go,
I feel them living in me
like a great gathering
ready to reach a greater home.

When one thing dies all things
die together, and must live again
in a different way,
when one thing
is missing everything is missing,
and must be found again
in a new whole
and everything wants to be complete,
everything wants to go home
and the geese traveling south
are like the shadow of my breath
flying into the darkness
on great heart-beats
to an unknown land where I belong."

It's 13 years later and still feels like it all happened yesterday.  It's still that vivid, so I avoid the news and the tributes on this day.  It was a day that pulled the rug out from under me.  My sense of safety shattered with every window.  My sense of truth that was once so big and strong deformed into an indistinguishable twisted mass of debris.   My sense of trust consumed in the flames I saw them jump from.  My most solid parts of myself were reduced to a strange grey dust.

I still hear that sound of lives ending.
It haunts me.
I don't blame them for jumping.
I don't blame them for my nightmares.
I understand that they would have died either way.
I understand that.

The lucky fact that I'm still here to live - yes - and then the realization that I have come this far only to find myself with a 9/11 of a different sort to cope with.  SO different, and yet the suffer is so striking in it's sameness.  And just like 13 years ago, I didn't see it coming. 

Be grateful for whatever comes, I tell myself.
Be grateful for whatever comes.

Monday, September 12, 2011

10 Years Later

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. — Wendell Berry

I never really know how this tragic anniversary is going to affect me. I avoided all media as usual. I awoke at 3AM from a nightmare that was obviously related, and with it, a pain in my side that I could not decipher if it was real or dreamed.

In the dream I was looking out the window at stars, and a meteor shower, when everything changed. Suddenly there were 2 huge space ships and an overwhelming sense of terror. Then I found myself in my old neighborhood, Battery Park City. The sky was dark. Everything was gray. I was being stopped at a check point and there were people in white hazmat suits walking around. I couldn't figure out what was going on, but that sense of dread was all too familiar...then I woke up.

As I opened my eyes I realized that my brain turned the jets into spaceships to soften the blow. The darkness and the gray was that surreal dust cloud that enveloped us. The hazmats, the checkpoint were all images from the days and months that followed the massacre. I laid there in bed, in the darkness for quite sometime but the feeling of dread did not lift so I got up and tiptoed downstairs. I sat in my studio listening to the crickets for 2 hours, then wrote a letter to "Anxiety" before going back to bed.

Dear Anxiety,
I forget about you every year until this day. I can deal with the nightmares, but this misplaced dread has got to go. I'm going to the mountains today, DON'T FOLLOW ME!


In the morning we drove to the mountains because we all agree that we feel incredibly peaceful there. Satch calls it, "The Sacred Mountains". We sat on a rocky outcropping on a 3500 ft summit. As I sat there on that mountain filling my eyes with beauty indescribable, I was reminded once again of how lucky I am to be alive. There remains, to this day, a gasp that comes with the knowing...that I was lucky. This blessing wears a sharp edge of sadness for the others. And I wondered, if I live my life with intention, is that tantamount to honoring those that are no longer able to live theirs?

Later, we hiked to the bottom of a 70 ft waterfall. Somewhere along the way we crossed paths with a huge black bear who thankfully was uninterested in us and sauntered down to the creek for a drink. By the time we hiked back up to the parking area, I felt the grip of that horrific day 10 years ago loosen a bit. I felt I could breathe a bit deeper.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9 Years Later

Wash away my troubles, wash away my pain
With the rain in Shambala...
Everyone is helpful, everyone is kind
On the road to Shambala
Everyone is lucky, everyone is so kind
On the road to Shambala...
How does your light shine, in the halls of Shambala
I can tell my sister by the flowers in her eyes
On the road to Shambala
I can tell my brother by the flowers in his eyes
On the road to Shambala" - Three Dog Night

It hardly seems possible that nine years have passed since that horrific day. It still feels so vivid. I no longer have nightmares about my chilling experience. However, I still get that odd, uncomfortably feeling in my stomach whenever I see or hear an airplane. It feels a bit like a punch. No, it feels more the like sensation moments after a punch, like a muscle memory plus a dull ache.

I spent the day with my son. We went to our community yard sale in the early morning, then took our elder cat, Elvis, to the vet for hydration and to get his lab results. When we returned home, all of my son's friends came over and the house was alive with laughter and kid-clamor. I saw my neighbor outside washing her car and said, "I've got a gaggle of kids inside who would probably enjoy that". Then I grabbed a bucket o' suds, some rags and gave a shout to the merry band of five. They came squealing with delight and washed both my neighbor's car as well as my own and they had a wonderful, soggy time.

It was a comfort and a joy being surrounded by children who have NO idea what happened nine years ago. This day was full of light, laughter, friendship, fearlessness, and life - a welcomed remedy to the dark, ash cloud, terror and pain of the not so distant past.

Thank you to those who reached out to me today.

Be generous with your embrace,

Thursday, September 10, 2009

8 Years Later

Dancing Dragons - Satch 9/9/2009

There's been much talk of dragons over the last few days. Satch has been drawing them, and choreographing special "moves" to stop them. It's timely considering this is the time of year that I must face my own dragon. There have been no nightmares of late and I'm thankful. Yet it still feels so fresh in my being - all of it - that it's hard to imagine it all happened eight years ago.

I remain so very grateful to be alive. So grateful, in fact, that it's not uncommon to hear me say time and again how very full my life is. What some would deem ordinary, I find so beautiful that I often fight back tears. I photograph what I am able as if to say, "do you see you see it too?" A surge of emotion may envelope me when I'm singing a song with my son and find I must turn quickly to wipe an escaped tear. It may surround me when I'm reading him a bedtime story and find myself choked up at the end. The intensity of love and gratitude that I feel supersedes the minutia of my days...the tide of Legos, the power struggles, the tangled sock drawer of emotions to be sorted when one becomes a family.

It is this love, this bond and commitment to each another that, I believe, strengthens, heals, and gives me that I can bravely look the dragon in the eyes...then dance for the joy of being alive!

Friday, September 05, 2008

7 Years Later

The nightmares always seem to start appearing this time of year, though I am getting better at handling them. I recognize them for what they are without attaching too much emotion to them.
I'm beginning to feel edgy as I always do at this time. I'm thankful that I'll be away on that day...making art in a place of beauty with my family near and surrounded by kindred spirits.

Two of my political pieces, "Unwelcome Mat" and "Electoral Process", will be on exhibition at an upcoming show entitled, "Think Tank", an international show of work exploring contemporary political issues. It opens at the Clara M. Eagle Gallery at Murray State University in Murray Kentucky. Opening reception is Friday September 19th 6 - 9pm. The show ends in conjunction with the closing of the presidential election on November 4th.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

6 Years Later

Satch and I took a nice stroll in the rain to the post office. As I placed the parcels on the counter I froze when I heard a newscast reporting a terrorist attack and evacuations. The mail clerk must have seen all the color drain from my face because she immediately said, "They're re-playing the original broadcast....we're you there?" "Yes", I replied sadly, "I was there". I couldn't find the words for what I was feeling. It's not as if I've forgotten...every year at this time the nightmares start. I wake up hearing sounds so real that it takes a some time for me to realize it's not really happening.

I really didn't need that sort of was like a whack in the face!

It's six years later and I still shudder at the sound jets. I still have periodic nightmares and I still think about things like, "if I had to...could I get out of here?"

In a little while the evening ritual will begin. Satch will help put on his pajamas before going to the window with Dada to look for the moon. We will all kiss, hug and say goodnight. I'll curl up beside my son until he falls asleep.

Six years ago tonight I was covered in ash, powdered cement and fiberglass and sleeping on the floor of a school gymnasium in Bayonne, New Jersey.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Flight Fright

My son was asleep so I tiptoed downstairs and flipped on the tv which I normally don't watch for numerous aforementioned reasons. The history channel seemed like a safe bet. Wouldn't you know at that very moment they were airing a movie about the 9/11 hijackings. I froze with my hand on the remote. My palms got sweaty and I felt nauseous. It doesn't take much to bring back the sensations, the sights, smells the fear...the collective horror. In that split second of realization as to what was on that tv screen, it was as if I was experiencing their terror, not merely reliving my own. I immediately turned off the tv and read a book.
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