Today is the birthday of comedienne Ruth Buzzi (b. 1936). I've always felt a special connection to her because she was born in the same hospital as me (Westerly Hospital, Rhode Island) and my parents used to boast of having drunk with her father, a sculptor and monument-maker, in local bars. She was raised in Wequetecock, Connecticut and she's never hidden her strong Southern New England accent, which to me, always sounds like home.
Yvonne Brannan of Public Schools First NC sent the following comment:
"It is a tragic day in NC for our public schools, their teachers and students. The cuts to education reflect a very aggressive attack on public education. Eliminating $110 million for teacher assistants, eliminating teacher tenure, eliminating class size limits for K-3, no raise again this year, all of these unnecessary cuts wipe out three decades of steady progress.
Arm and shoulder
Of the left side,
Let me introduce myself,
O, side of the imaginative
I ready myself.
Bend the elbow
close, to hug my body.
My hand makes a fist.
I may fight, or
I may lift my arm to the sky.
to reach out to fly
along the contour of the horizon
where heaven meets earth,
My heart arm may reach up to heaven
or prepare to defend,
but to reach wide into the plane
of the plains…
this contracts into spasm, cries out.
Arms of the heart/voice
must meet the land of S/elf/ves.
without defense *or* assistance.
The fire of injury screams out,
“how could you be so insensitive,
uncaring?! Aren’t you listening?!”
Turning inward to explore
desire for a full bodied
voice of gesturing sound,
I discover invitations.
To partner with the dance of
the elbow, where she leads me -
deltoid shrieks and then
for an other kind of awareness,
for an other kind of strength.
courage of the heart
opening into the expanse of
feeling da Vinci’s Renaissance
Vitruvian, architectural/fluid expanse of
She stands within me.
I forgot her.
She stands within me.
I welcome her back.
She’s re-membering me
Mirrors for one another
smile into this aching center
that flips into an
impulse desire for
slow dance of spine expanse,
de de de
de light ed
resonance, of wails
meeting spaciousness turning
into floating fields
of vibrancy of
Laura Hitt - February 5, 2013
The Inaugural Poem.
Read by the poet, January 21, 2013
One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.
My face, your face, millions of faces in morning’s mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper—
bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives—
to teach geometry, or ring-up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.
All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches
as mothers watch children slide into the day.
One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father’s cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.
The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind—our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day’s gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.
Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,
or whispers across café tables, Hear: the doors we open
for each other all day, saying: hello, shalom,
buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me—in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.
One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.
One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn’t give what you wanted.
We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always—home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country—all of us—
facing the stars
hope—a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it—together.
And with that, the first immigrant, first Latino, the first openly gay person and the youngest ever chosen became the U.S. inaugural poet.
There’s a *lot* of inspiration available to each of us every day. How often do we slow down enough to notice? How often do we pause and allow it to settle within us? Nearly everyday after I park my car @ school, I walk past a little sanctuary of a pond, a dock, a small stand of maples, (@ least I think they’re maples), and a slope of a hill and a few rocks. Whether I meditate in the morning, read inspirational text, or rush out the door to buy a Starbuck’s as I run late, or whether I growl at the driver who doesn’t allow me to merge, whatever the morning starts off like at home and on my way to work, before I enter the door to the WVU College of Creative Arts’ doors, my path includes this greeting to the work day. As I’ve begun to do more walking meditation, this has become a kind of momentary refuge-like pause…where I am able to receive and check in with the color of the sky, the geese, or a student passing by. The only real required doing is the act of walking. Is so simple. And often the second I open that door, the mindful walk is lost to me. But I’ve come to relish these slowly cooked 5 minutes of each work day. Where do you find, as Tara Brach says, your “sacred pause”, a possible Present moment? Let me know. I’d love to hear of yours.
“I believe in intuition and inspiration. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.” Albert Einstein, On Cosmic Religion and Other Opinions and Aphorisms
Food for thought:
Is this not the meeting place…for each breathing person on the planet? Cultivation of the imagination and hence, creativity, is fundamental, for *all* of us. No more saying: “There’s the creative types, and then the scientific types.” We are all witnessing, and participating in, creative evolution. The next step, all of us becoming conscious and respectful of our respective disciplines and shared realities; all the while cultivating collaborative visions for being present for the planet, for our children, for one another, for the air we breathe, for the water we drink, for the fire of our imaginations, for all creatures great and small. Thoughts?
Over 10 years ago, in Providence, Rhode Island, each month I would gather with a group of women to write. Four of us were therapists, there were mothers with small children, one was a mother w/ a grown child, three of us were single and without children, I was working as a full-time editor at the time and teaching voice and performing at night. Writing together became a kind of oasis in our lives. We adored Natalie Goldberg’s works. What a gift to all, no matter whether or not you aspire to or call yourself an artist. The exercises in Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind are invaluable. I miss that group of women and the free well of creativity we shared together.
Ironically, I think of them upon hearing about the men’s magazine, Esquire Magazine holding a contest for short short fiction submissions. I will submit a piece of writing, and as I do, I will imagine that powerful circle of peers guiding my way. As I do this, I’ll get comfy in my favorite chair in my contemplative space, connect w/ my breath for 45 minutes or so and then take pen to paper. Who knows what will appear on the page. Is simply a way to begin. To be simple. I’m looking forward to it. The deadline is October 7th. Here is the website: http://www.esquire.com/fiction/short-short-fiction-contest-2011
I miss the wonder of those women and the freedom we all experienced. Sitting together, writing and discovering all that lies within. This short story will be a return for me to the deep writing well we discovered and mined together. I’ll let this be an opportunity to rediscover this oasis where breath, friends and story may meet.
I hope someone of you are also able to send submit something. Is only 78 words – ah the temptation of it:). Imagine a group of friends writing with you, even if you’ve not seen them for a while. Connect to stillness, a pause in the midst of the flurry of your days, drop in w/ your breath for a time, and then allow a surprise to float to the surface of your paper. Let me know how it goes…the autumn is such a good time to reconnect to our creative voices, without any particular agenda, but rather to heal, and possibly breathe into and build new visions. Blessings on the way.
I taught my 2nd day of full-time classes that day. I had no idea that anything had happened because I was commuting to school. I fell in the middle of Tremont Street, in Boston, just minutes after the 1st tower fell. Some man reached down and helped me stand up. I didn’t realize that I had fallen at the same time as the 1st tower, until the 1st yr anniversary when we all stopped in stillness in the same Tremont train station…steps away from where I fell a year before. That day, I bustled to my new teaching job. I began introductory breath awareness work w/ students. Thirty minutes in and a young man barged in to announce: “There is a bomb. School is closing.” I was confused. A bomb? I calmed the class and encouraged them to remain connected to breath awareness even in this moment of panic. We all began to walk down the stairs. I still was confused. The young man who had blurted out the panicked statement saw my face and realized that I had no idea what he was talking about; that I’d actually misunderstood him. There was no bomb in the building. However, school indeed was cancelled. Standing in a large enclosed staircase I looked down at him. He blurted out “Oh I’m so sorry, you don’t know what’s going on. The Twin Towers – they’ve pancaked. Two planes crashed into them and they’ve collapsed.” I stood a flight above and felt my legs collapse again. Unlike earlier in the morning, they held my weight, for I froze in my steps. The view of this upbeat, handsome music theatre major and the sound of his voice became distorted. It sounds cliche now…but truly…to remember every moment of that day, from the fall in the street to the time that I returned home, was a kind of suspended state of shock. After I heard the words spoken by the unwitting student, in that moment, I truly feared that this was the beginning of World War III…and in a way, I suppose I was right. For me, since the age of about seven, New York City had been the epicenter of my imagination and ambitions. I wanted to live there, create there, be part of the world there. To imagine that the WTC could be demolished was beyond any possible comprehension beyond an episode of some Twilight Zone episode.
I found my way down the stairs, and began to wander aimlessly. A colleague warned me not to go to the student union, not to look at any TV or listen to a radio, until I was safely back in Rhode Island. “Get home safely first, Laura. Then you can see it.” They were the wisest words. And so as I travelled the 50 miles home, it was as if I was suspended in time. It was the quietest commute I’ve ever experienced. No one spoke on the train but whispers. No planes flew overhead once I got in my car. There were no cars on 95. Yes, on 95!!! It’s as if the world had suddenly become frozen. And this still seems accurate in a way. The world has been in a kind of lock down, of a sort…war began that day, and has not stopped since.
On that drive, there was an eerie silence on such a beautiful cloud free day. I arrived home. My Mother had recently moved from Arizona to live with me. I unlocked the door. She greeted me w/ surprise “You’re home so early.” There was freedom and delight in her voice. I met that light, first w/ silence and then began to cry. Gently responding: “Oh Laura it’s going to be okay, whatever it is.” I stretched out my arms to hug her and sobbed “Nooooo, it is not okay…I’m sorry…” My grief cascaded and began to frighten her. She clutched me. My frozen state met up w/ her fear, “What is it, Laura. What’s happened.” All I could say in response was: “Nothing will ever be the same.” She began to cry hearing my dark insistence. “The Twin Towers have fallen. They’ve been hit by 2 planes. That’s all I know.” We walked to the couch, sat close to one another holding hands, wept, said a prayer, and then turned on the tv. We barely turned it off for 2 days straight. We sat there and wept. I had to go back to school and teach the following day. I didn’t know how this was even possible. I had lived in New York City, friends lived there still. My brother was to have flown there the day prior. The world had changed and yet I had to return to the place where 1 of the planes had originated.
Indeed, none of our lives has ever been the same. I’m still teaching voice and breath awareness, but no longer at the same school. My Mother is still living with me. But our lives, all lives, have shifted in countless ways…and there’s no looking back. For me, being present, really taking the time to listen and see, finding kindness in the heart of others, for myself…these are the only things that have come to matter. Many of us in the U.S. have been so sheltered and naive. Others have lived with terror, of course. But we *do* know this more deeply here now, than ever before. I keep the families that were left behind, in my prayers. I take one step at a time. I treasure my vocation as a voice/speech teacher, my family relationships, my friendships, all with an ever deepening appreciation. Gratitude is the legacy…and looking for peace…w/in myself, my relations, in the world. I try to be more patient w/ others and myself. I’m not always successful. But this is part of the growing awareness. I meditate more frequently…I love the faces of the people in my life. I am ever glad to be alive. When I’m not, I dig deep to find out why.
May we all embrace our gifts *and* our brokenness. May we find a way to build stronger, healthier, more creative and kinder communities: one hand, one breath, one step at a time. We’re only beginning. Beginner’s mind is the joy…finding the wisdom in falling and getting back on my feet. Life is simpler now, in a world that perceives ever greater complexity. Paradoxes abound.
Blessings to all.
Okay, I’m obsessed with photos of this full moon in Virgo…after all, I’m a Virgo!:)