Everything, Everything

ceramic, high fired

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My existence in a wheelchair puts my perspective about 2 feet below yours in all likelihood.

My current penchant for going down to the Santa Fe Plaza very early in the morning has the effect of an archaeological dig at times.

This morning I saw deep brown skinned, old Mexican men lifting giant glass containers filled with fresh watermelon juice as they readied their street vendor food cart.

Pigtailed girls ran deliriously after taunting pigeons.

Native Americans sat stoically tolerating the tourist gum-chewing and innocent disrespect; their eyes slightly glazed and hungry at the same time.

I loved my soft awareness with its desire to attach itself to the surprisingly graceful choice the city gardeners made of planting corn in the large pots used to direct traffic.

Perception stayed cool and comfortably low..

Humored by high-heeled, polyester suit-clad women teetering blindly while worshiping their phones.

I could see their crowded thoughts buzzing like flustered bees above their hair.

The stately trees generously buffered the sun.

I was in love with it all; the clear air and green smell mixed with surreptitiously smoking folks trying to get small in their shame and pleasure.

The low down suits me.

All these different levels and layers of perception invisible to the others but carrying wiggling and lively realities unique to each.

How very much we miss by remaining in our familiar territories.

The lower I get the quieter I become.

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Change

Emma and me at The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

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Mike Tyson, the fighter said: “Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.”

I think one of the gifts I have to offer is my willingness to share with you all some of the welcome surprises and utter shit that can happen as we age or challenged by illness and are confronted with loss of our carefully crafted and beloved identities.

I can think about change all I want; make lists of intentions, affirmations, to-do’s and desires

But the important personal life “re-boots” never happen

Until we get excruciatingly bored, over-the-top sick of ourselves

Or we are forced to shift in some way.

Comfort and familiarity usually win out over consciousness

Because change is messy, inconvenient, humbling, embarrassing and fucking hard work.

The good fortune of getting flattened by disability like me

Is the option of choosing to entertain change was not even on the table.

I had to/have to…

And, inside moulding my new identities

I think about things you may not.

As an example- I think about Death more than most people because I feel my mortality deeply and want to grab juicy Life while I can..

Not like I want to check out but more to let Death inform my Life, ride on my shoulder; help me make choices that add up to the treasure that is me.

The thing is- living at depth (I call it) can challenge people.

The last post I wrote (topics like Death,suicide,too sensitive for the world..) brought a slew of PLEASE UNSUBSCRIBE ME‘s to my inbox.

I don’t want to be off-putting or lose readership so I deleted the offending post.

I now have the all-too-familiar sensation in my essence of shrinking my soul to fit…

Clearly not healing!

So- I am inside some of the messy parts of evolving my Self to Whole.

As Mike Tyson was saying in the quote above- not a one of us can ever know how we will react in the aftermath of the punch.

My writings here are part of my way.

I am working on not apologizing for taking up space in the ways I do.

The Loveliness of the Little Good

STORMY WEATHER, 44×44,m/m

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The title for this post came from the David Brooks article I just read referencing the new documentary on Mr. Rogers.

There were so many weird things about Fred Rogers to make fun of if you weren’t a kid:

His voice made me kind of want to attach a jet engine equipped with mega-doses of testosterone to his voice box to make him talk faster.

To me, he seemed too slow, too overtly gay, too simple and at first blush, too patronizing of children.

He was a fun object of ridicule from my generation

Because we didn’t need him so much.

We were not the ones to be confused as to why the adults would not let us swim in pools containing black people.

When Kennedy was shot we were reduced to stoney silence in the face of all the adults breaking around us; The salve of Mr. Rogers was for those smaller than us. We had nowhere to turn.

I saw the documentary and realized every single syllable, inflection, clothing choice, topic discussed

Were intentionally chosen

To foster his one mission:

TREAT CHILDREN AS THE HIGHLY INTELLIGENT AND FEELING BEINGS THEY ARE.

He spoke slowly and put his face close to the child.

No question was stupid.

“Mr. Rogers..can I be sucked down the bathtub drain with the water?”

He replied softly and evenly: “No, Bobby..just the water goes down the drain.”

Phew.

He gave up his desire to enter the ministry in lieu of understanding he could be of service to his chosen congregation of tiny people in other ways.

He was not gay as his measured and intentionally soft voice suggested but married to a lovely woman who supported his unwavering attention to how best to use TV as his educational tool of choice.

Disability, racism, divorce, death, step-parenting, illness, loneliness, single parenting, riots, bullying, shyness…..each of these topics Fred Rogers approached with the assumption kids were very ok with the truth if presented kindly and without the slime of patronization.

In an interview I read, the black policeman character Mr. Clemmons said that once Fred Rogers had leaned in quite close and looked him in the eye saying: “I like you as you are. I wouldn’t want to change you.”

Instead of feeling the vulnerable expression maudlin Mr. Clemmons said he felt truly seen and loved.

He never forgot it.

When I roll around my neighborhood in my wheelchair and, with intention, extend a small “Good Morning” to most I pass

I get to see the seeming shock a verbal invitation to join in solidarity, if only for a moment, from a stranger can elicit.

It is my version of “I like you as you are”

And each time I see relief

At this tiny recognition

Of our shared

Shuffle

Down a sometimes very gritty road indeed.