I begin my 78th year on August 27. A commercial photographer in Cleveland, Ohio, took the picture above when I was sixteen years old. The white fox fur was a present from my godmother. The costume was designed and hand-made by a gifted local seamstress, Mary Lennox. The hand-beaded treasure was eventually worn by me at the Copacabana nightclub in New York City while dancing as an opening act for its star-studded headliners. Elegant nightclubs no longer exist, nor the famous clientele with men donned in black-tie and women wrapped in luxurious furs draping dazzling gowns. Yet I was a part of this slice of history. I lived it and tasted it.
I authored a book, A Time to Mourn & A Time to Dance, about events in my life, in different times and places. I still struggle to recall the whole of each story. Details of places visited, travels, stage performances around the country, and sound bites of conversations flash briefly before me just within my grasp. My mind reaches for the ephemeral thread of memory, believing I captured it in its entirety. But I only find it withdrawing into the corners of my heart and mind.
Yes, the past is gone. The future is not here. What we have is this moment in which we are alive. What do we do with these moments? We live the best life possible, not only for ourselves but for others.
At seventy-eight, I see life as an ever-evolving Dance. Oceans of tears, both sorrow and joy, nature’s cycle of birth, death, and renewal in our lives, in the world, are all part of the Cosmic Dance. I regret nothing, even when wounds re-open. They dissipate quickly as memories of laughter comfort me. Love and more love in all forms sustain my heart. Journeys taken and paths chosen infuse me with creative ideas. And, the family and friends who are still in my life, and those who are gone, soothe my soul. Oh, yes, I choose to continue this Cosmic Dance!
In this Dance, there is change, sometimes subtle and frequently pivotal to our lives and how we live. A seismic shift in my life unfolded a few short weeks ago.
From a letter to friends on July 22, 2021:
My little Honda Fit leaves our apartment parking lot sometime after 4 o’clock today. I nicknamed her My Little Blue Buggy for no particular reason except that of endearment. The decision to relinquish my wheels was huge. I have many driving years ahead, but the financial upkeep of the Buggy depleted modest savings. I saw the reality and accepted it with grace.
I thought I’d wake depressed this morning with yet another ‘thing’ I needed to release from life. It was the opposite. I sat and wrote. I wrote paragraphs for the birdsong keeping me company with freshly brewed Assam tea at my side. I wrote poems and haiku that will never see the light of day but were intended just for me. I showed up and did my actual work. I walked to the River and meditated on what freedom means. Like Siddhartha looking into his River to listen and learn, I too heard from our River that freedom comes from within and has nothing to do with things: stuff, baubles, and gadgets.
I am thrilled to be back in the discipline of writing. And I am eager to journey forward into another realm of oil painting I’ve left too long in a remote corner of my mind. I realized that ideas get tired of waiting around for us to do something, so they go. Precious freedom is that I no longer need to tie my creative efforts to outcomes. I am content to create for the joy of it, whether good, bad, or mere pablum.
I don’t feel bereft without a car though I know there will be challenging times. However, there will be days, like today, filled with glory. While I moved through Qigong exercises on our River’s docks, I felt the Kingdom of God and the Pure Land of the Buddha in every cell of my body, heart, and mind as fish jumped through a surface of calm water, which shone like rippled glass.
The Dance has circled and leaped to various rhythms and melodies for close to seven decades. Now, a different Dance begins at seventy-eight: One that accepts and adapts to my body’s limitations while celebrating, with profound gratitude, the blessings, and abundance in my life.
Several images follow. Please, enjoy them!
I’ve been celebrating turning seventy-eight all month. I have nothing important or profound to add. I love nature, hot and cold, green or brown, every leaf, tree, and tree bark, birds, cats, dogs, wildlife, washing my dishes, cleaning my little home et al. with contentment and happiness I’ve not known. May I love onto all living beings. May I respect our Mother Earth. May I not judge but honor others’ differences.
Thank you! Stay well. Stay safe.
With love ~