Friday, September 26, 2008
I didn't like King Richard's Faire, but I didn't tell the king when he asked, "Did you have fun?" I said, "Yes. Thank you for the ticket." What would you say to a king on the next yoga mat?
I'm not one who likes dressing up in 16th century garb and talking in a fake English accent, or being called milady by fake lords or whatever they were, and everybody there seemed to like that sort of thing. That's fine. I'm sure they'd find my propensity to wander in the woods with a camera odd, too. To each his own.
Just inside the gates to the fair were three ATMs and the lines were long. Once inside everything was for sale . . . even the "free" shows.
I watched a puppeteer behind a mask fleece his audience. He made his puppet say, "Put your hands in your pockets. Grab some bills. Pull them out. Wave them in the air. I want to see a sea of green." Then the puppet dispersed ushers to collect the money.
Okay, I don't like puppets. I'm no judge of a show involving a skeleton puppet with a fake English accent making lame jokes.
I could see how families would like the atmosphere. The day was beautiful, there were darts to throw, arrows to shoot, rope ladders to climb-- all for a price-- but that's a fair. The food-- turkey legs and chowder-- was expensive, but that's a fair. There was nothing to do that did not cost money-- except to watch the jousting match-- but that's a fair. I would have liked a beer; people wandered all over with them, but I could have bought two six packs for the price of one drink, and yes, that's a fair, but that's not me.
There was a woman, in costume and high above the crowd on stilts who was dressed as a baby. Her purpose was to get suckers to put dollar bills in her pouch. . . . under the guise of entertainment.
She talked baby talk; she had wax over her teeth so it looked like she had baby gums. When a man asked if she drooled, she produced a dribble of spit and let it run down her chin. "I'll do anything for you, daddy," she said, and then kept at him until he put money in her pouch. I stood back and watched the crowd. The adults laughed and gave her money. Money! For being a baby puppet on stilts! Who drooled for money! But the expressions on the children's faces said it all. You can't fool children. She was weird and creepy.
And she became the flavor of the fair for me, somehow-- a way to make money, no particular talent needed, and kind of weird.
That's a fair. Not my thing.
Keep the circus going inside you, keep it going, don't take anything too seriously, it'll all work out in the end.~David Niven
Saturday, September 20, 2008
King Richard is in my yoga class. I noticed him because while the rest of the class twisted to the left, I twisted to the right-- I am directionally challenged-- and stared straight at the portly, equally twisted, grey-bearded man less than three feet from me.
He plays King Richard at the annual King Richard's Faire in a neighboring town, but I didn't know that until the class was over and he offered us complimentary tickets-- I took two, a fifty-dollar value.
He was a bit of a noisy breather, this only man in the class of woman. The instructor remarked that we were "quiet breathers" and this spurred him to breathe more avidly. She commented that he was using the "ocean breath." It sounded like the one my husband uses when he falls asleep in front of the TV.
I've done yoga off and on for years. I don't much like the breathing noises. When the instructor says, "exhale," I think about all the other breaths-- colds, viruses, whatever-- entering the roomful of air I share. The directive to breathe through the soles of my feet leaves me baffled. The command to pull my naval to my spine-- I wish!-- makes me feel . . . plump. I have left/right problems, and I breath in when I should breath out.
But I go to yoga classes for the stretching, the delicious feeling when my spine loosens, the feeling of limberness, the tightening of my muscles as I hold a pose, the deep relaxation at the end of the class . . . this I relish.
At the end of this session, we rested on our mats. The instructor covered each of us with a blanket, mellow music flowed, candle light flickered, and I felt myself relax.
Then the hot flash began. I decided not to fling off the blanket (or my clothes) as I'd have done at home in bed. Instead, I practiced serenity . . . inhale cool, exhale heat. Forget that you're burning up, I told myself. Relax. And then King Richard began to snore. Not the gutteral ocean breath, but something akin to muck being sucked down a drain. And with it went my peace.
Tomorrow I'll use the $50 complimentary tickets at the King Richard's Faire.
Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape. ~Author Unknown
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
My retirement began "officially" slightly more than a dozen days ago. So I still think on "school time." I wake about the time first period begins. I know the teachers are hustling their classes to the cafeteria at 12:05 for a noisy lunch, then recess. I think of them again at 2:15 when the kids board the buses to go home.
Don't get me wrong. I'm glad I'm not there, although I am still there in my head . . . a little. I visited the school website yesterday and looked at the daily bulletins. Same old, same old: meetings, fundraisers, and the lunch menu. I clicked around the site a little more. Nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to work there.
Last night I had a dream. I was in school watching all the hustle and bustle as teachers prepared their classrooms and gathered supplies. I chatted with them as they scurried around. I was glad to see everyone, but aware that my roll had changed. They were involved and I wasn't. They had work to do. I didn't.
One teacher was high up on a ladder picking books from a shelf. I climbed up to talk. I can never make it past the third rung in real life, but I climbed to the rafters. So this is where they keep the books now, I thought. Then I looked down and froze. I was dream high, impossibly high, and scared stiff.
I needed to get down, and fast. So I closed my eyes and stepped off into thin air . . . and floated, soft as a feather to the floor.
So . . . I guess I've stepped into retirement and landed on my feet. I wonder when it will feel real, and not just a dream.
Nothing happens unless first we dream.~Carl Sandburg
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Pain, sorrow, disappointment, worry: these can be squashed into a tiny dense lump and hidden beneath the heart, covered with light, airy emotions: anticipation, excitement, hope, pleasure. You can smile, laugh even, with a core of pain secreted away.
Sometimes things around you contrive to awaken the buried feelings . . . an article someone writes, a book you read, a conversation, a phone call, and when they all happen at the same time, there is no choice but to reexamine the pain you've hidden. Time to get it out into the light and look at it long and hard. To feel it, experience it again. To rise above it.
When my kids were little and fell and skinned a knee, I'd hold them tight on my lap and rock them and say, "It's only pain. It hurts I know, but this is as bad as it gets." I'd blow on the cut and say, "See it hurts a little less, now. You can stand it. You'll be fine."
And they were.
They didn't need me to blow on their cuts after a while. They knew they were stronger than the hurt.
"I'm fine, Mom," they'd say.
And they were.
I did the same for their emotional pain as they grew older. Hurt feelings are worse than skinned knees. "It hurts, but you'll live. This part is the worst. It gets better. It doesn't last forever. You'll see."
And they did.
I believe in facing down hurt. Looking it squarely in the face and letting it wash over me. Feeling it. It isn't bigger than I am. I am stronger.
It has been said that when tears flow they take with them some of the chemicals that arise in sorrow. Experiments have been done. Tiny vials held beneath lachrymal glands collect the drops. Scientists in a laboratory examine emotions under a microscope. I don't know what they've discovered. I don't know if crying helps.
I think shedding tears is like a rainstorm that washes the dust and pollutants from the air so that when the sun comes out again-- and it will-- things look brighter.
I tell myself this as I hang up the phone. My oldest. I said no. Again. Tough love is an exquisite pain. But I can handle it. I've seen how bad it can get, and I'm stronger.
And for each of you with your own private pain, I can't blow on it and make it better, but I can be with you as you rise above it. That's all we can do for each other.
The great art of life is sensation, to feel that we exist, even in pain.