Wednesday, May 14, 2014
So I am still waiting for Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson to see that I hope to chat about life, the universe, and everything but he is a busy guy.
In the meantime, there are so many things to do. My world is a web woven daily of multiple part-time efforts. Last year, I started to resign from volunteer positions in favor of furthering opportunities for billable work. At this point in my life, anything I am asked to lend my skills and talents to is of value so saying no is a challenge. But I also need time for things like marketing myself, fulfilling the obligations and duties I am involved in well, walking the dog, reading, knitting, a meal here and there, friends and family, and my own creative output. Notice sleep is not on the list.
All of the things I do now are linked to the primary identity of poet that I uphold and that is a blessing. And many of the organizations, projects, programs, initiatives, are connected in some way, or could be when I view through my lens.
I have a particular skill in connecting people to their mutual advantage and I am fully steeped in the premise of collaboration. We are all connected in ways that have value and purpose. Even the fact that I am participating in the 10-Day Journey of the Heart was born of my connective tissue and is strengthening my reach to new people at an astounding pace.
I feel connected to the entourage of seekers that is on the journey to Turkey, in the same way when any of my friends go on spiritual retreat, I feel I receive some of the vibration to benefit me as well. I link to their force and my own is bolstered through empathy and the mystery of the universe. We are all capable of this level of compassion, empathy, and vibration. We just need to be aware. It is another aspect of accepting that Grace that is everywhere; in the recognition of it we are soothed and supported.
So a small team of curious humans climbed into a tin can and were propelled through the atmosphere halfway around the world and I can almost smell the food they are eating when I look at the photos. And by sharing my responses to their reports, I am connected to people I have never met face-to-face but who are watching over me from India, Ireland, Malaysia, Turkey, the UK, throughout the US, and from across town.
Simply through a small class at the Downtown Writers Center, I am now connected to a group of new residents to Syracuse, recently here from Cuba. I share my connections with the community at large and they are now not so isolated and I am resuming use of the Spanish I buried through no practical application for 40 years. And I have a new circle of friends in the massive Venn Diagram that is my life, as well as all of our lives. All this before I even begin to consider the interconnectedness of the universe and its elements. I read Dr. Tyson and Commander Chris Hadfield to try to integrate the huge ramifications.
A friend in Australia can take an on-line class with me we are poets together, in spite of 14 hours' difference in the human contraption of time and miles of geography between us. I can connect with a dear college friend and resume the relationship after many years of living rather separately. I compose poems with a crew of poets from every crevice of the US on Facebook. And I had conversations just this week with dear ones in Orlando, FL, Oakland and Chico, CA, maintaining the love between us through the wires. I had better renew my passport. I think opportunities will abound.
Thank you, Alexander Graham Bell, Mark Zuckerberg (happy 30th birthday), Jill Ouikahilo, and all of you who have chosen to read these words. I know you are there. I check my stat counter regularly. And you are a rainbow, a beautiful arc over this world of ours.
As I introduced myself to a self-contained class of special needs children awhile ago, one child looked at me with a big smile and asked, "Can I call you Muffin?" I could not figure out why she would want to call me "Muffin," but I responded, "Well, my name is Ms. Popoff so I prefer you call me that."
But I wondered...it seemed an odd connection. She was absent for the next couple of days of my residency. When she returned later in the week, I asked her why she posed the request but that had been days ago and she did not remember and was not overly interested in the question any longer. So I just let it go as one of those funny moments that kids gift us with in and out of school.
Later, I told the story to a friend, who responded with a big smile, "Poppin' Fresh!"
One more mystery of the universe is resolved...
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
I consider myself predominantly open-minded and willing to try new things, as well as accept experiences for whatever I encounter, sensing that I will understand it all eventually. Often it is the case.
But sometimes fear stops me like a cork. Sometimes insecurity challenges my confidence and I withdraw or doubt my own capacity or true essence. I become a sealed vessel rather than an wide-lipped bowl.
Years ago, I read A Parenthesis in Eternity, by Joel Goldsmith, who established "The Infinite Way" in 1951. There was one simple statement he made about Grace that has not left me since the day my eyes absorbed the letters on the page. The premise revealed to me that we need not search for Grace like a lost wallet, we need not earn grace like a prize for being best student. Grace is the natural state of being and we are the vessels for it, if we simply open ourselves to receive. It is for this reason that, since then, my prayer is for the highest good for all involved and to be ever open to recognize the Grace that surrounds me always. This practice takes many reminders in my humanness.
I am typing this essay and, to my left, as a reminder of just how big this universe is, I am streaming the view from the International Space Station. I have started doing my best to watch it pass when the orbit allows it to fly over my house. I always wave. It is magical.
I am also reading Commander Chris Hadfield's book, An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth. I have been singing "Space Oddity" and wondering if I could ever face the fear go into space. I am pretty certain I am quite comfortable right here in my livingroom command chair.
I was thinking of the tin can of a transatlantic jet that carried the Hendricks Chapel entourage to Turkey and delivered them safely. All ten are there to embrace the history of human spirit in expression of the divine in so many different languages and traditions. They are open to newness, tol confirmation, and to truth. They will share their discoveries with anyone who cares to follow their steps on line.
I will gain by their actions. I already have. All of this and more is how Grace displays its presence. We just have to be wide-eyed, ears attuned, fingers exploring always. Today is what we have and what we are. Knowing this, we reach for our highest good.
Monday, May 12, 2014
In one of my many self-examining discussions with my dear friend, Jill Ouikahilo (@jill44hearts), she asked why enlightenment was not instantaneous? I was rather flip when I responded that we would not get the lessons that way. But I watch Jill with amazement as she manifests her highest good, and some astounding opportunities, while I sit fretting too often about everything. I think I may be a tad bit wrong, but I may also be a tad bit right, in my assumption that we incarnated for the lessons, for the karmic experience.
So Jill is off to Turkey today with a team from Syracuse University's Hendricks Chapel, for a cultural/spiritual exchange that is called "10-Day Journey of the Heart." As she was describing her role and the trip as we spent the evening together this weekend (and I was already missing my friend...like she was never coming back! DUH!), I shared with her one of my new poems. She responded in the manner I hoped the poem would elicit from a reader. Then, as we talked further, the poem not only suited the content of her messaging about the trip, but she invited me to be the digital poet-in-residence.
The trip is intended to present the lenses that we, as armchair travelers, could apply to our own daily navigation of the world and reflect upon as a contemplative practice. This is exactly the intention of the course I teach every spring in the Renee Crown Honors Program at Syracuse University, "Viewing the World through Changing Lenses." So now the assignment is mine, just as my students must meet my expectations in class. I will reflect and respond in language and verse, while gleaning the experience and resultant lessons that the travelers, as emissaries, send back to us.
I encourage you all to join me in following the tour and making it a part of your worldview as well. We learn about the world through the voices and eyes of others. We can all grow together and now I am, in my heart, at the threshold of a new beginning, as my friend Jill, heads to the airport.