The Other Side of the Wall

Saturday, I read an exchange between Jack Kornfield and Pema Chödrön about ”shortening the fuse,” loading up language for an assured explosion.

My mind went to social media warriors lining up on respective sides of the middle–no one’s land–where no one goes because it means giving up ground. There seems none to give.

And then I found a remarkably insightful article regarding secret Facebook groups. Think about it. Secret groups for free speech in a republic whose constitution protects freedom of speech for ALL.

I am a member of more than one secret group and am not averse to joining others. It is the tenor of these interesting times in which we live, unfortunately. We are closer to being underground than I ever thought possible.

It is a war. I see that now. I am on one side of a wall but it is in no one’s land where I found myself Saturday. I cannot lay claim to taking the first step.

It was my wise neighbor, Grace. Literally, there is an apartment wall that separates our lives but it joins us as well. Where we live is our bond.

Together, we weather the changes in the management of our apartment complex. We have no input but we do have a suggestion box. Such is the tenor of the times.

Grace is not a member of  #TheResistance and is always relieved when I do not cause a “revolt” in a meeting with apartment management. Often, she will put her hand on my arm.

I do not wear my pink pussy hat or my Nasty Women Project shirt when she and I go out, especially not to a meeting with management.

Maybe I’ve been walking this wall for a while. It’s not as noticeable as I thought it would be.

Grace is important to me, for where we live, friendship is not for the faint of heart. Ours is a 55+ apartment complex–low income–for many of us, this is our last home. It’s a shorter friendship for life here.

When Grace and I discussed Puerto Rico, both of our hearts closed. We could not bridge the divide. It surprised us, and it hurt. We discovered the wall.

I cannot say when or if I would have called her, again. These are dark days for everyone; loss looms on both sides. After all, we are losing the middle. The world feels fragile because balance is.

It is Grace who goes to the wall with the announcement: ”Judgment Day has arrived.” I am stunned because I feel that, too.

However, Judgment Day appears to have more than one cause–our apartment complex gates are now operational.

Neither one of us can understand the need for gates. They are anything but a security feature and present mobility issues for both of us. We are not an exclusive community.

Yet, what seeks to exclude brings Grace and I to the wall, the fuse no shorter.

KMHuberImage; Gulf of Mexico, FL; St. Mark's Wildlife Refuge

Grace in a Line of Risk

Grace is the bud of a rose in late summer risking the security of self to burst forth as a blossom that cannot close again.

Bud Before the Risk 0814

…and the day came

 when the risk to remain tight,

in a bud,

became more painful

than the risk it took to blossom.

(Elizabeth Appell)

This line has been appearing for around 35 years on journal covers, inside greeting cards, on opening pages of published books and, of course, on the Internet.

The only attribution I had seen was to Anaïs Nin who did not, it seems, write these words. There is a tangential reference to a bud in one of her novels but these words do not seem to appear in any of Nin’s work.

As much maligned as Internet resources are, this misattribution precedes the pervasive use of the worldwide web. I had to reach way back into my memory but I remembered first seeing the quote in the mid 1980s. This time, my memory was accurate.

It seems Elizabeth Appell wrote these words in 1979 when she was known as Lassie Benton, Public Relations Director at John F. Kennedy University (Orinda, CA) and editor of its adult education brochure.

Appell maintains she was “on deadline” when she scribbled those twenty plus words for the opening page of the brochure, perhaps determining their destiny to appear on other opening pages.

As editor, Appell would have not provided any personal attribution. In the ensuing years, the single line would Bud Opening 0814also be offered as a poem with the title “Risk.” Yet, life and truth have a way of revealing their sources, ultimately.

In 2009, the Anaïs Nin Blog received an inquiry about the risk line’s source but it was not until 2013 that Appell decided to offer her story as well as provide a copy of the brochure page that first featured the line.

Appell revealed that she has known of the confusion as far back as the 1980s having read her words in a greeting card. She wrote to the card’s publisher who never responded.

There does seem to be one instance of the poem attributed to Appell as Lassie Benton as well as some anonymous attributions but mostly, the poem is attributed to Anaïs Nin.

It was only when two of Appell’s friends brought her their published books with the quotation attributed to Nin that Appell decided to correct years of misattribution.

And she did so with the grace of the line she wrote. Honored that her hastily scribbled words to meet a deadline have meant much to many, Appell may have taken another risk in her response to a comment on the Anaïs Nin Blog:

I have been writing for a long time. Every now and then I hit a chord, but never like the chord I hit with the “Risk” line. To be in the literary circle of Anaïs Nin is a thrill. I’m proud and grateful.

(Elizabeth Appell)

To me, this story of grace in a line of risk demonstrates the lifetime that unfolds in each moment we experience. Rarely can we know the impact of the series of snapshots that are the moments of our lives. Yet, some snapshots will return revealing their source.

May we have the grace of Elizabeth Appell in the face of risk and blossom.

The Blossom 0814

In the Moment

Reading up on Ramps

Cooper and I are ramping up—and down–our daily outings.

As always, he is unruffled when being requires an expansion of our routine.  If I am honest, my “Beagle Boy” is an exemplar of being, a trait that has run strong in the beagles I have known and one to which I aspire.

Cooper is progressing through another aging phase as his vertebral disks join his joints in degenerating—it is a condition we share–heightened by the dripping, Florida humidity that hails spring’s slide into summer, silent but steady. It is a fully body experience for both of us.

A week ago, Cooper’s front legs gave way as he stumbled, searching for a way to stay standing. His back legs held while both front legs were indecisive when it came to a simultaneous up or down.

We had not met this moment before.

Cooper kept calm—clearly, an anthropomorphic observation on my part–for an animal’s survival instinct is to cloak injury or weakness. I like to think I played my part in the deception as I kept talking in a tone he knows.

The moment seemed to require it.

Most of Cooper’s vocal responses are like a lilt, whether as a question, agreement, or his observations irrespective of mine. Infrequently, he sighs a low, gravelly moan that seems to signify resignation as well as contentment.

In this moment on the ground, however, he offered no comment.

Rather, he focused on breathing that was not panting, and I found myself breathing with him. We were in no hurry as we were within the confines of our apartment complex, and we had a sunset if we needed it, which we didn’t. Eventually, Cooper’s legs found themselves and a familiar rhythm, although forever changed.

For awhile, we confined ourselves to the area just outside our apartment, which is woefully inadequate. A day without an outing to a park or at least a ride in the car is like a day that never seems to start, as if we are willing to let it pass us by. Admittedly, that is how it feels to me, but if I read Cooper’s keening correctly, he concurs.

He is his own beagle, a definite advantage in being, as is having a portable canine ramp.

Can I Drive?

Cooper has always used the ramp to stroll onto our adjustable Tempur-Pedic bed, which sits too high for any access with ease. The ramp is also adjustable, shrinking to half its size and sporting a side carrying handle.

With medication and rest, Cooper stabilized. We moved into our next moment.

I carried the ramp outside and secured it while Cooper “waited” just inside the apartment door, trusting in the fact that he was wearing his harness, which was actually attached to his leash–both good signs. Yet ever aware, he kept his nose to the door, only backing off to let me proclaim that “bye-bye” was a go–Beagle Boy found his grin, again.

Even with disk disease and deteriorating joints, Cooper strives for the handsome gait that has all but left him. In seeing his ramp with his car for the first time, he took that in stride as well—allowing me to guide him in—bearing the grace of the being he is.

Once in the car, I buckled us into our seats.  With hand and paw on the gear shift, we moved into yet another moment.

For those of you who want to follow my ROW80 progress, you may view it here.