Two Great Blue Herons

When I see Bob I always think of Dave, now dead four years.

As I would scull north on the Connecticut, just as the view of Hartford closed from the bend in the river, I would turn my head, look upstream, and see the glimmer of Bob’s wooden shell making its way downstream. Dave would always be following a length behind.

The way the blades of the oars arc over the river toward the bow of a scull, it’s like a great bird in flight, just skimming the surface of the water.

Sometimes I would cross over the river toward the west bank of the river, just below Bob and Dave, row to them at a diagonal, and race. I could never catch Bob, but I could often match Dave stroke for stroke for at least a mile, but then I would fade. I looked over my shoulder and watched them disappear downstream.

Five years ago Dave started to slow down. I mentioned this to him on the dock after I had beaten him there.

“He has lung cancer,” Bob whispered in my ear.

A few weeks later the sculling season ended and Dave never returned to the river.

This morning I watched Bob pass me alone downstream as I sculled north. I did not cross over. An hour later when I reached the dock, Bob was long gone, his scull already carried up to the boathouse and stored away.

I stood on the dock and watched two Great Blue Herons gliding south just above the surface of the river. They both turned right in tandem, headed to me, turned again, and continued north, disappearing from my view.

Spring

The hard thing about living in a four season climate is the short, dark days. But they make the spring days, all blossoms and perfumes, all the better.

KINDRED. Real Connections.

I’ve often set my compass by something Anais Nin said,

“Life shrinks or expands according to one’s courage.”

To play a variation on her theme:

Life shrinks or expands according to one’s relationships.

For the last year, we’ve been developing KINDRED, a social connection game, based on personal storytelling. We beta tested a version called CONNECT. We sat with people who were family, friends, strangers and watched the ways they embraced the experience. We added here, adjusted there, edited, and tested.

What we saw universally was the mix of joy, meaning, kindness that arose as people connected. The deeper the connections, the greater the riches.

We hope to see people’s lives expand as KINDRED begins its journey.

Covers

In London, Aisha Jawando as Tina Turner sings, “You Better Be Good to Me,” a cover of Tina’s cover of Holly Knight’s original. The same song – lyrics and melody – each time, but each time her own.

In London, my daughter weaves her way down the steps, minds the gap, boards a train on the Central Line, covering the ground I walked thirty years ago. The same city – streets and neighborhoods – but I have my London, and she has hers.

Why are we here anyway?

I have a Buddha on a window sill of my loft. He looks upon me all day.

In my early twenties I had no understanding of Buddhism, but I did read over and over a collection of Zen stories, “Zen Flesh, Zen Bones,” compiled by an American, Paul Reps (he died in 1990). The stories are forms of parables – the meanings are held by the anecdotes.

Some are well known and inscrutable to me (“The Sound of One Hand Clapping” – I have no idea) and others less well known but understood by me (“Not far from Buddhahood”).

The story that stays with me, whose meaning evolves with me, is, “Announcement.” Here is the story in its entirety:

“Tanzan wrote sixty post cards on the last day of his life and asked an attendant to mail them. Then he passed away.

The cards read:

I am departing from this world. This is my last announcement. Tanzan. July 27, 1892.”

The humility.

A poet whose name and whose poem I cannot recall wrote about finding a dead beetle on its back with its six legs tucked in order. The beetle died. It’s time had come. Nothing more.

Last year a friend of mine died quietly. She had several rounds of fights with cancer until the cancer was stronger and took her. She knew what was coming and carried herself with dignity.

Why are we here?

I know it’s very easy to waste the short time we have. And then one day will be the day of our last announcements and we will rest with our hands placed in order. I know what is coming for me eventually, inevitably. May I carry myself with dignity.

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