While others can stop us temporarily, only we can do it permanently. Success is getting up one more time. Don't give up! It is not what we have to do that defines us, everyone does what they have to do, or at least what they think they have to do (which may be very little, or may be quite lot.)
It is what we choose to do that truly defines us. It is the things we choose that we don't have to do that make us legendary. As Mark Twain said, "Do the right thing, you will satisfy some and amaze the rest."
Never buy into anyones lowered expectations of you. Don't call yourself dumb. Don't call yourself worthless.
In the vast world of everything that there is to be known the so called smartest person in the world knows just a small part of one grain of sand on an endless beach, and the so called dumbest person in the world knows another small part of that same grain. The truth be known no one is better, in the vast universe the difference between them is indistinguishable we are all just different, only together are we strong. We all have equal ability to disappoint or to amaze.
If you feel unloved remember this. The more we love the more lovable we become, and if we can truly love unconditionally expecting nothing in return then we can never be controlled. Love and kindness are gifts and blessings they are never a right. They can never be expected or taken. They can only given or received.
We truely are the master of our own destiny. Through our actions, through our choices, we give ourselves the power to create, the power to change the world.
It does not matter what we can do. It matters what we will do. If we want to really know what our true beliefs are, we need look no further than our own actions. Until we are all we wish to be, how can we be upset with someone who is not all that we want them to be?
There are choices at nearly every moment of our lives, we can choose kindness and forgiveness we can choose to...
Passing the fence where the workers stood waiting to be picked, I saw some men, some old, some young, some strong, some in firmed, some relaxed leaning against the fence some cigarette in hand, some standing straight chest out, some proud some shy, This is where desperation can meet either opportunity or evil.This is where a man takes a chance of working and not getting paid or worse.Some in the line were well aware of the way the game was played and had strategies of their own, but most were hardworking honest men doing their best to present themselves well, to serve through degradation for the chance to help feed their families.I was not there to pick, but I did talk to a few.I heard some stories too that day about what it was like for some there and how they had found themselves at this place this day.One young man had served two tours in Iraq and had three children; he said he thought it would be easier when he came back, but it had not, now he was just trying to get home.I wrote things down on scraps of paper like I always do, but not for immediate action, sticks and twine were all I had, so I tried to give some connections to people more able than me who could help them there and then. I would try to tighten some screws and loosen others in my way as I went hoping to affect a change in the larger picture or at least be able to describe it in better in some way to those who could.
This was a complicated picture to paint, and I had a lot more to learn before I even picked up a brush. It went from war, to things described in “the story of stuff” My grasp of even my own native language was limited enough and many of these people had far more to say than I could understand and much of the story, and the richness were lost, untranslated due to my ignorance.
In the midst I saw a butterfly, beautiful, white, fluttering softly as it passed by. It reminded me of one I had once loved, of their exquisite beauty and the feeling that struck me with when I saw them for the first time. For a moment the thought of it took my breath away.
Life give us moments when we know, even if we give our very best show we may fall short, if we were to stand up straight and puff out our chest give our most charming smile, would we be noticed amongst those maybe younger, more capable, more eloquent, more beautiful, more charming, could our true beauty overcome our imperfections, our lack amongst those around us.How could anyone know why they should choose us against the rest, so many?Why us?
But then my thoughts and eye returned again to the butterfly so beautiful and all else did not matter. To have seen it, to have felt it was enough to inspire me, to make me smile. Beauty, freedom, in contrast to a field of gray I am happy just to have captured the sight and the feeling. I thought of my garden and the butterflies that chose to share their beauty, to share their metamorphosis, to be free close to me.These are the things that give me hope.These are the things that make me smile. May all butterflies grow free in a safe garden without the poison that much of the world has to offer.
The streets were quiet except for the rain which had now picked upI liked the rain, from Tribes to Travelers,the rain, water; holds a special power. For a moment it can cause you to be fully engaged in everything outside of yourself and focus on a single purpose, which can bring much power and peace.
Like a puppy that has only known Love you are free, you welcome the touch.You are in abandon and not guarded, naked into battle and you do not flinch as power flows in to strengthen you.
Full engagement is sometimes called one’s genius in art. When you are there, on stage, you are completely absorbed; at one with the performance where nothing else around you exists.You are in harmony. And you take the audience to the edge with you It truly is a different world.
If you truly Love an artist, you must understand that they are compelled beyond their will to give their most passionate self- expression, naked to the world brave and without fear.This is when they are in their genius.This is something that is so beautiful
If you are the Lover of one who channels such genius, you share the most fragile moments with them when they are most vulnerable.
Becoming disengaged from one world to the next, they have exhausted their energy, and need to only to curl up and be guarded, safe and warm, to prepare once again for their time in wild abandon with the wolves where no one else can go.Just being, can require all of ones concentration at such times, as one winds their way back to the world they share with others.
To Love me, I thought to myself, checking the time again, knowing I would surely be late, is not something I would suggest for anyone, as I am sure most others could also attest.
The ones I Love, at times, too often, have gotten the wobbly chair, the chipped cup or plate.But I always tried to make sure if they did. That I was there to guard their back and to do my best to steady their chair as I stood.
. If, as one I Love, I gave the last seat to a stranger on the bus before you, I would hold you up along the pole with me, safe and warm until our destination and would guard you there to receive your rest.
I have learned though, the hard way, that close enough attention must be paid, because after too many wobbly chairs and enough chipped cups, something special can be lost no matter how tightly or carefully you try to steady it..
In my world, painfully, I thought, that sometimes there just aren’t enough chairs.
I checked the time again.How could I do this I thought, I was not yet near where I was supposed to be, compelled it seemed, beyond my will, to do things which served no purpose for those I Loved the most.I was caught up in a selfish inundation of life around me, still searching for the grain, for some small part of it that I may come to know.
A woman waiting beside me threw down her cigarette that she had just lit, and stomped it on the ground as the buss pulled to the stop.Works every time she said looking at the nearly new cigarette now crushed.“Yes.” I said.“Works every time.”
I hopped on a bus to head back to the transit station.Some lines were starting to close now and I would have to go a different way.The protection of the bus was a good place to get dry, I thought.The rain had once again done its job.
Alex was waiting for me as I arrived at my destination.“Waiting long?”I asked.“Yes Dad” she said laughing.“But I got some really good pictures, do you want to see them.”“Of course.” I said as I hugged her, happy to see her and happy that she had the gift also, to find beautiful things everywhere, and even more grateful that she had the desire to share them with me.
When I looked at her smile, so sweet, and it reminded me of the other sweet and peaceful smiles I had found so beautiful and I was grateful that chose to share it now and here, with me in this moment in my arms, guarded, safe, and warm.
She looked out the window for a while and then looked down.A few moments later, I caught her eye briefly, and puffed my chest out and smiled at her, gesturing to the old man.She smiled back at me and looked at the old man, who himself was taking joy in her smile. They smiled back at each other.I put my hand under my chin and stood up straight giving her my best actors pose, proud and strong.She smiled again giving me her best actress pose before falling asleep against the window, smiling wistfully, bags guarded.
The old man and I spoke and I marveled at his work.He explained the process which he had learned, in his best, broken English.
As we got off the bus at his stop I took one last look at the woman with the bags.She was still asleep, her face was peaceful, and her smiles made her look like she must have looked as a young girl, free of care.She looked so very beautiful that way and I made a wish, as I left the bus, that providence might bring her bright moments, a safe place to dream and heal, guarded lovingly, safe and warm. I dropped my monthly pass in the bag that contained the picture she had been looking at.A warm place to sleep for a while, I thought, and I made my way into the night with the old man, trying to learn all I could from this master as I carried his bag.
We parted just before his first floor apartment but I could see him crossing the lane as he looked at the piece of marble he had worked on.He shook his head slightly, smiled, and tucked it into a deep hiding pocket within his bag. It was not ready yet.He would find more time later to say it just right.
A child ran out of the door of the apartment and hugged the old man as he bent to kiss her and to hand her the coloring book.Several others came out behind the little girl smiling and hugging him as he proudly showed them his catch for the day, the groceries and the money.He was ushered in with Love and respect, a successful hunter.
Every thing real is primal, I thought.
When I sketch, or paint, or sculpt these moments in my mind, of the people on the streets and of the people on the bus, I think I will always paint this man, the man with the dirty clothes and the missing leg, standing straight, proud and beautiful, full of Love and Honor. Forever on the canvas of my mind heroically standing on the bus among the seated students and the businessmen, “La situación pasada del hombre.”The last man standing, and when I stand in life, I will think of him as well.
A light rain started as I walked through the neighborhood.I still had a long way to go and, as is often the case, I had gone on a different track than I had originally intended. I looked around to see exactly where I was.I spotted a group of teenagers working the few people who had ventured onto the now damp street and sidewalks.They were approaching passers-by with dramatic and miserable pleas for change, presumably to catch a bus home.
While all of boys appeared not to be living on the street; one, the lackey still held a few small remnants of a mothers care.His clothes were old but clean, trying, I felt to not look poor, trying to fit in with his richer “friends”. He appeared to be the poorest among the group by far, without the very expensive clothes that complete the fashionable grungy street kid look for rich kids on a lark.For him to be a part of the group, he had been relegated to lackey, doing the begging while the others watched reveling in their stone, pointing occasionally, laughing, and speaking to each other while watching their willing servant try to show his real value, to show why someone like him might deserve to belong with kids like them.
When the boy approached me I made sure that I was near the rest of the group, so that they too could hear what we were saying, and were forced to confirm that what was spoken was true.The boy pleaded with me as he had with the other passerby’s that he just needed some change for the bus to get home.
I asked where their homes were, which buses they needed to take, how many transfers they needed to make.Sensing a possible boon, they gave me their routes, each more elaborate than the next.I told them I would help them, I told the boy to come with me to the bus driver and I would get change.I asked the driver for a three-day pass and told the boy he could go home now as I stood on the bus steps beside him pointing to the seats.He looked first at his friends who shrugged their shoulders; he asked one of them, what should I do?One of them threw down his cigarette and waved his arm and said “just go home” He then turned to the others telling them he was getting bored, while pulling out his cell phone to make a call.
The boy waved to his “friends.” The“friends” soon lost their interest in begging when they found they were forced to do it themselves, coming down from their stone, bored and without their lackey, out of drugs and out of money, they soon dispersed on their own.A few got on their cell phones to make calls, to get picked up, the others used bus passes that they apparently already had.I wished them well as I left and I turned back towards the place near the street that the next bus would come.
I hopped on the bus from the airport already a little late. I had come pretty far and still had much farther to go to get to Alex.
I have often recounted many things I was told many things as a child, the shortest pencil is better than the longest memory, that if you can talk you can write. your best is always good enough and we are not that different all of us from other things around us that knowledge was like an endless beach of sand. and That the “smartest” person in the world knew just one tiny speck of just one grain, and the “dumbest” person in the world knew just a different part of that same grain, making the difference between the two meaningless in the grand scheme of things.
.I rememberI did feel good after hearing that, thinking maybe I was not so much different so much dumber than even the smartest person in the world.I began to wonder about this grain of sand; this grain I shared with others, and all the other grains, unknown.Where was it and how might I understand my small speck better and try to see what others had learned about theirs..
I will admit that in all the time that I have searched, the grain has been elusive.Bits and pieces from here and there, are all I have found.I am left trying to piece together how we are able to connect at all, operating on such small bandwidths, going different directions in such a vast universe. Sometimes it seems that we can weave and connect for moments in time, sharing some small piece of truth, some small exquisite harmony.
The bus had stopped and an old man boarded, his face weathered from what looked to be years of hard work exposed to the elements. He struggled onto the bus.He had only one leg and a well crafted, but homemade wooden crutch.
He carried with him over his shoulder, a large canvas bag with carving and masons tools, a few small pieces of marble, and some groceries along with a few other small items.It was the end of the day and he was sprinkled with dust and some splotches of dried mortar and dirt.The way the dust was settled on him made it appear that he had been sitting on the ground doing his work.The rips and wear on his pants made it look like he probably scooted along the ground as he worked.Maybe he worked finishing the lower portions of the plaster and mason work, I thought.He struggled with a smile as he came onto the bus, his last leg nearly giving out more than once.
He was happy to see that beyond the students and the businessmen in the front of the bus there were some empty seats near the back of the bus where I stood beside the pole.We smiled at each other as he chose among the seats and he settled down to work on a small piece of marble only about 2 inches long.He worked and polished the piece.It was the shape of a small cherub-like baby and it was beautiful.He smiled so joyfully as he worked, with such concentration, as if this were some great act of Love and Respect that he was honored to participate in.
I saw in his bag beside him there were some groceries- bags of red and black beans, some oil, flour, salt and a children’s coloring book.He had some money tucked away in the bottom of the bag, what looked like about five or six dollars and change, and a weathered notebook that he referred to on occasion as he worked.
As the bus filled up along the line he gave up his seat along the isle to the place against the window with his bag on his lap as he continued to work, smiling, crutch pressed against him by the other passengers with bags crushed between, them so they would not have to touch the dirty man with the missing leg.
The seats were full when a woman came on the bus.She was carrying some bags with clothes, and large bags filled with small bags.Her dress was wrinkled, and what looked to have once been a sweet and beautiful thing was now dirty, wrinkled, tired and worn.She held a small piece of cloth in her hand and was repeating something over and over to herself that I could not make out, as she rubbed the piece of cloth between her fingers.She was looking down, shuffling, and flinching, as she brushed by me on the pole, confined in the small space between the rows, with her bags.
The old man stood up in a fluid graceful gesture. With his bag already over his shoulder, he was beside me smiling, at the pole in an instant. There was no sign of pain in his face as he held onto the pole, his crutch, and his bag with one hand, and as he gracefully swept his other hand, gesturing towards the empty seat.He had somehow made this miraculous motion appear to be no great task at all.
There was a brief discussion between the woman and the Old man in which the woman tried to explain that she was not worthy to take his seat.“I can’t take your seat” she said, looking around the bus among the more able passengers, for anyone else with some semblance of honor. It was not there. People sitting around them looked down or away.
He insisted she take the seat, explaining that he was more comfortable standing anyway.The woman reluctantly took the seat, thanking him as she looked around the rest of the bus in disgust. After she sat down she opened one of her bags, took out some pieces of paper, and a wrinkled picture and began to cry. (continued on safe and warm part 2)
In front of me in the line at the chinese buffet in Florida a grandfather, a mother, and a father with a tall, gangly boy about 14, I guessed. The mother and father, visiting children, I surmized, were pale, almost luminescent. Perhaps accountants from up North I said to myself. The grandfather looked like he had led a successful life. Fit and confident his skin tanned from what looked to be much leisurely his time in the Florida sunshine.
The Boy looked like a young colt not yet sure of his movements. He had thick glasses and looked like a young Jerry Lewis with the voice to match. His eye caught a large stuffed fish on the wall above us in the line. He looked at it with amazement and turned to his grandpa. “Do you think we’ll catch a fish like that?” he asked with excitement. The grandpa looked at him with confidence and smiled. “Is the sky blue?” the grandpa said.
The boy was clearly perplexed, confused, and dumbfounded. He looked first at his mother and then his father pleadingly, searching for just the right answer to this riddle that had been put before him, not wanting to fail this test. He looked at his grandfather for mercy and perhaps another clue. He looked back down at the ground near his feet before smiling and finally blurted out, with twisted fingers, a very slow and unsure “Sometimes.”
His grandpa gave a broad smile and reached out and hugged him and whispered something in his ear. They both smiled.
Now I do not know what the grandpa said, but I knew that I had seen Love shared with a confidence and faith instilled that had not been there before. I made a wish in my mind that this trip would find blue skies for this boy and his grandpa.
This is the kind of memory I told to myself, I would save. To one-day share with my heart if I find it once again.
It was lost so long ago. I was only seven, shy and not very cunning to the ways of the world. I had been warned. My sisters, my mother and even my many aunts had said, “Be careful, be respectful and be sure that some little girl doesn’t steal your heart.” “The way to a mans heart is through his stomach” others had said.. I was not expecting it. But it was so skillfully done.
Having many sisters with many friends, I had been chased and tackled held down and kissed by a few little girls on the playground and various places, for quite some time now. It was not there, I was careful then, I would wipe my face and safely escape
. It happened to me in the hallway on the way to class. I did not know her nor do I remember her name. She walked up to me looked me straight in the eyes, smiled and ran her hand softly across my stomach and then closed her hand. I stole your heart she said smiling.
I did feel something, all the way to my core. It didn’t hurt, it was more like an empty feeling not quite like hunger. I smiled back at her and walked away still smiling not knowing what else to do. Looking back I am glad my heart was stolen when it was pure and unbroken, so painlessly removed. I imagine it from time to time on shelf perhaps covered in dust in a room, in the memory in a little girls mind. I wonder from time to time how many other hearts she may have also stolen.