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WHY DO WE WAIT FOR THE RIGHT CONDITIONS?

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STAYING AWAKE TO THE REMARKABLE IN THE ROUTINE

AWARENESS...

Hi. I’m Maery, a writer in the Twin Cities. Although I no longer have the body for extreme adventures, I love to bicycle, go horse trail riding and take hikes with my dogs.  

One thing you should know before you join me on my quest -- I don’t have a map. And I’ve been known to wander off course and stop to listen to birds and look for agates. I also have a few issues with fear and anxiety. In other words, I’m not a good role model or adventure guide. But in this time of uncertainty and polarization, I'm not sure anyone has a reliable map. We'll just figure it out as we go.

crows gathering

crows gathering

I walked out of work the other day and immediately heard a clans-worth of crow calls. The sky and trees were black with them, circling like a cyclone of bees.

I almost walked into a sign post as I headed to my car, eyes raised upward, seeking crow to human eye-hellos, my mouth forming a broad grin. I paused outside my car, asking the closest crow, the one who’d probably made a mess on my windshield, “So what’s up? Any big news? Perhaps some fresh road kill?”

single crow in a tree

As I drove, I followed the black forms, still circling and landing as if they were mapping my trail home. I looked up through my sunroof and kept seeing flashes of coal feathers zinging above me.

I glanced at the cars next to me, filled with people staring blindly ahead, some talking on their phones, and I wondered, “Don’t you see this? Isn’t it amazing?”

Sometimes I feel like I have the very best secret in the world and no one is willing to stop and listen.

view of downtown Minneapolis

I’m not sure what it is about crows – their size, their black feathers, how loud and bold they are – but something about them intrigues me. Seeing a group of crows or a single crow looking down from a building or tree feels like an omen.

outline of crows in a treeSome people think this omen is death or bad luck, perhaps because the crow is a carrion bird and it’s black color makes them think of darkness and evil. But that’s not how I see crows. I know it’s only the young crows that are playful but still, I view them as being a watchful, curious bird with a sense of humor. I mean, they must just laugh at us humans parking our cars under one of their trees.

And like so many things and beings of nature, I can’t help but marvel at their existence – how they adapt to world that is ever changing for them as well as for us.

crows take flight

 

 


Sidenotes:

  •  If you’re curious, there’s a post on the  “Winter Crow Invasion”  on The Corvid Blog
  • The Corvid Blog is a part of the Coyot.es Network, where there are activists, writers, and photographers with blogs focused on biodiversity, local landscapes, environmentalism, and study and protection of nature.

 

crow

crow

I like to believe there are messengers and teachers sent to us in human or animal form when we need them.

I ran across one such angel in October 2009 and posted about it here. She was a blind woman with a seeing eye dog who I met in a doctor’s waiting room. She introduced herself and then said, “I was crying. I’m so glad you’re here.”

She had no idea what I was going through with my divorce nor that she ripped my heart wide open with her words. She somehow found comfort in me, while I received her gift of putting something warm back into my heart.

She was glad I was here…

And with her words some of the hurt of having my husband stop loving me healed just a tiny bit. And it seemed possible that there were other people who were also glad I’m here and that my life was not over.

So many angels popping out all over the place when most needed…

clouds

And yes, I do imagine less visible angels hovering nearby. And I see mythical creatures in clouds and among the trees. It makes me smile to imagine them there and create stories in my head of another level of worlds going on around me – one that is sensed and comes in flashes out of the corner of my eye, but disappears if you turn my head to look.

“If an experience is delightful or pleasant, usually we want to grab it and make it last. We’re afraid that it will end. We’re not inclined to share it. The lojong teachings encourage us, if we enjoy what we are experiencing, to think of other people and wish for them to feel that. Share the wealth. Be generous with your joy. Give away what you most want. Be generous with your insights and delights. Instead of fearing that they’re going to slip away and holding on to them, share them.”
~ Pema Chodron, “Always Maintain A Joyful Mind”

I was listening to a Pema Chodron CD about living a joyful life, while I was driving home from seeing Luke. I was feeling particularly lucky to have such a nice horse and grateful that he’s had no symptoms of heaves for quite awhile (breathing not barfing problem).

horse

I had ridden Luke outside, because it was above freezing and sunny. I couldn’t get enough of that blue sky and warmth on my face. While we were riding a circle, three trumpeter swans flew overhead, with their distinctive honking and amazingly huge white bodies and wingspan.

Who can see such a sight and not stop and try to take it all in? I felt as though my heart was expanding to the size of an elephant as I watched them go by.

So I was still feeling that horse and sun and swan and outdoor beauty high when I heard Pema use the word “delight” in her teaching.  My ears perked up as I thought how that word so perfectly fit what I was feeling.

As Pema said in the quote above, I did wish I could somehow transfer what I saw and felt to other people. Couldn’t such sharing somehow heal the world of the sadness, anger, and ‘otherness’ thoughts that seem to cause so much suffering?

Oh, if only I had magical powers to do so. But I don’t. And I guess you have to see and feel these things for yourself. So keep your eyes open for angels in human and fur and feather and tree bark disguise.

They are out there. You just have to see them and feel the delight.

Or better yet, you can be one for someone else.

dog in snow

dog

dog

“What should I do about the wild and the tame? The wild heart that wants to be free, and the tame heart that wants to come home. I want to be held. I don’t want you to come too close. I want you to scoop me up and bring me home at nights. I don’t want to tell you where I am. I want to keep a place among the rocks where no one can find me. I want to be with you.” – Jeanette Winterson, “Lighthousekeeping”

I read the above quote on Terri Windling’s blog.  It fits my conflicting push and pulls so well, only rather than a battle between the wild and tame, for me it’s more of a tug of war between my desire for time alone and the call to come out of my cave and locate my fellow human beings.

It’s difficult to find the right balance. And since the reaching out to others is harder, avoiding the discomfort altogether is tempting.

I recently finished listening to “I’ll Drink To That” a memoir by Betty Halbreich. I almost quit listening to it after the first thirty minutes as I couldn’t relate to the wealthy life of Halbreich and how so much of her focus was on fashion. But I told myself that I needed to expand my horizons.

dogs playing indoors

Halbreich is an 86 year old woman still working at Bergdorf Goodman in New York. With that kind of accomplishment (even though it doesn’t fit my desires), I thought she might have something to say.

“When I first came to NY, I was so frightened of being alone that I didn’t want to leave the little apartment I loathed. It’s funny, but on the street in a city of millions, at a cocktail party full of friends or surrounded by family at a country house, one can still feel lonely. Sophistication has nothing to do with the ability to go to the movies, eat in a restaurant, pass the weekend without drowning it in busy work, or face going home alone. The terrible fear of loneliness kept me from knowing myself, but now I am happy, because I do know myself.” — Betty Halbreich, “I’ll Drink to That”

The way Halbreich starts out that paragraph sounds like a contradiction — so frightened of being alone that she doesn’t want to leave her apartment? But I know what she means. It’s hard to go out and see other couples, families or groups if you’re all by yourself and your aloneness is not by choice.

It can also feel worse to make an attempt to connect with people and fail, than it feels to simply keep your distance.

bicycling in snow

I can be perfectly satisfied doing many things by myself or with only one other person. Steve, bless his heart, has been game to do all my favorite things with me — bicycling, cross county skiing, kayaking, camping, hiking, taking walks with the dogs, going on photography field trips, eating my cooking experiments, watching my really bad movie choices, even just quietly sitting and reading together.

I am happiest with this kind of singular, do almost everything together, just the two of us, relationship and don’t plan to change much about that. But I worry about putting all my eggs in one or two baskets with the very limited group of people I’m connected with.

It’s not that I have aspirations of becoming an extrovert and having hundreds of “friends.” It’s more that I want to deepen the connections I already have by giving them the attention they are due. And I want to broaden the range of people I know.

dog in snow

Take Ms Halbreich for example. If I met her in person, I would normally immediately decide that this woman has nothing in common with me. She could never be my friend.

And I tend to avoid activities where most everyone is younger than me because I don’t want to feel like I’m holding them back with my physical limitations and unhippness.

But I want to be more open to people and possibilities. And less worried about fitting in or being rejected. I want to try out doing some things as a group. I may decide I don’t like it, but I want to try so I know I have the choice.

So I’m sending myself into situations and seeing what happens.

dog in snow

I went to a bicycling organization’s meeting where most people are much younger than me. I loved their energy and ideas and willingness to dive into any challenge whether they had past experience with said thing or not. I hope to spend more time with this group.

And I went to a bike shop event last week, hoping I might connect with some local women who enjoy talking about bikes and riding them. The only women I saw were all in one circular group and appeared to be employees of the shop. It looked like too tight of a circle for me to break into. So instead, Steve and I tried out a couple fat bikes, riding around on a frozen pond with a trail lit by candles in brown paper bags. On the drive home, I thought, I could have walked up to the women and said, “Hi. I’m Maery. I recently bought a fat bike from this shop. What kind of bicycling do you like to do?” But I’m okay with not having pulled that off yet.

And it may be that I already have the right mix of being social and being alone and don’t need to change a thing. Maybe I’m still listening to old voices telling me something is wrong with me. Maybe I just think I’m missing out on something that I really wouldn’t like once I had it. Maybe I just hear the word “ community” and think we could build a better world if we were more connected with each other.

I guess I just want to experiment and see.

horseback riding in snow

What do other introverts think? Are you more on the path of accepting that you like doing things alone and thrive on your alone time, with occasional doses of small group or one-on-one best friend time? Or do you make an effort to broaden your world, meet new people and start new friendships? Is there a point of balance that you have found that works best for you?