There are those who often only know themselves by what’s mirrored back to them by society. If they can’t see themselves reflected (back) in the eyes of those they’ve allowed (or chosen) to share their world with, they feel lost...cut off…or on the outside. How many movies or books have we read where romantic scenes have climaxed with two lovers searching each other’s eyes for confirmation of love and validation?
When the world was simpler and premeditated evil, lies and sexual indiscretion were the stuff of life-ruining scandal, the risk of being forever shunned kept most folks on the straight and narrow-ish path. Then, relationships were more straightforward and social boundaries still included at least an attempt at “manners”. So this kind of mirror-reflected tribal validation could actually be taken as somewhat risk-free, “earned inclusion.”
Many today, still thinking that things are the same, have been in for a rude, often heartbreaking awake up call. Sadly, the world we see is so confusing and for many…still shocking, that it’s mirror reflection is often showing us the worst of our species. So, many of us (who remember) have been forced to self-isolate if only out of self-protection. I know that for me, I once felt happy to be part of a greater whole. But of course, that “whole” no longer exists and increasingly, the only true way to feel good about myself, is when I’m mostly alone. Alone, I’m contented, productive and safe in my own heart’s identity. But I know for millions they simply feel desperately isolated, depressed and paranoid because try as they might, no matter where they search, they cannot connect.
Well, the fact that so many cannot connect to the world around them, in these darker times, really means that there’s actually hope. Wait! What?
I know for me, personally, I am oddly comforted that I don’t identify with so much of what I see beyond my front door. It means that my conscience barometer is working. It also means that as much as it would be great to be fully accepted just as I am in the world beyond my front door, in truth, I know that right now? …Well, I’m not missing a frigg’n thing.
Of course, I’m not at all sure just how long this epidemic mix of ignorance and self-entitlement will last, so just to be safe and FEEL safe, I’ve reordered my life and lifestyle for the long term.
Just what do I mean by that?
Well, I’m not camping at home only waiting to “get back out there.” I’m not doom scrolling and hoping some collective on the internet will say “all clear, good to go!” I’m not biding my time as though some kind of “house arrest” might soon be lifted. Instead, I’m learning to fill my time retraining myself to experience new productive joys and pleasures I had totally forgotten about.
In a way I feel like Brer Rabbit who cunningly pleaded with the farmer not to throw him in the brier patch, when secretly, that’s where he wanted to be all along.
As I field trip to my little garden and snip the spring’s first fresh basil leaves for my dinner recipe, I know that I don’t have to tap dance to justify that it’s the third meal in a row that features this luscious herb. As I attempt to finally make my own ricotta cheese this morning, I know if it fails, I won’t have to “Jazz Hand” an explanation of why I even attempted such a thing. But first I have to peel, cube and roast a batch of sweet potatoes for next week’s salads. As the oven heats, I’m filling two milk jugs with water to top off the garden fountain since its nearing summer and the birds expect the “pool” to now be open 24/7.
When living in Santa Fe, I wanted pets, but my schedule didn’t permit it. Yet, once I put out a big bowl of seed, like little brown angels, the copper finches descended from the heavens and never left.
So, I have been feeding wild birds for quite some time now. They make a horrible mess but being an honorary member of their rather complex society, I’ve cherished being their patron here in Colorado too. For their past generation, I’ve seen them mate, nest build and introduce me to their kids twice now. Every morning, forty or so of them line up on my fence rails like an army of extras in a Hitchcock film. It’s an easy way to feel and be “expected” and it self-imposes a bit of accountability to my otherwise more solo, indulgent lifestyle.
Why is there a can of white paint sitting by the back door? Ah, yes, I found a small half-round demi table at Goodwill for five dollars. Solid as a rock but ugly as sin. Yet it’s just the right size for my bathroom – best put a quick base coat on it before I read my sister’s morning email.
As many of you already know, Laura and I been writing each other, kind of “open diary” style every morning for years now. We are twins. Not in the traditional sense, simply because she was born on my birthday four years after me. That’s not totally unusual. However, the fact that I was born practically dead, three month premature and my ETA was not for a while yet, the odds of us landing here on the same day and almost the same hour? Amazing.
We (she and I) are exploring doing a podcast together since she’s been part of the CL team from the beginning with lots of stories to tell, having ran my global communications network for many years. No easy job. Like so many of we, the mature, she too is tired of being invisible to people who can’t see past “age”. They have no idea how immensely talented she is and how breathtakingly gorgeous she once was and how much she has been such an angel in my own life journey.
So, we’re starting to grid out our first podcast season and it’s frustratingly exhilarating. The “development” stage is where our whole lives flash in front of our eyes and it can be daunting at first.
I’m looking at the clock wondering if I have time to do another edit on the podcast visual opener before my producer friend calls. He's doing a movie right now. Many of my close friends are or were connected to show business but few are 'known" celebrities. Most are only celebrated within the industry itself. It's hard to explain to those not in the business, but entertainment production is it's own compressed bubble that lives outside of conventional time. It's all encompassing, everything is urgent and it's a complete dictatorship. But it's exhilarating. It takes one all over the globe making relationships practically impossible.
So one of the things I’ve learned over the years is that if I was going to have any continuity and friendships in my life at all, I’d have to train the special ones to “give good phone.” Thing is NONE of them were phone people. For them it was something you got off of ASAP especially on a movie set. But slowly and respectfully I showed them the great virtues of phone pal etiquette and now I have a global network of friends that I talk to everyday even though some I haven’t seen in-person in literally years.
We never have to worry about losing touch even if a conversation consists of, “So, guess what happened? We finally…oh geez, that’s the director, gotta go, love you. bye!”
This has allowed each of us renegade show biz circus folk (and privacy control freaks) to experience a remarkably true sense if daily intimacy without further complicating on each other’s lives. There are rules like: "If you can’t talk, don’t pick up. If you can, tell the other how long you have, so you don’t launch into one of “those” kind of conversations," and no calls need to be returned unless promoted to do so.
I’m now applying coat number two while talking with my agitated friend, Thank heavens for my ear buds. Things aren't going well as egos are flaring. I let him go on (and on) and when he takes a breath, I'll remind him that it's just a movie, while he reminds me of why I will never be back in that world again. Been there done that for way too many years.
While I’m washing out my paint brush, I deliver the "ask yourself, in a year, will any of this matter?" speech. He laughs, hangs up just as I'm getting ready to introduce the crushed red pepper flakes into my Mexican beef marinade. I’ll toss it with salad greens for the next week’s lunches. Oh, I just realized that I’m getting low on roasted peppers. So under the broiler just went the Poblanos, then into a covered bowl to steam so the skins come off with ease.
Now, it’s time for a third coat on the demi table while I check in with my friend in Chicago who has been bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders. I need to urge him to get outside with his camera. He always feels so much better. He’s been practically in a ball weeping for humanity. This Ukraine business has him worried about another world war and he can’t understand why I, of all people, aren’t in a crucifixion position too? I just said to him, you can’t fix it, but you can inspire. Get out your guitar, compose a song, send it to me and I’ll put visuals to it. Or better, get outside with your camera and send me THOSE photos. He’s a chef too and just answered a culinary question for me. Since I’m about to make a batch of “health cookies” with almond flour I hope I'm not concocting door stops.. He also reminded me of how to preserve the basil. Jam a bunch into a food processor with olive oil and freeze. Easy…Done!
He got me a tiny bit back into fear mode with the talk of war, but I have to remind myself of the Serenity Prayer:
“God grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change. The courage to change the things I can. And the wisdom to know the difference.”
So, I’m going to cleanse. Literally. I’ll get out the Swiffer and dust for a bit. I find it helps me appreciate the objects I cherish while so many are leaving their entire lives behind. Sending up gratitude for one’s own blessings can be a powerful form of empathetic prayer too.
I just put YouTube on TV and there are those horrible headlines again. Nope, not going there. Instead, I just put on a beautiful video of waterfalls with meditation music on as atmospheric ‘calm’ as I continue to write you all.
The health cookies are filling the house with nostalgic smells of home. If they turn out like
sawdust, I’ll crumble them up in the food processor and make a pie crust out of them. LOL
The sun is starting to leave the garden so I’d better water now especially since one of the birds is pecking at a full bag of seed. Little devil!
Oh, my sister just emailed me back about the podcast. In this critical “development” stage, we’ve been trying to find that delicate tonal balance between acknowledging what’s happening in the world while giving folks the mental and physical tools to use these unorthodox times to start living a whole lot more intentionally…perhaps as the best revenge (?) but it certainly gets those powerful creative juices flowing as the fear-antidote. As I said,
“We’re like the head of the victory garden program in 1940s Britain during the war. Don’t focus on the worry you can’t do anything about, focus on being productive, learning new skills, and finding ways to live a whole lot better on food rations. Ha ha
OK, so what exactly is the point of all this?
Well, think about it.
I’ve had a glorious day in my own “Private Idaho.” I’ve felt deep connections with great humans who love me, birds who count on me, savory herbs that let me watch God’s ingenious handiwork and in a minute after the last coat of paint which will dry overnight, I’ll pour myself a glass of wine and watch a BBC series I just discovered. I will finish up this blog which thousands of my online family will read and hopefully get this point:
When you start living from your heart and imagination, using your inherent creativity, every moment of life can matter deeply if you shut out the noise and live in the moment. If you start living like you really do mean it, and make new choices, it costs pennies. If you see the tasks ahead of you as gifts and not chores from your old life, things do change.
Muster the courage be alone long enough to get past the “lonely stage.” As you rethink your life, let the only mirror reflection you really need come from your own eyes, which are the true windows to your own soul’s truth. You will discover an endless source that knows no fear…only possibility.
First, get rid of the white noise. Turn the world volume down so you can actually hear your heart whisper. It will help you in re-learning how to love YOU. Only then can you adore your own heaven on earth under your own sacred roof. Then pull the chain on that unique little lamp of yours with the pretty little shade and be one of the millions of candles that will light up the planet and save the world by pummeling it with love. As the Ukraine are saying, “it’s not about tanks, it’s about the people!”
Thanks SO much for your recent, unbelievable letters. I read and loved everyone of them!
I will leave you with this …from that BBC movie?
Joan Plowright (aged 69) says to her niece:
“Well, I was soooo dreaming of dying young. Now, of course it’s too late!”