Life has been full of many lifetimes . . . There was the lifetime of a need to be healed, And a lifetime of needing to be loved. There was a search for something to believe in spiritually. And there was a need to be recognized for all I knew Or thought I knew. There was a need to belong And there was a need to help others. There was a lifetime of needing to feel powerful and a need to teach others. And in the process of it all There was a need to know myself And a need to forgive myself For doing the best I could do at any given time. I have been a changeling, And perhaps I will be so For the rest of my days.
Driving across the Arizona desert, I became aware of how immense our universe (outside of ourselves) really is. As I looked out across the immense open space, I saw all manner of mountains, and all colors of land rising up out of the earth. It was strange to imagine how one mountain arose from the earth, smooth and slowly rising, while one practically next to it seemed to have blown up right out of the earth, forming strange shapes and sometimes very sharp features. I can imagine the earth, as it was turning, bubbling and erupting and spinning wildly, but in such a way that various forms of life began to also come forth, or perhaps they came from somewhere else, finally finding a planet that was life friendly, and so cells of living creatures fell upon the earth like a form of rain, taking hold wherever they fell. Perhaps we will never really know the big story in this lifetime, but whatever it was, or however it was formed, was nothing short of a miracle.
In the same way, I think about us as human beings. Two cells, or a sperm and an egg, somehow come together and begin to form the most complex living creature. Not only does this creature have a mind that directs all the parts of what is inside of it, but every single part of this human body has a specific job, and despite the unique differences of each and every part, they all manage to function together to manage this “universe” within.
My brother once told me when he was talking about his TBI from Vietnam, that the brain is another universe all of its own. He told me that when any part of the body is injured, the brain gives the command for the troops (so to speak) to get to the part and help it. But when the brain itself gets injured (and again, it is what my brother’s doctor told him, so I cannot verify that it is true), the brain cannot help itself.
So I have been thinking about the human brain and how it functions regarding how it manages to take care of the whole universe within, but at the same time, can turn against this thing and that thing outside itself. It accepts the uniqueness and the importance and sacred aspect of the universe inside, but it raises up in defiance against that which is not like it in some manner, be it skin color, culture, religious or political beliefs. And yet, at the same time it can suddenly decide to relate to and even love, something that is decidedly different from itself in one or more of the ways previously mentioned.
I used to think I knew the answers. I used to think that life was relatively simple. Just do whatever you are intended to do and everything will be fine. And perhaps, as the world turns, it will be. Perhaps that universe outside and inside changes every instant in mysterious ways as the world turns.
It seems an odd thing to think about when we are still alive and perhaps still young. Writing your obituary is a good idea though because if it is left to others to manage, they may write things that you would not have wanted to have written about you, or perhaps they would leave out things that were important to you.
It is a good way to remind yourself of all the things you have accomplished in your lifetime, and to remember people who others might not remember who were important to you in life. We don’t have to be thinking about dying, but we don’t really know what life has in store for us.
I often think of the story of Anne Frank, and how her story of her life in those last days was captured and has been an inspiration for so many people because it is the story of someone who lived a life with such meaning in just little everyday things. That is something I think it would be very difficult for another person, no matter how close they were to you, to capture your life the way you would have thought of it.
I think of my father, and I have not a photo or anything left of his life. He was not a role model for a father in some ways, but he did take care of us to ensure we had a roof over our heads, food on the table, and clothing always. He once got me a Ford Taunus, and I drove it out to White Sands Proving Grounds with him, and it went on the fritz out there. I could only drive the whole way back in 1st gear, not being able to shift at all. It seemed that drive was forever, and I never wanted to drive that car again. Tomorrow is Father’s Day, and I wonder how I might have written his obituary while he was still alive. I think the same for all of my relatives who are gone now, and those I particularly loved, and I so wish now I had captured their lives for my own children and their children and grandchildren.
Perhaps this is a good way to spend a bit of Father’s Day. If you can’t capture the life of your own father, perhaps you can capture your own growth from being a child to growing up and then becoming a father. I know someone will be glad someday to read about who you were as a human being and the things and people that were important to you in this life.
This is who I am. I love to recycle things that have meant something to me. I found these shoes in a thrift store years ago. I fell in love with them because the shoe brand was something like Sam and Jane and they were about the most comfortable shoes I ever had with a soft sole and leather that seemed to breathe. The original shoes were brown, not gold. But one day as I went to get my shoes to go someplace, the sole of one was literally falling off of it. Of course I was heartbroken, but then I had this idea to make a play on words and to give one of the shoes a whole new life, so I came up with this idea.
The “wings” are on a base which is made from the sole of one shoe, and I found the most wonderful colored organiza with a nice stiffness to it that allowed me to cut out the little leaves. The leaves seemed appropriate to me because shoes wouldn’t tend to go up in the air (except for the kids who throw them over the telephone lines). And I remembered in the compass of my soul how much fun it was as a kid (and ok, I confess, as a grownup too) to jump in a pile of leaves). And I had to make her a happy and bright color full of life, for that is how I remembered those old comfy shoes.
It’s so many years later since I made her, “My Shoe’s Got Soul.” She’s still with me, and I imagine that she will still be when I take my last jump into those leaves. And it’s funny because she led me to write a story called “Tenshoes and the Skittyfoot” about ten orphan shoes who live in a trash dump, and every Saturday, the animals up in the meadow above hear “sootspeak” because the dump is putting out ugly smoke and it is mixed with the angry and sad words from the ten orphans arguing because they were just thrown away like they never mattered after living lives with adventure. They were never appreciated for who and what they were, and the dump is a horrible place to live.
The Skittyfoot is a little boy with red (really red) hair who comes to visit the creatures in the meadow every day, and the little boy can talk to them and they to him. They tell him about the Tenshoes, and that they want him to go and rescue the Tenshoes from the ugly dump and bring them up to the meadow where they can live safely. But before they can come up to the meadow, they have to find things and fix themselves up as best as they can. Just because they are orphans doesn’t mean they cannot have pride in themselves.
So the Skittyfoot goes down to the dump, and ultimately gets the tenshoes to clean and fix themselves up, and help each other, which they do. Ultimately they go to the meadow with the Skittyfoot, and the little creatures in the meadow all make them welcome and they will have a forever home where they are loved and treasured.
No, I never published Tenshoes and the Skittyfoot though I guess I could have. Some things just live on in our hearts and in the compass of our souls. I’ve been a sort of orphan too, and it took me awhile, for I didn’t have a Skittyfoot or other orphans like me to help, but I fixed myself up nice and clean (there is not and never has been anything related to drugs or other similar things but a transformation from being a childhood orphan), and now I can make things like “My Shoe’s Got Soul” to help others to feel good about themselves too.
Isn’t it strange how life brings little things into our consciousness to help us learn to grow and to care for ourselves, even if we were a kind of orphan in our younger lives? And using art to fix up an old shoe that brought happiness to a life can be a symbol of that. We don’t have to find fancy things or to do anything special to make it up to the meadow from the dump. The recognition of value in little things is what brings a true transformation to us in our lives. Your life, no matter how small you may think it is, is a miracle. Live it like the true gift it is.
I have been transforming my relationship with God or The One over the past year, and I have given this beautiful statement from Richard Rohr a lot of thought for its truth. I have become aware of how everything in the universe is sacred and it was provided for us to give us everything we could need or want for nourishment, for thirst, and for protection from the elements if we but make it our purpose to look for it and use it wisely. I have become aware of how there are many, many forms of humankind on this earth, and we were put here so that we could all learn how to get along, and to help this good earth to continue to survive.
I love this little piece of writing because it rings true for us all, and offers us a way to what spirituality or religion is intended to be. These days when I have to end the life of a bug or I cut a rose, or perhaps fail to appreciate so-called weeds of the earth, I stop myself and think about it, and suddenly I can see the beauty that surrounds us in its many forms. We have derived words that devalue even the nature of creatures and plants that were put on this earth for a reason.
Now I spend time each day meditating on all of these things and so much more that is related to my relationship with God and with the universe. Things look different for I am changed too.