Inspiration and Grace

comments 37
Book Reviews / Reflections

When I was in high school I underwent one of those sea changes that sweep through us. My mother was hospitalized for a time for treatment of Multiple Personality Disorder, my dad lost his job, we made weekly trips down to the church’s food pantry, and eventually my parents separated. The real weight of it occurred during my senior year.

One of the interesting things that came out of this was the freedom to leave the house on school nights–previously unheard of. For a time I found myself making periodic visits to a friend’s house; he was a new friend really. I don’t even remember how it started but what I realized was that this person who’d seemed so different from me for most of the previous four years was not so different as I had thought. I began high school playing soccer and reading books and was pretty removed from the social scene, and he began playing football and dating cheerleaders. We hardly spoke. There was never animosity; we were just turning different screws. I was just trying to survive a bottom locker.

One afternoon a few months prior to graduation I was at his house and we were playing guitars. We’d been taking turns playing “Sunshine of Your Love” and the intro to “Purple Haze,” and then he shifted gears. “You’re not leaving my house until you hear this song,” he said. “For me, this is it. This is how I wish I could play. I wish I could do something beautiful like this.” For him, in that moment, the guitar playing in this song had everything. It was delicate and it was simple and it was good. It wasn’t ostentatious. It wasn’t trying to show-off. It filtered gently into the space around it. Yet it was powerful.

The song was “Waterfall” by the Stone Roses, who and which I’d never heard of before.

Middle age is also a sea change, and for many it can be a difficult time. Chris Cornell’s recent passing certainly springs to mind as a potent example. A couple of weeks ago I had an astrology reading from Linda, which I was gifted as part of a blogging challenge she hosted late last year—(and the reading was amazing, my first experience with astrology!)—and she was explaining to me how in mid-life a person typically passes through these returns, traversals, squares—(I’m a complete novice but don’t let that reflect on Linda, please!). I gathered they can come in opposition to conditions or influences that may have been active around the time of our birth, and so it can be a time of unearthing things and reviewing them and confronting them and dipping into them anew. There are, anyway, often influences surfacing in this time that can push and prod us a bit.

For me that has certainly been the case, but the process is doing its work. It has led to new expressions of being. I’ve experienced a renewed focus on creative writing, which had fallen away for much of the previous two decades, and am excited to report that my first story has been accepted for publication. It is, like many things in life, at once a small and a grand thing. It is a beginning and an end. It is most meaningful in the context of experiencing the consummation of inner creative desires that have been within me for a long time, but also has revealed how far there is to travel on this writing road.

While on vacation recently I read Trans Atlantic by Colum McCann and for me it was like the moment when my high school friend played me his favorite song and we both just listened. The book was beautiful and resonated with me from start to finish. I really liked the style in which it was written. He used a lot of short, beautiful descriptions that added up over the course of the novel to a stunning inner momentum. The characters emerged swiftly out of nothing, were built from hand-picked granules of history and the everyday, and part of the richness of this work for me was the way in which no single character could lay claim to the novel’s arc. The baton of hope and desire was passed deftly through lives, across continents and over oceans, through visages of war and grief and longing, until it finally dissolved altogether. What remained settled gently on the land like the dew, had dispersed through everyone involved. And you realized, this was nightfall on but one day of the human heart.

Acknowledging simple moments of grace. This is what this time has unearthed in me, and I am grateful for the inspiration from near and far, for the nudges towards possibility, and for unexpected moments of friendship.

37 Comments

  1. It sounds like a beautiful journey Michael. I’m glad life is helping you unfold with grace. I could use more grace in my life. 🙂 To grace, inspiration and friends to share the journey.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Brad! Hoping you discover the grace at work all around and within you. It is all too easy to see past, but it is there in that field where the self-applied lenses of right and wrong dissolve, where Rumi is waiting with a backstage pass, and Hafiz is in the background doing backflips. 🙂

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Michael!!!!! What indescribable JOY it is to see you back here! Your writing also flows like waterfall and settles like the dew, like the precious dew in a dry dessert lands.
    Congrats on the first story, and may many more follow.
    Love,
    Kristina

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thank you, Kristina! Your support has meant so much! And your sharing this joy with me is an exquisite feeling of friendship. I am working away at some other pieces and looking to find them homes. Learning a little each day… 🙂

      Much Love
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  3. i’m also appreciative of your writing and words Michael…for many reasons…always beautiful images come into my mind…along with ones that nudge me to see…this is a lovely post…often i find i miss posts on the WP reader…but then your words appeared like magic today and now i re-read…listen to the waterfall lyrics and see the work of litebeing chronicles…such a connected world…sending you joyful moments and many smiles ~ hedy

    Liked by 4 people

    • Hello Hedy,

      I’m glad it worked out! Thank you for the joyful smiles. Your work is also continuously bringing beautiful images to mind. It is a nice feeling to drift in this connected world–a feeling I must bring myself back to sometimes when I somehow slip away. It helps to see one another truly. Thank you!

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Have wondered what happened to you. So good to see you back! Congratulations on your first story being published!! May it just be the beginning. You are beginning at middle age and I am ending in old age. Many things are falling away. But life goes on. Best wishes for inspiration to continue and intensify as you go along your path. xx ellen

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Ellen, for the enthusiasm you return to me! Beginnings and endings seem to occupy the same spaces–it does feel like a beginning, and also the end of something else. Are there really beginnings and endings, or just shifts that continuously nudge us through life? I don’t know. We experience so many things and are all surprised, I think, sometimes at where we end up.

      Hope you’re enjoying a lovely spring, and I am sending love to you–
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  5. How lovely to have you here again Michael. And congratulations on your story being published. Well done! I’ve never heard of the Stone Roses but loved the song. And your description of Trans Atlantic is an exquisite piece of writing ending with that beautiful sigh-inducing last sentence You’re one of those writers who make me want to be a better writer.

    I have a first – my first paid piece of travel writing – for a major adventure travel company. And then they wanted another, and then another! And the latest is they’re bouncing the idea of sending me on one of their tours in exchange for writing and photography about the trip! Like you I feel it is both a small and a grand thing. I guess I’d been heading to this all along without even knowing it.

    Much love
    Alison

    Liked by 3 people

    • Wow, congratulations Alison! That’s great! You have such a talent and vision for this, both visually and in the written word, and I think people will benefit tremendously from your insightful interpretation of place. You’ve got such a depth of experience to draw from–from the logistics and the details all the way to a heart that can read the currents of history and presence that come to life in people around the world. This is perfect!

      And thanks for your enthusiasm on the story. Looking forward to continued practice in this field…! It is a labor of love, and so fulfilling, as you surely know, to pull yourself out of the magic hat of yourself, and then to do it again. Ha!

      Peace and Love
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  6. this reminiscing of high school
    pain & re-growth
    into current renewals
    of your creative spirit
    give me hope, myself, Michael!
    congratulations of getting those
    creative juices published!
    i really love your book
    of poetry, opening it often 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, David. Much appreciated my friend! It is amazing how these memories rest inside of us like kernels of grace and healing, or something. They seem to reveal their true depth over time. It’s a remarkable study, isn’t it, to see how our memories deepen and transform as we move through experience, and we ourselves heal. Can our healing remake history? 🙂

      And thanks for the feedback on the poetry book. Much appreciated and I’m so glad you’re enjoying it!

      Much Love
      Michael

      Like

  7. the way you wrote this out is in itself a joyful flow like a waterfall to the soul. So happy to see you back at play here in WP land, I think of you often and of Hafiz too of course, almost done with the book, taking it in and absorbing it like a sponge. Always afraid for it to end but knowing with the final page, I can always start back at the beginning again and glean something new and precious in your words. Hope you are well and smiling, peace and blessings my dear friend ❤ Kim

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Kim!

      Did you change your site?

      Nice to know you are still enjoying the words of my most marvelous muse. I’m grateful they have found such a good home! I am well and hope you are, too! Moving through new stages and phases, keeping my face turned to the sun!

      Much Love
      Michael

      Like

  8. Hi Michael,
    I’m really happy for you, with your publication, with everything. The Stone Roses song has the warm feeling of an easy flow, and you have really been such a good friend through your words and presence. Congratulations to Linda for also providing you with a reading that has helped you.
    Aloha, Ka

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Dear Michael, it was so such a delight to see you publish again. I expect no more, no less, from you, but I know what you can do for me, is to allow me to linger in new pools, reflect upon old ones, be brave and explore new ones, and always, I mean this genuinely, always, no matter where you take me. to feel safe.
    Fondly, Harlon

    Liked by 3 people

    • Harlon! My man… good to hear from you, and I’m savoring your candid and heartfelt expression. Hope you are well and have enjoyed your trip west. I seem to remember you may have taken a little vacay, which we are just back from ourselves. Thanks for your kind and generous presence. Wherever you are, I hope this finds you well, and that you are enjoying the particular richness that is Harlon.

      Peace
      Michael

      Like

  10. Oh, the memories. My mother was hospitalized for depression in my puberty years when my father was in Vietnam. But we carried on through it all. And we grew strong and wise and so human. I wish you well, Micheal. Always. Thanks for the song.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, we do carry on don’t we? For all our stubbornness and rigidity, we human beings can also be amazingly adaptable. We forget that sometimes I think. And you’re right about the gifts that grow from all of these times. They unfold throughout our lives. Glad you enjoyed the song!

      Blessings and peace–
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  11. This resonated so deeply with my current experience. I’m also riding the waves that are being churned up in middle age. So much nostalgia. The music…So many of the talented voices of my generation are already gone. Chris Cornell came as a huge shock. He seemed to be one of the few who had a grip on the black beast of depression that has tormented so many gen xers, including myself. Where has the time gone? This is the question that has haunted me in recent years. It’s as if middle age finally reawakens an awareness that somehow got buried under the banalities of getting by. The feeling that I didn’t use the time wisely is finally dissipating. It’s being replaced by a calm determination to be as happy as I can in the time that remains. Changing old habits, rediscovering writers who set my spirit on fire so many years ago. Warmest wishes to you, Michael. I hope your creative energy takes you to places you never dreamed existed.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Julie. We’ll see where it takes me, but just being at the page working has taken me some interesting places. Ha!

      This middle age thing can definitely be an intense experience, and I’m grateful I’ve had the opportunity to develop a few tools and insights along the way to keep perspective. Without a few roots in the earth and a few leaves in the sky, it can knock you right over. I think many of us can relate to wondering about the use of time, but our perspectives change as we go, and who can say what was wise at the time? It’s almost like we wish our former self had taken our current one into consideration. Nothing like being in conflict with ourselves to remind us where the real need for healing is…

      I was shocked to hear about Chris Cornell, too. For pretty much the same reasons. So many of his songs have been part of my life…

      Peace
      Michael

      Like

  12. A delightful post, Michael, one which made me think of those little moments of propulsion that visit us now and again, those chance events that, though perhaps seemingly insignificant at the point of their occurrence, alter the course of our lives. They seldom seem self-initiated, it appears to me, though perhaps we manage to convince ourselves post hoc that we were in control all along, and it was just a matter of timing before the decision was made to change tack, adopt this, abandon that, pursue this, avoid that. There’s a post-dictive grasping at the imagined piloting controls — Ah, yes, it was only a matter of time before I was going to do that, and when the moment came, I seized it. Yet when we delve into it, the first causes are forever untraceable; there’s always something that precedes. Sometimes I feel like a robot that is dreaming. But then lucid dreaming is fun. Blessings on the day, Michael.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Hariod! I felt like this time I’ve described was a delightful surprise and because it felt like a surprise I never really felt as though I had controlled it per se. It felt like a gift, really. In truth I don’t think I’ve ever felt quite in control of things, but when I see how these subtle and meaningful moments arrive, without any real plan on my part to create them, it is heartening. I confess I wrestle with the seriousness of this dream, sometimes. I’m intrigued by your metaphor of the dreaming robot–I almost don’t know what that means! I think I see it, For me the magic of life is that the untraceable chain of cause is steadily giving rise to particulars that are meaningful to each of us, in ways only we quite grasp. I don’t know if that makes any sense really, but when you realize the subtle movement of experience is occurring in response to you, and with you, it is quite remarkable.

      With Love
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Michael, How have I known you so long and not known you play the guitar? Now your aura as a man of all seasons reaches even new heights. Thank you for the “experience” that reading what you write always is. And how I’ve enjoyed the responses of your readers! You are in a field of beautiful writers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, I don’t know, Mari! I haven’t played in a long time–not since we’ve known each other. Maybe one day I’ll pick it up again. Thank you for being here and yes, I’m really humbled to have such amazing people to share a few experiences with here… A field of writers! What a lovely way to say it!

      With Love
      Michael

      Like

  14. Hi Michael,
    It is a pleasure to read about your life and how you have taken your experiences and used them to fuel your evolution, creative and otherwise. Congratulations on the publication of your story. This is wonderful news! I know you have incredible talent and a clear, unique voice to share with the world.

    I am very happy to know that the astro reading was helpful to you. Some say that middle age is a second adolescence ( maybe Marianne Williamson said this). I agree with this notion and that major milestones connect with earlier ones. We are greater than the sum of our parts, lol! Thanks as well for the mention.
    Middle life is a complex period, but part of the journey. I have found that it has contained some very unexpected pleasant developments amidst the turbulence and angst ( similar to teenage angst without all the drama).

    Wishing you continued success and more peace than you and Hafiz can imagine gazing out on a starry night.

    peace always, Linda

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Linda. It definitely feels like an interesting time, and I think they all are in a way, right? I’m amazed by the movement, by the way a time can take on an energy all its own, and you can both sense and observe its unfolding. It’s really an interesting process–this being human thing. And it truly was a pleasure getting to spend that time with you on the phone and listen to your work and intuitive reflections. I learned a lot and appreciated it greatly.

      Also, for the record, Hafiz and I can imagine an awful lot of peace once we get going, Linda. That’s a wish for all of us…!

      Blessings
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Oh! Oh oh oh!!!!!! Congratulations, my friend 😁 I am smiling from ear to ear and just so happy for you. It’s so funny that I had that exact thought…I wondered if one of your stories had been accepted yet…I, of course, knew that it was only a matter of time!
    I understand what you mean by it being an ending…and a beginning. But please, make sure you feel really good about this and don’t set those feelings aside too soon. The first is the hardest…the reat will be much easier 😉
    Sweet blessings to you, Michael!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Lorrie! I did savor the moment, still do, and also have moved onto some new stories. Thank you so much for your support and encouragement. We’ll see how the next ones go. This writing thing: it’s like two steps back, one sideways, one down a well, then a sashay into sunlight. You never really know the route. I was thinking that while we have a tendency of describing the process as “learning” it’s not really. It more emerges from time spent in the doubt and wonder and necessity of it. A bit like the saying, “Just be who you are…” You can only find that by submitting to the uncertainty of your footsteps, knowing ultimately they are held together, each to each, by a great Love.

      Blessings to you, too!
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says

    Here’s to simple moments of grace – past present and future!
    So happy about the publication of your first story!!
    Much love,
    Mary

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll raise my glass to that, Mary. Thank you for your support and love and friendship, and for sharing in my enthusiasm…

      Peace
      Michael

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Lovely post Michael revisiting the past and beginning everything again… only this time with lighter steps of joy and lots of moments of grace, love to you Michael x barbara x

    Like

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