This is a post of mine from a previous September. I hope you enjoy it!
What is the essence of a life?
A deep thought indeed, but putting aside the belief in the existence of a supreme being for a moment, what is the first notion that question conjures for you?
Is it the wail of a newborn when she is pushed from the womb, wet and shivering, into a cold world of bright light and jarring noise?
Is it a living being’s will and drive to survive?
Is it the slow and arduous process of becoming what your potential keeps whispering you can be, or the serendipitous ease of slipping into a role you were born to fill?
Is it what we cling to as we grow old, try to recapture, strive to enjoy in every waking moment, as the end draws ever nearer?
Could it simply be the state of being, dreaming, pondering and loving?
Or hating and enduring what the universe has given you?
Maybe, life is the constant of the everyday.
It’s the laughter of a stranger on a crowded subway, the silly song that got stuck in your head and you sang in the shower this morning, a face that suddenly smiles in your direction, a warm hug, a lover’s kiss, or a soft place to fall after a long day.
Perhaps it is the enduring memory of a giant harvest moon, the languid ripple of a pond you sat beside last summer, the smell of warm cinnamon in an apple pie, the taste of licorice, or the sweet sip of ice-cold raspberry Koolaid you loved as a child.
Some of life is lived between the lines of our subconscious, in the many subtleties of our private, innermost selves.
Life is all of this and much more. It is joy and disappointment, connection and camaraderie, isolation and despair, exquisite pleasure, and acute suffering.
Life is the endurance of the human experience and the divining of purpose.
Life is the continuity of unconditional love.
What do you think life is all about? What is your answer to this enduring question?
Original post along with your lovely comments here.
Last week while I was sifting through old papers, I found this piece of writing from decades ago. Thankfully, we have all made peace since then . . .
Once upon a time, there was a girl from St. John’s. At the age of fourteen, she moved around the bay with her family. She hated her curly hair, adored her Persian cat, and loved to get lost inside stories and songs.
When she grew older, she fell in love and got married. She was happy. She had a beautiful little daughter. Not long after, she gave birth to a handsome son. She liked to tease him and call him her little “curly boy” because he so much reminded her of herself.
A few times, when she and the husband had terrible fights, she had to take her girl and boy to her parents’ house. But the husband would always tell her how sorry he was, and she would go back because she loved him, and wanted to believe him.
Eventually, she stopped believing. She moved back to St. John’s and started a new job and a new life. She still had her beautiful daughter, but she lost her curly-boy to his dad.
She found someone who reminded her of her love for stories and songs. She loves her cats, still hates her curly hair, and misses her son with an ache that never goes away and leaves her pillow wet with tears every night. Still, she knows she is doing the only thing she can.
She hopes someday he will understand how, once upon a time, there was a girl from St. John’s who couldn’t fight anymore, and only wished for
a happily ever after.
During a Saturday morning long-distance chat, they had an argument, heated and out of the blue.
Before Joanne could apologize and take back the words she’d barked into the receiver, her daughter had ended the call.
No goodbye. Just a click, then cold silence.
Emily was Joanne’s only child. She’d secured a position the year before at the Children’s Hospital in the capital city. Living nearly three hundred miles apart was taking its toll. They never used to fight, until their lives became more separate – more disconnected.
On days or nights when Joanne felt particularly alone, she’d pick up her phone and jab at the Find Friends app to see what Emily was up to. Most times she was at work, other times at the mall or the gym or at an address Joanne didn’t recognize. Probably visiting friends or out for the evening at a downtown restaurant.
On her loneliest days, it became an obsession; she’d tap on the app every hour. She knew Emily was a busy professional and couldn’t always answer her texts or calls, but tracking her whereabouts gave Joanne a ray of comfort and inclusion, even in this small way.
Emily’s was the only app location to whom she had access. The only one she needed. Two years ago when Emily came home on winter break from nursing school, Joanne had been worried about the icy roads on her daughter’s long drive back to the city.
Snatching up her mother’s phone, Emily had made a few taps, and voila: she’d added and activated the app so her mother could track her progress all the way home to her apartment building.
Joanne sighed and called Emily back. It went to voice mail. She sent a text. Not read, no response. She waited an hour and tried again – same result. Over a stupid disagreement!
When she picked up her phone another hour later and jabbed at the location app, she couldn’t believe her eyes. Her heart twisted in her chest.
Emily had turned her location off.
Joanne finally gave up trying to reach her at 7 pm. All she’d wanted to do was apologize for what she’d said and for being so needy.
While she stared into the fridge at the overdue leftovers, a twin beam of headlights illuminated the window and flickered across the kitchen wallpaper. Joanne waited until she heard the slam of a car door and the click of a key in the lock. She ran to the front door. It swept open and Emily, eyes red-rimmed, fell into her arms.
“I’m sorry, Mom.”
“I’m sorry too, honey. You came all this way! But why didn’t you call or text, or answer any of mine? And why did you turn off your location?”
“I took a week’s family leave to spend with you, and I wanted it to be a surprise. I’ve missed you so much, Mom.” She brushed her lips across Joanne’s cheek. “Now, what’s for supper?”
Thanks for reading!
Friday Fiction appears on the occasional Friday as a place to share my writing in the form of short stories, flash fiction, poetry and vignettes.
“That’s my father.” … Seemingly an innocent and offhand remark made by the youngest of his three children, those three little words meant much more to our dad. I know it made him feel proud and happy to be that father, that figure of authority and loving protector of his family.
It was a responsibility he took seriously, a role that only he could execute with his unique brand of friendship, understanding and humour…”
I’ve been reading various collections of short stories lately, the latest of which was written by Fred H. Rohn. Encounters: Relationships in Conflict is a unique, insightful and entertaining read.
The preface alone is a treat, where Rohn explains how he came to create this collection from accumulated notes and short stories over the years, and how each of them exhibit relationships and the “conflict between people resulting from differing perceptions, often between men and women and between different generations.”
In his preface, he also sets forth the belief that creativity does not have to end as you age, and that many seniors like himself are productive in a variety of artistic and creative endeavors. After all, they’ve lived through some pretty tough experiences which, I surmise, affords them a better grasp and understanding of the human condition. Reading this book only further convinces me of that!
As I began each short story selection, I found myself immediately engaged by the author’s sublime writing style and smooth but compelling narrative and voice. Each piece has its own charm, but I do have my favourites. The Piano Recital, Reunion Deals, Jennifer (!), Doc Brunner (that one brought a tear) and Harry particularly resonated with me, while others, such as The Old Man, made me chuckle.
This book offers clever insight to young readers and familiar life experiences for older readers. I highly recommend this lovely collection.
Today’s post is brought to you by my guest, author Susan Day.
Spending time with your grandchildren is one of the best things you can do for them, and for you too, for that matter.
Sure, kids love gifts and candy, and they get really excited about going to a theme park or spending time with their friends. However, there is a secret world which exists right outside the window and one which has a powerful allure. I’m referring to nature.
Nature offers an endless array of beauty and wonder, and for the most part it’s free and easy to access. Taking your grandchildren outdoors is a great way to build a strong connection with them. Just spending time and ‘being’ with children is important for their wellbeing.
Some children don’t get outdoors enough, and the simple act of wandering along the street, running at the park or tramping through the beach sand is an experience they are sadly missing out on.
Ignite a Sense of Curiosity
Research tells us that curious kids are intelligent kids. The more questions they ask, the more their minds grow and develop.
Nature has a bounty of things to be curious about. You could literally spend hours outside with your grandchildren exploring, and you don’t have to live near a forest or a beach to enjoy nature either. It’s in your yard, in your neighbor’s yard, at your local park, or any place a tree is growing and the birds are singing.
Do your grandkids know where bees go, and what they are doing buzzing around those flowers? Do they know why some birds migrate, and others live in the same area all their lives?
Point Out the Beauty in Small Objects
Each time your grandchildren come to visit, make a point of taking them outside and showing them something nature is doing. It might be new buds on the tree or the color autumn leaves are turning.
How many people rush through their busy days, not noticing subtle changes happening around them? Isn’t there something magnificent about the way birds take off or the way clouds move across the sky?
“Isn’t that interesting…” you might begin to say, and then point out an aspect of nature that is happening right under their very noses.
Look at a Leaf
What shape is it? Does it have any spots or spines? Compare it to another leaf from a plant that is growing close by. What things are similar? What are different? You could also begin a leaf scrap-book and share details of trees and shrubs that live in your area.
Analyse an Ant
Who doesn’t love bugs? Well, most adults don’t find them interesting, but kids love ’em! Bugs, beetles, aphids, and ants are like miniature dinosaurs or creatures from outer space living in our backyards. Without interfering with their busy lives, make a point of sharing these remarkable creatures with your grandchild.
Marvel at Moths
Moths, butterflies and dragonflies all go about their daily lives in nearly every place on earth, living in the most amazing ways.
Your grandchildren will love to learn about them. They will enjoy the wonder nature has to offer through your eyes, and come to a deeper understanding of how remarkable the world really is.
“I’d Rather Watch TV, Grandma!”
Nature has a way of going about its business whether we are watching or not, and all the while our televisions and devices are nagging us to watch and engage.
You may find your grandchildren are not used to examining nature in so much detail. They may not understand what you are getting at, but one thing is for sure: they won’t forget the time you have spent with them and how important nature was to you. It is a privilege to be able to see what nature is doing, and stand in awe of what it will do next.
What child doesn’t deserve to be introduced to all of this wondrous world?
No doubt your grandkids will grow and mature, and will find themselves stopping to admire a flower or cloud patterns. They will turn to a friend, their partner or even their own children, and share memories they have of you and how you introduced them to one of the most magnificent things on this planet – nature.
Susan lives in Australia with four dogs, three bossy cats, two rescue guinea pigs, and an errant kangaroo.
Interested in sharing one of your original articles as a guest? Feel free to submit your ideas to email@example.com. Preference is given to topics relevant to my blog, such as books, writing, nature, photography, travel, children and pets. – Jennifer