At the wake of 2021 I would like to share with you one of my favorite poems. It’s helped me to reflect upon my life and motivations time and time again since the young age of 18 when a stranger shared it with me. I hope that as you continue to grow, as you learn to form better habits, and as you take time each new year to reflect on your life that you find this poem an appropriate companion piece. Personally I find it rings true in 2021 as ever it did in 2008, as ever it did in 1927 when it was written.
Desiderata: Words for Life by Max Enhrmann:
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
Our past relationships mean a lot to who we are today. It is upon mulling over such a simple and obvious sentiment that I realized that I never really understood that concept and hardly started cultivating my family relationships until I was 30. I’ve always been an idiosyncratic blip within the harmony of my family. I’m a track that gets skipped and would never make the greatest hits, the Ringo to their The Beatles. Or at least that is how it feels. So while I don’t take complete responsibility for the strained string of “relationships” that semi-survived my more than quarter of a century on Earth (I was the child in most instances, to be fair), I’ve accepted this, and so find family elsewhere. It feels like I’m an alien when we share a table, an alien with my own unique spectral sensory organs unique from their species. So they stopped inviting me to holidays, and I saw them less and less often. I’ve spent most of my life by this point orbiting them from a distance relative to Neptune to the Sun. It’s in this way that I’ve come to realize that I’m most like Pluto; never actually a planet in their Solar System, at all.
Have you ever watched WAKING LIFE? It’s one of my favorite films and I believe you should watch it if you haven’t yet. There is one line in it in particular that sticks to me, it suggests ( for thought) that reincarnation is humanity’s poetic expression for collective consciousness.
I think about that often, and especially since my mother passed. Occasionally I try to speak with her “ghost”, connect with whatever is out there of hers, because I imagine that parts of us have no choice but to linger where they naturally existed. Granted I’m usually stoned when I do this, so take that for what it’s worth.
When I was in college I wrote a thesis on geisha, the point of the paper was that art is the most integral part of any culture for connecting generations to their roots. As I had a panic attack on my 31st birthday trying to feel my mother’s presence again I held her prayer card. We spent a lot of money paying for her prayer cards to have gold-inlay. I studied Art History, my favorite religious art period was the Byzantine era, so that’s what I wanted for her funeral card’s art. If you have never seen Byzantine era art, you can see similar religious art today in Greek Orthodox churches, and dare I say Catholic churches, although not quite as extravagantly.
I was raised Catholic and I believe there’s an intrinsic aesthetic influence due to that fact. I see how Catholicism domineers my tastes, my visual art, and my poetry. I believe once you were raised Catholic a little bit (or a lot) of it always lives in you. How could it not? The art and architecture is so breathtaking, the poetry is moving, and the cultural impact the Catholic church has had on the world is powerful.
That’s how, I guess, how even without a solid belief in religion I still find peace in the iconography, and the symbolism. My point being that art is a mysterious tool that should not be taken for granted.
I don’t know if I believe in a “beyond” in the traditional sense, but the more I ponder what I do believe the more I believe in a reality. My doubts come with only our limits of perception, even if we’re holograms. (Although my expertise falls way short of holography at this point in my life!) I think it’s imperative that artifacts of our culture’s art history to be preserved, because they’re sacred. Sacred is a powerful word if we allow it to be, sacred status gives people something to connect with that’s unpolluted when they’re completely lost. At least it has for me.
I think as a mother I might have taken this for granted, so far as raising my child is concerned. I don’t want the cultural significance of our most brilliant artistic masterpieces to disintegrate like old photos in a shoebox, or like the geisha are disappearing from Japanese landscapes taking with them many delicate trades the likes of musical instrument makers, silk craftsmen, and more. It’s my job as a parent who values art history to continue taking her to museums, travel with her if I can, and to talk to her about which art meant something to her family. It is my duty to show her the value in the art of other cultures which melts into the melting pot of human perseverance. If I don’t what was the point of that education? Why be cultured if you are going to take your culture for granted?
I don’t do drugs very often, but I smoked the other day for my birthday and totally had a philosophical and maybe even religious level of an experience. I’m mourning my mother and I think I’m trying to connect with her particles here in spacetime. I was meditating on religious art, and iconography, and how we inherit these beliefs which are all that stands between us and insanity when we’re approaching moments of *true fear. I was just about to read her prayer for the first time, and my sister called (she was the only person to call for my birthday) telling me that she was planning on making me this pie that I’d be craving all week. Life is strange, and I can totally appreciate those elements as poetic inspiration. How else do we explain them?
I had a religious experience once, when I was 14. I started to question it when I started to understand how the brain works. I don’t know what the answers are, but I do think I’m starting to understand the difference between faith and reasoning, and I hope to find that there is a way to have both. Because I find true solace in the imagery of my mother’s prayer cards. I think it’s important for people who are at the mercy of forces well beyond them to have something sacred in which they can lean on when faced with truly harrowing experiences. I don’t think we need proof of God for that to be important to many people. I also don’t think you need to believe in God to find solace in iconography, or any beautiful art, place, or person. I miss my mother dearly, and I would give anything to commune with her again.
And finally in lighter news, Abraxis Nothing who’s a fellow and talented poet over on Poetizer shared his feedback with me on *ad nauseum, “[…]to paraphrase (rip off? riff off?) Claude Shannon – ‘information is surprise.'[…]”. I have never received higher praise. I did post the poem here in my Poetry segment, however I played around with the fonts on Poetizer and I think I like that version more. I’m not sure yet.
On this day in 2019 my mother passed away at the age of 50. Her name was Rosemarie Lehe and I will not let today pass without honoring her for all her incredible humanity. In this humble attempt at something somewhat like an obituary I hope to honor what should not be forgotten.
Rosemarie was a light in the lives of all who she touched. The youngest of five children, Mom grew up sheltered in the suburbs surrounding New York City, in a small cookie-cutter town called Wood-Ridge.
My mother learned early on the virtue of generosity, as my grandparents routinely fed, clothed, and sheltered many of the neighborhood children. I have quite an extended family due to the nature of my childhood home. My Aunts Dawn and Donna in particular are both as much a Lehe as my late Aunt Donna, my late Uncle Johnny, my Aunts Barbara, her dear friend Robin, my Aunt Laura, and my mother were themselves.
She became a mother at 18, I being her first born. My sister was born almost 5 years later, and 10 years after my sister was born Mom brought our brother into the world. I would not presume that I alone could tell you their stories of Mom, only that she strived to relate to us. Mom blessed us with her infectious smile always, and never denied us her time. Of all the inheritances in the world, nothing could ever amount to that sort of wealth, I guarantee.
Unfortunately, my mother’s gentle and non-aggressive nature lead to many hardships and pitfalls. Mom was the victim of intense domestic violence, at the age of 13 I witnessed her beaten just short of death by her boyfriend. My mother was the victim of much sexual abuse and violence by men of authority and in the workplace. She suffered from a deep fear of abandonment, which resulted in a string of unhealthy partnerships over the course of her life. By her 30’s my mother became severely addicted to opiates, and as a result of that and the incident which occurred when I was 13, my siblings and I spent many years in foster care.
After this point we hardly spent time with her, calls became less frequent, cell phones were not as common nor did I have one, and she was left alone. I wonder often if Mom might have found sobriety had she not been so isolated. It’s a guilt I find myself toiling over often, because the independence was a thing I grew used to and comfortable in. The most difficult part of her death for me was accepting that she would never become sober and live a healthy life free of addiction’s pains. Truthfully I never stopped believing Mom would find the strength to quit. In that I mourn two deaths, that of my mother and that of the hope I reserved for her healthy future.
Despite the tragedies that befell her, as we all get to have our own as we press through life, Mom was authentically eclectic. Her fervor for fashion was fierce, without forgetting to be fun, whimsical, and transient. From a young age, in a time when it was unheard of for a young woman to dye her hair she did; sporting a stark white streak on the side of her perfectly feathered raven locks. She also amassed a yet to be rivaled collection of leather boots, jackets, and bags over the course of her life, caring meticulously for every garment. And I cannot forget to mention how her passion for animal print transcended infamy after a whole church and choir honored her memory by sporting leopard print everything on the day of her funeral.
Towards the end of her life, although I didn’t know at the time that it was the end of her life, I moved back home around the corner from her house. Our time together then did not compensate for the time lost in childhood, but it was a welcome blessing. My mother was able to spend days with my daughter and experience holidays, weekends, and years as a full-time grandmother which she found immense joy and purpose in. Mom understood my daughter in ways that only someone as empathic and sweet as her could. I learned so much about compassionate parenting from watching her parent from the outside in. I witnessed my daughter bask in the abundance of love which I had only felt from her and from my own grandmother, who Mom and I both missed miserably.
I would describe myself as headstrong, and often misunderstood, but my mother went the extra mile to try and connect, understand, and support me, no matter how hard on her I could be. 2017- 2019 were particularly transitory years for my life, where I was not always my best self despite earnest effort. In 2018 I began to train in hopes of joining the military, Mom gifted me a flag, and was the only person not to doubt my capability for even a moment. In 2019 my husband and I were married and Mom walked me down the aisle. I nearly postponed the wedding a year. For the record I am so glad I hadn’t, more than just the global pandemic– how much harder that would have made planning, rather because Mom passed not 8 months after. I’m honored that chance and circumstance granted me that universal kindness.
My mother’s care and devotion to me saved my life, and set me up for the most success she could offer me with whatever little she had. With her I was able to achieve independence and find myself in ways which without her would have been impossible. I look back on the time I had with her on this Earth with longing, I want to be with her again so badly it makes me ache. But I also have a sense of peace, knowing how fortunate I am in reality to have had her at all. My mother armed me with titanium empathy, iron perseverance, and endless love. I only hope only that her investment and belief in my capabilities will not be in vain. That is truly my deepest insecurity.
The only wish she ever expressed to me was her dream of seeing the Grand Canyon via road trip with my sister and us together. I’m morose that this never came to fruition. I was building a playlist and trying to make it happen before joining the service. Perhaps one day I will be able to drive there and spread or bury her ashes. Perhaps she’s already seen in from the perspective of speeding light and cosmic particles. The future is a mystery of which no one human can be certain. What I am sure of without doubt is that my mother Rosemarie Lehe’s life, one of radical compassion and selfless love, is a beacon in the sentiments which populate my heart. Her memory will remain a cherished piece of me which I would never dare vanquish. Her kindness radiates out the smile and light of my own child. The lessons I’ve learned by her example and lent experience will not be lost so long as I’m alive to ponder them.
Thank you for it all, Mom. I wish you peace. Perhaps we’ll meet again.
I’ve waited quite literally a lifetime to settle into the type of love which brings the terms settling to a distinctly new definition. I love my husband the way I love to run barefoot through grass. I love my husband the way I love to find shapes in clouds.
So when he came home yesterday telling me he needs more tests, that his back may be giving out not due to the degeneration of his discs which the VA insists is not a service related disfigurement, but because there may be a growth on his spine, well it felt fitting that the bright side of his diagnosis rests on the chance that the signs of a growth may be only a shadow.
For reasons I will not disclose in this portion of my writings: I feel like Faust. How beautiful it is to feel the skin of a lover who embraces you so whole, gentle on the blade of his fingers my cheeks, wisps of baby hairs, and the gentle swell of grey hairs spreading across our hairlines. How heartbreaking it is to put the plans to buy a home on hold because treatments cost so much money, and money doesn’t grow on trees nor has a history of populating my pockets for too long.
We used to sing together in his silver Elantra “it just takes some time…”, but the closer I get to whatever remains of my life the more I understand how time only takes. Every break I take risks breaking me as well as it can rejuvenate my body and mind. The fine line between resting and rusting, how I’ve made a living of walking its tight rope. And the bygones kept floating by.
We still sing together, more than ever. Only it’s in our white Buick. My only regret is that we didn’t realize that this was the best life could be. We went our separate ways for so long, and now we have no idea what’s left. It’s such a bittersweet kind of dream life.
I have not been around much (sorry) because I have been homeschooling my daughter. I found that she is disturbingly behind her grade level, and have shifted gears to that 100%.
She is making progress swiftly, because we have essentially all the time in the world. However, after this catch-up cycle, she still has a lot of assigned work to complete.
That being said, I do plan on catching up with my notifications! I purchased a few new poetry books which are arriving in the mail any day now, that I look forward to enjoying and dissecting equally!
Thankfully, no one in my house has become sick with Covid19, even though my husband is still working. However, my aunt who played a major role in raising me during my years in foster care did get infected. She is a nurse, so exposure wasn’t a total surprise, but that weighs on me.
To everyone I have been trying to keep in touch with, please don’t give up on me! Because I promise I am not ignoring anyone on purpose. And feel free to send me a message or invite me to a video whenever if those avenues are already open. I am busy, I am worried, but I do want to stay in touch. I’ve been getting overwhelmed and I appreciate you, please understand it’s not personal. I have been getting wrapped up in the new dilemmas and responsibilities on the forefront of my mind, and writing/socializing is on the back burner. But I don’t want it to fade out.
Well, that’s enough blathering on. I wish you all well, and I hope you’re all safe. – six ❤