I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Unexpectedly wet walk

String quartet at Adagio's

It sure seemed like it would be a normal walk yesterday, with my friends Steve and Don, as we set out from the coffee shop under mostly cloudy skies to walk to Squalicum Harbor, which is one of our favorites. We walked across the bridge and saw the snout of a seal sticking out of the water, checking out the scene. After we had navigated a couple of miles, suddenly we saw it: a squall of wind and water heading our way. Our nice dry walk turned into a torrent of icy pellets, plenty of regular old rain, and heavy wind. In nothing flat, we were soaked and turned around to head back into town. Steve took us on a shortcut, so we only managed a brief three-miler, but the weather made it quite exciting. Don took off for his car as soon as we got close, but I decided to go inside the coffee shop and get myself a hot chocolate and try to dry out a little. Steve came in for a few minutes, but then he took off too. 

I was surprised to see that string quartet in there, playing lots of Christmas tunes, and it was really nice to be indoors and have a place to gather myself together. Everything I had on was soaked, except for my rain pants, which were snug inside my pack, where I had brought them just in case. I decided it was not worth trying to get them on while I was struggling to stand upright. Once we made it back to the coffee shop, I found an open table and sat down to enjoy an incredibly good (and plenty warm) hot chocolate. I felt quite happy after having a few minutes of relaxation, safe from the storm. It continued to rain and blow, but once I felt ready, I made a beeline to my car and drove home. No desire to set out again for the rest of the day.

And, as it turned out, the rain never let up. Today we are expected to get more heavy rain, which means the streams and rivers around here will finally overflow their banks. It's above freezing, but only by a few degrees, and my heart goes out to all those poor homeless people who are just trying to stay dry and warm. I have a nice warm home, and plenty of warm clothes and blankets. It makes me feel guilty for having such luxuries while there are people all around the world who don't have anywhere to go to escape their misery. I woke in the middle of the night and couldn't go back to sleep, thinking about it all. 

What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like. —Saint Augustine

The middle of the night has passed, without me finding any respite in sleep. I did wake my guy and we huddled together in the dark, talking about our various states of mind. It never fails to make me feel better when I feel his arms around me, another fellow traveler through this life, sharing the good and the not so good, which is just part of the human condition. I want to spend my days and hours in love, and Saint Augustine reminds me that love is not all hearts and flowers, but seeing others as they are and helping however we can. Right now that help will be in the form of a post, one that will hopefully be uplifting to myself and in the process, help others.

I could easily list the terrible happenings I read about and see on the news every day, but that would not be helpful, plus you probably already know about them. Instead, in this season of dark nights and grey days, perhaps it would be more useful to consider that in just a few short weeks, the days will begin to lengthen (slowly), the sun will shine intermittently, and soon we will begin a new year, another journey around the sun. We will bob up and down in harmony with the ocean swells as we hold onto each other in our little lifeboats in the enormity that is our lives.

Yesterday, while wrapped in a blanket in my easy chair, I watched a wonderful documentary on PBS about Tyrus Wong, a Chinese-born American artist who came to this country in the 1930s and became an influential artist in many areas: as a painter, animator, calligrapher, muralist, ceramicist, lithographer and kite maker, as well as a set designer and storyboard artist. My first experience of his art was when I watched Bambi, as a young child, an animated story about a deer and his friends. It was produced by Disney and came to the screen in 1942, the year I was born. In the documentary, I learned that his art was very different from anything created earlier, using minimalist backgrounds and charming brushstrokes. It has become a classic.

In June 2008, the American Film Institute presented a list of its "10 Top 10"—the best ten films in each of ten classic American film genres—after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. Bambi placed third in animation. In December 2011, the film was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically and aesthetically significant." (Wikipedia)

 Although Tyrus was discriminated against because of his ethnicity, he never seemed to take it personally and never stopped trying to create. He married Ruth Kim in 1937 and became father to three daughters. He and his father immigrated illegally in 1920 until the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed in 1946. He then became an American citizen and found work at Disney Studios and later Warner Brothers. When I think of how hard his life was, and how successful he became, I realize that there is nothing that cannot be overcome, with (as he said) "luck and hard work."

Tyrus died in 2016 at the age of 106, having changed the face of animation forever, and having created so much that is still being discovered today. For many years, his contribution to Bambi was unknown. After having watched that documentary, I realize that I too was unaware of the depth and breadth of his creative talents. How many other wonderful people have I missed, or worse, misjudged, in my own life? Perhaps it's more important for me to take stock of my life today, as well as my friends and family, and examine it and them for clues to unrecognized talent.

One thing I know for sure: that in taking a look outside of my own life at the world around me, with all its depth and possibility for change, there is a way to be hopeful and filled with love for it all. Yes, all of it, if I can let go of judgment and simply let it in. I realize that just being tuned into the disasters and pain of the world that fills the TV screen are NOT all there is to see and experience. I will not let myself get pulled into the misery, when all I have to do is look over at my dear sweet partner, placidly sleeping next to me as I write, to realize that cultivating an "attitude of gratitude" will go a long way toward healing my worldview.

And you, my dear virtual family, will hopefully find your own way to happiness as you navigate the shoals of your own life. We do get to choose, you know. My tea is long gone, and my day will begin once I finish this post and climb out of bed to enjoy the rain and wait for my friend John to take me to Sunday breakfast once again. Until we meet again next week, dear friends, I do hope you find a way to relax and enjoy the moment just a bit. I know I will be doing that, too. I wish you all good things and wish you many happy returns of the season.


gigi-hawaii said...

Very interesting to read about Tyrus. If he married a Kim, then he married a Korean, since Kim is a Korean name. But, to live to 106, that is amazing.

Linda Reeder said...

Interesting bio of a person I have never heard of. It does make one think of all of the wonderfool and talented people we have missed in our every day experiences.
And now, on this Sunday morning, the sky is clearing, the sun is pealing through, and there is LIGHY!
Have a happy day!

John's Island said...

When it comes to Eye on the Edge posts, some of my favorites are the ones where you, in a reflective way, say something like, “I want to spend my days and hours in love, and Saint Augustine reminds me that love is not all hearts and flowers, but seeing others as they are and helping however we can.” That seems especially true these days. There is so much hate out there. Let’s refocus on the realities of life and help where we can. Wishing you a happy week ahead.

Marie Smith said...

Helping where we can is everything these days. So much is beyond our control but finding where we can help and doing it is everything. Have a great week, Jan.

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

"Attitude of gratitude," are powerful words.
Reading and watching videos online of positive people, there are a few like those that deserve to be hung on the wall for a daily dose of what life can be with a positive view.
Thank you for the inspiration

Rian said...

So sorry you and your friends got drenched in the rain. But that stop at the coffee shop was a great idea. Hot chocolate and good music would definitely be uplifting. And I do believe we get to 'choose' - not always what happens, but how we look at things and how we handle them. Wishing you a lovely Sunday, DJan.

Gigi said...

Djan, this sentence gives me hope that I'll be warm again soon - "Instead, in this season of dark nights and grey days, perhaps it would be more useful to consider that in just a few short weeks, the days will begin to lengthen (slowly), the sun will shine intermittently, and soon we will begin a new year, another journey around the sun. We will bob up and down in harmony with the ocean swells as we hold onto each other in our little lifeboats in the enormity that is our lives." and is so very beautifully written.

Have a wonderful week!

Red said...

I think that this is the only time you have been caught out in terrible weather! You ae fortunate. It has always been that there are many unfortunate people around us. Many things have been done to help them. Some take advantage of the system like the artist. Others cannot use the help and quickly end up in their former situation. Anyway, I hope you dry out and have a drier day tomorrow.

Linda Myers said...

I can usually keep my mind on the goodness around me. I've been very busy since we got to Tucson last month, mostly with The Inn of Southern Arizona, which is a shelter for asylum seekers on whose Board I serve. Every day I am face to face with those far less fortunate than me, but with far more courage, I think.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I rarely watch the news when we are Up North, my husband will let me know about anything newsworthy. Most every day I watch on Facebook the Secret Santa on the East Idaho News with Nate Eaton...I share them on my facebook page. If I ever bought a lottery ticket and actually won that is something I would do. :)

Rita said...

You really got caught in the rain that time! But the coffee shop was an uplifting place to warm up and dry off a little. Tis the season of love and kindness and forgiveness. :)

Anvilcloud said...

Child 2 from Vancouver paid a quick visit on the weekend, and she talked a little about a recent deluge. I knew to ask from blogs like yours.