Dispatches (soon to come) from the desert

Good things come in the most unexpected packages—

Two weeks ago my UPS delivery man hands me a package, no recognizable return address on the shipping label. I’m baffled, not that I don’t love a surprise.   But when that big brown truck barrels up my driveway, more often than not I can pretty much guess what’s in it for me. UPS tracking is a beautiful thing and I’d been alerted, via email, that something special was on its way.

Humor me, please. I’m a sucker for a great rock show, and when tickets went on sale in May for that mega Coachella festival in California known as Desert Trip, I managed to get ahead of the bots and scalpers. Anticipation tells me it’s a long, long time from May to September; yet somehow as the moment of arrival gets close it feels as if time has moved with the speed of a bullet train. Today those tickets would finally be in my hands and I can be forgiven for expecting a simple flat envelope with the passes inside. Clearly I was wrong.

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A three-day festival featuring the Rolling Stones/Bob Dylan, Neil Young/Paul McCartney, Roger Waters/The Who is a big deal and I don’t care if they call it Boomer-Chella or Oldchella or just good old rock ‘n’ roll. But it’s clear, from even the delivery of the passes, that a lot of thought (possibly over-the-top) has gone into this.

I open the box, the passes and wristbands jump out. There’s more, though, and I lift the insert. Voilà—my very own ViewMaster, the pièce de resistance in a boxful of memorabilia before the event has even taken place.
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Yes, it’s a carefully orchestrated/marketed event. But the spirit behind it counts for a lot. I was in Europe the summer of Woodstock, and even if the Desert Trip stars are in the twilight of their performing career or maybe because of it, you can count on some good old-fashioned dispatches from me.

In the meantime, there’s been the distraction of a presidential election that has gone from sublime to ridiculous to surreal and raised anxiety levels to new heights. Even at the worst moments I have managed to keep the faith that Hillary will prevail. That’s the realist, not the optimist in me, speaking. As we move into the final stretch, my own anxiety drops just a bit as I see a woman in a red suit handle herself with such aplomb before an audience of millions. There really is no contest here, and any sensible person sees it. But this country, alas, is clearly divided between the camps of sense and senselessness.

Awesome may be a word suited to rock concerts, but awe is world into itself, and to be in awe of the woman most likely to succeed as Madam President puts me in a good frame of mind for my upcoming trip—which just happens to come smack in the middle of the ten-day period known as Days of Awe in the Jewish calendar. There’s every reason to get a sense of grounding this time of year. For one thing, there’s that back-to-school mindset, so ingrained and so in tune with seasonal change. The air gets cool, leaves start to fall, a sense of hunkering down can’t help but take hold. Those of us brought up in reasonably traditional households have the added fact of the Jewish New Year. There’s this big, big book, we’re told, and in those ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, God is watching very closely, giving us every chance to reflect, repent, do good deeds before deciding what the next year will bring.

I do my best.

I honor my parents’ spirit by attending services, notably Tashlich (when we cast off sins) and Yizkor (when we honor the memory of loved ones no longer with us).

I take time to reflect on my life, a very blessed one indeed.

I channel my mother by cooking brisket, and more, for the friends and family who will come for dinner. Chopping onions is not the only thing that brings tears to my eyes.

And this year, I go to the desert, if not with ancestors, at least with kindred spirits—my daughter, her boyfriend, and to bring it full circle, a dear high school friend who happens to live in Palm Desert. We lost touch over the years, and since reconnecting via Facebook, we’ve made up for some lost time via texts, emails, phone conversations. And just the other day I get a surprise package from her via USPS, the goodies she’s been gathering, just a glimpse into all the things to do/places to see in that valley where I picture a sublime sunset setting the stage for pure satisfaction.

 

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Bliss

The first days of September invariably have me feeling a little blue. What is in fact a gradual diminishing of summer green hits sharply with the reminder that this is what leaves do before they disappear from trees. Within weeks they’ll start dropping with a fury as the glorious riot of red/orange/yellow takes hold and with it the reminder that the gift of autumn is in fact a dying.   These are the moments in-between, always the most unsettling until I give in to them, love the day for what it is without rueful thoughts of what is no more or anticipation of what’s still to come.

Easier said than done.

Everything in its time, even if it feels as if the things we want most seem to take forever.

This summer brought a break from routine, always a good thing even if it puts me a little out of sorts.

I read, and listened to, Pema Chodron, more and more a guiding light to a way of being I long for. When she sounds the note on what she calls ‘positive groundlessness,’ I consider the possibility that that there is no ease without fully surrendering to discomfort.

I learned to ease my grip on a kickboard so that I might experience some semblance of buoyancy as my body flounders with a little more fluency in a swimming pool.

I was lifted (possibly into the stratosphere) by Bruce Springsteen when he performed for nearly four hours at the Meadowlands. Not the first time I’ve seen him, but synchronicity was in the air for one more time. My daughter would be in for a visit, my best friend/concert buddy thought we needed to see him again. In his home state, to boot. And two days before my daughter’s birthday.

Which brings me to that thing called bliss, something I imagine as only possible when the noise—inside my head and outside—frees me of all distraction. Say the word to yourself, it slips through your teeth, unlike ‘blues,’ with its stickiness. That’s not to say it’s a momentary state, gone in flash. But without being fully present to the moment, there is no bliss.

I can readily go down the list of great concert moments in my life, alternately with my daughter and my friend, but the ties that bound bruce-blissus in an outdoor concert on a beautiful summer night made this one especially joyful. And even if I can’t pinpoint the moment it hit me, that higher level of joy I think of as bliss was made manifest in the expression on Springsteen’s face, thanks to those larger-than-life monitors.

“I’m always in search of something, in search of losing myself in the music,” he says in an interview in the upcoming issue of Vanity Fair. There is no one who plays to his fans, for his fans, like Bruce. Who else would sing “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” with a fan, in August?

And just when he had you thinking he was done, taking on the body posture of James Brown as he staggers from the stage, cape and all (this one of course embossed with “The Boss”), he was back.

If I had trouble containing myself when he sang “Sherry Darling” early in the set, I could have died and gone to heaven when he gave “Jersey Girl” pride of place as a second encore, ending the show with fireworks. More to the point, from start to finish—including my dear, dear friend figuring out the sanest parking scenario and my daughter the designated driver getting us there and back like a pro—it was as seamless a night as possible.

I have lots of reason to feel blessed, even if true bliss still feels like something a little out of reach. Maybe it comes in degrees. Or maybe, like every other concept that evolves with time, we need to take a second look at it. The other day my daughter sent a link to an article she said I had to read immediately. I was in the car, and I had to wait, and the wait was oh-so-worth it. If the headline—I’m an Adult Woman, and I Call My Mother Three Times a Day—had me smiling, the writer got me with, “The timeless truth is that I constantly call my mom because she’s my best friend.” I don’t know if that’s such a good thing but she’s right on when she says, “Unlike friends, moms are more open to venting, bragging, and utterly boring calls, too.”

Bliss? I get echoes of it when I listen to Todd Norian during a meditation.

And I envision its cousin, buoyancy, when I practice my kicks and strokes in the swimming pool.

Then I remind myself of that feeling we all share and Albert King sings about so well.

 

Nemo and Bambi and all the rest of us

If there’s a thread to my latest blog posts, I have nothing but that mysterious thing we call the unconscious to blame (maybe ‘credit’ is a better word than blame).

The other night I watched Finding Nemo, a refresher of sorts to get me ready for Finding Dory. Like all movies I’ve seen before, it’s the details I forgot, lines striking a fresh note, that ring out:

Fish are friends, not food.

When life gets you down, just keep swimming.

Ironic, indeed, since I recently decided to learn how to swim without feeling dead in the water. You would think that a woman with a longtime exercise regimen that has gone from running (including a marathon) to bicycling/walking/yoga (and now encompasses a combination of it all) would find herself a natural at this thing called swimming.

Doesn’t quite work that way. Sure, I have the endurance, but the coordination required to make staying afloat as pleasurable and seamless as it should be escapes me. Don’t even get me started on my fear of being in deep water. In my world (almost) everything is metaphor, and water has it all. Think about what it means to be in over your head. Buoyancy is never to be taken for granted. Fluidity? That’s just a start.

But thoughts take second place to the act here. I am, in astrological terms, a fire sign (Sagittarius) and even if I count on my other-worldly brother to keep me updated on how the stars are aligning for (or against) me in any given month, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to sense the power of water over fire. So it is with a mix of trepidation and pride that I take this plunge. There’s so much to be learned about myself, how can I help but keep a diary of my weekly lessons? In time, I’ll pull it together into a finely honed piece that has a ring to it: Learning to swim at 66. God is in the details, but I would hate to bore anyone with too many of them.

bambiToday on my morning walk, Bambi looked as if she wanted to run right up to me, but some uncertainty, not to mention the way she sensed Mama cautiously staring my way, stopped her in her tracks. They were both pretty close, and oh-so-trusting.   I would guess that the most threatening thing about me is the baseball cap I wear, a present from my daughter: Women who behave rarely make history.

If I feel a little like Nemo, lost in the ocean with his mismatched fins, I can forgive myself the facile analogy. His trial by water, coupled with Bambi’s trial by fire, has me viewing the darkness in Disney/Pixar in a new light.

How do we regain any sense of innocence lost when tragedy continues to bombard us? Nemo’s father does not even want to let him go to school in a movie that predates Sandy Hook by nine years.

Built into the classic hero’s journey are obstacles—how else does she/he learn and grow? But these days have me feeling we’re in a collective trial by fire, on the national and international front. I find myself thinking, a lot, about the brilliance and wit and pathos Frank Capra brought to movies with an undercurrent of troubled times. Meet John Doe is especially on my mind, what with a hero who runs from the media machinations and political connivance that created him, only to find he can’t run from the authentic, galvanizing movement he created.

If movies ostensibly for children strike a chord reminding me (us) that we have to find our own way in the world, could Meet John Doe, with its message of transcending despair, go a long way toward reminding us that we’re really not in this alone?

Everyone has an opinion/we all want to be heard.

A recent piece on Vox by Ezra Klein re: Hillary Clinton made it so clear that one of her strengths is LISTENING to people, and not, like her presumptive opponent, spouting and shooting from the hip. So here’s what I’m thinking: maybe we can shift the political conversation from the demoralizing, nauseating negativity dominating it by sharing talking points that speak to our favorite candidate’s strengths, not the other one’s weaknesses. I’ll begin right here/right now.

Speaking of women making history . . .Baseball cap

 

The Spirit of Place

Whenever I visit the Upper West Side of NYC and walk past the building I lived in for many years as a single woman and in the early years of my marriage, I imagine knocking on the door of my old apartment, being invited in, just for a look around. I would guess a lot has changed, but the essence of the space—the narrow, dark foyer into the main rooms, the tiny kitchen and bathroom—would be a reminder of all that’s ingrained in walls mottled by years of replastering and repainting.

Walls hold secrets. Memories are something we make. On our first family visit to Disney World (1992) we had more than one magic moment (and some annoying ones) in the Magic Kingdom. It was early December, my birthday, and my heart was admittedly a little heavy at leaving behind my mother, recently diagnosed with cancer. Logic (and a wise cousin) would tell me not to cancel tDisney Mama and Pooh Bear 1992he vacation. My mother was in good hands, barely at the beginning of radiation treatment, and my brother as attentive as a son could be. The tough times were still ahead. Disney World with a playful husband and a six-year-old would do wonders for my spirit.

Anyone who has ever been to a theme park knows the drill: the lines, the life-size characters greeting you, the food/the activities/the gift shops everywhere, each one too much temptation for a young child. The marketing wizards know what they’re doing and we the parents do our best not to give in to instant gratification. Oh, how she wanted to stop at every store we passed! Oh how she fussed (especially when fatigue got the best of her) when we pulled her along, and away from that Minnie doll in the window!

Oh how we still laugh at the instant change of expression on her face when she got her Minnie!

My beautiful picture

My beautiful picture

On another visit to Disney World, wisely orchestrated by my sister-in-law so that Sara and her cousins might have a memorable vacation together before they got too old to care, we would leave the fathers out of the equation. I could say that seeing Cirque du Soleil for the first time left the greatest of impressions. But, in the way that family lore defines itself, my nephew’s pouting over something of significance only to him and disappearing from our room for a spell is the story I like to tell, while he likes to tell about his aunt getting drunk (all I did was accidentally knock over a wine glass at dinner).Disney with Dylan and Jackie 2000

Those were the days when Orlando was still synonymous with innocence.

My daughter, grown up now, decided that the best Father’s Day present for a man who is very difficult to buy things for but who appreciates offbeat humor, would be sending him to see The Book of Mormon (with me, of course). I had already seen it back in 2012, with her, when it was an especially hot ticket. I loved everything about it—the irreverence of the story, the exhilarating music and choreography, the solos and ensemble numbers that glorify the very experience they have fun mocking. There were moments I anticipated, and moments I had, if not exactly forgotten, could not help but see in a completely different light.

There’s irony today—isn’t there?—in a song about a place not fabricated, like Las Vegas, but as much a symbol of fantasy and a kind of American dream. There’s laughter, too, the intended reaction, even as the first notes bring a lump to my throat.

Cocoa BeachSo happens my husband arranged a mini family vacation this past Memorial Day, Cocoa Beach, Florida. Orlando is the hub of air traffic. My daughter tried angling for a visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Even if we didn’t have places to go/people to see during our stay, the thought of being in a stream of family-packed cars on the parkway, not to mention the crowds and the lines at the theme park, was enough to scare us off.

 

 

And love is love is love . . . .

Sunday night, June 12th.  I tune in to the Tonys. 60 Minutes has already run a segment on Hamilton—one of the most extraordinary shows ever created/produced. I had the foresight to snag tickets (face value) when it had just moved from its hot Off-Broadway run to the Great White Way. There are not many shows I want to see more than once—Rent was one. Maybe I’ll be lucky with Hamilton when new blocks of tickets go on sale.

More to the point, the horrific news of the day had me in that unsettling place between grieving and craving more than run-of-the-mill weekend-to-weekday TV distraction. What could be better than to let myself be swept up in the theatre world’s night to salute itself? All those smiling faces masking crying clowns. Women dolled up in all their designer-dress glory. Men in black and grey and white, and all the subtle shades in-between.

The show, indeed, does go on, even if the script takes an appropriate detour here and there. James Corden, in his introductory remarks, said what had to be said in short, bittersweet terms.

And the brilliant Lin-Manuel Miranda, in accepting his award for best original score, brought me to tears with a sonnet that had to be pretty much spontaneously composed:

My wife’s the reason anything gets done
She nudges me towards promise by degrees
She is a perfect symphony of one,
Our son is her most beautiful reprise
We chase the melodies that seem to find us
Until they’re finished songs and start to play
When senseless acts of tragedy remind us
That nothing here is promised, not one day
This show is proof that history remembers
We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger
We rise and fall and light from dying embers
Remembrances that hope and love lasts long
And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love
Cannot be killed or swept aside,
I sing Vanessa’s symphony, Eliza tells her story
Now fill the world with music love and pride

On another night, it would be easy for me to be glib: Fiddler on the Roof again? On this night, “Sunrise/Sunset” gets right to my heart.

On another night, I could be tempted to dismiss School of Rock as a “why bother?” theatre experience, the movie as classic Jack Black as it gets. On this night, Alex Brightman and those extraordinarily talented kids lift me.

Early in the day, I would get a text from my daughter, who lives in West Hollywood.

“Do you think it’s safe to go the parade?”

Not that she wouldn’t have gone, no matter what I said.Parade June 12 WeHo

Not that she didn’t admit, the day after, how scary it was to be there.

 

 

 

 

Empty nest

This morning I woke to an unfamiliar sound, the gentle beep of a new alarm clock. I’d finally replaced the bulky digital one on my night table. The shop owner promised the mechanism was quiet, no ticking.

I almost always wake around the same time every morning, no alarm necessary. It’s a funny thing about body clocks. More to the point, I was in the middle of a dream that had something do with a combination lock I couldn’t open. It took a few dream minutes to realize the lock I was trying to open really looked unfamiliar and had numbers rounded off in fives so that finding the precise combination was tricky indeed. That was my key to realizing I was trying to open the wrong lock. So I pulled out a different one from my bag.

Voila! Mystery solved although the greater mystery might be why I carried more than one lock in my gym bag. Isn’t there something so satisfying about the right-left-right of a combination lock, and the way it lets you know, by a certain feel, when you’ve hit the final digit?

I could analyze, connect the dots of the dream to aspects of my life, the distress of not being able to open a lock, the search for the right (winning?) combination as obvious a metaphor as it gets. The Zen master Bassui says, “It doesn’t matter how much you search for something in a dream, you will never find it.” I say: Don’t we all know when something isn’t quite right, if we’re truly listening?

Case in point: I originally planned a piece that begins like this:

‘These days I’m thinking a lot about curses. Mostly the superstitious kind though it’s no surprise to learn that the word itself is rooted in anger: Cursian (Old English, to swear profanely). A character in a story I’m working on becomes a little obsessed with the notion when a great-aunt from Italy comes to America to live with her family. Once this great-aunt (sister of the girl’s grandmother) enters the picture, there’s no explaining anything except in terms of a curse. If a girl is too tall, a boy too short, it’s a curse. The very arrival of the great-aunt herself years after her sister came to America is readily explained by a love affair, cursed from the start.’

That beginning would have taken me to the closest thing to a rant on what promises to be the ugliest presidential election ever, which (no glibness intended) has all the markings of a curse. The presumptive Republican candidate (I can’t say his name without feeling physically ill) riles people with the most undignified words anyone, running for president or not, should say. The presumptive Democratic candidate does her best to keep the conversation dignified. The rest of us watch, believe we’re listening even if what we hear is only what we wanted to hear in the first place.

What was wrong with that piece was the rant direction it took me on, not really my blogging style. Everyone has an opinion, yes, and everyone thinks that whomever he/she supports is going to save the day (never mind the planet).

No one is perfect. All politicians stretch the truth.

In the best of all possible mindsets, I’d ask for reason (and heart) to rule. In the reality-TV-driven mindset that threatens all sense and sensibility, it takes a village to stomp the anger (never mind the tears).

In the early days of the blogging bandwagon, there was an implicit sense of immediacy, giving voice to what’s going on in the world, shaping a personal vision. Favorite blogs of mine have spurred interesting conversations re: books/writing/spirit/politics/feminist issues. Some are on hiatus, others posting with less frequency at a time when, alas, we need those voices more than ever.

We need to reverse the curse. BIlogging overload, election burnout, a flimflam man emerging in ways that echo the actor who fooled everyone in the Eighties somehow combine to have me recalling (ironic as it seems) a cult book, The Aquarian Conspiracy, that promised a paradigm shift in consciousness, one that would make the world a better place. We all do our part, one by one, most often without fanfare. Here’s what I do: Any magazine, literary or otherwise, with a cover blurb/story about the presumptive Republican candidate gets tossed into the trash. Immediately. If I can’t fight the media forces that lifted the candidate no one thought would ever get this far but has gained strength from the no-such-thing-as-bad-publicity wave, I can make a statement of my own.
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The nest in the joists under my kitchen deck has toppled over. Hard to know if a predator, or the wind and rain, got to it. There are no eggs anywhere around, though I have noticed a bird swooping under the deck. I like to think the eggs were not yet laid, even if it means all the building has to begin again.

 

 

 

Turtles and totems

Sometimes, in the rare moments when my brain is not in overdrive, I imagine myself walking through a View-Master. Virtual reality (not to mention the advent of 3-D movies and 4K TVs) may have turned that charming device from my childhood into an anachronism, but memory retains the magic. I still have one, purchased when my daughter was young and we were all not yet in the grip of technology.   If updated models (including apps available for download) are any indication, maybe it’s not just nostalgia being marketed here. Isn’t there something inherently mysterious and wonderful in the intimacy of putting a red plastic device up to your eyes and watching scenes unfold?

In the beginning, the more I think about it, was the image, not the word. How could all that light come into existence without picturing it before giving it a name?

I have a thing for the color blue. I also have a husband with his own design-specific tastes (a talented guy at that), which makes it all the more meaningful that he ‘acquiesced’ to myyoga room request for a blue carpet in a renovated room I’ve dubbed my tree house, since I really am eye level with trees up here. I take nothing in my life for granted and count it among my blessings to have a personal go-to place for yoga/meditation, listening to music, reading, or just breathing.   I take great pleasure, too, in giving friends who come to visit a serene room of their own.

Some things are reassuringly consistent. The calendar announces the spring equinox. Outdoor temperatures may have us saying the season has arrived ‘early’ or ‘late’ but either way perennials really do come back, bulbs blossom and those turtles lined up like sunbathers on logs tell me what I most need to know about renewal. They are always pretty much in the same spot on the lake and I always stop to marvel at the scene. Invariably they sense my presence, as quiet as I try to be, and one by one they drop into the water.turtles2

Why is the sky blue?

Every child inevitably asks the question, and scientific explanations never quite cut it. Growing up with a father who loved to sing (a reality I would turn into fiction), I was always touched by the answer Cab Calloway gives his daughter, Lael, in their ‘Little Child’ duet. Lael also happened to be my mother’s name.

That was then/this is now. My father and mother are gone, and it always requires some mathematical calculation to mark the passing time, almost sixteen years for him, twenty-three for her. It does not seem like yesterday.

Sometimes I feel a little lost, not a bad thing, Rebecca Solnit reminds me in her luminous book, A Field Guide to Getting Lost. The very first essay, “Open Door,” plunges the reader into the experience of a young girl at a Passover seder. I’d be hard put to ever see the horizon in the same light after reading “The Blue of Distance.”

“Blue is the color of longing for the distances you never arrive in, for the blue world,” she writes. She makes poetry of science here: the blue that colors the horizon is in fact light that doesn’t travel the whole distance from the sun and becomes “the light that gets lost.”

In the realm of meditation, the throat chakra manifests as blue. It is the seat of self-expression. Voice. Even a brief moment of seeing it (or, for that matter, any color in the chakra spectrum) takes me from lost to found.

It’s a balancing act, indeed. Going inside oneself, quieting the internal chatter. Coming out, hopefully with a deeper sense of presence and ease to bring to any conversation around any table. For those turtles on a log balance is second nature. As totems, turtles call up perseverance and longevity. Be the turtle coming out of its shell, a yoga teacher of mine was fond of saying. That protective armor we carry on our backs is as real as it is a metaphor. One day it hit me with the force of revelation: they’re not just slow, steady creatures. They swim, too.

Speaking of totems, was there ever a tree more alive in its deadness than this one, playfully My totem #1posted on Facebook as my updated profile photo? Somehow it tells me that the past is always with us. If you’re lucky, the weight of it is off your back, freeing you to be present to the moment and open to the future. To put it more eloquently (again, Rebecca Solnit): “Some things we have only as long as they remain lost, some things are not lost only so long as they are distant.”

 

 

 

 

 

Fiction Facebook Friendship

Tap your heels together three times, Dorothy.

You always had the power.

To go home.

These days find me longing for some kind of yesterday. Can’t say I loved high school (who really does?) but I can say I remember being enthralled by a book I was supposed to hate if for no other reason than it wasn’t cool to like.

Boring? Maybe to some (most?) of my friends, engrossing to me:

Silas Marner.

Who, as a young teen, could even contemplate a condition known as catalepsy?george eiiot

Then there was Eppie. Innocent if not truly orphaned, when she finds her way to the doorstep of the gentle recluse himself. The bonds of love sometimes have a way of surprising us, even if, in our hearts, we know it couldn’t be any other way.

And the author, a woman with a man’s name.

Middlemarch (not to be confused with Middlesex or Middle Earth) has me in its grip now. The pull of the narrative is immediate, sinewy sentences that require the kind of deep attention that always rewards. No small irony in this time traveling from a world in hyperdrive, more and more on edge by the day, to one that doesn’t seem as old hat as it should in its exploration of marriage, and social mores, and politics in 19th century England. Times change, narrative syntax evolves; but there’s a reason great works of literature, with their timeless perspective on the big themes of life, beg to be read again, and again.

These are horrible, troubling, anxiety-ridden times. Paris . . .Brussels . . . no sane person sees any good there. Cuba? How you feel about it is intrinsically linked to whom you’re rooting for in the Reality TV show known as a presidential election. A wise friend on Facebook puts out a call to hide posts re: the Republication frontrunner (I can’t even say his name without becoming nauseous). A cousin spouts his negative thoughts re: our current president (one of the best ever, to my thinking).

I look for quotes by Rumi to share. Art, poetry, good books that move me. Links to music videos that do what only music can do to the spirit.

Along comes Marlene, a high school friend who connects with me on Facebook. Whatever divergent paths our lives since 1966 have taken us on, we’re here now, real friends in a virtual world. Synchronicity reveals its pretty head: like me, she’s a long-time fan of Leonard Cohen. Bruce Springsteen? Don’t even get us started. Turns out she lives in southern California, and when I tell her that my daughter has an extra pair of tickets to a Springsteen show (that will turn out to be historic as the four-hour finale at the L.A. Sports Arena), it’s a done deal.

In the best of all possible worlds, I’d hop on a plane, take a ticket for myself. It wouldn’t be the first time I flew out to go to a concert with my daughter.

In the real world, I smile at the photo an old high school friend has shared with my daughter, who has shared it with me. I may look back with mixed feelings at my high school self, but there’s only delight at the serendipity that has played its hand in reconnecting us, a connection magnified by the power of music. My physical body was (alas) not at that stupendous show, but trust me, I was there.

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