“Sometimes you can find peace of mind by transferring yourself to different situations. They’re just reminders to stay… calm.” ~ Yves Behar.
My father always claimed to be a late developer, not in the physical sense, but in the academic sense. He did not do well in his ‘common entrance’ an exam given to 11 and 12-year olds (in the British system), which determined which high school they would attend. He told the story of how he had totally messed up one of his answers. Of course, this was way before ‘multiple choice’ type exams, when you would have to write short essays on a topic, or answer questions. As an educator now, I pity those who had to grade them! He had been presented with a poem, a poem without a title, and he had to name the object the poem was written about. He missed by a mile.
The poem described an object with long arms which swept around in circles. The poem was about windmills, and my father had never in his (short) life, seen a windmill. They may have existed in some parts of the UK, but he was born in the city of Liverpool (of Welsh parents) with no windmills in sight. To him the poem described the lonely lighthouse, perched at the edge of the perilous sea, sending its beams of light (like arms) sweeping over the inky darkness. If you think about it, both structures have similar shape, and similar height, but vastly different functions. I don’t know how he discovered his mistake, but it must have felt so unfair, to be punished by his lack of exposure.
I watched a documentary about Irish lighthouses, the other day. The West Coast of Ireland is a wild place, the first landmass to feel all of the force and power of the Atlantic Ocean. Lighthouses go back centuries, in fact the first one in Ireland was built around 1240! They may be built on the mainland, or on a rock, a small outcrop just off the coast. Those who cared for the light, the keepers of the light, were often away from home for weeks at a time, confronting storms, maintaining the building and the light, to keep mariners safe and light their way back home.
There is something beautifully reassuring about the thought of a lighthouse, especially during stormy times. Something steadfast and abiding, helping you to stay focused and connected, even as the billows rage and the wild winds buffet you around at sea.
These stormy times have me thinking about the old story of Chicken-Licken, (I don’t recall most of the characters in the story, Henny-Penny was another). For those who don’t know the story, I believe it was Chicken-Licken who got struck on the head by a falling acorn and was convinced that it was a piece of the sky, and it was her job to alert everyone that ‘the sky has fallen, I must go and tell the king!’ I am currently the owner of 4 chickens (reluctantly at first, but they do grow on you). And although (thankfully) none of them are roosters, they do have a tendency to let the world know when they are concerned, or broody, or troubled, or who knows! Sometimes they calm down at the sound of my voice, but at others they just cannot control their alarm, or excitement, or disgust, or who knows! One of them (the white one of course) delights in jumping over the fence and visiting next door. You can imagine how the others respond. I try to tell them it stems from white privilege (the other three are chickens of color). She (Whitey) just assumes she has the right to go where she pleases! By the way, did you know that white fowls lay white eggs and brown fowls lay brown eggs? We have one androgenous looking one (I swear she has sideburns!) who produces greyish blue eggs!
It helps to turn away from the distressing news and look at the chickens, those noisy, picky, needy creatures, and realize that they live their lives one day at a time. They can learn, I believe, not a lot, but they love routine. They are not concerned with the news, or a pandemic. They rise and set with the sun. They dedicate a good portion of the day to just sitting and laying. They hunt for food. When the day is over they settle in and stay put. And mutter good night to me when I go and check on them. Simple lives.
Many years ago a wise friend showed me that everything in life depends on your attitude, on how you choose to see things. She gave me the example of when your car breaks down. You can get frustrated and sweaty as you try to figure out how you are going to get moving again. What is this going to cost in money and time? How long will it take for someone to rescue me? Or you can simply sit and wait, set things in motion then relax. You have no control over the outcome. And as you sit and wait you can reflect on what the moment has come to teach you. Did you neglect to do the simple maintenance that would have prevented the breakdown or was that too beyond your control. Or maybe there is something you needed to mull over and have not had the time. Perhaps that time of forced immobility gives you clarity, gives you insight into some other decision you had to make. And instead of grinding your teeth at the breakdown, you are welcoming a moment of breakthrough.
We can choose whether to be lighthouse keepers or chicken-lickens, as we confront these scary times. And even though there may be stormy days ahead, if we take it one day at a time, and keep our inner fires burning, we should be able to not only survive the tempest, we may be that glimmer of light that steadies the sailor out at sea. This Friday morning I send out strength and healing blue light to all those who are feeling the brunt of this pandemic, that they may have the courage, fortitude and compassion to make it through.
Have a wonderful weekend, Family!