24 September 2011

Somebody Else's Thoughts, No. 4

Were the sky of parchment made,
A quill each reed, each twig and blade,
Could we with ink the oceans fill,
Were every man a scribe of skill,
The marvelous story
Of God's great glory
Would still remain untold;
For He, Most High,
The earth and sky
Created alone of old.
Meir Ben Isaac Nehorai
"Haddamut" written 1050
from "A Book on Jewish Thought"



12 September 2011

These vagabond shoes are longing to stray

     A lot of people at Andrews are from the east coast. So when I meet an individual and they say they're from New York, or New Jersey, I'll say I used to live there.

And they'll ask where I lived in the town,
and I'll say Queens - Sunnyside neighborhood, not far from Jackson Heights.

Where do you live now?

Seattle. I lived in New York for five years, then I moved out west.

So Seattle is pretty much where you grew up.

Yes, I suppose. But I'm still a Yankees fan, and I'll always identify with the city.

And they'll say, That's good
 - offering their appreciation for the loyalty I have for Gotham.

     Growing up in the northwest, I've tried my best to stay loyal to New York. I childishly bragged to my friends I was a New Yorker, wearing my Yankees cap around as if I knew the game. In fourth grade my teacher jovially wrapped my desk in black paper after the Yanks lost to the Red Sox after when they had won the first three games in the ALCS. Besides baseball, I pronounced the word roof with a long O like in moose, whereas my classmates pronounced it like a barking dog - ruff or something like that. I was holding on to east coast pronunciation. Still, it didn't feel like I was truly a New Yorker.
     But what really prevented me from identifying with New York was September 11. I was away from the city, away from the pain and suffering. I was absent from the grief of a connected community, and I could not feel the sorrow of they who truly experienced that day. Now I look back and I know the day will mark the coming of age of my generation. Sure it changed the direction of America and the world, but I just cannot feel emotion from it. I know there are others, just as American, who (don't) feel the same.
    I remember a few years after September 11 (strange how that date will usually contextually correspond to 2001), I visited New York with my father. We stopped by the site, and paid our respects as best we could. He once told me that we visited the towers when I was young and could barely walk, and that I found a coal and drew there along a concrete wall. I've thought about that, and I realize there is a piece of me there.

Said the French, Nous sommes tous Americains. Nous sommes tous New-Yorkais.

 

11 September 2011

Somebody Else's Thoughts, No. 3

Wage Peace with your breath.
Breathe in firemen and rubble,
breathe out whole buildings and flocks of red wing blackbirds.
Breathe in terrorists
and breathe out sleeping children and fresh mown fields.
Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.
Breathe in the fallen and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.
Wage peace with your listening: hearing sirens, pray loud.
Remember your tools: flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.
Make soup.
Play music, memorize the words for thank you in 3 languages.
Learn to knit, and make a hat.
Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,
imagine grief
as the outbreath of beauty
or the gesture of fish.
Swim for the other side.
Wage peace.
Never has the word seemed so fresh and precious:
Have a cup of tea and rejoice.
Act as if armistice has already arrived.
Celebrate today.
Judyth Hill
"Wage Peace"