You—like us—great for an instant

Forgive me, I am someone who seeks out synchronicity—that is, confirmation that I am where I am meant to be, in this exact moment in life and time.

It’s silly (is it?), but I need it (why?).

Last night, driving away from Portland, Ian turned the radio to a local station playing jazz. “Do you like jazz?” he asked. Almost ten years we have known each other, yet still some things to know and remain unknown. He told me about a college class he signed up for with this very radio station, a sort of internship where he’d learn the radio ropes and how to present a show, how he didn’t know anything about jazz and stayed up late at Powell’s reading and researching. But (alas, alack) it was one of those harsh winters and (oh, poor student) he didn’t have a car and wound up missing some classes and thus ended his career in local jazz radio before it had even begun. “Oh baby,” I laughed, “you could have been somebody.”

I was teasing, but it’s true—I think about it all the time: all the roads not taken or only half taken, all the somebodies we could have been and might still be. I can (and have) spend hours tracing back all the things that had to happen in order to find myself, here, now, in this place. And, though I am happy in this place, I am one of those people who can’t help seeking confirmation that all is as it should be, that there isn’t another place I’m supposed to be. Even the smallest of ‘signs’ can set me at ease for, oh, whole hours.

Last night, when we arrived back at the house we are watching for friends this month, the sky away from the city was clear and crisp. It has been so foggy lately and, so, we took a stroll up the back fields, in search of shooting stars. He saw three and I saw one and a bit. He deserved it. He gets up earlier than I do, works harder and longer, lights the fire before he leaves, leaves a teabag in a mug for me…

These things are important and real and good. And yet, I wake this morning thinking, Are we doing enough with our lives, should we be traveling or building or making, we should see more live music, we should write more, I should really learn an instrument—or to drive—I thought we’d have our Christmas shopping done by now, why do we procrastinate, are we wasting it, missing it, why did we just sit by the fire half the day? 

And then, as it seems to go, I stumble across some words that still me, that seem to have been written in the stars for me, today, this morning, when thoughts and anxieties shoot and fire and fizzle across the fearful, doubtful spaces of my mind. A small synchronicity, a poem by Galway Kinnell, makes me forget the creeping daytime thoughts and focus on last night, and all those time in which we are great, and happy, as long as we are arm in arm and looking up.


On the Frozen Field

We walk across the snow,
The stars can be faint,
The moon can be eating itself out,
There can be meteors flaring to death on earth,
The Northern Lights can bloom and seethe
And be tearing themselves apart all night,
We walk arm in arm, and we are happy.

You in whose ultimate madness we live,
You flinging yourself out into the emptiness,
You—like us—great for an instant,

O only universe we know, forgive us.


Frozen Field



Say the word Love beneath your breath.

Say it at those people you think need it the most. Vagrants and hustlers and young men sleeping under bridges and old men blowing on their hands and women in bus shelters at 6am. Love.

Love. Love. Love. Love. Love.

The man on a bench by the river talking to — himself?


The woman pushing a cart full of crap (her best things) down the center of the avenue.


The people in their cars, warm and impatient, honking at her, then taking the opportunity to text and sip some coffee, check their makeup in the mirror.

Love. Love. Love. (They have their own crap, are broke in their own ways, could be lonely, struggle, you don’t know).

Love. Love.

Believe that it makes a difference, knowing that it doesn’t.

Love. Love.

That they might feel it when you say it, somehow. Love.

That it might be the beginning of a change for them. Love.

Cycle past them. Walk behind them. Whispering.

Love. Love.

They might look up from their newspaper or their hands, dismiss it as the wind but wonder all day long. Love.

Begin with the obvious ones. The shabby. The cold. The red-eyed. Love.

Then, notice how the more you say it. Love.

The more you see how everyone needs it. Love.

The lady in the heavy coat, fumbling with her coins as she feeds the parking meter. Love.

The long-haul truck driver. Love.

The man sweeping the stoop. Love.

The couple holding hands in the park; he glances at my legs and she follows his eye and hates me. Love.

The children on the swings and seesaw. Love. Love. Love.

The pigeons, the gulls, the geese. Love.

Everyone. Love.

Say it. Love.




Start with one person and soon you won’t be able to stop.


Soon this short, single syllable will become a chorus, a throb. a sustained humming.

Love love love love love love love love love love love love love.



“Careful, baby.”

Crossing the street this morning, I accidently bumped into a lady in one of those dark, tailored, masculine, power suits and soiled her power sleeve with the ketchup-soaked sausage sandwich I was carrying.

“Why don’t you look where you’re going?” she screeched at me. Passers-by stopped and stared, but I wasn’t intimidated and I wasn’t scared.

Instead, I imagined she was a loving god or one of those mothers who are so overwhelmed with care for their scattered child, their desperation escapes from their fearful bellies in a cry, in a scream, in a howl at the moon.

She hurried, hissing, on her way. I kept walking in the direction I was going but, every so often, I stopped to look left and right for fast cars, pickpockets and men with brown eyes. I wouldn’t want her to be worrying about me all day.