Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Nearly every day, I learn to define a word anew, to truly understand it as I think it must have been meant. Today's word is divine because, by my own judgmental account, this day was truly that, in all senses, theological and theoretical.

But words, even one so powerful as divine, cannot describe my joy in having found in a single morning the time to revel in so many real, genuine emotions. I first visited my children's classrooms, eschewing the prescribed math games in favor of viewing with awe their amazing artistic endeavors. They are an inspiration to me in my own sometimes fearful efforts. Reading my 8-year-old's poem about butterflies blew me away. I am so happy that he, like me, like my husband, finds words and ways of using them so entertaining and fun. I think it will serve him well. I can only hope it will be a help for him and his little brother, who is likewise beginning to find the power of words, reading and writing them, and putting his great observation skills to work in his drawing. It is amazing to see how much they already know, how enthusiastic they are about all they have to learn.

I, too, am enthusiastic. There are so many people to learn from! The lovely barrista in Parco the other day asked me, as she happily saw me hand out yet another gold star in front of her, "Who gives you your gold star?"

I laughed and gestured to the gardener getting over his loss who had inspired me, who had received his star that day, and to her, who long ago received hers for all her hard work and her enthusiasm about my project. "All my peeps..." I said. My response was said slightly in jest, but that is truly the answer. I am so grateful to all the people who are willing to talk to me, to let me learn from their own stories in order to figure my own.

I appreciated seeing the gardener again this morning. His story so moved me and his smile is so warm and familiar. And I was anxious to get an invitation to see his indigenous forest, for which he just got a literal ton of dirt delivered. Cool.

"See?" I said, "what I get from giving out the gold star is sometimes being able to hang out with some of my recipients later!"

The theme of giving and receiving looms large on my blog, in life. It is what it's all about, I think. My Building Superintendent friend showed up today, a joy as usual, and I told him I had used a line of his, given him credit. He had suggested an interesting possibility, days before, when we were talking about the problems I often have with parents who don't give enough, at least in some important ways.

"They had you, it's their responsibility to take care of you..." I said, emphatic.

"But what if," he said, closing his eyes as if in deep prayer, "it is that you were placed here to take care of them? Just a thought...We don't really know why we're here, do we?"

Wow. I loved it. It was such a cool idea, one we often don't want to imagine because of guilt or anger, depending on which side we fall, which side we're talking about if we are both parent and child. You mean, kids have a responsibility too? Maybe an enormous one? It makes so much sense, though. Since we don't really have the answers to why we were put on this earth, we might as well explore all the options.

The truth, though, I often think, is that the best parent/child relationship, the best relationship, period, is one that balances giving and receiving. We must both be completely engaged and involved, back and forth, in order to avoid succumbing to the anger of disengaged love, of love lost, of just plain loss.

We talked today, Super Super and I, about how hard it can be to give out gold stars, how at the beginning I thought people might look at me like I was crazy, like I had three heads.

He went to pinch my cheeks then, and scrinched up his own face, "But you're so cute...who wouldn't take a gold star from you?" he asked.

I laughed. "Thanks," I said. "My husband said that the other day, that he thinks it's because I'm attractive that people will take the gold star. Could that be true?"

I have thought many times that I might not have had the guts to do this project before I started working out so much, before I started dying my hair and spending the time to blow dry it, before I began donning the clothes that made me feel good instead of those I thought others would approve of.

In Super Super's divinely-shaped belief system, he believes that maybe I was put here to bless other people's lives, even in this small way, and that, quite possibly, the powers that be had put me in a package and with a personality by which people could receive that message.

I laughed uproariously at the thought. To think that my oft-admired ass is divinely inspired, likewise my tits. Now that is funny.

Getting to the gym seemed more crucial than ever after this conversation. As I went in to the downstairs gym, the men's locker room with weights, I was met with confirmation of Super Super's theory from my Italian admirer who called out to me his new nickname, C.I.A., or "Cast-iron Ass". I had to laugh. He works so hard to come up with these names to make me laugh, I have to give it to him. Then, I was greeted by the man who had so impressed me the day before with his handstand and strong walk around the room on his hands that I had been forced to comment. When I told him I so desired to get over my fear of throwing my legs up into the air into a handstand or even a headstand, even just along the wall, he offered, sweetly, to teach me. I almost said no, afraid, but then I stood up straighter and agreed. It has been a major goal for me since starting yoga and there was no time like the present, right? What was I waiting for?

I went with my new teacher, a character straight out of Saturday Night Fever--one of my all-time favorite movies by the way--and within minutes, with his great patience and encouragement and expertise and my willingness to learn, I was doing it. Wow. Amazing. The blood rushed to my head and I felt incredibly accomplished. I did a few headstands, then even a few spotted handstands. I was so tired. It was mentally and physically exhausting and exhilerating. We walked back into the weight room/locker room to jeers from the guys. But I didn't care. He had helped me. Helping me had, likely, helped him. He fully deserved his gold star. When next I see him, I'll have to tell him I did it on my own today. But maybe I won't see this phantom Saturday Night Fever saviour...Maybe he was divined just for this lesson. Who knows. These days, I'll believe almost anything.

P.S. Remind me next time to tell you about my chat with Ms. Love, my tantric sex consultant friend who, it turns out, is also a "fire artist," aka fire eater/flame thrower. So cool. Love her, love the name, love her bravery. So many people to learn from, my head is in a spin.

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