once upon a time

This is a very partial list of what I have resisted.

I resisted thinking about starting a career when I graduated from college; since I was essentially directionless I ended up tuning pianos for a living.

This is what you’re doing with a college education? My mother asked.

Yep. For the moment this is what I’m doing.

I resisted playing the piano after years of professional training until a gypsy lover with a piano in his velvet lined van placed my fingers back on the sound of my soul. E minor, A minor, the dark grieving melodies from the old country pouring out of me no more resistance.

I resisted marriage, resisted taming my wild, my kohl rimmed eyes and nights dancing until dawn. My husband let out a long golden rope the color of hope and waited for me to tug. Please reel me back in. I’ve had enough.

I have resisted the endless march of time, Chronos on a horse galloping at mad speed tearing page after page from the calendar of my life. Faster he yells to his horse while I struggle against the wind, fall to my knees. Slow down, I cry. Slow down. Too fast. Too many things left undone but he rides on, kicking up dust, always the dust that blurs the rising moon.

Mother father brothers sisters friends and lovers, my old aunties and uncles, the ones who pulled quarters out of my ear, tickled me, made me laugh, looked out for me after my father died, all caught in a snow globe on a summer night when the fireflies lit up the sky with Morse code. BlinkBlink. Blink. Time marches on. Time waits for no one. Time is running out. All of them saddled to the back of the galloping black horse down an overgrown path where I cannot follow.

 I want to know where Chronos has taken them. And when the wind blows their scent through the window and I am wrapped in longing I want to know where to find them again.

It is always morning. It is always time for bed. Tooth brush coffee cup shopping list cedar closet winter boots flip flops sunscreen wool coat endless endless the race to catch up with Chronos who is always, will always be out of reach with a wild Yeehah over his shoulder.

But Kairos. She comes to me and says – child, come dance into the timeless with me. That is where they have gone. Beyond the straight line and sculpted hedges is where you will find them. Reach up and leave your handprint on the sky. Breathe out and leave your prayers on the ground. Let yourself be broken open and shaken by the great forces of the universe.

If you stop resisting, if you stop clinging and digging your heels in the dirt endlessly counting how many years left with your beloved how many left to see your child in her faraway land, if you let go we will catch you and dance you in a circle out into the wild where the old ones dance on the roots of the eternal.

Look. Sun rises and the flowers open the birds come and the soil warms. Look. Moonrise and the nightshades bloom the moths dance and the roots rest. Look again. The sun rises. Watch the tides that empty out the sea and return her to fullness. Do you see the round the ripe the everlasting cycles? she asks taking my hand and leading me onto the dance floor.

 She dances me in a spiral that began where I was born. We spiral up and out towards the one pure light that knows no time that is outside of time and that waits with all the time in the world. We are dancing towards the light that is another name for timeless, for once upon a time, the light that is another name for love.

My efforts now turn
from trying to outrun suffering
to accepting love wherever
I can find it.
Stripped of causes and plans
and things to strive for,
I have discovered everything
I could need or ask for
is right here—
in flawed abundance.
We cannot eliminate hunger,
but we can feed each other.
We cannot eliminate loneliness,
but we can hold each other.
We cannot eliminate pain,
but we can live a life
of compassion.
There is nothing to do
and nowhere to go.
Accepting this,
we can do everything
and go anywhere.
(Mark Nepo, b. 1951)

12 thoughts on “once upon a time

  1. Always a delightful surprise to see your postings pop up in my mail box. I know I’m in for a thoughtful and inspiring read. Yes to aging, some regrets, and the gallop of time. You beautifully craft the “gallop” in your poetic sensory imagery. A great to read!


  2. I was late getting to read this amazing piece, dear Nancy. And now I feel in such awe of what you have managed to do here… well, I’m speechless! So many images, so many insights. All I can come up with is: BRAVA!!


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