When you visit another person's house, what do you notice? What captures your attention? The furniture, the floorplan, the dust bunnies in the corners? What snapshot do you take with your mind's eye and take home with you?
I tend to look at words on walls, books on shelves, notes on refrigerators. They are little clues to me of the interior decor of the residents, but only clues. Sometimes they are shiny bits of wisdom. Some are leaden lumps of truth about the air quality in the house.
My mother's favorite wall plaque said: "God could not be everywhere so that is why he created mothers."
The piece of wisdom that I probably use on a daily basis is "Righty tighty, Lefty loosey." I cringed that it now a stick with which to draw a line in the sand.
"Pick your fights" was a phrase that helped keep me out of fights that were not worth the energy. It also became an obstacle I threw in my own way when the battle was important and I was lacking courage.
I believe the Spirit uses every tool at her disposal to heal, to nudge, to pinch, to love us into and through the perils of this journey. Such wisdom should be harvested, milled for truth and offered as bread for one another. I am hungry for truth.
So what about you? I invite you to share (hit reply button on this email - the replies are seen only by me). I am doing a Wisdom Harvest. I would like to gather those pieces of wisdom you have picked up along the way. The phrases that you circle through often, wisdom that glistens as true, surfaces when you most need them. WHY? I want to embed in my artwork and my writing the wisdom that resonates. Could i google "wisdom phrases?" Sure. I would rather hear the ones that have flesh, blood and a little sweat attached. That's where I need you. You can include more than one. You can ask your family and friends.
Here are some of what people I know have told me so far:
In a recent article by Elie Mystal, the author described rather brilliantly, in my opinion, the internal speak that happens when someone in your presence says something that is hurtful to you.
“People say hurtful things all the time. Often, they don’t mean it. Language is an imperfect tool for communicating thoughts. But when you are an “other,” when you are a minority or part of a disadvantaged group that has historically been shut out from power, and when the person saying it is a member of an advantaged group, you notice the hurts. You notice them because you always have to assess where the hurtful comment lands on the spectrum between merely inelegant to actively dangerous. Did the person misspeak? Or did the person just accidentally reveal deep antipathy for your kind of people? Or was it something in between?
And what should you do about it? Should you ask them to repeat it? No, because what if they do, what then? Should you confront them? Should you make a scene? Should you play it cool? Oh no, can everybody tell that you haven’t actually been listening for the last 10 minutes because your mind is still wrestling with what’s been said? Should you go to the bathroom and collect yourself? Wait, why are you the one who needs to collect yourself?— you didn’t say anything. Why are you even in this position? You should punch him, that solves everything. Wait, no, that solves nothing. Actually, you should go to bed, because it’s already six hours later and you have work in the morning.”*
Not a week went by in the course of my 37-year career in a profession historically dominated by men that I did not have occasions when something hurtful was said and that very same internal dialogue didn't bounce around inside my head. There are many people who live with hurt and tension related to their otherness EVERY DAY and for many, several times a day.
Language is an imperfect tool. Even as a writer, I know that all too well. As a human being, I know and fear how the words that fly out of my mouth can be weapons of lasting destruction. On this day on which we honor an American champion for justice, I pledge to listen deeply, to choose tenderly, and to speak courageously. Peace be with you, my brothers and sisters.
*Elie Mystal, The Nation, 1/19/2020
A selection from my book of poems called STORM.
Fire ants by Deb Grant
Their thirty-five day lives are spent
Their only thriving is done
In the dry heat and sudden rain
And tending to their replacements.
A massive operation.
They are built to move in mass.
They colonize. They teem. They swarm.
Defensive action is to bite.
A single bite is annoying.
A swarm could fell a deer.
Singularity is not even a luxury.
They could not survive alone.
Every rain surfaces their disaster plan.
They are built to survive a flood.
As the flood rises, the ants take action.
Linking ant legs and mouths,
they weave themselves
Into a raft in a minute
moving queen and Infants
to the center in the highness and dryness
Of their now seaworthy community.
A buoyancy of bodies
with fine hairs trapping just enough air
barely breaking surface tension
Keeping the whole colony afloat
Until the ark of their covenant
Arrives, not back home again,
But on new dry land.
Wading humans lifting and pulling legs
Through flood waters
Are warned of floating fire ant mounds.
The rafted colony is fully armed.
Locked and loaded for survival
They are ready to pull the trigger and
Light a fire on the flesh that water
Cannot douse or sooth.
Humans are warned to watch.
Of the drifting rage of rafted ants.
Keep your distance.
Leave them to their disaster plan.
You tend to your own.
Our disaster plan if there is one
Starts as one. One person. One household.
Our plan is to climb away alone
or walk out alone.
We drag our wet legs alone
Through the thigh deep sewage avoiding
The dangers we can see.
Unaware of the dangers
To which we cling.
The fire ants float with the current,
linked by legs and mouths
Accepting their need for
To one another.
It comes naturally to them.
The rest of us drag our wet legs
Into the truth that
we need each other.
Or we navigate alone and
Steer clear of both the
ants and their lesson
of intimate survival. ◘◘
(From STORM by Deb Grant, available on Amazon,www.jazzwater.com and her Etsy shop: Jazzwater - Copyright by Deb Grant)
One of the risks/challenges of writing a book about hurricane survival/recovery in poetry form, even free verse poetry, is that no one wants to hear about disaster AND "poetry doesn't sell."
Both are true.
As I reflect on my journey, the micro and macro disasters that have befallen me, it has been shreds of poetry - a line here, a verse there that surfaces like a floating timber. Poetry comforts, provokes, laughs and soars. Two days ago, Dan Rather, the journalist said, that we need poetry in such a time as this.
I have written a book about disaster in free verse poetry because I want to help in such a time as this.
This is a poem called Solar Flare, a selection from my book called STORM.
SOLAR FLARE by Deb Grant
When the sun burps its gastric indigestion,
it doesn’t say excuse me.
It doesn’t turn its massive head away.
The flaming viscous phlegm arches from
The surface sending Incendiary splatter
miles into black space.
Most of the time, the flare is not big enough
or targeted enough to reach the face of earth.
What we know is a reduction of its sauce.
Reduced to a dragon’s breath of chemicals
That waft unnoticed except by
Or a flicker of electric lights.
The scientists deliver the doom
with a sense of surrender.
One well-directed solar flare
burping in the direction of earth
Will impale the planet with fangs of poison
That will smelt our electrical grid
Not a temporary outage.
In fire, wind, flood and earth, they come.
The solar flare burps out a possibility
That shakes us out of our disaster doldrums
So accustomed we are to hearing
a hurricane or fire explode in the
News and quickly disappear.
It cannot happen here.
The solar flare tosses a dinner conversation hypothetical.
How to prepare
For a disaster that has never happened to us.
The first thing, the sudden
Massive, wide-scale power outage.
What would you do?
What would you do first?
What would you do next?
And what after that?
What would you do if the power did not return for
a day or a month?
What news source, if any, would you trust?
What if there was only word of mouth?
How would you feed your family?
Can you trust your neighbor or
the one who says they are?
One solar flare sent in earth’s direction.
We would find ourselves
inside a Twilight Zone episode
hoping for the ending credits to roll soon.
Please tell us it was all just a game.
It could not happen here.
“I can’t believe it happened here.”
“I can’t believe this happened to me.”
Disasters fall randomly.
Sometimes there is a warning.
It is never soon or long enough.
How do you prepare for a solar flare?
Or a wind-whipped forest fire,
Or ground shaking cracks into concrete,
Or rivers ignoring their banks?
Sometimes the best we can do is
Ask ourselves what would we do?
Who would we need to help and to help us?
What would we need to survive together?
And make a list. ◘◘
(Copyright by Debra Grant), STORM by Deb Grant is available through Amazon, Etsy(Jazzwater), Jazzwater.com or available to order through any book seller.
ELOGOS is written by Deb Grant, Houston, Texas. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Grant's Social Media: FACEBOOK(wordfoodbydeb), www.jazzwater.com and www.wordfoodbydeb.com and her Etsy shop: Jazzwater