“Stay Right Except to Pass”

I caught up with some blogs this morning. Shimon Says has an unusual metaphor for measures of success and our involvement in the lives of those who are struggling—highways.

He questions assumptions often made by fellow travelers with What are you thinking?.

I’d like to say I have this figured out; I do not.
—My grandfather was taught to leave the slow lane for those merging onto the freeway or attempting to exit. To him, it would be a courtesy when driving on a multi-lane highway.
—In Oregon and Washington it is illegal to use the fast lane for anything but passing. Signs on the highways read, “Stay right except to pass.” Two-fold, this allows emergency vehicles to reach their destination without risking a fatality themselves, and staying in the right lane allows vehicles to pass on the left as Shimon expressed, which is what we are taught is safe and an assumption for many of right-of-way when on a highway.

Shimon’s observation of societal fast and slow lanes is new to me and apt. I worked in an industry that addressed homelessness and poverty; this topic is dear to my heart. True, I have experienced these for myself while working two jobs and sharing expenses with another individual who also was working.

What if you could help?

Wikimedia Commons: Maryeoriginals

If we are offered a method to assist others that does not require our time—often a rare surplus when we are working a six-figure salary job—many will step up. Consider Ebola and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s and the Bill Gates Foundation’s recent donations that resulted in increased contribution from members of the general public. An avenue, or lane, of involvement opened in people’s minds. Helping became less overwhelming.

To align our actions with our values, consider the following options in case you’re not a multibillionaire:

  • Support a cause by purchasing from its donation solicitation efforts only what you would normally purchase. That is, shop at a themed thrift store. While breast cancer awareness is at a peak, it has become a brand and logo around which corporations sell the pink ribbon logo; I don’t find anything commendable in furthering company sales at the expense of consumers who likely wouldn’t purchase a pink shirt otherwise.
  • Assemble from your own surplus a care package for someone who is moving from a group setting to living on their own. You may think of victims of domestic violence right of; however, there are other worthy recipients. Going back to a life of crime may feel like the only method for a former inmate when they cannot find a job paying more than minimum wage and, when they do find a place to live, the basics of soap, towels, flatware and sheets are more than they can manage. Your donations needn’t be new to be of use.
  • Words of encouragement are inexpensive and carry a value beyond anything money can buy.
    • Thank someone for something they do anyway, even if it is part of their job.
    • Send a postcard to a stranger’s child (postcard so it isn’t creepy) addressed as “the young man in residence, care of the family at [address]“. Alternately, a postcard to an elderly or disabled person would be just as welcome.
  • Drop off unneeded magazines to the office of your local school for use by teachers in collage and other projects.

I hope these ideas spin off into other ways to support community in ways that align your values and actions.

Plain Plait

Modern Sculpture of a Woman with Long HairI manage to keep this bag with me. Years. I may well have been born with it.

Its many-colored haircloth is seamless and drawn tight on itself by a braid. I have repaired it with my own strands; first blonde, then browns, now grays.

It must weigh half an ounce, if that. Here—open it. Yes, open it.

I know! Black as any night with storm. I have known moments in life to be so dark. Is there a scent of rain from within, or does my imagination brew it? No trick there; it is as small on the inside…except—well, no, that would sound dramatic.

Those dark moments I mentioned? I-it sounds wild.

Yes, alright. How to tell you?

When I don’t know what more there is, the times my mind empties and no solutions come, the braid looses itself as the sides of the bag bulge.

I have learned to accept the strangeness of it and let the bag fall away on its own.

Then into life appear the most uncanny blessings. I cannot not ask for what I do not know I need, but there it is. I gather the slack bag and try to embrace what is given me, hope.

Surely you haven’t lost yours? Oh. Come, let me help you weave.

© 2014 Sandra R. Davidson

Belabored Day

One male, late forties. One child on the cusp of teen. One female, earlyish forties. In just that order, they walk through a small town. He sees CLOSED through the day’s reflection on a windowed storefront. The child watches the pavement pass beneath two feet and glances back. She sees the glare of midday sun that impairs her ability to read the text on the screen of her smartphone.

Lackawanna Valley Digital Archives – History of Poets

Originally posted on Fox Chase Review:

lackdd

The Lackawanna Valley Digital Archives have made available videos of a number of poets reading at the Scranton Public Library . These poets visited Scranton from the late 1970s through the 1990s and were filmed as part of the Friends of the Scranton Public Library Poetry Series. You can watch poets such as CK Williams, Belle Waring, Bruce Weigi, Elaine Terranova, Susan Stewart, Henry Taylor, Gerald Stern, Gary Snyder,William Stafford, Charles Simic, Len Roberts, Susan Ray, David Ray, Jean Pearson, Carol Oles, Naomi Shihab Nye, W.S. Merwin, Heather McHugh, William Matthews, Thomas lux, Etheridge Knight, Galway Kinnel, Paul Kelly, Collette Hiestand, Willian Heyen, Emon Greenan, Michael Heller, Robert Hass, Carolyn Forsche, Tess Gallagher, Lawerence Ferlingetti, Lynn Emanuel, W.D. Earhart, Cornilius Eady, Jim Daniels, Stephen Dunn, Robert Creeley, Gerald Constanzo, William Bonk, Robert Bly, Marvin Bell and Dennis Brutus.  If you click the link, scroll down and you will see the…

View original 8 more words

This is the day…

I’m humming an old hymn in the kitchen.

My grandmother used to sing as she worked about the house. There were times in my life when she served as my grandmother and mother, and she sang. Words came about, or just a melody through concentrating lips.

I’m humming in my own static today. Though I follow the hours and dates from my point A to my current point on a timeline, I feel some areas of my life have stretched thin and other areas of my life have stretched long. Life isn’t linear.

In addition to my linearly calculated life, my life topography is varied, as any living place should be.

I have to admit I’m airborn, aloft of my own tension. The turbulence isn’t comfortable within twenty feet. The male dog startles when I stand and the female gives a stress yawn if I sit long. The deaf cat pats my arm with his left forepaw, standing upright with me as his brace; he’s asking me to rest a while with him.

And in the kitchen I sing, “This is the day that the Lord hath made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” My ears hear my own voice and my heart hears my grandmother’s. I am not in a rejoicing mood. Nor am I religious.

Perhaps words set to the tune of voice were a reminder at times of duress. I am alive to sing and in some way I–Will–Be–Glad.

And this is the day, another linear and topographical view from point A.Sheet music for an old hymn my grandmother used to sing.