Life Boat

A friend who is in the process of divorce recently went to an art and meditation workshop. She told me it was amazing, but I think I heard transformative. I have been one of her confidantes and, myself a survivor of that often complex and painful process of divorce, recognize the sometimes desperate measures we take in order to find help in coping, help in finding peace and hope and the strength to go on. When she sent me a picture of the piece she had created that day, it took my breath away. It is titled “My Lifeboat Carrying Me Over the Waves of Friendship”

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The first thing I noticed was the small, delicate life boat, feminine with its pink and exposed interior where a heart is central and alive. The heart, with its floral image, is open and suggests a flower in full bloom whose petals quiver in their offering of an earnest yearning for appreciation and adoration; this heart can love and needs to be loved, again. Flowers are after all the delicate and colorful, often fragrant creations we offer in love and in friendship, perhaps also in grief and in encouragement. Sometimes its good to offer them to ourselves. Thank you, me. It’s ok, me. There’s hope, me. There is beauty all around, and here’s a flower to remind you while you journey through your tunnel, and guess what? The flower is within you.

It’s difficult not to notice the large, broken heart in its regal gold, torn down the middle in unforgiving jaggedness. Your representation of the severing of what was once central and perhaps on a pedestal where you did not belong any more, is harsh and honest. It’s off to the side, drifting downriver, but it’s big and bold and still holds a beckoning shimmer because it is the only way you knew, the way which is no more. It will take its time before this institution is carried off to sea, far away from the new shores you now can call your own. But be patient, I want to say, its centrality will eventually shift, and in time, even this monumental structure, the one you once treasured to be part of and to support, will lessen its hold on your ability to dream, to leap, to recreate and renew. With less pain and less guilt.

My eyes then wander upstream, where the rounded and generous heart-waves, large and tiny, colorful and subdued, line your path, ever-ready to embrace you, support you and encourage you to seek your truth. These hearts are your children, your family and your friends; they are visible to you and you can count on them along your voyage up the stream. The banks along this shifting, moving body of water – waters sometimes overwhelming to maneuver while other times calmly manageable – are lush and vibrant, green and red, because when you can or are ready to moor and steady your feet on solid ground again, that place will be there for you with love and life.

Finally, I notice the intricate and lacy golden corner, the patch that speaks of fragments and arabesques, peripheral for now, but who says it will stay there, separate, forever? Intertwined and flowing, this golden element speaks of a different truth, a place that is in your awareness, over there – still removed – but at times clear to you as the day. And perhaps beckoning you from time to time in your late night hours of courageous dreams, because there it is, waiting for you when you are ready. That place can be golden as well, and make sure to embrace it in its meandering and intricate chaos, for that too, can be a soothing place. Take your time.

The path will not be straight, we know, and the time may not sequential; there will be storms and freezing rain, but along the way, as you ride the waves in your life boat, your heart exposed and open, you can rest assured that in one way or another, we are all riding in this boat with you, for we are human together, and your pain and joy is ours.

Red: The Color of Change, Passion and Life

Update on my watch color dilemma: After much deliberation and agony carefully deciding between purple, orange or lime green (you may have read about my colorful and emotional associations in my last blog, Seeing Time in Colors: On Turning 50,  and you might think I was forced to choose between eternal emotional stress or institutionalization – both real options I must refuse) – I am glad to report that I am the proud owner of a sleek, bold RED watch. I am still in shock.

What happened? The fools sent me the WRONG one! No, actually, I must have clicked on the “wrong” button as I feverishly, finally, had made my decision, and in this fervor, my subconscious must have laughed out loud and navigated my fingertip a nano-inch to the right. Or left. No matter, red it is. And it looks and feels great!

And I have a theory as to why I am now walking around happily strutting my RED watch, steeling furtive glances in its general direction even when I know what time it is. Dang, it’s good looking. And it has no baggage of my ponderous color obsessions! That’s the theory. I know, I’m not prone to the scientific method, but it does seem beyond coincidence that in the deepest, instinctive part of my kishkes I knew it as a matter of survival and I had to choose a different color all together. Get rid of the baggage! It’s the New Year, for heaven sakes!

It stand on its own; it is bright, assertive, sexy, and packs a punch: pow-wow! Like a wallop of love that’s meant to be, of lust, of romance, of the stuff that pumps energy into life. I can live with that.

Now, when I begin to feel a little shvach or weak during the Yom Kippur fast next week, I can simply glance down on my vibrant, life-affirming watch and get the koach (strength) to make it to the end.

And then new life can begin again; a fresh start as we enter the year 5776!

L’chaim!

(Oh, and if you wonder, it was orange that lost it to red.)