Why I Wake Early

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This photograph of early dawn and Mary Oliver‘s poem “Why I Wake Early” greeted me early this morning, as did Aldous Huxley‘s wisdom about walking more lightly, thanks to David Kanigan‘s “I Can’t Sleep” post.

Photograph by spanishlandia re-blogged on Live & Learn

I’ve been feeling heavy lately. Not on the bathroom scales — that weight is down — but on the scales of the soul, the psyche, my spirit. That weight is up. Every day I get heavier. I don’t know what to do. Maybe you don’t either. The news is dark and heavy. The UN climate change report just gave us a decade to act before we trip over the edge of global warming. These are scientists with no vested interest in producing conclusions that would make us smile. Meanwhile, as the latest storm weighs heavily on the hearts of people across the country, a President who insists that climate change is a hoax calls the press and television camera crews into the Oval office to show his concern and assure television viewers that he’s on top of it.

Mike (a retired federal investigator) and I catch a bit of the live coverage. The President is sitting behind his desk. Two members of his Administration are standing near his desk. The President crosses his arms over his chest. “He’s defensive,” says Mike. “He’s hiding something. He’s feeling threatened. He’s feeling exposed.” Later in the day, while Hurricane Michael storms its way through the South, the President boards Air Force One for another photo with a cheering crowd in Erie, Pennsylvania. Before the crowd, the cameras again focus on the President. His arms no longer fold across this chest. His hands are free. His face is smug. I feel sick. I feel heavy. I go to bed. I toss and turn. I can’t sleep.

This morning I rise at 4:00 A.M., go downstairs to make a pot of coffee and check my emails. David Kanigan’s post on  I Can’t Sleep: Live & Learn is waiting to greet me. I open it. The beauty of the photograph lightens my spirit, chases away the heaviness. I read Mary Oliver’s “Why I Wake Early” and Aldous Huxley’s words, written just for me, or so it seems, and, maybe just for you.

“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them” — Aldous Huxley.

I’ve finished my third cup of coffee and determine to try not to try so hard, to walk more lightly, even when feeling deeply.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, October 11, 2018.

Child found in burning house; Mom at a casino

Click HERE for the story that triggers this morning’s recollection and reflection.

Richard and I walk through the big doors of the giant casino. We’re there to pick up a charitable contribution from a casino. We enter the space between the big outside door and the big doors that lead into the vast space of cachinging slot machines.

I’m going through the second set of doors when I realize that Richard isn’t going in. He’s standing in the no man’s land between the two sets of doors. He’s frozen in his tracks.

“I can’t go in there,” he says. “I hate this place!”

“What’s happening? Why? What’s going on?”

“My wife’s in there. We’re broke. We’re losing our house.because of this damn place. Can’t pay the mortgage or the water bill ’cause she’s throwing our paychecks into a slot machine. I hate this place! I don’t want their —–  money!”

Eventually we walk together through the doors. Richard points across the room. “That’s her,” he says. “Let’s go this way. I don’t want her to see me.” We go to the executive suite to pose for a photo-op with the casino’s executive. He hands us the blood money. “Smile,” says the casino photographer. I smile a disingenuous grin.  Richard has too much integrity to sacrifice himself on altar of the golden calf.

The story of the mother who left her children in the middle of the night to head for the casino reminds me of that day years ago when we went to pick up the check that came from ripping off Richard’s wife and this latter victim of false hope.

The State of Minnesota considers expanding the “gaming” industry to generate revenue for a tight state budget. We need to change our language. It’s not a “game” unless there’s a level playing field. The casino always wins. And we lose…not only at the slot machines and pull-tab tables.  We lose our homes, our children, our souls, and a culture of shared responsibility. All because…well…because we prefer slot machines to taxes. We sneak out on our kids at midnight, knowing full well that if we do, the whole house could burn down.