November has flown by with a swiftness of a fleeting blink of an eye. The autumn this year was reluctant to begin, with summer-like temperatures holding fairly steady well into October in the Northeast corridor, and the delay in arriving at more seasonal weather seemed to mute the changing colors when they finally began to change in earnest. As I came slowly to consciousness this past Saturday morning, I awoke to the sound of a robust and formidable wind stirring the trees outside my bedroom window. Since I had no urgent events scheduled for the day, I was able to awaken slowly and reflect for a bit before rising.
I sat up for a moment or two once I had gathered my wits and took a few photos as the day began, and then settled back down again to contemplate the day’s beginning and the events of late that accompanied the strangeness of the reluctant autumn taking place all around me. I generally try to capture some seasonal images as the earth alters its course around the sun each year, but this time around, it seems that mother nature had other ideas, and stubbornly withheld the expected changes until just last week.
In the yard next door, my usual view out the window on that side would have displayed this scene a month ago, but only last week came into full blossom with many of the leaves already missing. In just the last few days, most all of the foliage in the trees lining the street was gone. The wind had wreaked havoc on whatever plumage remained and the tree now appears almost totally bare. This experience goes against the traditional one I generally expect at this time of year, and as I lay in bed pondering these changes, I looked back over several extraordinary life events that led up to the strangeness of my early morning awakening.
Beginning in late August, as I traveled to the first of three family gatherings as autumn approached, the sky above me looked so strange and peculiar as I rode astonished at the sight, that I had to capture the event, as though it were an omen of some sort. I couldn’t decide if this sky was ominous or simply extraordinary.
Gliding down the highway in silence, almost mesmerized by the sight of it, it gave me shivers as I held my eye up to viewfinder. What an amazing sight!
Last month brought me once again into the emotional rollercoaster ride as Father of the Bride. As we gathered for the marriage of my youngest daughter in the spectacular landscape of rural Virginia, the anticipated autumnal awesomeness was only barely underway as we prepared for the outdoor ceremony in the afternoon of Saturday, the 21st of October. Driving through the beauty of the sun kissed scenery, my heart already primed for the flood of feelings and memories, I was struck by the contrast with the previous driving experience, and could barely contain myself as I soaked in the spectacle before me.
On the first morning in Virginia before the wedding, I awoke at sunrise in the mountains, and was able to observe the first light while chatting with my daughter who called me on the phone. It was a compelling moment of many that would occur during the trip, but all the more poignant as I was able to share some fatherly advice with a nervous bride.
The view off the deck of the rental house above was taken on October 23rd and offered only a hint of Autumn’s colors, and while the temperatures were mild during the day, it was still chilly in the morning and that helped to remind me that we were indeed experiencing the autumnal transition. The thoughts passing through my mind on that morning turned to one of the most poignant moments that occurred over the weekend, when I first saw my youngest daughter in her wedding dress. I nearly fainted!
With one day available to me after the wedding to relax and look around, I decided to travel to nearby Charlottesville, Virginia to satisfy a lifelong desire to visit Monticello–the home of Thomas Jefferson. Ever since I was a small boy learning American History in school, I had wanted to visit this historical home, and it was another monumental and emotional experience on a weekend full of them. I will be writing a separate blog post about that visit soon, but I wanted to include an image from that day. The visit and tour of the estate will remain as one of the most significant of the many I acquired in any autumn season.
There have been so many moments throughout the season before winter this year that seemed to overwhelm my ability to process them well, and I couldn’t help but wonder about the confluence of each of these events and what the meaning might be for me personally. The perspective of years of memories of past autumns has run the gamut from the most stunningly beautiful to the personally devastating, and all along the way, every variation in between has contributed to the auguries of autumn for me.
It is sometimes said that a person in their sixth decade of life is approaching the “autumn of their years,” but I wonder now just how close the winter might be, and what wonders await me.
Autumn’s on the Way
Time passes swiftly now–
More yesterdays than tomorrows.
How many will I see?
How much time is there for me?
I’m afraid I won’t know.
I’m afraid I’ll wait too long.
I’m afraid that the end will come too soon.
I’m even afraid my heart will swoon.
I’ll loose control and make a mess—
Doing things that I confess,
I have done all my life.
Can’t seem to stop myself.
Can’t seem to rest.
Can’t let the moments go.
I have to invest.
I look at my children.
What will they do? How will they cope?
It’s not for me to say.
Thoughts come flying in and fly out.
Nothing stays the same.
My heart aches with a pain
That not is not yet real.
I know it’s coming.
I can see it; I can sense it; I can feel it–
Just like all the other times before.
Just like all the other times before.
It seems I never could quite make it work–
Never could quite find the right formula.
I’m still looking—still searching;
I don’t know what the ending is—
I don’t know where it goes,
And I don’t know how to say it.
I reach, probably, too far, as always.
I expect too much.
I want too much.
It’s not for me to say.
I search for you.
I watch the horizon.
I scan for signs of life.
And when I find them—
When I see them, when I feel them, when I sense them—
I always follow them,
But they don’t lead me anywhere.
Toward the end of the winter,
With the very first inklings of spring,
That’s when you appeared;
Brilliant eyes—sparkling smile;
My heart lept at the sight of your face.
Could it be? Could it be?
The signals were mixed.
Once, unrestrained joy, and then—silence;
And then, clever conversation.
Listening, sensing, contemplating, caution—
Unrestrained enthusiasm; laughing; sadness; comfort;
A loving embrace—and then another, and then another;
My heart and spirit seemed to rise every single time.
My enthusiasm always exceeded what I would find.
One day—penetrating glances, closeness—
Sweetness beyond any I had ever seen;
And then—silence; like a rising tide
That lifts me up to see the shoreline;
Giving me hope—and then the swell recedes,
And the horizon disappears—for a time;
I don’t know when I will see the shoreline again.
Darkness falls—intermediate absence—lack of energy;
Nearly giving up; sudden recovery; joyful expressions;
Loving embrace—silence—I cannot say;
I keep missing the target; I keep missing the mark.
I keep coming too soon or too late—
The story of my life— too soon or too late—
But more often—too late.
But even when the odds are even,
Even fifty-fifty disappoints me more than not.
I can’t seem to find the proper time, the proper place,
Where everything comes together unambiguously.
I thought this was my great discovery;
This place where I am now, and all the events
That took place here while I stayed here,
But even that will soon be over.
My heart is aching in your absence.
My mind—defeated by indecision and hopelessness.
It can’t simply be because of the distance in time and space;
It can’t be simply that it’s too difficult.
When I was with you, I just wanted
To run up to you and grab you and hold you.
I wanted to throw away everything and start again,
Like Michelangelo—destroy it all and start over.
And it wouldn’t be that difficult to manage it,
But clinging to sanity afterwards—
That would be a task for Hercules.
There’s no doubt in my mind—my heart rises;
My soul rises, the moment you come into view.
I want to throw my arms around you and steal you away;
Find a place to be and start over.
It’s worse than ridiculous—it’s absurd.
It cannot be. It cannot be.
Maybe next time; maybe someday; maybe never.
Maybe my destiny is to know and to be without.
That’s all that’s ever happened.
Can’t seem to get it right.
Can’t seem to find the sweet spot.
I don’t know what I’m going to do.
I think maybe, I’ll die alone—in silence.
I could live—in joy—if only you were there.
We can only know our own future—our own place in the sun.
One of these days, I will find that sweet spot;
And I will embrace you, and hold you close,
And you will kiss me, and our lives will have meaning,
And purpose, and all will be well.
It will be in a daydream—a daydream of you and me.
© November 2016 by JJHII24
This post has been receiving some attention recently and addresses some important points relating to the posts coming shortly, so i thought my readers might enjoy a review here…
As an attentive consumer of various scientific publications available in the world today, particularly those concerning the science of mind and brain, while the information is often intriguing and illuminating in regards to how the physiology of the brain results in the extraordinary variety of symptoms, characteristics, and behavior of modern humans, what is often lacking, in my view, is the simple connection to humanity itself, which we might wish to describe as the “human factor.” No matter how ingenious these researchers are as they structure the studies to produce useful results, what we frequently end up with in the end is an explanation of a process, or a determination of how it is that our fantastically wondrous temporal mental assets manifest a particular result, either as an ability or some sort of pathology.
What genuinely supports and nourishes our miraculous brains is endlessly fascinating for those of us who…
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I’ve received many compliments on the photo for my “About.me” page and thought the readers might enjoy reading the poem I wrote about the experience of creating the image….Enjoy!
As I press my hand to the brass knob
Level with my blurred line of sight,
Releasing the bolt which holds the door firmly closed,
Streaks of brilliant light flood the foyer
Through the beveled prisms
Of my uncertainty.
A mechanical clack announces the release
Of the lock as I step tentatively backward,
To allow for the swinging, sweeping sound
As my heart opens to newly born morning light,
Mingled with the winter’s frosty breath,
Provoking both wonder and curious resistance.
Shimmering icy sparkles rise up in all directions;
Stillness soothes the stinging bite of winter breezes;
Solar pulses of colored hues caress the tips of snowy knolls
While rhythmic heartbeats warm my inner frame,
Sustaining the memories of moments within me–
Cherished thoughts and awkward apprehensions.
Stumbling back to the kitchen counter,
Searching for the implements of the morning grind,
A glance again toward the world without
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“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” — C. G. Jung from CW 12, par. 126 and “The Philosophical Tree” (1945). In CW 13: Alchemical Studies
The dream began in a nearly total darkness, with only a sliver of light highlighting the edges of the highway. I seemed to be floating along the road, as I was not inside my car or able to discern any structure around me. It took a few minutes, but I suddenly recognized the location as the road I traveled in the “deep forest vision,” mentioned in the previous post. It felt oddly serene to be traveling in this way, although I wondered briefly why I would even entertain the notion of returning there, and as I approached what seemed to be the edge of the forest, I began to feel a creeping, gradually increasing sensation of dread. This night had already been stressful, and it felt as though the split between my inner and outer self was widening as the dream progressed.
Before I was able to set my feet on the ground, I had to slow myself by dragging them along the surface of the area approaching the clearing where I had previously observed the tree without any leaves. Once I was able to walk on my own, I deliberately began running away from that place, as I had no interest in revisiting it after what had happened there. Before I knew it, I had stumbled upon an open field. I felt my hands lightly touching the tips of tall grass as I walked toward a small, somewhat battered house, which initially felt disconcerting. I heard the distant sound of ocean waves breaking on the shoreline, and wondered why I had not heard them during my last visit. As I approached the house, it seemed much less inviting, and my pace slowed as an ominously darkened interior beyond my viewpoint loomed within. I hesitated to get too close. This was not my destination. There was no one there.
I turned slowly toward the horizon which now seemed to be brightening, and I once again began running, wanting mostly to go toward the light. Before long, the stark forest landscape opened into a lush, green meadow, with all the leaves lit from behind by the sun. In the distance I could see a small cottage that gave me a much more comforting feeling, almost like coming home. As my steps once again slowed, I saw her standing by the fence surrounding the simple cottage. I wasn’t sure if what I saw was real. I hesitated again. My heart was pounding in my chest.
I walked gladly toward her, gently eased open the gate, and we embraced willingly and joyfully. It was, for the moment, a wonderful moment in the dream that comforted me. She seemed, as usual, uncertain about her course, and even though she pretended to be alright, I knew she wasn’t. She tried to tell me she wasn’t concerned about the darkness nearby, but it was so obviously untrue, that I looked at her squarely and said, “I know what you said is untrue.” She appeared to be stunned for a moment or two, but then asked me to follow her. I took her hand and we walked around to the back of the house. There was a bit of a steep slope leading to a plateau where there was a large outcrop of rock. She led me around to one side and pointed to a painted image of a sunrise over water. As we began walking back toward the house, it was getting darker. I stopped in my tracks, as she turned her face toward me, and let go of my hand. I could feel the dream fading. I didn’t want it to end.
Upon first waking, I sat up in my bed, as if I might see her outside my window. The dream had vanished, completely against my will, and I immediately went to my desk to write it down. My hands were trembling, and I was breathing heavily while I wrote. I sensed increasingly powerful vibrations from far away, somehow shaking me as I wrote. Why hadn’t she sent word? What circumstances could make me feel these intuitions so strongly?
While having only limited knowledge and experience regarding what might possibly explain such feelings and ideas, such unavoidable sensations and thoughts compelled me to acknowledge her presence within me, and my concerns for her well being drove with me to meet her that afternoon at a local park at the time we had agreed.
We embraced upon meeting, and I immediately felt the same willingness and joy of the embrace of the dream. She excitedly began to relate the tale of her trip to visit a friend, which included getting lost in an unfamiliar area, and being caught in a violent rainstorm. She and her friend had taken refuge in an abandoned farmhouse to wait out the storm. It had been approaching darkness before the storm let up, and it had frightened them both. I said nothing about my dream, and we walked down the path leading to the area she had told me about and which we were about to visit. We spent several hours walking along the paths in the sunlit woods and in open fields. Without any mention to her of the dream, she took my hand, and led me to an overhang with a fabulous scenic view of the mountains in the distance. It was lovely and it felt as though we were closer than before. Stepping down to the return path out of the park, I nearly fell down as I turned to see an image of a sun over water painted on the lower portion of the rock we had just been standing on.
As we sat together on the screen porch back at her house, I told her of the dream and of my certainty that she had been in distress. She listened patiently and seemed to understand that it was unusual, but not impossible that such things could happen. Somehow, we had found each other and were connected in ways we were only beginning to appreciate. She seemed only vaguely aware of a connection between us, and now appeared mildly uncomfortable talking about it. I promised not to bring it up again, and we embraced on parting. We agreed to meet again the next day to attend a family dinner at her parents home. I held her close and kissed her deeply. She smiled and giggled for a moment. The wheels were in motion. It had begun.
Helen A. Toelle-Cunha
“It is by loving, and not by being loved, that one can come nearest the soul of another; yea, that, where two love, it is the loving of each other, that originates and perfects and assures their blessedness. – George MacDonald
As my time in California slowly drew to a conclusion, I was informed that the requirements of my military specialty as a linguist required an additional period of training for all graduates of the language program. There was no way for me to anticipate this requirement prior to arriving in Monterey, since it only became a policy a month or so before I was scheduled to depart. When I realized the next training program would take place in Massachusetts, at the very same station where my adventure began, it felt like more than just a coincidence. I attended a closed briefing a few weeks before I was scheduled to transfer out, and learned that I would be training as a “Cryptologic Traffic Analyst.” It wasn’t clear to me what the term meant at the time, but it didn’t seem to matter. I was required to attend and was looking forward to returning for a second tour in Massachusetts, especially since I would be arriving in the spring and would be spending the summer in New England.
Once the last few days of my tour in California were upon me, I began to feel a real sense of melancholy. So much had happened to me in those hills, and in spite of often feeling a bit lost and alone during that time, there were just as many remarkable and beautiful experiences to reflect upon. Graduation Day from the language school was an exceptional day. In spite of all my setbacks during the course, I had finished with my class, and had managed to earn a final grade in the top ten percent. I had made a few friends among my classmates who would be following me to Massachusetts, and several who had already taken the additional training who would travel to the overseas assignment in advance of my arrival, who promised to catch up once I got there. Our instructors had a small reception for us and we were able to express our gratitude for all their efforts in their native tongue. One teacher in particular grabbed me at the reception and expressed great satisfaction in my success. In one of our last grammar classes with her, we had learned a particular form of expression–in German it’s the “so…wie,” construction. In the German language, there are many idioms and phrases which do not translate well into English, but this form worked fairly well. A group of us were standing together when the teacher turned and asked me directly if I was glad that school was finally complete, I said, “So froh, wie moglich!” (As happy as possible!) We all laughed and knew that we had learned our lessons well.
In the last few weeks, I was given an option to either take a military flight home to the East Coast, or to drive myself there, since I was of sufficient rank and time in service, so I traded in the old VW bug, and bought a brand new Volkswagen Fastback, a sportier version of the VW which was a dream to drive in comparison to the old one. I decided to take the southern route across the country, driving all the way up to Oregon to visit with a dear friend of mine who always bragged about his hometown there, and then back down to Southern California and turned eastward at a little town called Needles. When I got there, I stopped into town to find a hotel for the night, and noticed an electronics shop that advertised “car stereo installation.” It was going to be a long ride to Binghamton, New York where my co-pilot for the trip lived, so I had a stereo system installed there and bought a handful of 8 track tapes to listen to along the way. We stopped in Flagstaff, Arizona to see the Grand Canyon, and I stopped into the only country outfitter in town and bought myself a new hat.
I really hadn’t noticed at first, but the transition from the younger, safari-hat character, to this much different western-movie looking character was fairly startling in retrospect. Since I was on leave for several weeks in between stations, I even felt comfortable growing a beard for the trip, and upon my arrival in Pennsylvania to see my parents and family, it must have been quite a shock to see me this way. Somehow, though, it felt just right to me. The journey across the USA in April of 1975 was an epic flight for a young man in his first new car, bound away from the astonishing beauty of, what was to him, a strange new land, and having narrowly escaped death, creating something akin to a near-death experience within him. This young man had clearly been altered beyond recognition, to others mostly, but also to himself.
The time was quickly approaching to depart from everything I had ever known as a young American lad, prompting me to narrow my focus even more, and to find my quest, it would require giving a great deal more than I could possibly have known at that time.
…next time…. back to Massachusetts…