Gift of the Pause

photography by Susa SilvermarieMy sister spoke today of getting up from her kitchen lunch counter after eating part of a meal, pausing the eating process to put her attention on something else. She shared how, upon returning to her plate, it was easy to have clear awareness of further hunger, or the lack thereof. The gift of the pause. We spoke also of another kind of pause, using whatsapp to talk to each other via sequential voice messages. It gives us a pause that lifts up our listening, a pause that elevates each communication into an island rising above the speedy waters of normal conversation.

A pause in a line of music, or a line of poetry, has the lovely name of caesura. Perhaps that’s what it is when I meditate, that pause that happens naturally at the end of each exhale. It is as if my body is waiting to discover whether there will be another, or whether this breath may be the conclusion of the Susa story. Pema Chodron teaches us to step into the present moment with a pause practice. Create a gap in your discursive mind, she says, recommending three conscious breaths anytime we feel stuck or need to bring forth awareness of behavior and thought patterns. Cultivating the practice of the pause can gift us with the freedom to chose a different pattern.

My Mexican life is full of pauses that emerge when expected events, as planned by puny humans, do not materialize. I am learning to experience this kind of pause with curiosity instead of frustration. The Mexican value of acceptance rubbing off on me is much deeper than its surface appearance of passivity. What opening am I being offered? What doorway into what unexpected wonder? Acceptance become a joyful, Beginner’s-Mind wandering into some unplanned experience.

It is not the path that is planned, but the path that unfolds which is holy. In an earlier time of my life, such pauses in the turn of events engendered resistance in me. Sometimes they still do, of course, but I emigrated from a culture that values control more than acceptance to one that holds close the spiritual wisdom of accepting impermanence. I am grateful to be growing into a softer attitude about all the pauses and changes that are a natural part of life.  I am also profoundly grateful that, in its wake, the gift of the pause brings equanimity, health and alegría!

Sonnet to Lake Michigan

I just returned from Milwaukee WI where I was blessed to swim, one day, in great Lake Michigan.  Leaving the beach full of gratitude, my heart broke when the radio told me what has been found in the fish of this first lake of my heart.

Mint green, the rolling water,
its roar erasing
the rest of the world—
But no, Lake Michigan’s splendor
only underlines what the world is for!
Its marvel more powerful than presidents,
its watersong more constant than suffering,
its enormous presence
spreads a healing balm
on humanity’s ripped skin.

Great lake full of heart,
as I make my amends
for the Prozac found in your fishes,
make large my own sorrowing heart,

©Susa Silvermarie 2017

Conchita at Work

Susa Silvermarie photography

Here is Conchita on her backstrap loom near where I live in Ajijic, weaving the wall hanging that now graces my entryway.

I understand that both the corn and the bird figures in the tapete are traditional Mayan motifs, about which I would like to learn more. Since Conchita and I communicate in a language (Spanish) not native to either of us, I must be content with our mostly nonverbal energetic connection.  What I do know is that I am profoundly grateful to have her radiant energy now presente in my home! Here is a link to a previous post with an amazing slide show about my friend Conchita.

photography by Susa Silvermarie




Reaching into the Back of the Pantry

Reaching into the back of the pantry, what do I touch? It’s an old superball all sticky with David’s little boy hands, and it’s been waiting there for more than forty years. His favorite superball. I almost remember the day he lost it, how he was so frustrated and little-boy sad.

The swirling colors on the ball are hidden under dirt and dust, but it still has that rubber smell he liked at the magic age of seven. He loved this superball. It’s so small and dense, I think that, when it bounced so easily and so high, it made him feel like a superboy. He was small and concentrated too, that child I once knew better than anyone in the world.

How can my son, who is forty-seven, be the same being, but so radically different from that beautiful boy I would give anything to see again? How can I, too, be the same but completely different from the fiercely protective young mother with her whole life ahead? This ball in my hand takes me to them, those people in the past we came from. Time travel by means of a superball stuck in the back of the pantry for over forty years.

The physicists say time depends on where you are standing in the cosmos. So I’ll just move over, in my superpower called the imagination, to the spot where I can see David was he was seven years old. I’m a single mother who sometimes panics at the total responsibility for another human being, but this morning as I sip my coffee, and David bounces that dang superball all over the kitchen, I’m content. I’m deeply grateful he came to me, this boy of stars with the sweetest face and Brazilian eyes so deeply dark I could look into them for hours.

Then the sticky superball—good grief!— bounces right into my perfect cup of coffee! Which spills, in a slow motion film clip, onto the kitchen table. I jump up with a yell and then there is an instant of pure suspension, when neither of us has any idea how the scene will go. But I burst out laughing, and a millisecond later, so does David. Then we’re howling in the morning kitchen sunlight, until we double up, until we fall down laughing, holding our bellies, united in joy. Oh yes, I remember the energy between us. Even if the ball never landed in the coffee as it did in this time journey, I remember now, the delightful play of energy between us. I experience again the motherbond that transformed me from girl to woman.

And how is it, when the coffee erupts from the cup, that I can laugh? Why am I able to treat the experience so lightly, instead of with the frustration or impatience I often showed during those years? Because I came back to this kitchen of our young selves from my future appreciation of the precious connection, because I have traveled here carrying my future consciousness, I can laugh and be grateful for the miracle of our bond. The superball that I reached to find way back in the deep pantry, really was magical. It propelled me to reach and find my younger self and my  son’s younger self,  back there in the deep pantry of memory.

This flash fiction was generated at Juice, the weekly write-to-a-prompt group I started here with a friend in January. This morning’s prompt was “Reaching into the Back of the Pantry”. The prompt opened the back pantry of my imagination to receive the superball, and the superball opened the back pantry of memory. So fiction led to the deeper truth of creative nonfiction. Though there was no actual scene like this  with my son, the metaphor engendered by the prompt delivered me straight into the delightful core of our relationship!