Saturday, September 25, 2010

Rhythms of Life

I was behind two other cars waiting for rush hour traffic to start moving again. The Boston Pops CD was playing the theme to Superman and I was in a trance, actually enjoying the commerce of industry barely moving along Federal Highway. It was 5:30 and so I had no other choice than to slow down, something I still find hard to do.

It's unusual to find something good about traffic delays; but the tempo of traffic matched the music of Superman, like a metronome beating out its slow steady rhythm. After a long wait, I was back on the road again inching my way home. As I turned on to Northeast 21st Avenue, a large red leaf scooted toward me flip flopping from side to side in natural cadence to another beat, this time up tempo. The interaction of musical phrasing coming from my car stereo matched the seagrape leaf as it kicked up one edge, then the other in perfect timing.

Rhythms are all around us, in speech, in clouds and violent storms. The cadence of living things seems to be orchestrated for the pleasure of some Superior Being, who, luckily for me, passes it on for our human delight. I see these musical rhythms on television commercials and in movies. In theater they're called beats. In literature quatrains or iambic pentameter. Fractals offer a rhythm in the repetitive design of shapes, be they clouds, shorelines or snowflakes, though these are soundless, they nevertheless have their rhythm.

Whether fractals, the jazzy dance of a leaf or the snails pace of traffic, all vie for our attention. There is a dynamic order to these measures of life. Watch a 15 second commercial and count out the beats you'll see or hear. It is the selfsame music that beats in all of us.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How and Why Women Do What They Do

It’s twenty-four hours before I go in for a colonoscopy. I’m not anxious, but there is that unquantifiable unknown. Moreover, I feel sad because both parents are deceased and my brothers live far away with busy lives. Though I know I’m a grown up, going in for a surgical procedure makes me feel small and needy. I’ve told close friends who live far away that were it not for them I wouldn’t be having this procedure. They want me to call them and let them know the results. Other friends say they’ll call me and if I need anything to call them. I have to prep for this occasion, so I don’t think I’ll be getting much company.

Then there is my flock at work who are good at hand holding and speaking to God about such matters, all telling me their recollection of how it went when they had it done or making suggestions like getting a tattoo for the backside that reads, “Exit only. Do not enter.” These women – and they are only women – are able to step up to the plate and be there when necessary. Women know how to do this. It isn’t so much what they say as how I feel in their presence.

A while back, I had pain on the left side of my lower abdomen. I thought it would go away and kept thinking that for four months until I could no longer stand my two best friends telling me to go to the doctor. “All right, I’m going,” I said, not wanting to go and getting angry at them for being such busy bodies. When I did go, I burst into tears in the doctor’s office while being given my list of things to buy and do. The office manager wasn’t having any part of it and ignored me. But I felt more alone than ever before. The truth is I am alone.

But the women I know make up the difference. They pull from their homegrown experiences a thing or two and supply you with oxygen, a fresh new thought about how great an idea it is to do this for yourself and later making me feel more comfortable. It’s the being there. It’s the nobility of thought that says 'get up from my desk and go see how she is.' It isn’t all that spectacular. It isn’t voodoo. It’s just the calm reassurance that I count, that I exist, that there is connection between us.

Men simply cannot deliver that. It isn’t estrogen or the x or y chromosomes. It’s something else. I believe many women – hard to generalize to the entire population – have a good heart and an even better brain. “WE ARE THE SUPERIOR GENDER,” my lovely coworker loudly proclaimed. And there it was. Women are the stronger, more passionate, more empathic of the sexes. Why each woman is that way, is less important than that they are that way. Though individual experiences play a part, in my case I took too many hits as a child and after hitting back a few times, decided that I would never be mean, bossy, greedy, arrogant or grandiose again. I would become malleable, giving, warm and loving. It was simply a choice.

Were it not for our connections, one to each other, we would wither and turn inward. The strange thing is the women who befriended me were not even aware of the power they had to calm me down. I left the office feeling better and actually began to look forward to getting the procedure. Life hands us something awkward or ugly and then gifts us something else with a big old smile on it.

Women rock because they are rocks, tender, strong and unflinchingly powerful.