IRL

Posted on May 26, 2021

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I haven’t posted in a while. I finished work on a project, and then my mind went silent–as far as writing for an audience goes. I’ve come round again to a deep need for silence.

I’ve noticed that Grief has fucked with my sense of time. Summer’s just around the corner, but there’s a part of my mind that is stuck in November-December 2020, when my two sisters died from cancer. I’ve come to think of the time I spend in this parallel time zone as a visiting “The North, the place of winter, of white snows that remind us of the white hair of our elders…” (The Sacred Tree, 62).

The collaborative authors of The Sacred Tree discuss each of the four directions in terms of our personal and social needs to live in a good way. Each direction focuses on aspects of the human condition; each has its own gifts to help us see, understand, and respond to life’s challenges in a good way. Of the North, they write,

Travelers who wish to acquire the gifts of the North will often feel (at the beginning) that the task is too great…The great mountain is one of the symbolic teachers of the North. The higher we climb its slopes, the steeper and more difficult the way becomes. And yet the higher we go, the more we can see and the stronger we can become.

….The final lesson of the North is the lesson of balance, for wisdom teaches how all things fit together….The mystery of all endings is found in the birth of new beginnings. There is no ending to the journey of the four directions. The human capacity to develop is infinite. The medicine wheel turns forever.

Mary Oliver asks, in The Summer Day, “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Lately, one answer I have to Mary’s question is: Garden.

I used to wake up each morning and write, but I’ve traded pens and keyboards for garden tools. Now I wake up each morning, put on my work clothes, and garden for several hours–until I’m too tired, too hungry, too sore, or all three–or it’s too hot out. Then I shower, put on a fresh outfit, and serve myself a delicious homemade meal. If I get a second wind, I take an evening bike ride.

Another answer is: Listen. I LOVE radio, and now that the internet allows us to listen to radio from any place, I spend a lot of time in Lafayette, LA with KRVS, a bit of time in Portland, OR with KBOO’s Higher Reasoning Reggae Time podcast, and, of course, in Ypsilanti, Detroit, and Ann Arbor, MI, with WEMU, WDET, and WUOM, respectively.

A third answer is: Read. Right now, my loves of radio and reading intersect, as I’m reading Sarah Vowell’s Radio ON, which is introduced this way on the publisher’s website: There are approximately 502 million radios in America. For this savvy, far-reaching diary, celebrated journalist and author Sarah Vowell turned hers on and listened–closely, critically, creatively–for an entire year.

Sarah is listening to 1995–when we listened to radio on RADIOS! I selected this book because 1995 is the first year I had a full-time job as a high school Language Arts teacher. That part of my life ended with my retirement in 2019, and I thought it would be interesting to re-visit that time from this vantage point. Reading this book is another way to visit The North. Since it’s a diary, I started reading on the entry of the day I started reading the book, instead of starting at the beginning. I just couldn’t bring myself to start with January when temps are in the 80s. Now it’s July in the book, and pretty soon, it’ll be Fall, but it’ll be fun to end the book in Spring while it’s still Spring. As I read, I am struck, again and again, by the social issues that Vowell raises: Americans who lack health insurance, misogyny, terrorism, religious cults harming people…and how the same issues remain unresolved and continue to lower the quality of life for most Americans.

A fourth answer is: Jam. As soon as the weather allowed, my bandmate, Anthony, and I picked up our weekly jam sessions on the patio. The pandemic kept us apart, but also, it forced me to jam with what played on the radio, and, as a result, my drumming has improved significantly. I am much more fluent and smooth than I was a year ago. I’ve been able to jam with my other mate, Nick, a couple of times, too. The time I spend playing music is sacred. I love creating beauty and harmony together. I am grateful to have these decades-long relationships with these two; making music is good medicine.


Grief has loosened its grip on me enough so that I can feel more of a range of emotion. I smile and laugh every day now, and the periods of time when I’m not actively grieving grow longer. I can’t seem to keep a schedule for posting these days, so let’s just say I’ll see you when I see you. For now, I’m spending the majority of my time “in real life,” because it’s what I need to do.

I appreciate you, dear reader. I hope you are well and that joy comes your way today. Thanks for reading. See you soon!


lisa eddy is a writer and editor for-hire, researcher, educator-for-hire, youth advocate,  musician, and gardener.

On Twitter: @lisa_eddy
On email: lisagay.eddy1@gmail.com

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