Another Haiku

So, I didn’t stop at 100.  I’m still working, I’m still getting up every day and rushing to get out running, come back and make breakfast and lunch to bring to work, get in the car and drive to arrive on time at some meeting.  The imagined days of waking whenever my body wants, slowly sipping my cappuccino and contemplating what to do with the waves of time washing over me have yet to come.  In this still-hurried life, haikus work.  The bit of creative space they carve out in my brain is just right.  So, another.

Korean lilac
Smaller and later to bloom
Fragrance to savor.


I have 25 days of work left.  “I can’t imagine the Coalition without you.” “I don’t want to talk about it.”  “What are we going to do without you?”  “I’m just really worried about what’s going to happen when you’re gone.”

I’ve been hearing comments like these since I announced a year ago that I’d be leaving in June.  And, to be fair to the talented, dedicated and amazing people who make up the Coalition, the staff, board members and member program directors, almost all of these comments are coming from people outside of the organization.  Now as the date gets close, really close, the comments are escalating.  And the fact that there’s no one identified yet to take on the job has shifted some of the questions to the vein of, “Are you really going to leave?  You’re really going to do this?”

“Yes,” I answer.  “And everything will be fine.  Voids don’t get filled until they’re created, but they do get filled.”  I’ve watched this phenomenon my entire adult life, and believe it whole heartedly.

Last night, after reading our Chinese cookie fortunes looking for clues about what’s next in our lives (there was an interesting and possibly relevant message — “don’t pass up a once in a lifetime opportunity” — but that’s another post), we got the real wisdom on our way out of the restaurant.  We ran into a woman David and I both know, and met her friend, Gary.  Talking about leaving our jobs, and the importance of leaving, the rightness of the path of moving on and recognizing that no matter what we’re doing at our jobs, it can still happen without us, Gary lifted his hands.

He held one hand as if gripping a glass of water, and dipped a finger from the other hand into the imaginary glass.  “Put your finger in a glass of water, and then pull it out.  The day the hole in the water created by your finger doesn’t fill back up as soon as you pull your finger out, then you know you’re indispensable.”

I don’t need a glass of water to know I’m not.

A Walk in Salem

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Though it felt like winter today — grey skies, cold air, winter chill wind — there were delightful reminders that spring really is here.  Carol and Mary and I had spent yesterday evening and last night together, trying to solve the problems of the world connected to the disconnect of violence against women.  We all run statewide domestic and sexual violence coalitions, so we have a lot in common, we are all exhausted and exhilarated by our jobs, and we have so much to talk about whenever we get together we can hardly stop long enough to get to bed and get some sleep.

This morning we got up and started talking again.  We went for a walk around Salem, Massachusetts where Mary lives, talking the whole time.  Salem is a lovely, seaside town, with a famous witch history and centuries-old colonial houses crowded on narrow streets. In spite of the cold, we saw early blooms, trees holding buds like pearls, about-to-burst magnolias and outdoor seating areas just beginning to look like they might be habitable again some day.

We were talking about tough stuff — the ridiculous feuding in different factions of the movement to end violence against women which feels like junior high drama, the almost total dysfunction of the criminal justice system in supporting victims and holding offenders accountable, the very scary budgetary issues everyone is facing, the way our jobs take over our lives so that we can barely find time to adequately feed ourselves. Literally. But as we walked and talked we saw gardens and beautiful old houses, hard wind pushing the Atlantic up over the rocks and all those tight buds on trees starting to loosen up.  We stopped and asked a woman trimming a wisteria vine about an abandoned house and got a 20 minute mini-lecture on the history of Salem, because she can trace back seven great-grandfathers to the founders of the city.

Hard work, cold wind, budding tulips and good friends.  A good day.

Barrell Mill Pond Dam

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In the 1700’s, in York, Maine, a dam was built where a tidal creek flows into the York River.  This created Barrell Mill Pond, which was managed to run a saw and flour mill. New England is full of these old mills, often just crumbling walls in the woods where a brook falls down a few feet.  Barrell Mill Pond Dam is still a strong rock wall, 50 feet out across the opening of the creek to a 10 foot water spill under a small suspension bridge.  The bridge leads to an island which is now a preserve.  I walked there yesterday morning.

I watched the force of the tide running in under the bridge, through the spillway.  When you narrow the space for energy to flow, it gets concentrated and stronger.  As it is now in my life.  I have about 70 days left in my job, and I can feel energy accelerating around me. The water is lifting up into ridged ripples and small waves, I’m in the middle of the spillway and being carried along.  But I can swim, and I can keep my head above water, and once I’m in the pond, the water will quiet and I can float again.