Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Transition and Change

I place the tube-shaped instrument to my eye and view a symmetrical design produced by mirrors reflecting the pattern made by bits of colored glass at the other end of the tube. A slight turn changes the design; another turn, another change. The myriad of change continues with each transition. A portion from one configuration moves to another position changing the design and perspective. Life is a kaleidoscope of transition and change.

With conception, a human being begins the process of change. Rituals punctuate a person’s timeline. A birthday marks a baby’s transition from womb to world. A first tooth, first step, and first word call for picture taking and record making. Entry into the world of education means the celebration of the first of many graduations—from kindergarten, from elementary school, from high school, and from college. Each signals a transition in mental, physical, emotional, and social growth. Bits from one stage form the basis for transformation to the next.

Besides education, relationships reflect change—from sibling, from pal, from best friend, from boyfriend/girlfriend, from lover to life mate. Even when a life mate is chosen and a commitment made, the relationship evolves, grows, and changes or it dies. Like the kaleidoscope, change alters the dynamics of a relationship. The motif ebbs and flows, brightens and darkens, pales and intensifies, comforts and troubles, and weakens and deepens. Youth reeks with intensity, middle life with sober brightness, and older age with a calm depth. I’m entering this time of quiet enjoyment of my mate’s strengths and indifference to his foibles. The recognition of the finiteness of the life span begs appreciating every remaining moment.

My life’s work reflects transition, too. Training culminates in working at a task, job, or career. In the beginning, huge amounts of time and energy shape the trials and rewards of work. Often one begins with uncertainty and gains confidence and skill to reap the rewards of promotion, honor, money, and achievement. My education career ends; retirement begins. Honors, leadership positions, and respect of colleagues signal success even though monetary levels were less than desirable in education. Long ago, I made the choice knowing this and I will not complain now. My thoughts have moved beyond school walls and classrooms to writing: letters, newsletters, essays, and a novel.

Transition moves along and becomes change; change shifts to transition and the process repeats. Individual bits rearrange in never ending creativity. Movement and activity, colors and energies animate my world stimulating a continuous kaleidoscope of inspiration. I welcome the next turn, prepared to revel in next design.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Contacting Emily in 2007

emily@amherst.com...The address leaped from the monitor’s screen into my head. Could it be? My heart pounded at the thought of Emily Dickinson,the cloistered poet, dressed in white, sitting at her computer sending messages into cyberspace. Dare I make contact? I do! My fingers tremble as I type. Dare I ask for permission to visit her? I do; I tell myself a dream does not come true without taking action. I click on send, and it’s done; I can’t call the message back.

Leaving the mail screen active, I search my book shelves for two books: one with a faded green cover and wrinkled pages, and one in it’s dust jacket with clean white pages of bold dark print. Emily Dickinson’s poems. I read while I wait for the ding that announces incoming e-mail messages.

“A precious--mouldering pleasure--’tis--
To meet an Antique Book--
In just the Dress his Century wore--
A privilege--I think--”

Emily Dickinson is that Antique Book from another century, that person who created a quiet revolution with her poetry. How exciting to contact her! Do I dare hope for the privilege of being in her presence, sharing a cup of tea, and discussing nature, words, and ideas?

“His venerable Hand to take--
And warming in our own--
A passage back--or two--to make
To times when he--was young--”

I substitute “her” and “she” and dream of taking Emily’s hand. I’m certain that in the awe I feel, I couldn’t begin to speak. Yet her hand warms my own and leads me to a chair. Emily sits in another chair close by, hands in her lap. Her dark hair is a smooth cap around her head; her dark dress trimmed with white lace around the neck. Her voice calms my nerves and invites me to converse.

“His quaint opinions--to inspect--
His thought to ascertain
On Themes concern our mutual mind--
The Literature of Man--”

Emily begins with the most recent book of Dickens, and we talk of style, and characters, and social themes therein. She pours tea and passes me a cup. I spread the linen napkin on my lap and chose several delicacies from a plate of tempting dainty sandwiches and cookies. It is as I supposed, an occasion full of grace and courtesy.

“What interested Scholars--most--
What Competitions ran--
When Plato--was a Certainty--
And Sophocles--a Man--”

Emily converses on the strands of thought common to the ancient scholars and to their modern counterparts. She wonders if people, society, will ever learn from the literature and history of the past instead of repeating and even compounding mistakes. She’s interested in my opinion! She waits patiently for me to overcome my tongue-tied hesitation and attends my words, asking a question here, making a comment there.
“When Sappho--was a living girl--
and Beatrice wore
The Gown that Dante--deified--
Facts Centuries before”

Emily quotes from Sappho, Elizabeth Browning, and the Brontes; I dare to introduce her to Moore, Rich and Angelou. She seems pleased that poets admired and imitated her verse and stanza patterns. She smiles a bit when I mention an entire volume has been published containing poetry inspired by her.

“He traverses--familiar--
As One should come to Town--
And tell you all your Dreams--were true--
He lived--where Dreams were born--”

Emily dreamed and wrote her dreams for readers everywhere to know. Because of her others dare to dream and dare to write their dreams with truth and honesty. Her sparkling intellect, keen curiosity, and deep introspection kindle my desire to search for deeper meanings and truth.

“His presence is Enchantment--
You beg him not to go--
Old volumes shake their Vellum Heads
And tantalize--just so--” *

Of what importance, of what renown am I that Emily should share her precious time with me, yet the afternoon establishes a rapport, a kinship that embraces my soul and encourages me to dream. Emily’s presence is enchanting. I want to linger with Emily at Amherst and drink more of her rapture.

The anticipated “ding” has not interrupted my reverie with Emily; but I will keep the two volumes beside my computer. I will be patient. After all, in the year 2007, Emily may choose any one of 365 days to contact me. I will wait.

*Poem quoted from Thomas H. Johnson, ed., The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson. Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1957, pp.176-77.