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Sunday, February 27, 2011


"A life should leave deep tracks," says the poet. Shall I make that my new goal? Shall I focus on . . . oops! my mind, somewhat dim on the best of days and especially so today, just blanked out, the way TV sets used to turn off, shifting in the blink of an eye from ersatz joyous activity to a black blank screen with a tiny bright light at the center. You're probably too young to remember those old sets. But just like that is my mind, minus the glimmer of any sort of focused light at all.


Confusion reigns. What do I know, indeed, about anything? This is not a day for pronouncing on weighty topics like whether or not a life (is it really my life I'm discussing here?) should (and whence comes this external imperative?) leave deep tracks, aka ruts. As in inescapable ruts, ruts of drudgery and sameness and endless repetition.


Essay topic: "Ruts—Good or Bad?" Augment your essay with personal experience and quotations from great works of literature.


Copyright 2011 Ann Tudor   

Sunday, February 20, 2011


"From nothing, something," whether or not it is true in a general sense, makes a nice change from "from nothing, nothing" or even "from nothing TO nothing." Quit while you're ahead, sweet pea.


Nothing to say leads to—wait for it—nothing to write. But "nothing" is not an absolute term. "There's nothing in the house to eat" just means we're out of milk and eggs, or carrots and onions, depending on your culinary requirements. But "I have nothing to wear" means different things to a picky teenager, a homeless woman,

and the society matron contemplating Saturday night's ball.


Mighty oaks grow from tiny acorns (or so they tell me; I've never seen it happen) and surely we consider an acorn to be next to nothing—though we might get some argument from the squirrel.


And from "nothing to say" I have come up with the something

of these few lines, thereby proving the theory. Q.E.D.


Copyright 2011 Ann Tudor   

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Holding On

When the time comes,

you'll have to pry

my cold dead hands

away from life.

The hold I have on here and now is tight.

The hold I have on here is much too much.

Loosen up, my dear.

Let go the hold you have on here

and hear the music of the spheres

informing you of what's out there.

Loose the hold you have on here.


To sense the motion of the spheres

to sense the union of the where,

just loose that hold you have on here.


Cling tightly to your hold on here

and you'll experience only that.

The tightness of your hold is what

you'll think life is—and that's a fact.


But loose the hold, let your feet swing

into the rhythm of the thing,

the thing that buoys you up, my dear,

is at the heart of everything.


The Dalai Lama has no hold.

He wafts his way through all the world.

Clinging's not what he does best.

He's the example to the rest

of us, who tend to squeeze

our fists and tightly seize

the things we've hoarded from our quest.


The Dalai Lama's not that way.

He doesn't cling, he doesn't grip.

Whatever he holds, he lets it slip

into the void, then he floats free.

I have to ask: when did you see

a man as trouble-free as he?


So there's the lesson. Learn it now

and save yourself a lot of grief.

Let Dalai Lama show you how

to loosen your grip and find relief.


Release those tightly gripping fists.

Make mind blank, imagine mists

disguising mountains unexplored.


See the hold we have on here.

What good it does us disappears

in face of positive release

when we loose the hold we have on here.


Shave and a haircut, two bits.

Wear this shoe only if it fits.

But loose the grip just once and see

what joy it is to feel free.


To feel untethered, floating, light

and know you'll drift within the bright

white light of night's full moon.

This freedom's not an hour too soon.


The bell will ring—will you still hold?

Will you fail to see the world unfold

itself before your eyes?

Let go your hold, observe night's skies.

See the hold we have on here.

Let it go now, let go of fear.

Let go of rigid old beliefs

and face life freely. No longer steer

your course with strait-laced mien.

Surrender now to the unseen.


Copyright 2011 Ann Tudor

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Doors Closing

One icy day I needed to make a subway trip. My grandson Sam had been sick and wasn't yet ready to go back to nursery school, so I was going to entertain him at home.


Because I'm afraid of falling on the ice, last year I bought by mail order a pair of ice cleats that slip on over your boots or shoes. This seemed to be the perfect day to wear them. I would need them particularly to walk from our house to the subway, I reasoned, and then again from the bus stop near Sam's house through the alleyway to their house. The alleyway is never shoveled or cleared of ice and snow, and I could imagine how treacherous it would be. Good thing I had my cleats.


Unfortunately, the mail order company had been less than forthright in setting out the sizes for their over-the-shoe cleats, and I had bought a Medium instead of a Large. They fit on my shoes, indeed, but barely, and only after much tugging and much straining of arthritic thumbs. It's a process you don't want to undertake often, or in public, or without a solid chair to sit on.


Consequently, I decided to put the cleats on at home and wear them until I reached Sam's house.


I left the house. The sidewalk to the subway was actually clear, so in order not to waste the magic holding power of the cleats, I walked in the street, near the curb, where ice and snow were still packed. And as I walked I realized that I was going to be wearing those cleats on my boots when I was in the subway station. Uh-oh, I thought, I'd better be careful.


So here I am in the station. I go down the steps very carefully, looking like a little old lady twice my age, clinging to the handrail with every step. But I make it. Pay my fare. And descend the next set of steps to the westbound platform. I need to be at the front end of the train, so I walk the entire length of the platform. "Don't hurry!" I tell myself (against all my natural impulses). I don't hurry. I place each foot very carefully and I make my way ("click, click, click, click") to the front end of the westbound platform. As I wait for the train, I stand near the wall and congratulate myself on how careful I have been.


The train roars in to the station from the tunnel and gradually slows to a stop. I'm perfectly placed, with a door straight ahead. As I move forward, my cleats belatedly recognize that there's no traction on this smooth tile floor, and my feet slip out from under me in a nano-second. Suddenly I am flat on my back in front of the subway door.


Because it's winter and it's cold, I am wearing my puffy watermelon pink winter jacket and my funky brown sheepskin pillbox hat with the earflaps and the trailing leather streamers. The coat is thick and the hat is even thicker. Thus, even though I slam flat onto my back and the back of my head, I'm not hurt.


A passenger leaving the train (she didn't expect to find me lying in her path on the platform) helps me up. I want to get up quickly and rush on to the train, but the conductor, even though he has seen the whole thing, rings the warning chimes and the door closes right in my face. I found this more upsetting than the actual fall.


Left alone sitting on the platform, my first action is to whip off the cleats (they're a snap to take off; it's only putting them ON that's difficult).


The next train arrives within a minute, so I reach the Old Mill station just in time to catch the 66A bus to Sam's house. I didn't lose any time by missing that train.


At the end of the bus ride, I am faced with walking the icy alleyway to Sam's house without my cleats. I am very cautious. See the Nana learn another lesson: she's learning to move slowly when circumstances demand it.

Copyright 2011 Ann Tudor