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Sunday, February 28, 2016

On Spontaneity

The bottom line of the morning newspaper horoscope said "Tonight, be spontaneous." I read this aloud to my husband and we both immediately began planning what our spontaneous evening might be. That's the joke. How can two control freaks allow a spontaneous evening to arise? There's probably a punch line someplace to answer that question, but I haven't come up with it yet.


I don't remember whether or not we spent that evening performing a spontaneous activity, but I did begin thinking about spontaneity. Myself, I'm a planner, and I'm married to another one. We egg each other on in our attention to the details of the future. Not a lot of room for spontaneity when you flow-chart your chores, errands, and life so as to be as efficient as possible.


Nonetheless, change is in the air. I don't know when it was that I noticed a shift in my planning self. Perhaps it was when we were under a deadline for an upcoming dinner party and I realized that as late as Thursday I had not detailed either the shopping list or the timetable for Saturday night's do. This was unheard of.


Something had shifted in my brain. Looking ahead was no longer part of my mandate. And yet, despite this lack of organization, the dinner party took place without any embarrassing mistakes. A new age dawns. Maybe.


Of course, the question that poses itself is this: am I consciously facilitating and embracing this new, more spontaneous phase of my life—or is my mind simply no longer capable of planning? Well, no matter why the shift is happening, it's not a bad thing to move toward spontaneity and away from rigid control. So I'm taking this as a positive change.



Copyright © 2016 Ann Tudor





Sunday, February 21, 2016

Our Arms Ache

From reaching for the stars

            our arms ache.

From holding out hope in the face of life,

            our arms ache.

From craving the unattainable (no matter how

            reasonable we imagine our request to be),

            our arms ache.


Better they should ache

            from enfolding the lonely.

            from holding in a long hug each morning

                        the one we love.

            from soothing strokes to a child's brow—or anyone's.

            from carrying bags of food to those

                        who were without it.

            from pushing, for as long as she wants, the child

                        soaring on a swing.

            from enclosing through the night the infant

                        who cannot yet assimilate to an earthly life.


So what is the bottom line here?

Stop reaching for the endless wants that multiply

            even as they are fulfilled.

Find new uses for those outstretched arms.



Copyright © 2016 Ann Tudor

Sunday, February 14, 2016

On Reading a Poem I Don't Understand

What do I take from the reading of this poem?

Not much, I blush to say.

I fail to get it.

But I admired throughout

the poet's use of "-ere" rhymes,

whether they were internal

or in a formal scheme of line endings.

Sphere, she said, and hear,

And fear, and maybe year.

Or I'm making that up as I mimic the spelling game

I played with six-year-olds:

If h-e-a-r is hear,

then what is g-e-a-r-?

I resist the wicked temptation

to spell b-e-a-r.

I agree with George Bernard Shaw's insistence

that English spelling is not a piece o' cake,


For us to know its ins and outs

requires at least the years from K through 12,

plus patient teaching

and a fair amount of homework.

Shirking study may lead to failure.

Along the study lines of our lives

we take on rough, tough, through,

thought, and even the Slough of Despond.


Having mastered these,

we glory in our superiority for

lo! those many middle years

until the day our mind reminds us

not to concern ourselves further

with such trivia.

There's more to life than spelling.


Copyright © 2016 Ann Tudor

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Following the Pen to a Conclusion

The moving pen is moving. And nowhere in the definition of a moving pen's purpose does it say that logic, or sense, or even truth, must flow from the pen. It just has to keep moving.


Truth is beauty; beauty, truth. So many certainties are crammed into our heads when we are young, and if you are naïve, bookish, or trusting, you actually believe them. You believe your instructors, you believe anyone who says, "Here is the answer." Until, that is, you stop believing, and then you have to examine--one slogan after another, one certainty after another--every single thing you have been told, in order to decide what is true for you and what is not.


Notice that now "truth" has become smaller and more personal: what is true for you. Because one of the good things about being human is that we actually get to decide what works for each of us and what does not. Oh, you won't find this written down very often; a lot of institutions would lose power if we all suddenly began to think for ourselves.


Another beauty of being human is that we have the power to change our minds and rethink our beliefs, for as long as we are alive. What served us at thirty may not serve us when we are seventy. For one thing, we are, one can only hope, considerably wiser at seventy than we were at thirty, and gathering wisdom allows us—compels us, even—to change our outdated beliefs. Otherwise, what's the point of growing older? I am grateful every day for having lived this long and having changed this much, and I pray that I will live long enough to change and grow even more, as needed.


As needed. Take three new ideas a day, or as needed. We get to decide for ourselves what we need for our own growth. I, for example, was once a cynical grouch; but I now understand that our birthright is joy. I don't always embody this understanding, but little marquee lights blaze in the back of my mind to remind me of the joy of joy. Taking a peek at the back of my mind once in a while will refresh the image of that brilliant display of JOY!


Copyright © 2016 Ann Tudor