Life is not cheap and it does not stop, even for shopping. The other day I was hunting the aisles in our local Walmart, convincing myself that they hide the frozen pie crusts just to watch me circling the store. During my search, I overheard an exasperated mother with two teen-agers say, “If I had two faces, do you think I’d be wearing this one?” Good question.
Earlier this week, I learned of a fellow bloggers photo contest and got excited. “I’ve got just the picture for Miss Bluebird…I’ve been saving it for just the right time!” But as I read on, I learned her call was for self-portraits and my initial rush dimmed as fast as the lighting in a bad restaurant.
Fully aware that mine is the only face I’ve got, I have since been asking myself why my feet grew so quickly cold at the prospect of entering my face into the contest? Good questions all, but answering any of them was proving to be more of a riddle than I ever saw coming. Why? What was I afraid of? Ah, my old friend, Fear. I still hadn’t solved my conundrum, but I could feel the ice floe beneath my feet beginning to move towards some open water.
Having long paid the fare of leading a double or even triple life for the first half of my time on Planet Earth, I despise hypocrites with a passion. Whether the arena is Washington, the civil rights movement or my workplace, hypocrites are everywhere.
So you can understand why I also think it true that the things in others which anger us the most, are usually the very things we don’t like in ourselves. Maybe this is where we got the idea of showing another face to the world that really isn’t ours. Ask any waitress or the guy that bags your groceries. They know the physical face may be ours, but it’s not the real us. And that brings me to illusion.
Illusions can be fun. Magic shows and movies depend on them. We count on them being good ones for the magic to work. Showing things that are actually something other than what they seem to be holds a real fascination for us. And with all the doom-and-gloom continually seeming to bubble up around us, who could blame any of us for wanting just a little bit of smoke-and-mirrors…something shiny to take our minds off our troubles if only, for a little while?
But as ever, the real trick is to know the difference between what is illusion and what is real. And then, to do the work at finding the right balance between them. If I were to stand in front of a mirror for a very long time, would I see myself age? Is the guy I see in the morning each morning, the same person I see in my mind? Messy, ain’t it?
How is it I can treat a perfect stranger with more courtesy than I do a member of my own household? Why do I find it easier to show another face to them than the one I have? Answer: I don’t have much vested in a public face that doesn’t have much substance to it. I mean really, what does it cost to show that one?
So OK, strip away the illusion and what have you got but an authentically beautiful face marked in ways that only come from having weathered long winters. A face like that carries all the proofs of a Life fully lived. Our true face is the receipt for having paid the price associated with lessons hard-won. Think about it. What does it say about our struggles if we hide the dividends earned in the learning behind Fear. What value do we add by showing a face to the world that isn’t ours? How will others know we can help if we don’t let them see the proof in our eyes?
This week has shown me the kindnesses of those who didn’t need to be.
But they were.
I have witnessed what greed does to a boss who has no need to be.
But he is.
So what of those lessons of long winters? What do I know now?
I am reaffirmed in my reliance on the odd and quiet power that sources from being honest with the Cosmos about who I am, and and what I need. I don’t understand it, but somehow, someway, the ‘help’ shows up. Granted, on the face of it, the help never looks like I thought it would. It is rarely what I planned on it being and the help hardly ever arrives by the avenue I expected. But I’m floored by its majesty each and every time it shows up. And every time I have truly been in genuine need – whether I knew it or not – it has delivered.
The longer I live, the more miraculous the calculus of the Universe shows itself to be. Yes, my winter has been long, but Spring is coming (even in Chicago).
Over the past many months, I have been honored to share in your stories. I marvel at your grit, wit and humor in the face of the obstacles so many of you routinely overcome, every day. I wonder how you ever thought it possible? Yet here you are. And so am I.
I marvel at the stunning display of the human spirit whenever one of us keeps walking without knowing where we’re headed or how we’ll get there. Even in the moments when we have no choice but to keep walking, what do we do? Somehow, someway, we reach into some unseen store of strength and put one more foot in front of the other.
So thank you.
Each new morning, I keep getting up, trusting in the knowledge that my feet will follow the course set when I turn and face the wind. One more time, I am reminded that it isn’t perfect teeth or glowing skin that makes our faces beautiful. The majesty in our faces comes from the light we carry inside for having seen and done all that we have to bring us to this place.
Like our Walmart mom, we each have faces we can choose. My challenge this week is to keep wearing the one I’ve earned. And that my friend, is a face of value. The world is waiting. Travel well.
I dedicate my photo of the Chicago Lakefront to Miss Bluebird (http://bluebirdblvd.net/). Taken shortly after dawn, Rick and I had spent the previous night waiting in line with thousands of others on Navy Pier – all of us hoping for an audition to get on Deal, No Deal. We didn’t get picked for the game show, but I did get the shot. Thank you for letting me share my special shot with you there.
June 16, 1934 – April 2, 2013
“Jane Henson, the widow of and original collaborator with Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets, died on Tuesday at her home in Greenwich, Conn. She was 78.
The cause was cancer, said a spokesman for the Jim Henson Company, the production company owned by the couple’s five children.
Mrs. Henson and her husband, who were legally separated in 1986, remained friends until his death in 1990 at 53 from untreated pneumonia…
When her children were older, Mrs. Henson was active in entertainment projects like the arena shows “The Muppet Show on Tour” and “Sesame Street Live.” In 1982 she helped form the Jim Henson Foundation, which promotes puppetry.
She is survived by her children, Lisa, Cheryl, Brian, John and Heather Henson; seven grandchildren; a step-grandchild; a sister, Margareta Jennings; and a brother, Brereton Nebel. Cheryl Henson, who is president of the Jim Henson Foundation, said her mother had provided ballast for her father’s creative freedom and was his artistic collaborator throughout their life. “She encouraged him to take risks,” she said, “always urged him not to compromise.”
In the Henson family lexicon, she said, “We called her the great maza shelaza of the Muppets.” Roughly translated, she added, that meant the mother of all Muppets. ”
(Source: The New York Times – By PAUL VITELLO – Published: April 3, 2013: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/04/arts/television/jane-henson-early-collaborator-on-the-muppets-dies-at-78.html?_r=0
June 18, 1942 – April 4, 2013
Another landmark in Chicago, we celebrate the life and courage of Mr. Roger Ebert. His wife issued the following statement on Thursday:
“CHICAGO, April 4, 2013 — Chaz Ebert issued the following statement Thursday about the passing of her husband, Roger Ebert, a day after he celebrated 46 years as a film critic:
“I am devastated by the loss of my love, Roger — my husband, my friend, my confidante and oh-so-brilliant partner of over 20 years. He fought a courageous fight. I’ve lost the love of my life and the world has lost a visionary and a creative and generous spirit who touched so many people all over the world. We had a lovely, lovely life together, more beautiful and epic than a movie. It had its highs and the lows, but was always experienced with good humor, grace and a deep abiding love for each other.”
The next time you visit the Chicago Theater on North State Street,
you can visit his medallion right out in front.
For more on the life of Mr. Ebert, go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Ebert
Though it was released in 2000, RETURN TO ME is a marvelous story worth the watch.
Starring David Duchovny, Minnie Driver and Bonnie Hunt (who wrote and directed the film), they are joined by Carroll O’Connor, Robert Loggia, David Alan Grier, James Belushi and Joely Richardson in a really good ensemble performance. Set in Chicago, it is a story of love, loss and the fate that brings us all together.
Enjoy. The balcony is closed.
Movie Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Return_to_Me
PHOTO CREDITS and ATTRIBUTIONS: Two_Faced Person_ Oleg Tselkov_Saatchi_Gallery_co_uk: http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/artists/tselkov_oleg.htm?section_name=breaking_the_ice; two-faced-illustration-cropped: http://www.btu.org/spotlights/look-charter-school-self-selection-work-gavin-middle-school; houdini_illusion_thumb: http://www.moillusions.com/2013/01/harry-houdini-optical-illusion.html/houdini_illusion; Batman and Robin sidewalk illusion by Julian Beever: http://www.moillusions.com/2006/03/more-sidewalk-chalk-illusions.html; Spiritual Tree by Myoung Ho Lee in the Yossi Milo Gallery, New York: The Chronicle Review – http://chronicle.com/article/Reclaiming-a-Sense-of-the/130705/; Chicago Lakefront from Navy Pier at Dawn © by dan4kent.wordpress.com; Jane Henson: http://cdn0.columbuslibrary.org/sites/columbuslibrary.org/files/imagecache/featured_image_size/Jane-Henson_620x270_0.jpg; Roger Ebert (photo by Robert K. O’Daniell/AP): 1365188471-people_roger_ebert_37052169 and The Chicago Reader: http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2013/04/05/on-the-death-of-roger-ebert; Ebert’s Star in Front of Chicago Theatre: http://wgntv.com/2013/04/04/photos-remembering-roger-ebert/; dan’s eyes © by dan4kent.wordpress.com
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