BLOGGING BETWEEN MADNESS AND SANITY – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Madness

Between sanity and madness, there has always lain writing. I have written my way out of deep depression, terrible grief, loneliness, and hopelessness. When I write, I find my way. Lately, photography has become part of the writing. Not instead of it, but in addition to it. The pictures are part of my story, the thing that I am doing besides pondering the evils of the world.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

It’s not just because “birds are pretty” or for that matter, because “flowers are pretty.” It’s because both of these things are of the earth and remind me that the earth brings forth beauty. Sometimes, the beauty is also terrible in its potential and consequences. Gigantic storms flood coastlines and river valleys. Fires destroy woods and towns. Winds blow down ancient trees and make the oak trees in our woods groan with the strain of motion for which they are never ready.

Tufted Titmouse

The process of taking these pictures is calming and it brings up a kind of genetic memory of a past built into my bones but lost from active memory. It reminds me of a childhood lived under waving white oaks — and that was the good part of childhood memories. It reminds me of the summer I spent reading hundreds of books about paleontology, volcanoes, and earthquakes.

So much of the stuff I know now I learned before I was ten. The things you learn “way back then” stick in your memory forever. The things I learned yesterday may scatter before dinner, but memories of books I read in childhood are permanent and have become the basis of later learning.

Chickadee

Today is a gray day with patches of blue. I realized that the birds needed feeding. I should have done it yesterday, but there was a holiday this week and it knocked my (very shaky) calendar off-balance. And so, while Garry is out testing the limits of his cochlear implant on creaky old colleagues from his working days, I refilled the bird feeders.

The pink cactus flowering

I had to learn to do it myself because no matter who else I depend on, in the end, I need to be able to do it alone. Sometimes, that’s the way it works. Garry is out, Owen is recovering from surgery and the birds are hungry.

And I need the pictures.

Blessed be the birds the fly through my woods. They keep me sane, keep madness outside the door and let me live just like a regular person.

DOONESBURY NAILED IT 41 YEARS AGO – BY BRAINWRAP (AND ME)

Doonesbury nailed it 41 years ago. — By Brainwrap 


 I remember this specific strip too. I was an ardent follower of Doonesbury back in those days. How ironic and sad that his material is relevant 41 years after publication. 

CRAZY OR HAPPY

Back from a brief foray over to Facebook, the social media site I love to hate, I was whacked with this witty bit of philosophical twaddle.

crazy but happy

I looked at it and realized I’ve seen a lot of similar “memes” lately. All of them seem to be saying that your choice is to be nuts, off the rails, mad as a hatter … or miserable, bitter. Living a life of quiet (or not-so-quiet) desperation.

Apparently the latest popular “wisdom” — surely promoted by the same geniuses who want Donald Trump or Ben Carson as president — is it’s impossible to be sane while happy.

In other words … if you are in your right mind, you’re miserable? You haven’t had a single laugh in your entire life?

I’ve been through a lot. Sick, poor, bankrupt, and homeless — I’ve been there. But I’ve also been happy, joyous, hopeful, determined, and successful. Sane and simultaneously content. I’ve lost. I’ve won. In and out of love and marriages. Life isn’t always happy, nor is it only pain and agony. It’s not only anything.

Even when I was homeless, life wasn’t a vale of tears. I figured I was temporarily un-housed, between residences and after a while, it got resolved. Life went on — up, down, and sideways.

72-dry-leaves-foliage-1026_034

Life isn’t this or that. Happy or sad. Bitter or crazy. Life just is. You get the good times, the bad times, and plenty of in-between times. It’s a package deal. Money or lack thereof is not the key that unlocks happiness, though it can provide a very comfortable version of misery. Happiness is what you provide. You own the key.

Some of the most bitter rants I’ve heard come from young people. At the advanced age of 19 or 20, they have concluded that life has cheated them. They didn’t get “the good stuff” they deserved.

At 19 or 20, if you have yet to achieve The Good Life, it’s because you’re still on the starting line. You have not been cheated. If you decide it’s over, it means you’ve given up without a fight. Haven’t entered the fray. At the risk of sounding like a cliché, no one said it was going to be easy.

72-V1-Painted-Flowers_07

Most of us need a few years to figure out what comprises a good life, then a few decades to achieve it. Get an education. Work at this and that until we find where we belong, until we discover the satisfaction of a job well done. Figure out what “well done” means. For me, for you.

Work isn’t punishment. Properly done, it’s a reward. Challenges and difficulties are not necessarily punishment either. Sometimes (not always), they’re part of growing up, of discovering who you are and what you were born to do. Sometimes, they turn out to be the best of times.