For the last few nights i’ve been writing a post in my head as i’m falling asleep, because I haven’t been able to visit you for a little while, yet there is so very much to share. So much has happened since my last touch here: where to begin where to begin? I’ll start with what has struck me most closely to the heart in the last few weeks I’ve not been posting.
I wish to talk about “Things Are Not What They Appear To Be” … For instance, you might look at this drawing and think, “Yipes! it’s a snake atop a person’s head!” Well yes, that’s the literal translation; but no….you’re mistaken. This is an interpretitive rendition of a spiritual axiom, a rendition of a scriptural verse, in fact, in which the snake represents Shakti (spiritual energy), identifiable by the people-like figures (the family of humManity) imprinted on its skin; the object the snake is twisting around, the round-topped column shape called the Lingum, represents Shiva (in the East), the source of consciousness; and the person whose head all this esoteric activity is happening upon—is YOU—and ME—and all of us! So in other words, this illustration is about an awakened life, a spiritual life, and the choice that each and every one of us has of making ours thus so … or not. We DO choose to be more aware—or not.
I have a story to share about “things appearing differently than what they are.”
The other day I was driving, at a street corner about to make a turn onto US1, a major four- lane highway that runs north-south through my town, when I spied a most bizarre woman, all dressed in PINK, with one outstretched hand, slowly waving, langourously, to passing cars, while with her other, laboriously pulling a child’s play wagon upon which a sign was fixed bearing the word, “Thanks” written on paper, also PINK! As I passed her during my zippy turn I noticed she wore a full surgical mask, and this buzzed my detective-activation wonderment. Although I must admit my first thought was simply (oh, our foolish preconceptions, folks!) “Okay, this lady is a real nut case,” as our town has an entire nearby forest-full, where homeless and hobos alike camp out. The traffic on US1 was flowing fast; this unathletic-looking lady-in-Pink was waving to them with effort, her steps slow and sluggish, her mask hiding her intent and features, and her proximity to the cars was hazardous, to say the least. I wasn’t curious enough to wonder much more, other than associating the PINK with her possibly wanting to say “thanks,” because, perhaps, she might be a breast cancer survivor, as the time for honoring that cause had just recently passed. I was rushing on my way to do errands and ended up stopping off at my mom’s.
Those of you who’ve been fans of Lordflea Sings have heard how spunky my mom is. She’s 92 now and filled with vim and vinegar galore. So after I put up her outdoor Christmas wreath by climbing to the tippy top of a fifteen foot ladder (otherwise, SHE would have! I kid you not) I suggested to mom we go for a walk, as she’s been a little shaky on her feet ever since she had a trip or two in the past couple years. Otherwise, she’s a fit as a fiddle. Catches buckets of fish up on the pier on St. Augustine Beach, tells stories at Taletellers, and is working on her fourth–fourth!–book of stories. (Write me and order one! email@example.com) One would never suspect her age by looking at her.
Anyway, we were walking along US 1 close to her neighborhood when suddenly I spied in the distance—you guessed it—the very same lady in PINK still struggling along at her turtle’s pace along the side of the road, waving with effort to every passing car, and hauling her little wagon with its incongruous message of Thanks. I said to mom, “Uh oh, here comes that nut case.” And explained that I’d passed this lady-in-Pink over an hour earlier. It had taken her that long to walk the mile and a half that a normal person, even someone of my mom’s advanced years, could handle in half that time. Mom and I slowed our pace because we were drawing closer to the woman. And just as we were wondering how we might get past her without drawing this kook’s attention—because the sidewalk came quite close to the swift traffic at that point of interception where she now was—a dark car pulled up behind her.
“Must be the cops,” mom said.
“Or…maybe someone who’s taken pity on her,” I added.
We watched and to our surprise a big burly man wearing shorts and a T-shirt (an off-duty cop, I wondered) got out of his car and spoke to the woman. From our distance we saw him take out a folded chair and offer it to the lady-in-Pink, who swiftly sat down by the side of the roadway directly in front of his SUV. It was a dangerous place to rest and relax for any other than a struggling miles-long walker hauling a kiddie-wagon with an indecipherable message. Mom and I kept walking toward her, now curious beyond measure. “I’ve got to find out what’s going on,” I told mom, and she didn’t try to convince me otherwise as we approached the two beside the busy highway.
“Hi,” I said, “what’s going on? I saw you down the road over an hour ago. You look tired. What are you doing with that wagon?”
The woman with the surgical mask, who up close and from her eyes alone and her brightly dyed plum-red hair and youthful complexion appeared no more than early forty-ish, immediately told my mom and me: “I’m raising awareness for organ donations. I just had a new heart, a transplant, three months ago. I’m walking all the way home, to Titusville (a hundred miles away!) to show everyone my appreciation, thanking them for making it possible for me to be alive today.”
As the woman gulped big breaths of air through her mask (three months! a new heart! was I hearing correctly? the pollution of the road was enough to make my immune system squeamish) mom rushed up to her. “Oh, can I touch you?” and did, touching the woman’s arm as if she were a good-luck charm sent from the Buddha of Longevity itself. And truly—she was a miracle.
Then we heard the REAL story of the lady-in-Pink, right from her own mouth. Her name is Debi Bair and her husband, Wade, was following her at a safe distance all the way home to Titusville from a little town north of St. Augustine. Debbie wanted to duplicate the walk she had done BEFORE her transplant, during which she’d raised enough funds to enable her heart transplant at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, FL. Otherwise she might not have been able to receive one because she had no funds and no insurance. Even though she was tired, and you can bet would have been better off just resting at home after such recent and complicated surgery, she was determined to show the world her thanks, and raise awareness of the need for people to sponsor organ donorship. Either by donating money—or their organs.
I told Debbie that I was a designated-organ donar. All who are have that marked on our drivers license. And then proudly I announced to Debbie and Wade that Mom is a donor for her entire body when she decides (if ever) to leave this glorious planet for the next realm. Mom beamed with joy and pride as we discussed how important this is, the gift of her remains, that she has bequeathed to the University of Florida after her passing. Wade, the tattooed, bearded, kind-hearted and ever so patient champion of Debbie who was following her at a snail’s pace all the way home, and whose car bore on its rear the more informative sign of: “Debbie Bair, New Heart Donated. Stop her for donarship information” said to mom, “A lot of people will be glad to have different parts of you,” and my mom laughingly agreed. She’s a good egg. Then added, “You’d be surprised how many people object to what I’ve done when they find out. They say, ‘you can’t do that!’ You need to get buried’ or some such nonsense. I don’t even bother explaining to those kind of people, what my real intentions are,” mom said.
As we stood chatting, keeping Debbie company while she rested for the next excruciating length of her long journey home, I thought how this walk-for-awareness of hers was one with a purpose as wide, as deep, as meaningful and profound as some peoples’ entire lives are. And then I thought how I was pretty much, “one of those kind of people” my mom just scoffed at, by the way I’d so quickly dismissed and classified Debbie in the “nut case” category when I first spied her, quickly labeling her as some queer lady-in-Pink only interrupting traffic and trying to get noticed. I decided then and there that I have to practice being even more open minded than I am (and boy! I usually pride myself of being very open-to-all)..
Last night I saw Stevie Wonder speaking to Larry King. Stevie has been blind since birth. Larry asked him “Stevie, how do you think you’d feel if you could ‘see’ for real—with your eyes—your piano, your TV, your audience, your children’s faces?” and Stevie’s answer reflected so well what I’ve been thinking about since bumping into Debbie, the lady-in-Pink. “I don’t think I’d be surprised, because I pretty much see them already, Larry,” he said. He went one to say (and I’m paraphrasing here) that too often people have pre-conceptions about things and they think they “see” something but they don’t really, because they approach things with already made-up minds, instead of each time approaching something fresh and new, as if for the very first time. Only then do we really ‘see’ what something actually is. Thanks, Stevie, for that reminder!
This is my thought for today. I’m going to work on changing my thinking. I’m going to remember what Great Good Fortune it is to be ALIVE! to feel my heart beating in my chest, to run into people like Debbie and Wade Blair from Titusville, FL and to fully sense the wonder, the excitement and the gratitude they themselves have, just to be breathing air that day, today, this moment—together.
And so it is…. the wonder …. the MYSTERY! …. life!!!
I’m glad to be back sharing my thoughts and images with you, dear friends. Will I ever be able to create short posts? I dunno. Doesn’t seem to be my style. A twittering tweeter, i’ll never be.
In the Light, with much love, your pal lordflea
click here to read Debi Bair’s remarkable walking journey: Debi’s Heart-Walk make a contribution, and find out more about the National Transplant Fund
www.DonateLifeFlorida.org for more information on donating organs in Florida