That’s what I’ve got today. Solace. Just a little bit, but sometimes a little bit goes a long way.
First, I want to share a book, Hand in Hand, that I am reading a few pages of every day. It is the kind of art that reminds us of all the good in the world, and is one of the things that is giving me exactly what I need right now. It’s inspired by the macro photography of Meg Boscov, and the micro (non)fiction writing of her husband, Randy Brown of Matter Press.
Here’s the inside of the book–one side a stunning photograph, the other relevant muses, quotes and explorations. I read a few pages every morning. It’s my favorite way to start the day. And the perfect reminder that we may be isolated, but we are all in this together.
I’ve shared a few of Meg’s photographs before, this is one of my favorites:
I add this in to remind myself to tell you that I have no objectivity whatsoever. Meg and Randy are dear, dear friends. But I’d bet the farm–and did I mention that I have one?–that I’d love this book whether I knew the authors or not.
Next, I want to tell you about the podcast I did Saturday March 28th with some amazing people. Come, Sit, Stay (still available, at least for few weeks), was initiated by internationally known dog trainer and speaker, Kathy Sado, when she called Lynn Ungar after reading her remarkable poem, Pandemic. Lynn has given me permission to share that poem here:
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
–Lynn Ungar 3/11/20
The poem began a connection between Kathy and Lynn, that turned into a connection between them, me, veterinary behaviorist Dr. Chris Pachel, dog trainer Marissa Martino of the podcast Canine Conversations and Paws and Reward training, and Barrie Finger of Mindful Dog Training, who led us on a short meditation, all backed up by the ridiculously adept techie skills of Marissa and Susan Solomon, who then connected us with 450 people from all over the world. We’re in this together for sure, and together the dog training village shared our grief, fear, joy, senses of humor, and some practical ways to weather this crisis.
During the podcast, I talked about all of us being on what Joseph Campbell, in The Hero with a Thousand Faces, calls the universal story of the hero’s journey, in which an ordinary person finds themselves in a strange and unfamiliar world, and has to fight life-threatening danger, not to mention their own fears, to come out on the other side. And when they do, they are better for it, as is often the world around them.
Here’s a poem that Lynn Ungar wrote just hours after we did the podcast, inspired by the concept of the hero’s journey:
On the Other Side
Through the looking glass,
down the rabbit hole,
into the wardrobe and out
into the enchanted forest
where animals talk
and danger lurks and nothing
works quite the way it did before,
you have fallen into a new story.
It is possible that you
are much bigger—or smaller—
than you thought.
It is possible to drown
in the ocean of your own tears.
It is possible that mysterious friends
have armed you with magical weapons
you don’t yet understand,
but which you will need
to save your own life and the world.
Everything here is foreign.
Nothing quite makes sense.
That’s how it works.
Do not confuse the beginning
of the story with the end.
Lynn Ungar 3/28/20
I hope you find a chance to listen to the podcast, Come, Sit, Stay. I found a lot of wisdom and solace in it, thanks to Kathy, Chris, Lynn, Marissa and Barrie, and I am grateful for the connection.
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: Although the weekend was wet and soggy, last Friday was gloriously sunny. Inspired by the photograph in Hand in Hand, I ventured out with my camera and found this:
Stay well good friends, and stay connected.