Pacificmelody's Blog

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Discharging A Debt Of Gratitude

One of my favorite positive people is author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia. Leo left this world in June of 1998, but not before he gave me a gift both delightful and practical. Before I spent some time between the pages of his books, listened to his tapes and watched him on PBS, I used to be very hard on myself, very critical of my own behavior, especially when it didn’t become the sort of person I was aspiring to be. My disappointment took the form of sotto voce comments to myself, things like, “How could you be so stupid?” “How could you do something so self-defeating and dumb?” My own personal favorite was, “What were you thinking?”

Then came the day when I heard Leo say that, when you’ve done something like this, say to yourself, “You sweet old thing, you’ve done it again!” I smiled when I heard those words for the first time, and I’ve smiled every other time since, when I’ve used them on myself. My unwise act is not changed, but the way I look at it is. This homely phrase helps me to put things in perspective, and to forgive myself, once again, for being human and thus not infallible.

Anyone who ever heard Leo Buscaglia will probably know what I mean when I say that he always seemed full of joy. He made it sound so easy to be like him, and he always seemed to speak and operate from an inner wellspring of strength and truth and joy. I’ve never been told I reminded anyone of Leo, but if I were it would make me very happy, because Leo was one of my heroes. He didn’t just have a plan for the big things, he showed us small ways to begin to make the changes we wanted in our lives. He didn’t mind poking fun at himself or his big, noisy Italian family, and I will always think of him as a kind friend and mentor, who I never actually met. I’m sorry we didn’t, but I know I would have liked him, and I think he would have liked the person he helped me become. Thank you, Leo Buscaglia, for making the world a better place for me and so many others.

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Fall Is My Favorite Season

I wait for the bus that will take me downtown,

Where I’ll hop on the train to my destination.

We turn a corner and I see a row of green trees,

With their tops going up in flames.

Like torches that burn in the daylight

And are quenched by the fall of night.

Oranges and greens, greens and golds and reds,

This living, breathing, moving panoply of color

Thrills me. Each tree is like a shout of glory

Against the pale blue backdrop of the Autumn sky.

No one else notices, no one bats an eye.

How can they be so blindly unaware of

All this beauty? The colors boldly strike my senses;

I am awed and dumbstruck, though inside

I’m shouting, “Look! Be aware of this wondrous

Miracle of beauty unfolding in front of

Your unseeing gaze.” But the words will not come,

And the moment passes, unnoticed and unremarked

But by me, and I scribble down these memories

While I have hold of them, and preserve them

For now.

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Visiting My Old Life

Robert Frost said, in his poem, “The Death of the Hired Hand”, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” Luckily for me, I’m just back on a temporary basis. Two weeks in my old stomping grounds, visiting family and friends who, so far, seem glad to see me. This is my second trip back, and even though it’s only been 16 months since I was here last, things seem to have changed everywhere I look.

One of my many kind and generous friends, Craig, loaned me his car, which he assures me he hardly drives. My son is acting as my chauffeur while I’m here, because he drives stick and let’s simply say I don’t. No need to burden you with the ugly details of my attempts at driving stick-shift.

In the last six days, in the course of visits and errands, we have driven past a million memories. It seems there’s hardly a street that doesn’t hold some piece of my past. And now I live 3,000 miles away and call another city home. I know some people are not big on change, but I’m still so glad I made the leap.

Something I hadn’t considered when I moved away, was exactly what a big change I was making. When you move to a city where virtually no one knows your name, you’re presented with an opportunity for a fresh start. I was a blank slate to everyone I met, as were they to me, and the amusing thing is that most of my new friends are also making a new beginning. I have in a sense reinvented myself, hopefully as a much kinder, gentler version of me, and perhaps they have done the same.

Now I’m back where people know me, warts and all, and in some ways it feels as if I never left, as if the last twenty months were a dream. Then I’ll turn a corner and everything looks strange. The trees are taller, familiar landmarks have disappeared and new ones have taken their place. But the faces of my friends and family are the same, which makes me happy. There is a new face, too, that of my niece’s new little daughter, and she’s so beautiful! I was holding her in front of me, cradling her head in my hands and sweet talking her, when she began to tell me a story. She was waving her arms around, sticking out her tongue and using every expression in her repertoire. All the while she was looking intently into my eyes. It was a real conversation, even though only she and I will ever know what we talked about. Suffice it to say that she now owns my heart. New babies are the best!