Why This and Not That?

Over the course of a normal life, what happened last night was insignificant. At the moment, however, the difference between bowls of Italian wedding soup and chili was noteworthy. I ordered chili and then immediately regretted my decision once a bowl of wedding soup sat deliciously next to me … to be supped up by another. My immediate comment, while staring down into a tapestry of kidney beans, ground beef, and tomatoes? “Why this and not that?”

The previous 48 hours were unhealthfully challenging. A long twelve hours ER stay after a personal health challenge made decision making foggy. This restaurant visit was a first after being poked and picked over like a fresh berry bush. Sleep had been spotty, of course, with food and fluid intake starting and stopping as if in a nutritional traffic jam. Nothing normal.

My side still hurts from something … not sure what. The mysteries of our dark, inner spaces remain. This was of secondary concern, as it sat marginally away from what was primarily messing with my malfunctioning vascular-goober system. I don’t understand any of this. Melodic tunes make more sense to me than medical tubes. I know more how music beats, less about the electrical impulses of a heart.

In the time it would have taken to play a few Bach Inventions, I was erased out of awareness the other morning. Preferably, the former would have been my choice. Life had other plans.

Why this … and not that?

I had a choice between chili and wedding soup; however, there was no choice between consciousness and blanklessness at 7:15 a.m. on a beautiful Thursday morning in early November.

In addition, there was no option when a doctor you’ve trusted for years says, “Off to the ER you go. I am your doctor first … and friend second. You look horrible, your blood pressure is way too low, and I don’t have the facilities here to treat what may be wrong with you, …” (When I finally got in to see him five hours after getting off the floor…)”… let’s call and ambulance for you.”

In the ambulance, a paramedic gave me no choices. Sticker shock, diabetic checks, blood draws, wires, straps, beeps and blips. Oh, and rather pleasant conversation during the 15 minute bumpy ride to a local hospital.

We don’t have choices sometimes – especially when our health is involved. Last Thursday was a downright surprise. No warning, no “head’s up” …

I have some idea the cause … maybe. It might be easier to reverse engineer Mahler’s 3rd symphony, however. At least those notes are – if you’ll allow me some leeway here – black and white, stagnant, immovable, and predictable. Our bodies are living, breathing, aging, interlocking cellular game pieces constantly changing the rules as they move around the board.

According to medical notes, doctors I met in the ER made their best guess and discharged me after 12 hours. They made a choice. I had to agree. Hoping all my “numbers” met their approval, a tired, weary, hungry self of mine headed home…

And so, after a full day’s respite, I was faced with this: a bowl of chili … and not that: a better looking bowl of Italian wedding soup – realizing we make choices and end up with a result that is second best; Or, don’t have a choice what happens to us and do the best we can.

Best summed up as: I wanted life to be this, but got that instead, or why this and not that?

There are worse situations than what I went through … I’ve witnessed them in person. These wake-ups tweak a different part of my brain – that part where two bowls of soup take on a different meaning. I am reminded our choices in life are important. Acceptance of what happens to our health is also paramount to a healthy outlook.

Ok, maybe not soup, but some this and that’s circling about do make a difference. Choose wisely when you can, stay hydrated, and eat healthy foods.

That’s the best I’ve got for you on this day. At least until I get that bowl of Italian wedding soup.

Point to the Wonder

Smiles coming to life. On faces of children, on a big yellow balloon, wide open happy expressions appear across a field of green. Pointing to the wonder of it all, one little soul decided it was – truly was – a moment in time to celebrate. “Look! LOOK … share this lucky, merry moment with me, please!”, so gleefully proclaimed.

I dare say this exclamation of joy was returned by not only a large, yellow, inflatable hot-air human carrier in the distance, but also a little lady a few feet behind. Delight all around.

Laughter lifts spirits just as warm air rises. Possibly, into the blue sky went a dozen balloons moments after this picture was taken. Perhaps these inflatable pockets of joy were settling down after lofty rides on pIeasant breezes? In either case, I am sure giddiness followed.

This is what it means to be young. Directing attention to all that is wonderful … not knowing why it is so, just that it is. Astonishing colors, amazing shapes, and fabulous sizings add an imaginary reality to clean, perfect slates of innocence. Three children. United by sensational, youthful direction … led by the outstretched arm of one. Youth captured.

Pointing us to their youth.

… Pointing us to reminders of our youthful exuberance layered between adult experiences – colors, shapes, and sizings we’ve since covered up with grown-up frustrations and responsibilities. Our adult warm air pushes down on our souls. It takes Hurculean effort to catch up, let alone keep up, with the Jones’ across the street. The “mature” balloons we occupy are grounded, but not indefinitely.

We know the culprits: bills, work, relationships, car and house repairs, health issues, etc … all the crop-ups, granted, single-number age breathers don’t need to face.

None of these are excuses to point away from wonder, however.

Let’s constantly look for ways to notice the balloons in our lives. We can expand our joy as wonderful warm air swells into pleasant experiences we witness – giving rise, in return, to our every dayfullness.

This is how life should be.

Smiles coming to life shouldn’t happen only to little ones. We, as adults, need to crack open the hard shells with pointed enthusiasm- just as they do – and remind ourselves life is a one-time-around experience.

Now, go find a field and point to the wonder. Find what your joy looks like and breathe it in. Stand in your field where the vibration – that is your soul – surrounds the you that is you. Listen to music. Look, and absorb, the art of the masters. Read the words inside covers of your favorite author’s books. Walk between trees where the shade lays ahead a calm path. These are youthful, wonderful inhales.

Happy expressions, joyful lessons … simple reminders from one outstretched arm, three children, and one big smiley balloon and friends.

So much wonder.

The Lowry Estate Lesson

Yesterday, I missed a turn and the town. How this happened is really nobody’s business – except to say everyone I asked to help confirmed my suspicions: The landmark I was looking for existed in my brain – just not anywhere Google maps was sending me.

Why have I decided to share this seemingly mundane waste of gas? Because Google maps sent me to a legit address smack dab in the middle of a two-lane, busy highway. Yes. The famous, “You have arrived …” voice plopped my Mitsubishi exactly on two solid yellow lines one-half mile up from a local water reservoir … and not a house, tent, outhouse, or cabin in sight.

My choice words forced a u-turn. Perhaps it was a sour attitude that elicited a less-than cooperative attitude from the locals. They didn’t know where the Lowry Estate was, either.

I’ve been a native of these parts my whole life. Apparently this estate has the oldest stone home in the county. Being unaware of this fact threw coal into the already simmering furnace of frustration.

I was attempting to scope out this location a day ahead. Yesterday was a busy day and I had little time, today, to find my way here.

Yes, I am here now. Twenty-four hours ago, it was doubtful I would ever know. Shipping myself and luggage to Mars may have proven easier to do.

So close yesterday, apparently. Wrong turn, wrong town. Google … Wrong. So … What was the problem? Time clicked away and so did the little patience I had left.

Hey, why not check the brochure for the event? One. More. Time.

Yeah. Duh. It really IS nobody’s business, however, please pay attention to the little things in life. This will save you a lot of u-turns, cursing at the air in your car, blaming Google, and uncontrollably twitching one eye at strangers as they do their best to help.

Yep. I typed in the wrong town all along. There are two identical addresses for neighboring towns. Now, why in hell one would be in the middle of a busy highway? That’s for another time.

The correct one helped me arrive yesterday just in time to know the where’s and what’s for today.

Upon arrival today, I stopped to pay attention to the first little thing I saw. It was this pond. Still, it was. Quiet … as only a few of the Civil War re-enactors have arisen for the day. Canadian geese are meandering around and shades sneak around the grove of trees in the meadow where I am soon to set up.

It’s a fantastically calm day. Yesterday is but a blip in the day-in-the-life of “not playing attention” to the little things. Had I done so, right?

Lesson learned, but doomed to be repeated I am sure.

For today, though, I will enjoy this sublime pond five paces behind where I sit, the view of a glorious stone mansion, and visitors coming in to experience a few Civil skirmishes during an almost perfect weather day in July.

Good news for all … Those attending were able to get the town correctly the first time. I say, they knew the value of little details this weekend.

I’m here now. It was the long way around, but destination achieved!

Catchin’ Fireflies

How crazy to think it’s been a while since sitting here at my desk, typing in words, instead of running around making life happen. Hours buzz by. If it wasn’t for a message coming over the Meta-network on my phone, an event would be less meat and cheese tomorrow. I, quite simply, forgot – and it never was entered into my digital calendar. Why? Who knows? This is how May and the first part of June has been.

Except for an occasional meal or entertainment carve out, the huge kraken of lore has come alive to unsettle the calm seas I found myself on at the beginning of 2022. I’ve been losing planks multiples at a time and a once firm grip as the helmsman of my life could be in peril.

Not to be an alarmist, I’ve been here and seen raging seas. Outside challenges have tugged at my personal goals. The needs of others have trumped mine before and surprising tidal waves rocked more than one vessel upon which I’ve found myself. Survival finds a way.

Most of us, I believe, have experienced rough waters. These past weeks aren’t anything new to me, or you. We make our way to calmer shores, right?

I’m not there at present. If the psycho-sextant I currently hold in my clenched hands is accurate, the angle between the horizon and my guiding star shows a position I didn’t intend to be at the moment. Now, either the star is really messed up in its celestial dark matter blanket, the horizon isn’t level, …, or, I truly am taking on too much water.

Damn the kraken of the seas known as “What the hell am I doing?”

Actually, I know. I knew it weeks ago. The different colors on my digital calendar – where “most” of the commitments I’ve made appeared – created a rainbow off in the distance. It appeared as I started a journey. A trek into weeks of scheduling personal, medical, social, musical, and business slaps into my calendar.

As the bow lifted high into the white crests of every 20-foot wave these past few days, that rainbow of over-commitments washed over my memory. This-and-thats for todays and tomorrows. Necessaries and optionals.

This evening, after I realized tomorrow’s event was almost missed … I stopped. It was time. To. Just. Stop.

This is what eventually kills the kraken. Every. Time.

After catching up with a few friends on messenger and texts, I stopped, sat on the edge of the bed and took a deep breath. Nothing was going to interfere with the calm seas I imagined at the moment. It was time to rebuild the ship and get a good grip at the helm. One more thing to do, however – check the status of a Facebook post from a few hours earlier. This proved to be magical.

On my feed was a picture with two words, “Catchin’ Fireflies”. If there was an image I needed to see, it was this:

Courtesy of K. C.

Two joyous lives through a jar held by two smiles. A dear friend and precious daughter who, by all accounts, were brightening up their evening … together. No over-commitments, no busy-ness, no calendar rainbow. Just. Life. Now.

A relation-ship as intended.

I sat for a few more minutes than planned – looking into the calm waters reflecting back images of all the kind, considerate, loving, sincere, genuine, and spectacular close friends who survive the journey with me. The smiles and laughter, especially.

It isn’t all fun, to be sure. You know this. I know it, too. With that said, how difficult would the voyage be without shipmates who care … who are willing to take a plank, or two, on our behalf?

At the beginning of the day, I didn’t know tomorrow was coming as it appears to be. I’ll be unexpectedly busy. This coming week will be challenging on the home front as well.

I’m so glad I stopped today. The kraken is dormant for now.

Rest easy, kraken. I am sure we will battle again. For now, I turn the wheel over to a few small lightening bugs.

In their light, I find the smiles and laughter of my friends who, together with me, guide all our ships forward one day at a time on, hopefully, calm seas.

Be a Peanut


With only a little imagination, you could see why this little mini lop was named so. She was off to my right as I entered the elementary school where an early morning sun provided a nice shadow. The school’s macadam play area displayed a shadow pointing directly to the grassy area where Peanut and two of her friends playfully enjoyed caged joviality. Two black and white nibbling companions … and her.

I am always attracted to the “odd one out”. No surprise Peanut caught my attention. Yes, her friends were adorable. Sure, the fuzziness of balled up contrasting cuteness on display a few feet away was charming. They were slightly more jumpety than Peanut. Shall I say, “out of their shell” full selves a bit more? With that, the odd-one-out attracted my morning attention.

This differently hued hare, with a calmer character, and I spent a few minutes together. It was nice.

I expected nothing out of the normal that morning. Odd, however, because my weekly life to that point was anything but. A reliable Honda finally gave up the auto ghost two days prior which exhausted my patience for a few hours. A tow truck, mechanic, and the ultimate bad news … all led me to a car dealership to pick out the best option for, ultimately, sucking money out of my bank account once again.

Peanuts to most, I guess, but not to me – one who hasn’t had a car payment for some time.

By the time Peanut appeared before my phone, a new car had not yet been purchased – although to be in the works later that day. Holy week, with all its keyboard responsibilities was piled up on my mind on top of all other daily to-do’s. A first-event of the hot dawg mobile season had to be prepared by Saturday which flipped over almost too quickly for my own good.

Just too much it seemed.

… Until Peanut cracked my shell of stress and frustration.

Ah, to be a mini lop with the power to jump the low battery of a worn, rundown man this Easter season. What power you yield just by being what you are.

If there is a message this Easter, it is this: be your fuzzy little self. Be approachable – even in the shadows of life.

Someone may need five minutes with you. Ya never know.

Giving Chapter 29

Tuesday nights during lent, I have been going to a book study. One of my reasons for being there, among my busy life-goings-on, is to accompany dad. Driving a few miles over one small hill, my dad and I arrive minutes later after leaving the house.

The study is based on the book, “We Make the Road by Walking”, by Brian McLaren. Now, we drive. Brian would prefer we walk, I guess. His book is a weekly dig-into new ways forward based on Christian ideology. Change us, change the world – in a broad sense. Granted, a Christian life to change the world is far different than a two minute jaunt over a small bump in a tiny town. Our hill is tiny. The hill to change the world? Immense.

Chapter 29 is the third week. We’ve been to two thus far. In 48 hours, dad and I will head back for a group discussion and insight into this chapter.

There will be twenty+ opinions about what the author intended. In all, four to eight spoken, and close to twelve remaining silent souls will sit in traditional church metal chairs. Three arcs of varied thinking sit-systems is what has drawn me into this array of lenten devotional insight. I am interested in conclusions drawn – with individual pencils – on the idea-canvas that is this book:

Chapter 29 is titled, ” Your Secret Life”. When I first turned over to page 136, Groucho Marx and a silly duck dropped into my brain … You bet your LIFE it did! My second thought was, “This could get a bit spicy … ” Then again, remembering THAT secret life most likely isn’t to what the author is referring, so I didn’t need to revisit those particular evenings in my past.

“We all wish the world would change.” Agreed … and so begins Chapter 29. I stopped there twice. Both times I read this 4-page reflection, those seven words, linked with personal challenges, the tail-end of a pandemic, and a Russian-Ukrainian disaster, created an emotional, locked chain on reason and logic. The world makes no sense. None.

How does Brian address this concern? Using biblical principles, withdrawing inward to become the change we want to see in the world.

I would argue the tenants of self-reflection and inward examination aren’t solely handed over to the biblically minded among us. Orienting toward a higher power, aligning hopes with a higher energy, vocalizing needs and concerns to the universe, and asking for guidance away from that which can harm is standard practice for many belief systems apart from Christianity. The maypole around which all these religions dance – and one I wholeheartily agree brings about the most colorful of change in the world – is silence and secrecy.

This is where Brian and I begin to walk the road together. As he writes, “… if we make our lives a show staged for others to avoid their criticism or gain their praise, we won’t experience the reward of true aliveness. It’s only in secret … that we begin the journey to aliveness.”

He advocates giving, meditating, and fasting in secret to pull away from the pressures of the world … thus becoming that “change” we want to see.

In my talk-abouts with the few surrounding my hot tea moments, I rarely discuss larger conflicts beyond my control. It’s difficult to balance a restaurant table with untold numbers of sugar packets – let alone try to figure out how I can change the mess at the eastern border of Ukraine right now. Should I continue to mask, or decide to argue about Hunter Biden’s laptop?

All of this, I am understanding, is best handled quietly. Brian, kinda, has the right idea; however, the transformation may not change the world as much as it changes the individual.

In the end, isn’t this what these book studies in church buildings are all about, anyway? Perhaps most attend wondering, “Why am I here? What is there to gain? What’s in it for me to learn?”

My take-away, first of all, is a paid-for supper as compensation for taking dad in the first place 😉😁 …. Second, apart from the Christianity angle, I do find value in the humanity of the lessons. My extended family members who sit in those three arcs have opinions I value and humor I appreciate. In turn, my contribution is to remain “partially” silent and enjoy the time together.

The recognized lenten season should change those who are open to it. Whether this alters the will of a higher power is up for debate. The world is a tough place. I do believe if we take time, in silence, to think over things in private and give our time and resources under the radar, the “larger than life” problems – both known and unknown – will work out, … or not.

At the end, Brian says, “… a seed will take root”. Ok. I’ll take a more pragmatic approach. You’ll feel better through giving. This may not directly change the direction of a bad thing in the world, but that small act of secret, outward generosity will simply be a nice, warm, vibe.

Groucho and I will bet on it.

A Love Story for the Ages

“Round Midnight” by Jerry Blank

I love this. The northwest trombone caught my eye.

Usually, pianist blood coursing through my veins directs my eyes toward keys in arts … in life. Ten years of youth in this case, however, slid a trombone into prominence. My band experiences from 4th grade through college – then playing off and on since – haven’t exited my psyche.

As it should be.

When Jerry Blank’s colorful print splashed across my Facebook page, music entered once again. In the midst of hassled hurries…, rhythm, melody, and harmony – the trilogy of musical marvels – visited my soul.

Art inspires music. Nobody would argue music stimulates brushes upon canvases, either. This love story between the two requires no handsome princes or beautiful damsels. Neither demands outrageous expectations from the other. They live and love co-equally for us.

Depending upon the colors and sounds in our life’s experiences, art and music speak to us. They allow us entrance in to a world of imagination and pleasure. The artists who create fascinations through notes and hues give us golden gateways through which we find new ways forward … different paths, … distinct, unconnected patterns to our old woven tapestries.

Yes, I do love this print. Especially today.

Love of what can be, and acceptance of the love story before us on this Valentine’s Day IS this day

Music adores art. Art cherishes music. It is a love continuing from centuries ago. We have the great fortune to soak up a few decades of rose pedals placed gently under our feet from their nuptials generations past. In this life, every symphony, museum, child’s drawing, or simple sonatina is a marriage of our imagination and art. Whether it be a single stroke of a brush or the caress of a middle-C, … it is the engagement of our mind with an idea, a wonderment, a dream, a new beginning.

A love story, perhaps.

Whatever today means to you, embrace it through art and music if you are able. There is an enchanting, surreal experience waiting for you through forms and fugues, or perhaps statues and songs.

For me, a love story for the ages. For you, a love of your dreams and those who make your world magical. Look for their bright colors and tuneful smiles. Fall back in love with yourself …. your earthly, rhythmic pulse and rainbow of possibilities.

Find your trombone among the many. Look in all directions. Let arts, in general, be the instrument of your love this February 14th. “Round Midnight” it will be a new day, but love will continue forward just like it has for centuries.

… through the heart chambers of music and art, of course.

Hat’s Off

I am me, and I wear many hats. So writes my elegant friend on a day when I really needed to read those eight words.

She is one who ended a personal message to all her friends with the words, “All I wanted to say was, if you’re struggling with ANY aspect of yourself, your life, the hats you wear, please don’t give up”. I love this sentence. Honestly, I wish words at my disposal could imprint a deeper impression on my “now”. They can’t.

I have too many hats that don’t fit … and overcoming THIS challenge is her victory. She is the gold medal winner of the race I am just now starting to run.

She writes: “I wear many hats: mother, teacher, partner, coach, friend, sister, daughter, woman, creator, artist, student …” By her passionate admission, each hat is worn well some days, other times? Not so.

Like a Dr. Seuss book, as I would characterize, one hat, two hats, this hat, that … Hats may have looked good, but inside? Not ‘dat. Her hats felt, well, uncomfortable. The roles – the toppers personified – were cute to the adoring public, however, quite tight and constraining … possibly itchy to the soul. Perhaps, an itch that couldn’t be scratched until time and motivation were aligned with her tipping point of self-discovery.

This finally happened. She tossed her old, worn, uncomfortable hats over onto a rack and prepared new labels and beautiful bows for them.

In her words, as only she could write (after all, it is her victory life lap to pace herself after stepping off the podium): “So here I am, roughly 15 months into the deepest, rawest, most painful and most rewarding self-discovery telling anyone who cares to stop & read this amidst their scrolling time… I’ve ditched the hat”.

To clarify, she refuses (now) to place hats on her head labeled, “You were so selfish”, “You should be ashamed of yourself”, or, “Look what you’ve done to everyone else”. Instead – if I may take some liberties here – those hats are being replaced with, “I am ____” labeled toppers followed by “myself”, “original”, and “damn happy”. These aren’t selfish ambitions. They are, as she says, bringing you joy, igniting your fire, and driving you forward.

I’ve known her – and three first name variations – for some time. Your knowing her name isn’t necessary, but knowing this little slice of her life’s pie, I believe, is.

Why? Because any friend of mine, who can render me speechless simply by posting seven short paragraphs on Facebook, deserves to be recognized.

I’ve had challenging times lately. This isn’t the space for details. Life is complicated. Hats are placed on our heads – by us or others – to demand our attention. They want us to fill roles we may not want to act out, but we do anyway out of a sense of obligation. These ill-fitted hats restrict our true self, and yet we keep them on week after week – month over month … Possibly years at a time.

When the noggin’ gets too burdened with numerous family fedoras, and heads sag because beanies piles upon the brain, it’s time for these hats to, in her words, (massive literary license here), “fly off into some Wizard of Oz adventure” of their own.

No more flying monkey hats for me. I’m thinking new brain toppers.

With her permission, I am honored to say the hats I wear at this moment are being re-evaluated.

It’s just as simple as that.

And as she ended, so shall I. As well, I extend the same to all of you, my friends and readers:

“I’m here if you need an ear. You are loved💗”

My hat’s off to you, L.T.

Drawn to a Gift


What I wrote in haste on Facebook – a little over a week ago – didn’t do justice to his talent. There were twenty words, followed by a three word tag line: “Do your gift”. The artwork I received from Trent sits on a shelf nine feet behind where I now sit quietly typing away on my desktop. My virtual canvas is eerily opposite, in all aspects, from this comically amusing predator – otherwise known as a “Verbose Vulture”. I am currently in a dreary, rainy outside December’s day basement office, not in my car during a sunny day as I was nine days ago enjoying this beautiful sketch from a delightful soul.

It was a very gratifying mail moment at the post office when I saw my order arrived. Only a few weeks earlier, I watched Trent turn lines and curves into magical, mythical, black and white, two-dimensional walk-abouts on paper. These creatures with normal heads and normal bodies, but disconnected connections, lived once in the imaginations of Trent’s fans. Into little strips of paper these requests were made: rabbit head on a squirrel’s body, perhaps an elephant holding a balloon while standing on a mouse? Sometimes, simple, wonderful trampoline animals that started his bounce toward international fame. I would estimate thousands of requested combinations filtered through Trent’s talented brain, into a sharpie, then onto a blank, small paper canvas by the time I visited his site.

On the website, I found an amazing world of creativity. His expansive works aren’t contained to just a bucket of one-minute sketch requests from fans. I enjoyed perusing over his “Motley Menagerie” and “View of the Zoo” coloring books that not only would fill in the lines of some cool animals, but also could color your world with some fun and enjoyment as well.

There was apparel for sale on-line confirming a life of “Different not Less”, “No Limits”, and “Drawn to be Different” as a way to say, “You know what? I’m me … and that’s ok”. Not such a bad thing to be reminded that we are all remarkably unique. One-of-a kind. Special.

https://drawingsbytrent.com/ as he is formally known. I would like to call him, instead, a friend with the sharpies. He is someone who is drawn to a gift.

This is what I see when glancing back at that vulture over my shoulder. He sits beside a few sketches I’ve had in the family for a while. Some looking back at me I’ve dabbled in myself – and others from a very talented nephew who has significantly outdrawn his uncle. Silently off to my left at the moment, however, is my piano. I challenge my nephew to a duel – anytime. His pens and pencils against my Chopin and we’ll see who wins.

It would be a cackle to the finish because both he and I would understand what Trent recognizes. If you are doing your gift – regardless who is around – that gift returns a joy multi-fold back to you. The bonus is an aura given off to everyone else who may happen to be around … be it right by your side, or through cables, airwaves, or wires miles away. I saw this in Trent’s smile that very first time his pen melted into the paper.

I know that feeling. I know that feeling when one finger softens into a key to start a Mozart Fantasia or Chopin Nocturne. I know the joy of producing something out of nothing. Hearing, or seeing an idea come to life – from nothing, something – is, well, fantastic.

I read Trent’s story. It is unique and different from mine … and yours, perhaps. Of course, it is. He is autistic. If you have a chance, click on the above link. I love the words they wrote: ” … (We) want to encourage families to help their children achieve their full potential, educate communities on the important role individuals of all skill and ability levels play, and inspire everyone to discover and use their own talents.”

Honestly, all I needed to do is cut and paste that quote. Thirty-seven words of theirs almost said everything I wanted to say here. Almost.

That quote is missing what pegged my heart from the very beginning.

I sat here and asked myself, what could be the exact expression to park my feelings in the perfect space where Trent’s art first appeared prior to that sunny day? What words best describe his gift that drew me in to his world before I ever opened the package?

Revisiting the site, I found their words … their phrase: “THE EMOTION IN HIS ART IS UNMISTAKABLE.”

There it was … all in CAPS. Perfect.

It was Trent’s happiness and joy in doing his gift. Pulling me in was just the simple act of a twenty-four year old man with autism drawing fun-loving fantasticals with a sharpie marker, requested slivers of paper, small paper canvases, a desk, and abounding cheerfulness. No more complicated than that.

Looking closer at the picture above, I see the eyes of my friendly vulture looking directly at me. He’s smiling. He sees in me what I need to re-acknowledge in myself. It’s a not-so-subtle reminder to recognize some gifts in my life and enjoy the experience of them in my life.

This is solely an extension – a halo effect, if you will – from Trent. I extend the same to you. Live your gift. Do your gift. Your emotion in what you do will be unmistakable and, perhaps, twenty words will be enough to describe your fantastic journey and influence on someone else’s life.

For me, twenty wasn’t for Trent. I had to do more. His story was too important not to share. We need reminders. We need “Verbose Vultures” looking over our shoulders – even during dreary December days.

Greta & The Dark Trees

Photo courtesy of a friend who lives in N.Y.C.

I met her once. A stranger to start, a friend at the end. It was during Greta’s final get-together – that wonderful Sunday afternoon surprise when so many stopped by to see tears and smiles find their way over grateful cheeks.

She came to see a friend. A musically connected friend to whom so many memories of a dad were embedded into a jazz-filled room from their past. Her dad and Greta bent rhythms and sounds into sculptures of lasting remember-whens.

Not just music. Included in these times was a picture. To identify it as a “picture” does no justice to the artwork. To my understanding, an original piece hung in the studio where Greta and a special dad recorded. This was a large, Greta original. As unique as she was:

This was an enlarged engraving she did of an old family photograph. Not surprising to me, it was exceptionally well done … in as much as my pianistic eyes could determine.

My new friend rediscovered this gem after days of dutiful praying and diligent perseverence. She wasn’t going to be denied. Knowing Greta’s deeply held respect for her family, she found it behind, below, and beside other of life’s set-asides. With all the possibilities where this art could have been set aside, she held the hands of memories that day as a small gate opened upon her arrival.

And Greta’s life – with all it’s problems and challenges at that moment – was embraced by those memories as well.

A New York friend. A connection to Greta. Someone I met once. A stranger to start, a friend at the end.

She left an hour or so after arriving and I’ve kept in touch since then, infrequently. In the meantime, Greta passed on to etch her way into our sad, but grateful hearts. All of us are so grateful to have loved someone so special. We lost someone dear to us. For me, I have an acquaintance-connection otherwise not possible if not for Greta.

When I saw her post pictures of Central Park recently, my mind immediately swung back to that small metal gate. An entrance to a Sunday afternoon when some – who were strangers to me – became friends … thanks, in no small way, to Greta’s heart full of sunshine through the dark trees in her life.

That is this picture. A central park-place for all of us to remember what life can be. In the middle of really stupid stuff – even terminal cancer – there can be a little sunshine. In my case, it’s been friends.

Your little sunshine doesn’t have to be friends, of course. Hopefully, dark trees in your way aren’t tumors from rare, terminal appendiceal cancer. Wherever you are sitting … whatever green, lush lawn finds your life struggles reclining upon, look for that little peek of sunshine glancing across the blades. It’s very likely a connection of some kind will be there for you.

If nothing else, a memory.

I’m glad I met her once. Her name? Silent here because she represents all those who have stepped forward from behind the dark trees of a brave, talented, artistic, beautiful life – into the central park-place where strangers are now friends…

…because Greta was truly an original. A one of a kind. Someone I am so glad I met once as well.

… And missed by all who knew her.