Accepting the Mystery

One of the most richly lyrical, romantically poetic, and tragically melancholy movies I have seen in my life was the love story between the famous poet John Keats and the woman who was, I believe... his muse - Frances Lindon, otherwise known as Fanny Brawne.  I've long been fascinated by their story so to both see and hear it intertwined in such an enchanting way on film was truly breathtaking.  The soundtrack remains one of my favorites and the poet, John Keats, as well.

For myself I know not how to express my devotion to so fair a form: I want a brighter word than bright, a fairer word than fair. I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days—three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain. But however selfish I may feel, I am sure I could never act selfishly… Though I could centre my Happiness in you, I cannot expect to engross your heart so entirely—indeed if I thought you felt as much for me as I do for you at this moment I do not think I could restrain myself from seeing you again tomorrow for the delight of one embrace.
— John Keats, letter to Fanny Brawne

Poetry soothes and emboldens the soul to accept mystery.  There is a holiness to the hearts affections....

Your Very Flesh Shall Be A Great Poem

This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.
— Walt Whitman

Writers don't often talk about how much we like when you interact on our posts... fearing it will seem too needy and vulnerable, I suppose.  But isn't that the point of sharing? To reach out to the universe and say... Here I am, I have something to say.  Please hear me and respond? Otherwise, I could be simply writing in my journal, closing it up, putting it in my nightstand and calling it a day.  I value your comments and interaction so much. Those of you who take the time, are a treasure to me as a public writer.  Some of you have taken to sending private messages rather than commenting publicly and that's ok too.  You know how deeply I understand that, after the events of the past year and a half of my life. (For those of you new to my website, for a large part of 2013, we dealt with the aftermath of an online hacker who disrupted our personal and financial lives and my emotional life for the better part of a year).  I can't tell you how many times I have sat right here at my computer where I do the bulk of my work, smiling at your humor, leaning into your tenderness, listening to your incredibly intelligent thoughts, accepting your best advice, looking at your beautiful photographs, reading your encouraging notes, and sometimes...depending on your massively strong shoulders.  There are some of you who have journeyed with me more than five years now.  I have laughed, cried and bled with you and that emotional support is beyond priceless to me.  

Opening up my heart and mind, along with my art out into the cyber world opens the door to some measure of risk and criticism too. But it is a risk I am still willing to take, albeit these days on a much smaller and quieter scale that works best for me.  (I read this week somewhere that it is best to put your own oxygen mask on first before attempting to help others with theirs. Truth!)  I believe we change each other just by bumping up against each other and you can't really do that unless you put yourself out there, right? I am constantly amazed by the shades of beauty I see in all of you.. whether you are communicating with me publicly or choosing to reach out through more private channels. So often I sit here at this computer and listen to your hearts that spill out through your pictures and words and think wow.. I never really thought of it that way...  It doesn't really matter if you're an artist who has 25,000 followers or one who has 50.  You share bits and pieces of your own lives with me that make me smile, shed tears, and feel connected, whether you have a big online presence or a small one.  That is such a beautiful, beautiful thing for which I will never find adequate words of appreciation.  I benefit so much from recognizing the value in our different perspectives.  

Most of you know by now that I am a photographer and writer who loves all things artistic. Those pursuits require long hours of shooting with repetitive motion using heavy camera equipment and then even longer hours editing at the computer.  Toward the end of 2012, I began to struggle with some deeper health issues after decades of crappy eating habits (arthritis and the pre stages of type 2 diabetes).  All of that crashed down on me in early 2013, manifesting as chronic pain, weight gain, and pretty serious depression I had trouble admitting even to myself. Cap that off with surgery and a long hard winter and my body, mind and spirit were at an all time low, yet I was still trying to operate my online life as if everything was fine and it was business as usual. After a particularly painful falling out with a friend and potential business partner, I withdrew from nearly everything and everyone that had previously given me joy and closed in on myself for quite awhile.  I didn't recognize it at the time, but it was probably my "rock bottom."  At some point I realized that I had two choices... drown... or swim like hell for all I was worth.  It didn't happen overnight, by any means, but I started small.. treading water until I finally made up my mind to swim.  

Though we are all so different from each other ... deliciously different, I think we can find comfort and commonality simply by walking with each other for awhile and listening.  We can't always do that in person but we can surely do that via whatever channels work best for us.  This little corner, is mine for now... and I am so grateful for those of you who regularly tune in and interact with me.  That has come to mean a whole lot to me.   I've felt the sting of both judgement and criticism in the past, but I learned that so often, the things that bother me most in others... are the areas where I most need work myself.

So often I think we feel change isn't real change unless it is massive and moves mountains. But I loved this quote so much and it has been my mantra for many months now.  "Commit to the daily pressure that compels infinitesimal progress over time."  When you're 20, you feel invincible.  When you're approaching 50 and beyond, you begin to recognize that your physical, mental and spiritual health require long term commitment and is something to be protected and nurtured, if you want to continue to live an active, loving, purpose driven, abundantly joy filled life.  My health is bound pretty tightly to my creativity and I am making infinitesimal progress over time.  Thank you, for spending some of your valuable time here with me.

It has definitely been a year of re-examination and of challenging everything I've ever been taught in school, in church and in books and in dismissing what insults my soul. And it continues to be my prayer that beyond my words, the silent lines are the ones that speak the loudest.

The Hum of Sunshine and Summertime

I've spent a lot of time this year cultivating stillness.  That seems like it should be such a simple thing but in our fast paced society where noise comes at you from every direction... kids, husband, wife, well meaning friends, boss, texts, emails, tablets, television, overfull calendars, phone ringing, heavy machinery, traffic, social media... true stillness is exceedingly hard to come by.  We're so mobile now, that noise follows us everywhere.. if we let it.  If you were to close your eyes, chances are, you would hear and feel all of that at once, just like I do. Those things, combined with poor food choices and lack of restful sleep, are seriously affecting our quality of life today. Finding stillness is more important than it's ever been, it needs as much attention as your muscles do, and in my opinion, it requires unplugging from time to time.

Before this year, I thought I was a relatively quiet person  but I am learning that internally... the noise had reached such epic proportions, that I couldn't even hear myself anymore.  My body, mind and spirit were breaking down and refusing to work properly until I paid attention to all three... my person as a whole.  What a journey it has been so far and how deeply grateful I am for it.  There is a lot I missed, by refusing to slow down and breathe deep, embracing that quiet and internalizing it.  I don't want to miss it anymore.  All of this... all these beautiful images I share of my world as I see it right now.. is the record of a journey that is healing me.. one click at a time.  It is my poetry, it is my mantra, it is my medicine, and in the end, it will be my best interpretation of what Roni Delmonico did, saw, felt and cared about while she was here.

The more you love your own decisions, the less you need others to love them.

Through Footless Halls Of Air

Too often I am tempted to marry a favorite poem, passage or quote to my images without ever really knowing anything about its origin or the heart from where it came.  Lately, I've made it a point to learn a little about the life of the person behind the writing.  To dig into the story of their life... what drove them, what they found inspiring, what moved them. Maybe because I would want someone to do the same for me... should they find themselves touched by something I've written.

John Gillespie Magee Jr. was the oldest of four boys, born in the 1920's to missionaries in China. He developed his love for poetry while attending school in Britain and was highly influenced by the war poet, Rupert Brooke, for whom he later wrote a sonnet in tribute. Magee fell in love with the daughter of the headmaster at his school and she was the inspiration for much of his work. Though his love was unrequited, they remained friends for the rest of his life.  He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1940, trained on, and later flew.. the Spitfire.  It was during this time, that he wrote a sonnet I have always loved. He died tragically, at the young age of 19 in a mid air collision in which he struggled to open the canopy, and subsequently his parachute, before hitting the ground. He is most famous for this poem titled "High Flight," for which the first and last lines are inscribed on his gravestone at Holy Cross Cemetery in England.

Magee wrote "High Flight" on the back of a letter he sent to his parents.  Today, that original manuscript can be found in the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. 

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds and done a hundred things
you have not dreamed of wheeled and soared and swung
high in the sunlit silence. Hovering there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
my eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
where never lark, or even eagle flew
and, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
the high untrespassed sanctity of space,
put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
- John Gillespie Magee Jr.

"You're an interesting species. An interesting mix. You're capable of such beautiful dreams, and such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone, only you're not. See, in all our searching, the only thing we've found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other...."