Category Archives: contemplation

Just Girls.

 

A long time ago, when there were “used books” and “junior high”, and something called “playing outside”, we were the American girls. Much has been said, steeped in nostalgia, about how much simpler life was then. Implied in that descriptor is the unspoken conviction that life was also somehow better. These days, we “downsize”. Yes; we crave a return to that something.
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Come with me, back to 1969.
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Now, we in our family were Christian fundamentalists; as such, we were taught to “come out from among them, and be separate”. I was never fully in on that concept but, back then, I obeyed my mother. God’s retribution scared me into submission, He nothing if not male, and females were taught from breath number one to take second.
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Many things mattered to my mother. One of them was territorial protection. She didn’t want me to have school friends for sleepovers, and I was not allowed to stay all night anywhere but at my cousin’s house in Lawrence Park. So when Darlene, from school, invited me to spend the night at her parents’ barn out in the county,  literally in the hayloft, I held out little hope.
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Who knows what went on inside my mother’s head? One thing was certain; plenty did. Mum was a romantic. She’d read every Christian romance novel in the Elsie Dinsmore series. She’d had a French soldier pen pal for years before she met Dad and, even when she became old, hoped I’d find him on my first and only trip to Paris. Perhaps my mother thought sleeping overnight in a haystack in a barn was just as pure and worthy as her best fantasy because, to my astonished surprise, she let me go.
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And, it was all that. Darlene was great company. She was among all the other girls the embodiment of what used to be called “self possessed”, and she knew – in spite of the sprawling city planning maps we built in our “Urban Geography” class – that everybody should experience what she had to offer out there on the county farm.
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Because, even though we had a grand time romping around the property into the late afternoon, and crawling all the way up into the loft by nightfall, what we’d witness the next morning Darlene knew would trump all the rest of it.
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I was always a night owl. That night, I can’t tell you if I slept at all. But, I do remember that Darlene was up at the crack of dawn and, somehow, managed to wake me, too. And, she was eager. I had to follow her, out the barn and down into the field.
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The field…of wild strawberries.
The morning dew was peaking. But, the berries weren’t even host.
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It were the spider webs. Dew drop decked spider webs, dozens of them, draping and lacing rows and rows of the nearly hidden wild berries beneath the early morning sun.
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We squatted all the way to the ground, and peered down each long row as if gazing through an infinite prism. The glistening geometry rivaled a crystal landscape.
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Everybody knows that there are some things impossible to forget. It all has to do with the senses. If one is sufficiently aroused, every detail imbeds in memory. And, there was something about that whole idyllic scene: the musty crackle of the hay bales, the scent of unseen critters, the feel of farm living, setting the backdrop for the secret which had unfolded that morning.
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For two days, I was with my friend. We were just two girls. Her father was quite away, inside the farmhouse, just enough presence to play landlord. He left us to our own. We didn’t have to obey him, or God, or anyone. The farm, and the barn, and the field, and the strawberries, even the spiderwebs bathed in dew. There was no fear, and no reason for any.
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At the end of this past year, Darlene came back. I hadn’t seen her since junior high, she being one of only a couple who hadn’t remained with the rest of us in our class. She’d been married, had five kids, divorced, married again, one more baby. Six children, and her husband, the love of her life. That precious man had just passed away, far too young, succumbing to the side effects of a disease. Months before, her mother had also died. Yet, just as I had remembered her, the girl was still in possession of herself. She, in spite of everything happening around her, remained visibly undefeated. She still knew, even in the wake of death, how to find what was so special in the simple life and, even after over forty years, was ready to share that essence again with a girl she still called her friend.
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The disparity between the haves and have nots widens every day. Technology has produced more collateral for consumers to covet than ever before, so much so that even the Christmas stocking is obsolete. But, that which fills our senses and our hearts has not changed.
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Find the freshest air, the clearest water; go to the untouched places, and leave them undisturbed. Take only the sensations with you, when you go.
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And, then, share them with your oldest friend.
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© 1/12/19   Ruth Ann Scanzillo.     All rights those of the author, an old girl, whose name appears above this line.   Thank you, Darlene Pitonyak Brown.
littlebarefeetblog.com

Disappearing Realities.

Flip phones.

There are three of us left who use them.

We love their portability. They even fit in the back pocket of a ghetto butt in jeans.

And, they take a spectacular photograph.

The I-Phones are in their, what, sixth or eighth incarnation? They’re supposed to be so “smart”, but somebody keeps making them bigger and better. They talk back. They respond to voice commands, the little robots.

But, take this. You just think you have a telephone.

You don’t. It isn’t.

It’s just a little thief, in a radioactive frame.

And, the thing has the power to take over your very life.

I’m one of those they always called an “artist”. With an old fashioned, hard formed tool, I draw. On paper, no less. In a nearly single gesture of beveled Conte, I plan to keep newsprint from going belly up. See, give me a stylus, with a real core of graphite; mine is a concrete world, using stuff you can actually hold in your hand until you’re ready to put it down.

The last time I tried to send a text on a “smart” phone, there were so many altered parts of speech my thought was rendered unintelligible. I couldn’t even use an expletive for effect; the little beggar had other plans. Insufferable plagiarist.

But, what really sends me screaming for the actual hills is the swipe.

With one casual brush, just one fleeting nudge, everything you think you just said or did can vanish.

And, you won’t even quite know what or how or where it went. The previous window? Check “history”? Even if it is to be finally retrieved, there is no denying: at any moment, you can be staring down utter blankness. This devil device can shut black, with no warning at all.

And, that is the demon.

Because, even when you can get the thing to say what you mean, or make what you put into it, and you even save to print well, let me tell you, from the invisible realm there are no guarantees. If they can let you make it, they can take it. Yah. You think you always knew what an original could be. Trust me; only your smart phone knows, for sure.

So, call me. Text me. Send me a link. I’ll open my little flipper, and accept it. And, worthy of my save file, I’ll keep whatever you send me. Indefinitely. Just like I’ll keep pressing the tiny buttons which represent the alphabet I learned when I was four. I like the kind of reality I can pinch with my own finger and thumb.

Better to touch what’s really there.

And, hold on.

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© 1/6/19  Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, who lives in real skin, and whose name appears above this line.  Thank you for respecting reality.

littlebarefeetblog.com

 

 

 

 

 

Personalities.

 

We all have them.

In plural.

For every rare individual, in the grip of dissociative identity disorder, there is the vast remainder of relatively normal society. And, society, whether or not we are ready to admit it as fact, seeks to shape our personalities.

The earth is populated by so many nations, within them so much distinct culture. And, what each civilized group of persons grows accustomed to is a set of mores, actions, and reactions which are profoundly influenced by the behavior of those who founded and perpetuated them.

Back in the 18th century, Scottish philosopher David Hume developed his theory of social behavior and led his fellow citizens to assimilate it. He believed that a people is profoundly marked by its public persona, and established a specific protocol for interaction. As such, the Scots as a society became characterized by Hume’s notions of what was both a healthy and proper comportment.

Centuries hence, the essence of who we are has come to be known as personality. Within that, there are potentially many subsets of behaviors, all influenced by those with whom we have had to do since birth.

(Enter DNA. We are still learning, and most of us not privy to, the exact nature of genetic expression. What we do know is that we inherit much which will shape how we choose, act, and react to the world around us.)

But, if we are encouraged, from infancy, to express a wide range of emotion — smiling, laughing, crying, giggling, as well as reactions including surprise, shock, and even dismay — we will develop habits which include these expressions. Moreover, if we are rarely taught to suppress emotion, we will become capable of spontaneity. If, conversely, we are taught to stifle, we will become characterized as stoic.

Now, what of emotional range? Could a correlation be made between the degree of emotional expression and the capacity for multiple aspects within personality?

Some scenarios seem to call for grace, latitude, and acceptance; yet others demand assertive action, such as those of sudden health emergency or public threat. The degree of importance one places upon each as they emerge might call up a wide variety of personality expressions. The Scots, in the 18th century, likely never had to endure either challenge or threat to their social securities.

And, what of intellectual expression? How do distinct personalities demonstrate the way they think? And, how is this valued in a society?

Perhaps we might reflect upon those who seem different from ourselves. What are the aspects which distinguish us? Which among these could be encouraged, deemed of value?

America is unique, in that we have been attempting to survive as a society within which innumerable social mores and personality expressions have coexisted. Proximity has proved a challenge, for many. Judgments have been made. Inherent bias has ruled outcomes of disagreement. Crime has become a hallmark, instead of a rare aberration.

Consider these points for contemplation, the next time you register the following thought: “I don’t like that person.” Perhaps add a Why? And, then, take that additional, sometimes painful but objective step. Find something worthy in that personality. Then, inspect yourself.

Each of us has so many glorious features. Even as we celebrate diversity, let us broaden that resolve to include the details of multi-faceted individuality. We would feel so much better about each other, and our collective personality would become something of a masterpiece.

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© 12/15/18 Ruth Ann Scanzillo All rights those of the author, whose personality you may not favor but whose name appears above this line. Thank you for respecting original material.