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May 25, 2005

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Oh, je t'embrasse tres fort! There's only degrees of awareness or unawareness, sensitivity or insensitivity - to all the horror and misery as well as the tenderness and beauty. No way to turn it on and off at will and only feel the good stuff deeply. Which makes life hard sometimes (often). You are right to remind us of the context within which you write. I can see each one of the people you described so clearly in so few words. I hope you can find the time to pamper yourself a little and not feel engulfed in the crumminess for too long.

Dear Cassandra:

I feel like I know you already. Your sensitive observations that see it all, from the sad to the silly, resonate with my experience of the world as well. Somehow we all need to hold onto that inner core of love and joy to make it through this world with our eyes truly open.

I hope you feel better soon. (And remember, that woman probably felt even crummier than you do, not that that's much excuse.)

Hugs, dear one.

It is hard to see the concatenation of suffering unrolling under your eyes. That's the hardest part for me. Not just the suffering now, but seeing everyone (me included, O most definitely) busily setting the stage for tomorrow's & next year's & next century's suffering.

For me though the completer the empathy, the less painful it is. I don't entirely understand why. Maybe partly because there's less shying-away involved. I've found tong len practice very rich, very helpful in this. Offering to give away my own sense of beauty and peace (such as they are) and to take in exchange a hard-faced woman's sense of endangerment and anger -- it can change my response to her, soften it. Make me face the fact that I've made every single mistake that woman is presently making, and I will make them all again -- In a slightly different guise, maybe, but no different at bottom. Which seems like it ought to be even more painful, but it's not.

Hope you are feeling better. My own allergies are pretty controlled this spring, knock on wood. Typepad isn't perfect, but it is easier to use and has a lot of features.

Mamzelle Cassandra,

As a Montrealer, I've been peeking in often to read about your adventures in my hometown -- it's been a lovely read. I enjoy seeing the city I love through new eyes.

Funny that the reason that I have come out of lurkdom is your suffering from allergies -- I can't alleviate your heart's ache, but perhaps something can be done for the head. My husband, who is badly allergic to tree pollen, received anti-allergy shots this winter -- and it worked! No more fatigue, headaches, crankiness, itchy eyes, sneezing, mind fuzz, or skin rashes. So it's something to consider.

En attendant, continue à écrire et je continuerai à lire!

Snowpea

How much I appreciate the candor of this post. And having just watched "Supersize Me" last weekend, how much I can also appreciate the full impact of that promised-then-withheld trip to McDonalds.

This back and forth life you're leading--all the while working, I suspect, very hard. I don't know how you do it as gracefully as you do, whatever the positives or negatives of either place.

I'm not sure what I'm saying, really, but that I wonder if all the travel puts you at risk in some ways of only seing the superficial aspects of the lives of people you encounter. If anybody can avoid this pothole, I suspect it's you. Dale's suggestion of tonglen practice seems to me to have merit.

Be blessed. And next time you're in that grocery store, consider the Claritin.

seeing children being badly treated hurts more...

sorry about the allergies

Amen, to the post and to the comments.

I appreciated your efforts. You managed to boot me back to a phrase works. I seem to be able to apply it when it's need is least.

"Acceptance is giving up all hope ...

... of a better past".

When I'm able to apply it, I can pause and get a picture of what my part is in the unfolding process. By that point it is often remarkably small and simple and perhaps I can glimpse a bit of the good I can do.

There's another saying
"uzi does it",
but that's a different story.

Wonderful post, beth, among so many others. I can echo all that you say and react much as you do to the sights and sounds of everyday life. It's especially hard not to speak up when one comes across a parent totally unaware of what harm they're doing to their children. Once, in a supermarket I did say something to a woman who was yelling abuse at her child for some trivial misconduct. She told me to mind my own fucking business and was about to hit me but I slipped away.

If it makes you feel any better, it's the pollen you can't see that's the problem, not those lovely pink buds. As I understand it, bright flowers attract bees to pollinate for them so they don't have to fling their sticky pollen off into the air - that's for the trees and grasses. So enjoy those pretty blooms!

Leslee's correct, except that it isn't all the trees either; the showy flowers on those are also pollinator lures. (Actually, I suspect she knows that; just a turn of phrase.)

I solicit your pity; I live on a street of fruitless mulberries. Very inconspicuous little flowers, and 'Fruitless' is an all-male clone variety. That means every flower on every tree flings its load of pollen to the wind and up my nose.

Here's dark humor: There's a credible theory tying the increase in allergies in North America to Dutch Elm Disease. Riddle me that!

And if you want to examine your sensitivities (as who doesn't?), try mentally swapping faces between the dark-eyed girl on St. Catherine Street and the fat blond woman in the parking lot. I've had some fun with that one.

Leslee's correct, except that it isn't all the trees either; the showy flowers on those are also pollinator lures. (Actually, I suspect she knows that; just a turn of phrase.)

I solicit your pity; I live on a street of fruitless mulberries. Very inconspicuous little flowers, and 'Fruitless' is an all-male clone variety. That means every flower on every tree flings its load of pollen to the wind and up my nose.

Here's dark humor: There's a credible theory tying the increase in allergies in North America to Dutch Elm Disease. Riddle me that!

And if you want to examine your sensitivities (as who doesn't?), try mentally swapping faces between the dark-eyed girl on St. Catherine Street and the fat blond woman in the parking lot. I've had some fun with that one.

It is an ongoing challenge to embrace blessings while avoiding the big lie that the darkness does not exist. To be able to say, "this is bad and I want no part of it" is important. Battles large and small, every day. We must fight them, but we need not dwell on them.

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Who was Cassandra?


  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.

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