Grateful Solace

All week the idea of this day has rolled through my mind. Thanksgiving, and what it is that gives us such value toward one day out of the calendar. Despite its origins which do give me pause and help me realize we might be thought somewhat arrogant to an indigenous nation we clearly took advantage for our own benefit. The day nonetheless has become a gathering of family, a day over the years that has the promise of memory and laughs and celebration of an identity we have become together.

I can always remind myself of our family meeting one another in my grandmother’s home in Duluth. She and her husband, Granny and Gramps cherished their family in every extent of the word. I know the dining room table that would fit us all with the children in the next room, sitting on as polished oak they could match with the adults sacred space. To make it one day to the main room, the main serving table of Granny’s wonderful meal was a rite of passage for all including myself.

We were raised in the fashion of an Irish tradition, and anyone who walked into the home on 5th avenue, became another Irish descendant the moment they crossed the threshold. My father alone – Papa – of a Norwegian descent was clearly an Irishman that day, embraced by Nana’s parents like a son – a paramount meaning of love that I have wished I might emulate my entire life. I was lucky, we were all lucky to know unconditional love in every aspect of the word.

Today we celebrate Thanksgiving and we must first acknowledge the state of mind a pandemic has placed upon our ability to celebrate together. No matter the circumstance for some of ‘alone’ and all of its impact, we can still with integrity celebrate the meaning of love. Wherever we stand, however we live our lives in distant or near proximity, only one reality matters – kindness.

We are compassionate souls no matter how much we might choose to fight that attribute in any given paradigm of our own position in life. We have experienced those we do cherish who have passed on to their next journey (God bless) and we will hold a chair for them today because memory alone will always keep them close to our heart. We will recognize those of lesser means who today might have a tear or flood of emotion knowing their isolation and hunger will be overlooked by the many that come before and did once share lives together. I don’t speak of myself in that realm, I am a fortunate man.

Today let’s lift our glass to the beauty of life. Let’s look in one another’s eyes and remember that together we have created these moments for many years well beyond our own mortality. Let us be kind and grateful for all of the people that came before and after who created whom we are today.

Let us love with passionate embrace.


© Thom Amundsen  11/2020

Late In The Morning

It’s really late, it took me this long to decide to try to write my state of mind. We have a holiday fast approaching this week, and society is marooned by this awful Covid 19 virus. We have all made adjustments, trying to understand and convince ourselves that this is temporary. I wonder how my mom and dad might have felt when they both reached 82 and someone turned to them and said, this is only temporary, you have to keep telling yourself that. They both passed within their 82nd year, and temporary to them might have seemed a little ludicrous.

I’m 61 and sort of starting a new life, looking at something that affects us all that is thought to be temporary. Events and lives and needs are getting pushed ahead for months every few evaluative weeks, when once again we all realize we are not safe to go back to a world and lifestyle that we did take for granted. Gone is the typical in many lives as we adjust, as we make good on a promise that we will ride the crest of this wave for as long as it takes.

This is a time when we really do take a moment to recognize what it is we are grateful for. Across the nation throughout the world people have lost their loved ones and in America, there will be an empty chair in many homes, with everyone that remains trying to celebrate that life along with their own, appreciating each other and giving thanks for who we are, what we have become.

This one is different. We are guided by medical staff to stay isolated, to allow yourself to make decisions to keep you and your family safe. I’m a public school teacher, and I chose to stay home this year for a variety of reasons, number one being my health. I am quite healthy but in contrast I have had several surgeries within the last decade that might leave someone wondering about my safety around large numbers of students in my high school. I now sit behind my desk at home, dog laying by my side, and teach those children I would much rather see in the classroom.

Though that’s what I feel there is also the benefit some students are expressing over their ability to focus more at home than in the classroom. There is remarkable truth to that when we think about the amount of distraction young adults could potentially and do experience in a classroom filled to the brim with young adults, teenagers readying themselves to soon step into the world of adulthood.

Tonight these are just my thoughts as I listen to Jackson Browne and his hopeful lyrics and crooning voice in the background. So, maybe I do try to wax poetry in the twilight of my night, but it is what I feel and believe right now. I believe we are all in this together, and that philosophy will never get old even after we get this virus under control.

Our lives all depend upon being able to celebrate life together as one.


© Thom Amundsen 11/2020

Sunshine and Coffee

I have these moments

this is a paradigm

a realization of some sort to

hang onto with every fiber

of my state of mind.

Life changes and we hitch on

to find wherever

a landing pad

might let us fall back on our feet

again.

We could fall off the ledge

and yet

always there is a rolling hill

to slow us eventually

in soft memory

of fields of play in our childhood.

Maybe nostalgic,

perhaps hopeful

yet everyday there is a chance for sunlight,

and when that occurs,

a smile may emanate,

a radiance …

we all have dreams.


© Thom Amundsen 11/2020

A Reactive Moment

Ever might be the promise of a dream

when in the eyes of a child,

shows prowess is in an archival presence

the nature of what was once, is now

in a jester an unstable posture.

~

Speak with such is our utmost

need to qualify to have a creative

desire to answer an immediate query

pander a certain backlash

we might never defend, yet feel.

~

Would that he might scream until

chords of chaotic frenzy do

truly unravel, split apart,

a bleeding waterfall

asphyxiate dying creativity.

~

There is a solemn melody always plays

when caught in the trappings, our ways.


© Thom Amundsen   11/2020

This Sunday Morning

We are starting to contemplate what it is we have done this year, one so very unique to our world, our lives, our state of mind. I think we all began the year in much the same way, dealing only with our personal needs and always aware of the world around us. Some of us championed resolutions, a few of us cleaned out chapters of our lives, and many woke up and believed it was just another day in succession of many. Why wouldn’t each of those directions make complete sense as we imagine our day today.

It is Sunday, a day that at the start of the year I had begun returning to Mass after many decades of sporadic holiday attendance, I was liking the opportunity and its meditative balance on my life. Then a few weeks later, I was not. I was not alone. This time it wasn’t because of lack of interest, none of us could. On top of everything else in our lives, we were now asked, suggested, mandated to isolate ourselves for the safety of others. I remember in the early weeks of shelter at home, I would run off to the grocery store, a limited activity, and as the sun was setting in the west, I would look at the horizon and imagine zombies beginning to line the hills. Everything was so quiet, no one except for people like me getting groceries or essentials milled about. The moment was eery and unsettling.

Eight months later, I have become a rather good cook. I seldom would make meals in years past, except for the occasional breakfast, or an intriguing recipe, or holiday foods. In the last year though, I used to want to emphasize I hadn’t gone out to eat for weeks, turned into months. But then I had to come to terms with the fact that no one had. When I get out of rehearsals for high school theater, I would often stop for a bite to eat. Now those little moments were part of my grocery run. I’ll call it a win, because the food is better and the advantage is a healthier body.

This summer I needed to go outside. Thankfully we have the woods, the hiking trails and just the open country for walks and bicycle rides. I remember thinking in the early days of Covid19 what if someone a quarter of mile in front of me sneezed while I was bicycling into a head wind? That really went through my mind, much like taking my dog to the dog park and worrying about other people wanting to pet him, and thereby bringing their germs into my home. Nobody knew, some of us cared, some thought it was and still do believe it a hoax. I’ve seen the numbers of people who have died, not by choice. I have been a believer from the beginning.

Our lives are all unique and yet we live them quite similarly to one another. We need a good sleep, a warm meal, a favorite book or piece of music, a companion nearby. All of this sounds rather normal right? The thing to recognize is there are many that do not have all or any of the opportunities or lifestyle habits I just mentioned. There are people who are alone and haven’t sometimes the strength to endure this rather unprecedented and certainly sad and frightening time in our lives. This is a time of year when often we are suggested to raise our awareness of those less fortunate than ourselves. Now more than ever.

We do come upon that time of year in America where we will celebrate the holiday, the essence of family being together to share the love we all have created in our lives. Many question our ability to have feast in that manner of tradition and we find ourselves quietly confused, making different plans. We do come upon that time of year in the world where we celebrate the truth of universal love in however manner our cultural strengths bring us together. What is important is we do remain focused on what will alleviate some of the anxiety and disorientating nature of this temporary period of our lives. Acts of kindness and a simple element exist.

There really isn’t anything traditional about this year moving into the holidays except for perhaps one common denominator: Love. We all know kindness and the smile it puts on our face, the safe remedy an emotion provides our need to feel.

This is a Sunday morning, and I am in my comfortable chair with a favorite music playing, my dog wandering about checking on me thinking of his next walk in the coming hour. I’m sipping my coffee and looking forward to watching a ball game this afternoon. Tonight I will plan the week ahead. Life remains normal as long as we can allow ourselves to realize there is goodness during this temporary period of our lives. Though we must be conscious of the reality being we are not alone, all of us in our circumstance hold an energy lets us know we are together miles away or nearby.

When we can, as long as we are able, reach out, for there is something substantial being passed upon one another than simply memory not realized. We all exist together, kindness and love being symbolic of that grateful nature of our humanity. We can this year celebrate with an even stronger recognition than during a normalcy we haven’t known yet taken for granted for quite some time.

Love. Be Kind.


© Thom Amundsen  11/2020

Slow Walk, Winter Night

For it was a chilly moment,

when while the sun began to set

I looked inside her eyes,

only to realize

hers would no longer shine

instead a sort of quiet resign.

~

Oh, we did smile many years ago,

and yet still

there seems this need of mine,

this tortured self fulfilling misery,

I must feel capable,

have some solace in knowing

I am not the loathsome man

I feel my internal self can be.

~

A slow walk on a wintry night,

to evaluate,

find my soul inside the crisp clear sky,

where dreams would happen

if only I might

know again the beauty of a starlit moment

holding fortune

holding fortune

in certain tender hands

a quiet peace of mind.


© Thom Amundsen 11/2020

Me and My Dog

Clever how we begin

a reminiscent

wave of emotion

rolls through our mind.

Tonight while I lay alone

avoiding that

temperature

this runny nose

that freaks me out

leaves me wonder

how might I ever take care of

my dog.

All we have is

an affection

loyal in a soft fur

lays next to me

winter night.

I am alone

though this is ok

love another day

for so does he,

me and my dog


©️ Thom Amundsen 11/2020

While Anxiety Will Surge

Someone might remind kindness,

our soul may arise from the depths

of a shadowed past, preventing present

its opportunity to thrive

inside the worrisome reality of this pandemic,

our Covid moments, turn months into years,

stopping our normalcy,

creating a new reality,

one so often overlooked until suddenly today,

we do stand alone,

looking through our own shuttered windows,

a silent in the winds of a night with crisp winter

looming upon decency,

the ability to see through the forest

the quiet meadow where all of our lives,

were once spent holding one another,

and then there is today,

I watched the sunset tonight,

dog at my side

dog at my side

dog at my beck and call,

please stay by my side.


˙© Thom Amundsen 11/2020

Friends Will Reach

I have had a few tough days. It is funny how quickly I can sometimes fall into what my mother would often call a low when her diabetes was out of balance. My lows aren’t the result of diabetes, not by any stretch. But I do have them, and I sometimes wish they didn’t exist at all. Of late, I’ve written about these moments directly rather than dancing around with a solemn poem, or a telling sonnet, or some way of making life seem more tenable with selective word choice.

Tonight I got a call from a friend. She said she’d read my stuff lately and she felt like she might want to check in on me. She’s pretty sharp, she knows patterns, she knows me very well. I was grateful on a number of accounts. One I was in a state of mind to take her call. We talked for some time, shared our stories of isolation with Covid, and the need to recognize that everyone is dealing with a similar energy, though as well, everyone handles it differently.

There are people I miss in my life. Dear friends I am no longer in touch with for a variety of reasons, none of which I can even explain to myself. That said, I have to understand that I need to look at these moments as an opportunity rather than a reason for tragedy. I worry about things far more than I would wish to admit.

Recently, my cousin’s husband was in a near death accident. He didn’t want to place himself in that position when he woke that morning. It just happened, and God let him live. I think about that sometimes, how we have a choice, and yet we don’t have a choice. I think the latter is far more healthy to live by rather than believing we are in control of our own destiny. I think as long as we continue to understand how certain truths work in our lives, life can become easier.

People we care about are getting sick and testing positive with Covid. We have questions about whether the increased testing is causing the alarming numbers to rise, but then at the same time, the illness that occurs with those afflicted is real and not overstated. So many circumstances in life today are filled with confusion, and there is only one thing we can do about it, act upon every measure we can to maintain our safety and that of all of those around us.

A friend showed me an act of kindness tonight that really did mean the world to me. My life is good, I cannot argue that – the last ten months have been filled with so much change and so much need for growth, I can’t help be grateful for the people I do know that without seeing directly still carry the same compassionate energy we all do when we are next to each other rather than spaced by social distancing. We can still be kind. We can still love no matter the distance in our hearts, in our world.

I think the essence of love is truly knowing there is a spiritual basis to how we live our lives. The more we hide behind the demons and the fear of own woe, the less chance we have to appreciate a soft snow that exists outside my window as I finish my words here.

I have Pachelbel playing in the background, and it is soothing to imagine where and when that song came into my life. I was just 20 years old and in a scene from ‘Ordinary People’ Timothy Hutton is humming it as he walks through a cemetery on his way home from school. He is exploring a new life, and has fallen in love. It was a poignant moment that is always with me, a sort of I can overcome this vulnerability if I just listen and think about that which I love.

I personally love when I feel there is a kind word for everyone in our lives.


© Thom Amundsen 11/2020