In Darkness There is a Blue

Trying to find that color,

searching since a child,

I remember gatherings

with friends my age and teenage elders,

those we all wished to emulate,

sitting amongst ourselves,

laughs, giggles, smiles,

seduction,

every aspect of the human condition,

would enhance this sensation,

our sensory being.

~

I could lay in the middle of a field

soft whisper of midnight breeze

look at the sky, the miles of sky

stars and occasional glints of light,

a shooting star where a wish is missed

so then in that singular moment

a self-critical adamant fear

begins to sweep through the forest

the moment gone now,

left feeling cold in a farmer’s field.

~

Twenty years later, or even more now,

decades of afterthought,

the what-ifs, whens, why nots, the who …

we all want to care about something,

and yet,

lost as I could with every search of word,

would it matter at all,

if one day,

the words just failed to appear.

~

I wonder the beauty of a blue horizon,

is it a state of mind or some intricate light show.


© Thom Amundsen 10/2020

The Story of Mak (or Man’s Best Friend)

The year 2020 started off with a bang for me. I was suddenly about to be found swirling in a myriad of life choices, decisions, adjustments and COVID 19. To begin the year, my marriage of 30 years had fallen apart, and I was forced to look at myself in the mirror and take responsibility for my own share of grief and distance in a collaboration that had been failing for years. When I reflect upon our time together there is no question the rock my wife provided me in the midst of years of turmoil with a variety of addictions that helped unravel my world. I am fortunate on many different levels for her support not only in straightening out my own life, in her patience, and as well, our opportunity to share in the wealth of raising two wonderful children.

So the reader might ask, what does any of this have to do with a dog? One common denominator in our marriage was that we always had a dog. We had a cat for a lot of years as well, but that was a different story. We raised three Golden Retrievers from puppies over three decades, the last moving on with her true companion, my spouse. When we split there was no question she would travel on her journey with the companionship of the dog, albeit hers was an ownership I would never argue, given the nature of our circumstance. I began the first month of a separation without a dog and living in a home we had shared together raising our children and dogs for twenty years. There is no question the nights were long with memory and confusion. The one piece missing for me all the time was an animal, a dog to come and lay near me whether I was overwhelmed with tears, or simply wanting a companion to hang out with. The silence was deafening.

Then one day my daughter suggested I take her dog for a few days. She said she couldn’t stand to see me so alone without a dog after seeing us grow as  a dog family all these years. To be clear, I would have plenty of opportunity to see our present dog when time permitted, but being in the early throes of a separation it had been hard to imagine those times. So I gave my daughter an emphatic ‘yes’ and she brought her dog – a golden retriever – over that evening. My world changed in an instant and three days later as I was readying her return to my daughter, I had already begun scanning pages for rescue dogs. I knew I would get a dog eventually, I just didn’t know when I would be ready.

The answer to that question arrived one day in the story of Mak, a Bernese Mountain dog basically given to me out of the kindness of a colleague’s heart. It was immediate love.IMG_0313 Well, the first night Mak chose to lay twenty yards away from me all night, basically just keeping an eye on me, a complete stranger. That first night was a sleepless night for me, not knowing whether this dog would ever acclimate himself with me. Within 48 hours we were pretty inseparable, and that to me is the essence of seeing a man with his dog. This week I am on our last leg of a journey up to the north shore, morning looking at the vast waters of Lake Superior and then later on mini-hikes throughout the day. Mak is such a mellow dog, I was able to let go of the leash and just have him toddle along with me on the path, in fact many times he would take control of the walk by laying down in the middle of the path and giving me a look like, ‘there is no way you are making me keep up your pace’ – break time. Let me tell you it is a rather daunting ask to force a 120 pound animal to move forward until they are good and ready. The hikes were filled with smiles and laughs that serve as a preview for many walks in the future.

He is no question a hiker with a prowess, but right now around 16 months of big baby, so we will take our time readying ourselves for an all day hike – someday maybe, quite a feat, more for me than the dog, but he will push me forward. The last couple of days have been spent just watching the rain outside our window as the churned waves that would crash along the shoreline and then drift out to sea with shadows of mid-day sunlight moving them like surface shadows in a breeze. The magic of the lake was certainly not lost upon either of us throughout our hours together. Tomorrow we will return home.

IMG_0315I have found myself in recent weeks understanding more and more how special this animal is in my life. If I am having a bad morning, I only turn to see Mak’s doe-like eyes waiting for my glance and when we do connect his tail takes off. When in a lighter moment Mak wants to play he will plant his two front paws onto the carpet or wood floor or the grass outside and stretch his body all the way to his back paws and then land squarely on his butt and give me a look like, ‘c’mon man, let’s go!’ There really is something rather special in the affinity a man can feel with his dog. I’m writing this and if I look across the room, I will find Mak in a comfortable posture sleeping the night away. The moment I move a muscle his eyes will be upon me checking my next move. I can only be grateful to have this big guy by my side as we venture into this extraordinary time with COVID 19 starting our year with a pandemic, and now the remarkable early stages of social justice being finally recognized as a purposeful focus in our society. I can only imagine how torn I might be having to face the perils of a pandemic alone, how lost I might feel not having anyone to talk to about my feelings towards social unrest in the wake of George Floyd’s incredulous death. To Mak, it is simply another day, but one that will be spent giving me the confidence to know we both appreciate one another unconditionally.

So having met the end of Pink Floyd’s Animals, the twilight out my window as Lake Superior slaps the rocks nearby with a gentle breeze, it is time to retire for the night. I see his tail wagging as he caught my glance, knowing something is up. Ah, the sweet peace of a man and his dog as we venture forth in these our early days of summer.

IMG_0310


© Thom Amundsen 6/2020

summer on Lake Superior with Mak

A Week Later

I wonder about perception,

how well it matches up inside,

the image we carry of ourselves,

the identity screaming always for balance

against the odds,

despite our own misgivings.

 

Last week I was high,

a natural phenomena

that took me places,

I didn’t have to anticipate,

just lived inside

this possibility.

 

This morning I stared out the window

barely able to move,

I wanted to question whether I should

with the many voices

clamoring in the back of mind,

yes, well, in any rate, you could.

 

I did,

here now begins a day,

a bit overcast,

accentuating a sort of morose

atmosphere

to balance the mood.

 

Sometimes I wonder

to myself

where this all began.

I know I shared it with you

one time,

so many peaks and valleys ago.


© Thom Amundsen 5/2020

a different life

Recently,

inside a fantasy

I was given something

not ever would I imagine.

 

Life doesn’t hold a

twist upon what we believe,

or chance

state of mind

might bury itself for years.

 

An orderly intimacy

drawn on paperwork eons ago,

the masters of a philosophy

in matrimony

created this our lives,

borne out of some necessity

let ourselves know love,

give our lives a moral code.

 

Raise children,

esteem values,

if in the midst of our growth,

if there is a mental breakdown,

an inability –

separate paths

seem distant in the wind.

 

A rain storm may have occasion

led to a questionable civility,

then it happens,

in the quiet of our own solace,

we do realize

yet seldom act upon,

a desire to return ourselves

to some identity forgotten

decades ago.

 

Though be thankful,

we have a grateful energy always

travels with our memory,

for we would not be the person we are today,

the longest path

is the one

where wisdom winds

upon the mind.


© Thom Amundsen 5/2020

A Giving Value

Its been awhile

since a recommended analysis

would take me,

move me,

ask me to respond to life

and resonate.

 

While the world

continues to cycle

a round

a mechanical need

to survive

the crossing winds,

seems logical

we might all

seek the same

peace and solace.

 

Yet, it’s been awhile

since peace of mind

seemed relevant

to my own thoughts …

rewind,

the constant

pouring truth

having to comprehend,

what it might be

our own personality

subjects actions,

always a challenge.

 

Stand on the precipice

see the miles of opportuinity

if in flight

we fall rapidly,

but the observation,

distant eternity.

 

Step away and enjoy the view

that part of you, gives value too.


© Scott F Savage 3/2020

Moments in a Blizzard

Windswept sky designs landmark,

the world is being blanketed by that force

greater than our own,

a magical parade of Nature’s wrath,

in the simplest manner of beauty.

 

Oh her strength apparent

inside the wonder of it all,

the winter storm,

a blizzard upon our discontent,

perhaps we might fly away.

 

Lost inside this forever cycle

our lives are equally drawn

by a static probability

of scant survival in the throes

of a woeful condition.

 

Step inside the winds,

that bury this frozen memory,

covering up our sorrows

so there might be a new desire,

a passion to understand.

 

A realization,

recognizing there is an after-life

to the sparkle – once

no longer remains

inside a youthful dream.

 

There inside the wealth of our

humanity

exists a welcome change,

that ever resilient testimony,

suggests we are all ready,

 

already walking again,

this might provocative winds allow.

 


© Thom Amundsen 1/2020

Walking Upon Time

A reflection spoke prophetic synapse unwind

while the world in mechanical fashion

carried on, carried on inside the mind

sweet redemption await for years of burden.

 

If we could match our inside with the now

would it be easier in a balance

could  heart remind background

our vision, sad eyes, might forever shine.

 

The institution of a societal trial expectation

would the human condition consider

within a framed reference a spiritual

Mecca will always await sendentary soul

 

Wake now to her wondrous a natural task

for all entitlement is a waste

rather a commitment to peace

inside the stranger element of response

 

Our lives, create reawakened possibilities

would that every symbiotic paths beyond

 

 

A Distant Child

In a quiet state I would recognize the distance

Between the now of experience toward childhood

We might wish to have a redo on pain if we could

Seems a simple prospect to imagine all is chance.

 

When returning to some original memory in life

Oh to know the patterns that drove our own fight

Or flight, the summer weather such intrigue in light

Of finding ourselves amongst the massive strife

 

Inside a dream we could walk for miles in the sand

Feeling only the beauty of the sea carrying away our

Imagination, our intrigue with stepping beyond power

That illusion of knowing we could withstand demand

 

Live your life she said, he said the world in silent release

Would rather only our sanity to discover our own peace.


© Thom Amundsen 2019

The Importance of Beauty

We live in a society of measure. Of mirrors and reflections and purposeful glances. We operate by sensing physicality alone, even when made aware of a far deeper context to what is beauty in our lives, in our society. This is an important subject to dwell upon in light of the ugliness we are experiencing in our own country, in the world itself. The idea of glamor far exceeds the recognition of beauty and how it operates in the well-being of ourselves, our friends and family, our planet.

I remember as a young child knowing what beauty was in an innocent mind. I watched Diana Ross on Ed Sullivan, I noticed the screaming young girls at the front of a stage at a concert for the Beatles. I was madly in love with Gidget or Marcia Brady of course. In all those examples I was focusing on their physical attributes, which gave me a foundation as young boy to know what defined beauty in my life. It wasn’t until I watched a dear friend perform her gymnastic composition on parallel bars that I began to know another definition. It wasn’t until I walked home with a school mate, though a couple years older than me, and striking in her glamorous demeanor that I noticed beauty in a different level.

In watching my friend perform I was struck by her commitment to what she loved at the time, an athletic prowess as a young woman, one that allowed her to become a state champion in her abilities. To me that wonderment of effort was beautiful to observe.

Later in life, listening to a friend of the family talk about what is important, as we crossed our familiar bridge on our way home from school, and descended a hill that held our neighborhood. She was teaching lessons as a 12th grader to a 9th grader, how important it was to love yourself before you could love others. In listening to her, I realized there was more than fashionable jeans, a chic style sweater, perfect hair to define the beauty inherent with my friend. She taught me about compassion and that began for me a different focus upon beauty in our lives.

One day as a twelve year old I was getting a ride from my sister to basketball practice. She asked me what was wrong as I slumped in the passenger seat. I told her I was lonely, didn’t know what to do about it. She stopped the car, turned to me and said you have to find a passion in your life. As a twelve year old, I blushed and imagined passion to be something sexual, and I couldn’t believe she was telling me this. She then explained the word passion is not simply about sex, it is about loving what you do, finding something that gives you the ability to believe in yourself because your energy is drawn completely to accentuating your own passion.

That lesson from my sister, the walk with my friend, the athletic prowess of my schoolmate, all of those pieces of my life gave me opportunity to recognize a more holistic approach to understanding beauty in my life.

Certainly as a young man, I was still drawn to the beauty of woman, the wonder of her elegance, in the summertime, the fascination of her stylistic manner of wardrobe on a cold winter’s day, how intriguing it was to know she would be cognizant of a look she wanted to have in the midst of a bustling society. I remember knowing a woman who I watched cross the street one day, wearing a striking rain jacket and green knee high rain boots.

Her image has stayed with me all my life, as did the day she and I were lounging in her apartment, and I commented on her jeans, and she gave me a smile and said she had been wearing them for eight days. I thought that was the coolest thing, her sweet comfort level with her own self image caused me to feel beauty about her person, well beyond a physical characteristic.

I think the deeper context of who we are is often easily forgotten about, put aside, neglected. I have a brother who in his elder life, now sits in an art museum and curates the lovers of a gallery in his home town. We had a chance to visit him one afternoon, and he was so in his element – he knew the history of all the works in the gallery, and his smile radiated as we walked through the rooms. I took his picture afterwards because I wanted to have a record of the beauty that shined from him internally. He looked to be a happy man.

Beauty for me holds a lot of different values. Seeing a band perform live, watching my students reach fruition on the stage with their efforts. Observing a student find their way in a classroom studying a subject they have never understood. Seeing students take chances and risks knowing one another beyond a superficial level. Watching my family evolve as I see my two children continue to strive for happiness in their lives rather than letting hardships discourage them. Having close friends dear to your heart that are there to support you, laugh at your whims, share dialogue and understanding for your own passions.

That word passion comes back every time I struggle. The passion to seek, the passion to address needs of concern, the passion to love. We are a vulnerable lot easily drawn to the pain in our lives rather than seeing the beauty of who we are and accentuating beauty in the lives of those around us. My hope is that the people around me, those I am closest to, can see beauty for what it truly is, to give meaning to what is important, beautiful and eternal in our lives.


© Thom Amundsen 2019