The Betrayal of the Young Ones of Today
When I was a Child…
When I was little I swore to myself that I would not be one of those grown-ups who told children “When I was a child, I walked 10 miles back and forth to school every day in all weather– blizzards and ice storms, and I carried 15 pounds of books on my back and I took care of my eight little sisters and brothers and such and such and such and such.” But here I am, not telling it to my grandchildren, but worse, writing it in a blog post. My excuse? I feel almost an obligation to tell young people what they are missing and point the finger at the cause. There seems to have been a fundamental shift in reality as we know it. Maybe every generation feels this and that is why there are these older people going around saying: “When I was a child…”
When I was a child, I remember autumns so brisk you could feel the frost on your cheeks in October rather than a sun beating down 80 degrees in “unseasonably warm” weeks of extended summer. I remember Thanksgivings so cold the grown-ups drank hot toddies at the Thanksgiving Day parade and we children would go home with frozen fingers and red cheeks and warm by the fire before the grand feast began. It was never 70 degrees in November or God forbid in December!! And I remember ice skating on a frozen pond in January and going home with toes so frozen they hurt when you put them near the radiator to warm up. And swollen red fingers. But the hurt felt good and the fresh air felt good and the icy cheeks felt good, for you knew you were really alive, with a keen mind and an invigoration that rivaled any cup of Frapaccino from Starbucks. And I remember springs so cool you needed to have a spring coat or jacket. Winter did not just stop one day and summer begin the next with 90 degree days in April. My memories are precious and the young today may never know such memories in great thanks to Global Warming. Now it is approaching normal to have 70 degrees in November and 90 degrees in April.
And most of all when I was little I remember looking at the night sky and seeing a phantasmagoram of stars. Some readers may remember 50 years ago looking up at the Sputnik passing overhead and they may recall the stars seeming brighter then. They were. Today thanks to light pollution we see “less than one per cent of what Galileo would have been able to see without a telescope” as David Owen writes in his recent article The Dark Side. This light pollution is called “sky glow” and basically it means that because of air pollution the atmosphere is more reflective rather than being transparent making it harder to see the stars.
Of course this brings up the outrage and perils of air pollution which clouds the skies night and day!!!
On top of that so much illumination from the earth has faded the stars above thanks to things called “glare bombs” which are light fixtures that spread light sideways right into our eyes. Owen explains that the “eye adapts to the brightest thing in sight… when you have glare, the eye adapts to the glare, but then you can’t see anything darker.” It has to do with the rods and cones in our eyes. Rods are what allow us to see at night and cones give us color vision. The rods are very sensitive and can take an hour to readjust to the dark after being exposed to a light. The brighter the light, the longer it takes to adjust. So we are making it harder to see with these bright light packs that Owen points out make it easier for crime to occur because it is harder for people to see in the dark areas. This is why deer, who have superior night vision due to a greater concentration of rods, are blinded by headlights of cars. It has nothing to do with their intelligence and again, like all of this, plenty to do with man’s so called “progress.” And these light packs are so bright, Owen reckons they could probably be seen from earth with a hobbyist’s telescope if they were put on the moon. He points out that in a “truly dark sky” one can see more shooting stars than one can count. I have never seen a shooting star. My husband saw one as a child in camp in Wisconsin.
“I need a place where I can see the stars,” my husband said when we decided to buy our renovated barn in Stanfordville. And when we gaze at the night sky it sometimes takes our breath away and indeed on some nights we just stand outside gazing upwards speechless. It is the “awe” factor and seeing ourselves within the perspective of the infinite. But in the 5 years we have been here, the sky has become brighter and the stars harder to see. Poughkeepsie is a bright glow on the horizon and just a few weeks ago some sort of electrical transformer was installed on our road with a piercing green light maybe one inch in diameter that illumines the road and the whole front of our house at night. My husband calls it “the green eye of Mordor.” This light makes star gazing more difficult.
I mourn the frosty falls, the cold winters, the cool springs and the brilliant night sky. But at least people of my generation have their memories. The young people of today have been short-changed by my generation who have squandered nature. The youth of today have grown up deprived of some of the most brilliant shows of natural beauty and variety in climate. Global warming and pollution are the criminals here. They have robbed today’s children of some of life’s greatest treasures– treasures that turn into warm memories, themselves treasures, of “When I was a child…”
Welcome to samples of my writing showcasing “Eye-locks and Other Fearsome Things.” “Eye-locks” is a Bipolar/Asperger’s memoir in narrative form that describes the triumph of love over mental illness.
Eyes to Eternity
At age 35 I found someone who was more afraid of closeness than I was. I understood him almost from day one. This understanding came out of years of therapy that followed my breakdown at age 28. Before the breakdown, I didn’t know that I was depressed. Before the breakdown, I didn’t know that my failed relationships were due to my fear of closeness. Before the breakdown, I didn’t know I was Bipolar. I learned a lot of things in therapy that helped to change the direction of my life.
And then one day Thomas walked into the library where I had been working for 10 years. He got a job as a library assistant. He was a graduate student and wanted to work part-time. I took the first steps towards asking him out because it was obvious he never would. I had learned a thing or two after a stint at being gay. We bumbled our way into a relationship and, after 4 years, into marriage. We didn’t know that either one of us had Asperger’s Syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder on the Autism Spectrum, until much, much later. We just thought we were very, very shy.
After some 33 years of marriage we are still shy with each other. Our instincts are still to run away from closeness, but now we are able to override the first gut feeling. We have grown together, becoming very, very close. So close that now my biggest fear is of losing Thomas. So close that sometimes we communicate without talking, as if we are on the same radio frequency. In fact talking often confuses things.
We have pushed each other along life’s path. Tom became a clinical social worker and I became a writer and artist. The road has been bumpy in spots. My being Bipolar has been hard for Tom at times. Many times. But there have been many more moments of joy that make it all worthwhile. We both feel the other is the best thing that happened to us, and the journey continues. New lessons are learned. There are still new magical moments and new epiphanies.
It is 3A.M. I lay beside Thomas in bed listening to his breathing as I watch a silent light show outside our bedroom windows. This is not a 3A.M. awakening born of despair as some are. At the moment I feel the Presence and that Presence fills me with love.
The moonlight beckons to me, and I respond by getting up and gazing at the twinkling stars and the hushed light of flickering fireflies. In the quiet stillness of a country night I am stirred by the music of the silence. My ears hum, the sound of the nervous system according to my husband.
The cool air is intoxicating. I go to the den to write and sit in a moonlit cathedral, watching the seemingly random flashing flames of fireflies flying in a frenzy of love. The madness of desire. Well do I know how love possesses one’s spirit and makes one fly through life, manic with emotion.
Yet sometimes, beneath the energy that stirs one’s blood, lies a silent union—a momentary glimpse of eternity in a loved-locked gaze into the eyes of one’s beloved. It is fleeting, at least for me. Gone in a flash, and yet it leaves me wondering just whom I am seeing. The inner voice says that God has touched my soul through Thomas, for the best of human love is merely a sampling of the Divine. Eye contact, so problematic for both my husband and me, is wondrous in this context. For a second, eternity beckons like the moonlight, whispering of another life, another world, something beyond the here and now.
(Click http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/ellen-stockdale-wolfe.html for information on, and to purchase my Bipolar/Asperger’s memoir.)
The Magic of Water
(Continuation of exhibit from previous post.)
“Rose Hills, Blue Trees”
“Water in its natural state shows us how it wants to flow, and we must obey its wishes.”
Water is the medium. Water is my brush. Using watercolors on wet paper, I allow the water’s capillary action to “suggest” an image from the natural world and then work with it, using a variety of methods. I have sought to capture scenes from nature with dazzling, bleeding color. The paintings are an exercise in “letting go” and allowing the creative energies to flow, after preparing the mind through meditation.
As abstractions, the paintings are personal visions—the impressions of light and color and thus do not always appear as they exist in the natural world. However, since landscapes are my passion, the results most often appear within the realm of that genre.
Finally these paintings, as renditions of nature, are reflections of the magnificence of the shimmering wilderness and thus, in some small measure, are my own awestruck reflections on the majesty of creation.
Bolt of Blue
soothes the beast
Layers of Light
Layers of light refers to the layers of light in nature, specifically in the natural landscape and that is what I have tried to capture in the above photograph. It is also what I try to capture over and over again in my paintings as in the one below.
But there are layers to our personalities, too. And, of late, I have been very disturbed by the many negative aspects of my own personality appearing before my eyes. Being disturbed by the negatives is a form of egoism but it can propel one towards change. It was a post by Bert at http://whoisbert.wordpress.com/2012/12/13/meditation-as-a-screen-saver/ that really helped me understand what I think is going on. Now I am not sure if I am correctly interpreting what he wrote but perhaps it was what I needed to hear and therefore, read into it. I have been meditating on and off for a long time and have been critical at the quality and quantity of my meditations. Bert seemed to be saying that meditation is a sort of purification process whereby we can examine our faults and do something to rectify them. So this was hopeful to me. First of all, it meant that perhaps my meditations were “working” after all, and, secondly, it meant that perhaps all the negative aspects of my personality I was seeing meant not that I am some sort of arch fiend, but, rather that I am undergoing a purification process, calling for me to change the many negatives I see. Meditation brings out the layers of our personalities that lie lurking in the dark so they can be exposed, thereby altering them in the process, as they are exposed to the Light.
All paintings for sale and photographs available in all sizes and formats.