Being Ready

 

I thought it was always ‘now.’ Ram Das said, “Be here now,” so if I was here, wasn’t it now? Being born with the surname of Wait only helped if I remembered, and ‘to wait’ doesn’t actually mean to stop, it means to be in constant readiness. I looked it up.

To be constantly ready was a lot of pressure. It’s given me high blood-pressure on and off for the last 50 years. First they said it was an over-active adrenal gland so they fixed it. Then they said a tiny hair was blocking the right renal artery and they fixed that too. Then I got pregnant at 41 and they said it was that. Ahhhh, no way to fix my heart’s desire…

I’ve included a picture of different views of my kitchen timer because it dings when time’s up and I can see ahead of time how much time is left before whatever I’m cooking can be taken off the stove or out of the oven. It’s a man-made mechanical device I can control, whereas the inner timer, the biological clock, comes pretty much pre-set and ticks away the years whether I like it or not.

But there’s another type that dings too. It’s in the timeless realm, so you only hear it on the inside. It’s programmed to coordinate with the heart and soul, so while it doesn’t measure minutes, let alone years, it measures vibrations, calculates frequencies, dings when it’s time to move on or take the next step or see something you haven’t seen before. I only had to hear it once to know it was there, and it’s stood me in good stead I still have the high (blood) pressure and my name is still Wait, but now I know what I’m waiting in constant readiness for. It’s part of “Living Through These Times as a Soul,” where it really IS ‘now’ all the time. http://atreeoflight.org/community

 

 

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Being on Timers

Sometime in the years between listening to Bob Dylan, The Times They Are a-Changin’ in the 1960s, and “Living Through These Times as a Soul,” Community Forum at A Tree of Light in July 2022, a bell went off, and I knew I was on timers.

I was used to setting my handy little kitchen timer for cooking. Putting something to the flame, the fire that melts or boils or bakes, changing the molecular structure of whatever is in the pot or cake pan or casserole dish. Because you have to time it, giving it just the right amount lest it burns or boils away. So a timer is set to ding a reminder.

The day I knew I had an inner timer too was the day I heard a dinging in my soul.

A marriage was ending and endings can be fraught with sadness. All the regret in the world makes no difference when you know change is necessary and unavoidable because you heard a ding signaling it was done. The marriage was done and we were done and time was up and it was time to move on. Yet somehow this ding removed the onus of personal failure, transforming it into something positive. My ‘free will’ was either to hold onto something that had already passed, or accept the turn in the road.

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

If I’ve got a biological clock running my body, why not an inner timer set to vibrations? Rather than counting down the minutes, it would count down the degrees of alignment, telling me when I’m done like my kitchen timer tells me the eggs or the coffee or the pie is done.

It changed not only how I looked at the present, but the past too. Endings I’d regretted, times I’d left people behind or they’d left me behind looked different from the perspective of timers and time-frames. It was just time, that’s all. Their time, my time; it happens all the time. Time was the issue. But if I’m going to be timed, let it be the timing of the soul.

Just like cooking, I can be done. When the heat is on, as it is these days, the energy speeds up. Molecules move faster, change their pattern, become something else. Knowing I am on timers makes it easier to go with the change. Not wishing the light would speed up or slow down, or the bell would hurry and ring like it did at school when a period was over. Just listening, and being ready for the ding when it comes.

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

“A Tree of Light, A Sanctuary for the Soul,” holds bi-monthly soul meditations and a monthly sharing. http://atreeoflight.org/

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this Park, this Brooklyn

Dog Beach, Prospect Park, sketchbook art, N. Wait

This drawing, this park, this Prospect Park, these 526 acres, these remains of Brooklyn’s indigenous forest. This play area with off-leash hours. This Dog Beach just off the Long Meadow at the Pools. This drawing, these dogs, these people, this summer, this Brooklyn.

These girls in tee-shirts with rakes. Sketchbook Art, N. Wait

These volunteers, these urban caretakers, these city dwellers who rake, who dig this dirt, this soil. These green spaces, this park, these planetary stewards, this love, this land. This love. This sketch, this tribute, to this love of land.

These city people and their park. Sketchbook Art, N. Wait

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Apple Trees

Apple Trees by N. Wait 2022 Sketchbook Art
I do not have a garden,
I do not have a plot of land,
I do not have a flower
To plant and grow by hand.

But what I have is paper,
What I have is paint,
What I have is such an urge
To draw without complaint!

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Battle Hill

From a hill in Brooklyn the Roman goddess of wisdom and justice waves to the Statue of Liberty. And not just from any hill, but Battle Hill, where not just any old battle was fought, but the Battle of Brooklyn on August 27th, the first and the largest major combat after the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. We lost, and the British had control of the Port of New York for the rest of the war.

Now it’s peaceful on the hill which is part of Green-Wood Cemetery. The bronze Minerva, or Athena as the Greeks knew her, was unveiled in 1920 to commemorate the 144th anniversary of the battle. She was originally a goddess of war—defensive war only—before she became a patron of music and poetry, sponsoring the arts and trade, medicine and wisdom, justice, law, victory, weaving and the crafts. And there she stands at the top of the hill, the highest elevation in Brooklyn, waving to the Statue of Liberty 3½ miles away in New York Harbor.

Two strong and fearless women, one in a glorious helmet and armor decorated with snakes, the other designed after the Roman goddess Libertas, her crown of seven spikes a symbol of the seven oceans and seven continents of the world, her tablet a book of law.
Their eyes lock. Lady Liberty raises her torch with her right hand. Minerva salutes back with her left.

In 2005 another battle brewed. Now it was between Green-Wood and the real estate developers who would have blocked their view of each other. The city intervened in 2008. Their interlocking gaze was preserved. For now.

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The Color Orange

On a gray day I went to the greengrocer for orange bell peppers and carrots to eat and to color and draw and digest. Ol’ Blue Eyes said, “Orange is the happiest color.” Van Gogh said, “There is no blue without yellow and without orange.”

Throwing off the cloak of Either/Or, Life or Death, Dark or Light, Pro or Con, Right or Wrong, Red or Yellow, I choose the fiery blend of Orange. Or-ange which is angel in French. Because, “Orange is Red, brought nearer to Humanity by Yellow.” ~ Kandinsky

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The Green-Wood Trolley

Ding-ding-ding goes the trolley… Except when it doesn’t. Because we did not want to wake anyone sleeping in the Green-Wood Cemetery. Cemetery is from the Greek word for “sleeping place.” This spring when I took the trolley tour we rolled slowly and quietly along the paths and rang no bells. These are some sketches I made of the day.

Having no interest in cemeteries, it has taken me decades to finally visit the famous cemetery in Brooklyn, and even then I found the trollies more interesting than the stones and mausoleums. Still it has a fascinating history.

“Founded in 1838 and now a National Historic Landmark, Green-Wood was one of the first rural cemeteries in America. By the early 1860s, it had earned an international reputation for its magnificent beauty and became the prestigious place to be buried, attracting 500,000 visitors a year, second only to Niagara Falls as the nation’s greatest tourist attraction. Crowds flocked there to enjoy family outings, carriage rides, and sculpture viewing in the finest of first-generation American landscapes. Green-Wood’s popularity helped inspire the creation of public parks, including New York City’s Central and Prospect Parks.”

“Green-Wood is 478 spectacular acres of hills, valleys, glacial ponds, and paths, throughout which exists one of the largest outdoor collections of nineteenth-and twentieth-century statuary and mausoleums. Four seasons of beauty from century-and-a-half-old trees offer a peaceful oasis to visitors, as well as its 570,000 permanent residents, including Leonard Bernstein, Boss Tweed, Charles Ebbets, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Horace Greeley, Civil War generals, baseball legends, politicians, artists, entertainers, and inventors.”

“A magnet for history buffs and bird watchers, Green-Wood is a Revolutionary War historic site (the Battle of Long Island was fought in 1776 across what is now its grounds), a designated site on the Civil War Discovery Trail, and a registered member of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary System.”

Read more: https://www.green-wood.com/about-history/

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Snoozing on the Subway

Sleepy in the spring with the rocking of the train and time to kill, having a little time-out, catching a few winks between here and there, somewhere in a Brooklyn tunnel.

I’m a subway voyeur, taking photos to labor over later in the comfort of my home. I started these before the subway shooting earlier this month, then became too sad to finish till now. But I’ve been on the train again since the 12th, and found there were still those who could relax and drift off with nary a qualm, setting us all a good example.

So sleep away gentle souls, though the seats be hard, and don’t miss your stop. I’ll step over your legs in the aisle because I see them and you, and me over here keeping watch.

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Drawing People on the Subway

I’m still at it. I don’t have the wonder and awe I had in my 20s, but I remember how exciting it was learning to draw people, every subway ride an opportunity for study. From my latest (not yet published) “Nancy Who Drew” book:

“If I was standing, holding onto the rail above, I could look down at a seated passenger and mentally calculate the distance between nose and ear, eyebrow and eyelid. Or, if I was on the platform waiting for the train, I took out my sketchbook and drew people standing still for a few minutes. I filled a whole sketchbook with quick drawings of coats, pant-legs and footwear, hands clasping shopping bags or briefcases. After I took an anatomy class I was aware that beneath the coats and skirts and jeans were femurs and fibula, patellas and tibias. Under deltoideus and trapezium were clavicles and scapulae. Skulls behind faces. Black holes instead of eyes. I saw death in life, life pared down to the bone, an ever-present mortality, a deeper design permeating ordinary life I had never thought about before.”

Now, all these years later I find myself looking at my fellow travelers again. If those early sketchbooks (which I can’t find) have an immediacy my current efforts (done at home) lack, the pleasure is the same. Seeing the ordinary as extraordinary, simply by looking.

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Seated Humans

They are in Brooklyn, though they could be anywhere, sitting on a subway train, waiting in a doctor’s office. Waiting to be called, waiting to get somewhere, waiting for their stop. Passing the time in thought, or scrolling, or texting.

Of course I had my phone out too, taking pictures to draw later. These two sitting conveniently nearby caught my attention, yet I looked at them no differently than I would look at anyone while I was out and about, noticing my surroundings. I didn’t take any particular interest in them. I had my own thoughts and concerns. They were merely part of the scenery. It was only later when I was alone, sitting down to draw them that I really looked at them.

The man across from me was so interesting I didn’t even notice he wasn’t wearing a mask. His nose and mouth were uncovered, and the hoodie pressed close to the sides of his face signaled privacy. Yet his body language, those long legs spread so wide apart, seem to signal the opposite. Unless he was claiming his space, sitting there still as a statue, preoccupied with his thoughts. He never looked at his phone, never took a sip of his coffee. During those five stops I shared with him on the train, he never moved.

The woman in the doctor’s office was off to my side, preoccupied with her phone. Obviously wanting to be by herself, she had taken a seat at the end of the row by the wall, and placed her coat on the seat beside her. She was also claiming her space in this crowded city, in her own world like the man on the train, but she had a purposeful air. She had to wait, but the time was her own. Until I took out my colors, I didn’t notice her sweater was bright pink. She was just another woman in my vicinity, sitting conveniently still.

I will never know their names or their stories, and they will never know that I drew them, then sought to draw your attention to them. But it struck me again how drawing, which is really only taking the time to look, breaks down the barrier of separation. Taking the time to look, I saw their humanity. And the more I perceive the humanity of others, the more I feel my own.

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