Sunday, October 23, 2011


I have always wanted to visit India during Holi, the Hindu spring festival where colored powders are thrown at passer-by with a jubilance verging on mania. The force of the act, covering someone--a lover, a friend, a stranger--with one gesture resonates with me. I had a similar experience once in Phonm Penh, Cambodia during Full Moon celebrations where white powder is used. Young girls, normally shy, would run up and smear my cheeks with it, locking eyes joyfully with mine as they did so.

And yet, we have these types of interactions all the time, every day. We are constantly moving amongst others and they too leave their marks on us, on our eyes, our hearts, albeit invisibly. How many times have I come home from a walk with Ben in foul mood because another dog tried to attack him or conversely, buoyant after having witnessed the small act of a father lifting his giggling daughter into his arms for a kiss?

Like a pinball in the machine, I know that I am too sensitive, too susceptible to these moments but prefer it than to be utterly closed off. I can't stop looking even if sometimes I see more than I would like--thoughts, hopes and deceptions. Nor can I stop thinking about the seemingly random comings and goings in our lives. Why we invite certain people to be friends, to come into our private circle at certain points rather than others. And how we know when to let them drift away. Because they will inevitably, laisse des traces. And sometimes, unfortunately, wounds. It takes courage to open our hearts.

Digging down a little deeper, I have become increasingly aware of how flexible our personalities are, those outer traces of our inner spirit. I might be nearly unrecognizable to some of my companions of years gone by. How would I see them now and they me? For we see what we want to, we pick and choose and turn a blind eye. Would we still find the desire to be a part of each other's lives? Continuity in relationships can be a blessing as it necessitates that a certain flexibility is built in, one that involves seeing beyond personality and the temporary swoosh of life. Being fairly nomadic, I haven't experienced that type of long-standing connection as much as many but that doesn't prevent me from appreciating it when I do.

We are heading into winter, so maybe that is why I am wondering about what remains, what is solid inside us while all around me the leaves are falling from the trees. A real autumn, finally. Certainly so in the golden light writing secrets in the sky, running over rooftops, pressing on upturned faces that are all too eager to inhale the last of its warmth. A contact as certain as the powders of Holi. And when those revellers return home and wash off the vibrant colors, what traces remain? Everyday we bump along, as day follows night and season follows season, finding our way, through others and ourselves, clutching the cord of life that connects us.


  1. Oh...Miss should listen to this song. Your posting made me think immediately of the lines "holy is the busy street/and cars that boom with passion’s beat/and the check out girl, counting change/and the hands that shook my hands today/and hymns of geese fly overhead/and spread their wings like their parents did/blessed be the dog, that runs in her sleep/to chase some wild and elusive thing....."

    you (and your readers/friends) can view/hear the song at:

    "holy is the dish and drain
    the soap and sink, and the cup and plate
    and the warm wool socks, and the cold white tile
    showerheads and good dry towels
    and frying eggs sound like psalms
    with bits of salt measured in my palm
    it’s all a part of a sacrament
    as holy as a day is spent

    holy is the busy street
    and cars that boom with passion’s beat
    and the check out girl, counting change
    and the hands that shook my hands today
    and hymns of geese fly overhead
    and spread their wings like their parents did
    blessed be the dog, that runs in her sleep
    to chase some wild and elusive thing

    holy is the familiar room
    and quiet moments in the afternoon
    and folding sheets like folding hands
    to pray as only laundry can
    i’m letting go of all my fear
    like autumn leaves made of earth and air
    for the summer came and the summer went
    as holy as a day is spent

    holy is the place i stand
    to give whatever small good i can
    and the empty page, and the open book
    redemption everywhere i look
    unknowingly we slow our pace
    in the shade of unexpected grace
    and with grateful smiles and sad lament
    as holy as a day is spent

    and morning light sings “providence”
    as holy as a day is spent.....

    Best Wishes as always,

    david terry

  2. a multi decades long migrant, now in one place for five years, an all time, since leaving home after high school, record for me, feeling very untethered when need to feel rooted.

  3. David, I have missed you and this song is a perfect example why. I haven't listened to it yet but the lyrics are RIGHT where I feel myself to be. Or trying to be. And certainly, never, ever thought I would be. Merci. Bisous.

    Joan, welcome and yes, it is scary, isn't it? Feel free to check in often because I really do understand. How many years did I feel like a boat drifting at sea for that very reason--as you say, untethered. I actually had a lithograph of that very image that I finally made myself get rid of! Forgive me if it sounds corny but we are our mooring and we have to remember that.

  4. Judging by the few comments I have seen of yours here and there, you should try seeing what is there, not what you imagine is there. Generally you get things wrong. You don't know much about people.

  5. This is so beautifully and poignantly written Heather, that I find myself with nothing to say to you at the end. And that, as you know, is most out of character! But I just have to go back and absorb your thoughts for the day...will return when I have finished thinking about them. Till then,hugs, Virginia xx

  6. Your writing is magical - so many layers that provoke emotion. Sensitivity can be both a blessing and a curse. I hope we get the opportunity to meet when I am next in France. Warm regards.

  7. Anonymous, those who read my blog regularly know that I don't make any claims on knowing people. From my travels I have garnered two things: that there are inherently good eggs and bad eggs in the world regardless of race, age, status or religion; and that we all have our own version of the truth, one that is far too subjective to be "right" or "wrong". Just do no harm in the process.

    Thanks Virginia for your support--I am moved to find my normally spot-on friend without comment. Bisous.

    And Elizabeth, yes, we will have to make a plan! I would love to meet up.

  8. Hello Heather:
    What a beautifully written and perfectly apposite post for this most ephemeral of seasons. People, we find, are endlessly fascinating and the way in which paths cross, touch, are influenced and so on is a source of constant interest to us as it also appears to be for you.

    And, how right you are that one has to be brave to 'open up' to strangers for it can lead to being hurt in ways that are so difficult to repair. But, oh, what joy in the chance encounter that delivers a quickened heartbeat, an enduring smile or a friend. Well worth the gamble in our view!!!

    Hoping that your week has started well and that many joyful chance encounters will come your way!!! Bisous.

  9. Heather - what a lovely post to come back to. I'm so sorry I've been a stranger. I'm trying to catch up now. So poetic and I was going to use the same word - apposite - as Jane and Lance. I have met so many new people this past year, both here in our virtual world and then in real life. It's amazing how with some, there were already connections not realized. I feel like you, often seeing more than I would like, but perhaps that's preferable to the alternative. When I was in London, I had dinner with an old boyfriend (and his wife). I hadn't seen him in at least 25 years and we picked up (in conversation and compatibility) right where we left off. It's amazing how with some people, they know the solid inside never really changes.

  10. Jane and Lance, you always give me an extra something to think on--or smile about--or both! Yes, as I mentioned on your very fine blog (and will you please, please post soon about your recent home visit?) I am not surprised at all to hear your point of view on this. My life has radically changed due to some very random moments so it is something that I am truly fascinated by. Next up, surprise trip to Budapest!

    Stacey, please don't ever feel the need to say "sorry"--not only is your own blog a never-ending source of inspiration (and I mean that literally)--I just love having you around when you can. What an incredible experience that must have been for you in London. I am so happy for you both that you had that, it is so rare. Why is it that some people are always able to see us so clearly and others, despite no matter how long we have known them, seem to dance around the truth? Bisous.

  11. Back again, as promised. Actually, I have just returned from an early morning "farewell" breakfast service at my daughter's school, for she is in the final year of school and is about to embark upon exams, so I am in a particular mood to ponder your thoughts here.

    You would love and approve of her school, I suspect, as the "service" was in a bush chapel - (which is just a clearing amongst the gum trees, in a paddock of kangaroos) - and the ceremony was entirely a reflection by the students on what friendships are.

    And each of them pretty much echoed what you have written here, would you believe it? Along the lines of... we are who we are largely because we are touched by those whom we meet in life and choose to be our friends. So while it is our choice as to who we befriend, it is their influence and thoughts which rub off and enhance the journey. And yes, sometimes it doesn't go so well, and sometimes there is more pain than pleasure, but it doesn't, and shouldn't, stop us from reaching out again. For otherwise, what is the point of life, if not to grow? Virginia xx

  12. Glamour Drops has a winning comment.I'm a littled worried about you,,,,,,,,,you okay?
    Ignore that comment that left no name!
    You write so beautifully!This post was deep!

  13. Virginia, I am speechless. Just goes to further the point that age and wisdom do not always go hand in hand. Can you imagine what an incredible world this would be if our youth all over the world thought similarly? If we all thought so? What an amazing school--I love that the bush chapel is in the middle of a kangaroo paddock as you knew I would. I received a press release from Qatar Airways today--flights to Australia from Paris from 1100€...very tempting indeed! Thank you so much for taking the time to come back and respond further. Means so much to me. Bisous.

    And my beautiful Contessa, why are you worried? Because of the comment? No, no--it was a bit of a bummer to read that first thing on my blog anniversary but that was all. I need to hear more about what you are cooking these days! I need inspiration!


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