Monday, May 5, 2014

Sticks and stones



While I was walking through the forest above L'Isle sur la Sorgue, I couldn't stop seeing lines. There were forms in the trees and the underbrush and they seemed to be pointing me in several directions all at once. I was thinking about friendship.


I have written before that it can be lonely at times living overseas - "can" being the operative word here  and "challenging" being a far more satisfying word then maudlin "lonely." But there are moments,  increasingly with age, where I just want to be understood. A line drawn with a strong hand that doesn't need to be interpreted.


Now don't get me wrong. I knew what, or who, to be more precise, I was signing up for when I came on board for this adventure and it has been a marvelous one. Plus, I am giddy to announce that I will be heading back to the States at the end of the month for a long-overdue visit. My Mom has promised me that I will be "spoiled" and by that she is not referring to goods, although there will be that too. She understands.


Our virtual world can be so incredibly giving, glowing in generosity. So many voices that reach out tendril like towards mine and mine back to them. Sinewy yet delicate. I am quite honored to have been chosen by my friend Jeanne at Collage of Life to participate in a writerly blog tour for example, more of that next Monday. The world is our oyster and a love for similar beauties are often the uniting cord.



But I have learned that there are no commitments in virtual friendships either. People disappear, connections end. At times, even the most hardy of us need a mirror to reflect back our image but if that mirror is virtual, what do we do?


 It must be then that the lines that I cross are one's that I draw in the dirt myself, my own boundaries that move about with the fluidity of the light darting through the trees. Just as the sticks and stones of our daily life are ours to drop and snap in two. Especially those that we use against ourselves.




I feel imminently grateful to be a part of a world-wide community. I look in amazement at the Visitor Tracker on the sidebar and see "South Africa" "Tokyo" and "Ohio" flip up one after the next. But as I followed those lines in the forest...and kept coming up against the same patterns...



returning to the exact same forms unconsciously...



I followed the path back to me. 


It may seem so obvious but how often I forget the importance of being strong in a community of one.



39 comments:

  1. Hello Heather:

    So much of what you write here, accompanied by these wonderful, carefully chosen images which we know to come from your collection, resonates with us and we find ourselves identifying with both the 'lonely' and the more positive 'challenging' of the words which you use. And, like you, we do not complain and, like you, we know what we have signed up for. But........

    The blogosphere provides much in the way of friendship, some of which translates into the reality of the world we all actually inhabit. We are so blessed in this respect. Yet, of course, at the end of the day each one of us must look to himself or herself to know in which direction to travel, to find the strength to continue when and where the path is uneven and, finally, to obtain that inner peace which surely we all seek.

    Your proposed visit to the United States will, we are sure, give you much joy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you my dear friends for your empathy and kindness. Yes, I am sure that a visit to my "home country" and to see the rest of my family will do me a world of good. I am very close to my Mom and my Sister (I think that you know that my Dad passed away several years ago) and so absolutely need to see them - and they feel the same way about me. I am so grateful to be so loved and to be appreciated by such truly exceptional people as yourselves.

      Delete
  2. Wonderful post, Thank you
    Happy trip to the States!
    The way you describe living overseas, can also in a way describe what it feels like to be mentally ill, that wanting to be understood. Its not easy to learn the language of tread carefully lest people think the worse.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I absolutely understand that. Sending Gratitude to you for your honesty and perspective.

      Delete
  3. Hello Heather

    I have tremendous respect and admiration for those who chose to live in a country where the language differs from their native language. At times this must present a challenge especially on days where we feel our way rather than express ourselves. Gaelic was my first language and I expect Mike (Canadian) to understand me when I speak backwards.

    I am delighted to hear you are returning to the USA for a visit and I have no doubt you will be spoiled by your loving mother.

    I am happy to have found you though blogging. I am going to hop over (virtually) to visit Jeanne shortly. I would dearly love to meet her in person.

    Have a great week

    Helen xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that a meeting between the three of us would go on long into the night! I too would love to - and hope to - meet Jeanne. She is such a lovely, generous spirit -just like yourself, Helen.

      PS. To have Gaelic as one's first language is just beyond romantic to me...

      Delete
  4. I am so happy to hear you are going back to the States, Heather... to re-unite with your family... there is nothing more warming and joyful... but know that your friends here... we will all be waiting patiently for your return... :) xv

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sometimes one can get lonely even when surrounded by friends. Very often, what we crave most is understanding. Hugs. Enjoy your trip to the US.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Loree. I think especially with personalities like ours - that have a deep love for the past as well as the present - it can be hard to find the right fit today...Hug right back to you, lovely one!

      Delete
  6. Ooo - loved looking at all of these beautiful lines (and colors and shapes), and love the idea of being strong in a community of one! Congratulations on your writerly blog tour!! And, hey everybody, her loving sister is going to spoil her, too!!!!! : )

    ReplyDelete
  7. The last weeks I became aware of a thought returning to my mind: For how long will she go on writing this Blog? Hopefully for a quite a while...
    That is how dear the time of contemplation I find here has become to me. Again in todays post. Your dialogue matches so well la Nature Morte.
    You do offer commitment here. And where would humankind be without commitment? Frankly said " virtual friendship" is a strange expression, something hard to envision.
    How much more can I envision that image of the mirror, you draw that reflects back our image. I am really glad for you that this time has come for you. Wish you ALL the best for the journey and a wonderful time with your family and friends!
    And am looking forward for your return (:

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am still here Silke! I won't be going until the end of the month. My announcing it early just goes to show how excited I am...

      As always, un grand merci for your response here. You know, I don't know the answer to your question and it is something that I have been thinking about a lot lately. I have decided to give myself permission to slow down and not publish as much. It is becoming too much like work and I am enjoying the process less, which defeats the point...Add to it that I am having technical problems and there are definitely moments when I want to throw in the towel! But not yet...

      Delete
  8. You have such a fine eye for taking a photograph.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Sir. And you have a mighty fine turn of a phrase...

      Delete
  9. You tie your photos and writing together beautifully. As someone who lived overseas for more than 2 decades, I empathize with you just wanting to be understood. Oddly, though, I think that if you did move back permanently, you'd find that the life you've lived elsewhere has changed you into a different person. We are all on a journey through life and our experiences and settings settle into our souls and transform us into unique individuals.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is so beautifully put, Lorrie. Thank you. And yes, even when I go home to the States, there is a part of me that doesn't quite fit in there anymore either!

      Delete
  10. I recall your last visit and am happy to hear you're headed back again. It's important. My last visit was over a year ago...I am badly overdue, too, but, alas, no visit in sight just yet. Can't wait to hear of your adventures there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My family in the States pitched in to help bring me over, otherwise I wouldn't be going back either. I hope that is in the cards for you soon. It does a person good!

      Delete
  11. Your photos are exquisite, tender, poignant. I love them. And I would say wherever we are we need to know how to be a community of one. That's often hard and draining so it's lovely when we get a visit home and can refuel. So excited for you that you will be seeing your family soonish.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know for me, we moved around so often that it was just our little unit that meant so much to me as I was often "the new girl" so I have never had such a long-standing friendship such as yours with your friend that just came to visit. I can see how that refuelled you as well. It is interesting that we all have our sources...and thank you so very much for the wonderful compliment about my photos. That just made my day!

      Delete
  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Beautiful words, beautiful images. I love this: "A line drawn with a strong hand that doesn't need to be interpreted." To be understood without elaboration is a gift we often take for granted, in relationships as well as language and culture.

    I'm so glad you're getting a trip home soon. Enjoy every moment.

    xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heather, this is such a beautiful, bittersweet post. I'm so glad that you realized how strong you stand as a community of one, but also emphasize with your feelings of loneliness. I am blessed with an amazing gaggle of girlfriends and am soooo lucky to have them in my life. But I'm the only one without children. Sometimes I have to work a little harder... they all seem to have this instant social lubricant through their little ones, I do feel a bit left out sometimes. But. When it comes down to it, we are all communities of one. We are all on our own paths and, like I find myself saying all the time, better to celebrate the wonderful life we have then to waste time regretting what wasn't in the cards. But I hear your heart and understand, if just a little bit.

      Looks like I missed some gorgeous posts while I was away - loved your line about the unripe fig in the previous one and was so tickled with your photos of the mosaics. Hope you have sorted your email problems - guess what? My mail chimp email didn't go out last night as far as I can tell. Boo. Anyway, here's to the challenges that make us better people, right? XOXO

      Delete
    2. DA - I know that you know how much I need this! And thank you for the reminder about the correlation to relationships as well...too true.

      And Jeanne, there was a teeny part of me that was a bit jealous of your getaway last weekend - as embarrassed as I am to admit, it is true. How wonderful - especially because I saw in Heidi how much your girlfriends love and appreciate you. But yes, it definitely is...more work...for those of us that aren't Mothers to find our way with our friends. Here it is a huge challenge for me as I don't just slip in to anyone's schedule or cross their path. Not to mention that it is pretty unusual for a woman of my age not to have had kids in France. So I understand that too. And applaud you for your - always wise for a girl who likes her Manolos - perspective.

      And I got an email from you this morning! Ahhhh, please don't tell me that it didn't work because I am in the midst of moving over. It is going to take awhile because my backup list is on Word not Excel - so by the time I imported the addresses...well, I am still going to have to manually add over 200! :o
      Heeeeelp.
      xo

      Delete
  14. We are probably more committed than you know Heather - I look out for your blog - but what I realise is that in the rush of modern hours we sometimes take and don't give back - and this is quite poignant - we are reading and not commenting, but rest assured you have a special place in our hearts and your words and pictures lighten the day - all the time!! They inspire and create new energy for me and I can only say thanks for this - travel safe and feel the warmth - we would be a lot poorer without your wonderful energy coming down the net!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Such a beautiful, beautiful response. Thank you so much, Wyn.

      Delete
  15. I've been reading, "On My Own: The Art of Being a Woman Alone" by Florence Falk -- not because I am alone or even want to be alone but, because exactly as you say, I also want to be my own strong "community of one." Friendship is indeed like those sticks, sometimes aligned, sometimes intersecting, sometimes smothering, and sometimes very, very separate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you like the book Judith?

      One of the things that I have been struggling with lately is my sudden need for company. I have always been an outsider and was alone throughout my early adult years so it is surprising to me. Still trying to figure it out. And your last sentence just left me nodding my head, without a word to say!

      Delete
    2. I have to look through it some more. There were a few things that I recognized in myself -- but mostly its about women who are afraid or even ashamed about being alone. I don't think you fall into either of those categories. On the other hand she talks about really enjoying and savoring that alone time -- we need it to be creative.

      Delete
  16. One of my favorite lines in a television series is the last line of Sex in the City. Did you ever watch that show? The main character says, in the end, the most important relationship is the one we have with ourselves. It was impactful.

    This was a beautiful, well-written post, Heather. I wish the absolute best to you during your overdue visit to the States, girl.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Coming from you that is a Big Whopper with Cheese of a compliment. :) And I cried like a baby at that last phrase. It is so true and still rings true. But it is a work in progres...

      Delete
  17. We all need to fill our tanks from time to time. I am happy for you that you can...Have a wonderful time and come back to us refreshed. Beautiful post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Janey! But I need to edit my post to add that I will be around for three more weeks! Sloppy Joe editing on my part...oops... ;)

      Delete
  18. Wonderful. Your beautiful photos and narrative show the dendritic synapses of humanity, the strength of the “community of one” and remind me of Indra’s net.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Heather you are one of the strongest women I know (virtually!) I realize I am one of those friends who has been remiss and I am sorry for that. Sometimes It does get to be a bit much though and we need a breather from it all.

    I can tell you this...your photography blows me away. It is so layered, with positive and negative space used brilliantly. This body of work should be submitted for an exhibit, definitely...

    xoxo
    Karena
    Soiree by Danielle Rollins Giveaway!

    ReplyDelete
  20. How exciting that you are able to return to the States to see you mother and sister. Family is so hugely, hugely a part of how and who we are…and it is so necessary, from time to time, to reconnect to see that again through freshened eyes.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I know what that loneliness feels like. I'm so happy you get to go 'home' to your mother's house :) xx

    ReplyDelete

Your responses are what makes this blog so special to me. I love hearing from you. Thank you for visiting!

*Anonymous comments are no longer accepted and those left on posts two days after publication or more will be published after moderation. So not to worry, they will arrive and again, I appreciate them all so very much...Merci!*

If you prefer, feel free to email me directly at robinsonheather (at) yahoo.com...