Author Archives: Theresa Scott

Life’s Surprises

Don’t you love it when Life delivers a happy surprise?

Last night, there was a street festival in our town. The downtown streets hosted jugglers, bands, all sorts of artists displaying paintings, jewelry, sculptures. Crowds of folks flowed through the streets to see, be seen, hear, be heard, and have fun. Liveliness everywhere.

As you walked the downtown core, you could hear different music on every block. I heard heavy metal, some 60s redux, and folk. But the hit of the evening for me was when this nondescript, khaki-green army truck drove into an empty bank parking lot. Sitting in the back were two guys, one beating the drums and one guy playing an electric guitar.

The vehicle rolled to a stop as the two guys in the back of the truck wailed out some blues. The drummer, in his early 20s, thin, wore sunglasses and kept a good beat.

The guitarist, I’d say in his 30s, soul patch on his chin, black t-shirt, blue jeans and a leather belt (the belt figures later in the story) sat on a box and played lead guitar, singing some blues classics, like John Lee Hooker tunes. You could tell he knew what to do with guitar strings.

He played a medley of other blues classics, and his work set the air humming. A crowd slowly gathered, lured by the sounds.

The driver of the vehicle remained in the cab. A black guy in his 30s, he too wore dark sunglasses, and sat slumped in the driver’s seat, window rolled down, and stared at the side mirror, presumably to see the small band’s affect on the growing audience behind the truck.

The audience liked what they were hearing. More folks wandered over.

Finally, the driver threw open the door and climbed over the back of the truck to the box. The drummer kid got up and moved out of the way to let the driver sit down. He plunked himself down in front of the drum set and began hammering out a syncopated accompaniment to the guitarist, who by now was just getting warmed up.

The guitarist played the blues in earnest now. He owned the stage; the guitar sang. The drummer kept a steady beat rolling forth; all while looking cool, dark sunglasses, no smiling, khaki-green jacket.

These guys were concentrating.

My feet wouldn’t move. I had no choice but to stay. Delighted, I listened to several of my favorite blues songs as the scruffiest band at the festival wailed out the best music.

Some listeners in the crowd clapped along. The singer/guitar player began lifting the guitar to his face and singing into it, his voice took on a kind of warbling sound. Next, he put the guitar behind his head and continued to pick out great notes.

He went back to regular playing. Then he jumped up on the roof of the cab, guitar still in hand, playing the whole time. From there, he sang some more warbly music.

Then he jumped back down into the box of the truck. This time, he pulled out a knife. Not a pocket knife or a Swiss Army knife. No. It was a long-bladed knife with a black handle. He used it to slide along the neck of the guitar and play even more awesome notes. When he was done, he put the knife back in his jeans pocket… he played the guitar the whole dang time.

They rendered more blues numbers for the enthralled audience. The guitarist began asking audience members for a lighter. I didn’t want to know why, but I stayed to find out. Yes, I did.

Getting a lighter from someone in the crowd, the guitarist, guitar still in hand, hopped back up on the top of the cab. He took out a yellow plastic bottle and poured fluid on the guitar.

I couldn’t look away. I watched as he lit his guitar on fire. Then he pulled off his belt and lashed the fire out.

He asked for a cell phone, again from the crowd, so he could take a picture of the gathered folks.

A cell phone came his way immediately, and he ended the show by taking pictures of the large crowd. Everyone was holding up their hands at him and the drummer. Folks were signaling the universal ‘Love you’ hand signal, (thumb, forefinger and little finger open, third and fourth finger closed).

I loved every moment.

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We Love Bees

I love to watch bees. Springtime and early summer is when I find the plump yellow-and-black honeybees buzzing around my backyard, doing their best to pollinate every fruit and vegetable flower in sight.

 

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, bees help* pollinate 71% of the 100 crops that provide most of the world’s food supply. Bees are busy pollinating fruits, avocados, almonds and other nuts, and we humans can eat 4000 different vegetable crops, thanks to bees. They also pollinate a variety of flowers, which add fragrance and color to our homes.

 

Bees have been in the news for the past decade for ‘colony collapse’, where the entire hive dies off. The cause is thought to be mites. A second concern was reported recently in the New York Times [“Mystery Malady Kills More Bees, Heightening Worry on Farms”, NYT on March 28, 2013].

The article reports that during the past year, die-offs of honeybees escalated; the cause is thought to be nicotine-based pesticides.

 

We know that bees add immeasurably to the variety of foods we can eat and the flowers we can look at and smell. It would be great for bees if gardeners stopped using nicotine-based pesticides in their gardens. It would be even more helpful if agribusinesses did the same in the fields.

 

I for one want to see the bees kept happy and pollinating for years to come so I can enjoy the various fruits of their labor.

 

Bet you do, too!

 

*In 2000, the value of crops pollinated by bees was estimated at $14.6 billion in the USA alone, according to the UN.

 

 

The Wise Woman

by Theresa Scott

“…It’s not somebody who’s seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah…”

~Lyrics from Leonard Cohen’s song, “Hallelujah”

So I go to visit the wise woman. She’s someone I visit every month or so; sometimes I don’t see her for six months, and then I feel the need to chat with her, so I show up on her doorstep. The wise woman is a bit of a mystic. She writes poetry, she meditates, she lives a quiet life. Does gardening, pats her cat, that sort of thing.

She’s not someone you’d particularly notice when you are shopping in the grocery store. You’d walk right past her to the oranges. When she’s driving down the road, you’d probably feel impatient driving behind her because she’s kind of slow moving when behind the wheel. You guessed it about her car, too: best way to describe it is ‘nondescript.’

You can’t sell her a lot of anything, because she has everything she needs, and more. When she enters a room, she moves a bit slowly, a bit elegantly, and she’s probably wearing something okay, but not necessarily really fashionable, or anything that stands out and screams, “Hey, look at me! I’m a fascinating celebrity who knows a lot and can help you straighten out your life. Just ask me!” Nope, definitely not someone like that.

So, fortunately for me, this wise woman is in my life. I’ve had wise women in my life for about, oh, thirty years. Different wise women at different times. I watch them listen to me; I listen to them. Sometimes I ask them dumb questions like the question I asked the Wise Woman of the West about ten years ago. I asked her: how do you learn patience?

So I visit with the wise woman, and then I go home and I think. I think about my life, and the amazingness of being alive; of being alive at this time in the planet’s history; of being on this beautiful blue and green planet with the water and the air and the people and the love. Of what an immense value this is to me. And I think about the value of other people’s lives. To them. To the people who love them. I think about the quietness of her life, the wholeness of it; the unknowing parts too, because she readily admits when she doesn’t know something I’ve asked her.

I like having someone in my life to help me focus on what is important. Someone who isn’t about advertising, or making money, or promotion, or what to do, or living at a fast pace, or a faster pace than the next person, or out to attain excellence and perfection: all the things our society throws at us, telling us what we need, what we should do, how we should think. And we take it in–unthinking and unreflecting. At least I do. For awhile. Then I pull it out and look at it and, usually, I discard it. But I don’t discard what I hear from the wise woman. Her words I absorb slowly and take them in and think about them.

So after I’ve talked with her and I’ve thought about what she’s said, or hasn’t said, then I call someone who was once my life, and whom I haven’t spoken to for a long time, and I gain some understanding, and yes, some forgiveness. And when I am waiting to buy my bag of oranges at the grocery store, I stand in the longest line, so I can learn patience.

To Water

Well, we’ve just got done with Robbie Burns Day, a celebration of the famous Scottish poet’s birthday. While some of you readers are recovering from excessive haggis intake, I’d like to remind you of two of the many poems he wrote: To a Mouse and To a Louse.

Robbie Burns’ poems begin very down to earth and then leap up into the heights of reflection. Since a poet of his stature found it seemly to write lofty poems about humble topics, I thought I would try writing a poem as well. Mine is free verse and nothing rhymes and no one can stop me now.

In deciding what topic or thing or element to honor with a poem, I looked around to see what was common to all our lives, what I (and maybe most of us) overlook, and yet, if I (we) reflected on it for a moment, would say: ‘Oh, what a good thing for all the world that this excellent thing exists. Now I appreciate it more than ever.’ Which I’ll bet Robbie’s 18th Century audience never said about the mouse or the louse. Anyway, here it is:

To Water

Ah, what clear and cool liquid you are as you pour from the tap

Millions of beings on our beautiful planet long to hold out their hands to you, scoop you up, nestle you in the palms of their cupped hands and kiss you

You who are sacred

You who are everywhere—so everywhere that people forget who you are and think you will always be there, fresh and clean and pure

How beautiful you are to swim through, your touch gentle on my skin as you let me pass by

O Water… thank you for your healing presence and your clear and simple essence

Without you, we would be nothing.

* * * * * *

Note: if you would like to join me in supporting successful efforts for more people to have access to clean water, take a look at Matt Damon’s interview on water (CNBC) in October 2012. He is a co-founder of Water.org

Theresa Scott is a writer who lives in the Pacific Northwest where a lot of water pours from the sky. You can read more of her writing at http://www.theresascott.com

Transformation

Heavy thought alert!

If you seem to be enjoying a light-hearted and happy day, run away from this page. Run like the wind and never look back.

For those of you who are still here: let us slog together through the swamps of dawning self-awareness.

Transformers are those cute little toys that kids played with in the early 2000s, right?  Uh oh. Wrong word. I meant ‘transformation.’ You know, that thing you do while you’re whiling away your time on the planet, eating and drinking and driving and working and generally trying to survive against all odds.

Only now you’ve begun to realize you came to this planet and that you have an expiration date. And that it is getting closer. What to do? What to do?

Well, there’s always alcohol and drugs…

But, hey, if you don’t want to take that route, why not try a little conscious change? That’s the fine skill of taking what upsets you and figuring out why and then figuring out a way to make things better in your life. Some of the things that I find transformative and you may too are: TED talks, positive talk, music, writing, sitting beside trees, and loving something or someone.

For those of you who are wondering what Life is really all about, here’s the shorthand version. Read this and save yourself a lot of time and pain.

It’s all about transformation, okay? Here’s what happens: you are born onto the planet, (even though you didn’t ask to be born), you get messed up (by your family—even   though they profess to love you, or by society—who does not profess to love you), you spend years straightening yourself out (either college or therapy, but not both, unless you’re a psychology major) and then once you’ve figured out what was really wrong with you (take your pick: dysfunctional family, rotten luck, no silver spoon) you get the chance to consciously evolve and make some choices. Best thing to do now is find like-minded people and do what they do (Est, meditation, prayer, voodoo, breathe), hang out where they hang out (Los Angeles, casinos, monasteries, movie theaters), and give it a try (for more than one month).

If that doesn’t work, there is always travel. Find someplace to land. Try Ireland, Iceland, or New Zealand.

Theresa Scott is a Pacific Northwest writer who is full of sage advice–sometimes. For more of her writing, please visit her website at http://www.theresascott.com

Friendship

Let’s talk about friends.

No, not that way, although I have to admit I do catch myself talking about friends in a way best described as ‘about.’

I’m talking about a working definition of ‘friend,’ as in ‘this friendship works for me.’ As in, “I love and care about and want happiness for this person whom I consider my ‘friend.’” That’s the highest standard for friendship that I can think of to apply to that relationship. From there, it is all downhill.

In many ways, I’ve won Life’s lottery prize when it comes to friends. I have wonderful and good and wise friends, people who I want to spend time with and who want to spend time with me.

Through the years, I’ve had all types of friends. And yet I admit, I am still baffled and buffaloed by ‘friends.’ You’d think by now (middle-age), that I’d have it together. That I’d see a betrayal-type friend coming from a mile away and take quick, evasive action. Or that I’d see a person who would be kind and generous throughout our time together and I’d quickly open the door and let them into my heart. However: no. Wrong. Wrong on both counts.

I’ve experienced the relationship called ‘friend’ with friends who were loyal;  friends who were honest; friends who dropped me like a stone; friends who betrayed me; friends of friends; and friends who gave me gifts beyond what I had ever expected someone would ever give me.

And that’s just in person. That’s not counting the new dimension of ‘friend’ we get to experience (enjoy?) on the web. Because of the internet, we get to explore a whole new dimension of relationship with the precious and significant ‘others’ that populate the rest of the planet.

We call the folks ‘friends’ who are connected to us on Facebook or in other social media. The downside of the internet friend, just as in real life, is that they may decide to ‘unfriend’ us. The unfriending can ignite pain and sorrow and anger just as easily as the breakup of a friendship in real time and real life. Or not.

So now we get to experience Lessons in Friendship in the Internet age. But at least we are not alone. We get to practice and learn and grow with a whole bunch of other human beings.

I’ve decided, through it all, that friends are indeed worth every effort I make. Their presence improves my life and I am much happier—both in the getting and in the giving. And, I have a secret ‘default friend’ mode: I can always retreat to my couch with my dog and a good book.

So, perhaps, my internet friend, you are wondering why I spend so much time pondering friends and friendship. I can tell you why. It is because if we cannot steer our way through friendships successfully, how can we ever hope to achieve world peace on the planet?

Theresa Scott is a Pacific Northwest author who is grateful she doesn’t always have to eat her lunch all by herself. For more of her writing, please visit her website at http://www.theresascott.com

Gallery

Painting the Backyard Fence

I had one goal this summer: to paint the backyard fence. My motive was practical. I would practice ‘asset management’–fixing up what I already owned so as to extend the life of the asset and not spend a lot of … Continue reading