Dave and Cathy's Family Blog

August 31, 2018

A Magical Trip to Portugal and Spain

Filed under: 2018 Portugal & Spain — dave9169 @ 6:16 pm

The Plan

All trips begin with an idea or catalyst of some sort. For me, it is my old high school friend Derek. I have not seen him in years — 9 to be exact. The last time I saw him was in Sweden where he was trying to adjust to the life of an expat living abroad with his family. This time, Derek is alone in Spain, a country I visited twice in my twenties. He is there to do his penance, as he likes to call it, living the life of an artist, painting, sculpting, and going through his own personal process of recovering and reclaiming his identity. There is more to it than this, but that is his story to tell.     

August 20, 2018

How to Listen

Filed under: Poems — dave9169 @ 5:57 pm

Listening is not just absorbing,
but if you don’t know better
start there.
Let your narrator do
most of the talking.
Listen like your life
depends on it,
because sometimes
and perhaps all the time
it does.
If there are elements
you’re not getting, look for small
gaps in which to ask questions.

Don’t be afraid to dig a little,
not because you’re nosy
(although that’s perfectly okay),
but because right now
this story has been entrusted to you
to understand.

If you are doing it right,
your brow will scrunch a little,
your eyes will get bigger or narrow,
your mouth will open or close,
your lips will purse or smile,
you might even laugh.
This is your body’s way
to show you are
following the narrative
as intently as you
would trace your
baby’s first steps.

Don’t try to change the subject
if it gets heavy.
If anything, concentrate even more,
because now your life
really does depend on it.
This is how you connect,
how you nurture, maintain
and help the troubled souls
of the world lighten the
darkness they feel inside.

It won’t always be easy,
you won’t always have
the right words to say,
but if you listen right,
the empathy will
show in your face
and provide a safe
path for the story
to find its way.

As you get better at this,
you will get better
at recalling details
and see themes emerge.
Keep at it and the arc
of a life begins to form.

When you remember details
and make connections
you can provide observations
but don’t be heavy handed.
Be kind with your questions.
Seek to understand,
not show what you know.
Don’t judge, and don’t assume
there is something wrong
with her because she
can’t see something that
is so plainly evident to you.

She lives her life deeply.
Shares her life purposefully.
She doesn’t always have time
to step back from her situation
to see things from a different angle.

That is what you are there for,
you alone have been trusted
with her story, a privileged
glimpse into her soul.
Treat that gift as kindly
as you would treat
an ancient thousand year-old
manuscript whose pages are frayed
and easily torn.

This listening stuff is
not surgery, but it does
require a similar degree
of delicacy if you seek
intimacy and depth
in your relationships.

And remember, you
won’t be able to help everyone,
but at the very least you’ll
provide a resting place
for a story that has waited
all this time to find
the right listener.


August 15, 2018

Crabs of León

Filed under: Poems — dave9169 @ 6:02 pm

Every summer evening,
starting around five,
these slow moving creatures
leave the dull comfort
of their city apartments
and make their way
to the park which
is shaded by the
broad leaves of
welcoming trees.

From a distance,
it looks like a mass
migration of
Christmas crabs
coming out of the forest
en masse to reach
the regenerative
powers of the sea.

In thick soled shoes,
flowered dresses,
and buttoned up shirts
they crawl through
this verdant space with
a noble lentitude that’s both
beautiful and hypnotic.

You can get so lost
watching them saunter by
in their gentle
hand in hand stroll
that before you realize it
all the park benches are
full — the murmuring of voices
in complete harmony
with the shimmering leaves
of the trees.

Wander to the bluff
and you’ll hear the loud clink
of metal as the more active
of their kind engage in the
ancient game of bocce ball
that leads to the same type
of oohs and aahs you might
experience at a game of
little league baseball.

On Tuesday and Thursday
nights you will see a gaggle
of them in front of a stage
dancing together in a
circle or in pairs
swaying to the rhythm
of a classic cha cha or salsa.
Even those who can’t dance
tap the beat with their canes
or watch as they
savor their gelatos.

What is this magic
that transforms these
visibly worn bodies
into children
three hours before dusk?
I don’t know.
All I know, is that for
a moment in time,
each day,
the precious crabs of
León, Spain
take over this space,
fill it with their grace
and make it their own,
and to me,
it’s the best show on earth.

August 12, 2018

Reflections on a Train

Filed under: Poems — dave9169 @ 6:07 pm

With my destination almost in sight
I catch the big wide eyes
of a baby girl
fixated on mine.

A man at the midpoint of my life,
back on a train,
right hand above my head
gripping the metal handle,
the wooshing sound in my head
as I travel back in time to a
similar moment so many years ago
when my own daughter stared at me
with that same newborn intensity.

I think of how she turned that focus
into a purpose, a career,
and a beautiful life
she now has in a country
so far from where she was born.

The baby girl is also soaking
in the sights of her world.
I exchange a smile with her young mom.
“Que ojos mas grandes,” I say to her.
Yes, she doesn’t even blink,
like she doesn’t want to miss a thing,
her mom acknowledges.
I nod my head.

Keep that curious spirit
I want to say to her.
Stay connected to the world
around you and notice the little things,
like the smell of these olive trees planted
firmly in mesmerizing rows,
on these undulating hills
we are now passing through,
on a train in Spain,
bound toward the new place
my daughter calls home.

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