In Search of Beauty

I awakened in Japan this morning to learn of the terrorist outrage in lower Manhattan.  It’s not the news any of us want to see wherever we are.  We live in times that can easily be called disheartening.  I have felt the encroaching darkness  for several months for reasons that don’t require illumination. Anyone with a functioning sensory mechanism has most likely felt a similar reaction to the political turmoil.

I looked forward to my Japanese visit as a way to reassure myself that there is still some semblance of decency and sanity remaining in the world.  One doesn’t need to come to Japan to find it, of course, but for me, it makes it easier.

Appreciation of nature’s  beauty is built into this culture and readily accessible. I am far from alone in my quest for distraction and sustenance.  In the popular gardens, hundreds of tourists armed with phones and cameras clog the pathways, searching for their own moments of inspiration.  Mostly, they seem preoccupied with taking selfies in front of a photogenic backdrop. I determine in the future  to avoid these congregations as much as possible and focus my attention on the less obvious, making a vow to avoid these over popular spots.

Yesterday, we went to Arashiyama, to show our house guest the Western foothills of Kyoto.  We visited Tenryuji, a world heritage site, and then wandered the bamboo forest, encountering some exuberant schoolgirls and many tourists along the way. Continue reading “In Search of Beauty”

The Top of the Mountain

The universe turns a blind eye to the triumphs, losses, and vicissitudes of our individual daily lives.  After a resounding success or a horrific loss, I expect the world I see when my eyes open to somehow be altered.  It never is.  That can be a source of comfort but is also a source of mild bewilderment.  Last night’s brilliant performance brought many of us to the top of the mountain.

Esteban Moreno and NicoleVaughan-Diaz

Today I am savoring the resounding success of our 2017 DANCEworks residency. In my personal world and in the world of the artists who were with us for a month, I can say with certainty that the world is a better place today. It feels brighter, more loving and more optimistic.  I hope the pleasure and wonder the final performances of the residency generated for everyone in the audience will be present for them today too.

Nayhara Zeutrager and Esteban Moreno

I am still seeing images and hearing music.  The magnificence and passion of the dancers can serve as an inspiration to strive mightily in life to understand and utilize the gifts bestowed on each of us.  In this world that is not so user-friendly to the art of dance, these artists have remained dedicated. Their payback is great, if fleeting.  I can only hope it sustains them through the inevitable difficult times in their careers.  We shared a golden month together.  I am in a state of awe for what was achieved in four weeks time. Continue reading “The Top of the Mountain”

Unconscious White Girl

My own awareness of racism in America and within myself awakened very slowly.  I still harbour some shame about that unconsciousness and unconcern that existed within me. Current times bring that personal history all to the fore and require not only national re-examination but personal soul searching as well.

The city I grew up in had a very small population of poor black factory and domestic workers.  As I remember, I never encountered students or teachers of other races all through my public education.  The only black person I knew was a middle-aged woman named Ella Mae who had moved to Mass. from Ga.  She cleaned my parent’s house once a week and cooked legendarily good sweet potatoes for us at Thanksgiving. I never asked her about her life.

My parents referred to blacks as many first generation American Jews did at that time as “schvartzes.” I knew it was a vaguely derogatory term but never questioned it until years later.  It is the only German or Yiddish word for black, but there is no doubt in my mind that what might have begun as a language issue for new immigrants to America, continued long past its expiration date. Continue reading “Unconscious White Girl”

I Must Believe

“In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
― Anne Frank


Yesterday evening we had the privilege of hosting a remarkable person, to promote a book he’d recently published.

Farmer, visionary, photographer, author and educator, Michael Abelman

Michael Ableman was at our home last night as the right man at the right time.  The dozens of people who came to listen and learn cared deeply about what he had to say.  His presence shown like a beacon in what has come to feel like a dark world.


He reawakened in me and I think in others who were in attendance, our faith in the goodness of humanity.  It was a timely gift to us all.

You must not hate those who do wrong or harmful things; but with compassion, you must do what you can to stop them — for they are harming themselves, as well as those who suffer from their actions.” – Dalai Lama

Michael thinks big.  He’s not afraid to make mistakes.  He’s a searcher.  He’s humble.  He’s humorous.  Compassionate.  Clear thinking.  A visionary.  And an inspiration.

“It is very rare or almost impossible that an event can be negative from all points of view.” – Dalai Lama

You could practically feel our living room vibrate with the good will and positive energy we all felt for his journey.  His journey is our journey, no doubt about it.

The takeaway for me from the experience, is that people are basically good, kind and interested in leaving the world a better place.  I’ve been reading The Book Of Joy, which I’d written about in an earlier blog.  Both the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, despite the hardships they have endured, have no doubt that, by nature, we are compassionate and kind. They both believe that by stretching those unused but present muscles, we can reveal the happiness of our true nature.

It’s a timely and appealing message that I am going to do my best to remember and act upon.


Choose to be optimistic, it feels better.” ― Dalai Lama







Today I Wept

I’ve become an observer.  A person who is witnessing what she once believed was unimaginable in her country of birth.  A person whose eyes and ears are open, but whose feet are frozen to the ground.  A person whose ears listen in disbelief to distortions and lies; whose eyes are repelled by the sights she sees of hatred and animosity.

Many female friends and acquaintances are in a flurry of activity.  They’re knitting warm pink hats with pussycat ears.  They’re gathering steam as they gather together.  I am a study of silence.  Their walks are not mine.  I will watch from afar, but I cannot respond to the call right now.

My voice no longer has anything that feels relevant to add to the surrounding cacophony.  Not a shred of activism or urge to activate rises to the surface of my being.  I sit and stare ahead of me, with little motivation to do more than that.  I need quiet.  It’s all I can do right now.

At last, I wept today for our loss of a leader who represents humankind’s better angels.  I wept for the loss of a leader who could always be counted on to remind us of who we really are and what we’re capable of.  I wept for the loss of decency, for the loss of compassion and for the loss of inspiration. I wept for people’s inability to recognise the gift we’d been given.  I wept for our need to walk through the woods without a guide to shine some light on the path ahead.  I wept for our planet, threatened from all sides and now without a vital spokesperson.

We all respond to life in our own ways, in our own time.  Today, it’s just moving through the loss and praying it doesn’t get much darker before some light returns.