Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Pearls Before Wine

Say You Want a Resolution?
Several years ago, after decades of New Year’s resolution trial and error, I finally discovered one five-word commitment that I could keep. It worked so well I continue to use the same one every year: Don’t make New Year’s resolutions.

Now that I’ve shared this particular gem with you, I must admit that it does not mean that I no longer make resolutions about the regular stuff like weight, exercise, diet, or money. I do. In fact, just yesterday alone I made a dozen or so resolutions, knowing full well that I would probably only keep them for a short time, if at all; however, I did not feel even a twinge of guilt or remorse about it. Besides, I can make some more today.

Maybe this is why the renowned life coach Martha Beck, quoted in a New York Times profile, said, “The way you do anything is the way you do everything.”

So true, at least, one presumes, until one is coached by Beck. Anyone have her number?

A Pearl and a Moral
That said, loyal readers expect some pearls of wisdom at this time of year, and who am I to disappoint. Herewith, a story.

My beloved, affectionately known here as the DG*, ordered some new kitchen stools to accommodate visiting family for Christmas. One of the boxes failed to contain the requisite number of screws for assemblage, so off to the hardware store she, I,  and our designated assembler son Ted walked.

While we were in the screw aisle comparing the size of the required screw to the thousands available, the DG discovered that she lost a pearl from an earring; a search in the aisle and outside the store ensued without success.

Having purchased a box of a hundred screws of approximately the right size in order to have the required two, we headed home, continuing our search for the wayward pearl. Along the way, I surmised that a pearl falling from ear-height could very well bounce quite far off our beaten path, so I focused attention beyond the sidewalk into the grass and street. White pebbles and street salt from a recent snowfall made the search even more challenging.

Despite the impediments, near a driveway exit from a bank I spotted the pearl lying on the gray pavement: joy and amazement as I proudly handed it to the DG – who looked at it for two seconds, then quickly tossed it away!

Wrong pearl. It was a bead from an unknown’s necklace.

Moral: sometimes life gives you the wrong pearl.

Angels on High – Ways
While I do not believe in year-end resolutions, I do believe in prayer and miracles, and so I also believe in guardian angels, who form a kind of heavenly UPS (fast) or USPS (real slow) for miracles. Watching Clarence do his thing in “It’s a Wonderful Life” again reminded me of that. Yes, I cried.

I’m one of the lucky ones to have actually seen my guardian angel, or one of them at least. It was in 1976 in California on the 101, and I was headed north near Santa Maria on my way to San Francisco. He was driving a beat-up Chevy Malibu, fittingly identical to the one I was driving. He pulled right up next to me in the right hand lane and gave me a little nod and a wave.

The next day, Saturday, I got a job offer, started Monday, then found a place to live on Tuesday.

Talk about wings; that was one fast angel!

While We Wait for Miracles
Occasionally, a despairing parent of a student nearing college graduation will ask me for advice about how to find a job, usually a roundabout way of asking if the newspaper is hiring. My advice always gets the same initial parental reaction – bewilderment. I simply advise them to tell their daughter/son,  “Make something.”

There’s much more to this, of course, but I try not to elaborate. That is what angels are for. But, for those who need a little coaxing, here are a few recently discovered words that might help:

On the whole I think poems don’t crawl out of dreams. They are knocked out of rocks.” – from “A Long Way from Verona” by Jane Gardam

“Art is doing. Art deals directly with life.” – Ruth Asawa, sculpter

We are not all artists per se, but we can all make things and learn to make them better.

Come to think of it, that’s not a bad resolution after all.

Happy New Year.

* Darling Girl