Did you ever have a magical day – one that stands out amongst the countless miracles that abound, most often unnoticed and unappreciated, in the midst of daily life?
Today offered one of those rare and precious times for me, bringing up basic life questions important to us all – about the quality of life and very purpose for surviving.
So I’ll share with you what happened and why, in the seemingly endless blur of discouragements and doubts, it shone like a confirming ray of hope, strengthening my resolve to complete the book now listed on CreateSpace as The Phoenix Response.
Today’s story begins, once again, by connecting the dots between two seemingly ordinary events leading to an extraordinary outcome.
The Longevity Book by Cameron Diaz sparked the first. My eyes halted over it while scanning the bestseller bookshelf at Walmart. The hunch flashed that it had an important message for me. I should look into it.
The second was triggered by the first. I thought back to my grandmother, Ellie West, who gave up a promising singing career to marry my grandfather, Hubble.
Late in her life, Ellie told me about the day he proposed. During a walk in the local park, he stopped in front an enormous sun dial set in granite and pointed to the attached plaque. Engraved onto the metal were the words of poet Robert Browning. “Grow old along with me. The best is yet to be.”
It won her heart.
As she described the event, now white-haired and ill, she shook her head. If not cynical, she seemed at best remorseful. For her, life hadn’t turned out the way the poet promised.
Until today, however, I hadn’t thought carefully about her disappointment. Although I remembered the first two lines of the poem, I’d forgotten the name of the poet and never knew the context of those lines, much less the name of the poem from which they came.
Nor had I wondered what she hoped living to old age would be like, or how and why her expectations were left unfulfilled.
Thinking further on these things now brought magical gifts that answered doubts as to my own future directions.
With a little effort, I recovered the poet’s name, the context of the lines and the poem’s name.
The first stanza of Robert Browning’s poem begins:
Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith “A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!”
I also searched out a link to the complete poem in which the stanza appears, Rabbi Ben Ezra
This, of course, led to further questions, as well as an Aha! Who was Rabbi Ben Ezra? When did he live? How are his personal story and life work relevant to us now? More specifically, how does his history and Browning’s poem matter to my immediate question – whether or not to complete The Phoenix Response?
Long story short, the good Rabbi – born and died in in northern Spain, 1089-1167 – distinguished himself as a poet, philosopher and astrologer. Between earliest and end years, persecuted for his beliefs, his restless wanderings took him through North Africa, Israel, Italy, England and France.
His ideas outlasted him to influence Browning. Remarkably, the longer poem is interspersed with phrases that could as easily have been drawn from my own writing: I see the whole design, Perfect I call Thy plan.
There is a hint of the phoenix legend: Leave the fire ashes, what survives is gold.
And a foreshadowing of Christ’s enduring presence throughout human history:
Earth changes, but thy soul and God stand sure:
What entered into thee,
That was, is, and shall be:
Time’s wheel runs back or stops: Potter and clay endure.
Not only are there references to a divine Potter and “earth’s wheel” but actually, in conclusion, the WHEEL of LIFE itself. He names the very image (Platonic Idea, meme, archetype – call it what you will) that serves as the substantive foundation of the Positive Action response.
The poem concludes:
My times be in Thy hand!
Perfect the cup as planned!
Let age approve of youth, and death complete the same!
At first reading, I cannot begin to fully understand this poem, much less the philosophical works which inspired it. The writing is complex and terse — more than a little bit difficult. But this much seems clear. There is a succession of ideas being handed down through the generations. Each writer starts up where the last left off, competes the next piece, and hands the work forward for another generation to pick up and continue.
I was comforted to think that my work is interwoven within a larger pattern, connected in the world of ideas with forerunners. Surely I am linked with a larger whole and charged with contributing to the evolution of an ongoing heritage.
On a personal level, Grandma Ellie handed down her unfinished aspiration for me to take the next step. John Philip Sousa auditioned and invited her to travel as a soprano soloist with his band during their European tour. Because she decided to marry instead, she saw in my life the completion of her early aspirations. She was delighted when she heard that I was studying and performing as a violinist in Europe.
And just as Grandma Ellie left me unfinished work to complete, so my writing on holism and the Life Wheel may fulfill fellow violinist Albert Einstein’s heartfelt desire. He intuited the existence of a Unified Theory. Ironically, he’d already received it, but lacked the yogic training to recognize it for what it is:
Returning, however, back to the first strand — the book that sparked this line of thought. Diaz’s best-seller promises to address a holistic life view. Its description claims: “The Longevity Book offers an all-encompassing, holistic look at how the female body ages —and what we can all do to age better.
There’s so much that could be better accomplished by applying the multi-dimensional Life Wheel model to the claim of being” all-encompassing.” This includes the concept of Einstein’s beloved compass and his call for compassion. For those unfamiliar with the work to which I’m referring or who would like a reminder, here’s a link to bring you up to speed on The Positive Paradigm.
Among reviews, I found a comment supporting my first take that The Longevity Book begs for a sequel – one which I’m eminently qualified to supply. The Phoenix Response fills many gaps crying out for completion. As the reviewer points out, Diaz wrote one book for young women, and now this second for those entering middle age.
The reviewer’s Re line states “Wish she would have taken it to a woman’s age when she’s elderly.” The comment continues “There are so many things mothers did not tell daughters that many of us in our 60’s, 70’s and 80’s have had to find out on our own – sadly.”
My basic message for everyone, up to and including baby-boomers of both genders: it’s never too late. It’s not over til it’s over. Even for those of us who’ve let go of self-care and are now paying the price, there’s always a second chance. There’s always the Phoenix Response of regeneration – going back to the magical creative process of genesis embodied in the Life Wheel.
With this knowledge, it’s possible for self-healers to repair not only original the DNA of the physical body, but also the more subtle pattern of the soul, restoring wholeness by healing literally — as the infinity pattern shows — from the inside out.
So yes, without a doubt. Not only is this work dearly needed. The way for it is actually being paved and readiness created.
So – I’m especially grateful for life-confirming days like this one when the ever-present magic speaks with exceptional clarity.
So my best wish for you is the same. May you have a magical day as well!