Thursday, April 20th of 2017 wasn’t an ordinary shopping day. Once every two weeks, I routinely make the hour plus drive into Madison to buy groceries. But this day became a one-year book-end to last April’s Magical Day. That day, two parts woven into The Phoenix Response appeared. This day, given hints as subtle as two-by-fours, I clicked on the missing third part.
I look forward to these drives as a time to collect my thoughts and make plans. Truth funnier than fiction, a few days earlier, our teething brindle hound puppy dog trotted off with my reading glasses and thoroughly mangled them. So part of this day’s errands was an optometrist appointment to get new ones. I always take incidents affecting vision as a cue that it’s time to start seeing things differently.
As I drove, enjoying the rural Wisconsin spring greenery, one thing led to another. It started with mentally composing an email about the puppy to Lynn, my college roommate and dear friend.
We go back a long way, Lynn and I. On the surface, we couldn’t be more different. Tall and short, blond and brunette, scientist and musician. Yet, to my mother, we looked alike. The similarity she saw was the same expression on our faces. In some intangible way, we were on the same wavelength.
Back then, our unknown futures lay ahead of us.
Over time, we lost track of each other. But just before Christmas, Lynn found me again through this website. Since then we’ve been writing back and forth, reminiscing and catching up on the last forty years.
Lynn says she’s not a dog fan, so, thinking to entertain her, I was mulling over memories of different dogs I’ve known — the point being that, as with humans, some are definitely more likable than others.
In the process, it dawned on me that our renewed connection was the missing piece that ties The Phoenix Response together.
A year ago, I blogged:
Did you ever have a magical day – one that stands out even 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 moments to me. It had to do with basic life questions important to us all – about the quality of life and our purpose for surviving.
It was an encouraging day . . .[that] shone as a confirming ray of hope, strengthening my resolve to complete the book listed on CreateSpace as The Phoenix Response.
The initial cue came from finding The Longevity Book on a bestseller store shelf. Carmen Diaz’s first book was written for young women. This, her second, focuses on women entering middle age. But where’s the third?
An amazon 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 many of us in our 60’s, 70’s and 80’s have had to find out on our own – sadly.”
I observed: The Longevity Book begs for a sequel – one I‘m eminently qualified to supply. The Phoenix Response fills many gaps crying out for completion.
That day, however, thoughts about the aging process triggered personal memories. I wrote:
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 gray 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.
Her story left me with questions to ask in The Phoenix Response. Why did the poet associate growing old with the best yet to be? Why wasn’t this Ellie’s experience? What are the implications of her disappointment for Lynn and me as we come full circle, now even older than Grandma Ellie was when she told the youthful me about Hubba Hubba’s proposal?
Over time, the phoenix concept has expanded. In the blog with that title I wrote:
. . . here is the solution recorded in notebooks over the years. Whenever circumstances or people push me to suicide, I will die – but only to be reborn in this lifetime, over and over, each time better than before.
I called it The Phoenix Response.
I associated this intentional positive decision with the death and resurrection of Christ, whose archetypal pattern is an example for each of us to follow, at any time, as a matter of personal choice, commitment and dedicated follow-through.
Later I added:
My message for baby boomers: it’s still not too late. It’s not over til its over. Even for those of us who’ve let go of self-care and made mistakes along the way, there’s always a second chance. There’s always the Phoenix Response of regeneration – returning to the creative process of genesis itself, repairing not only original DNA of the body but of the soul.
Not only is this book dearly needed. The way for it is actually being paved and readiness created.
This April, I was receiving powerful hints from the powers that be that it’s time to start writing again. Further, I should seek out whatever assistance it takes to assure the widest publication possible.
I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome of the eye exam. My long-distance vision has actually changed for the better! And because I was from out of town, it was arranged to have the new reading glasses ready within an hour. I was able to take them home and start working the same day.
There was also a special cup I “knew” was waiting for me to find at the grocery store. A month earlier, I splurged on one with a geometrical blue-gray-violet Native American design. It bears this hopeful omen: “Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.”
This day’s companion cup pictured a scene reminiscent of ancient Asian landscape paintings. A bridge connects a valley in the foreground with distant mountains disappearing into a vast sky. The cup’s quote confirmed my experience: “Some days have God’s fingerprints all over them.”
The cup now sits directly above my computer. As I continue to gaze on it, the bridge image grows on me. For we both are inevitably approaching life’s completion in death. Lynn has had bouts with breast cancer. I’ve had my share of physical health scares as well.
But I am of a certainly that death is a bridge to another dimension, whereas fatalistic Lynn probably thinks of it as a dead end, an abrupt full stop, a dark extinction.
This, then, has become the central challenge of The Phoenix Response. How do I lovingly, persuasively communicate to her, to our whole generation, and for that matter, her daughters and their children, about our marvelous but sadly forgotten, neglected and denied potentials.
What practical, proactive methods can we bring to our life and death questions while there’s still precious time left to make positive changes?
How can we make friends with the opportunity inherent in our ultimate transformation, accepting physical death as integral to the larger pattern of repetitive, cyclical change?
How do I bypass tenaciously held prejudice and culturally enforced taboos to help reconnect others once again with the innate birthright we all share in common?