To the editor of The Sun
Snoozing in my Chair
Remembering That First Kiss
Lost to the Clouds
"I'm Old," he said
My Visit with the Director of Lawrence Radiation Lab
Plodding Down the Path
Read To Me
Tax Time
On Being Fully Alive
If I Should Die Before I Wake
Theme Song Nostalgia
Fight or Flight or
Minor Island
Landings II and III
The Sun on Me in the Morning
Missing Pieces
Living Simply
I Had a Brother, Once
The Wild One
The Cost of Health Care
Popular Music
Sleeping Beauty
Full Moon
Are We Connected
Concert for George
Zoe Moon
An Opportunity to Feel
Over the River and Through the Woods
Saving Daylight
Garage Sale
Pushing On
My Little Town
The West Wing
Everything is Impermanent
Emotional Habits
My Shadow
The Power of Eyes
Being a Vegetarian
She Blushed
The Mouse in the Basement
Mind and Matter
Do You Love God
Writer's Lament
Releasing Dreams
Relating to Cats and
Free as a bird
Silk Scarf
Alice at 21
Alice Evelyn King Skiff
Cookies & Milk
Animals in Mountains

Sleeping Beauty

No, itís not Tchaikovskyís virgin princess. Nor is it a voluptuous female stretching out under satin sheets. I want to say that it isnít female, at allóbut Iím not certain, for why, then, would I come up with such a term as sleeping beauty? As I try to grasp the essence of it, sometimes I am reminded of the concept "earth mother." But that has other connotations that clutter up my thought process. It seems fruitless to attempt to visualize, or to describe, this something I sense. Every word or group of words finally fails.

Still, itówhatever it isóremains. Itís that feeling of well-being that comes when I observe affection in others. Itís the odd fullness in the throat, the impulse to cry out, when I see an animal caught in traffic. Itís the internal smile that comes with recognizing my own ineptitude in a situation, when my ego doesnít get caught up in it. Itís that aha! reaction when something that had been difficult and confusing for me suddenly becomes clear. Itís that moment of awe I feel when all the pieces come together, like a puzzle that rearranges itself and reveals its meaning. It always seems out of my control.

In fact, it often feels as though itís not me. Itís something wiser than I, something more compassionate, something more responsive to others, something smarter than I could ever be. Itís that occasional, even rare, certainty, that deep knowing that whatever horror Iíve seen, whatever hurt Iíve felt, whatever despair has gripped me at times, at the bottom of everything is something that encompasses it all, that smiles through my tears and nods gently within me.

I see it in others, too. Itís like the glow that sometimes shines through someoneís face when they smile. Itís a quiet word, or maybe a gesture, that shows an unexpected presence in someone, a grasping of truth, or beauty, or goodness, that makes me turn to look at them more carefully. Itís my own tear that I see falling down someone elseís cheek. Itís a phrase in a poem, startling in its utter simplicity, that opens my mind to a larger reality. Itís an image so beautiful that I want to cry.

This something is not just an ability to perceive, say, truth, beauty or goodnessóalthough certainly that is revealed, as wellóitís a welling up, a manifestation, of those universal values in some form or other. I am totally comfortable with the idea that it is part of each of us. Or perhaps, as some have put it, each of us is a part of it. It doesnít always make itself known. Nor its source. It simply appears, at times, a subtle but profound force.

So I think it is always there. It may be hidden by activity or by emotion or by desire or aversion or illusion. And those things in me may prevent me from seeing it in others, as well. Thatís why I call it sleeping beauty. Iíd like to believe that it will awaken . . .

. . . when I am ready.


June 24, 2004

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