Positively Kick Ass

Faraway, so close

I hope it's okay if I get a little less careful here, put up fragments where I'd like to complete my thoughts.There's just so much I still want to say. Most urgently right now, I want to give tribute to my teachers. Alive and gone, they are palpably present, the scaffolding holding me together.

There's really only one place to start, with my mom, Cashie Kieckhefer. If you didn't know her personally, her name won't ring any bells, but if you did, it will sound a note both clear and resonant. She was mighty in will but untouched by ambition; she cared nothing for status or power as they're commonly understood but impressed her spirit on every encounter. She knew her own measure exactly and rarely wasted breath or effort. Her reach was literal, defined by her long arms and strong voice. (You always knew where she was at a party, as her volume rose about a decibel per drink.) Anyone who felt her embrace felt her influence.

She loved. That was all. But she loved truly, and that was everything. The German word Schadenfreude has passed into common usage because it describes such a common feeling: the joy we take in others' failures and suffering. The joy we might take in their joys remains so rare that few of us have a name for it, but the Buddhists call it mudita. They recognize it as one of four sublime attitudes we can cultivate toward the world and all those who struggle alongside us. Mom got it as a pretty direct inheritance from her mom, our Gramma, Margaret Parkhill.

When we have the great fortune to be at the receiving end of mudita, we experience it as a borrowed buoyancy, lifting us out of our smallness. The success that might have isolated us in self-admiration is no longer ours alone; the precious moment whose shadow we try to grasp lights a smile in the face of another. Radiant sympathy gives our joys currency, movement, life. We are tempted always toward miserliness, but under a generous touch our own hands may open.

 Of course, the center of the world rarely shows up in pictures, but here's a rare sighting. Mom and Gramma are rightmost. San Diego airport, 1980, waiting for the plane that will take us away from our sun-kissed coast to Pittsburgh, PA.

Of course, the center of the world rarely shows up in pictures, but here's a rare sighting. Mom and Gramma are rightmost. San Diego airport, 1980, waiting for the plane that will take us away from our sun-kissed coast to Pittsburgh, PA.

And a semi-random playlist for the small hours of a Tuesday:

1. "The Sisters" from Dubliners by James Joyce, read by Frank McCourt.

2. "We Will Rebuild with Smooth Stones," Balmorhea

3. "Lost Stars," Adam Levine (embarrassing, but whatchyou gonna do? )

4. "Louise," Bonnie Raitt version

5. "Love Came Here," Lhasa de Sela

6. "Wake Me Up," Aloe Blacc

7. "Lay Me Down," The Frames

"Green," Lee Baby Sims

9. "Confutatis" from Mozart's Requiem as sung by Las Rubias del Norte

10. "Jigsaw," Amelia

Forza!
Gretchen

image.jpg