One of the most common expressions that comes out of my mouth is, "Tomorrow, I've GOT to..." (insert long list). It's why, so often, I wake up in the middle of the night thinking I need to go ahead and get started. It's why I woke up at 3 a.m. this morning and went ahead and got up to make a cup of coffee and got the computer out. "Maybe there's a shooting star you're supposed to see," my wonderful friend Cat tells me when I tell her I keep waking up at this time. That is just one example of why I love her.
I'm traveling to Alabama at this very moment, in the back seat of the car using the Wi-Fi that my beloved David set up for me so I could work on the way. Pema Chodron wrote, "Start where you are," and it's really useful advice when a person is "stuck" in a car. We're on our way to celebrate my friend Cat's 50th birthday, but also so that I can conduct my first interview for Auntie Bellum Magzine. I'm starting a series of interviews with "undiscovered" Southern artists... and Cat graciously allowed me to experiment with a particular interview format. I'll share the link here to the interview when it is published.
Cat, you see, is a shooting star --- also called a "falling star" --- because she is a burst of light that is mysteriously translated from heaven into this universe. My mama taught me a song when I was little: "Catch a falling star and put in your pocket, save it for a rainy day. Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, never let it fade away." When I think of Cat today, I think of how important it is to treasure our old friends and never let them fade away from our presence or our gratitude.
This summer, David and I spent a night in the backyard on lounge chairs looking up at shooting stars with our friends Anthony, Bernice, and Amy... it meant periods of waiting, some hushed talk as if we were waiting also to hear something... and then the glorious sudden sparks and flashes that made us gasp and oooh and awwww. Each "star" (for they are meteoroids, not stars) was unique: some extended and some so fast only one or two of us would catch sight of them, leaving the others disappointed.
Maybe you have some friends who are rare like these falling stars... and you have been one of the lucky few to be close to them as we all pass too briefly through earth's atmosphere. Yesterday, a student and I talked about the limitations of time as they are addressed in some works of literature: Robert Herrick's "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time," Robert Frost's "Nothing Gold Can Stay," and our troubled hero, Prince Hamlet, who said, "Doubt thou the stars are fire... but never doubt I love."
With what time we have, why don't we find unique ways to express our care and regard for our best old friends, and our new ones, too? Here are some ideas:
1. Register an actual star in someone's name: http://www.starregistry.com/
2. Get together for a glass of wine and a star-watch in your backyard.
3. Write a poem dedicated to your friend.
4. Read a poem that someone else wrote that just seems perfect for your friendship.
5. Write that poem out and give it to your friend along with a special photograph of the two of you.
6. Tell your friend why he or she is a "star" for you.
"Love may come and tap you on the shoulder, some starless night... and you'll have a pocket full of starlight." My pockets are brimming over today. I hope yours are too.