Phil is an eyeball but I really like him anyway

I work with children, and that work is a gift to me. Every day it is a gift.

Because every day I am reminded, watching them, interacting with them, of what it is to be truly alive. Those children are breathtakingly alive, living in their feelings, stomping around in their little rainbow colored rubber boots, climbing the crab apple tree on the corner of the playground, chasing each other, yelling, crying, laughing. They are pure unadulterated life.

If they are angry, they are ANGRY. They yell at each other. They stomp their feet. Sometimes they throw things. They say to each other, “So and so is making me so MAD” They say to their teachers “So and so is making me ANGRY.” They tell each other these honest things, or we help them work it out, and moments later they are laughing, smiling, and hugging again.

They say to each other, and to their teachers “I LOVE you!” and give hugs. It’s the purest kind of love. It means exactly what it means. It is the love of the universe embodied in their little hearts, and souls, and bodies. Their love is a force. It is tangible, like the earth under their feet.

I watch them climb to the top of the tunnel, to the top of the tower. They stand with their little hands on their hips. They yell orders to their friends. They watch the vultures soaring above. They jump off and land with two feet in the mulch, solid. Untouchable.

And my wish for them as I watch them? That they stay that way. Fully alive. In their feelings. In their bodies. Confident. Angry. Loving. Animal. Human. Themselves.

My wish for them is that the years and experiences that follow this one do not strip them of themselves. That they continue to stand tall on the top of every tower, hands on their hips, regardless of their gender, or athletic abilities, or academic prowess, or reputations, or pressures. That they continue to watch vultures circling above, and that when they jump they always land solidly, two feet in the mulch. Untouchable.

Because I know, as all of us adults know, that our world is not always an easy one to live in, to grow in, to learn in. We all suffer trauma, and we all work to heal from that trauma, to the best of our abilities. But it is a long road, and a bumpy one, and there are many days when many of us struggle very much, and that is just true.

We are hard on ourselves. We are our biggest critics. We harbor such hard thoughts about ourselves, that we are not good enough, that we are not smart enough, that we are unlovable, that we are all alone.

I think the best we can do is say these things. Out loud, to each other. We can say when we are struggling, or when we are feeling like we are just not good enough. We can lean on each other, heavily at times. We can say to each other “ I am angry” when we are angry, and we can love each other and laugh a few minutes later. We can offer each other ice packs and band-aids and hugs when our hearts hurt, which every child knows is the recipe to heal just about anything.

So here’s an offering. An ice pack. A band-aid. A hug. Some poems. A random photo of cats, because cats are awesome.  And a reminder that none of us are alone. The same struggles, and the same joys, live in all of us.

Love,

Natasha (and Phil)

************************************************************************************************************

“Be kind to one another
By Phil
Every person has a voice in their head
Repeating a belief of their deepest hurt
For me, it is that I can never be forgiven
Not for something specific
Just for being flawed
Just for all the mistakes I can’t help but make
Because I was scared
Because I didn’t know better
Because I had to fail to learn
If I give voice to that belief
I’m told I’m wrong
But I hear that they just don’t know, yet
I think everyone has something like that
Because everything that feels the warmth of the light has to cast a shadow
We get to live in this beautiful world
But for seeing that, we have to carry the dark along
Remember that,
All of us are living with a monster in our own head
So, be kind to one another.
**********************************************************************************************************************

“Watch”

by Natasha

Certainly we are placed here,

Just so,

To find our work, the work we were made to do, alone or together, in pairs or in groups.

And that is sacred as the first morning light, and equally important.

But surely we are here to play as well

To run and jump,

To be loose and free in our movements,

To scale rock cliffs

And swim in the seas

And the streams

So breathtakingly cold and blue.

We laugh so easily

It is clear

That our muscles and bones

And the skies above

And the ground below

Call for the sound

And are fed by it

Fueled

And nourished

Watch.

Everything plays. It is the language of the universe. What do you notice? Make it a game

Ask yourself.

Is the sunrise pink or red?

Is that sky behind it blue or gray?

What time do the crows fly home, which way does the river flow, what does the blue jay song sound like as it flies from pine to pine?

A squeaky swing I think sometimes.

The flicker’s wings are bright gold underneath, surely a sign of pleasant things to come.

I lifted a rock and there curled underneath was a caterpillar, yellow and black stripes, and fuzzy, warmed by the winter sun.

Our children know the answers and the questions. Play is the work of their world. It has not been taken from them yet.

Each day the children pick up treasures. Their pockets are full of riches: stones and feathers, bits of wood and bark, acorn caps, hand fulls of sand, a pinecone, a piece of string. Dirt.

They talk to trees. They play with the wind, catching leaves that blow this way and that. They’re in love with mud, delight in the way their boots squish through it. They sit, or lay on their bellies, and muck about in puddles, covered in it, and happy.

We are children too, no?

Or once were

Soft and sweet as puppies

Scented with milk

Tumbling together

Over trails

The ancestors

Laid out for us

In the earth.

************************************************************************************************************

Bonus poem using the phrase “space trash”: https://whatisthattinybuffalo.com/the-stacks/phils-poetry/falling

photo by Phil; filter by Natasha

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