All posts by Analyn Revilla

Chasing Lilacs

by Analyn Revilla

In Edmonton where the winters are very cold and can last into early April the lilacs bloom heartily and they are sweet smelling.  A childhood memory is cutting down the tall stalks from the ancient bushes across the street from my home.  I made leis and crowns of the little blossoms that I plucked from the frond, like pinching bits of cotton candy from the cone.  

The common name of lilac is derived from the Persian word for blue.  Here is why:

Where they grow native, a lilac bush will appear in ordinary spaces making them extra-ordinary for a short period of time.  I’ve seen a single bush soften the harshness of concrete and metal with the wanton splay of branches, laden with French white lilac blooms. Syrina Vulgaris is native to the Balkan Peninsula where it grows on rocky slopes.  Perhaps it is the lilacs’ nature after all.

T.S. Eliot used lilac in two of his poems: “Portrait of a Lady” and “The Waste Land”.  In the latter he recognizes the lilacs by…

April is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain.

Winter kept us warm, covering

Earth in forgetful snow, feeding

A little life with dried tubers.

a little further on…

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow

Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,

You cannot say, or guess, for you know only

A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,

And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,

And the dry stone no sound of water.

This lilac that has captured my imagination since childhood is more than sweet and heady.

I had to write this last blog because spring is upon us and the lilacs are ephemeral. Since living in LA I’ve been chasing lilacs.  There are two places to lose one’s self in lilac dreams.  In a few weeks time, by Easter perhaps, they’re expected to come out in blue splendor at Kilcoyne Lilac Farm in Acton, CA.  (http://www.kilcoynelilacfarm.com).  I just bought a dual membership for Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge, CA (https://www.descansogardens.org) where the lilacs started blooming in early March (https://www.nbclosangeles.com/the-scene/purple-for-a-gray-day-lilacs-make-their-descanso-debut/2540949/). 

Just go!

CREDIT ELISE SULLIVAN

le fo’u

all

most 

eveynite 

‘i’

floss

crooked 

teeth

wine-stained

grinning

ahhhhhh

ain’t

no perfect

here

alright

goodnite

~*~

spillchecker, grimmer-checker

sucker

fo’writin’

po’et

ree

dee

fy

zee

b o t  

dew-naught

dee

ny

y’self

yo’

godgivengenie

us

all

Analyn Revilla

Keep Calm and Ride On

by Analyn Revilla

Can I just be honest and admit that sometimes I feel envy…

It’s a hard knock to realize that some dreams aren’t meant for me.  This struck me not long after my husband died so suddenly.  We spent years building towards a dream. We wanted a farm with our animals and to live simply on love, song and wine.  We were getting so close to it, then poof!! All that disappeared one crazy day three years ago.

Sometimes you just want to say ~#$@0WTF!%8* 

After convalescing for three years I’ve learned to breathe again.  I had jobs to keep things going.  I made new friends while some dropped off, and those who stayed have sustained me. Thank you.  I learned new skills. I became an urban chicken farmer and a yoga teacher.  My three dogs and I, along with sixteen chickens, are generally doing pretty good:  there’s space to grow in our little home in South LA, I haven’t caught COVID, there’s internet, there’s food in the fridge and the ‘bestest’ is plumbing!  I can turn on the taps and there’s cold water and hot water, and I can mix the two to a perfect temperature, under which I can luxuriate for a decent amount of time. I also have a boyfriend now who keeps me grounded when my head is in the clouds, or lifts me up when I am blue or feeling Holly Golightly’s “mean reds”.

I still beat myself up when I catch myself thinking, “Hmmmm.  I wonder what it’s like to drive a new car, especially that sleek Tesla”, or that I’m working at some kind of artsy project.  I can even envy a dog with its head out the window of a car while its floppy ears and gorgeous fur is blowing in the wind like some 70’s TV commercial for shampoo.  I wish I was like that dog being taken out for a drive to the beach.  “Rover” is beautiful and carefree.

I try to practice what I teach in my yoga classes to “Allow and accept where you are today”.  

I recently finished reading “Advice on Dying and Living a Better Life” (authored by HRH, 14th Dalai Lama and edited by Jeffrey Hopkins).  Rather than focus on what I don’t have, appreciate what I have, because life is short.

Another imagery that brings it home for me are these lyrics from “Time” by Pink Floyd. 

So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking

Racing around to come up behind you again

The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older

Shorter of breath and one day closer to death

Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time

Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines

Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way

The time is gone, the song is over

Thought I’d something more to say

“time” by Pink Floyd

One form of happy is to keep my envy in check.  Next time I witness something that stimulates my sense of lack, I pause and tell myself, “Some dreams aren’t meant for me”, then keep calm and ride on, hangin on in quiet desperation.

On Kindness

by Analyn Revilla

Sometime today, a man calls his doctor to say he’s running a little late.  He is literally five minutes away, and that he’s already in the parking lot and he’s awfully sorry.  He’s at the lobby where there are elevators to choose from – one side leads to the West Wing while the other goes to the East Wing.

An elderly man approaches the elevators.  He is confused as to which elevator to take.  Meanwhile, the other man, already late for his appointment, realizes he’s in the wrong building.  He had transposed the building address of 2634 to 2143. The other building is another ten minutes away. Then there’s also the problem of finding parking.  The elderly man looks to the left then to the right and then at the address written on a piece of paper. He shoots a helpless expression to the other guy.

Anxious that he is already late, and his doctor had arranged for a technician to come specifically to give him an EEG test, he asks the man where he needs to go. He verifies the name in the directory listing and escorts him to the correct elevator.

Driving to building 2634, he considers calling the office again to let them know he’s running later than he said earlier.  He reconsiders. It wouldn’t make sense, because he had already said he was ‘only 5 minutes away’. That was twenty minutes ago.

When he walks into the doctor’s office, the EEG Technician named Melinda is clearly unimpressed. She is due at another location for more EEG exams after his appointment. The receptionist is uncomfortable. He attempts to ease the tension by first offering a box of See’s chocolates to her. She smiles generously with a warm ‘Thank you.’ Then he draws a second box of the same for Melinda, but her trite ‘Thank You’ and tense expression only deflates the mood.  She marches him to an examination room.

Inside, she asks him to roll up the sleeve of his left arm, and as he does this he exposes a bruised and swollen forearm. ‘Where did you get that?’, she asks him.  ‘At the Endocrinologist’s office when they tried to draw blood.’ he says.  That was less than a week ago. Her left eyebrow lifts. ‘Really.  Which one?’  Upon giving his answer she says, ‘My husband and I go to his office. He is an excellent doctor, but I never let them take my blood there.” She pauses. ‘They just don’t know how to draw blood over there.  Someone should tell them.’

Having something in common between with them, he senses a softening of her eyes and her lips. She assures him the bruising and swelling will clear up. After an hour of running tests, before he leaves, she tells him that she has a sweet tooth and the chocolates are perfect.

All I Want for Christmas

If seeing is believing then all I want for Christmas is that we see…

It is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

There’s Christmas music 24 hours of the day (radio, TV, internet, on the streets, in your head, the one that you hum unconsciously).

There are Christmas lights and decorations on lawns and stoops of homes along the quietest streets and the busiest corners.

There’s anticipation in the air for some mystery and wonder.

There is a Santa Claus that lives in everyone’s heart.

Though without the means or the money, and there are miles, rules, illnesses and the pandemic that separate us from our loved ones, there is still the wish, hope and desire in our hearts and imagination to make dreams come true.

Believe.

Peace Y’All.

Painting by Tom Browning. Courtesy of Santa’s Time Off.

I See Therefore I am

Today was the second day of winter, December 22nd, 2020.  Yesterday, the Winter Solstice, also the shortest day of the year was when two planets (Jupiter and Saturn) appear closer than it has ever been since 800 years ago.  It is known as “The Star of Bethlehem” (aka “The Great Conjunction” – During the 2020 great conjunction, the two planets were separated in the sky by 6 arcminutes at their closest point, which was the closest distance between the two planets since 1623).

When I was a very young girl my dream was to be an astronaut.  In 2nd grade, during class, I stared out the window and imagined being in space, while the teacher’s voice droned on like an unidentified buzz. I looked towards the azure and wondered what’s out there? and where and how do I fit in in this enormous puzzle?

Funny, many many decades later, I am still the same in my thinking, though the desire to be an astronaut has long passed.  What do I dream and hope for now?  I am at the arc in my life, the shooting star no more, and the trajectory is the downward bend.  This is a combination of losing momentum and gravity pulling my mass towards the center of the earth.

This is life.  Decay is inevitable.  I accept… though I still struggle.  Surrender is not easy when I remember how I used to climb tall mountains, and ran down the trail fast – hopped from rock to rock, light on my feet and my shirt drenched from clean sweat.  These days, I sit in front of a laptop with a tape over the camera, hiding from unknown intruders while my fingers hop over letters and special characters that decorate virtual documents and pages.

One definition of life is a measurement of time.  In the obit section, a name is listed with a date of birth and a date of death.  There was a beginning and then an end.  Between the bookends describes what the person did and who was left behind.

Imagine a straight beam of light shooting out of a super giant star, like “Deneb” (10 to the 5th degree in solar units luminosity).  Its light has been traveling for several light years to reach our eyes.  One day, the bright light of “Deneb” will fade and die.  But we wouldn’t know this in our human life, because the light reaching us now is a view of the past.  “When we look out across the Universe, we’re also peering back in time.” – Ethen Siegel, Forbes https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2020/09/07/are-any-stars-visible-in-the-night-sky-already-dead/?sh=287b5f77809f 

As a kid looking towards the stars I was seeing myself but not recognizing myself.  I was searching for the self, when I already am the self. I see therefore I am.

Perspective

by Analyn Revilla

One, among many, memories of my father was he was a collector of things!  He collected books, collected coins, watches – he just never threw anything away.  But his worst collection was his video recording machines (Beta and VHS) and they were all hooked up to the TV – all seven or eight of them.  It was way too many for one household and one man.  He was the master of these machines, and no-one was allowed to use them.  This irked me to the max, and I asked him why he needed so many video recorders and pretty much alluded that it was a kind of sickness.  Needless to say, you can picture, that he and I butted heads on everything.

So what I was trying to tell my Dear Father was to get perspective.  Perspective is everything in terms of figuring out if you’re crazy, normal or out of this world.  

A few days ago I commented to someone, “Hey, there must’ve been many periods in history when there’s been a pandemic, and probably complicated by social issues.  With my limited knowledge of history my example is the Middle Ages with the Bubonic Plague and the land owners and serfdom.  Here we are again, pretty much playing the same story.  

I am not downplaying the personal stories of loss, humiliation and suffering.  We are all experiencing the effect of the freak show.  Each and every story is real and deserve empathy.  How else can we grow as individuals and as a community of human beings?  We have the capacity to evolve because we’re gifted with tools to be more than what we think we are.  But we have to use those tools to transform to a higher level of consciousness.  Again, imagination is a tool, and another one is perspective.

Without perspective we can lose ourselves in the vortex of emotions and confusion.  Meditation is another tool to observe from within what’s happening inside and out; and outside and in.  Knowledge is another tool.  Having a perspective of history and the movement of humans from hunters to gatherers to information workers, artists, farmers and service providers allows us to let go of the fear that we’re not enough, and there’s not enough to go around.  

A recent make-over of my abode in South Los Angeles resulted in sorting through boxes of books, memorabilia, clothes, shoes, CDs, laptops, musical instruments (including seven guitars and downsized from a larger collection).  Now talk about the fruit not falling far from the tree.  I am my father :-).  I’m able to recognize the heap of things I’ve collected and see that I am repeating the same story.

And I can actually relax and let go of my anxiety that I’m not normal.  My father was normal.  I’m OK and he was OK and you’re OK too.

Imagination

by Analyn Revilla

A friend of mine and I have been exchanging a daily list of 5 things we’re grateful for via email.  We’re now on our 7 month, and I hope we continue this for the rest of our lives.  One time he listed “Imagination”.  

Thinking about the meaning of imagination I begin to understand that imagination is a tool we all have access to only if we allow ourselves the luxury of time to practice it.  It is a practice, like other forms of discipline.  

Imagination allows us to to go places where we physically can’t go – the outer edges of the universe.  Imagine.  

With our imagination we have created other tools to give body to something we’ve imagined.  For example, math and science to map the galaxies.  With imagination we think about the possibilities of life on other planets other than our own.  Statistically, scientists have hypothesized that the probability of life beyond the Milky Way is possible.  So we endeavor to explore and build spacecrafts and probes and radars to reach out.  “Hey, is there anybody out there?”

With imagination we can empathize and know what it’s like to be in someone else’s position – their joy, pain, sorrow, guilt, shame, contentment, dreams.  It is effort to practice imagining a situation; it is a form of surrendering our ego to something beyond ourselves.

You’ve probably heard someone say “I can’t imagine…” after telling them a story that is either unbearable or unbelievable.  Then you say, “It’s true.  It really happened.”  And the other person still can’t accept the story as a possibility.  Later on, she may think further about it, and allow her imagination to go there and then start to believe in the possibility.  And tendrils of sympathy may grow from empathy into believing.

Yes.  Imagination is something to be grateful for.  

How else could we have hope to get through this period of isolation and uncertainty.  Just imagine it without having an imagination.

Happy 4th of July, 2020

by Analyn Revilla

In Hyde Park, the people are standing outside on the streets, sitting on the porch, parked in chairs on the sidewalks and are looking up at the skies… The skies are bejeweled with color and dazzling sparks. The sound is intensely booming the celebration of freedom.

For one evening during this period of uncertainty, we are united by awe and wonder. Couldn’t we remember to regard each person with awe, respect and wonder more often?

Emotions Run High

by Analyn Revilla

These days, the news reports that drivers are more aggressive on the roads and that there are higher accidents and fatalities on the road.  Some people are channeling their unbridled emotions with pressure on the gas pedal or taking unnecessary risks.  Today, while driving along Western south of Jefferson Boulevard, someone passed to my left, crossing onto the lane of the opposite traffic and swerved to make a right turn, crossing three lanes.  Bold and stupid to say the least.

During my drive, prior to being a witness to that, I was musing about the gamut of human emotions.  I thought, as an experiment, that I would start to take notes on the range of emotions I experience in a twenty-four hour period, and correlate those emotions with the thoughts that motivated the emotions.  Then, as an objective scientist, I would create a bar graph of the categories of thoughts-emotions, to visualize which bars tend to be higher than others.  This bar graph would be an indicator of my tendencies, and perhaps help me to manage my emotions better.

My emotions have been running high.  I shared with someone that, lately, I’ve been yelling a lot at the dogs.  My temperature gauge is running hot and I don’t like this trend.  Upon recognizing my rising emotional temperature, I reasoned that the dogs prefer to be near me, especially with the illegal fireworks exploding during the evenings and sometimes well into the late night.  Or they are looking for attention when they destroy the hose or bend the metal bars of the screen door.  Big sigh.

It’s interesting to me that what inspired the idea of taking an inventory of my thoughts and feelings by logging them was leafing through a book called “Classics of the Foreign Film”, by Parker Tyler, and published in 1962. Open a page and there, bared to the eyes of the soul are images of the human condition.  Every page is breaming with these images.  I think this compilation is better than National Geographic.  It is art made by artists about You and Me, Us and Them, Me and We, He and She.  It is the relationships put into cinematographic art form by  years, starting with 1919 thru 1961 from different countries (Germany, France, Italy, Poland, India, USSR, Japan and more).

I don’t quite understand how my mind made the connection of what I’ve been experiencing with my emotions to the catalogue of dramatic scenes in those pages.  Like a light switch, the light turned on and I recognized that I needed to step back in my own life and see it as a movie.  In doing that, I don’t identify so much as the doer but more of an experiencer of what’s happening at the moment. i.e. not to take it all so personally (in pill form).  Watch the images projected on the blank screen as passing moments.  The only thing permanent is the screen, me; while the experiences are ephemeral.  

This, all this, that’s been making our emotions run high and low, shall pass.