Category Archives: Inspiration

A faith-full frisbee

A white frisbee, upside-down on a floor.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before . . .

I am re-posting this piece from the past, because it is one of my favourites.


My eye falls upon a Frisbee—upside-down, silent, waiting—on the family room floor where my son dropped it.

I contemplate the restful disc. I imagine it cutting through the air—or on the air, more accurately—in a free, arcing flight that captures natural forces and submits to them.

It is beautiful. It is science.

It is beautiful science. 

The Frisbee needs a hand to set it in motion, otherwise the object at rest would stay at rest. It must have help. It cannot do it alone.

When a hand hurls it, the aerodynamic forces of lift and drag, high pressure, low pressure, and spin come into play. The Frisbee soars, graceful in its fulfillment of purpose.

The flight doesn’t last forever though. Gravity insists it must land, so the Frisbee touches down to a place of rest once again.

My Frisbee is purpose-built to fly, but that same Frisbee has also served as a doggie water bowl on car trips. A different Frisbee hangs on my office wall as a messenger; its happy face brings me a message of joy every day. Frisbees might be built to fly, but they can do other things too.

happy-face-frisbee

And they come in all different sizes, shapes and colours. Some are ring-shaped. Others are even flat and collapsible for ease of travel.

A collection of collapsible frisbees in rainbow colours.

What can we learn from my upside-down Frisbee? 

  • We need a hand to set us in motion. We can learn to expect and accept that helping hand.
  • Capture the forces that surround us and submit to them so we soar gracefully in our fulfillment of purpose.
  • Enjoy the flight while it’s happening, and be present in it.
  • We must land. We can’t fly ALL the time. Landing isn’t just acceptable; it’s desirable.
  • The landing and the lying around waiting for the hand to set us in motion once again is as natural and acceptable and beautiful and scientific as a soaring flight.
  • We are purpose-built, crafted to fulfill a certain function, but we can do other things too. 
  • We can be messengers to brighten someone’s day.
  • We can learn to appreciate all the different sizes, shapes and colours of each other.

The Frisbee upside-down on my floor didn’t soar through the air on an arcing path, but it did travel through the air in a different way—through me, to you, to give us all something to think about.

Now that’s one faith-full purpose I’ll bet the Frisbee didn’t foresee.

I love that beautiful science.


Read about the science of Frisbee flight at Scientific American“Soaring Science: The Aerodynamics of Flying a Frisbee”

In the moment: Non-waiting

“When we release our clinging to what used to be and our craving for what we think should be, we are free to embrace the truth of what is in the moment.”

—Frank Ostaseski, in The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully

Life lessons come to us when we need them. Sometimes they brush against us gently, and we recognize them with a grateful nod. Other times, they clobber us senseless.

Usually they cluster, as if they know that we need more than one of a thing before we’ll open our eyes to important information.

A cluster of lessons about embracing the moment dropped in for tea with me lately.

First came a post on The Good Karma Cabin blog. In The Space Between Karen wrote about recognizing the need to surrender, even when everything around you is not going according to plan.

Next, I spoke with a friend who accompanied her mother in her final days. That’s hard. To navigate the difficult emotions she tried her best to stay in the moment.

This morning I read about non-waiting in The Five Invitations:

“The difference between ‘don’t wait’ and ‘non-waiting’ is like the difference between detachment and non-attachment. Detachment implies distancing ourselves from a particular object or experience. It can feel cool . . . Non-attachment simply means not holding on to, not grasping . . .

Non-waiting is a quiet welcoming, more of an invitation than a demand. When we stop leaning into the next experience by hoping for a particular outcome, or leaning into the past by hoping we might somehow change it, only then are we free to know this moment completely.”

—Frank Ostaseski, in The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully

Here I am, doing my best to recognize this life lesson with a grateful nod, so that it doesn’t feel the need to clobber me senseless before I get it.

It’s better to live in the moment in the mess than to miss the moment by focusing on why it’s not good enough.

Yellow daffodil in bloom
In this moment, my daffodils are blooming

The up and down journey through tasks

For this week’s post, I thumb my nose at a piece of writing advice. (Well, two pieces actually, since I just used a cliché.) Good writers, they say, opt for the word “said” during dialogue so as to avoid scenes like:

"Let's go to the movies," he posited. 
"I disagree," she demurred.

Herewith, consider my nose thumbed.

Task

“I want to climb that mountain,” she says.
   The foothill lures her spirit,
   Beckoning wide paths seduce her.
      Flooded with energy, she skips.  

“The path gets narrower,” she notices. 
   A switchback challenges her footsteps, 
   Scribbling tree roots trip her.
      Worried but still powerful, she continues. 

“Should I carry on?” she puffs.
   The incline steals her breath,
   Aching muscles betray her.
      Depleted of oxygen, she schlepps.

“I can’t do this,” she whines. 
   An obstacle blocks her progress, 
   Darkening skies shadow her. 
      Deprived of hope, she sleeps. 

“But . . . my goal is just there,” she awakens.
   The dawn illuminates her next steps,
   Daunting barriers dissolve before her. 
      Reinvigorated by inspiration, she climbs.

“What a view!” she cries.
   A summit reveals her success, 
   Haunting memories flee from her.   
      Satiated with completeness, she savours. 

“Now what?” she wonders.
   The downward path answers,
   Waning desire to remain prompts her.    
      Evolved for a new task, she descends.       

“If I go down, I can climb a higher mountain,” she says.  
      

Riven

My first poem for April’s poetry month. I decided to do an Ottava rima because it sounded like Ottawa, where I live, even though Ottawa has nothing to do with the number 8. (Ottawa is derived from the Algonquin word “adawe”, which means “to trade.”)

The poem has eight lines with an abababcc rhyming scheme. Inspired by the photo below.

Riven

An ash where deer once roamed in sombre shade,
  Returned to ash by lighting strike — one flash,
Nature's lumberjack felled this spine so splayed,
  With a forked bolt, one cracking, wicked lash,
Defiant though blackened, stripped and decayed,
  It will birth new life from the V-shaped slash,
Out of mottled dust and ashes of death, 
Life ruptures forth, emerges, takes first breath. 

© 2021 Arlene Smith

Put a happy face on it: Pothole city

Going through old posts, I found a picture to give us a boost today.

Orange happy face painted on a pothole
Happy face pothole

It is the time of year for potholes in Ottawa, Canada where I live. The ground is thawing and contracting after expanding through the frozen winter. Road salt exacerbates the damage to the asphalt that crumbles under the wheels of cars.

On this pothole, patched by black asphalt, a happy person painted an orange happy face.

When life sends you potholes, put on a happy face.

A little poem to lead us to bigger things

Sunday was World Poetry Day, as proclaimed by UNESCO. In honour of that event, I have written a poem, which I will share with you now.

(Ahem)

I say . . .
I don't care what you say.
I see . . .
Yes, through my eyes.

But . . . that way, we're both blind.

. 

A poem to send us into the day with the intention of kindness to all and celebration of everyone, no matter how different from us they might be.

Our technology gives our generation an opportunity that generations before did not have.

  • We can reach out instantly across the world to share our stories.
  • We can learn and strive to understand the stories of other cultures.
  • We can solve problems together and share resources.

What an opportunity we have! But we’re squandering it with our hate and derision. We’re using technology to create deeper divides instead of to close the gaps.

We’re being little. I’m guilty of it myself.

For today, I’ll try to do better.

Poetry Creation Station
April is National Poetry Month. I have set myself the challenge for that month of writing a poem a week. (I don’t promise that it will be GOOD poetry.)