“The garden of leaflessness: who dares to say that it isn’t beautiful?”

Iranian poet Mehdi Akhavān Sāles


This post is dedicated to my nephew!

My love affair with fictional detectives seems to be over. Until very recently, and for decades, I have been mesmerized and transfixed by the antics of detectives. Now, whether reading or viewing, I fall asleep. The ending of any love affair compels one to analyze the arc of its life.

 My enchantment began when I was 7, with ‘The Secret World of Og”. This book launched my fascination(possible compulsion), with detectives and their ability to uncover the truth. I wonder if others know these characters as well as I do… Trixie Beldon, Nancy Drew, Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, DCI Wexford and Dalgleish, Inspectors Morse, Lewis and Lynley?

This cadre of detectives is brilliant, witty and perspicacious! In their efforts to solve what are known in the publishing world as ‘cozy crimes’, they display an uncompromising morality. Primarily motivated by a commitment to the truth, they use a complex process that combines logic and astute observation with intuition and instinct, while maintaining a sense of humour. My deep devotion to the genre no doubt resided in my need for role models, whose raison d’être, was the truth. I don’t think it was unusual that I focussed on such types, from an early age. Children have an innate sense of justice and  abhor the ‘bill of goods’ parents try to sell them. My parents, like most, justified their harsh punishment and high expectations of us by uttering the usual rhetoric …”We know best.” and “It’s for your own good.” Clearly neither was true, but my opinion wasn’t solicited. And I was far too afraid to be defiant, as the consequences were dire. But one of my brothers, being the precocious middle child, felt compelled to share his unsolicited views, and was cruelly beaten. I still am brought to tears by these memories. Hitting a child is never justifiable.

I have spent my life on a mission to discover the mystery of family love. Just like any eccentric detective, I’ve poked around in the detritus of family life, hoping that through an examination of broken promises, heavy hearts and discarded dreams, I might find the clue to explain the survival of its love. Familial love endures the harshest of realities, even though this love may not be easily expressed. But begin the arduous task of truth seeking, and a spark of love will be ignited into a flame…no different than the power of a tiny ember regenerating the life of a dying log.  The seed for this unassailable truth was planted a year ago when I saw a luminous vision in New Orleans, a city ripe with the imagery of life and death.

Saint Louis Cathedral New Orleans

Saint Louis Cathedral New Orleans

This arresting image, has two notable themes for me.

Firstly, I have come to believe that even in the darkest of nights, there is still the light of the moon to guide my way. I am never entirely alone… symbolized by the statue’s brilliance in the dark.

Secondly, I found Christ’s open arms, mysteriously compelling. Only now do I understand its significance. I have always been an idealist, demanding life and those in it, function at the highest level, in a state of perfection. But Christ’s gesture of surrender, can also be interpreted to mean the necessity of holding both the dark and the light in balance….good and bad, joyful and miserable, love and hate…withstanding the tension created when simultaneously holding both positive and negative emotions for all situations. It may seem trite to say that a family always has both, but to an idealist, it’s a revelation! As much as I wanted my parents to ‘come clean’ and admit their failings, I perpetuated the family myth of perfection, by demanding it of myself, my children, my husband(s) and my friends. 

I’ve come to realize the power of the confessional. In it lies the secret to fanning the flame of love, for oneself and for others. Only through the experience of my confessional, The Other Woman Blog, where I have openly admitted  my frailties, my faults, my dreams and my desires, have I come to accept, as true, that love flourishes between people when we present ourselves as humans, not demigods. I now embrace the sententious moralizing thrown at me over the years…”Life’s not just a bowl of cherries, sometimes you find yourself in the pits.” Life is simultaneously cherries and pits! Love is simultaneously fulfilling and excruciating. Family provides simultaneously the best and the worst of times!

Below is the collage I have been working on for the past week.

Balancing Death and Life

Balancing Death and Life




Studies done by the Psychologist, H.E. Hershfield, counter the long held belief that negative emotions are linked to increased risk for illness, while positive emotion leads to health and longevity. His 10 year study reports that the greater the frequency of people’s mixed emotional experiences over time, the slower their age-related health declined. Every situation has both positive and negative aspects. Identify any situation, extremely positive or negative, and a balancing reality can also be named…the birth of a long awaited child is balanced by sleepless nights…my near death infection was balanced by my move to consciousness…infidelity in my marriage…what I’ve learned will take an entire post!

Choosing to suppress, ignore or deny negative experiences and emotion, rather than express them, acting as though everything is fine, is not only unhealthy, but it limits the flow of love. Like breathing, that is as much an inward motion as an outward expression, love flourishes in our humanity, in our dark characteristics as much as our light, not in an idealized state of perfection.

So for Week 28 of 52, I will embrace the duality of life.

Christ of the Deep - Key Largo

Christ of the Deep – Key Largo