Thank You, Alan

Incredibly, I am three days away from the end of my Year of Inspiration, and from completing my fourth year of daily blog posts. I’ll be writing a year end review on Sunday. And, I couldn’t let these last days slip away without acknowledging the person whose quote inspired this year of making art a little more robust, and life a little more tender.

I came across the quote that would become the foundation for 2017, shortly after actor Alan Rickman passed away on January 14, 2016.

“If only life could be a little more tender, and art a little more robust.” Alan Rickman

I felt such a sense of loss when Alan died. I had never met this genuine and talented man, and yet a light winked out in the world with his passing, and I was very aware of it. His words resonated with me, and eventually became the basis for this year’s theme. My word for 2017 has been Inspiration. My symbol was the lightbulb. Instead of a song to inspire me, I had Alan’s beautiful words.

I have thought of Alan, and his words, every day. The blog posts divided easily between two natural categories. As I typed those phrases…Life a Little More Tender…Art a Little More Robust…Alan would pop into my awareness and I would send him gratitude for his inspiration and his life.

I have long been a fan of the actor, watching his movies that began with Die Hard, back in 1988. But what about the man? Who was Alan? As this year progressed, I took to heart another quote of his that helped me to see beyond his legendary acting career.

To know him better, I simply needed to watch his work. During these last twelve months, I have filled in the gaps in my knowledge about Alan Rickman by watching all of his movies. There were quite a few that I had missed, including independent and artistic films such Close My Eyes and Snow Cake, and dramatic shorts such Song of Lunch and Dust.

From Sense & Sensibility

From A Little Chaos, a historical film that Alan starred in and directed.

Beyond his many films, I watched clips from his theater performances. I am sad that I never got to see Alan on stage. His acting career began with live performances, and it was this format that he loved dearly, playing to a responsive audience. I’ve been able to see much of the play, Private Lives, thanks to YouTube, and only a bit of of the 2011 Broadway production, Seminar, for which he was nominated for a Drama League Award.

Alan and Helen Mirren in the play, Antony & Cleopatra.

From the Broadway play, Seminar.

Perhaps I have learned the most about Alan by watching the interviews he gave, on talk shows in the UK and US, at red carpet movie premieres and during stage door appearances. Alan spoke eloquently and honestly about his career and his life. And, I discovered, he does not suffer fools gladly! I cringed more than once over crudely worded questions from interviewers hoping for an inside scoop or a tasty bit of gossip. Deservedly so, those people would get a short, clipped response and a long, steely look from the man who initially built his career upon playing the villain. Alan would arch an eyebrow and purse those lips, effectively silencing stupidity!

Outside of his extraordinary body of work, Alan was a man of passion and compassion, an encourager and supporter of many, a brother and a husband. He was in a long relationship with his partner, Rima Horton. They married in 2012, after 50 years together. Private, and willing to let her husband command the limelight, Rima nevertheless held Alan’s heart. His final days, here on earth, were spent taking care of Rima’s future life without him, and saying goodbye to as many of his friends as he could.

Alan and Rima.

One of Alan’s dearest friends, Emma Thompson

This year, I have come to know better a man I never had the pleasure of actually meeting. Perhaps because of his guidance, with his words and actions, I feel a strong connection to him. As I traveled this year, I realized that the places I explored were some of Alan’s favorite destinations in the world. He loved Tuscany and Venice, in Italy. He often walked the streets of Dublin, Ireland, and he was a frequent visitor to Edinburgh, Scotland…my favorite city in all the world.

I felt Alan’s presence, his artistic spirit, most strongly in London, England. This magnificent city was Alan’s hometown. He lived in the theater district. I could feel the pull of his larger than life personality every time the London Tube sped by his neighborhood. If we had spent another day there, I would have enjoyed exiting the Tube and walking quietly in the art district.

Alan in the garden of his London home.

This has been an amazing year for me. I have expressed my creativity in many ways. And I have endeavored to make life a little more tender in myriad ways as well. I owe much to Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman. I feel a hint of sadness that this Year of Inspiration is drawing to a close. However, I will continue to carry Alan’s words in my heart, seeking tenderness in life, making robust art. I do it to honor him. I do it to expand my soul and enlarge my life.

“Alan deplored injustice, inequality and hypocrisy. He loved the industry he worked in, and the potential of art for everyone. His celebrity status was irrelevant, except as a tool to help give light to all the things he believed in. That light still shines.” Ian Rickson

I came across that last quote, unexpectedly, a couple of nights ago. I had intended to write this thanks to Alan that day, and yet I was held off, told to wait. It was not the right time. I needed to read those words, by a good friend of his. I needed to know that Alan’s light is not extinguished from this world, after all. It is still shining brightly, illuminating dark places and warming hearts. That light has touched my life.

Thank you, Alan.

A Cellist Creates A Little Chaos

I love movie soundtracks. Listening to the score reminds me of the associated scenes from the film and the music inspires me. Last weekend I watched the movie A Little Chaos, starting Kate Winslet, Matthias Schoenaerts and Alan Rickman, who also directed the film and co-wrote the screenplay.

It was my second viewing of A Little Chaos, which means I was able to take in more details and go deeper into the story. I noticed the beautiful musical score on this second pass as well. Heavy on the strings, yet never overpowering, the score perfectly complements this period piece, enhancing the overall mood and the interactions between the characters.

A Cellist Creates A Little Chaos
Today I came across a YouTube video featuring a talented young cellist named Peter Gregson. Looking up more info about the musician I discovered, to my delight, that he composed the soundtrack for A Little Chaos. Although I had enjoyed the score while watching the movie last Saturday, I had not yet connected a name with the work. Synchronicity took care of that for me today!

I also learned that it was a synchronous event that brought Peter Gregson to the Chaos project.

A Cellist Creates A Little Chaos
Peter was drawn to the cello at a very young age, after noticing a cello case in a James Bond movie, and later seeing another such case at a children’s concert in Edinburgh. He wanted a cello case. His mother decided to get him one, and the musical instrument that fit within it.

Now known as a cellist and composer “working at the forefront of the new music scene”, Gregson has collaborated with other film composers and has released several CDs featuring his own music.

A Cellist Creates A Little Chaos

A choreographer from the English National Ballet asked Gregson to write the music for his next ballet, after the musician wrote a cello piece for a previous performance. Peter did so, writing a ballet about water, which he called “complicated, but it’s a beautiful piece, stunningly choreographed.” One night, in the tiny theater where the ballet was being performed, Alan Rickman sat in the audience, watching…and listening.

He approached Peter after the performance and asked him to write the musical score for A Little Chaos. It would be Gregson’s first solo film score. He was 26 years old. Vanity Fair declared it Score of the Year, and it was nominated for the Public Choice Award at the 2015 World Soundtrack Awards.

A Cellist Creates A Little Chaos

In an interview, Peter discussed working on the film’s score, “Once we had the whole film laid out, he (Alan) would come to the studio and we would try things. Alan is a very musical man. He doesn’t have the musical language, but he cares a lot about the music. I was very lucky that he was so passionate about the music. He really helped it be another voice in the film. And I would be very lucky if I have the chance to work again with another director who cares about music as much as he did.” 

I love the role synchronicity played in bringing Peter Grayson to A Little Chaos, and in bringing me to Peter Grayson. Via YouTube, I enjoyed listening to him play the cello today. He has also done several TED Talks that are available as well. And I pulled up the A Little Chaos soundtrack this afternoon, able to listen differently and appreciate it more, knowing the story behind the music and the composer.

Listen to Peter Gregson HERE and HERE.

Now 30 years old, this soulful musician has much to offer to the world. I hope other directors who care passionately about music, about giving the score a distinct voice in their movies, will recognize his gifts. I certainly do.

A Cellist Creates A Little Chaos
You can purchase the A Little Chaos DVD and the soundtrack below:

I am an Amazon Affiliate and may earn a commission on purchases, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for considering making a purchase of these products, or any other items, through my Amazon links! 

Meet Absolem, My Mascot

Absolem is the blue caterpillar from the Lewis Carroll book Alice in Wonderland, and the Disney and Tim Burton movies by the same name. Smoking a hookah as he perches on a mushroom, Absolem first engages Alice in a cryptic conversation that begins with the question, “Who are you?” 

I have always liked the wise blue caterpillar. I loved him in the Tim Burton live action version. When I arrived at the family   Halloween party last month, I was delighted to find my niece Ashley had created a replica of Absolem, and placed him in the Alice in Wonderland area in her home. He was tiny perfection, and I wanted him. 

Absolem’s role in Alice’s life was to help her discover her destiny. I felt this little caterpillar would be the ideal companion for my journey next year, as my destiny continues to be revealed to me. Every year I receive a new word, a new symbol for the journey, and a song. For 2017 I’ve also been given a quote. Absolem isn’t my symbol. I’ll reveal more about that in January. No, the blue caterpillar has been given to me as my mascot, or talisman. 

I was led to him as surely as Alice found Wonderland by traveling through the rabbit hole. 

Early in the year, the world lost a great man when Alan Rickman passed away. More than an actor, Alan possessed creative genius and an expansive heart and soul. I was deeply saddened by his death. Shortly after he died, I found a quote of Alan’s that was destined to shape next year. “If only life could be a little more tender and art a little more robust.” 

From those words a seed was planted, from which grew my word for 2017. I am honored to have Alan’s quote as the foundation for all that has arisen from it already, and all that will flow from it next year. 

Alice Through the Looking Glass released in theaters this year, the sequel to Tim Burton’s previous film. In both movies, Absolem is voiced by Alan Rickman. It was bittersweet to hear his rich and distinctive voice giving life to the blue caterpillar who had transformed into a blue butterfly, knowing Alan had transitioned as well. 

Then, the fabulous Halloween party, with the Tim Burton theme that Ashley and Debbie selected last year, months before Alan passed, has as a decoration the blue caterpillar sitting on his mushroom. He called to me throughout the day, in that unmistakable baritone. “Who are you? And where are you going? Can you make life a little more tender next year, and art a little more robust?” 

He has continued to call to me. 

Today, Absolem came home with me. My niece allowed me to purchase him, knowing I will cherish him. He has a new mushroom to perch upon, that I bought tonight at Target. Both will rest on my writing table, in my creative studio, where I can look at Absolem daily and feel inspired to carry out my mission for 2017. 

I hope he asks me every day who I am. 

Surrender 52: Always…

I wasn’t sure if I would write this post this evening, even though truthfully, I knew this was the surrender for me. There was another birthday that I took note of today, and while he is not a family member, I’ve thought a great deal about his life nonetheless. He was born on this date, in 1946, and passed away last month, on January 14, after a short battle with cancer. 


I first took notice of Alan Rickman in 1991, when I watched, delighted, as he brought the Sheriff of Nottingham to life on the big screen in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves. Being a fan of Kevin Costner, I initially viewed the film because it featured him in the role of Robin Hood. I returned to watch it, again and again, because of Rickman. 
  Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves

I was unfamiliar with this British actor with the distinctive double bass voice. However, I quickly remedied that. I watched him again as Hans Gruber in Die Hard, and as Elliot Marston in Quigley Down Under. The time being way before the days of Googling someone to find a wealth of information, I learned about Alan by watching his films as they released, reading interviews or catching him on a late night show for a few minutes. 


I couldn’t explain the connection I felt to Alan Rickman then, and I still can’t to this day. It’s enough to acknowledge that there is one. His life and work resonate with me on a deep level. And the more I learn about him, the more I find to appreciate about him. 


Alan has an impressive, and varied, body of work, from stage to film to short indie pieces, from actor to director to Tango dancer in a music video. Often cited as one of the best villain actors in the industry, he was actually so much more than that. He did excell at portraying the brooding bad guy, as evidenced by his early films. But he brought depth to characters such as Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility and could elicit laughter in films such as Galaxy Quest. 


He was also known for taking his work seriously, even while not taking himself thus, and for immersing himself in the roles. I discovered that he often got to know his character so well that he gave valuable input to the director concerning how the role should be played. For the complex Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films, Alan came up with the character’s wardrobe. The long rows of buttons on the tunic and the sleeves represented how closed off Snape was, how confined in his actions, and hinted that there was more to him hidden behind those constraints. 

  From Harry Potter

I was shocked, and deeply saddened, by Alan’s death, as many were. I’m still processing the loss of such a beautiful and magnificent soul. I immediately made a list of the movies I had not seen of Alan’s, British films that were not widely distributed when they initially released, and a few more recent ones I had not watched yet. 

 Truly, Madly, Deeply

I have enjoyed his amazing portrayals in movies such as Mesmer, Snow Cake, Rasputin, A Little Chaos and Truly, Madly, Deeply.  I’ve been reminded of his versatility and brilliance in the shorts Dust, Song of Lunch, and Play. And thanks to YouTube, I’m able to see his early works such as The Revolutionary Witness: The Preacher, and The Barchester Chronicles. 

 The Revolutionary Witness: The Preacher 

Watching these films and shorts, catching interviews on YouTube, reading about his many projects, and learning how much he cared about people and offered his help, makes me miss this man I’ve never met. I realized though that by watching his movies I was getting to know the man at a richer, more intimate level, much as I learn more about an author by reading all of her books, or an artist by studying his paintings. Today, I came across an astonishing quote, an invitation from Alan that I had unknowingly already accepted. 


I am doing that very thing, getting to know Alan, what made his heart sing, what gifts he offered to the world, what injustices drew his fire, by knowing his work. In appreciating what he did, I’m discovering more about who he was. 

  From Snow Cake

I had intended to write this post after I had watched all of Alan’s films, shorts, poetry readings and stage clips. But the flow of life presented this opportunity instead, by way of his birthday today. Thank you, Alan Rickman, for touching my life with yours, for accompanying me on my journey, without ever walking alongside in person. 

Toward the end of the Harry Potter story, Snape’s good heart is at last revealed, as is his lifelong love for Harry’s deceased mother, Lily. “After all this time?” asks Professor Dumbledore. “Always”, is Snape’s solemn reply. 

That’s my answer, should I be asked in the years to come if, after all this time, I’m still watching Alan’s films, still learning about him, still appreciating his gifts. 

Always, I’ll say. Always. 


Surrender 47: A Little Chaos

I have been anticipating watching this movie for a month. I came upon it shortly after Alan Rickman’s death in January. I was immediately drawn to the story and I’ve searched for an online version to watch. Today I called my local DVD rental store to check availability. The film was in stock and the clerk held it up front for me. Mid afternoon I surrendered to viewing the movie before my last appointment of the day. I just couldn’t wait!

A Little Chaos, which released in 2014, stars Kate Winslet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Alan Rickman, Stanley Tucci and Helen McCrory. It was directed by Alan Rickman, his second time behind the camera. This historical drama/romance is rated R for brief nudity and sexuality and has a run time of 1 hour and 57 minutes.

Set in France in the year 1682, this richly depicted period piece follows the story of two talented gardeners charged with creating the lush gardens of King Louis XIV (Rickman) in Versailles. The fact that one of the landscape artists is a woman, Sabine De Barra (Winslet), creates both tension and interest, from the king and his court to the hired contractors working with her.

Master gardener and court landscaper Andre Le Notre (Schoenaerts) is willing to take the risk of working with Sabine. He is intrigued by her disdain toward order and formality in the gardens, discovering that she prefers wildness or chaos. Andre is in a marriage of arrangement, to a shrewish woman (McCrory) who lacks imagination. His interest in Sabine soon takes a more personal turn.

Others take notice of the hard working and outspoken young woman. King Louis may initially doubt her abilities to create a garden worthy of a king, but he comes to value her wisdom and her practical and honest views of life. The king’s brother, Philippe (Tucci), is charmed by Sabine’s natural beauty, while the Royal Court is curious about who she is.

Sabine, the heart of this story, wants the chance to fully use her gifts to create something extraordinary. Along the way, perhaps she will also find respect, love and healing from her past.

I loved this beautiful film. I knew I was going to when the introduction of Winslet’s character showed her coloring. She used pencils and pastels to create detailed drawings of the plants and creatures in her garden. And the gardening was so appealing to me. Sabine’s wild garden outside her workroom door was gorgeous, especially when lit by candlelight. I made a mental note to add more candle holders to my own backyard paradise.

Andre’s speech to Sabine, about gardening being our search for Eden, was spot on. Only a few have the gift of recreating Eden he said. However we are drawn to tame the wildness and enter the Garden again.

Alan Rickman was superb as King Louis XIV and as the director. The flow of the film, the visually appealing scenes, are a tribute to him. One of my favorite scenes involved Sabine mistaking the king, who was sitting wigless and in his shirt sleeves in a walled garden, for a tree and shrub gardener. They were able to share a simple meal and have a sincere and heart level conversation that continued even after Sabine realized who she was talking to so freely.

Another favorite scene, and unexpectedly so, allowed a peek into the lives of the women of the court. Beneath their finery and their seemingly indulgent lifestyles lay heartbreak and loss and a quiet strength that endured.

A Little Chaos was all I hoped it would be, and more. I enjoyed the story, and I loved the part that Alan had in creating such an enchanting  movie. I will be purchasing the DVD to add to my collection.

And I was inspired. The weather will be unseasonably warm the remainder of the week. I will be tending to my gardens, getting my hands dirty, preparing for the awakening that will come next month as spring coaxes flowers and plants from their long slumber. I will be creating a little chaos, a bit of Eden, in my own backyard.

Surrender 32: Mesmer

I came across this movie recently as I was searching for Alan Rickman films that I’ve missed. It’s a historical piece, set in Vienna in the 18th century, and I was unfamiliar with it. When it popped up again this afternoon, I decided to watch just a few minutes of the movie, to get a feel for it. I was especially intrigued by the subtitle on a movie poster: “Look into his eyes, and surrender the secrets of your soul.” That was very much an invitation!


I was more than intrigued, after watching for a few minutes, and settled in to view the entire film. 

Mesmer stars Alan Rickman, Gillian Barge, Amanda Ooms and Martin Schwab. The 1994 biography/drama was directed by Roger Spottiswoode and has a run time of 1 hour and 47 minutes. The movie is unrated, however, I’d give it a PG-13 rating, for adult themes. 

Dr. Franz Anton Mesmer (Rickman) is a physician in 18th century Vienna, who uses unconventional methods for bringing relief to the ill. Whether the suffering are plagued by physical or mental disorders, Dr. Mesmer believes that the patients have some responsibilities, both for their diseases and their cures. 


He employs what he terms “animal magnetism”, an invisible fluid that courses through all living creatures, to confront illness or dis-ease in the body, bringing about an eventual cure. Mesmer has learned to use the magnetism that runs through his own body to begin the healing process in another. 

However, virtually everyone, including Mesmer’s wife (Barge), believes the doctor to be a fraud, a charlatan, engaging the patient’s imagination with his own charisma, rather than creating true healing. At a time when blood letting was the most oft used course of treatment for all illnesses, Mesmer’s techniques seemed more magical than medical. 

Mesmer has the opportunity to fully use his unorthodox practices on young pianist Maria Theresa Paradies (Ooms), who has suffered from blindness and fits of severe pain since early childhood. Maria’s abusive father (Schwab), who does not want his daughter to be healed, seeks to have Mesmer ostracized from Vienna. No one, from the haughty medical community, to Mesmer’s jealous wife, believes in the amazing claims the doctor makes, even when it appears that Maria regains her sight. 

Is he a charlatan, a fraud…or a genius? 

This was a fascinating movie. I was so curious about whether the story was based on fact, that I paused about 2/3 of the way through, and did research. Franz Mesmer was an actual person, who did propose his theory of an invisible force that could be transferred between living beings and even inanimate objects. He was totally misunderstood and his theories never proven, even though a council that included American Benjamin Franklin studied his techniques and attempted to identify the invisible fluid that Mesmer spoke of.

 The real Franz Mesmer.  

I recognized that Mesmer, whose methods created the word “mesmerize”, was familiar with and used energy flow. He called it an invisible fluid and magnetism, which is an accurate way to describe chi, or the life energy that flows through us all. His manner of using his own hands to direct that invisible force, bringing healing to others, is very similar to the practice of reiki. 

Alan Rickman’s portrayal of Dr. Mesmer created deep sympathy within me. As a boy, Franz saw the harmony in nature and the disharmony, in mind and body, of humans. That imbalance, he believed, led to many of the ailments that people suffered from. “How could I not try to help?” he asked. 


Mesmer believed that the eyes could see inwardly, as well as outwardly, and that each person must begin the journey toward healing by gazing inside first.  He didn’t offered immediate healing. He knew it was a day by day journey. However many who sought him out were disillusioned when their afflictions weren’t instantly cured. Mesmer appeared to live in the moment, knowing that past trauma could result in disorders and that trying to live in the future created anxieties of the mind and spirit. Sadly, he was way ahead of his time, in his thoughts and beliefs. And truthfully, even by today’s medical standards,  his energy practices would still be considered unconventional by many. 

This is a film, a story, that will stay with me for a long time. I truly was…well…mesmerized by Mesmer, and appreciative of his work, his heart and his vision. I’ll never again hear that word that’s synonymous with enchantment, without thinking of Dr. Franz Mesmer. 


Surrender 23: Truly, Madly, Deeply

In the ten days since Alan Rickman passed away, I’ve spent time reading about his remarkable life and watching film clips on YouTube. I greatly appreciated this versatile actor, who portrayed villains, lovers and even aliens with equal portions of grace and skill. I didn’t know him, personally. But I’ve certainly felt his absence from the earthly realm since his death. 

While processing his absence, in my own way, one film has come up repeatedly. I’ve seen many of Alan’s films, but not this one from 1991, Truly, Madly, Deeply. I made plans to eventually watch all of his movies, over the next few months, as a celebration of his talent and life. And this movie, although not the one I had selected first, kept catching my attention. For me, that’s a nudge. The repetition is an invitation to surrender to the flow to see where it goes. When a free version of Truly, Madly, Deeply appeared on my recommended list on YouTube yesterday, I knew this would be the first of Alan’s films that I watched. 


Truly, Madly, Deeply stars Juliet Stevenson, Alan Rickman and Michael Maloney. This romantic comedy, rated PG, was written and directed by Anthony Minghella and has a run time of 1 hour and 46 minutes. 

Nina (Stevenson) is dealing with nearly unbearable grief after the sudden loss of her young husband, Jamie (Rickman). In spite of the best efforts of her family, friends, coworkers and therapist, Nina is struggling with swirling emotions, including anger. She just wants Jamie back in her life, and in that longing, during times of need, she imagines that he’s there beside her, speaking to her, giving her advice. 

One night, as Nina plays the piano, mourning her husband, she hears Jamie accompanying her on his cello. They were both gifted musicians and often played duets together. When she slowly turns to look over her shoulder, Jamie is standing there, impossibly present. 

Nina fears Jamie is a figment of her imagination, but she doesn’t care. Jamie, her Jamie, is back and that’s all that matters. They laugh together, play the word games they invented, dance, sing and play duets again. Nina asks questions about dying and the afterlife. Jamie fusses about the condition of the flat Nina has purchased and expresses his continuing dislike of the government. 

This strange new life should have been ideal. Except Nina and Jamie shift into who they truly are, not just their best versions of themselves. Jamie, who is dead after all, is always cold. His attempts to get warm cause Nina to be too hot. Her messiness inspires Jamie to tidy up, and rearrange the flat, which displeases Nina, who was learning to create her own space. 


And then there are the dead friends Jamie begins to bring home. They accumulate in the house, watching classic movie videos all hours of the day and night, and they too are freezing cold, collecting piles of blankets to warm themselves under. Nina exclaims that the rats that plagued her home are gone, apparently terrified of spirits, but she now has a ghost infestation. 

In the midst of the growing chaos at home, Nina finds herself dealing with a blossoming attraction to a living man (Maloney) that she seemingly met by chance. When she and Jamie have an argument over the guest ghosts helping him to rearrange the living room once again, Nina asks if this was really what their life was like before. She had remembered the wonderful times, the fun times, and had glossed over the ways they could irritate each other. 

As life rights itself, Nina realizes the real reason that Jamie came back to her. 

Oh, this was a beautiful movie, and Minghella’s directorial debut. I’m not sure how I have missed this one, but the poignancy and timing of this film were not lost on me. Minghella wrote the screenplay with Juliet in mind and asked his friend, Alan Rickman, to star in it as well. That depth of friendship between the director and two performers is evident in the intimacy of the movie. 

There were many teary-eyed moments for me, because of Alan’s recent passing, and due to the nature of the film. And yet how powerful the story was, and the lesson. The living must go on living, even as they miss their loved ones. Cherish the memories, speak to the departed, for they are listening, but don’t get stuck in bereavement. Live, laugh, love. The ending of the movie was a heart breaker, and absolutely right. 

Because I keep thinking of Alan’s absence here on earth, I was particularly struck by a poem Jamie and Nina recite to each other, near the end of the movie. Called Absence in the film, the use of the very word that resonates within me concerning Alan made me realize this was why I was guided to watch this movie now. In part it reads, 

Forgive me. If you no longer live, 

if you, beloved, my love, if you have died, 

all the leaves will fall in my breast, 

it will rain on my soul night and day, 

the snow will burn my heart, 

I shall walk with frost and fire and death and snow, 

my feet will want to walk to where you are sleeping, but I shall stay alive, 

because above all things you wanted me indomitable. (by Pablo Neruda)

I am grateful for many things around this experience, not the least of which was, that I surrendered to the flow of events that brought this movie to my awareness. It is an excellent film to watch to process grief and the pang of missing someone…even a man who has touched my heart in countless ways, without ever actually meeting me. 

Every part of me that longs for more, that soars over art of all kinds, that hopes and dreams, that misses someone I never really knew…all of me matters to the Divine. How do I know? Because even the small and seemingly insignificant trifles of my heart stir the Creator, who responds with love and grace and invitations to grow. I matter. All of me…truly, madly, deeply. 


Surrender 20: Somos en el Flujo

Wednesday afternoons. My work day ends early and I pick up my grandson Dayan from school. For the last year and a half we have grabbed Chinese food and watched a couple of episodes of Doctor Who together, discussing the show, and life, afterward. However, we are caught up on Doctor Who. And we haven’t selected another series yet to watch. I picked Dayan up from school, as usual, and our routine unraveled from there. 

We ate Chinese food at the restaurant rather than eating our take out dinners in front of the tv. And because Dayan ultimately needed to be in Joplin this evening, we decided to go to my house and hang out for a while. That’s when Dayan came up with the brilliant idea of coloring together. My whole family is artistic. I gifted each adult and child with a coloring book and colored pencils for Christmas. We stopped by Dayan’s house so he could pick up his pencils and select a page from his Van Gogh coloring book, and off to Joplin we went. 


We were definitely out of our usual Wednesday afternoon habit. Coloring together would be a fun first though. And I love that this grandson of mine, who knows me so well and follows my journeys, often participating in my adventures, quipped, “We are in the flow, aren’t we Yaya?” We were! We were surrendered to doing something different today. 

As Dayan drove, we chatted and our conversation turned to the recent death of film and theater star, Alan Rickman. I have found myself missing the bright presence of a man I only “met” by way of his wonderful movie characterizations. Dayan, who at 16 years old is mature beyond his years, shared an observation from his high school Spanish class. Both ser and estar are verbs meaning “to be”. Ser is used to describe a more permanent state, such as nationality, dates and time, and physical characteristics. Estar is used in describing temporary states of being, such as moods or location. 

Dayan pointed out that in the Spanish culture, death is estar, a temporary state of being, while relationships are ser, permanent. We discussed those amazing concepts and I found great wisdom and comfort in Dayan’s words. Life and death are temporary states, that flow into each other. Relationships, connections, are eternal and not limited by temporary changes, not even death. 

 Dayan’s work in progress, from the Van Gogh coloring book by  The Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam

 My work in progress, from The Time Chamber by Daria Song. 

We had fun coloring together this afternoon, chatting as we worked. And while I always enjoy our tv watching sessions, this was a great change of pace. I appreciate Dayan’s flexibility and his willingness to try something different. And his profound insights. Somos en el flujo…we are in the flow. Impermanence again, temporary, ever changing…the journey, the flow, the river of life. And our lives as well, ever changing, shifting, growing. Thank you, Dayan, for the amazing life lesson today.