By Marguerite Jill Dye
I confided to my friend that in spite of the holidays, I’ve felt down about our nation’s current events and guessed I should read “Mein Kampf” to better understand the mind of a dictator. She said “Get out of the raging river and find a different path. You can’t see clearly if you’re in the middle of it! Instead of drowning in negativity,” she suggested, “read about the French Resistance. It will enlighten and inspire you with hope.”
Another friend on the same wavelength assured me that much good is happening in the spiritual realm. “Everything is in divine order. We are on the cusp of great and positive change. Focus on positive energy…”
“Because like attracts like,” I interrupted, finishing her sentence with a universal truth from the “Law of Attraction.” Although I haven’t mastered my own attitude yet, I have learned that attitude has everything to do with the difference between drowning in the river and being in the flow. Prayer, meditation, yoga and other forms of exercise, creativity, and contact with nature help us to heal from daily assaults on our spirits, reconnect with our joy, and feel the flow of our inner life force or “chi” energy.
Like the graceful, flowing motions of tai chi and qigong, Chinese brush painting is an ancient form of meditation that engages the spirit and extends from the heart through the arm, hand, brush, and onto the paper. It is essential that the artist paint in a peaceful state of mind for the artist’s spirit imbues the painting and is absorbed by the viewer. One of the “Four Gentlemen” or “Four Noble Ones” of Chinese traditional painting is bamboo. Chinese artist scholars and leaders have painted bamboo for more than 1,000 years because bamboo lifts up and inspires them to be upright, honest, and strong, yet flexible, and bend with the wind. Some leaders succeed at embodying these traits. Others fail.
As I read the column “Tears of pride as Killington hosts first World Cup,” by Merisa Sherman in the Dec. 7 edition, in which she remembers ski racing all over Vermont with her dad, I recalled learning to ski at Highpoint, N.J., with my dad when I was five. I grabbed the rope tow then flew through the air and landed in a heap twice until I understood that I needed to gently close my mittens on the moving rope. Soon Dad had me snow plowing across every slope, then straight downhill in a “V” with my knees in and ski tips nearly touching.
Two years later, in 1958, Dad drove my brother Billy and his friends to a ski camp at Colton Farm. The kids skied at Pico while Dad looked at land with Orin Bates under six feet of snow. Plans to build Killington Ski Area were just beginning to take form. When a grouse flew up across Dad’s path, he took it as a sign and bought two acres off Roaring Brook Road. As we cleared our land and began to build, Killington did too. By the time we’d built a basement shell and installed a pot belly stove, Dad and I were ready to hit Killington’s first slopes.
There I learned to parallel ski, traverse, and side-step, transferring my weight on the turn, and eventually to parallel turn. We climbed uphill with herringbone and swooshed downhill on wooded trails, and one scary day on the Cat Walk, Dad showed me how to sideslip down.
When we gave Okemo a try, I flew six feet into the air on the Poma lift before discovering how not to fall. There is no giving up on a mountain: there’s a strategy and an answer for every challenge.
Some of my most powerful experiences of feeling exhilarated, in the flow, and one with the mountain were skiing down slopes full of moguls. The rhythm of lifting up, turning, and sliding down each bump developed into a graceful dance. Although injury prevents me from hitting the slopes now, I can still sense the rhythm and joy of being in the flow on my mountain of moguls in the glittering snow.
And so, this holiday season, shall we join the resistance to overcome challenges, claim our joy, and reconnect with the flow? Let’s attract positive energy into our lives which will bless those around us too.
Marguerite Jill Dye is an author and artist who loves living in the Green Mountains of Vermont and on Florida’s Gulf Coast with her husband, Duane. She recently created a magical paper cut world to illustrate Sandra Gartner’s hide and seek story book, “Where is Sam?”
Photo by Shanghai artist Qiu Shou-Chen
“Taking off into the World”