I see skies of blue and clouds of white The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night And

I think to myself, what a wonderful world The colours of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky Are also on the faces of people going by I see friends shakin' hands, sayin' "How do you do?" They're really saying "I love you” --What a Wonderful World, Performed by Louis Armstong

Return to Wainwright P. Crockett

EXACTLY now, on an evening somehow just like this one, seems the right time to finally begin working into some form (any form!) my simple “Holiday greetings.” Why? For one, as the din and haste of yet another mad holiday season once again recedes into memory, I can hear myself think!

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And just now, within that welcomed and welcoming silence, I feel a need arising to just reach out to so many people I care a great deal for, but have not seen for too long, and ask ”How do you do?” I want you to know that I care.

Some of you might have little idea how much you mean to me, or how much richer my life has been because of your place in it. William Blake wrote, “Kindness is the milk of the Human spirit.” True enough, because life can be brutal and hit us head on, full force.

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In which Man learns the tragic (but important) lesson of the return of a hurricane’s eye wall. Miami Beach, 1926.

IT occurs to me that it is your kindness I want to celebrate, in this brief greeting. To say: I am grateful for the ways you have touched me. And as well, to offer up a reminder that no genuine act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted. Or, even forgotten. (“Reality check” that idea in terms of your own experience. It holds, for me.) I have grown to realize that it is absolutely impossible to bestow a blessing on another without as a result receiving some other, in full, like measure. How, exactly? And when? And why would this be so?

I cannot say; don't really know. But I don't need to. I know what I know. The idea is fully mysterious to me, because it is not always ours to see what we might

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be giving or receiving., to or from whom. Often, the exact opposite of what I believed to be true was in fact transpiring, to vastly greater effect. I have zero doubt that the thought is the deepest kind of true.

We seem to generally miscomprehend the extent of our logical understanding concerning matters of the heart, and grant our clownish notions a solemn dignity that befits our notions as polka-dotted diapers might, a baby elephant.

Our conscious musings generally plod along at a fair distance behind the real “action”— by the time it arrives upon the scene the souls might already have always known one another for all of eternity, for in that realm there is no time. Or there might have been some great show with sparks cascading like fireworks and even current arcing, yet the quicksilver dance will have been completed and its restless energy already moved on. Its ebb and flow is both ancient and vastly subtle, relating to the unfolding needs of the soul. None can presume to chart it, or fathom its depths. It is sufficient to completely experience. In the processes of our inner growth and becoming, so often facilitated in the mirror of relationship with others, the rational mind indeed plays a critical role. 4

Yet it is only one part of the picture. And quite possibly a lesser player, at that. One part of us hates that idea, and the other even half breathes a deep sigh of relief, Thank God!

The things that we think we know about matters of the heart might bear no more causative relation to its actual kinetic unfoldings, than our awareness of our breathing and the the beating of our hearts initiate or govern either process. This is why it makes sense to give beyond reason, as we may be called, or feel led. In a sense it is our only way of keeping anything worth having.

THESE are hard, truly awful times for many. Yet even so, strangely, it occurs to me to put this idea upon the table: If you want to receive the best others have to give, then give others your own. Do it first, and do not waver. Come on, what choice do you have anyway, really? And, if you’d actually see yourself in a position to receive blessings, and are truly ready, then start first by applying your creative intelligence to focus upon what it might be that you have to give. Ascertain whatever it is that you, and you alone, have to give to the world. I am warning you: if you see it at all (for we are often blind to our own true inner gold), you might think it either foolish, or laughable. But I am telling you: it is there. And it might point the way toward your salvation. (By which I mean, the satisfaction of your deepest needs. Your personal epiphany. A sudden "click of miracle" that is your own.) Personally, I take heart in Oscar Wilde’s observation that “only the shallow know themselves.”

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Along the Way P. Crockett

The good news in this whole scenario, this canyon of epic paradox: there are not really any wrong answers. Life may be a schoolroom for the Spirit, but it is not a test. From one perspective, certainly, none who really try, who gives it their all, fail. And we are not here simply to compete with one another until our last, clinching, tight-assed breath!

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THE theme to which I keep returning in this "non-Hallmark Greeting," I suppose, is a reassurance, flowing from my deep conviction that we are none of us truly alone. Whatever in the HELL might be going on! Even if (or perhaps especially if), for example, your mess of a financial situation and “Home Sweet “Upside-Down” Home have you feeling something like this,

At least you can be glad that you put on festive shoes that morning! 7

I like the idea of reaching out on this day precisely because it is “ordinary.” This
“Holy day” (a Monday, yet!) is marked out on no public calendar as “different,” and accorded no special significance in observation of any historical event or tradition, or prevailing custom, expression of political bombast, etc.

It's simply a gay-day, man! Yet another jewel upon the mysterious and golden chain that somehow takes form, and knows no end. That makes up a life.

La Paz Garden P. Crockett Collection Eric Raits

IT is not special because of the date on the calendar, or tomorrow’s.

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More so, because the sun rose this morning and completed its arc across the sky, leaving us once again to the moon above, and the stars.

Solar System Quilt, 1876.

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Because the children played,

inviting a contemplation of innocence. And because we enjoyed the supreme luxury of taking for granted the company of our loved ones and of our pets, exactly as if we’d have them forever. 10

My longtime next-door neighbor and friend Vivian Howard, ever the soul of grace. She is here 9, with her brother and her sister Sibyl. She had essentially (and suddenly) become a mother to them both after their mother’s death in childbirth only months before. If she ever felt “put upon,” or for that matter anything other than blessed, I was never shown the first clue of it.

Because it may be so that we will always have an opportunity to touch those we love and simply say, in words or through actions, “I love you…”

My father's parents, Bruce and Annelise, enjoying easy “lawn time” together in the front yard of their home on SW 26th Road, always a block away from ours, I love this picture. He adored her so.

but the sharing may be more rewarding while they are still here with us. Today.

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My parents, Anne and Jerry, back in the swingin' sixties. This August, God willing, will mark 57 years of sacred partnership together. They have attended well to the only lesson that really matters-- how to love—and done their level best to pass it on, as had been their truest legacy.

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The gracious and truly one-of-a-kind Betty Langdon: Alan’s Mom. It is she, I am quite certain, who taught her son that differences can indeed be festive, and wove color all around her beloved boy, free as air. Certain lessons never quite die. Below: a glimpse of Alan’s kaleidoscopic inner sanctum.

TODAY seems the day because it is of threads exactly like that added on this day, for better or for worse, that over the course of a lifetime the tapestries of our lives are interwoven.

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And so: though it may well be that dreams are dying all around us.

New American Gothic Illustration: P Crockett

Why not then make it a special point not only to keep ours alive (itself, no small feat!), but to go for the biggest and most brilliant we can imagine? To one day hold its promise as our very own, inside of our hearts?

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Dreams need no reason, but we need our dreams!

If nothing else, why should we not set our sights on the prospect of having an epic dream? So many have been orphaned…

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Big Blue, Scott Gillen Collection of George Fishman

James Deering, who actually worked very hard and well to help build the family business, is here seen outside of Deering Works in Chicago, just taking a moment to indulge in some outlandish dream.

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ALONG the course of your journey, may you be well accompanied,

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and allow yourself the luxury of time to see and to savor and to share the beauty all around.

Bear Cut, Key Biscayne

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Jade Vine, Next Door

MAY you be sustained and blessed, until you have at last found your way home.

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So there you have it, my simple “New Year’s Greetings,” from the heart. THANK YOU for coming along on my journey. Thank you for being.

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