The scream, Edvard Munch, 1893

fear of failure
paralyses heart and mind
o, to be whole again

Someone listening to my reading of the poem heard the following:

fear of failure
paralyses art and mind
o, to be whole again

Have you a preference? I’d love to hear from you.


“Dance Me To The End Of Love”

When writing, either a blog post or poetry, I often use some form of free association and follow the thread till I reach the story in the labyrinth of my mind. There are always prompts and clues along the way. In my last post I started with Carolyn McDade‘s Come, Sing a Song with Me, which led me to expand on the choral work I am involved with at this time. The song going through my head at that moment was Un canadien errant and I posted a video of Ian and Sylvia Tyson’s rendering of the famous exile song. My colleague Soso of Un pied ici, un pied là-bas, having listened to the Tyson’s version then followed the thread on YouTube, and came upon Leonard Cohen’s interpretation of the same song. Cohen is one of her favorite artists of all time so I was delighted to share with her that at  The Edmonton Metro Chorus we will be performing Cohen’s famous Hallelujah in our November concert.

Soso had attended Cohen’s concert at the Olympia in Paris during his world tour of 2012-2013 and has only fond memories of what she sees as a once in a lifetime experience. Following up on this rave review, I got hold of Leonard Cohen Live in Dublin recorded on September 12, 2013, and promptly watched the 3.5 hours video, 30 songs live, absolutely moving. The audience was captivated, on the edge of their seats, totaly engaged in this man’s sublime performance, delivered with grace and without pretence. This somehow felt like a farewell concert, and it probably was if one considers that the artist was 79 at the time of this recording. Much could be said about many of the songs offered that night, however, I have settled on one, and only one, and the reason will clearly appear in a moment.

Dance Me To The End Of Love was the first song of the evening and immediately struck a chord. The song was first performed in 1984 on the album entitled Various Positions. In 1995, Stewart, Tabori & Chang published Leonard Cohen’s poem with reproductions of Henri Matisse paintings, the third book in a series entitled Art and Poetry. I have long been interested in the relationship between literature and the visual arts and had made it one of my academic specialties. I also always had a penchant for the work of Henri Matisse and was attracted to the boldness and sensuality of his nudes, I found his work to be an inspiration to me. I had not known of this particular publication until Brenda, my wife and best friend, offered it to me in 1996, with the following inscription: After 10 years you still “Dance Me to the End of Love”. We have since danced our way to the Okanagan then, with à pied-à-terre in Switzerland we danced all over Europe for 4 years, after which we danced our way to Malawi for one year before returning to Canada. Come next March, we will be dancing into our 30th anniversary. And beyond…

I would like to leave you with a poem of my own, largely inspired by Leonard Cohen so, thank you Mr. Cohen for lending me some of your words, and most importantly, your spirit. Thanks also to Mr. Ric Masten for the one line from his hymn Let it be a dance, it just kept creeping in. So be it.

You danced me to your side
with burning desires
You danced me to places
near and far

You danced me to your heart
over land and water too

And when I danced near
the edge of time
You danced me “tenderly”
back into your arms

You danced me “through the good times
and the bad times, too”
You danced me “on and on”
You danced me “very long”

Yes, do “dance me to the end of love”

Dance me

Welcome to The Infinity Dream Award

dream award

I have been nominated to The Infinity Dream Award by Soso, a French blogger I have followed and appreciated for quite a while now. In Un pied ici, un pied là-bas she writes mostly about her extensive travels, but just as importantly, she also introduces us to some of Paris’ little gems, Paris being her home at this time. The award comes with some rules, and as I am not terribly fond of rules I would normally have given the invitation a pass; however, as I dislike passing on a challenge just as much, I will play the game. For it is just a game, not unlike the very well known Questionnaire de Proust  which is often played and quoted to this day. Is this revealing of one’s personality, most likely, but as they would say in French, le jeu en vaut la chandelle.

Now, here are the rules of the game as they were passed on to me. The commentaries are of course mine.

  1. Thank and follow the blog that nominated you. (If you so wish!)
  2. Tell us 11 facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the questions that were set for you.
  4. Nominate 11 bloggers and set 11 questions for them, then go to their blog and notify them.

As I am not familiar with numerology, I have no idea why the number 11 is repeated here, however, a quick look in google raised a number of interesting possibilities:

  • “If you continually see the numbers 11, 111, or 1111, there’s a reason. The most common way that angels communicate with humans is through the universal languages of numbers and music.”
  • “A Master Number, the 11 is the most intuitive of all numbers. It is instinctual, charismatic, dynamic and capable when its sights are set on a concrete goal. The 11 is the number associated with faith and psychics.”
  • “Some claim seeing the number 11:11 means you are a member of a special group, perhaps of spiritual light workers.”

Enough said, it is time for me to reveal 11 facts about myself:

  1. I am gladly retired and thoroughly enjoy the freedom to live mostly as I please.
  2. I enjoy playing golf, practicing, however, is an entirely different story. My handicap is a highly secretive affair.
  3. I love writing but lack the discipline necessary to be at work everyday.
  4. I love blogging but can be days, weeks, and at time months without a word
  5. I practice and teach Japanese flower arranging and delight in the use of negative space.
  6. I am an avid reader and have a weakness for a good mystery or suspense novel.
  7. On T.V. I enjoy Masterpiece Theater. Lately we have been watching Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries, an excellent Australian series available on Netflix.
  8. I can never pass on a movie that has Paris in its title or settings.
  9. Between my wife and I, we have 7 children and 14 grandchildren.
  10. When traveling I greatly enjoy unexpected discoveries and utterly dislike going down the street guidebook in hand. That being said, we have had some delightful moments from guidebook recommendations as well as with tour guides.
  11. I am not always the ideal travel companion.

We are not quite out of the bushes just yet. You might think that I have confessed quite enough,  but I still have to answer those questions provided by Soso, therefore here we go.

  1. How do you start your Sunday morning? I would love to say with coffee in bed but that would be a lie, furthermore, I don’t even drink coffee. I know, I know, some would consider that a sin. I do enoy a great cup of tea.  Truth be told, no two Sundays are alike. I will go to church when I am attracted to the topic offered, or for sure when the choir is singing as I am part of it. Such a lovely baritone voice… (;-).  The service is usually followed by brunch with friends. But there are times when Sunday is a golf day. One can always meditate on the green.
  2. What’s your favorite reading(s) of the last six months? I have read lots of mysteries by authors like Louise Penny, Donna Leon, and Val McDermid. Of late, I have been somewhat into soul searching, trying to balance who I am with where I’m at. Big words I know. Two authors have pushed me in that direction. The first one is Richard Wagameseand I have to admit I was hooked as soon as I had read Ragged Company (see Richard’s page for details on his books). This was certainly a tough read, but there is no way one can put that book down. One might not identify with any of his characters, but one can’t help but feel for them while questioning oneself. Powerful book, we all have a story, we are the story, I have learned that much from that book as well as from Keeper’n Me, and For Joshua, both by the same author. The second author I mentioned is Cathryn Wellner, and her book Feisty Aging has encouraged me to review my own aging and compare it to the many characters portrayed in her book, a very valuable exercise.
  3. What’s the kind of attitude you hate the most when travelling in public transportation? The lack of consideration given others by certain passengers who will push people around, take seats reserved for those in need, speak loudly etc.
  4. Who changes the toilet paper roll at home? Whoever needs paper at the time.
  5. How many (really) good friends do you have around? (be honest!) As you might expect, they are not legions. After reading Feisty Aging I did give the subject some consideration. When I was in boarding school, for 5 years of my life, I had one good friend. In graduate school, one good friend again. During my teaching career, one good friend. Today, in retirement, half a dozen good friends. I’m still working on this.
  6. Your best treat ever? A year in Malawi. Great safaris and a weekend at Pumulani Lodge, at the time, and perhaps to this day, one of the best resorts one could wish for. Keep dreaming…
  7. What’s your favorite quotation? That changes every day. Today I will quote Richard Wagamese: “As parents and teachers we need to tell our children this — that you can never be less than you were created to be. You never have to qualify. You never have to prove yourself. You just need to be.” 
  8. If you could relocate right now, which would be the city or country of your choice? I would like somewhere warmer, safe and affordable. Any suggestions?
  9. “I quit my job” or “I fired my boss… Which personality are you? Tough one. Over the years I banged lots of doors behind me. In the end, I chose early retirement.
  10. What could make you want to stop blogging? Nothing really. I only have 68 followers, including myself (I don’t know how I managed that one), but truly, I would do it just for me, as a personal journal. But who am I kidding? The more the merrier.
  11. Oops! There were only ten questions.

My questions for the people I am nominating:

  1. What is the most interesting place you have ever lived in or visited?
  2. In that same vein, which is the most challenging place?
  3. Who or what inspires you?
  4. What does a good day look like to you?
  5. If cost and travel time were not an issue, where would you want to spend a weekend?
  6. What would you plant in a garden of your dreams?
  7. What inspirational quote speaks to you today?
  8. Tell us about a random act of kindness you have given or received.
  9. What is your favorite indulgence?
  10. What authors would currently be on your top 3 to 10 list?
  11. What are you grateful for today?

And my award nominees are:

Joe Fafard sculpture in front of Udell Gallery.

Sculpture in front of Udell Gallery, Edmonton AB.