Archive for the ‘My poems’ Category

The film Arrival asks: If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?

March 12, 2017

The main question posed in the 2016 sci fi film Arrival is, If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?

Arrival (2106)

When mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe, Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) recruits Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), a renowned linguist, and Dr. Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), a theoretical physicist, to try and communicate with the Aliens and find out why they have landed on Earth. Dr. Banks races against time to decipher their intent. As tensions mount between fearful governments, she discovers the Aliens’ true purpose and, to avert global war, takes a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity. This mesmerizing masterpiece has a mind-blowing ending that will leave you wondering what happened and how.

That’s the external story, but the essential message of this movie is more internal. It’s about love, determinism and choice.

Based on the award-winning science fiction novella, Story of Your Life, by Ted Chiang, it was convincingly transformed into a screenplay by Eric Heisserrer. Having read the book and been moved by it, director Denis Villeneuve wondered how it could be turned into a science fiction film, a genre he had been thinking about for years. When he received the script he decided he finally had to make this film, but with Amy Adams in the lead as Dr. Louise Banks. Even though she was taking a break from filmmaking, after reading the script, she was in. Everyone involved with making the film read the book and loved the story.

In the opening scenes we learn that Professor Louise Banks is losing her daughter Hannah to a rare disease. As a child, Hannah asks her mother how she chose her name. Louise tells her she has a special name, because it is a palindrome. It’s spelled and read the same way, forwards and backwards.

This is a clue that may help you make sense of certain events in the film that appear as flashbacks. Or are they flashforwards? Yet, in retrospect, it’s not the beginnings and endings that are important to Louise, but how she lived her life, the choice she made to love, regardless of the outcome.

Watching this movie was a right-brain experience; it’s non-linear. Dr. Banks goes through changes as she learns the Alien language. Their images communicate ideas in circles without reference to tense or time. Comprehending their language transforms Louise’s brain. She begins to experience the events in her life from a less sequential, more holistic perspective.

This is reality parsed and put together from a female perspective. She is the only one who can save the situation when she finally understands why the Aliens are here. The other challenge now is communicating it to a male-dominated world intent on destroying itself. This Chinese quote is another important clue: “In war there are now winners, only widows.”

Towards the end of the film, having collaborated with and seen how brilliant, brave, and compassionate Louise has been throughout their encounter with the Aliens, and the Army, Ian realizes he’s fallen in love with her. As much as he was amazed by his encounters with the Aliens, his “greatest surprise” he tells her, “is you.”

To love is human. It takes us out of our time, because Love Is Eternal. It always Is. We participate in It. If we are lucky enough. I wrote this as a comment to my son who purchased the film and sent me the link. I couldn’t help turning it into a tanka.

After watching “Arrival” (2016)

To love is human
It takes us out of our time
Love Is Eternal

We participate in It
If we are lucky enough

© Ken Chawkin
Mon Apr 6, 2017
Fairfield, Iowa

You should see this film twice to better understand and appreciate it. Below is the trailer, followed by the Featurette on the DVD Extras.

This DVD Featurette gives you a perspective of what went into the making of the film: Arrival (2016) | Behind the Scenes | Understanding Arrival | Full Extras | Full HD.

Better to see the film first before seeing these explanations. Nick Statt wrote a great article for The Verge on living with the power of choice: How the short story that inspired Arrival helps us interpret the film’s major twist. ScreenPrism offers an intelligent explanation of the ending of this film. And ChewingSand shares good insights in this video: Why ARRIVAL is Great Sci-Fi. There are more explanations on YouTube.

See a fun, informative post-screening SAG-AFTRA Foundation interview: Conversations with Amy Adams and Denis Villeneuve of ARRIVAL.

Links to the beautiful Arrival Soundtrack – On The Nature Of Daylight by Max Richter and Jóhann Jóhannsson – Heptapod B [From “Arrival” Soundtrack / Pseudo Video].

Wikipedia gives a comprehensive review/explanation of the film, which might include some spoilers if you haven’t already seen it yet.

Also see these favorite romantic films of mine. They reveal the transformational power of love over time.

Haiku for Her, a new poem for Sali, @kenchawkin

March 12, 2017

I was reading this two-tanka poem again, Sali’s Shakti, and realized it was mostly written on March 12, 2012, five years ago today. Synchronicity? It was completed and posted the next day, March 13. Even though she passed Oct 1, 2016, Sali still inspires me. I miss her, but This Quiet Love we shared doesn’t diminish. Here is a new poem for Sali:

Haiku for Her

You gave me a taste
Of true Love and Unity
For Eternity

© Ken Chawkin
March 12, 2017
Fairfield, Iowa, USA

Though my mother died 31 years ago, March 12 this year is also the 100th anniversary of her birth. Another coincidence? A good day to remember two very special women in my life.

Update: March 13, 2017: I had a hunch I would add something the next day, as I did on the earlier post about Sali referenced above. Last night the older of my two younger sisters emailed to say she was made a TM Teacher on March 12, 1972. All 3 of use were in Europe with Maharishi on our Teacher Training Course. But the strangest coincidence dawned on me this morning. Both Sali and my mother died in their 69th year!!

Final entries leading up to and after Sali’s passing

March 1, 2017

Here are 4 entries—two leading up to Sali’s passing; a poem describing it, written 6 weeks later from India, 5 days after having spread her ashes in the holy Narmada River; and one poem composed a few days ago in remembrance of Sali, and the gift of love we shared together.

Ahead of the Game
Friday, September 23, 2016

You’ve been practicing for your next journey. With the dementia and a possible stroke that rendered you almost speechless, how can you communicate, except with inaudible sounds, and even those you no longer bother to form or utter.

But you can still smile and giggle, communicating great joy like the angels, with pure feeling and silence, where words are no longer needed or used.

You’ve been practicing for your upcoming journey. You’re way ahead of the game.

###

Not the End Game
Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The nurse called this afternoon to tell me you seemed to stop swallowing. You haven’t been able to eat or drink. The Hospice nurse who knows you started putting things into action to get you back on Hospice care. Will know by tomorrow morning after their evaluation and direction from your doctor.

So it looks like this is it. No more rehearsals. You’re going for the final homerun sliding into heaven. I think we’re better prepared now, having read The Grace in Dying. We have a better understanding and appreciation for the end game, which, as it turns out, will not be the end.

To be continued…..

(Sali would soon pass, on Saturday night, 11:17 pm CT, Oct 1, 2016, first day of the Nine Days of Mother Divine. Her glorious Memorial Service and blissful Vedic Cremation Ceremony took place on the 5th day, Wed, Oct 5, 2016. See Celebrating the glorious life of Sally M Peden.)

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Five days after spreading Sali’s ashes from a boat on the Narmada River in India during a most auspicious day, I started to write about our final moments together back in Fairfield when she passed, around 6 weeks earlier, during the first night of the Nine Days of Mother Divine, Navratri. The answer to a question of what had happened came in one word during an evening meditation at the Brahmasthan. It became the title and last line of this poem.

UNDIFFERENTIATED
The Peace that Passeth Understanding

The final feeling
Between us was a Great Peace
Deep within the Heart

All that remained was Silence
After you took your last breath

Where was that Peace coming from
In your heart, mine, or ours
Beyond my comprehension

UNDIFFERENTIATED

©Ken Chawkin
Nov 19, 2016
Bijouri Campus
Brahmasthan of India

Contained within An early attempt at some kind of closure with a poem on Sali’s passing and auspicious times. Included are some of the inspiring tributes to Sali we shared during her Memorial Service and Vedic Cremation Ceremony on that very special send-off.

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The Rare Gift of Love
A Tanka in Remembrance of Sali

Your heart opened up
Time and illness tempered you
Then, the Surrender

What we shared was glorious
A Gift from God and Guru

©Ken Chawkin
February 27, 2017
Fairfield, Iowa

###

Addition on March 22, 2017

On March 12th, I wrote a new poem for Sali, Haiku for Her. Five years earlier, on the same day, I had written the two-tanka poem, Sali’s Shakti.

Celebrating the Glorious Life of Sally M Peden

January 17, 2017
Sally Peden - 1992

Sally Peden, May 26, 1947 – October 1, 2016

A repost celebrating the glorious life of Sally M Peden, which includes descriptions of her peaceful and graceful transition, memorial service, and Vedic cremation ceremony. Many beautiful tributes were added that give a glimpse of how special she was. Included is a poem I wrote about Sali’s passing, and descriptions of the auspicious times of her death, and spreading of her ashes in India’s holy Narmada River. May she reside in the highest heaven.

Source: An early attempt at some kind of closure with a poem on Sali’s passing and auspicious times 

Recently added: Final entries leading up to and after Sali’s passing

An early attempt at some kind of closure with a poem on Sali’s passing and auspicious times

December 28, 2016

Celebrating the Glorious Life of Sally Monroe Peden

Sally Peden, May 26, 1947 – October 1, 2016

Sally M. Peden, May 26, 1947 – October 1, 2016

This photo of Sali was taken in the summer of 1992, about a year before we would meet. She arrived to register us for a large advanced meditation course in Washington, DC. When Sali came up to me to ask my name and check it on her list, two thoughts immediately entered my mind: Too bad I just got married (again); Too bad she’s on Mother Divine (a course for single women). Our lives would drastically change—my second marriage would end and I would eventually return to Canada, later leave to join Purusha (a course for single men) and travel the world; she would leave her way of life and end up at MUM in Fairfield, Iowa working for John Hagelin’s ISTPP and the NLP. We would meet there 10 years later in the fall of 2003, as if for the first time. A beautiful friendship would grow and transform our lives, a story worth writing one day.

Sally M. Peden, passed peacefully and gracefully on Saturday, October 1, 2016, 11:17pm, during the evening of the first day of the Nine Days of Mother Divine. Her Memorial Service and Vedic Cremation Ceremony were held on Wednesday, October 5, 2016, at the Behner Funeral Home in Fairfield, Iowa, USA.

Sali had devoted her life in personal service to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi since 1971. She traveled the world with him as a personal assistant and lived for many years at the International Capital for the Transcendental Meditation movement in Seelisberg, Switzerland working on many important projects. Sali was very humble, the sign of a great soul. She accomplished untold tasks for Maharishi, which pleased him, but never felt the need to draw attention to herself, just pure dynamic devoted service.

Many emails from around the world poured in praising Sali. I’ll reference a few here.

Sheila Chalmers had worked closely with Sali at International on several projects. In her tribute to Sali, which was read aloud, Sheila described Sali’s brilliant mind, amazingly focussed work ethic, and how much she learned from her.

Emily Levin, a close friend of Sali’s, sent this wonderful tribute to Sali, which was also read aloud. Maharishi had paired them up early on, and Emily shines a glorious light on Sali and their fun-filled friendship.

Some other people who used to work with Sali spoke at her Memorial Service. Alarik Arenander, a neuroscientist from the early days of Maharishi Eureopean Research University in Seelisberg, described an incident when they were recording an EEG of a meditating subject. Maharishi happened to enter the lab with an important guest. The scientists showed Maharishi the EEG brainwaves being printed out from the moving ink pens. Maharishi asked, “What is that?” Researchers again explained the brainwaves. After asking several times, since the researchers were not ‘getting it,’ Maharishi pulled apart the long ream of neatly folded EEG paper emphatically pointing to the long non-fluctuating line at the bottom below the EEG. The researchers had an ‘aha’ moment when they examined the breath rate signal, which indicated extended periods of no breathing. They had been looking to find a marker for transcending in meditation and there it was, right in front of them, unnoticed, until Maharishi pointed it out. Sali was meditating in the next room, and it was her clear orderly mind and refined nervous system that brought out the understanding of breath suspension during Transcendental Meditation as an indicator of transcendence! That, along with the orderliness of coherent brain functioning producing relaxed alpha waves. The rest is history!

Gerry Geer, an MUM faculty member and ISTPP director of publications, described her extraordinary personality and some of the amazing things she had accomplished early on in her career. Gerry first met Sali around 1970 when he dropped into the Cambridge TM Center to find out what it was all about. She inspired him to learn TM and to become a teacher. Decades later they would work together at the ISTPP. Read Gerry Geer’s tribute to Sali. In it he mentions a very special incident he witnessed between her and Maharishi. It speaks volumes!

Valerie Gangas, a friend and author, posted a personal reaction to that very special day celebrating Sali, and our relationship, on her blog: Life in Love with You. It was a powerful revelation for her! I am so thankful she wrote it. Also definitely worth reading!

Dying, Dharma and Devotion

In the weeks leading up to Sali’s transition, I was reading two books to her. The first was an enlightened description of the nearing death experience, clearly delineated by Kathleen Dowling Singh in her reassuring book, The Grace in Dying: How We Are Transformed Spiritually as We Die. I believe this book prepared us for what was to come, to both let go and allow it to happen naturally.

Sali would soon be put back on Hospice for added care, and moved to a private room, which gave us the needed privacy for such an intimate experience. She would pass within a few days, at an auspicious time in the Vedic calendar.

The second book was The Ramayana: A New Retelling of Valmiki’s Ancient Epic–Complete and Comprehensive, written by Linda Egenes, a friend, and Kumuda Reddy. It is an inspiring story as relevant today as it has been throughout the ages, of dharma, duty, triumphing over evil; enlightened leadership; and an ideal love between an evolved man and woman. Listening to that story kept our attention focused on something spiritually elevating during her final days.

I got as far as the end of Chapter 36, where Hanuman, after finding Sita, consoles and reassures her that Rama is preparing an army to free her from her abductor, Ravana, king of the rakshasas. This comes as a great relief to Sita who was at her lowest with no hope in sight.

For the previous two days and nights, Sali’s breathing pattern consisted of short quick breaths, in and out. It was at this point in the story that her breathing began to change. It became softer, slower, and then, stopped. I waited for another, very feeble attempt, then put one hand over her heart and the other on her head. Not finding any sign of life in the body, these words came into my mind: “It’s done. The karma is over.” With a sense of relief and finality, I said: “Peace, Peace, Shanti, Shanti,” and lovingly kissed her forehead, our last goodbye. I felt a profound peacefulness deep within me, which I could not fully comprehend. The answer would come later, in a word, while meditating in India, where I wrote this poem.

UNDIFFERENTIATED
The Peace that Passeth Understanding

The final feeling
Between us was a Great Peace
Deep within the Heart

All that remained was Silence
After you took your last breath

Where was that Peace coming from
In your heart, mine, or ours
Beyond my comprehension

UNDIFFERENTIATED

As promised, I did continue reading the rest of The Ramayana to Sali, wherever she might be, that evening and the following morning, finishing it at the funeral home, after they had picked up her body and brought it there. Her memorial and cremation would take place a few days later, still within the auspicious Nine Days.

Narmada River, Brahmasthan, Atirudrabhishek

At the luncheon in Revelations following Sali’s cremation, one of our friends, Sheila Ross, suggested I take the cremains to the holy Narmada River, where some of Maharishi’s ashes had been placed. She said it was also close to the Brahmasthan, geographic center of India, where meditation courses were being held, and thousands of Maharishi Vedic Pandits were reciting Atirudrabhishek, an ancient Vedic performance to create world peace.

At the invitation of my family, I did go to India, a little over a month after Sali’s cremation, to spread her ashes from a boat at that location near the Gwari Ghat. It turned out to be during a most auspicious time—a celebration of the holy day of Kartika Poornimah, November 14, 2016, also known as Devi Dipavali, the Festival of Lights of the Gods—one of the most spiritually significant days in the Vedic calendar, during the biggest full moon in 70 years, the supermoon! Truly befitting someone of Sali’s spiritual merit.

Staying at the Brahmasthan afterwards for three weeks was healing for me. It was a powerful and blissful experience visiting the Maharishi Vedic Pandits in their large meditation hall, listening to them perform their Vedic recitations! You can sample some of them in these eCards, enhanced with audios, videos and slideshows.

To get an example of Sali’s sweetness and our special relationship, see this previous post from December 8, 2016—Capturing an authentic moment in writing—about Being with Sali on August 1, 2012, during another full moon.

I am so thankful for the support of our families, the Slusers, Kaplans, Mitchells, and Petch Peden and Robert Harper, and for many of our friends who helped handle so many details, especially Kate Ross and Jennifer Hamilton! I also appreciate acupuncturist Sarah Brooks, the staff at Parkview Care Center and Hospice Compassus for their tireless care of Sali, and sometimes me.

Recently Added

Celebrating the Glorious Life of Sally M Peden and Final entries leading up to and after Sali’s passing

Capturing an authentic moment in writing

December 8, 2016

Being with Sali, August 1, 2012, on a full moon night

Norman Zierold, an associate and author, had suggested I write about my experiences after visiting my sweetheart Sally Peden at Parkview Care Center, while they were still fresh. That way, he said, I would have an authentic record for some future use, which, he added, would be a lot easier than relying on memory. Aside from the poems inspired by her, I wish I had done so more often. But I did find one precious account from over four years ago that stands out for me. It took place during a full moon night and ended with a poem. Here is that journal entry:

Went to see Sali Wednesday night, August 1, 2012, between 8:45 to 9:30 pm, full moon night. I was dropping off some supplies for her and came into her room to see if she might be awake. She was sort of sleeping in bed. I came up close to her and spoke quietly. She smiled, opened her eyes slightly and started to talk. I spoke to her some more. When it became clear to her that I was really there she became animated trying to say how much she loved me. I said the same to her. She was happy and giggled from time to time. It was a powerful sweet experience just being with her. It was joyful for both of us.

I brought a chair over and sat next to her at the head of the bed. I leaned in through the open space where the bedrail ended and put my arms around her. My heart was at peace, happy; I felt whole again. That sweet memory of what it was like to be together made me see how empty my time alone on the computer back home was compared to sharing this joy.

The peace and bliss I was feeling was palpable. She felt it too and we both laughed from time to time. Even with her physical and mental limitations, she was able to radiate this powerful spiritual reality from within herself.

Life is a mystery, and a blessing, in ways that are unfathomable, in the most unexpected situations. I spontaneously spoke out the experience I was having with her and then quickly wrote these 3 lines down.

This is the calming center
This is the place of sweetness
Lying next to you

Since I wasn’t actually lying next to her I later revised the last line to read: Being here with you. Then I completed the poem.

Being with Sali

This is the calming center
This is the place of sweetness
Being here with you

All that I knew before this
All that I thought important
Simply was not true

You radiate truth … beauty
You’re giving me so much more
Than I’m giving you

Just by being who you are

Ken Chawkin
Fairfield, Iowa
August 4, 2012

Sally Peden would pass, October 1, 2016, four years and two months later. I’ll share that experience of our final moments together, which I wrote in a poem; and what happened with her ashes during another full moon, in a future post. An earlier poem, This Quiet Love, with links to others, will give you an understanding of our relationship, and what Sali meant to me; as well as this recent description of her Memorial and Vedic Cremation Ceremony, by friend and author, Valerie Gangas: Life in Love with You.

Here is that update: An early attempt at some kind of closure with a poem on Sali’s passing and auspicious times.

Sweetheart Haiku for Sali from @kenchawkin

July 17, 2016

i took Sali to her dental appointment last Friday. While waiting for the dental hygienist to come in and clean her teeth, I told Sali what she meant to me, and distilled it down to this simple haiku.

Sweetheart Haiku

The sweetness in you
Brings out the sweetness in me
Why you’re my sweetheart

© Ken Chawkin
Fairfield, Iowa
July 15, 2016

The Curse of Dementia: On watching a loved one diminish before your eyes, poem by Ken Chawkin

May 29, 2016

I sometimes get depressed seeing what’s happening to my sweetheart over time. She has dementia and lives in a care facility.

I keep my feelings in and don’t burden people with them. Only talk favorably about her. But sometimes I have to write them down. It’s one way to deal with an emotional reaction to a worsening situation. There may be more going on, but I am not always privy to such spiritual transformation.

Writing offers relief. By expressing what I’m feeling, I objectify my feelings in words and no longer hold them in. Then I can rework the words into a poem, and an introduction. This creates a kind of satisfaction. It gives me something else to focus on, and lightens the emotional load.

Hopefully, it will ease the hearts of those carrying a similar burden, should they read this. And maybe inspire them to do the same.

The Curse of Dementia
On watching a loved one diminish before your eyes

This passing of time
Is too fast for comfort

You’re changing but not
Getting any better

As I get used to this
Diminished form of you

I forget who you used to be to me

But this is nothing compared
To what you have lost

Yet who is happier

Mortality marches on
Until it will fall off

This cliff called life

© Ken Chawkin
May 29, 2016
Fairfield, Iowa

Related: An Unwanted Guest | Dementia Blues | Teapot Poem

Lilac Haiku by Ken Chawkin

May 14, 2016

As I was about to get into my car after visiting Sali at Parkview Care Center, I noticed a sweet aroma. Walking on the lawn towards the willow tree I looked around and noticed lilac bushes in full bloom. Their wonderful perfume inspired this haiku.

image

Lilacs are lovely
Their perfume sweetens the air
Harbingers of Spring

© Ken Chawkin
Fairfield, Iowa
Written May 12, 2016
Posted May 14, 2016

Teapot Poem by Ken Chawkin

May 14, 2016

Teapot

Teapot Poem

This teapot, a gift for you,
sat on your kitchen table.
Later, we shared it, together.
Now, it sits alone, with me.

© Ken Chawkin
Fairfield, Iowa
May 1, 2016


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