Letter From Claverack 09 30 2016 Reaching for the stars and more…

Something like sixteen or seventeen years ago, my friends, Medora Heilbron and Meryl Marshall-Daniels, began having weekly phone calls to shore each other up as we were all in transition points in our careers.

That wonderful custom has continued to this day.  Almost every week, except when one of us is traveling, we have had calls, sharing the highs and lows, the concerns, the fears, the triumphs of our personal and professional lives.

Today, we had one of those calls.  When it was my turn to comment on my state of affairs, I burst out with, “I am verklempt!”

Yesterday evening, an email that should have come in on a project I am up for did not come as promised and, for reasons that are hard to explain, released what Winston Churchill called, “the black dog.”  Discouragement and depression.  I woke at three in the morning and read for three hours before falling back into a fitful sleep.

It has been amazing to me the number of times in the last couple of years that I have awakened with a sense of happiness. Today, it was all I could do to speak my usual morning affirmations.

After our phone call, always good for the spirits, I made a decision to do NOTHING today but work on my physic wounds and get back my equilibrium.  Three loads of laundry and tearing recipes out of the newest issue of “Food & Wine” was as ambitious as I got.

The day matched my mood; grey, hostile, chill and rainy.   Marcel, the dog I am caring for, and I curled up on the couch.  He napped, I read.

Now that the day has slipped into evening, I have to say “the black dog” and I seem to be getting distance from each other.  Largely because of the wonderful support group that is our weekly call.  Together we have laughed and cried.

It wasn’t until late in the afternoon when my spirits were beginning to lift that I even looked at the news of the day.  The sound of uplifting jazz plays in the background.  Happier than I have been all day, I am sipping a martini and typing.  Getting back to the happy Mat.

What did make me happy today was that Alabama’s Chief Justice, Roy Moore, was suspended for the rest of his term over his urging state officials to refuse to grant marriage licenses to same sex couples.  Interestingly, this is not the first time he has been kicked out of being Chief Justice.  Last time was his refusal to take down a statue of the Ten Commandments.

And I was both sad and happy that Rosetta, the first spacecraft to orbit a comet, did a belly flop onto the comet’s surface and went silent, leaving behind reams of data for scientists to parse.  He/it/she was a plucky fellow.  What do you call a spacecraft anyway?

Elon Musk wants to send people to Mars.  He is thinking of a million or so colonists over the next fifty to a hundred years.  He has envisioned a rocket to take them there.  And they should be prepared to die, he said.  It made me think of the first colonists who came from Europe to the Americas.  They had a hard time too.

The thought excites me.  More than likely, I will be gone by the time there is a first rocket to go but if I were here, I would volunteer.  Wow, what an adventure…

The New World captured the imagination of the Old World and millions upon millions poured into North and South America, looking for better lives, something different.

My father’s family came from Germany.  My mother’s from Sweden.  We are a nation of immigrants and we always seem to forget that.  I am not sure how we manage to forget that but we do.

Growing up Catholic in Minnesota was nothing like growing up Catholic somewhere else as I have learned in conversations with friends over the years.  My good friend Bill told me once that he wouldn’t have been allowed to know me where he grew up in rural Missouri.

So I look forward to a time when we go out and populate the planets and then the stars.  I think it’s in our blood to do that.

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