Archive for July, 2009


I’m often asked, What’s the secret of your young spirit? I am 88.
I have no secret. An outlook, yes. Each day comes as an open window.
I have reasonably good health (after three bouts with breast cancer…and a back that balks at elongated standing or walking), for which I’m deeply grateful. I’m not worry free. My daughter has pancreatic cancer. She too has a vital spirit that keeps her dealing realistically with each day, as she keeps working as a jewelry historian. My son is struggling herocially with the down-turn of the economy. I am a retired psychotherapist…living in a Santa Monica apartment,for 25 years with my second husband.

So what keeps me lively and life-loving? For one, a fantastic husband,
who loves me and accepts my foibles. We share interests and values. For another, a life-long ability to live in the moment and trust that I can handle what is dished out to me. An important factor, from as far back as I can remember, is the urge toward creativity…particularly in writing, poetry, prose. Within the past five years or so, I’ve also put my efforts toward art forms…collage, art boxes.
Above all, I strive to honor the imagination’s dictates, having disciplined myself in learning my craft. Although my poetry and other works have been published and produced commercially, it isn’t this that urges me to continue writing, creating an art form. As most people who follow their creativity will agree, the work is a compulsion, in and of itself. The reward is in the doing, in the “here it is!” surprise…often never finished.

Of course, relationships with family and friends offer the immensely nurturing factor of love, the give-and-take of personal involvement,
which are a constant spiritual part of my life. Friendship to me means presence, a kind of emotional, spiritual and intellectual availability that brings into being the most basic human interaction, that is like a pebble in the pond…reverberating. It calls on the best in me and when I fail, I appreciate what I still must learn.

Is this all enough? It certainly is for me!


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The issue of psychological projection is to me a fascinating one. At its best, we love one another…see attractive traits, enjoy personalities, admire talents, etc. At its worst, we point fingers at the “bad guy,”
blame others, cause wars, murders and distrust our fellow man.

In both cases we are seeing capacities in others that we may not have recognized in ourselves. I may admire your open heart, your willingness to accept differences in others, your confidence. These may be characteristics I have, but have not yet brought into play in my life.

On the other hand, I may see you as cruel, nasty,selfish, even violent.
Again, I’m not fully aware of my own capabilities in this direction. How many times we think, or even say, “I would never do that.” Don’t be too sure…Given the particular circumstances, we are all capable of the worst.

All human beings are complex. None of our theories about us can ever fully account for our differences, our complicated psyches. But we do have some clues to guide us.

Rejection by another is hurtful. We often think: What is wrong with me? (unless our confidence is beyond such thoughts). For those of us who feel a quiver of discomfort when we feel rejected…there is some
relief in recognizing that the person doing the rejecting is projecting his/her feelings, ideas, reactions from within a subjective mind-set.
That old saw: “Consider the source” is not altogether off the mark.

I was recently rejected by a friend of my husband’s. It gave me pause, and a crummy feeling, until I applied the understanding that it wasn’t all about me…It involved his prejudices, his preferences, his
subjective vision. I don’t have to be liked or loved by everyone. To think or feel that I do is childish. After all, on the other side…I don’t like or love everyone either…and have done my share of negative projecting, rejecting others. I do, however, firmly adhere to the principle of giving everyone breathing room to be who they are, without judgement, unless harm is being done to others.

I welcome comments and personal examples or anything that would lead to a discussion of what to me is a most important issue.

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Malinda Markham is a seer. Her poetry shines its glistening language deep into the interior. The crystal ball she peers into is not the world of politics, wars, money-power. It’s the reality of nature, its abiding relation to the human spirit (“Each maple leaf a school of urgency.”). It’s the slant, but penetrating revelation of human emotion and desire (“The sky is water,and yes, I am thirsty.”).

She both creates and feeds my hunger. (“How stories scald the sheets
until they’re stark enough to shelter even the richest skin.”) Nowhere else have I found language so tangential, fragmented and at the same time profoundly affecting in its totality. Each poem is an artifact. The “about” of her work is a given-over to the unknown, the unexpected, a leap of faith. She takes me where I don’t know I want to go, until I’m there. (“The dead/shook themselves loose from whatever/had kept them.”)

Children and their fears, their immediacy, their fierceness, their clarity even in their uncertainty and above all, their imagination appear in many of her poems and I am sent to my own childhood, my children’s.

Throughout, her poetry beats with the sound of melancholy, not sadness or depression, just a terrible, deep longing that is both private and answerable only in meeting.

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