spirit flows thru -- Alison Rittger's spiritual reflections on finding the holy in the daily

Do Not Detach


PictureRing Cycle Tickets / Alison R.
Tickets to The Ring Cycle sent by the Seattle Opera arrived in a contiguous strip. Apt to be literal, I read the words “Do Not Detach” printed on each ticket to indicate that I should keep the four brightly illustrated tickets attached to each other as they had arrived. So I showed up the first night of the Ring Cycle at McCaw Hall with my ticket strip intact. At the information desk I inquired as to the reasoning behind asking patrons not to detach their tickets. The informative fellow indicated that some patrons will want to frame their connected tickets as art; however, “Do Not Detach” actually refers to the bar code at the bottom of each ticket and not to the four tickets themselves.

I delighted in my misunderstanding. Such foolish consistency must be the hobgoblin of a literal mind. Happily, Amos, the usher at door T on the fifth floor chuckled when I displayed my ticket strip and heard my tale of “Do Not Detach.”

As instructions for increasing satisfaction in my life, “Do Not Detach” seemed applicable. Certainly my weeklong stay in Seattle at Susan’s Sanctuary on Mercer Island attested to the wisdom of not detaching so easily. As I renewed our lapsed friendship, I grew aware of how often in my life I have let go of happy friendships. Susan and I were dorm mates at Occidental College in our freshman year. We both wore green beanies and memorized Yo Triumphe! Not long after we pledged different local sororities, we went our separate ways. And yet, these many years later, Susan and I reconnected in Berkeley when she read in the “Occidental” Class of 1960 that I was avidly Unitarian Universalist in San Francisco. So was she at East Shore Unitarian Church in Bellevue, Washington. In Berkeley one week, studying to be an interfaith minister, Susan contacted me and we spent meaningful time together. At our next visit in Berkeley she invited me to stay at her home when I was north for the Ring Cycle. I was grateful for her offer.

While at her home Susan and I connected with three other college acquaintances as if Seigfried’s horn had resounded to call together friends from the class of 1960. Yo Triumphe!!

I admire my girlfriend Corky who recently went to Carmel Valley with a friend she has had for 60 years. She and this friend often travel together. Corky has also stayed connected to former girlfriends whom I like very much as well as to high school and college friends. Her life has been enriched by her association with many women, some who have been in her life a very long time.

I have not tended to remain connected with people from my past the way Corky has. I know any comparison between us is not skillful. Buddhist wisdom would have me seeing no one as superior, no one as inferior and no one as equal. In other words, Do Not Compare. And yet I am willing to explore how to integrate her art of reaching out with my own more isolationist impulses.

Having recently enjoyed this renewed connection with Susan, I can’t help but call to mind the other really important friends I cherished all the years I lived in Southern California and how easy it was to move away and detach from those connections.

Fresh from my second recent Ring Cycle and having signed up once again to usher at the San Francisco Opera, I am grateful to my Southern California friend Margie. She insisted I should go to at least one opera before my avowed aversion to the art form hardened. It was as her guest in Los Angeles on September 20, 1996 at a performance of “Norma” by Vincenzo Bellini that I knew I loved opera. Over the years, she and I have not kept in contact although she frequently emails poems she really likes and I can find my name on a long email list among the many people to whom she has remained connected. Maybe it’s time to reach out to her again.

I see that it has been my way to lose touch with people who have mattered in my life, although I feel pretty sure that when we do meet again, our friendships will flow. Of course I could send an email or call them, couldn’t I? I do want them to know they are in my heart. Like Seigfried, I need to get on the horn.  

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