I was walking in City Park on this fine afternoon and spotted a backhoe perched on top of a mountain of dirt the height of a two-story house. It was such an odd sight, as if someone was playing a trick on the landscape. I couldn’t help but stop, and look again.

And then my mind went to the opening lyrics of Joni Mitchell’ “Both Sides Now.”

Bows and flows of angel hair

And ice cream castles in the air

And feather canyons everywhere…

The backhoe reminded me of the ice cream castles, which reminded me of my twins asking, “Mama, is there really ice cream in the sky?”  I used to play the song (a lot) when their Dad was sick and somehow the lyrics carried us like meditation during very hard days.  The song, of course, is about the uncertainties of life — those cloud illusions.

Naturally, the song brings me back in time. Which is all right, since I’m hard at work on a memoir that requires me to do so.

I suppose life’s been on my mind, too, ever since I heard a moving sermon at Temple Micah last week. The occasion was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, among the holiest days of the Jewish New Year. Rabbi Morris spoke in simple, human terms about knowing from whom and what you stand for.  This was, he said, both a challenge and a prayer.

It’s a powerful thought: to know from whom and what you stand for. Because when you do, you really can look at both sides now. Only then, I think, can you understand, “Well something’s lost but something’s gained in living every day.”

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