Outside the Circle

Cindy Milstein

10 Pumpkins for 10 Deep Breaths


Astrology usually isn’t my guiding light. But since this is the season when ghosts are known to haunt, and this October in particular, I’ve more than my fair share of those spirits pulling me between this world and a world that’s somewhere else altogether, I reckon anything that can help provide comfort and perhaps direction is good. So mystically, cosmically, and due to Facebook’s metrics, I ran across my “spooky scope” for this week, thanks to my real-life friend Luna Wilde’s post and the “Until the Stars Fall from the Sky” astrological readings:

“Set your alarm for random times throughout the day, and every time it goes off pause and take ten deep breaths. Mindfulness is obviously helpful and beneficial no matter what the astrology, but this astrology screams, ‘Stop what you are doing and pay attention to what is happening!’ You’re in another wave of personal transformation and interior upheaval. . . . It’s like you’re having an emotional chemical peel. . . . Don’t look to feel tremendously rooted this week, but do look at ways in which you can get creatively present and fundamentally grounded.”

How did those stars know?

This evening, then, to soothe the upheaval, I slowly drew air into my lungs and slowly exhaled — 10 slow times. And what happened was: I recalled the simplest, most comforting (for me) of pleasures. I recalled recent walks on a couple autumn days in Madison, Wisconsin, when I visited my sister to try to “fundamentally ground” myself before heading back to Brooklyn last week, and how on nearly every porch, stoop, or yard, folks had thrown their creative efforts into the simple, sensual pleasure of arranging pumpkins to show off their cheery orange, alone or in combination with other cheery colors. And they’d done so for the simple, sensual pleasure of each and every passerby, most of whom they likely didn’t even know.

It’s a humble act — putting a pumpkin or two, or lots, into the public sphere for communal joy, and a joy that one may never see, share in, or “profit from” directly. But like those 10 slow breaths, bringing one back to a sense of what’s important in this scary world, pumpkins embody a pretty large gift at this moment in human history. Maybe that’s why I’ve always loved them, and they never seem to fail to please; in fact, they’re a surefire way to my heart. Pumpkins, especially in their role around Halloween, point toward a vision of daily life in which we remember to randomly give of ourselves to others in small but potentially meaningful ways — ways we may never know the impact of. Pumpkins re-enliven our imaginations for the simple pleasure of re-enlivening our lives and communities, without knowing who that will touch. And they are just plain silly fun, and likely most of us could use more of that.

So instead of setting my alarm for random times and then pausing to take those 10 much-needed deep breaths, I’m gonna pause at pumpkins (and yes, breath slowly too). Here are 10 for your breathing pleasure — a sampler of some of the ones that brought a smile to my face in Madison.










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If you’ve run across this blog post as a reposting somewhere, you can find other blog-musings and more polished essays at Outside the Circle, cbmilstein.wordpress.com. Share, enjoy, and repost — as long as it’s free as in “free beer” and “freedom.”

(Photos by Cindy Milstein, ’round Madison, Wisconsin, fall 2013)


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This entry was posted on October 28, 2013 by in Dispatches from Life.
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