A Glimpse of the Eternal
a sparrow lighted
on a pine bough
my bedroom window
and a puff
of yellow pollen
~ Ted Kooser, Delights & Shadows
A Glimpse of the Eternal
a sparrow lighted
on a pine bough
my bedroom window
and a puff
of yellow pollen
~ Ted Kooser, Delights & Shadows
Check me out! (The Fedorable Caleb)
And here’s links to 3 more excerpts from Sam Harris’ new book that hit nerve endings:
Our minds are all we have. They are all we have ever had. And they are all we can offer others. This might not be obvious, especially when there are aspects of your life that seem in need of improvement— when your goals are unrealized, or you are struggling to find a career, or you have relationships that need repairing. But it’s the truth. Every experience you have ever had has been shaped by your mind. Every relationship is as good or as bad as it is because of the minds involved. If you are perpetually angry, depressed, confused, and unloving, or your attention is elsewhere, it won’t matter how successful you become or who is in your life— you won’t enjoy any of it.
Most of us could easily compile a list of goals we want to achieve or personal problems that need to be solved. But what is the real significance of every item on such a list? Everything we want to accomplish— to paint the house, learn a new language, find a better job— is something that promises that, if done, it would allow us to finally relax and enjoy our lives in the present. Generally speaking, this is a false hope. I’m not denying the importance of achieving one’s goals, maintaining one’s health, or keeping one’s children clothed and fed— but most of us spend our time seeking happiness and security without acknowledging the underlying purpose of our search. Each of us is looking for a path back to the present: We are trying to find good enough reasons to be satisfied now.
Acknowledging that this is the structure of the game we are playing allows us to play it differently. How we pay attention to the present moment largely determines the character of our experience and, therefore, the quality of our lives.
I finished this book last night. I don’t recall another book packing such a punch at the finish.
“I felt myself enter Fitzgerald’s language, felt its lilt, its music, carry me away.”
I’ve included the closing five paragraphs below. If you want to avoid a spoiler, stop here and go pick up David Ulin’s book:
David L. Ulin. The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time. (Sasquatch Books. 2010)
Doubt As a Sign of Faith by Julia Baird in NY Times:
When the Most Rev. Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, said recently that at times he questioned if God was really there, much of the reaction was predictably juvenile: Even God’s earthly emissary isn’t sure if the whole thing is made up! The International Business Times called it “the doubt of the century.”
…He told an audience at Bristol Cathedral that there were moments where he wondered, “Is there a God? Where is God?” Then, asked specifically if he harbored doubts, he responded, “It is a really good question. … The other day I was praying over something as I was running, and I ended up saying to God, ‘Look, this is all very well, but isn’t it about time you did something, if you’re there?’ Which is probably not what the archbishop of Canterbury should say.”
…But Archbishop Welby’s candor only makes him human. He may lead 80 million Anglicans worldwide, but he is also a man who knows anguish, rage, incomprehension and the cold bareness of grief. He lost his firstborn child, Johanna, a 7-month-old baby girl, in a car accident in 1983, a period he has described as “utter agony.” As a teenager he cared for an alcoholic father…
Faith cannot block out darkness, or doubt…Just as courage is persisting in the face of fear, so faith is persisting in the presence of doubt. Faith becomes then a commitment, a practice and a pact that is usually sustained by belief. But doubt is not just a roiling, or a vulnerability; it can also be a strength. Doubt acknowledges our own limitations and confirms — or challenges — fundamental beliefs, and is not a detractor of belief but a crucial part of it.
…The Southern writer Flannery O’Connor said there was “no suffering greater than what is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe,” but for her, these torments were “the process by which faith is deepened.”
My local pastor, Tim Giovanelli, a Baptist whose ocean-swimming prowess has lassoed scores of surfers and swimmers into his church, puts it simply: “For Welby, myself and many others, it is not that we have certainty but have seen the plausibility of faith and positive impact it can make. In a broken world, that can be enough.”
Don’t miss the full op-ed article here: Doubt As a Sign of Faith
This is what the Jawbone’s surveys show are the average steps per day for users of fitness step counters. (Saturday biggest day. Sunday, day of rest, apparently.)
Now here is my reality for the week of 9/8/14 based on steps counted by my Vivofit Fitness tracker:
Excerpts from: When Blogging Becomes a Slog by Steven Kurutz, NYTimes.com:
The Petersiks’ trademark gung-ho enthusiasm seemed forced. And since the birth of their second child, Teddy, in April, they were increasingly voicing their difficulty in balancing work and family…the couple responded in a post titled “Feeeeeelings,” in which they confessed to “feeling off for a while” and missing the days when “we did this for the love.” Although they had scaled back outside projects to recommit to the blog, they were unable to shake the sense of “letting you guys down repeatedly.” They had decided to step away from Young House Love for an indeterminate period and explore other career options. The unexpected announcement has generated more than 4,000 comments so far.
Ms. Petersik responded in an email that “we really would like to clear our heads and refocus.” But they are not alone in their experience. Blogger burnout seems to be something that many of their colleagues in the world of home and D.I.Y. blogs, most of them in their 20s and early 30s, can relate to as well. Is the first generation of design bloggers aging out of the blogosphere? Or is this just a new twist on an old business story, updated for the Internet age?
…A tricky thing to avoid as a full-time blogger, considering that the Internet never sleeps, readers want fresh content daily and new social media platforms must be mastered and added to the already demanding workload.
…Pam Kueber…sees the Petersiks’ escalating stress levels and unhappiness simply as evidence of the latter: A passion turns into a hobby, which becomes a full-time career. “And in some predictable period of time, it consumes your life and sucks the joy out if it,” said Ms. Kueber, finishing the arc. “That last part of the Shakespearean tragedy is what you have to be mindful of not letting happen.”
Read full story @ When Blogging Becomes a Slog by Steven Kurutz, NYTimes.com
I should feel the air move against me,
and feel the things I touched,
instead of having only to look at them.
I’m sure life is all wrong
because it has become too visual -
we can neither hear nor feel nor understand,
we can only see.
I’m sure that is entirely wrong.
— D. H. Lawrence, Women in Love.
Leonard Cohen turned 80 this week. His new album, “Popular Problems“, was released on Tuesday. He was interviewed by Mike Ayers for an article in wsj.com titled: Leonard Cohen’s ‘Bad Habit’. A few excerpts:
Q: The new record is called “Popular Problems.” Are these what we are all up against?
A: I thought it as a general description of what we’re all up against. Those are the questions: life, death, war, peace, space, God. All those matter, and rather facetiously, I describe them as “popular problems.”
Q: All of us think about that stuff daily and there are no real answers.
Q: But you can sing about it?
A: If you can sing about it, that’s a kind of answer.
Q: What still draws you to making records these days?
A: You know, it’s a bad habit…Well, after a while you can’t break it. Employment is a very crucial matter for everyone. Unemployment is the most sinister disease of our society. To feel fully employed, it’s not something you want to relinquish or abandon. So that’s my work and I’m able to do it, God willing, I’ll be able to do it until I can’t do it any longer. I have no plans to abandon it. [Read more...]
I am all for aha!! moments and other peak experiences,
but my most lasting transformation happened in the subtleties,
in those private moments of decision as to which path to walk.
In every moment, there is a choice:
Will I open, or close?
Will I take responsibility, or blame?
Will I download the learning, or deflect?
Will I go to my edge, or fall back to safety?
Will I honor my intuition, or listen to the world?
Thousands, millions of moments of decision that inform who we become.
Getting out of Unconscious Prison is a life-long journey.
True path is built with choices.
I choose authenticity.
~ Jeff Brown
“What was, is;
What might have been, might be.
What’s kept. What’s lost. A snap decision.”
- Adrienne Rich, from Later Poems Selected And New
How do we forgive ourselves
for all of the things
we did not become?
~ David “Doc” Luben
Thank you Julie.
The weight of my old dog, Hattie –
thirty five pounds of knocking bones, sighs, tremors and dreams –
just isn’t enough to hold a patch of sun in its place, at least for very long.
While she shakes in her sleep,
its slips from beneath her and inches away,
taking the morning with it –
the music from the radio,
the tea from my cup,
the drowsy yellow hours –
picking up dust and
dog hair as it goes.
~ Ted Kooser. December 14. Home from my walk, shoes off, at peace.
Ruu Campbell is a British singer-songwriter from Shropshire, England. His music has been compared to Bon Iver and James Vincent McMorrow. (Although, I think he sounds more like Nick Drake.) Campbell’s songs “The Call”, “Crossroads” and Mathereal were featured on Parenthood in 2012.
His new album was released on June, 2014 and can be found on iTunes here: Heartsong.
Ruu Campbell’s website: ruucampbell.com
Walking by flashlight
at six in the morning,
my circle of light on the gravel
swinging side by side,
coyote, racoon, field mouse, sparrow,
each watching from darkness
this man with the moon on a leash.
~ Ted Kooser. November 18. Cloudy, dark and windy.
Using models’ faces as canvas, Russian make-up artist Valeriya Kutsan recreates famous paintings in collaboration with photographer Alexander Khokhlov and expert photo editor Veronica Ershova. Kutsan Valeriya is a stylist, image-designer, hair-dresser, make-up artist and international class master. She was born in Tomsk, Siberia (Russia). She was a make-up artist – from 1996. A Hair-dresser – from 1999. An Image-designer – from 2011.
Check out more of her amazing “2D or Not 2D” collection at her website: Kutsan Valeriya – Weird Beauty.
And don’t miss this video of Kutsan Valeriya as she works in her studio:
Napoleon Dynamite Source – Chicagonow
Smart, the company behind the original smart car, has devised a clever way to help pedestrians wait for the walk signal and keep the streets safer — a dancing traffic light. By projecting real movements from people nearby, the dancing traffic light entertains people at the intersection until it’s a safe time to cross the street. The company built the signal at an intersection in Lisbon, Portugal, earlier this summer. (Source: Mashable)
Can you keep your feet still?
Source: Weighty Matters
At first light,
The bare trees sway,
but not together.
Shifting their weight from side to side,
they are like a crowd
that has waited all night for a gate to open.
~ Ted Kooser. February 13. Breezy and pleasant.
In fair weather,
the shy past keeps its distance.
Old loves, old regrets, old humiliations
look on from afar.
They stand back under the trees.
No one would think
to look for them there.
But in the fog they come closer.
You can feel them there
by the road as you slowly walk past.
Still as fence posts they wait,
dark and reproachful,
each stepping forward in turn.
~ Ted Kooser. February 16. An early morning fog.
Passenger (aka Mike Rosenberg) was in Vancouver this month singing Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” with Stu Larsen, The Once, Dan Medland and Chris Vallejo. Just how beautiful is Vancouver (and this tune)?!
Related Post: Diana Krall, A Case of You (Still, my all-time favorite rendition)
Pamela Druckerman interviews Walter Mischel, a professor of psychology at Columbia, in Learning How to Exert Self-Control:
…Self-control can be taught. Grown-ups can use it to tackle the burning issues of modern middle-class life: how to go to bed earlier, not check email obsessively, stop yelling at our children and spouses, and eat less bread. Poor kids need self-control skills if they’re going to catch up at school.
…Adults can use similar methods of distraction and distancing, he says. Don’t eye the basket of bread; just take it off the table. In moments of emotional distress, imagine that you’re viewing yourself from outside, or consider what someone else would do in your place. When a waiter offers chocolate mousse, imagine that a cockroach has just crawled across it. “If you change how you think about it, its impact on what you feel and do changes,” Mr. Mischel writes.
…He explains that there are two warring parts of the brain: a hot part demanding immediate gratification (the limbic system), and a cool, goal-oriented part (the prefrontal cortex). The secret of self-control, he says, is to train the prefrontal cortex to kick in first.
…Self-control alone doesn’t guarantee success. People also need a “burning goal” that gives them a reason to activate these skills
Read the rest of Druckerman’s column here: Learning How to Exert Self-Control
Find Mischel’s new book at Amazon here: The Marshmellow Test: Mastering Self-Control.
Image Source: Foodspotting
…soon will the winter be on us,
~ Sara Teasdale, from “September Midnight”
This is to say nothing against afternoons, evenings or even midnight.
Each has its portion of the spectacular.
But dawn — dawn is a gift.
Much is revealed about a person about his or her passion, or indifference,
to this opening of the door of day.
No one who loves dawn, and is abroad to see it,
could be a stranger to me.
— Mary Oliver, from Long Life: Essays And Other Writings (Da Capo Press, 2005)
Good news: Our friend Mr. Polar Bear is taking us on a soothing, rhythmic swim in the frosty arctic waters.
Less good news (and defeats the entire zen purpose of this post: Climate change is pulling the sea ice out from under polar bears’ feet, forcing them to swim longer distances to find food and habitat. Long-distance swimming puts polar bears at risk of drowning due to fatigue or rough seas.)
Source: Kangaroo sleeping and eating via biomorphosis
How important it must be to someone
that I am alive and walking,
and that I have written these poems.
This morning the sun stood right at the end of the road
and waited for me.”
~ Ted Kooser. March 20, The vernal equinox. [Read more...]
“… to read, we need a certain kind of silence, an ability to filter out the noise. That seems increasingly elusive in our overnetworked society, where every buzz and rumor is instantly blogged and tweeted, and it is not contemplation we desire but an odd sort of distraction, distraction masquerading as being in the know. In such a landscape, knowledge can’t help but fall prey to illusion, albeit an illusion that is deeply seductive, with its promise that speed can lead us to more illumination, that it is more important to react than to think deeply, that something must be attached to every bit of time. Here, we have my reading problem in a nutshell, for books insist we take the opposite position, that we immerse, slow down.”
- David L. Ulin, The Lost Art of Reading
SMWI*= Saturday Morning Work-Out Inspiration. Source: Moneygoround
Rabbit Island in Japan (via Themetapicture.com). Read more on Rabbit Island at the Guardian: Rabbit Island: A Japanese Holiday Resort for Bunnies
I saw the season’s first bluebird this morning,
one month ahead of its scheduled arrival.
Lucky I am to go off to my cancer appointment
having been given a bluebird, and,
for a lifetime, having been given this world.
~ Ted Kooser. March 18, Gusty and warm.
Preface of Ted Kooser’s “Winter Morning Walks: One hundred postcards to Jim Harrison“:
In the autumn of 1998, during my recovery from surgery and radiation for cancer, I began taking a two-mile walk each morning. I’d been told by my radiation oncologist to stay out of the sun for a year because of skin sensitivity, so I exercised before dawn, hiking the isolated country roads near where I live, sometimes with my wife but most often alone.
During the previous summer, depressed by my illness, preoccupied by the routines of my treatment, and feeling miserably sorry for myself, I’d all but given up on reading and writing. Then, as autumn began to fade and winter came on, my health began to improve. One morning in November, following my walk, I surprised myself by trying my hand at a poem. Soon I was writing everyday.
Several years before, my friend Jim Harrison and i Have carried on a correspondence in haiku. As a variation on this, I began pasting my morning poems on postcards and sending them to Jim, whose generosity, patience and good humor are here acknowledged. What follows is a election of one hundred of these postcards.