I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective

Oliver-Sachs-1

Oliver Sacks: My Own Life. Learning of Terminal Cancer

…It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me. I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can…

…While I have enjoyed loving relationships and friendships and have no real enmities, I cannot say (nor would anyone who knows me say) that I am a man of mild dispositions. On the contrary, I am a man of vehement disposition, with violent enthusiasms, and extreme immoderation in all my passions.

I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work and my friends. I shall no longer look at “NewsHour” every night…

I have been increasingly conscious, for the last 10 years or so, of deaths among my contemporaries. My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.

…Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.

Don’t miss reading the full essay by Oliver Sachs: My Own Life. Learning of Terminal Cancer


Notes:

Driving I-95 S. With Bombogenesis.

electrical-cord-face

6:10 am.

The digital read-out on the dash flickers + 22 F.

Where’s the  “+”?

It’s dark, and cold, and the day opened with the media blaring: ‘Bombogenesis‘: Northeast Blizzard “Juno” Will Be Fueled By Dramatic Pressure Drop. This is followed with a pre-recorded, public service announcement of impending doom:

This is an important winter storm advisory. A blizzard warning is in effect for the State of Connecticut.  It is predicted to bring high winds gusting up to 60 miles per hour.  Snow accumulation of 20 to 30 inches is expected.  Coastal flooding and high tides are anticipated. Widespread and long duration power outages are expected.  Utility crews are prohibited from engaging in repair work until the end of the storm.  There will be a travel ban at 9pm this evening.

In 1973, the ’63 GMC Short-Bed Step-Side was outfitted with a block heater. A three-pronged electrical cord dangled from the grill and was plugged in overnight. On most frigid British Columbia mornings, this would be enough to crank up the Chevy after three or four turns and get us to hockey practice.

40 years later, my ignition fires on the first pull, with no dangling cords hanging from the grill.  The Gratitude Bus is rolling.

I pull out and accelerate onto I-95.  The highway is clear and dry. I’m flowing with traffic.  My Ólafur Arnalds’ playlist lands on “Undan Hulu.”  I have no idea what Undan Hulu (Icelandic) means but the Cello solo hits a sweet spot.  I hit replay, replay and replay in my Monday morning meditation.

Yet, there is no mistaking the dark streak darting in and out of Arnalds’ Cello solo. [Read more…]

The War

rooster

A cock. A non-castrated capon. A cockerel. A reptilian, evil bastard.

His siren call would come before sunrise, echoing up the mountainside and back down again. And rush in, with piercing cock-a-doodle-do gusts into my room. My eyes, wide open, stare at ceiling. I shiver. The S.O.B. grabbed the psychological edge at 5:30 am.

His battle lines were indisputable. His was the coop. Yours was outside. You crossed the demarcation line, the clink of the metal hook on the dilapidated wooden door, and he was coming.

He attacked all comers.  He feared no one. All generations buckled: Deda, Father, and his pubescent sons.

He could smell Fear. The perspiration would stream and thicken in the soft armpits tasked with gathering eggs in a red, long-handled, five pound Maxwell House coffee can. Good to the last drop!

His flock of fifteen continued foraging, unfazed by the battle preparations. [Read more…]

32 years and counting.

afghan-reading

It’s 5′ x 7′, that is five by seven feet. Unlike contemporary, machine-made models, which are much shorter and cheaper to produce, there is ample cover to reach the tippy-toes of my 6′ 1″ frame.

It has survived 32 winters.
It has served 6 homes, and is now working its 7th.
It has outlasted 10 automobiles.
And, yet here it is, working, in pristine condition, with a new car smell.

Besides our tableware, which should be replaced, it is the only wedding gift that has survived. She has long since passed, but her afghan lives on.

Is an afghan knitted or crocheted? Are they stitches or loops?  I have no idea.
Eric calculated 38,260 individual loops. 38,260 hand made loops.

It is brown, green, and two shades of blue. Why these colors? The earth? Its plants and forests?  Her hope for a God, for heavens? Why didn’t you ask her when she lived? [Read more…]

Day 1 of 365: Resolutions

Calvin-Hobbes-New-Year-resolution-funny


Thank you Rudy @ Et in Arcadia Ego*

 

Enjoying the view from Castelluccio, Umbria, Italy.

David Kanigan:

Monday Morning Contemplation. From Castelluccio, Umbria, Italy.

Originally posted on Simple & Interesting.:

08Enjoying the View from Castelluccio, Umbria, Italy

View original

Driving I-95 S. Float On.

car-driving-highway

I read One Day three years ago.
But The Line, this line, never left me.
The words would land softly, gently.
And my veins would pulse with Gratitude.

And then some days you wake up and everything’s perfect.

I turn the dial to 70’s on 7.
The Floaters with “Float on.

The left foot begins to tap.
My body begins to sway, a rocking chair.

Take my hand, come with me, baby, to Love Land
Let me show you how sweet it could be
Sharing love with me, I want you to tell me
Float, float on (Come on, come on,
(Come on, baby, yeah, yeah)
Float on, float on (Ooh, ooh, baby)
Float, float, float on
Float on (Float with me), float on [Read more…]

Blue Dive

matt-story-swimming-blue-art

Matt Story studied art from an early age and demonstrated a unique skill for hyper-realism.  “I was lauded for ‘photo-realistic’ technique, but I was never after that, really, after what a camera impartially sees, because there’s so much more there, captured only by the human filter of memory.  We all posses these invisible imprints, through experience and living, but often its only artists who can play it back for us, to remind us.  The paint surface needs to be a mirror for the viewer, reflecting back not his or her superficial self, but a deep shared humanness.  This is the essence of looking at a piece that’s totally unfamiliar to you and yet, being awed with a sense of recognition.  Your reactions, those memories and feelings are uniquely yours but you’re suddenly filled with a sense that, you share them, at least with the artist, but probably even with everyone else.  That of course is art at its best: the artist, sometimes doesn’t even know what he’s doing because he’s a conduit of his or her own collective awareness.” (Find Story’s full bio here: MattStory.com)

 

 

He was in love with the world

Mike-Nichols

His closest friends this week marveled at the depth of the impression he made on all whose lives he touched. “He’d make you feel you were better than you believed—smarter, funnier, more alive…” A friend noted something else: his unbounded excitement about life, his ability to retain a freshness, an innocence. “It was always possible that this was going to be the best dumpling, the best conversation, this play was going to have a moment in it we’d never forget. . . . He was in love with the world. He was in love with Egg McMuffins ! He took such joy in what was. Maybe the Buddhists have it wrong, maybe the great livers are the ones who love things, too—that book, that painting, the McDonald’s breakfast.

A thing that distinguished Mike professionally is that he thought he had to know things. He came up in a generation that thought to know the theater you have to know the theater. They read. He read, all his life. He knew the canon—his Chekhov, Ibsen and Molière, his Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams and Tom Stoppard…

…To make great art you have to know great art. And so his learned, highly cultivated mind. He dropped out of the University of Chicago and sought to teach himself through great books and smart people. Great writers and directors have to start as great readers or it won’t work, nothing needed from the past will be brought into the future, and art will become thinner, less deep, less meaningful and so, amazingly, less fun, less moving and true.

~ Peggy Noonan, on Mike Nichols

Read entire opinion article here: The Pleasure of His Company


Mike Nichols, 83, died on November 19, 2014. He was a German-born American film and theatre director, producer, actor and comedian. He won the Academy Award for Best Director for the film The Graduate. His other films include Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?Catch-22Carnal KnowledgeSilkwoodWorking GirlThe BirdcageCloserCharlie Wilson’s War (his final picture), and the TV mini-series Angels in America. He also staged the original theatrical productions of The Apple TreeBarefoot in the ParkLuvThe Odd Couple and Spamalot. As well as winning an Academy Award, Nichols won a Grammy Award, four Emmy Awards and nine Tony Awards. He was one of a small group of people who have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award.

Image Credit: jewishcurrents.org

Riding Metro-North. With Pink Galoshes.

train-commute-photography-black-and-white

Monday, November 17, 2014: Rain. 35° F.

The Work Day Monday starts on Sunday. The peaceful easy feeling of Saturday drifts into the grace of Sunday morning, and comes off the mountain in slow motion, the avalanche building momentum until it covers the village at the base of the mountain. It’s 3 pm on Sunday afternoon and my attention shifts to the work that I planned, but failed to get done on Saturday.  There’s my briefcase, bulging with those good intentions from Friday afternoon. (A white-collar Suit but a dues paying member of the proletariat. A plebe, never freeing his rough, calloused hands from the shovel. Need to dig. Never finished. Never complete. Never good enough. And the bell tolls. And the bell tolls.)

I’m reviewing Monday’s calendar. A 7:30 am Breakfast with a colleague. A commitment that was made a month ago. Let’s have breakfast! This will require a 5 a.m. wake up call, a 6 am train, a 7 am arrival at Grand Central and a brisk 15-20 min walk to breakfast. (Why are you pushing the clock? Last time you checked, you were the Boss. Who’s running who? Just cancel and reschedule to a later date. You had a conflict that came up. Who would know?)

I ask Rachel what train she is catching. 7:34 a.m. Father-daughter will ride in together. (I cancel my breakfast meeting. A last minute conflict came up. Unavoidable. My apology covered in a mist of guilt.)

We’re standing on the platform. She has her spot. She knows where the train stops, where the doors open, where she can position herself to get a seat.  She’s in front, and holding her ground.  Other crafty commuters, a herd, all huddle around her. The rain is rapping on the tin roof, and spills over onto the tracks. [Read more…]