My own brain
is to me the most unaccountable of machinery -
and then buried in mud.
What’s this passion for?
~ Virginia Woolf
Credits: Poem – Et in Arcadia Ego*
My own brain
is to me the most unaccountable of machinery -
and then buried in mud.
What’s this passion for?
~ Virginia Woolf
Credits: Poem – Et in Arcadia Ego*
From Kate Murphy, NY Times, No Time to Think:
ONE of the biggest complaints in modern society is being overscheduled, overcommitted and overextended. Ask people at a social gathering how they are and the stock answer is “super busy,” “crazy busy” or “insanely busy.” Nobody is just “fine” anymore. When people aren’t super busy at work, they are crazy busy exercising, entertaining or taking their kids to Chinese lessons. Or maybe they are insanely busy playing fantasy football, tracing their genealogy or churning their own butter.
And if there is ever a still moment for reflective thought — say, while waiting in line at the grocery store or sitting in traffic — out comes the mobile device.
Moreover, in one experiment, 64 percent of men and 15 percent of women began self-administering electric shocks when left alone to think. These same people, by the way, had previously said they would pay money to avoid receiving the painful jolt.
It didn’t matter if the subjects engaged in the contemplative exercise at home or in the laboratory, or if they were given suggestions of what to think about, like a coming vacation; they just didn’t like being in their own heads.
It could be because human beings, when left alone, tend to dwell on what’s wrong in their lives. We have evolved to become problem solvers and meaning makers. What preys on our minds, when we aren’t updating our Facebook page or in spinning class, are the things we haven’t figured out — difficult relationships, personal and professional failures, money trouble, health concerns and so on. And until there is resolution, or at least some kind of understanding or acceptance, these thoughts reverberate in our heads. Hello rumination. Hello insomnia.
Read full article by Kate Murphy in NY Times: No Time To Think
Image Source: Sh*t In My Head
“The temptation is to make an idol of our own experience, to assume our pain is more singular than it is. Even here, in some of the entries above, I see that I have fallen prey to it. In truth, experience means nothing if it does not mean beyond itself: we mean nothing unless and until our hard-won meanings are internalized and catalyzed within the lives of others. There is something I am meant to see, something for which my own situation and suffering are the lens, but the cost of such seeing — I am just beginning to realize — may very well be any final clarity or perspective on my own life, my own faith. That would not be a bad fate, to burn up like the booster engine that falls aways from the throttling rocket, lighting a little dark as I go.”
~ Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer
On the afternoon of his 39th birthday, less than a year after his wedding day, poet Christian Wiman was diagnosed with an incurable cancer of the blood. Wiman had long ago drifted away from the Southern Baptist beliefs of his upbringing. But the shock of staring death in the face gradually revived a faith that had gone dormant. Wiman’s book of essays, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer took shape in the wake of his diagnosis, when he believed death could be fast approaching. These writings come from someone who is less a cautious theologian than a pilgrim crying out from the depths. They divulge the God-ward hopes (and doubts) of an artist still piecing together a spiritual puzzle. San Francisco-based lawyer and author Josh Jeter corresponded with Wiman about his new book, his precarious health, and the ongoing challenge of belief in God. (Source: CT)
I always have this sense that something is going to resolve my spiritual anxieties once and for all, that one day I’ll just relax and be a believer. I read book after book. I seek out intense experiences in art, in nature, or in conversations with people I respect and who seem to rest more securely in their faith than I do. Sometimes it seems that gains are made, for these things can and do provide relief and instruction. But always the anxiety comes back, is the norm from which faith deviates, if faith is even what you would call these intense but somehow vague and fleeting experiences of God. I keep forgetting, or perhaps simply will not let myself see, what true faith is, its active and outward nature. I should never pray to be at peace in my belief. I should pray only that my anxiety be given peaceful outlets, that I might be the means to a peace that I myself do not feel.
~ Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer
“We can find peace or anxiety everywhere…The single most important move is acceptance. There is no need – on top of everything else – to be anxious that we are anxious. The mood is no sign that our lives have gone wrong, merely that we are alive. We should be more careful when pursuing things we imagine will spare us anxiety. We can pursue them by all means, but for other reasons than fantasies of calm – and with a little less vigour and a little more skepticism…We must suffer alone. But we can at least hold out our arms to our similarly tortured, fractured, and above all else, anxious neighbours, as if to say, in the kindest way possible: ‘I know…’”
Originally posted on Ophelia's Fiction Blog:
From Alain de Botton’s Philosopher’s Mail.
“Travel, Beauty, Status and Love: the four great contemporary ideals around which our fantasies of calm collect and which taken together are responsible for the lion’s share of the frenzied activities of the modern economy: its airports, long-haul jets and resort hotels; its overheated property markets, furniture companies and unscrupulous building contractors; its networking events, status-driven media and competitive business deals; its bewitching actors, soaring love songs and busy divorce lawyers.
Yet despite the promises and the passion expended in the pursuit of these goals, none of them will work. There will be anxiety at the beach, in the pristine home, after the sale of the company, and in the arms of anyone we will ever seduce, however often we try. Anxiety is our fundamental state for well-founded reasons: Because we are intensely vulnerable physical beings, a complicated network of fragile…
View original 78 more words
Walking through an airport newsstand this year, I noticed a novelty…I quickly snapped a photo and sent out a tweet to my modest list of followers…Then I waited for the love. I checked the response before passing through security. Nothing. I glanced again while waiting for the plane. Still nothing. I looked again before we took off. Nobody cared. My little attempt to pass a lonely hour in an airport with some friendly interaction had turned into the opposite: a brutal cold shower of social isolation.
We are deep enough into the social-media era to begin to recognize certain patterns among its users. Foremost among them is a mass anxiety of approval seeking and popularity tracking that seems far more suited to a high school prom than a high-functioning society…
…it all begins to seem a bit, well, desperate.
…Time for a rewrite, Mr. Shakespeare. This above all: to thine others be true.
…“In a lot of ways, the addictive part is in the anticipation,”
…”I noticed I get in this puppet situation,” she said. “I get bored, and there’s something compelling about being able to put something online, and all of a sudden there’s instant gratification of ‘They like me!’
…Maybe Warhol needs a rewrite, too: Today, everybody can be famous for 15 retweets.
…A growing body of research indicates how deeply our brains are wired to seek social approval.
Read full (and excellent) article at For the Love of Being ‘Liked’
~ Josef Albers
Josef Albers (1888 – 1976) was a German-born American artist and educator whose work, both in Europe and in the United States, formed the basis of some of the most influential and far-reaching art education programs of the twentieth century. In Poems and Drawings, first published in 1958, Josef Albers attempted to penetrate the meaning of art and life by the simplest, most disciplined means. This project was extremely important to Albers, who used its format to create complementary forms in both word and line that appear deceptively simple until they begin to disclose the author’s insights into nature, art, and life. Conceived as a kind of artist’s book, the publication features 22 of Albers’s refined line drawings alongside the same number of his original poems—each appearing in both English and German. (Source: Wiki & Google)
I’m rumbling down I-95.
Dave Matthews is blaring through the speakers. And has been joining me on the morning ride all week.
You’ve been off. Haven’t found your rhythm. It’s back. You’re burning it from both ends. The adrenaline – – it’s pumpin’.
I look down at the gas gauge. And then to the estimate of the mileage remaining. Annoyed at the interruption. Need to stop. Better stop. I pull over to the Mobile station.
I’m listening to the clicks on the pump. And find myself drifting off. There’s mist coming from my nose, rising up, and then disappearing into the darkness. I breathe in deeply. Exhale through the nose. And watch the show again. Magic. A Miracle. My morning moment of meditation. And like the wisp of air, Pessoa’s disquiet rushes to fill the stillness.
You’re more comfortable moving. You find peace in motion. Yet, you know it ain’t peace.
It’s hanging on my bulletin board in the office: “business is the art of getting people to where they need to be faster than they would get there without you.” A Hugh McLeod illustration. A Big red hand with index finger pointing up – #1. There it is. Your strength. Your core competence. The transference of your disquiet to others. Pushing the pace. Injecting your adrenaline. More. Better. FASTER.
“I would like this to signal the end of “wasted angst” in my life: I’ve never regretted anything so much as having particular individual worries, in a certain sense anachronistic ones, whereas general worries, worries about our time (or at any rate those that can be reduced to such: like your problem in paying the rent, for instance) are so many and so vast and so much “my own” that I feel they are enough to fill all my “worryability” and even my interest and enjoyment in living. So from now on I want to dedicate myself entirely to these latter (worries) — but I am already aware of the traps in this question and that’s why for some time now my first need has been to “de-journalistize” myself, to get myself out of the stranglehold that has dominated these last few years of my life, reading books to review immediately, commenting on something even before having to time to form an opinion on it. I want to build a new kind of daily program for myself where I can finally get into something, something definitive (within the limits of historical possibility), something not dishonest or insincere (unlike the way today’s journalist always behaves, more or less). For that reason I make several plans for myself: … to maintain my contacts with reality and the world, but being careful, of course, not to get lost in unnecessary activities; and also to set up my own individual work not as a “journalist” any more but as a “scholar,” with systematic readings, notes, comments, notebooks, a load of things I’ve never done; and also, eventually, to write a novel.”
~ Italo Calvino
Italo Calvino (1923 – 1985) was an Italian journalist and writer of short stories and novels. His best known works include the Our Ancestors trilogy (1952–1959), the Cosmicomics collection of short stories (1965), and the novels Invisible Cities (1972) and If on a winter’s night a traveler (1979). Lionised in Britain and the United States, he was the most-translated contemporary Italian writer at the time of his death, and a noted contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Neil Hilborn, a poet with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), performs at the Rustbelt Regional Poetry Slam in Madison, Wisconsin.
“The first time I saw her everything in my head went quiet. All the tics, all the constantly refreshing images just disappeared. When you have obsessive compulsive disorder you don’t really get quiet moments… When I saw her, the only thing I could think about was hairpin curve of her lips or the eyelash on her cheek, eyelash on her cheek, eyelash on her cheek.”
“Sixteen thousand—that’s how many words we speak, on average, each day. So imagine how many unspoken ones course through our minds. Most of them are not facts but evaluations and judgments entwined with emotions—some positive and helpful…others negative and less so (He’s purposely ignoring me; I’m going to make a fool of myself; I’m a fake).
The prevailing wisdom says that difficult thoughts and feelings have no place at the office: …leaders, should be either stoic or cheerful; they must project confidence and damp down any negativity bubbling up inside them. But that goes against basic biology. All healthy human beings have an inner stream of thoughts and feelings that include criticism, doubt, and fear. That’s just our minds doing the job they were designed to do: trying to anticipate and solve problems and avoid potential pitfalls.
…Leaders stumble not because they have undesirable thoughts and feelings—that’s inevitable—but because they get hooked by them, like fish caught on a line. This happens in one of two ways. They buy into the thoughts, treating them like facts (It was the same in my last job…I’ve been a failure my whole career), and avoid situations that evoke them (I’m not going to take on that new challenge). Or, usually at the behest of their supporters, they challenge the existence of the thoughts and try to rationalize them away (I shouldn’t have thoughts like this…I know I’m not a total failure), and perhaps force themselves into similar situations, even when those go against their core values and goals (Take on that new assignment—you’ve got to get over this). In either case, they are paying too much attention to their internal chatter and allowing it to sap important resources that could be put to better use. [Read more...]
a mile of kingdom.
I am king
Of banks and stones
and every blooming thing.
— Patrick Kavanagh, “Inniskeen Road”
Patrick Kavanagh (1904–1967) was an Irish poet and novelist. Regarded as one of the foremost poets of the 20th century. He is known for accounts of Irish life through reference to the everyday and commonplace. Kavanagh was born in rural Inniskeen in 1904, the fourth of ten children born to Bridget Quinn. His father, James, was a shoemaker and farmer. Kavanagh was a pupil at Kednaminsha National School from 1909 to 1916, leaving in the sixth year, at the age of 13. He became apprenticed to his father as a shoemaker and worked on his farm. For the first 27 years of his life, he lived and worked as a farmer of a small holding. He later reflected, “Although the literal idea of the peasant is of a farm labouring person, in fact a peasant is all that mass of mankind which lives below a certain level of consciousness. They live in the dark cave of the unconscious and they scream when they see the light.” He commented that though he grew up in a poor district “the real poverty was lack of enlightenment [and] I am afraid this fog of unknowing affected me dreadfully.” (Source: Wiki)
Insight: “inniskeen Road” marks a significant achievement because of its reflective quality…The closing couplet sees him master of his newly burst road, if uncertain how to proceed along it…Similar oscillations between potency and anxiety mark the decade between the publication of this collection and Kavanaugh’s next trade collection, A Soul for Sale (1947). (Source:The Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish Poetry (edited by Fran Brearton, Alan Gillis), pp.184-185 via books.google.com))
“…Did you know they have performed studies? Tests? Surveys and scientific trials into the idea of luck, into the phenomenon of good fortune? Of course they have. They are trying to answer why some people enjoy endless, seemingly effortless heaps of happy fortuitousness and serendipity, while others – do you know anyone like this? – are in a state of near constant, ass-clenched frustration because the world refuses to obey their narrow and twitchy expectations, and therefore they are always sick, broken, late, damaged, loveless and lost, and nothing good or happy or fortunate ever seems to happen to them. Don’t believe it? Just ask them…
It’s a dead-simple thing, really: Luck is a choice. Luck is a modality, a way of operating, a thing you can switch on in an instant and then enjoy its throb and heat and pulse forever and ever until you die, like a cosmic rabbit vibrator for your soul…
“Unlucky people are generally more tense than lucky people and this anxiety disrupts their ability to notice the unexpected. As a result, they miss opportunities because they are too focused on looking for something else. Lucky people, on the other hand, are more relaxed and open, which means they see what is there.”
See? Obvious. But there’s a catch: Despite its simplicity, it’s not at all easy to change modes and switch that luck energy on. After all, misery is addictive. Millions of people are deeply attached to their suffering, their haphazard convictions, their inability to see how their own nervous monofocus and attachment to particular goals or obsessive desires might be blocking out all manner of opportunity right here and now, in the white-hot immediate moment. [Read more...]
“Your memory is a monster;
you forget —
It simply files things away.
It keeps things for you,
or hides things from you —
and summons them to your recall
with will of its own.
You think you have a memory;
but it has you.”
~ John Irving
“Folks, can we hear it for sloth, indolence, and procrastination?!” That’s how I have started many of my seminars over the years. And it always gets thunderous applause and raucous cheers. I think it hits a nerve.
I’ve been working on both (self-forgiveness and sense of humor) for decades now, and still find it quite challenging at times. But you know, when I’m in a loving, whole, and healthy state of mind about myself and about life, everything’s cool. Where I am, doing what I’m doing, is exactly where I need to be and what I need to do. God’s on her throne, the mail is coming, my dog loves me, and tomorrow is just fine right where it is, not showing up until then.
And I don’t seem to get to that wonderful state of mind by working harder and faster. Sometimes it helps, but more often it just perpetuates the angst. [Read more...]
“Last year someone gave me a charming book by Roger Rosenblatt called ‘Ageing Gracefully’…I did not appreciate the title at the time but it contains a series of rules for ageing gracefully. The first rule is the best. Rule number one is that ‘it doesn’t matter.’ ‘It doesn’t matter that what you think. Follow this rule and it will add decades to your life. It does not matter if you are late or early, if you are here or there, if you said it or didn’t say it, if you are clever or if you were stupid. If you were having a bad hair day or a no hair day or if your boss looks at you cockeyed or your boyfriend or girlfriend looks at you cockeyed, if you are cockeyed. If you don’t get that promotion or prize or house or if you do – it doesn’t matter.’ Wisdom at last.”
~ Milton Glaser, Ten Things That I Have Learned
Milton Glaser, 84, is among the most celebrated graphic designers in the United States. He has had the distinction of one-man-shows at the Museum of Modern Art and the Georges Pompidou Center. In 2004 he was selected for the lifetime achievement award of the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum. As a Fulbright scholar, Glaser studied with the painter, Giorgio Morandi in Bologna, and is an articulate spokesman for the ethical practice of design. He opened Milton Glaser, Inc. in 1974, and continues to produce an astounding amount of work in many fields of design to this day. (Source: MiltonGlaser.com)
Worry gives small things a big shadow.
~ Swedish Proverb
Just for a little while, stop thinking about all the problems, crises, tasks. everything that’s pulling and pushing on us. Be in that quiet space. After all these years, some of us still need permission to let go.
Image Credit: Nowandthan
“When you run after your thoughts, you are like a dog chasing a stick: every time a stick is thrown, you run after it. Instead, be like a lion who, rather than chasing after the stick, turns to face the thrower. One only throws a stick at a lion once.”
“Milarepa (1052-1135) was a great Tibetan Yogi who lived an austere life on the bare hillsides of the Himalayas, eking out an existence on donations and the few plants — principally nettles — that grow in that harsh environment. His name means “The Cotton-Clad One,” and he generally wore just a thin sheet, using the heat generated by meditation practices to keep the fierce Tibetan cold at bay.”
cab·in fe·ver: Irritability, listlessness, and similar symptoms results from long confinement or isolation indoors during the winter.
32F yesterday with chilling winds. Spring can show up any time so we can frolic around like Dairy Cows in Holland. I’ve been around cows. I’ve never seen this before. Here’s 30 seconds of happy (very) wrapped in U2’s “It’s a Beautiful Day.”
Source: videohall. Related Posts:
Bliss Definition: Google
“Is happiness a lesser version of joy, or something totally different? I’d argue it’s different and not only because it’s more prevalent. Many more things can cause happiness than joy. Also, happiness is somewhat within our control. We can create it through our decisions. Joy happens to you. It’s unruly. You submit to it. It usually comes as a surprise, as it did every morning with our newborns
…Certain experiences lift you out of yourself. They enable you to exist fully in the moment. (A singular serving of French toast in my late teens on the corner of 62nd and Lex at Burger Heaven; Christmas 1963, when Skippy, our first dog, popped out of a box pocked with ventilation holes.)
…What distinguishes joy is that it doesn’t come around that often. Indeed, you’re rather aware of its perishability, its evanescence, even when you’re in the midst of it.
…But it may be the thing that unites French toast and lifting a newborn out of its crib in the morning and bringing the child into bed with you. I’m not necessarily talking about one-on-one love, but the universal, John Lennon “All you need is…” variety that connects us to something beyond ourselves, and seems to be floating out there…
…We spend the majority of our lives worrying, even when we’re happy. We’re worried about catching the bus or subway or whether there’s a cab that isn’t off duty; we’re worried about our work; we’re worried we offended somebody; we’re worried about money; we’re worried about sleep; we’re worried about being worried.
…If there’s any dread, it’s in the way we create barriers, denying ourselves access to it (joy) more frequently.”
~ Ralph Gardner, Joy Spills Over, Wall Street Journal (Excerpts)
My initial reaction to Wendy MacNaughton’s illustration was “Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!” I let it marinate and then returned to it. My reaction shifted to “please, please, please let it be wrong.”
Wendy MacNaughton. I’m a big fan. She’s an illustrator and graphic journalist with a long list of brand name clients including the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, NPR and a slew of others. Some of my other favorite illustrations include:
It’s Monday, October 29th. The day that Hurricane Sandy hit the Tri-State Region.
I’m scrolling down the new WordPress posts for bloggers I follow. My fingers sliding clumsily on the touch pad. Scrolling. Scrolling. (Cursing because I haven’t figured out this d*mn touch pad. I miss the eraser thing in the middle of keyboard. Getting old. Hating change. Big clumsy fingers. I slide fingers in wrong direction and I’m taken to another website. I lose my place. Need to start back at the top. Grrrrrrr. Can this be so difficult pal? )
My eyes flitting from post to post. Scanning images and topics of interest.
My eyes land on the image on the left. I freeze. (What is it about this image? I can feel its soothing effects. The ‘Work’ clutch now slipping from OVERDRIVE to neutral.)
A few lines. Black lines. White background. A simple image. A simple, beautiful human image. (Let’s not get too carried away. It’s certainly not that simple. And nothing I could ever draw.)
I found it to be startling.
Fifteen years ago, I would have told you to get out of my office (get out of my face) and stop wasting my time. 10 years ago, I would have called “bulls-” on this malarkey. Today, the image above calms me. And I’ve come to believe that I need this…It’s good for me. It’s good for the team around me. (But let’s not get too excited. I’m a toddler here. I’m on the 3rd step of a 107 step program.) And since it has now been endorsed by the Truth, the Wall Street Journal, I’m in. (:) Lao Tzu (604 BC – 531 BC): “A Journey of a Thousand Miles Takes a Single Step”…Time to take that step… [Read more...]
And if they are chocolate chip, you’ve hit gold.
Related Marc Johns Post: Sometimes the only thing left to do is…
Source: That Girl
I was returning home from Chicago today. Ominous skies were threatening our return. Weather reports from home are gloomy – thunderstorms and heavy rains are pounding the NYC region. The flight is full. The mood among the passengers is surly…no one is up for an extended delay, or worse, a cancelation heading into the weekend. Yet, the flight is off, and on time and largely uneventful. We circle for 15 minutes over NYC as air traffic is backed up. We land. A few minutes late but the relief in the cabin is palpable.
We’re on the tarmac. An elderly lady three rows back is on her cell phone calling a family member. In a voice that is heard 8-10 rows in each direction, she let them know “THAT I’LL BE A BIT LATE AND THERE IS NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT.” She carries on her phone conversation on her stay in Chicago and her plans for the weekend. Then, there’s a moment of silence. And, she’s back on the phone. This time with her car service. Her piercing voice is echoing up and down the tube. “GIVE ME YOUR NUMBER! I’LL NEED TO CALL YOU FROM BAGGAGE CLAIM. NO I NEED YOUR NUMBER. 212-656-. WHAT WAS THAT AGAIN? 212-65X? SPEAK LOUDER.” This goes back and forth several times until she manages to get the number. Then, there’s another moment of silence and she’s back on the phone with another family member. “I SHOULDN’T BE TOO LATE.” The conversation continues for several minutes at a raised decibel level. There’s another moment of silence and she’s back on the phone again. [Read more...]
Source: videohall. Related Posts:
Source: Marc Johns
Close. (Excluding Michael Jackson and the entire party-part.)
“I don’t believe in optimism. I believe in optimal behavior. That’s a different thing. If you behave every day of your life to the top of your genetics, what can you do? Test it. Find out. You don’t know—you haven’t done it yet. You must live life at the top of your voice! At the top of your lungs shout and listen to the echoes. I learned a lesson years ago…Action is hope. At the end of each day, when you’ve done your work, you lie there and think, Well, I’ll be damned, I did this today. It doesn’t matter how good it is, or how bad—you did it. At the end of the week you’ll have a certain amount of accumulation. At the end of a year, you look back and say, I’ll be damned, it’s been a good year.”
~Ray Bradbury (answering an interviewer’s question on how important optimism has been in his career)
Related Post: I’ve never worked a day in my life… (Ray Bradbury)
Each morning. For 18 years. It would be early and dark out. I’d silently prepare for work. I’d shower. I’d shave. I’d dress. I’d grab my briefcase. I’d tip-toe past their rooms. Their doors would be closed. No need to peer in. They’re safe. And in a deep sleep under their comforters.
Today. I silently prepare for work. I shower. I shave. I dress. I grab my briefcase. I walk down the hall. My heavy footfalls ricochet off the hard wood floors and echo in their rooms. It’s early.
And it’s still dark out.
Love this…hypnotized by it…but not sure that I fully grasped the story line. Van Gogh and his illnesses have been on my mind from posts earlier in the week. (9/21-a and 9/21-b). All interpretations welcome.
Good Sunday morning.
Sorry, can’t stop laughing.