“How does that happen?” Matthiessen asked me rhetorically, posing the question of the novel. He referred back to the novel’s epigraph, a poem by Anna Akhmatova that wonders, when we are surrounded by so much death, “Why then do we not despair?” Matthiessen looked at me, eyes dancing, beating on his leg in time as he said, “Something, something, something,” unable to name the mysterious life force that allows us to rejoice…
~ Jeff Himmelman
Peter Matthiessen, 86, died last night. R.I.P.
The quote above is an excerpt from Himmelman’s April 3, 2014 NY Times Magazine article titled Peter Matthiessen’s Homegoing.
From today’s front page story in the NY Times Peter Matthiessen, Lyrical Writer and Naturalist, Is Dead at 86:
“Zen is really just a reminder to stay alive and to be awake,” he told the British newspaper The Guardian in 2002. “We tend to daydream all the time, speculating about the future and dwelling on the past. Zen practice is about appreciating your life in this moment. If you are truly aware of five minutes a day, then you are doing pretty well. We are beset by both the future and the past, and there is no reality apart from the here and now.”
Matthiessen was an American novelist, naturalist, and wilderness writer. He was a three-time National Book Award-winner for The Snow Leopard and Shadow Country. He was also a prominent environmental activist. According to critic Michael Dirda, “No one writes more lyrically [than Matthiessen] about animals or describes more movingly the spiritual experience of mountaintops, savannas, and the sea.”
Matthiessen’s new book, In Paradise, is scheduled for release on April 8, 2014.
Most people have the hardest time relaxing. We were taught at an early age to ‘do,’ and now we are so addicted to doing that even if we take a break we think about what to do next. Very few ever realize that the priceless treasure in life is ‘Being.’
- Photograph: Thank you Brian Ingram. Note that Brian also kindly permitted the use of his photograph for my blog header.
- Quote: Thank you Karen @ Karen’s Korner.
- Image Credit
- Notable NY Times: You Can’t Take It With You, But You Still Want More
“We begin so aware and grateful. The sun somehow hangs there in the sky. The little bird sings. The miracle of life just happens. Then we stub our toe, and in that moment of pain, the whole world is reduced to our poor little toe. Now, for a day or two, it is difficult to walk. With every step, we are reminded of our poor little toe.
Our vigilance becomes: Which defines our day – the pinch we feel in walking on a bruised toe, or the miracle still happening?
It is the giving over to smallness that opens us to misery. In truth, we begin taking nothing for granted, grateful that we have enough to eat, that we are well enough to eat. But somehow, through the living of our days, our focus narrows like a camera that shutters down, cropping out the horizon, and one day we’re miffed at a diner because the eggs are runny or the hash isn’t seasoned just the way we like.
When we narrow our focus, the problem seems everything. We forget when we were lonely, dreaming of a partner. We forget first beholding the beauty of another. We forget the comfort of first being seen and held and heard. When our view shuts down, we’re up in the night annoyed by the way our lover pulls the covers or leaves the dishes in the sink without soaking them first.
In actuality, misery is a moment of suffering allowed to become everything. So, when feeling miserable, we must look wider than what hurts. When feeling a splinter, we must, while trying to remove it, remember there is a body that is not splinter, and a spirit that is not splinter, and a world that is not splinter.”
~ Mark Nepo
We want the spring to come
and the winter to pass.
We want whoever to call
or not call,
a kiss —
we want more and more and then more of it.
But there are moments,
when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store,
and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep
for my own blowing hair,
and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:
I am living …
n. an image that inexplicably leaps back into your mind from the distant past.
You are immersed in the passage of time. Sometimes you can feel the current moving. Sometimes you forget it’s there, only to be reminded again, another in a series of passing moments. A moment is defined by its momentum. It keeps moving. We think of a memory as somehow dead. As a memorial, anchored in its own time and place. A half buried reminder of what was once here. You can’t just hang on to things. You have to let go. You have to move on. It’s hard to imagine that certain memories are still alive. Still fighting against the current. Struggling to keep up. That certain images still have the power to leap back into the present. So you look across the room at someone you know. Maybe they’re all grown up. Maybe they have children of their own. Maybe you’ve known them for 50 years. But in your eyes they are still the same goofy kid you once knew. It’s not just the moments that we remember. Not the grand gestures and catered ceremonies. Not the world we capture poised and smiling in photos. It’s the invisible things. In minutes. The cheap raw material of ordinary time. These are the images that will linger in your mind, moving back and forth. Still developing.
~ John Koenig
One minute of Nature inspirited meditation to start your day.
The Mourning Dove is one of the most abundant and widespread of all North American birds. It is also the leading game bird. Its ability to sustain its population under such pressure stems from its prolific breeding: in warm areas, one pair may raise up to six broods a year. Its plaintive woo-OO-oo-oo-oo call gives the bird its name. The wings can make an unusual whistling sound upon take-off and landing. The bird is a strong flier, capable of speeds up to 88 km/h (55 mph). Males and females are similar in appearance. The species is generally monogamous, with two squabs (young) per brood. Both parents incubate and care for the young. Mourning Doves eat almost exclusively seeds, but the young are fed crop milk by their parents.
Source: Thank you korraled
British Columbia. 1970’s:
Mountain firs line the banks of the creek bed.
Shadflies, flit in from the shadows, and back out into the sun.
Mountain run-off, clear and pure, glistens, sparkles.
I’m standing knee deep.
I pick the line with my forefinger, click, cast and release.
The bait lands with a plop.
I start working the stream.
I’m Working it.
“The smallest actions have the most profound ramifications. Confucius, Mencius, and other Chinese philosophers taught that the most mundane actions can have a ripple effect, and Puett urges his students to become more self-aware, to notice how even the most quotidian acts—holding open the door for someone, smiling at the grocery clerk—change the course of the day by affecting how we feel.
That rush of good feeling that comes after a daily run, the inspiring conversation with a good friend, or the momentary flash of anger that arises when someone cuts in front of us in line—what could they have to do with big life matters? Everything, actually. From a Chinese philosophical point of view, these small daily experiences provide us endless opportunities to understand ourselves. When we notice and understand what makes us tick, react, feel joyful or angry, we develop a better sense of who we are that helps us when approaching new situations. Mencius, a late Confucian thinker (4th century B.C.E.), taught that if you cultivate your better nature in these small ways, you can become an extraordinary person with an incredible influence, altering your own life as well as that of those around you, until finally “you can turn the whole world in the palm of your hand.”
~ CHRISTINE GROSS-LOH at The Atlantic: Why Are Hundreds of Harvard Students Studying Ancient Chinese Philosophy?
“Michael Puett, 48, is a professor of Chinese history at Harvard University. Puett’s course Classical Chinese Ethical and Political Theory has become the third most popular course at Harvard. The only classes with higher enrollment are Intro to Economics and Intro to Computer Science. The second time Puett offered it, in 2007, so many students crowded into the assigned room that they were sitting on the stairs and stage and spilling out into the hallway. Harvard moved the class to Sanders Theater, the biggest venue on campus. [Read more...]
Michael Brown prompted the wheels to turn last night.
And the wheels on the bus go round and round.
“The thing is, I could choose to replace the tape with a new one.”
But what tape is playing?
And what tape will be playing?
The Good Enough tune?
The Patience beat?
The Acceptance rap?
The Gratitude melody?
Or does a sharp gust of wind blow it over.
And scramble it all up.
Y. That perfect letter. The wishbone, fork in the road, empty wineglass. The question we ask over and over.
— Marjorie Celona, Y
“…It turns out that when we decide how we feel about someone, we are making not one judgment, but two. The criteria that count are what we call “strength” and “warmth.” Strength is a person’s capacity to make things happen with abilities and force of will. When people project strength, they command our respect. Warmth is the sense that a person shares our feelings, interests, and view of the world. When people project warmth, we like and support them…”
“…While each of us exhibit both strong and warm qualities, the authors found through various studies and research that we often fail to utilize the right amounts of each. This is because, although both strength and warmth are positive traits, they can become negative if not balanced for and catered to your specific situation. Awareness is key. Strength and warmth are controllable traits we use in every interaction we have—via our tone of voice, the words we use, how we stand and walk, what we wear, and even how we cut our hair…”
Read more @ 800ceoread
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Source: pulpinsidefiction. Quote: William James (1842-1910). An American philosopher and psychologist who was also trained as a physician. The first educator to offer a psychology course in the United States, James was one of the leading thinkers of the late nineteenth century and is believed by many to be one of the most influential philosophers the United States has ever produced, while others have labelled him the “Father of American psychology.”
Zeke’s paws are scratching. He’s dreaming. His body twitching. I steal a glance at the clock. 1:15 am. I smile. You go from refusing a dog for 20 years, to the animal taking center stage on your bed. Every night. What a tough guy.
He knows. Dogs have a second sense. Even when he’s sleeping, he hears.
Car door shuts. It’s Rachel. Rolling in from her evening out.
I lumber down to her room. Bathroom door is closed. Water is running. I lie down on her bed. Stare at the ceiling. And wait.
Mind whirs back to a moment during the week. I’m driving into Manhattan. Rush hour. Traffic stalled. GPS flashes a 3-mile backup to the Triboro bridge. Beach Avenue and Bruckner. Young girl is holding her Dad’s hand. They are crossing the walkway over I-278. Her passion pink backpack sharply contrasting with the streaks of graffiti. The pair offering up a burst of illumination against the grey of the housing projects and the trash lining the freeway. Their hands and arms sway in unison. Dad smiling. She’s skipping to keep up.
That day, Mind was crocheting stitches of a majestic tapestry. One of family. Of warm spring days. Of light breezes. All storm clouds pushed way south. And the Moment hovered. All week.
Why this moment? This was not an impressionist by Monet. Not a intricate passage by Joyce or a dreamy segue by Murakami. No deep existential words here by Kierkegaard. Not a big win at Work. A Father. A daughter. A pink backpack. Walking over a dilapidated bridge in the Projects.
Steve Layman posted this cartoon last week. It activated an immediate reaction. I laughed. Then said: “TRUE.” Then said “THAT’S ME.” Then psychoanalysis rolled in like a thick soupy fog in the Bay Area. And hangs low and hovers on the “why.” And went on lingering on the 11-hour ride to pick-up Eric from college. Didn’t we just take this emotional empty nester ride a few months back? Time. Whoosh.
I’ve read hundreds of books. And I remember what? Snippets. Particles. Fragments. Crumbs. Smidgens. Specks. Morsels. Bits. Traces. A messy mosaic of something. Adding up to a little more than nothing. A cacophony of deafening alarm bells ringing out to me. Wake up! Slow down! Listen! All banging around. But coincidences. And synchrodestiny. Are crumbs that resurface with frequency. The culprit? A Deepak Chopra book picked up while browsing at a Barnes & Nobles bookstore on a bitterly cold day over ten years ago. [Read more...]
Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?
Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?
When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life -
What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?
- William Stafford (The Way It Is)
This meeting was no different than any other. No different from the hundreds of meetings in the days, the months before. Where I’m on to the next meeting while attending the one in front of me. Meetings with a replicated loop. Mind whirring…processing. Me pushing. Me prodding. Agitating. Me wanting and needing more. Extraction. Creating discomfort. Manufacturing urgency. I’m not looking for you to love me. That’s what your dog is for. This morning, my level of consciousness had been ratcheted up by a few lines from Daniel Bor the night before. And, I roll into the first meeting of the day. I’m listening. I’m watching.
6:17am: I’m up and out the door. It’s a beautiful morning for running. Wisps of cool air cutting through the early September humidity. Streaks of clouds cover the sunrise. A splash of color on a few trees getting a head start on autumn. It’s September 3rd. And a great day to be alive. (Hello September. Where did the year go? Love, LOVE, the fall season. The pulsating picture above feels like my heart does now. Ba Boom. Ba Boom. Ba Boom. Ba Boom. Keep tickin’ baby. Keep tickin’.)
6:23am: Pace is good. Both jets feel good. No one is out and about. Pesky squirrels are sleeping. Even the birds are quiet. (Yep, it’s just me and my head. And that can get crowded. Managed to contain the food intake yesterday. Miracle. Determined to get this weight down before the hibernation period. As Brenna would say, Thanksgiving is the time of the year “when I feel like I’ve eaten a gallon of mashed potatoes and a gravy-injected turkey and washed it down with six or seven espressos.”)