Life, too, is like that. You live it forward, but understand it backward.
~ Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
Life, too, is like that. You live it forward, but understand it backward.
~ Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone
An intellectual? Yes. And never deny it. An intellectual is someone whose mind watches itself. I like this, because I am happy to be both halves, the watcher and the watched. ‘Can they be brought together?’ This is a practical question. We must get down to it. ‘I despise intelligence’ really means: ‘I cannot bear my doubts.’
— Albert Camus
I hear the wind blow,
And I feel that it was worth being born
just to hear the wind blow.
~ Fernando Pessoa
If only I may grow: firmer, simpler, quieter, warmer.
~ Dag Hammarskjöld
Dag Hammarskjöld (1905-1961) was a Swedish diplomat, economist, and author. The second Secretary-General of the United Nations, he served from April 1953 until his death in a plane crash in September 1961. He is one of just three people to be awarded a posthumous Nobel Peace Prize. After Hammarskjöld’s death, U.S. president John F. Kennedy regretted that he opposed the UN policy in the Congo and said: “I realise now that in comparison to him, I am a small man. He was the greatest statesman of our century.”
Where’s Caleb on Hump Day? Merzouga, Morocco. Here he’s posing with his friend before a long walk in the desert…
Source: Russell Bevan
Most of the pain you’re dealing with are really just thoughts.. ever think of that?
4:45 am. Wednesday morning. Hump Day.
I lay in bed. I glance left to the window. It’s dark. Quiet.
Zeke nuzzles closer.
I close my eyes.
What’s it going to be?
1/2 way back. 3/4 way back. All Better?
I ease out of bed. And inhale.
A twinge. A bite. A grimace. An exhalation.
Let’s call it 75%.
Bit of grade inflation but we’re going with it.
I ease into the car.
The icicles on the eaves dripping.
Yes. Make it be Spring.
10:00 am meeting. Annoyances are whispy, floating in a thin ibuprofen haze in an otherwise cloudless sky. 10:14 am. Left eye begins to water. A fountain with intermittent spurts. The corneal abrasion roars out of remission and is shooting flares. 10:30 am. In the car, heading home. One hand over eye. The other keeping the wheel between the lanes, driving well below speed limit behind a semi trailer truck. 11:30 am. Sitting in darkness. Taking conference calls.
Dispel this cloud, the light of heaven restore; Give me to see, and Ajax asks no more. (Homer)
5:35 am. Thursday. Fever?
I pop 3 Extra Strength Tylenol. And start pounding on emails. My left elbow tingles. I pull my sweatshirt up. It’s swollen, baseball size and throbbing. WTH? Where? How? Why? Thoughts race. We’re in a bit of a rhythm here:
Left lower back.
Left corneal abrasion.
When it doesn’t feel right, go left.
And, if it doesn’t feel left?
Often a sweetness comes
as if on loan,
stays just long enough
to make sense of what it means to be alive,
then returns to its dark source.
As for me,
I don’t care
where it’s been,
or what bitter road it’s traveled
to come so far,
to taste so good.
~ Stephen Dunn
Source: Thank you Carol @ Radiating Blossom
Luhrmann doesn’t want to give in to the pressure to repeat himself. During the making of “Gatsby,” he said, he felt challenged and alive, “not panicked that somehow the universe was leaving me behind.” That is the way he needs to feel about his next project, whatever it is. “I’d love to have done James Bond,” he said. “I’d love to just go and do a rom-com or a jeans-and-T-shirt film, because that would be fun.” But he can’t. “It is both maddening and also has a degree of exultation about it, but I’m addicted to doing not that which I really want to do, but that which I feel must be done.” His job now, he said, is “to draw some kind of lines. I have a big inner life. My struggle is how to organize it. How to aim the gun.”
~ Amy Wallace on Baz Luhrmann, Do I or Do I Not Want To Do? (How to Decide)?
Mark Anthony “Baz” Luhrmann, 51, is an Australian film director, screenwriter and producer best known for The Red Curtain Trilogy, comprising his films Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet, and Moulin Rouge!. In 2008, his film Australia was released, starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman. His version of The Great Gatsby was released in 2013. On 26 January 1997, he wed Catherine Martin, a production designer; the couple has two children. (Source: Wiki)
Six Mile run. Sixty-two minutes.
*Sylvia Plath: I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery— air, mountains, trees…I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.”
Related Posts: Running Series. Credit: Thank you Susan for photo of Zeke.
“A moment later,
I was filled with doubts,
and the next moment after that
I began to doubt those doubts.
To think one thought
meant thinking the opposite thought,
and no sooner did that second thought destroy the first thought
than a third thought rose up to destroy the second.”
—Paul Auster, from The Book of Illusions
Thank you Carol @ Radiating Blossom
if I was,
a wee bit bendy,
I could meditate
in her peaceful,
at her fine
And she stills
my racing thoughts.
I’m meditating in
~ DK (Not Mary Oliver)
Image Source: Your Eyes Blaze Out
I step out my steaming shower
and wipe mist from my shaving mirror.
Who’s that spectre slapping lather
on my cheeks with bony fingers?
He’s the Ghost of Present Tense,
although he haunts the past and future.
When he brandishes his razor,
I grin and offer him my throat.
- Richard Cecil
~ JFK, May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963
Image Source: Dopediamond
It started in the shower.
Stomach sour – doing loop de loops.
Late November, 1980s.
The morning shower is followed by a long walk in the dark from the dorm.
Square into the teeth of a wicked Northern Michigan wind.
Mitts. Goose down coats. Parkas. Sorel boots.
Students filing in for the 8:00 am class.
I find a seat in the middle-back. Need to get invisible.
I’m below the stoners and the drunks, adorned with hoodies.
I’m above the whizz-bangs, a**-kissers and kids with coke bottle glasses.
Three weeks earlier the Professor kicks off his class with ground rules.
“A full letter grade is determined by your class participation, frequency and quality.”
Red Pencil in hand.
He’d put a tick mark next to each name who’s hand would go up.
He’d hang over his journal scribbling after a noteworthy comment.
And shredded in half.
One half with head down to avoid being called on.
The other half, The Angry Man – a full letter grade down before taking a single exam.
“I wouldn’t describe myself as lacking in confidence, but I would just say that … the ghosts you chase you never catch.”
John Gavin Malkovich, 59, was born in Christopher, Illinois. His paternal grandparents were Croatian. He is an American actor, producer, director, and fashion designer. Over the last 30 years of his career, Malkovich has appeared in more than 70 motion pictures. For his roles in Places in the Heart and In the Line of Fire, he received Academy Award nominations. He has also appeared in critically acclaimed films such as Empire of the Sun, The Killing Fields, Dangerous Liaisons, Of Mice and Men, Being John Malkovich, and RED, and has produced numerous films, including Juno and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
Image Source: Youreyesblazeout
It opened with the intention of a feather-light, human touch of good will.
And it hasn’t closed.
Like a snag on your favorite sweater that you keep pulling and pulling.
It was 4 weeks ago.
End to end it couldn’t have lasted more than 7 seconds.
She’s an executive assistant on another floor.
I was passing by to get to a meeting. In a hurry. (“‘Only the sick man and the ambitious,’ wrote Ortega, ‘are in a hurry.’” DK: Which one are you?)
“Good morning x?”
“Really Dave, you’ve worked with me for how long, 5-10 years? And you still don’t know my name.”
“I’m so sorry,” stealing a glance at her name plate. She caught the glance. Damage done. Twice, in seconds.
Later that week, I pass by her desk. And pause.
She talking to a colleague.
“I refuse to speak to him.”
He turns to me: “Wow, what have you done to her?”
Colaianni’s whispers: “When I hear my own name, I have as much a sense of it entering my body through my back or my hand or my chest as through my ears… “
Note to Self: And when I don’t hear my own name or someone calls me by the wrong name, I have as much a sense of it entering my body through the back of their hand to my face, my chest, the back of my head…
“All things are engaged in writing their history. The planet, the pebble, goes attended by its shadow. The rolling rock leaves its scratches on the mountain, the river, its channel in the soil, the animal, its bones in the stratum, the fern and leaf, their modest epitaph in the coal. The falling drop makes its sculpture in the sand or the stone. Not a foot steps into the snow or along the ground, but prints, in characters more or less lasting, a map of its march. Every act of the person inscribes itself in the memories of its fellows, and in his own manners and face. The air is full of sounds, the sky of tokens, the ground is all memoranda and signatures, and every object covered over with hints which speak to the intelligent.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Credits: Portrait: Stephan Vanfleteren. Emerson quote – Thank you Makebelieveboutique. Shakespeare Quote for blog title “What’s in a name?” – Soulsentences. Ortego quote: George Sheehan – Running & Being. Louis Colaianni quote from The Joy of Phonetics and Accents.
“At five, I had the intuitive, instinctive faith that my cosmos, my family and the world were good and true and beautiful. That somehow I had always been and always would be. And I knew in a way of a five-year-old that I had worth and dignity and individuality. Later, when I read Nietzsche’s statement that these are not given to us by nature but are tasks that we must somehow solve, I knew him to be wrong. We all had them once.”
~ George Sheehan, Running & Being
“I recently interviewed David Burns, author of “Feeling Good”… In his more than 35,000 therapy sessions he has learned that the pursuit of perfection is arguably the surest way to undermine happiness and productivity…
Have you ever obsessed over a report when your boss said it was already plenty good enough? Have you ever lost an object of little importance but just had to keep looking for it? Do colleagues often tell you, “Just let it go”?…
This left me wondering: what if trying to be average could actually accelerate your success?…
Overachievers have such high expectations of themselves that their “average” might be another person’s “really good.” So instead of pushing yourself to give 100% (or 110%, whatever that means) you can go for giving 75% or 50% of what you usually might offer. This idea is captured succinctly by the mantra, “Done is better than perfect”…
The word “perfect” has a Latin root; literally, it means “made well” or “done thoroughly.” Another translation would be “complete.” And yet today, we use it to mean flawless…
To understand why, we need to understand the role of fear in perfectionism: “If I don’t perfectly [fill in the blank] something terrible will happen.” Often perfectionists are so used to this anxiety that they no longer even consciously recognize it; it’s just the fuel that keeps them working, working, working and honing, honing, honing… [Read more...]
I like beginnings
because they’re so full of promise.
The first page of a book,
the first day of a job,
the first time you buy yourself flowers,
the first date with a new man,
the first touch,
the first kiss,
the first kick of a good liquor,
the first moment you hold your own baby.
I like beginnings
because I know there’s always more to come.
— Shyma Perera, Bitter Sweet Symphony
It was like the moment when a bird decides not to eat from your hand, and flies, just before it flies,
the moment the rivers seem to still and stop because a storm is coming, but there is no storm,
as when a hundred starlings lift and bank together before they wheel and drop,
very much like the moment, driving on bad ice, when it occurs to you your car could spin, just before it slowly begins to spin,
like the moment just before you forgot what it was you were about to say, it was like that, and after that, it was still like that, only all the time.
see what has never been seen;
~ Edna St. Vincent Millay
: Chemical – a liquid that burns easily, that is used to turn solid substances into liquid, and that was used in medicine in the past to prevent patients from feeling pain during operations
: Literary - the clear sky; the upper regions of air beyond the clouds.
the ether : the air : the sky
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892–1950) was born in Rockland, Maine, attended Vassar College, and upon graduation moved to Greenwich Village. Millay was born to Cora Lounella, a nurse, and Henry Tollman Millay, a schoolteacher who would later become a superintendent of schools. Her middle name derives from St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York, where her uncle’s life had been saved just before her birth. The family’s house was “between the mountains and the sea where baskets of apples and drying herbs on the porch mingled their scents with those of the neighboring pine woods.” In 1923, when Millay was 31 years old, she published The Harp Weaver and Other Poems, which won the Pulitzer Prize. Millay’s brilliant achievements in strict form place her in the first ranks of 20th-century American poets and today, when many of the high modernists are studied only in university classrooms, Millay’s poetry remains widely read and admired by a literate general audience. (Source: San Diego Reader and Wiki)
Image Credit: Tim Flach
to put down
“Beauty is often treated as an essentially feminine subject, something trivial and frivolous that women are excessively concerned with. Men, meanwhile, are typically seen as having a straightforward and uncomplicated relationship with it: they are drawn to it. The implication is that this may be unfortunate—not exactly ideal morally—but it can’t be helped, because it’s natural, biological. This seems more than a little ironic. Women are not only subject to a constant and exhausting and sometimes humiliating scrutiny—they are also belittled for caring about their beauty, mocked for seeking to enhance or to hold onto their good looks, while men are just, well, being men.
The reality is, of course, far more complicated, as our best novelists show us. They train our gazes on men at not only their most shallow and status conscious but also at their most ridiculous (the clenched jaw). It’s not always easy to know what to make of these men, who certainly aren’t wholly bad. But in a world where women are so frequently judged by their looks, it’s refreshing to encounter male characters whose superficial thoughts are at least acknowledged by their creators.”
~ Adelle Waldman, in an excerpt from The New Yorker, “A First-Rate Girl”: The Problem of Female Beauty
I’m on the 5:01 a.m. train to Grand Central.
I’m riffling through two days of morning papers. Without breaking stride, I shift to chopping through a small mountain of emails. I pause. I can feel my pulse accelerating. Work mode. Game time and it’s only 5:45 am.
The train moves through the tunnel. Internet connection is lost. I close my eyes for a moment looking for a few minutes of rest. But it’s not rest I find, it’s restless.
I shift to Kindle.
Elise sent me a link to a book over the weekend. I’m a few pages in. My mind drifts. I worked with her, could it be 9 years ago? Where does the time go?
Describe her in 5 words: Centered. Gentle. Peaceful. Kind. Goodness.
I get off the train. I’m walking briskly down 42th street. City is alive at 6 am. I cross Park. Madison. Fifth. Avenue of the Americas. Times Square. ABC’s Good Morning America is setting up outside on Broadway and 44th street…crowd milling.
I let her down. I remember the look in her eyes. I couldn’t have been more than a three minute conversation 9 years ago, and it’s a piercing tattoo etched in my mind. Thoughtless, wrong, self-serving.
~ James Joyce (1882-1941) in a letter to his brother
It’s my third email of the day.
A member on the team is getting accolades.
I flashback to a conversation with his manager three years ago.
“He’s rough. Not sure he has it. Big Risk.“
“There’s talent there. Trust me.”
I send him a note: “I’m proud we’re on the same team.”
Seconds later my email is flashing with his reply.
“You made my day.”
I push my chair back.
And turn my back to my desk and stare out the window.
Good to be wrong.
“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
“The outcome of my days is always the same; an infinite desire for what one never gets; a void one cannot fill; an utter yearning to produce in all ways, to battle as much as possible against time that drags us along, and the distractions that throw a veil over our soul.”
~ Eugene Delacroix, “The Journal of Eugene Delacroix”
“What are we supposed to be looking for?” Stanley asked him.
“You’re not looking for anything.
You’re digging to build character”…
[Stanley] glanced helplessly at his shovel. It wasn’t defective.
He was defective.
— Louis Sachar, Holes
I love the quiet that used to disturb me.
I have distance on my life.
The boast and pity of self-regard
have fallen somewhat behind.
the home I carry with me,
I settle into the clouds.
On the mountain
I sit quietly in a sage meadow
visited by the same bees that make lovers
of flowering bushes.
I become part of the golden comb hidden
in the hive humming with delight.”
~ Stephen Levine
“I had a discussion with a great master in Japan, and we were talking about the various people who are working to translate the Zen books into English, and he said, ‘That’s a waste of time. If you really understand Zen, you can use any book. You could use the Bible. You could use Alice in Wonderland. You could use the dictionary, because the sound of the rain needs no translation.’”
- Alan Watts
Alan Watts quotes Zen roshi Morimoto in his autobiography titled In My Own Way. Watts (1915-1973) was a British-born philosopher, writer and speaker, best known as an interpreter and popularizer of Eastern Philosophy for Western audiences. He moved to the United States in 1938 and began Zen training in New York. Pursuing a career, he attended Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, where he received a master’s degree in theology. Watts became an Episcopal priest then left the ministry in 1950 and moved to California, where he joined the faculty of the American Academy of Asian Studies. Watts gained a large following in the San Francisco Bay Area while working as a volunteer programmer at KPFA, a Pacifica Radio station in Berkeley. Watts wrote more than 25 books and articles on subjects important to Eastern and Western religion, introducing the then-burgeoning youth culture to The Way of Zen (1957), one of the first bestselling books on Buddhism. (Source: Wiki)
She turned 21.
Our celebration dinner was at home earlier in the week.
Family was seated together. She was at the head of the table.
Champagne glasses filled. Dad with his Snapple. A Toast.
Her favorites. Cheesy Parmigiano-Reggiano breaded chicken breasts.
Buttery mashed potatoes. Long stemmed broccoli and cheese.
Followed by vanilla flavored birthday cake with thick gobs of frosting.
Cards from Grandparents.
She opens a small box from her Brother. Beaming. She slides on a ring.
I turn my head away to keep it together.
Discussion turns from sharing stories to plans for the evening.
“I’m staying in the city with a friend.”
“You mean you’re not coming home tonight?”
Flash of anger. Rolling to disappointment. Then settling into Sad. Turning deep, down and inward.
Dad’s leaning into a gushing current.
Water rushing over, under, through.
Hopeless to stop it. Yet he keeps trying.
Happy Birthday Honey…
I came from brilliancy
And return to brilliancy.
What is this?
“I am pleased enough with the surfaces – in fact they alone seem to me to be of much importance. Such things for example as the grasp of a child’s hand in your own, the flavor of an apple, the embrace of a friend or lover, the silk of a girl’s thigh, the sunlight on the rock and leaves, the feel of music, the bark of a tree, the abrasion of granite and sand, the plunge of clear water into a pool, the face of the wind – what else is there? What else do we need?”
- Edward Abbey
“There it is; the light across the water. Your story. Mine. His. It has to be seen to be believed. And it has to be heard. In the endless babble of narrative, in spite of the daily noise, the story waits to be heard.
Some people say that the best stories have no words. It is true that words drop away, and that the important things are often left unsaid. The important things are learned in faces, in gestures, not in our locked tongues. The true things are too big or too small, or in any case always the wrong size to fit in the template called language.”
- Jeanette Winterson
6:30pm NBC Nightly News last night. Brian Williams shares a feature story on how younger siblings suffer adverse long term effects from bullying by their older siblings. COME ON. Don’t believe everything you read. Here’s some real life case studies involving long term research.
But first, a short bio on my brother. He’s two years my junior. Today, he is married. He has a beautiful wife. Two handsome well behaved, high potential teenage boys. He has a great job and is making a real contribution to the community. A good man.
Roll it back to his teen years. Pudgy, but nimble in dodging blame. Lazy, but quick to vanish when it was time for chores. Shirt untucked and laden with food droppings. Pants hanging off his a** before it became a fashion trend. And foreign ooze dripping from his nose, year around.
Case 1: Lazy summer afternoon. We were chased outside to play. I grabbed our baseball mitts and ball. He reluctantly agreed to play. We tossed it back and forth a few times. He then sat down in the grass in the shade and called out: “It’s too hot.” I walked over, glared at him and told him to “get up.” No movement. I’m staring him down. He’s scooching backwards on his hands towards the tree: “I’m tired. This is boring.” That was it. I marched back down the lawn. Stopped. Took a deep breath. Turned, and in a single motion unleashed a fast ball from 15 feet away nailing him in the forehead. Based on his reaction, you would have thought I hit him with a Scud Missile. Outcome for me: Capital Punishment. Outcome for him: Appropriate long term attitude adjustment. (One doesn’t forget a baseball to the noggin’.) [Read more...]
Your Miscellaneous Way
Occupying your own skin with joy,
I watch you
listen to yourself living,
discovering each day
how much less of everything
steadies you into being.
- Terrance Keenan
Yesterday. Marathon meeting starting at 8am. A single topic, full day meeting ending at 3pm. Tight agenda on an important subject. Full engagement by all participants. Constructive collaborative discussion. Good meeting. Yes, an Oxymoron.
We finish our working lunch and continue at a workmanlike pace chopping through the agenda. My mind drifts. Back to a moment in 1985. A moment drifting into consciousness hundreds (1000′s?) of times. (Can it really be 28 years ago? You’ve deeply regretted so many other foot-in-mouth-moments. Why does this painful one keep coming back?)
It’s Saturday. 5:30 am. 45F. Drizzling.
Zeke is up early. Which means his keeper (Susan) is too. She’s at the kitchen table sipping coffee and reading The Times. He’s looking up at her, being cute, sitting like Royalty, waiting for a hand-out. It’s Banana today. Dog loves bananas. Who knew?
He watches me warily. It has become the weekend routine. He sits between his Mom’s legs. Growls at me. Signaling, No way in H*ll I’m going out with you. No Way. Fur is up at the back of his neck. I approach. “Let’s go Bud. Let’s go for a run.” He shows me his teeth…and emits a low raspy growl. And then another. Yep. Pure bred running dog. This is what it’s come to.
On with the gear. Accessories first. Garmin GPS. iPod. Ear Phones. Water bottle into black waist pouch. Then on with the suit. Black running pants. Black rain slicker. Black Baseball cap (not water proof). Red and Black Brooks running shoes. Batman is ready. The Dark Knight Rides. He’s off.
Mile One. It’s drizzling. But manageable. Light rain and mist. Feels refreshing on the skin. Miles. I’m going to do Miles today. [Read more...]
It was last month. I don’t recall the day. Just another weekday.
Off to work. Barreling down I-95. Same route. Each day. Autopilot. Not Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness. Simple Mindlessness.
Flicking through iPod. Can’t settle on a band or a tune. Restless.
Foot heavy on accelerator. Glance at speedometer. Pushing your luck Pal. Only a matter of time. And you’ll earn it. (Again.)
Traffic backs up at Stamford exits as morning rush hour builds.
A black Chevrolet pick-up swings into my lane.
The iconic orange, white and black Harley logo on rear window.
Left hand bumper is adorned with a frayed sticker: 1968-1972: Marines. Vietnam Vet.
Connecticut Plate 123JAR.
What does JAR stand for? [Read more...]