~ 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
- Related Posts: George Sheehan bio and quote - Uneasiness. Inquietude. There is work to be done.
- Image Source. Thank you Mme Scherzo
“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
“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.
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 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
- Sources: Quote – Thank you Whiskey River. Photograph by Lucem @ Make a Wish
- Related Edward Abbey Post: To Be Everywhere At Once Is To Be Nowhere Forever
“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
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...]
4am bell. I work till 1pm. Late jump to beat Friday afternoon traffic. We’re rumbling down I-95. I rub my eyes. Not looking forward to a grueling 11-hour marathon. Eye lids are heavy and the horse ain’t out of the gate.
Two stop-and-go hours to get to New Jersey. Two hours to traverse 45 miles. Ominous start. I grit my teeth. Ten hours to go. Still ahead – - more construction zones. Friday rush hour through the Baltimore-D.C. corridor. Dodging testosterone-fired teens, drunks and white tail deer seeking warmth on the highway. Yes, rumbling down the Road to Perdition.
Pilot is Autonoman. Actions speak the Autonoman, not words.
Co-pilot (aka Susan) is governed by Words. Words. Words.
“I had the best poached eggs for breakfast.” I catch something about sliced avocados. Dash of salt and pepper.
“I spoke to Julia….” I catch words on Dinner. Next weekend. And apparently missed the follow-on question.
“Did you hear what I said?”
“You’d drive 11 hours without saying a word.”
Autonoman feels the glare to his right…the heat emanating from Words.
And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling “This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!” And each day, it’s up to you, to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say “No. This is what’s important.
~ Iain Thomas, I Wrote This For You
There is some secret that water holds that we need to know. I edge up close to the creek and peer into it for a revelation of some kind, an explanation of the world. Some things I think I know: that the sun rises, that the darkness heals, that animals are intelligent, that rocks are aware, that the earth has a sense of humor. The spring wind is blowing hard. The aspens along the bank make sounds of wood rubbing together, dry boards of an old house in a storm. Fair-weather clouds break loose on the bottom of the western horizon and drift one by one across the blue sky. Below me in the creek there is a clear pool full of minnows. I get down on my belly and carefully put my hand in the water among the small fishes. The minnows jerk past my numb fingers, swift as black seconds ticking. I cannot catch even one.
~ Tom Hennen
Tom Hennen was born in Morris, Minnesota and grew up in a farming family. His poetry was informed by a lifelong and intimate relationship with the prairie. He lives in Minnesota.
“After 8 years of traveling the planet, capturing the natural world in its most pristine state…I discovered that a huge part of the planet is yet as the day of the beginning…what I wished to show was the planet in total equilibrium…us in equilibrium with our nature…I worked with the Nenets in the north of Siberia…all that a family has is minimum…there I discovered the sense of essential…to survive, and to survive well, to be happy, to love our child, to love our wife, to be close with nature, you don’t need all this. I don’t know if I succeed with these pictures, but my wish is to do a homage to the planet…a portrait of the planet.”
See more of Sebastião Salgado’s amazing black and white photos at this link.
Sebastião Salgado, 69, is a Brazilian social documentary photographer and photojournalist. Salgado initially trained as an economist and switched to photography in 1973. He is particularly noted for his social documentary photography of workers in less developed nations. He has traveled in over 100 countries for his photographic projects. Salgado has been awarded numerous major photographic prizes in recognition of his accomplishments and a sustained, significant contribution to the art of photography. (Source: Wiki)
Thank you Joan Walters @ Canadian Art Junkie for pointing me to this video and to Sebastião Salgado.
“There is a language older by far and deeper than words. It is the language of bodies, of body on body, wind on snow, rain on trees, wave on stone. It is the language of dream, gesture, symbol, memory. We have forgotten this language. We do not even remember that it exists…”
“When we’re in high-drama mode, everything is a crisis. But that’s often because we need the adrenalin or we’re bored…
…The hardest thing about perspective is it means we need to grow up. Or maybe we don’t. One way to have good perspective is to see the world through the eyes of a child. We innocently report. We accept how others think and feel. If something is had or sad, or we’re scared, we say that. We say how we feel and what we want and need. We know that when we’re tired, we see things out of focus. And when things get too difficult, we either go play in the park or we take a nap. Somehow we know that everything will work out.”
“A friend of mine used to say that the problem with life is that it is ‘so daily.’ What he meant was that it is how we live and approach each day that ultimately determines the quality of our lives. In this same way, the choice to move toward innocence rather than cynicism is one that we make each day, and often many times during the same day.
We don’t rediscover joy and wonder through one large choice we make but hundreds of smaller ones. It is something akin to a silly riddle my kids used to ask me: ‘How do you eat an elephant?’ One bite at a time.”
~ John Izzo, Second Innocence
Potpourri of articles that have lingered with me…and have fired up the thinking gene:
1) Extend our conscious life span by 150%. The End of Sleep. (Aeon Magazine)
(DK: I need to get some of this “medicine.” Or, maybe not.)
2) Not Doing Better Than Our Parents. And Loving It. (The Umlaut.com)
(DK: Just what my kids need to read. I can hear it already. ”See Dad. You have it all backwards.”)
3) Choking on China. The Superpower That is Poisoning the World. (Foreign Affairs)
(DK: I’m not Mr. Green. But, this. This is frightening.)
4) A Man of His Times (Karl Marx). (NY Times)
(DK: Hard left. Hard Right. We’re all human. )
“He is an intensely loving father, playing energetically with his children and later grandchildren, but also suffering what would now be diagnosed as a two-year depression following the death of his 8-year-old son Edgar.”)
5) Change Your Thoughts About People For a Better Life. (Steve Aitchison)
(DK: I set a modest goal after reading this post. No judging for 1 day. Outcome: Fail. I’m workin’ it. First step in recovery is recognizing…you know the line…I’m on step 2.)
6) The Happiest People Pursue the Most Difficult Problems. (Rosabeth Moss Kanter @ HBR Blog Network)
(DK: “It is hard to feel alone, or to whine about small things, when faced with really big matters..” YES. Period.)
Image Source: GagaBoss Studio
I’m not a time lapse video aficionado…yet, this clip of Australian terrain pulled me in frame by frame and held me spellbound. Haunting. Mesmerizing. And, oh, The Clouds. ”Karst” is defined as: An area of irregular limestone in which erosion has produced fissures, sinkholes, underground streams, and caverns.
Good Sunday morning.
- For more work by Glen Ryan: http://www.karstcountry.com/
- Time-Lapse Video Like You’ve Never Seen It: Breathtaking Infrared (theatlantic.com)
- Karst Country: A Haunting Infrared Timelapse Of The Australian Countryside (devambardekar.wordpress.com)
- Breathtaking black and white time lapse of Australia’s beautiful terrain (holykaw.alltop.com)
“All great masters are chiefly distinguished by the power of adding a second, a third, and perhaps a fourth step in a continuous line. Many a man has taken the first step. With every additional step you enhance immensely the value of your first.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
“Nature has many tricks wherewith she convinces man of his infinity, – the ceaseless flow of the tides, the fury of storm, the shock of the earthquake, the long roll of heavens artillery, – but the most tremendous, the most stupefying of all, is the passive phase of the White Silence. All movement ceases, the sky clears, the heavens are as brass; the slightest whisper seems sacrilege, and man becomes timid, affrighted at the sound of his own voice. Sole speck of life journeying across the ghostly wastes of a dead world, he trembles at his audacity, realizes that his is a maggots life, nothing more. Strange thoughts arise unsummoned, and the mystery of all things strives for utterance. And the fear of death, of God, of the universe, comes over him, – the hope of the Resurrection and the life, the yearning for immortality, the vain striving of the imprisoned essence, – it is then, if ever, man walks alone with God.”
~ Jack London
This share was inspired by the 10 ton meteorite falling out of the heavens in Siberia on Friday. (The long rolls of heavens artillery…The sky clears, the heavens are as brass…)
Jack London (January 12, 1876 – November 22, 1916) was an American author, journalist, and social activist. He was a pioneer in the then-burgeoning world of commercial magazine fiction and was one of the first fiction writers to obtain worldwide celebrity and a large fortune from his fiction alone.
How to Wrap Five More Eggs by Hideyuki Oka with photographs by Michikazu Sakai. Source: Yama-bato
Most days I cling to a single word.
It is a mild-mannered creature made of thought.
Future, or Past.
Never the other, obvious word.
Whenever I reach out to touch that one, it scurries away.
—Laura Kasischke, opening lines to “Riddle” from Space, in Chains
Laura Kasischke was awarded the 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry for Space, In Chains. She is currently a Professor of English Language at the University of Michigan. She attended the University of Michigan (MFA 1987) and Columbia University.