Lighting a little dark as I go

falling-star
“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)


Notes:

 

Memorial Day

breeze, France,

~ Mary Elizabeth Frye


Mary Elizabeth Frye (1905 – 2004) was an American housewife and florist, best known as the author of the poem “Do not stand at my grave and weep,” written in 1932.  She was born in Dayton, Ohio, and was orphaned at the age of three. The poem for which she became famous was originally composed on a brown paper shopping bag, and was reportedly inspired by the story of a young Jewish girl, Margaret Schwarzkopf, who had been staying with the Frye household and had been unable to visit her dying mother in Germany because of anti-Semitic unrest.


Credits: Photography – thefujifreak. Poem – Decorated Skin

So you want to live forever

 

Aubrey-de-Grey

From The Weekly Standard: So You Want to Live Forever:

Aubrey de Grey, 51, is the man who insists that within a few decades technology will enable us human beings to beat death and live forever. “Someone is alive right now who is going to live to be 1,000 years old.” 

The British-born de Grey, with a doctorate in biology from Cambridge, is also the single most colorful figure in the living-forever movement, where colorful figures generously abound. “I look as though I’m in my 30s,” he informed me…And maybe he does look that young, but it’s hard to tell, because his waist-length, waterfall-style beard​—​a de Grey trademark​—​gives him the look of an extremely spry Methuselah, who, according to the Bible, made it only to 969 years.

De Grey is actually of the phenotype Ageless British Eccentric: English Rose cheeks, piercing blue eyes, and someone-please-make-him-a-sandwich slenderness; his tomato-red shirt and gray slacks hang from angular shoulders and legs. Bony frames that verge on gauntness are a hallmark of the living-forever movement, most of whose members hew to severe dietary restrictions in order to prolong their lives while they wait for science to catch up with death. De Grey, by contrast, claims to eat whatever he likes and also to drink massive quantities of carb-loaded English ale, working it all off by punting on the River Cam in the four months a year he spends doing research back at Cambridge.

De Grey subscribes to the reigning theory of the live-forever movement: that aging, the process by which living things ultimately wear themselves out and die, isn’t an inevitable part of the human condition. Instead, aging is just another disease, not really different in kind from any of the other serious ailments, such as heart failure or cancer, that kill us. And as with other diseases, de Grey believes that aging has a cure or series of cures that scientists will eventually discover…

Read more at The Weekly Standard: So You Want To Live Forever

 


Image: DIYTheme.com

Something, something, something

Peter-Matthiessen

“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.”

Wiki Bio:

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.


Blue

gif, photography

gif


Image Credit (Penguins mourning death of their child)

Now you are here, at 7:43. Now you are here, at 7:44. Now you are…

philip-seymour-hoffman
Synecdoche, New York (2008)
[over radio]

Millicent Weems: What was once before you – an exciting, mysterious future – is now behind you. Lived; understood; disappointing. You realize you are not special. You have struggled into existence, and are now slipping silently out of it. This is everyone’s experience. Every single one. The specifics hardly matter. Everyone’s everyone. So you are Adele, Hazel, Claire, Olive. You are Ellen. All her meager sadnesses are yours; all her loneliness; the gray, straw-like hair; her red raw hands. It’s yours. It is time for you to understand this.

Millicent Weems: Walk.

Millicent Weems: As the people who adore you stop adoring you; as they die; as they move on; as you shed them; as you shed your beauty; your youth; as the world forgets you; as you recognize your transience; as you begin to lose your characteristics one by one; as you learn there is no-one watching you, and there never was, you think only about driving – not coming from any place; not arriving any place. Just driving, counting off time. Now you are here, at 7:43. Now you are here, at 7:44. Now you are…

Millicent Weems: Gone.


In memory Philip Seymour Hoffman (July 23,1967 – February 2, 2014)


Credits: Image.  Script: Schonweider from the Movie “Synecdoche, New York” available at Amazon here.

No, it stays right at the front.


I can still remember how she looked. Black gown grey against the sky, clutching the scroll in the hand. So much hard work.

Did it mean anything when all paths led to the same end. You can extend the path you take. Choose the one less travelled. Be all the richer for it. But it is still a path, and all paths lead to the same end.  If you have a Lover and a Dog waiting for you, you are one of the lucky ones.  I don’t think there’s anything afterwards, outside the stories. if there is, how would that work?

She believed.  She wasn’t a zealot or fundamentalist.  But she believed.  Enough to not get scared at the end. Vast thunder storms. Fat on the horizon. But she could still see the sun. All things shining.

Sometimes I do the impossible. Steal a glimpse of her out of the corner of my eye. Light and full of love. I don’t try to stop her. Tap her on the shoulder. Pull her home.  

They ask me years later.  Does it get easier as time passes or does it stay at the back of your mind.  

No. It stays right at the front.

 ~ Jack Tasker


Pain is not exclusive to humans

birds-pain-cry

birds2-pain


Source: Youreyesblazeout

Sunday Morning: The enormity of the the room whose door has now quietly shut

Stephen Colbert

I encourage you to watch a short video at this link: Remembering Lorna Colbert.  Fitting for a Sunday Morning.  Whether you love Stephen Colbert and his show, or not, this was a moving tribute to his Mother, who died last week at the age of 92.   My friend Lori @ Donna & Diablo shared this with me and it has remained top of mind.

A few select excerpts:

…She made a very loving home for us. No fight between siblings could end without hugs and kisses, although hugs never needed a reason in her house.

…She knew more than her share of tragedy, losing her brother and her husband and three of her sons. But her love for her family and her faith in God somehow gave her the strength not only to go on but to love life without bitterness and instill in all of us a gratitude for every day we have together.

…And I know it may sound greedy to want more days with a person who lived so long, but the fact that my mother was 92 does not diminish, it only magnifies, the enormity of the room whose door has now quietly shut.

…In her last days, my mother occasionally became confused, and to try to ground her we asked simple questions, like what’s your favourite colour, what’s your favorite song. She couldn’t answer these. But when asked what her favourite prayer was, she immediately recited A Child’s Prayer, in German, that she used to say to my eldest brothers and sisters at bedtime when they we living in Munich in the late 1940s. Her favorite memory of prayer was a young mother tucking in her children.

…We were the light of her life, and she let us know it ‘til the end.

Do take a moment to watch the video: Remembering Lorna Colbert


Thank you Lori.  For full transcript: third-beat.com.  For video: Remembering Lorna Colbert. For image:  Vanity Fair – Man in the Irony Mask

Silence on this Day

Mother, son, mourning father, grave site

I found today’s editorial message in the NY Times to poignantly yet beautifully capture the spirit of today.

“If you listen carefully, you can almost hear the silence at the heart of Memorial Day — the inward turn that thoughts take on a day set aside to honor the men and women who have died in the service of this country.

It is the silence of soldiers who have not yet been, and may never be, able to talk about what they learned in war, the silence of grief so familiar that it feels like a second heartbeat. This is a day for acknowledging, publicly, the private memorial days that lie scattered throughout the year, a day when all the military graves are tended to, even the ones that someone tends to regularly as a way of remembering.

It always seems strange the way the fond, sober gestures of memory coincide with the last flush of spring, while the trees are still lit from within by their chartreuse leaves. The year is still rising, just. And yet it is something you often see recorded in the books and diaries of men and women at war — the sharp interruption of beauty, the moments, hours even, when the vivid tenacity of life itself feels most tangible, even in the midst of death. On a bright, beautiful Memorial Day, you feel, as clearly as you may ever feel, the profound separation between the living and the dead. This is the strangeness of the day, because that separation is a source of both joy and loss. [Read more...]

When it comes, I’ll be fine, calm.

black and white, photography

“My doctor told me that I’m old, fat, and ugly, but none of those things is going to kill me immediately,” he told me shortly before his 72nd birthday. “The actuaries say I have six to eight years. The best tables give me 10. Three thousand days, more or less.” I asked if he is afraid to die. “Because of my hemophilia, I’ve been prepared to face death all of my life. As a boy I spent a lot of time in hospitals. My parents had to leave at the end of visiting hours, and I spent a lot of time just lying there in the dark, thinking about the fact that any accident could be dangerous or even fatal. So I’m ready. Everybody fears the unknown. But I have a strong feeling there’s something bigger than us. I don’t think all this exists because some rocks happened to collide. I’m at peace. When it comes, I’ll be fine, calm. I’ll miss life, though. Especially my family.”

~ Roger Ailles, 72, Founder and Head of Fox News, in Vanity Fair


Whether one is far right, passionate left or in the center, we are not so different at our core. We face our daily struggles. We love our family. We’d give anything for another ten years…Life is good.  Have a good day…


Image Credit: EveryThing All Around Me

The long roll of heavens artillery

black and white, ocean, waves, photography

“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.


Sources: Quote – thank you makebelieveboutique.com.  Photo: midnightmartinis – “Portugal” – by Hélène Desplechin

I’m not one. But this stopped me in my tracks today…

Vibrant Produce

“The risk of hospitalization or death from heart disease is 32% lower in vegetarians than people who eat meat and fish, according to a new study from the University of Oxford.

Heart disease is the single largest cause of death in developed countries…The new findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggest that a vegetarian diet could significantly reduce people’s risk of heart disease…This is the largest study ever conducted in the UK comparing rates of heart disease between vegetarians and non-vegetarians. The analysis looked at almost 45,000 volunteers from England and Scotland…of whom 34% were vegetarian. Such a significant representation of vegetarians is rare in studies of this type, and allowed researchers to make more precise estimates of the relative risks between the two groups.”

Source: University of Oxford


Image Credit

Running. With Newtown.

black-and-white-love-sad-sweet-true-love-Favim.com-244215

Off to a late start today.  Could not fire the engines.  Or the head.  Temperature: Brisk 35F. Not a trace of wind.  And gloriously sunny.  Sunny but dark.

I skip the hat.  Skip the gloves. Skip the extra sweatshirt.  I needed cold.  Needed to feel alive. Needed a new path.  A fresh 5-mile route.  Away from the familiar.

9:45 am: I’m heading North. (It’s quiet out. Eerily quiet. I don’t hear birds. Traffic seems to be moving slower.  Everyone mourning? Newtown is North.  Sandy Hook Elementary School is 39 miles due North. TV images flicker by: Mother holding phone, screaming.  Children being marched out of the building. “Close your eyes.  Hold your hands.“)

[Read more...]

Grounded.

illustration, sketch, black and white, simple figure, woman figure

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.

[Read more...]

Quinquennium

You get up today.  You may be tired.  You may be lonely.  You may be ill.  You may be angry.  You may be scared.  You may be feeling despair.  You may be sad.  You may not be looking forward to going to work.  And, you may need to have your face pressed right up against the glass to see

Hit this link

Sunday Morning: Of Souls & Water…

Beautiful.  Mesmerizing on the way to hypnotic.  Calming with a soothing cadence.  And, Spiritual for believers and non-believers.

Yes.  I loved this.

Good Sunday Morning…



[Read more...]

I want to live…

How one goes from this morning’s post on Charlie Brown and Snoopy and being-grateful-for-everything-dancing-and-whooping-it-up in the morning – to this topic in the evening – should give you a sense of my day.  And it should also give you a sense of what I was reading on my train ride home from work.  Yes, I question my own judgment on my forms of stress relief.  Nonetheless, I made a commitment to me that I would post what was on my mind. So, this post is related to the “LIVE” part of “LEAD, LEARN, LIVE.”  LIVE in capital letters.  LIVE Forever.

WTMI* Factoid 1:
I am maniacal on subject of self-help and finding it in self-help books.  (He who needs lots of help, hungrily seeks it out.)

WTMI* Factoid 2:
I’m a MWMC.  (That’s Man-With-Mortality-Complex).  I’m sayin’ like anxiety attacks – cold sweat – darkness. Fear of not waking up.  THE END.

Conversely, there are few (very few) bouts of light on the subject.  The most recent light being tied to a Steve Jobs story.  (See Post Oh Wow, Oh Wow, Oh Wow.)

So, when I saw a pre-release version of Stephen Cave’s new book: Immortality-The Quest To Live Forever and How It Drives Civilization – I thought maybe…just maybe, I tripped into the Holy Grail.

You know the pitch.  Face your fears head on – and only then do you grow.  Or Dorothy Thompson: “Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.” [Read more...]