Leonard Cohen turned 80 this week. His new album, “Popular Problems“, was released on Tuesday. He was interviewed by Mike Ayers for an article in wsj.com titled: Leonard Cohen’s ‘Bad Habit’. A few excerpts:
Q: The new record is called “Popular Problems.” Are these what we are all up against?
A: I thought it as a general description of what we’re all up against. Those are the questions: life, death, war, peace, space, God. All those matter, and rather facetiously, I describe them as “popular problems.”
Q: All of us think about that stuff daily and there are no real answers.
Q: But you can sing about it?
A: If you can sing about it, that’s a kind of answer.
Q: What still draws you to making records these days?
A: You know, it’s a bad habit…Well, after a while you can’t break it. Employment is a very crucial matter for everyone. Unemployment is the most sinister disease of our society. To feel fully employed, it’s not something you want to relinquish or abandon. So that’s my work and I’m able to do it, God willing, I’ll be able to do it until I can’t do it any longer. I have no plans to abandon it. [Read more...]
The weight of my old dog, Hattie –
thirty five pounds of knocking bones, sighs, tremors and dreams –
just isn’t enough to hold a patch of sun in its place, at least for very long.
While she shakes in her sleep,
its slips from beneath her and inches away,
taking the morning with it –
the music from the radio,
the tea from my cup,
the drowsy yellow hours –
picking up dust and
dog hair as it goes.
~ Ted Kooser. December 14. Home from my walk, shoes off, at peace.
Walking by flashlight
at six in the morning,
my circle of light on the gravel
swinging side by side,
coyote, racoon, field mouse, sparrow,
each watching from darkness
this man with the moon on a leash.
~ Ted Kooser. November 18. Cloudy, dark and windy.
How important it must be to someone
that I am alive and walking,
and that I have written these poems.
This morning the sun stood right at the end of the road
and waited for me.”
~ Ted Kooser. March 20, The vernal equinox. [Read more...]
I saw the season’s first bluebird this morning,
one month ahead of its scheduled arrival.
Lucky I am to go off to my cancer appointment
having been given a bluebird, and,
for a lifetime, having been given this world.
~ Ted Kooser. March 18, Gusty and warm.
Preface of Ted Kooser’s “Winter Morning Walks: One hundred postcards to Jim Harrison“:
In the autumn of 1998, during my recovery from surgery and radiation for cancer, I began taking a two-mile walk each morning. I’d been told by my radiation oncologist to stay out of the sun for a year because of skin sensitivity, so I exercised before dawn, hiking the isolated country roads near where I live, sometimes with my wife but most often alone.
During the previous summer, depressed by my illness, preoccupied by the routines of my treatment, and feeling miserably sorry for myself, I’d all but given up on reading and writing. Then, as autumn began to fade and winter came on, my health began to improve. One morning in November, following my walk, I surprised myself by trying my hand at a poem. Soon I was writing everyday.
Several years before, my friend Jim Harrison and i Have carried on a correspondence in haiku. As a variation on this, I began pasting my morning poems on postcards and sending them to Jim, whose generosity, patience and good humor are here acknowledged. What follows is a election of one hundred of these postcards.
One of the questions I always try to keep in the front of my mind is to ask why would anyone want to read this, and to try to find a positive answer for that. People’s time, if you bought it off them, is expensive. Someone’s going to give you eight or ten hours of their life. I want to give them something back, and I want it to be an enjoyable experience.
~ David Mitchell, The Soul Cycle
Here are five (5) separate poems from Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry by Jim Harrison & Ted Kooser that all reference the Moon. All beautiful. All made me think. My favorite: No. 4.
A welcome mat of moonlight
on the floor.
Wipe your feet before getting into bed.
The moon put her hand
over my mouth and told me
to shut up and watch.
A house will turn itself
to catch a little moonlight
on a bedpost.
So often we run from feeling and yet it is only through feeling that we can know the depth of life. Only through feeling can we hold the smallest shell or bone and feel the tug of the Universe. Such raw being aches, for, as the Buddhists say, the bareness of being here is so full. I wake with this rawness and watching you sleep, I’m stopped before I start. Before I dress, I lose why I’m going anywhere. Yet wherever the day takes me- pausing to hold the groceries with the old man who packs them or seeing the neighbor’s child at the kitchen table doing homework as I walk our dog or pulling over to watch the small horse breathe his cloud over the fence- everywhere this bareness illumines. With no way to that bareness but through feeling and the listening that feeling opens. Some say I get lost in this feeling, this listening. But only if I think I know where I’m going, only if I think I know what I’m listening for. Through this bareness of being, we refresh our openness and enliven our innate connection to the one living sense. Through our unblocked, sincere response to life, we can tune our inner person with the great mysteries.
~ Mark Nepo
(Yet) another great piece by Mark Morford on the aftermath of Robin Williams death titled: A little spark of madness:
Was this really necessary?…
No answer comes. This is the beautiful, brutal secret of the universe. No answer ever comes. It just keeps dancing.
…Really now, do we not invent many of our own demons, feed and coddle them, manufacture and amplify and make them into unstoppable armies? Given the size of the population, our rapacious rates of consumption, the dazzling reach of the Internet and the speed at which suffering can now gain traction and travel, we have more potential threats to the stability of our psyche – both personal and collective – than we’ve ever had before…
But then, what of the popular Jungian notion that the dark side, the shadow is ever-present and ever lurking? What do we make of the idea that we are ever at the mercy of our own treacherous temptations and inherent flaws? What of the fear that whatever took down Williams is ever breathing at all our doors?…
What do you think?…
Read his wonderful perspective and inspirational conclusion @ A little spark of madness:
Credits: Image form Living in Maine
As you prepare your breakfast, think of others
(do not forget the pigeon’s food).
As you wage your wars, think of others
(do not forget those who seek peace).
As you pay your water bill, think of others
(those who are nursed by clouds).
As you return home, to your home, think of others
(do not forget the people of the camps).
As you sleep and count the stars, think of others
(those who have nowhere to sleep).
As you express yourself in metaphor, think of others
(those who have lost the right to speak).
As you think of others far away, think of yourself
(say: If only I were a candle in the dark.)
— Mahmoud Darwish, “Think of Others”
I want to taste and glory in each day,
and never be afraid to experience pain;
and never shut myself up
in a numb core of non-feeling,
or stop questioning and criticizing life
and take the easy way out.
To learn and think:
to think and live;
to live and learn:
this always, with new insight,
and new love.
- Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
The sun is perfect and you woke this morning.
You have enough language in your mouth to be understood.
You have a name, and someone wants to call it.
Five fingers on your hand and someone wants to hold it.
If we just start there,
every beautiful thing that has and will ever exist is possible.
If we start there, everything, for a moment, is right in the world.
~ Warsan Shire
Warsan Shire, 26, was born in 1988 in Kenya to Somali parents. She later emigrated to London. Shire thereafter began writing poetry as a way to connect with her Somali heritage and her roots in Somalia.
I’m outside with Zeke.
It’s dark. Still. Quiet.
We’re both calm.
I look up.
Yes, I sense it too.
Something bigger, much bigger here.
the sound of eternity
can at times be heard—
the stars somehow closer and
a sense of the earth’s moving.
~ Michael Boiano
Milky Way Fact Source: Thank you Rob Firchau @ The Hammock Papers
Within the ongoing havoc
the woods this morning is almost unnaturally still.
Through stalled air, unshadowed light,
a few leaves fall of their own weight.
The sky is gray.
It begins in mist almost at the ground
and rises forever.
The trees rise in silence
almost natural, but not quite,
almost eternal, but not quite.
What more did I think I wanted?
Here is what has always been.
Here is what will always be.
Even in me,
the Maker of all this returns in rest,
even to the slightest of His works,
a yellow leaf slowly falling,
and is pleased.
- Wendell Berry
- Credits: Poem – ArtPropelled. Photograph: mascarandelegance
- Other Wendell Berry favorites: The circle of no beginning or end. And that is Hell and I believe that whatever we need is at hand…
“All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.”
— Susan Sontag
When you are a young person, you are like a young creek, and you meet many rocks, many obstacles and difficulties on your way. You hurry to get past these obstacles and get to the ocean. But as the creek moves down through the fields, it becomes larger and calmer and it can enjoy the reflection of the sky. It’s wonderful. You will arrive at the sea anyway so enjoy the journey. Enjoy the sunshine, the sunset, the moon, the birds, the trees, and the many beauties along the way. Taste every moment of your daily life.
- Thich Nhat Hanh
How can this human life
be anything other than astonishing?
The tick-tick-tick of pleasure’s ignition
~ Sigman Byrd, “The Beginner”
“The way I figure it, everyone gets a miracle. Like, I will probably never be struck by lightening, or win a Nobel Prize, or become the dictator of a small nation in the Pacific Islands, or contract terminal ear cancer, or spontaneously combust. But if you consider all the unlikely things together, at least one of them will probably happen to each of us. I could have seen it rain frogs. I could have stepped foot on Mars. I could have been eaten by a whale. I could have married the Queen of England or survived months at sea. But my miracle was different. My miracle was this: out of all the houses in all the subdivisions in all of Florida, I ended up living next door to Margo Roth Spiegelman.”
~ John Green, Paper Towns
Or, let’s change up the last sentence with an alternate version:
“I firmly believe in small gestures: pay for their coffee, hold the door for strangers, over tip, smile or try to be kind even when you don’t feel like it, pay compliments, chase the kid’s runaway ball down the sidewalk and throw it back to him, try to be larger than you are— particularly when it’s difficult. People do notice, people appreciate. I appreciate it when it’s done to (for) me. Small gestures can be an effort, or actually go against our grain (‘I’m not a big one for paying compliments…’), but the irony is that almost every time you make them, you feel better about yourself. For a moment life suddenly feels lighter, a bit more Gene Kelly dancing in the rain.”
- Quotes: petrichour. Gene Kelly Gifs: tchamblers
- Related Jonathan Carroll post: Only later did you realize it was the rarest bliss
“But to preserve something is to delay that act indefinitely. Maybe preserves are where a historian’s urges meet a cook’s capacities. I wish that I could put up yesterday’s evening sky for all posterity, could preserve a night of love, the sound of a mountain stream, a realization as it sets my mind afire, a day of harmony, ten thousand glorious days of clouds that will instead vanish and never be seen again, line them up in jars where they might be admired in the interim and tasted again as needed. My historian’s nature regards with dismay that all these things arise and perish, though there will always be more clouds and more days, if not for me or for you. Photographs preserve a little of this, and I’ve kept tens of thousands of e-mails and letters, but there is no going back.”
—Rebecca Solnit, from The Faraway Nearby
~ Miranda July, No One Belongs Here More Than You
There are places in and around our great cities, where the natural world has all but disappeared. You can make out streets and sidewalks, autos, parking garages, advertising billboards, monuments of glass and steel. But not a tree, or a blade of grass or any animal, besides of course, the Humans. There are lot’s of Humans. Only when you look up straight up through the skyscraper canyons, can you make out a star or a patch of blue. Reminders of what was there long before humans came to be. It’s not hard going to work every day in such a place to be impressed with ourselves. How we’ve transformed the earth for our benefit and convenience. But a few hundred miles up or down, there are no humans, our impact on the universe is nil. In the last 10,000 years, an instant in our long history, we’ve abandoned the nomadic life. We’ve domesticated the plants and animals. Why chase the food, when you can make it come to you? For all its material advantages, the sedentary life has left us edgy, unfulfilled. Even after 400 generations in villages and cities, we haven’t forgotten. There are now people on every continent and the remotest islands. From pole to pole. From Mount Everest to the Dead Sea. On the ocean bottoms, and even, occasionally in residence two miles up. Humans, like the Gods of old, living in the sky. These days there seems no where left to explore. Victims of their very success, the explorers now, pretty much, stay home.
It’s Tuesday morning. A great night’s sleep. I’m Regenerated. I rise. I rise. I rise.
I walk to the train station to catch the 5:40. 62° F. The Air is still. The Birds are singing. Blue skies.
The Train pulls up. 5:39am. Second train of the day. It’s packed.
I wedge past another commuter and take the window seat.
A Lady, mid-60’s, is facing me. She’s in a 3-seater, on a full train, with her purse blocking the seat to her right and a bottle of Poland Springs water blocking the left. “Prickly.” She has a cup of coffee in an unmarked styrofoam cup in her left hand and she’s pecking away on a crossword puzzle on an iPad. She does not lift her head as I pass.
It’s Quiet. The soft hum of the electric current powering the train. The clickety-clack of the tracks. And the Lady snorting and re-snorting phlegm up her nasal passages. Is she swallowing it?
The Conductor breaks the silence on the P.A.: Good morning! I have an important announcement. He pauses. The heads in the car all bob up to listen. Today’s Danny’s last day after 20 years with MetroNorth. He’s covering the middle cars. Danny, we all wish you good luck in your retirement. God Speed. [Read more...]
It’s Saturday morning. I’m flicking through Netflix and there it was – “Recommended for me: The Legend of Bagger Vance.” It was ten, maybe eleven years ago. The Executive Coach assigned to me recommended the book. An Executive Coach from Little Rock, Arkansas. Hired and paid for by the Firm. “Good for my career,” they said. (Good for my career? I didn’t need help with my career. My team’s results were exceptional. Employee Survey scores ranked my team’s morale #1, with no one remotely close. Little Rock, Arkansas? Come on. You’ve got to be kidding.)
The first meeting was scheduled. Big Cat was tired, wary and his fur was up. (Last thing I need is some corporate shrink dishing out pablum that I wouldn’t eat and then reporting back to management that I was a head-case. What can he possibly teach me? “He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches.”)
He outlined the program. Clinical. To-the-point. No wasted words. No wasted movement. He explained that he wanted to conduct a 360-survey with my direct reports, colleagues and key partners. Get me the names, and we’ll get started. He was in and out.
Session 3, the survey feedback comes in. Big 4-inch ringed binder. I’m flipping through the pages. I skip the strengths. I know what they are. Eyes scan the charts, and land on the categories hitting the low points. (Memory is hazy…but I remember thinking Holy Sh*t as a read through the color commentary: “Ambitious. Would roll me if I missed. Aggressive. Relentless. Tough. Standards unrealistically high. ‘Always on.’ Don’t really know him. An enigma, can be hard and soft, therefore difficult to read. And Trust.” I gently closed the binder to trap the words in – dropping my head and tasting the bitters of stomach acid.) [Read more...]
“NBA Star Kevin Durant told everyone just how much his mom means to him — just days before Mother’s Day — by thanking her in a tear-jerking speech as he accepted the award for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player.”
Quote Source & Find More @ ABCNews.com
I’m slumped on a beach chair.
Earbuds are pumping in music, partially muffling the surf.
My baseball cap is pulled down low.
My Kindle is in my right hand, blocking the sun, and the rest of me.
Unrecognizable. Unapproachable. Body language spewing “Prickly Man. No Talking.”
She ambles within 3 feet.
She inches closer, determined to get my attention.
I peak out from under my hat.
Her iris’ are mandarin oranges circling jet black darkness.
And both eyes are locked on mine.
She stares. And stares. And stares.
I go back to reading.
She inches closer. And begins to preen her tail feathers.
Middle Aged Man has managed to repel all bikini clad women.
And, now he’s getting hit on by a Pigeon. What a Stud! [Read more...]
Too often we start with seeing what is wrong with this world.
We wallow in ‘what’s wrong.’
We need to instead ‘celebrate what’s right with the world.’
And adopt this as our perspective. Our frame of focus.
The lights dimmed after his introductory remarks. Dewitt Jones is one of America’s top freelance photographers. He has worked for the National Geographic magazine for 20 years. He is the author of nine books on nature and leadership. And he’s an inspirational speaker.
Hundreds of us sat, hushed, in the dark, awaiting light to be beamed from three large projection screens. He then flashed up a photograph.
See this untamed field of green, dotted by bright yellow dandelions.
This is the Selkirk Mountains in British Columbia.
I was dialed in. Selkirk Mountains. My mountains. My British Columbia. My Canada. What were the odds that he would have picked this shot and this story? [Read more...]
And there is nothing to add to THIS…full stop.
Originally posted on Radiating Blossom ~ Flowers & Words:
“As it is, we are merely bolting our lives—gulping down undigested experiences as fast as we can stuff them in—because awareness of our own existence is so superficial and so narrow that nothing seems to us more boring than simple being. If I ask you what you did, saw, heard, smelled, touched, and tasted yesterday, I am likely to get nothing more than the thin, sketchy outline of the few things that you noticed, and of those only what you thought worth remembering. Is it surprising that an existence so experienced seems so empty and bare that its hunger for an infinite future is insatiable? But suppose you could answer, ‘It would take me forever to tell you, and I am much too interested in what’s happening now.’ How is it possible that a being with such sensitive jewels as the eyes, such enchanted musical instruments as the ears, and…
View original 66 more words
“I became aware of the world’s tenderness, the profound beneficence of all that surrounded me, the blissful bond between me and all of creation, and I realized that the joy I sought in you was not only secreted within you, but breathed around me everywhere, in the speeding street sounds, in the hem of a comically lifted skirt, in the metallic yet tender drone of the wind, in the autumn clouds bloated with rain. I realized that the world does not represent a struggle at all, or a predaceous sequence of chance events, but the shimmering bliss, beneficent trepidation, a gift bestowed upon us and unappreciated.”
– Vladimir Nabokov [Read more...]
Here’s the “Meaning of Life.” ~9,000,000 people have watched this video in the past 2 weeks and seem to agree. I’m one of them. I was moved by this short film. (Be sure to check out Ana’s wonderful blog. She’s from Portugal. Her blog’s name is “Sol de Dezembro” (“December Sun”).
i saw my grandmother hold out
her hand cupping a small offering
of seed to one of the wild sparrows
that frequented the bird bath she
filled with fresh water every day
she stood still
maybe stopped breathing
while the sparrow looked
at her, then the seed
then back as if he was
judging her character
he jumped into her hand
began to eat
a woman holding
a small god
~ Richard Vargas, why i feed the birds
Steve Layman’s shares “7 Questions About the Universe That No One Has Answered“:
…There’s also so much mess after 4.5 billion years of geophysics that some of our best information about the planet’s origins come from meteorites and the cratering of other worlds — outsourced. Speaking of other worlds, we’re not even sure we understand where the Moon came from, maybe it was a giant impact, maybe not. For an allegedly clever species on a small rocky planet this is a bit of an epic fail…
There’s an awful lot we don’t know (far more than just the examples here). But the point is not to get despondent, because this ignorance is a beautiful thing. It’s what ultimately drives science, and it’s what makes the universe truly awe-inspiring. After the hundreds of thousands of years that Homo sapienshas loped around, the cosmos can still elude our fidgety, inquisitive minds, easily outracing our considerable imaginations. How wonderful.
~ Caleb A. Scharf, Scientific American
There’s no remedy, I suppose — this body
just made from the beginning to be shocked,
constantly surprised, perpetually stunned,
poked and prodded, shaken awake,
shaken again and again roughly, rudely,
then left, even more bewildered,
even more amazed.
—Pattiann Rogers, closing lines to “Till My Teeth Rattle.”
- Pattiann Rogers Bio.
- Poem from Firekeeper: New and Selected Poems.
- Poem Source: The Poet Reflects. Image Source: Alexander Khokhlov Photography
- Image Credit
- Notable NY Times: You Can’t Take It With You, But You Still Want More
Suddenly, I wonder – is all hardness justified because we are so slow in realizing that life was meant to be heroic? Greatness is required of us. That is life’s aim and justification, and we poor fools have for centuries been trying to make it convenient, manageable, pliant to our will. It is also peaceful and tender and funny and dull. Yes, all that.
~ Florida Scott-Maxwell, The Measure of My Days
“The world, whatever we might think about it, terrified by its vastness and by our helplessness in the face of it, embittered by its indifference to individual suffering – of people, animals, and perhaps also plants, for how can we be sure that plants are free of suffering; whatever we might think about its spaces pierced by the radiation of stars, stars around which we now have begun to discover planets, already dead? still dead? – we don’t know; whatever we might think about this immense theater, to which we may have a ticket, but it is valid for a ridiculously brief time, limited by two decisive dates; whatever else we might think about this world – it is amazing.”
~ Wisława Szymborska
Wisława Szymborska-Włodek (1923 – 2012) was a Polish poet, essayist and translator. She was described as a “Mozart of Poetry”. Szymborska was awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature “for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality”.
“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
“The enchantment of the sky, ever changing beauty almost ignored. Beyond words, without fixed form, not to be understood, or stated. It ravished away dullness, worry, even pain. It graces life when nothing else does. It is the first marvel of the day. Even when leaden grey it is still a friend, withdrawn for a time.”
~ Florida Scott-Maxwell, Measure of My Days
Image Credit: Natgeo
Sometimes a kind of glory lights up the mind of a man. It happens to nearly everyone. You can feel it growing or preparing like a fuse burning toward dynamite. It is a feeling in the stomach, a delight of the nerves, of the forearms. The skin tastes the air, and every deep-drawn breath is sweet. Its beginning has the pleasure of a great stretching yawn; it flashes in the brain and the whole world glows outside your eyes. A man may have lived all of his life in the gray, and the land and trees of him dark and somber. The events, even the important ones, may have trooped by faceless and pale. And then — the glory — so that a cricket song sweetens his ears, the smell of the earth rises chanting to his nose, and dappling light under a tree blesses his eyes. Then a man pours outward, a torrent of him, and yet he is not diminished. And I guess a man’s importance in the world can be measured by the quality and number of his glories. It is a lonely thing but it relates us to the world. It is the mother of all creativeness, and it sets each man separate from all other men.
~ John Steinbeck, East of Eden
Last night I had the strangest dream. I was in a laboratory with Dr. Boas and he was talking to me and a group of other people about religion, insisting that life must have a meaning, that man couldn’t live without that. Then he made a mass of jelly-like stuff of the most beautiful blue I had ever seen — and he seemed to be asking us all what to do with it. I remember thinking it was very beautiful but wondering helplessly what it was for. People came and went making absurd suggestions. Somehow Dr. Boas tried to carry them out — but always the people went away angry, or disappointed — and finally after we’d been up all night they had all disappeared and there were just the two of us. He looked at me and said, appealingly “Touch it.” I took some of the astonishingly blue beauty in my hand, and felt with a great thrill that it was living matter. I said “Why it’s life — and that’s enough” — and he looked so pleased that I had found the answer — and said yes “It’s life and that is wonder enough.”
~ Margaret Mead, Anthropologist
Quote Source: Brain Pickings – Life Is Like Blue Jelly: Margaret Mead Discovers the Meaning of Existence in a Dream. Image: Unknown.