“If life were measured in steps, I fear that many would hoard them for as long as possible, going nowhere, tasting nothing. Simply being alive, but never living.”
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.
Still, for whatever reason—
perhaps because the winter is so long
and the sky so black-blue,
or perhaps because the heart narrows
as often as it opens—
I am grateful
that red bird comes all winter
firing up the landscape
as nothing else can do.
—Mary Oliver, closing lines to “Red Bird,” from Red Bird
tucking the napkin
under his chin and bending
over an ironstone bowl
of the bright drupelets
awash in cream
with the sigh of a man
who has seen all and been redeemed
said time after time
as he lifted his spoon
men kill for this.
~ Maxine Kumin, Appetite
Maxine Kumin (June 6, 1925 – February 6, 2014) was an American poet and author. Born Maxine Winokur in Philadelphia, the daughter of Jewish parents, she attended a Catholic kindergarten and primary school. She received her B.A. in 1946 and her M.A. in 1948 from Radcliffe College. From 1976 until her death in February 2014, she and her husband lived on a farm in Warner, New Hampshire, where they bred Arabian and quarter horses. Kumin’s many awards include the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1973) for Up Country: Poems of New England.
“The windows of a spaceship casually frame miracles. Every 92 minutes, another sunrise: a layer cake that starts with orange, then a thick wedge of blue, then the richest, darkest icing decorated with stars. The secret patterns of our planet are revealed: mountains bump up rudely from orderly plains, forests are green gashes edged with snow, rivers glint in the sunlight, twisting and turning like silvery worms. Continents splay themselves out whole, surrounded by islands sprinkled across the sea like delicate shards of shattered eggshells.”
~ Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield
- Be sure to read full post at Brain Pickings: Astronaut Chris Hadfield on Success and the Meaning of Life
- Image Credit (Sunset over Pacific Ocean)
The first look out of the window in the morning
The old book found again
Snow, the change of the seasons
Taking showers, swimming
Taking things in
~ Bertolt Brecht, “Pleasures”
We want the spring to come
and the winter to pass.
We want whoever to call
or not call,
a kiss —
we want more and more and then more of it.
But there are moments,
when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store,
and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep
for my own blowing hair,
and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:
I am living …
There’s a sense of great space in your poems. Would you trace that to growing up in Kansas?
I sometimes have thought about that, yes. In our world at least half of the world was sky; that is the way I’ve sometimes phrased it to myself. I mean, there’s the land, but it isn’t as big as the sky. Someone told me a wonderful story about a woman who came out from Nebraska and wanted to see the Pacific Ocean. The motel person said, Yes, you can see it if you walk down to the end of the road. This visitor stood there a few moments on the beach, and then walked back, and the motel person said, What do you think of it? And she said, Well, it’s all right, but I can’t help but think it isn’t as big as I thought it would be. This was the Pacific Ocean! Well, she was from Nebraska, I know about that. That’s the biggest thing there is—the sky! It’s there, and it’s an abiding puzzle, presence, and invitation.
—William Stafford, from “The Art of Poetry No. 67,” The Paris Review (Winter 1993, No. 129)
- Photograph: Chris Andersen: Full moon setting over a frozen Nebraska landscape just before dawn.
- Interview Excerpt Source: A Poet Reflects
- More William Stafford: Maybe. Just Maybe and You Reading This, Be Ready and Lean Closer…
“…Instead, I found that in quiet, ordinary, every day life, I would hear the word whispered to me in simple moments: give that car the room to merge ahead; give that person your full attention – remain quiet and let them talk; spend a few moments in conversation with the building custodian when leaving work, give that compliment to the woman in line ahead of you with the gorgeous hair; tell the person who helped you that they made an impact; express gratitude to the ones who are there for you all the time; give a moment a chance to happen instead of taking over…”
~ Bonnie, “How Will I Be Changed” @ PageKeeper
“In his youth, he worked in a factory, though everyone said he looked more like a professor of classical languages than a factory worker. He walked to work as if moving under water. He was a beautiful man with a slender body which moved in a mixture of grace and sharp geometrical precision. His face had an imprint of laugher on it, as if no other emotion ever touched his skin. Even in his fifties, the nineteen-year-old girls winked at him in trains or trolley-busses, asking for his phone number. Seven years after his death, I saw Celan in his house slippers dancing alone in his bedroom, humming step over step. He did not mind being a character in my stories in a language he never learned. That night, I saw him sitting on a rooftop, searching for Venus, reciting Brodsky to himself. He asked if his past existed at all.”
— Ilya Kaminsky on Paul Celan in “Traveling Musicians”
Paul Celan (1920 – 1970) was a Romanian poet and translator becoming one of the major German-language poets of the post-World War II era.
Poet Ilya Kaminsky was born in the former Soviet Union city of Odessa. He lost most of his hearing at the age of four after a doctor misdiagnosed mumps as a cold, and his family was granted political asylum by the United States in 1993, settling in Rochester, New York. After his father’s death in 1994, Kaminsky began to write poems in English: “I chose English because no one in my family or friends knew it—no one I spoke to could read what I wrote. I myself did not know the language. It was a parallel reality, an insanely beautiful freedom. It still is.”
Wonderful story by Chris Huntington in the New York Times on Learning to Measure Time in Love and Loss:
On regretting missed opportunities:
“I’m constantly aware of lost opportunities. I used to think such lost opportunities were beautiful towns flashing by my train windows, but now I imagine they are lanterns from the past, casting light on what’s ahead.”
“When you’re 20, five years is a long time, so they act out. I used to be like that. But now I’m two-thirds done, so every day is taking me closer to the door. When I think like that, I can get up in the morning and smile.”
On love and loss:
“Our son is from Ethiopia, where I once saw a dead horse on the side of the road that resembled an abandoned sofa. I asked a friend if we needed to do something about that, and he said the wild dogs would take care of it. We took our son far away from all of that five years ago, which may seem like a kindness, except it also hurts. I wish our son could know those dirt roads and the way they looked like chocolate milk in the rain, the way the hillsides were a delicate green, the way our driver would not go into the zoo because he was disgusted by the concrete ugliness of the lion cages. I wish my son’s birth parents could see him swimming. He’s such a good swimmer. I wish they could hear him reading books aloud. I wish he could know them. I wish our son could speak Oromo, the language of his birth. Our story, so full of love, is also full of loss.” [Read more...]
I got up in the night and went to the end of the hall.
Over the door in large letters it said,
“This is the next life. Please come in.”
I opened the door.
Across the room a bearded man in a pale-green suit turned to me and said,
“Better get ready, we’re taking the long way.”
“Now I’ll wake up,” I thought, but I was wrong.
We began our journey over golden tundra and patches of ice.
Then there was nothing for miles around,
and all I could hear was my heart pumping and pumping
so hard I thought I would die all over again.— Mark Strand, The Triumph of the Infinite
This is not about how to change the world.
Or saying that we should stop fighting
against crime, corruption, poverty, oppression or racism.
This is simply about you.
Yesterday I drove an hour outside of Cape Town
with my family to be with the snow.
A rare occurrence us Cape Townians hardly get to experience.
It was then when it hit me, we need to celebrate more.
But not in a traditional sense.
But in a way to celebrate life and our time on earth,
which we all seem to be rushing through.
Let’s celebrate being young.
Let’s celebrate love.
Let’s celebrate family.
Let’s celebrate the offering for no reason.
Let’s celebrate the city you live in.
Having the ability to be able to watch this video is a privilege.
Having access to internet, celebrate that.
Every day I see these negative things on Facebook
like F*&* my life and stupid rants about pointless sh*t.
Let’s change that to positive appreciations.
Today, I decided to go outside with the purpose of finding positivity and happiness.
This is what I found.
Stop listening to the answer
and just listen to understand that your time here is worth celebrating.
Looking at your life as an outsider,
it’s more beautiful than you can ever imagine.
~ Dan Mace [Read more...]
“Christmas time! That man must be a misanthrope indeed, in whose breast something like a jovial feeling is not roused—in whose mind some pleasant associations are not awakened—by the recurrence of Christmas. There are people who will tell you that Christmas is not to them what it used to be; that each succeeding Christmas has found some cherished hope, or happy prospect, of the year before, dimmed or passed away; that the present only serves to remind them of reduced circumstances and straitened incomes—of the feasts they once bestowed on hollow friends, and of the cold looks that meet them now, in adversity and misfortune. Never heed such dismal reminiscences. There are few men who have lived long enough in the world who cannot call up such thoughts any day of the year. Then do not select the merriest of the three hundred and sixty-five for your doleful recollections, but draw your chair nearer the blazing fire—fill the glass and send round the song—and if your room be smaller than it was a dozen years ago, or if your glass be filled with reeking punch, instead of sparkling wine, put a good face on the matter, and empty it offhand, and fill another, and troll off the old ditty you used to sing, and thank God it’s no worse.”
— Charles Dickens, Sketches by Boz
References and Credits:
- Misanthrope (n), a person who dislikes humankind and avoids human society. Origin mid 16th cent.: from Greek misanthrōpos, from misein ‘to hate’ + anthrōpos ‘man.’
- Sketches by Boz is a collection of short pieces published by Charles Dickens in 1836 with illustrations by George Cruikshank. (Wiki)
- Portrait of Charles Dickens from the Telegraph. He was photographed at the age of 49 by the London portrait photographer George Herbert Watkins. Watkins took several portraits of Dickens between 1858 and 1861 and they have helped define the enduring image of Dickens as a melancholy, care-worn personality.
- Dickens quote via fables-of-the-reconstruction. Thank you.
“Nature is pitiless; she never withdraws her flowers, her music, her fragrance and her sunlight, from before human cruelty or suffering. She overwhelms man by the contrast between divine beauty and social hideousness. She spares him nothing of her loveliness, neither wing or butterfly, nor song of bird; in the midst of murder, vengeance, barbarism, he must feel himself watched by holy things; he cannot escape the immense reproach of universal nature and the implacable serenity of the sky. The deformity of human laws is forced to exhibit itself naked amidst the dazzling rays of eternal beauty. Man breaks and destroys; man lays waste; man kills; but the summer remains summer; the lily remains the lily; and the star remains the star.
As though it said to man, ‘Behold my work. And yours.”
Victor Marie Hugo was a French poet, novelist, and dramatist. He is considered one of the greatest and best known French writers. In France, Hugo’s literary fame comes first from his poetry but also rests upon his novels and his dramatic achievements. Outside France, his best-known works are the novels Les Misérables, 1862, and Notre-Dame de Paris, 1831 (known in English as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame). He was not only revered as a towering figure in literature, he was a statesman who shaped democracy in France writing and supporting the major political, social and artistic causes at the time. Hugo’s wish was to be buried in a pauper’s coffin. While this wish was granted, he was nevertheless, on his death in 1885, voted a National Funeral and was buried as a national hero in the Panthéon. It is estimated that at least two million people followed the funeral procession.
Hugo left five sentences as his last will to be officially published :
- « Je donne cinquante mille francs aux pauvres.
- Je veux être enterré dans leur corbillard.
- Je refuse l’oraison de toutes les Eglises.
- Je demande une prière à toutes les âmes.
- Je crois en Dieu. »
- (“I leave 50 000 francs to the poor.
- I want to be buried in their hearse.
- I refuse [funeral] orations of all churches.
- I beg a prayer to all souls.
- I believe in God.”)
I used to think I knew everything. I was a “smart person” who “got things done,” and because of that, the higher I climbed, the more I could look down and scoff at what seemed silly or simple, even religion. But I realized something as I drove home that night: that I am neither better nor smarter, only luckier. And I should be ashamed of thinking I knew everything, because you can know the whole world and still feel lost in it. So many people are in pain-no matter how smart or accomplished – they cry, they yearn, they hurt. But instead of looking down on things, they look up, which is where I should have been looking, too. Because when the world quiets to the sound of your own breathing, we all want the same things: comfort, love, and a peaceful heart.
― Mitch Albom
Mitch Albom, 55, was born in Passaic, New Jersey. He is an American best-selling author of the blockbuster bestsellers Tuesdays With Morrie, The Five People You Meet In Heaven and For One More Day. His books have sold over 35 million copies worldwide. He was an acclaimed sports journalist at the Detroit Free Press and he is a frequent participant on the ESPN Sports Reporters. Albom has also achieved success as a screenwriter, dramatist, radio broadcaster and musician.
He grew up in a small, middle-class neighborhood from which most people never left. Mitch was once quoted as saying that his parents were very supportive, and always used to say, “Don’t expect your life to finish here. There’s a big world out there. Go out and see it.” Albom once mentioned that now his parents say, “Great. All our kids went and saw the world and now no one comes home to have dinner on Sundays.”
The poem “Solitude” was written in 1983 by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, an American Author and poet (1850-1919). It was her most enduring work. The inspiration for the poem came as she was traveling to attend the Governor’s inaugural ball in Madison, Wisconsin. On her way to the celebration, there was a young woman dressed in black sitting across the aisle from her. The woman was crying. Miss Wheeler sat next to her and sought to comfort her for the rest of the journey. When they arrived, the poet was so depressed that she could barely attend the scheduled festivities. As she looked at her own radiant face in the mirror, she suddenly recalled the sorrowful widow. It was at that moment that she wrote the opening lines of “Solitude“: [Read more...]
Yes, it’s a commercial. But what is it with this time of the year, Red Balloons and a bit of kindness? You can’t help but be warmed by the faces in this ad…
“Although people say they want to be thanked more often at work, fewer than 50% of Americans polled for the John Templeton Foundation, a philanthropic organization, reported that they would be very likely to thank salespeople, their mail carriers, or cleaning crews, and just 15% express daily gratitude to friends or colleagues. 74% never or rarely express gratitude to their bosses—but 70% said they’d feel better about themselves if their bosses were more grateful.”
“I’d like to answer all my phone calls, return all emails in a timely manner and mean the how-are-yous; not hide my broken hallelujahs, not save my gratitude for characters in books. Put love on sale, like I should…I’d like to whisper to only a few souls under a blanket instead of shouting at hundreds over these virtual rooftops. I’d like to inhale people and exhale skin, explore huggability and memorize the art of breathing…I’d like to get up once a week with no other agenda than laziness in bed, no time, no musts or shoulds or have tos. Eat breakfast for dinner, juice for lunch, and talk to trees, and cry, walk backwards, love my solitude, and understand my doing by undoing.”
~ Andréa Balt
- Source: Thank you Make Believe Boutique
- Read more by Andréa Balt: 30 Questions
- Find Andréa Balt on Facebook
Here are my selections for the inspiring posts of the week, this Thanksgiving week:
Greg @ Sippican Cottage with his post Thanksgiving 2013: “…I think the worst condition of man is loneliness. It is a terrible thing to be lonely, or worse, truly alone. No one goes crazy in general population. It’s solitary that eats at your mind. Even the craziest of men, immured in stone, unable to get even a glimpse of the bright, blue tent of the sky, scratch at the walls to leave a message; to tell another that they were there… I am not alone in this world, which is good, because I have a melancholy nature. I am married, and I have children to throw rolls over the table at one another. They are my name, scratched on the unyielding wall of the world, telling anyone that will bother to notice that I was here. My family makes me calm about many things…People don’t often appreciate things that come readily to hand. I’m a person… We will have enough to eat, and sit in a warm room, laugh and wonder at the dogeared cards we have been dealt, and I’ll try mightily to shed the light that is my true function, to make me more fit for my work. We will all pray over our plate like children. Thanksgiving is the only kind of prayer that you can be sure will work, because it faces backwards. I tap on the wall of the Intertunnel, too. I often feel disconnected from my fellow passengers on this spinning rock, moreso each day. I wonder if some other inmate, some fellow traveler, might hear my tapping, and be braced by the thought of a fellow internee. I often hear tapping in return, and it refreshes me to carry on.” Amazing post. More here. [Read more...]
“One of the saddest realities is most people never know when their lives have reached the summit. Only after it is over and we have some kind of perspective do we realize how good we had it a day, a month, five years ago. The walk together in the December snow, the phone call that changed everything, that lovely evening in the bar by the Aegean. Back then you thought “this is so nice”. Only later did you realize it was the rarest bliss.”
Called out of ourselves by the scent of a wild rose, the stunning yellow spike of goldenrod – and we answer back
“Crickets call to the east. A chopper ratchets a mile to the west. I sit in the middle, my left ear seduced by the soft cadence, the evershifting song of crickets in spring. My right ear is hollowed out, hard, both braced against and invaded by the clipped din of machinery. I am beginning to cry. I have felt the breath and nudge of the Dreamtime and know that it is beyond my threshold of perception, just beyond my reach, just a slip of consciousness away. I long for my serpentine thirst to be quenched by the dreaming, long for the look and feel of ultimate belonging and the sensuous play of being embedded, in bed with the world, dug in and dirty. But the phone rings, my endless list of things to do nags, haunts, and fills my consciousness. I too perceive the invisibles. In this case, they are mostly petty preoccupations- the trip I must make to Safeway, the phone calls I must return, the mail piling up- and the fact of my father, growing old, alone, 3,000 miles away. A phone call to him does not appear on my list. I feel such sadness as daily obligations fill my badgered view. I go blind in order to forget. The daily demands of our lives cause us to narrow our field of vision, shaping and minimizing our view to match a preoccupation with phones and texts or a long list of tasks that are never complete.Then in unconscious defense against the onslaught of modern business as usual, we further minimize the sensations we receive with self-inflicted doses of numbing. Most of us, I dare say, are numb to varying degrees, and for good reasons. This state of being is what James Hillman calls ‘anesthesia.’ Anesthetized, we no longer gasp in sudden wonder, inspire or become inspired as the beauty of the world enters us, for we are artificially numbed. David Abram calls this state ‘collective myopia,’ implying that we see little beyond our comfortable and constrained personal environments, we lack depth perception. When awakened, perception is motivated, like a hunger of the body. And like lovers, our sensing and sensual bodies are fed on sound and scent, feasted by late afternoon light. Because we hunger for the eroticism such sensation affords our bodies, we are pleased to be called out of ourselves by the scent of a wild rose, the stunning yellow spike of goldenrod- and we answer back.”
~ Laura Sewall
“Some things occur just by chance. Mark Twain was born on the day that Halley’s comet appeared in 1835 and died on the day it reappeared in 1910. There is a temptation to linger on a story like that, to wonder if there might be a deeper order behind a life so poetically bracketed. For most of us, the temptation doesn’t last long. We are content to remind ourselves that the vast majority of lives are not so celestially attuned, and go about our business in the world. But some coincidences are more troubling, especially if they implicate larger swathes of phenomena, or the entirety of the known universe. During the past several decades, physics has uncovered basic features of the cosmos that seem, upon first glance, like lucky accidents. Theories now suggest that the most general structural elements of the universe — the stars and planets, and the galaxies that contain them — are the products of finely calibrated laws and conditions that seem too good to be true. What if our most fundamental questions, our late-at-night-wonderings about why we are here, have no more satisfying answer than an exasperated shrug and a meekly muttered ‘Things just seem to have turned out that way’?
It can be unsettling to contemplate the unlikely nature of your own existence, to work backward causally and discover the chain of blind luck that landed you in front of your computer screen, or your mobile, or wherever it is that you are reading these words. For you to exist at all, your parents had to meet, and that alone involved quite a lot of chance and coincidence. If your mother hadn’t decided to take that calculus class, or if her parents had decided to live in another town, then perhaps your parents never would have encountered one another. But that is only the tiniest tip of the iceberg. Even if your parents made a deliberate decision to have a child, the odds of your particular sperm finding your particular egg are one in several billion. The same goes for both your parents, who had to exist in order for you to exist, and so already, after just two generations, we are up to one chance in 1027. Carrying on in this way, your chance of existing, given the general state of the universe even a few centuries ago, was almost infinitesimally small. You and I and every other human being are the products of chance, and came into existence against very long odds…”
Read more @ Aeon Magazine by Tim Maudlin: The Calibrated Cosmos: Why Does The Universe Appear Fine Tuned For Life?
And I loved this one too by Mark Morford: 40 Billion Ways to Dance.
That breath that you just took… that’s a gift.
~ Rob Bell
Robert Holmes “Rob” Bell Jr., 43, was born in Ingham County, Michigan. He is an American author and pastor. Bell was the founder of Mars Hill Bible Church located in Grandville, Michigan, which he pastored until 2012. Under his leadership Mars Hill was one of the fastest-growing churches in America. He is also the author of the New York Times bestsellers Love Wins and Velvet Elvis and the writer and narrator of a series of spiritual short films called NOOMA. In 2011 Time Magazine named Bell to its list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. He is currently working with former Lost producer Carlton Cuse on a television series. (Source: wiki)
Sometimes the way to milk and honey is through the body.
Sometimes the way in is a song.
But there are three ways in the world: dangerous, wounding and beauty.
To enter stone, be water.
To rise through hard earth,
be plant desiring sunlight,
believing in water.
To enter fire, be dry.
To enter life, be food.
Linda Hogan, 66, is Chickasaw. She is an internationally recognized public speaker and writer of poetry, fiction, and essays. Her books Rounding the Human Corners and Mean Spirit were Pulitzer Prize nominees. In poetry, The Book of Medicines was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her other poetry has received the Colorado Book Award, Minnesota State Arts Board Grant, an American Book Award, and a prestigious Lannan Fellowship from the Lannan Foundation. In addition, she has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship and has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas. Her main interests as both writer and scholar are environmental issues, indigenous spiritual traditions and culture.
The mind is buzzing.
Thoughts zipping around like skeeter bugs on the surface of a still pond.
Most leaving faint ripples in their wake.
Work. Weight. Weekend. Work. Work. Work.
But One lingers. And has lingered since yesterday morning.
I’m pulling out of the gas station.
The morning traffic is blocking the exit.
Nine cars pass.
A pick-up finally stops.
I can see the outline of his face.
He’s not smiling.
He doesn’t wave me in.
He just stops.
One small gesture.
And it stuck.
And that small gesture…
Led the mind to leapfrog to The greatest crime of all… [Read more...]