Alan Watts: My goodness, don’t you remember?
Sometimes I grow weary with all the days, with their fits and starts. I want to climb some old gray mountain, slowly, taking the rest of my lifetime to do it, resting often, sleeping under the pines or, above them, on the unclothed rocks. I want to see how many stars are still in the sky that we have smothered for years now, a century at least. I want to look back at everything, forgiving it all, and peaceful, knowing the last thing there is to know.
All that urgency! Not what the earth is about!
How silent the trees, their poetry being of themselves only. I want to take slow steps, and think appropriate thoughts.
In ten thousand years, maybe, a piece of the mountain will fall.
~ Mary Oliver, The Poet Dreams of the Mountain. Swan: Poems and Prose Poems
Most of us do not live a life of monastic rigor. Our days are full of jagged edges and jangling moments. But most of us do have quiet routines that inform our lives. We rise each morning and greet our day in the same fashion. A first cup of coffee, a glance at the paper, a certain way we bathe and prepare for our entry into the day — these do not change. They are the rituals by which we shape our days. But we do not value them as rituals. To us they are the ordinary — sometimes comforting, sometimes mind-deadening — activities that give a familiar sameness to our life. Far from honoring them, we pay them no heed. We see them as routines, not as paths to awareness. My time in the monastery taught me otherwise. To be sure, the monks lived a life of deep sacramentality and prayer, and that was the true source of their spiritual vision. But the mindful practice of their spiritual exercises spilled over into the way they carried on their daily affairs. They were present to nuance, aware of the space around events. A cup of tea, a meal partaken, a moment shared with another — all commanded their absolute focus. They had tuned their spirits to a fine and subtle sensitivity, and nothing passed unnoticed or unhonored.
~ Kent Nerburn, Of Coffee Mugs and Monks in Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life (New World Library. 2010)
- Source: Poppins-me
- Inspiration: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” (Albert Einstein)
Kent Nerburn, The Gift of Clouds, Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life:
Years ago I used to drive a cab for a living. There was a blind woman I used pick up at one of the local universities. She was taciturn, proper, almost British in her sense of propriety and reserve. And though she seldom talked, we gradually became friends. One day I asked her what one thing she would wish to see if, for only one minute, she could have the gift of sight. She smiled and thought a moment. Then, she said, “Clouds.” The answer surprised me. Of all the choices in the wide breadth of the world, she had chosen one that would never have crossed my mind. “Why clouds?” I asked. “Because I can’t imagine them,” she said. “People have tried to explain them to me. They tell me they are like cotton. The tell me they look like fog feels. They spray whipped cream in my hand. They move my fingers over paintings of skies and let me feel the shapes of clouds painted on canvas. But I am still no closer to an understanding. Yes, it would be clouds.” […]
As I drove along I pondered her words. I, who saw clearly, spent each day wishing for some distant object — a place, a person, some prize of life I hoped to win. But one who valued sight the most — one to whom it was denied — knew that the greatest gift her eyesight could bestow was before me, unnoticed and unhallowed, at that very moment.
“Clouds,” I thought. Of course. What else in this great universe so eludes description, so fills the spirit with wonder? What else floats gossamer and ethereal above our lives, never touching down but always present with us, a reminder of the majesty of an unseen God? As a child we are alive to their magic. We lie on our backs on summer hillsides, make up stories, find giants and dragons in their forms. They are God’s sketchbook, the measure of our capacity to dream. But as we grow, they fall victim to numbing familiarity. Their poetry and majesty, though still alive in our hearts, is easily overlooked, easily ignored.
“Now, let me ask you,” she was saying, “What is a cloud like?” I returned from my reverie. The traffic was churning angrily on the rush-hour streets. Far above, the clouds were moving slowly, like horses, like carriages, like elephants holding each other’s tails. “They’re like God’s dreams,” I said. “Thank you,” she responded. She did not speak again. But her still, small smile filled the cab with the eloquence of peace.
This photograph is the Sound of Jura in Scotland by Jon Wyatt. Wyatt explains that “the Sound of Jura is the name given to the straits of water separating the Isle of Jura in the Inner Hebrides from the Scottish mainland. The Gaelic name is ‘An Linne Rosach’ meaning the ‘Sound of Disappointment’.” (Note to self: I don’t understand what can be a disappointment about this magnificent location…)
Wyatt is an award winning photographer from the U.K. Do NOT miss Wyatt’s other shots of the Sound of Jura and the Portfolio of his work: Jon Wyatt.
Photo Source via Precious Things
I have risen early. Far in the distance, a faint glow paints the horizon. Dawn is coming, gently and full of prayer. I step quietly from my bed, alive to the silences around me. This is the quiet time, the time of innocence and soft thoughts, the childhood of the day. Now is the moment when I must pause and life my heart – now, before the day fragments and my consciousness shatters into a thousand pieces. For this is the moment when the senses are most alive, when a thought, a touch, a piece of music can shape the spirit and color of the day. But if I am not careful – if I rise, frantic, from my bed, full of small concerns- the mystical flow of the imagination at rest will be broken, the past and the future will rush in to claim my mind, and I will be swept up into life’s petty details and myriad obligations. Gone will be the openness that comes only to the waking heart, and with it, the chance to focus the spirit and consecrate the day. What is needed is only a passing of the heart so the spirit can take wing and be lifted toward the infinite. I walk silently toward the window. The darkness is lifting. A thin shaft of lavender has creased the horizon, setting the edges of the trees on fire with morning light. I pause and bow my head…
~ Kent Nerburn, Small Grace: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life
You wake up this morning. You may be a bit stiff from your work-out yesterday. Or still recovering from your long work week. But you can and do get up and get on with your morning.
The first thing you have to get used to is total helplessness. You’re dependent on somebody else for everything. If you want your ear scratched, you have to ask. You soon learn that you can’t ask every time the problem arises, or you’d be asking the whole day. And you remember all too vividly the itch that assailed you in the middle of the night before last, the one that wasn’t worth waking somebody up to relieve.
You grab your cup of coffee and your book. Or the morning paper. You turn the pages.
Another personal loss, for me, is books. The act of writing has been distorted, yes, but not as much as the act of reading, which was always a solitary pleasure. Since somebody else has to turn the pages, the solitude is over. Few works that I want to read are available as audiobooks. The alternative, of my not being able to read at all if there’s mental degeneration, is horrific.
Q: Where do you find an invalid? A: Where you left him. His words. So much truth, so much spirit.
I’ve been immobilized for five years. In addition to losing incalculable personal pleasures, like daily walks with my wife, I also lost a musical career as a jazz and classical guitarist, though I still teach a few advanced students. I published several books of fiction and nonfiction before the disease hit, but my days of roaming the world as a journalist are over. Now I write by dictation. […]
You find yourself, unavoidably, living in the past. Happiness isn’t is, but was. You try not to contemplate the future too much. Nor the future of the person you love.
Find his bio and web page here: AnthonyWeller.com
Photo credit: weheartit.com