Now. Now.

debbie-millman

As Robert Frost once wrote, “A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness. It is never a thought to begin with.”

I recommend the following course of action for those, like you, who are just starting out, or who, like me, may be re-configuring midway through. Heed the words of Robert Frost. Start with a big fat lump in your throat. Start with a profound sense of wrong, a deep homesickness, a crazy lovesickness, and run with it. If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve. Do what you love. And don’t stop until you get what you love. Work as hard as you can. Imagine immensities. Don’t compromise and don’t waste time. In order to strive for a remarkable life, you have to decide that you want one. Start now. Not twenty years from now. Not thirty years from now. Not two weeks from now. Now.

~ Debbie Millman, 2013 Commencement Address at San Jose State University 


Notes: Quote – Brainpickings via makebelieveboutique. Photography – howtoholdapencil.

I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective

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Oliver Sacks: My Own Life. Learning of Terminal Cancer

…It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me. I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can…

…While I have enjoyed loving relationships and friendships and have no real enmities, I cannot say (nor would anyone who knows me say) that I am a man of mild dispositions. On the contrary, I am a man of vehement disposition, with violent enthusiasms, and extreme immoderation in all my passions.

I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work and my friends. I shall no longer look at “NewsHour” every night…

I have been increasingly conscious, for the last 10 years or so, of deaths among my contemporaries. My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.

…Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.

Don’t miss reading the full essay by Oliver Sachs: My Own Life. Learning of Terminal Cancer


Notes:

Next?

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What are you waiting for?
The next promotion? The next holiday? The next satsang? The next Facebook update?
The next spiritual high? The next victory? The next relationship?
The next level of enlightenment? The next chance to prove how much you know?
The next life? The next… moment?
What if this ‘next’ never comes?
And even if it does, what if it won’t end your seeking?
What if life – and its fulfillment – is always Now?
Then, what’s next?

— Jeff Foster


Notes:

MMM*: Yes. Go ahead. Do it.

book-reading

Take your time getting dressed this morning;
read a book,
make yourself some breakfast.
The world can wait.

~ The art of recovery


Notes:

Truth

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(and maybe warm socks and vanilla ice cream)

Source: Just Saying

Monday Mantra. Who? When?

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Note: True today, as it was in 100 BC.

Hillel the Elder, born in Babylon in 110 BC, was known as the author of two sayings: (1) “If I am not for myself who is for me? And being for my own self, what am ‘I’? And if not now, when?” and (2) the expression of the ethic of reciprocity, or “Golden Rule“: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.” Hillel was a famous Jewish religious leader, one of the most important figures in Jewish history.


Image Source: preciousandfregilethings

Happy Thanksgiving

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The email message arrived a few days ago. The sender and the location were all unidentifiable. Yet, the message was deeply personal. I read it in the silence of the early morning hours, both hands resting on top of the desk, my breath slowing as my eyes worked down the page.

“I’ve been following your blog since early 2013.  After a series of your “life is a miracle” shares, I felt I needed to reach out. While our core beings are quite similar in that our hearts’ beat, our body temperatures hover in comparable ranges, and our bodies crave food and water, many of us depart from here in our day-to-day existences…

If I’m sitting and looking out from your perch, I would enjoy the view. Married, family, job.  Fridge full of food. A warm house for shelter. Good health. A community of Followers and bloggers to banter with and share inspirations…

Kierkegaard would say that the yardstick for a human being is how long and to what degree he can bear to be alone. I continue to be tested by this yardstick. I’m quite alone. My effectiveness in bearing it? Let’s say it’s day-to-day, and I’m doing so without the benefit of your accoutrements. Yet, I find my peace, and I accept my position in this Life…swallowing hard on my down days.

Look around. I mean really look around and take stock of your life. All of this can change. It can change at any moment. And it can turn very badly. It did for me… Be grateful Now for your blessings as you have many.

[NO CLOSING SIGNATURE OR SALUATION]

Friend, if I can take the liberty of calling you that, you’ve left me Still and without many words, and I’m thankful for your message. Where ever you are and who ever you may be, on this Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., may you find nourishment, may you have shelter and warmth, and may you be surrounded by the love of family and friends.


Photograph Source: Murrskeez

 

Monday Mantra: Carpe Momento

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Our minds are all we have. They are all we have ever had. And they are all we can offer others. This might not be obvious, especially when there are aspects of your life that seem in need of improvement— when your goals are unrealized, or you are struggling to find a career, or you have relationships that need repairing. But it’s the truth. Every experience you have ever had has been shaped by your mind. Every relationship is as good or as bad as it is because of the minds involved. If you are perpetually angry, depressed, confused, and unloving, or your attention is elsewhere, it won’t matter how successful you become or who is in your life— you won’t enjoy any of it.

Most of us could easily compile a list of goals we want to achieve or personal problems that need to be solved. But what is the real significance of every item on such a list? Everything we want to accomplish— to paint the house, learn a new language, find a better job— is something that promises that, if done, it would allow us to finally relax and enjoy our lives in the present. Generally speaking, this is a false hope. I’m not denying the importance of achieving one’s goals, maintaining one’s health, or keeping one’s children clothed and fed— but most of us spend our time seeking happiness and security without acknowledging the underlying purpose of our search. Each of us is looking for a path back to the present: We are trying to find good enough reasons to be satisfied now.

Acknowledging that this is the structure of the game we are playing allows us to play it differently. How we pay attention to the present moment largely determines the character of our experience and, therefore, the quality of our lives.

~ Sam Harris. Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion (Simon & Schuster. 2014)


Photographer: Sasha Onyshchenko via Thisiseverything. Blog post title is twist on Carpe Diem (Seize the Day to Seize the Moment)

Just like that…

woman,stare,wonder,ponder,

“What was, is;
What might have been, might be.
What’s kept. What’s lost. A snap decision.”

– Adrienne Rich, from Later Poems Selected And New


Poem Source: Soaked In Soul. Photograph: “Enigma”; Kenny Sweeney

Driving. Just another morning. Rollin’ down I-95.

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6:30am.

Traffic is building.

I turn the corner to the I-95 on-ramp. Man in coveralls is standing next to his graffiti stained Seafood Delivery truck. He glances up at me, pauses briefly, and then continues to flick through a bulging wad of bills in his right hand. (You declaring that income, Friend?)

There’s a semi truck in front. A Friendly’s ad adorns its back door: “Eat More Ice Cream.” (What kind of cruel joke is this? You friend, need no more ice cream. Saliva begins to build up, quicker than the traffic flow. I’m worse than Pavlov’s dog. I could use a tall, thick Coldstone Vanilla shake. Right now. I’d skip lunch if I could indulge. I would. I might.)

I come up on a gargantuan, two-trailer Fed Ex semi. Driver sitting up high. The truck gleams in the morning sun.  (Bucket list: Need to drive a Semi cross-country. Is he delivering new iPhone 6+s to Manhattan Apple Stores? Gadget man starts to twitch.)

I pass downtown Stamford and see the RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) logo towering over the city.  (Well laddies. Is it time to cut the cord from Mother England?) [Read more…]