Lurching. Lurching. Lurching.

sam_harris

This Believer of Convenience warily tiptoed into Sam Harris’ new book titled Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion. I’m a 1/3 of the way in. He’s managed to settle under my skin, burrowing into my consciousness.  I’m deeply ambivalent about the message. The polarity of my emotions is stark – it’s as if I’m split in two. I drift in and out of darkness and I find myself empty in my quiet moments of contemplation. I’m certain that this wasn’t Sam’s objective with his Guide.  Yet I find it impossible to disagree with certain messages, such as yesterday’s post titled Carpe Momento. And another this morning which I’m sharing below.  I’m leaning heavily on F. Scott Fitzgerald to function: “The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function” – – as I need to function, I need to function. Here’s Sam Harris with another one of his “pow, right in the kisser” messages to me:
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To Live & Learn

taste-woman-art-painting-water

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,
new understanding,
and new love.

- Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

 


Credits: Quote Source: Petrichour. Painting: Ufukorada

 

Bang our very bones to roust our own souls

woman-tattoo-guitar

Unless we learn to let experience play upon our inner lives as on a finely tuned instrument, we will try to manufacture inner intensity from the outside, we will bang our very bones to roust our own souls. We crave radical ruptures when we have allowed the nerves of our inner lives to go numb. But after those ruptures— the excitement or the tragedy, the pleasure or the pain— the mind returns to what it was, the soul quicksilvers off from the pierce of experience, and the kingdom of boredom…begins the clock-tick toward its next collapse.

~ Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer


Photograph: Beza17

We must look wider than what hurts

yellow throat,bird,

“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


Quote Source: Whiskeyriver. Image credit of Common Yellow Throat

Ever think of that?

photography,black and white

Most of the pain you’re dealing with are really just thoughts.. ever think of that?

- Buddhist Bootcamp

 


Credits: Image – Journal of a Nobody.  Quote: Thank you Karen @ Karen’s Korner

Norway owns Gold. How?

Norway-Olympic-team-Sochi

Excerpts from wsj.com: How Norway Scores So Much Olympic Gold?

…Norway itself is a Winter Olympics marvel: With only five million people, it has won 303 Winter Olympic medals, far more than any other country on the planet. To find a country smaller than world-leading Norway on the all-time Winter Olympics medal table, you have to travel down to Croatia, which ranks 24th with 11 medals.  And this month, Norway is fielding one of its strongest teams in almost two generations, with some experts considering it the favorite to win both the highest gold and total medal count, a feat that it last achieved in 1968.

Other countries long ago took to shrugging off Norway’s Winter Olympics medal haul as the unsurprising inheritance of a people whose young are born with skis on their feet, as an old Nordic adage goes. But skiing is also fundamental to the culture of other Scandinavian countries, including Sweden, which has about twice the population but, with 132 total, not even half the medals.

Instead, many experts think the answer lies in the culture and lifestyle of the country, where an extraordinary egalitarianism runs through youth sports. Before age 6, Norwegian kids can only train but not formally compete in sports, and before age 11, all children participating in a competition must be awarded the same prize.

Still, most experts say the biggest reason behind Norway’s success is the culture that propelled it atop the medal table from the outset. Norway’s cities are relatively close to the wilderness, and children are encouraged to play outdoors even on the coldest days.

In those disciplines, attaining world-class status typically takes years of training. This is one reason that the Meråker school accepts students whose passion for sport may outshine their performances. In the long run, desire and perseverance will play the greatest roles in shaping future Olympians. The school’s coaches say the main lesson they teach is the importance of training relentlessly for years beyond high school.

In addition to physical work on the farm in the afternoons, weekends and holidays, he was regularly charged with what his father refers to as “incredibly boring stuff,” like picking stones from a field, just to improve his psyche. Every time he hurt himself, his father would tease him until he stopped crying. Eventually, he came to believe pain is cool. “My father taught me at an early age to tackle pain—I think that’s my strength. I can go for hours in pain without giving up,” he said. His childhood mentor, a star skier turned coach named John Thomas Rena, agrees. “I think a big part of Jenssen’s talent comes from the way he grew up,” he said.


Image Credit: Best and Worst Dressed Olympic Nations in Sochi

like this one, like that one, like this one

robert creeley

“I think
I grow tensions
like flowers
in a wood where
nobody goes.

Each wound is perfect,
encloses itself in a tiny
imperceptible blossom,
making pain.

Pain is a flower like that one,
like this one,
like that one,
like this one.”

- Robert Creeley, ”The Flower”


Robert Creeley (1926 – 2005) was a major American poet of the 20th century. He was born in Arlington, MA and was a teacher, a scholar, and a fierce presence: “I look to words, and nothing else, for my own redemption either as a man or poet.” He lost the sight in one eye in a car accident when he was two years old. The loss of his eye and his father, both early in life, affected Creeley profoundly. For the first half of his life he travelled as an outsider, his heavy drinking often leading to brawls with friends and strangers. Creeley was sometimes an angry young man who wanted “the world to narrow to a match flare”.  Unable to sign up for World War II because of his sight problem, he joined the American Field Service and drove ambulances in India and Burma. He returned home with two medals…Just days before he died, he gave his final reading — in Charlottesville, Virginia — breathing from what he called “portable wee canisters of oxygen about the size of champagne bottles”. In between the poems Creeley said very simple things that rang true: “There has been so much war and pain during the last century. We need to learn how to be kind; kindness is what makes us human.”

(Read full Bio by Robert Adamson @ Jacket 26)


Credits: Poem – sleepwalking.nu. Portrait: beatbookcovers


Pain is not exclusive to humans

birds-pain-cry

birds2-pain


Source: Youreyesblazeout

Tough Teachers Get Results (finally, some common sense)

Mr. K

“I had a teacher who once called his students ‘idiots’ when they screwed up…he made us rehearse until our fingers almost bled. He corrected our wayward hands and arms by poking at us with a pencil.  Today, he’d be fired. But when he died a few years ago, he was celebrated: Forty years’ worth of former students flew back to my New Jersey hometown from every corner of the country…I was stunned by the outpouring for the gruff old teacher…Some were musicians, but most had distinguished themselves in other fields…What did Mr. K do right?…Comparing Mr. K’s methods to the latest findings in fields from music to math to medicine leads to a single, startling conclusion:

It’s time to revive old-fashioned education.  

Not just traditional but old fashioned in the sense that so many of us knew as kids, with strict discipline and unyielding demands. Because here’s the thing: It works…and the following eight principles – a manifesto if you will, a battle cry inspired by my old teacher and buttressed by new research – explain why:

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Sit Still

stephan vanfleteren portrait

“We yearn for silence, yet the less sound there is, the more our thoughts deafen us. How can we still the noise within?…In Vipassana you concentrate on sensation in stillness, sitting down, not necessarily cross-legged, though most people do sit that way. And sitting without changing position, sitting still. As soon as you try to do this, you become aware of a connection between silence and stillness, noise and motion. No sooner are you sitting still than the body is eager to move, or at least to fidget. It grows uncomfortable. In the same way, no sooner is there silence than the mind is eager to talk. In fact we quickly appreciate that sound is movement: words move, music moves, through time. We use sound and movement to avoid the irksomeness of stasis. This is particularly true if you are in physical pain. You shift from foot to foot, you move from room to room. Sitting still, denying yourself physical movement, the mind’s instinctive reaction is to retreat into its normal buzzing monologue — hoping that focusing the mind elsewhere will relieve physical discomfort. This would normally be the case; normally, if ignored, the body would fidget and shift, to avoid accumulating tension. But on this occasion we are asking it to sit still while we think and, since it can’t fidget, it grows more and more tense and uncomfortable. Eventually, this discomfort forces the mind back from its chatter to the body. But finding only discomfort or even pain in the body, it again seeks to escape into language and thought. Back and forth from troubled mind to tormented body, things get worse and worse.  Silence, then, combined with stillness — the two are intimately related — invites us to observe the relationship between consciousness and the body, in movement and moving thought.”

~ Tim Parks, Inner Peace


This essay by Tim Parks is worth reading in its entirety.  You can find it at this link.  Parks references his book Cleaver in the essay.  The book was chosen as a Sunday Telegraph Book of the Year.  It is one of the funniest novels that I have read.  You can read my review of Cleaver at this link.


Credits: Portrait of Phara De Aguirre by Stephan Vanfleteren. Quote: Inner Peace, Aeon Magazine

Don’t edit your ugly out of your bio

Llama on Farm Funny Teeth

“Don’t google your name. Ever.
Don’t “search” for yourself
on anything that glows in the dark.
Don’t let your beauty
be something anyone can turn off.
Don’t edit your ugly out of your bio.
Let your light come from the fire.
Let your pain be the spark,
but not the timber.
Remember, you didn’t come here
to write your heart out.
You came to write it in.”

— Andrea Gibson


Llama Image Source: Etsy.com.  Poem Source: Andrea Gibson via JournalofaNobody.  Andrea Gibson Bio @ wiki.

See

eye blinking gif

Start your day with anxiety. First thing. Every morning for last month. Sharp pain for 75 seconds.  Then poof. Gone.  Until the next morning.  I google it.  Up pops Just Answer. Eye with a customer question describing the identical experience:

I wake up every morning with a sharp pain in what I believe is my optic nerve. The pain is so bad that it sometimes makes my eye water when I try to open it wide. It is also painful to press on my eye when closed.  The pain is always in my left eye and there are some days that I wake up without pain. My eye does not seem to be more red or bloodshot than normal. The pain does subside as the day goes on and I haven’t experienced any vision problems.

I quickly close my eye and pain subsides. Water fills the vacuum.  (The human body is.  All on its own. Repairing.  Soothing. A miracle.)

I open and close several times. Blinking.   (The body is a miracle.  The mind, my mind, on the other hand, can be a torture chamber.  I need to see.  I need to read. Heart begins to race. Relax pal.  Just Answer Doc said it’s just dry eyes.  Yes, that was the first line.  And the rest? What about the rest?  This will right itself by itself.)

What if?

Mind quickly shifts gears to Sunday’s paper.

You are four years old.  You run to answer the door bell.  Life from that moment on changes. For you.  For your family. Forever.

Josh Miel, you define courage.  You define perseverance.  You are an inspiration.

(On the other hand, you pal, have dry eyes.)

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David Byrne: Hidden Roots

byrnearboretum_hiddenroots


David Byrne, 60, is a Scottish musician permanently residing in the United States.  He is best known as a founding member and principal songwriter of the American New Wave band Talking Heads, which was active between 1975 and 1991.  He has received Grammy, Oscar and Golden Globe awards and been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Brainpickings.org describes Byrne “as also one of the sharpest thinkers of our time and a kind of visual philosopher. About a decade ago, Byrne began making ‘mental maps of imaginary territory’ in a little notebook based on self-directed instructions to draw anything from a Venn diagram about relationships to an evolutionary tree of pleasure yet wholly unlike anything else. In 2006, Byrne released Arboretum, a collection of these thoughtful, funny, cynical, poetic, and altogether brilliant pencil sketches — some very abstract, some very concrete — drawn in the style of evolutionary diagrams and mapping everything from the roots of philosophy to the tangles of romantic destiny to the ecosystem of the performing arts.”

Bottom line: Brilliant.


Sources: Brainpickings.org and Wiki

Set fire to your old self

Portrait, Woman, Face, Black and White

“You don’t know anyone at the party, so you don’t want to go. You don’t like cottage cheese, so you haven’t eaten it in years. This is your choice, of course, but don’t kid yourself: it’s also the flinch.

Your personality is not set in stone. You may think a morning coffee is the most enjoyable thing in the world, but it’s really just a habit. Thirty days without it, and you would be fine. You think you have a soul mate, but in fact you could have had any number of spouses. You would have evolved differently, but been just as happy.

You can change what you want about yourself at any time. You see yourself as someone who can’t write or play an instrument, who gives in to temptation or makes bad decisions, but that’s really not you. It’s not ingrained. It’s not your personality. Your personality is something else, something deeper than just preferences, and these details on the surface, you can change anytime you like. [Read more…]

T.G.I.F.: Where are you on the PMC today?

Where am I on the Pain Management Chart today?  ZERO!

And you?


funny, psychology, laugh, Charlie Brown, life, stress, anxiety, difficult,suffer


Source: Ilovecharts

Sunday Morning: A Winged Victory

Love this…hypnotized by it…but not sure that I fully grasped the story line.  Van Gogh and his illnesses have been on my mind from posts earlier in the week. (9/21-a and 9/21-b).  All interpretations welcome.

Good Sunday morning.


A Winged Victory For The Sullen – Requiem For The Static King Part One (Official Video) from Erased Tapes on Vimeo.


Related Posts:

Sunday Morning: Everything is Incredible

Agustin is from Siguatepeque, Honduras.  He was born “lame with his right leg shorter than his left.”  He was later struck with polio leaving him severely disabled from the legs down.  He dreamed of being a pilot but because of his disability, he couldn’t fly.  He turned his energy to building his own helicopter largely from parts found at the trash dumps.  He started building in 1958.  He is still pursuing his dream today more than one-half a century later with his helicopter still under construction.

His Minister:  “I don’t know what he’s paying for his helicopter in the ultimate sense.  I think he’s paid a lot for that helicopter.  I think he’s paid an awful lot.  You might say what has he gotten out of it?  I don’t know.  Maybe its kept him alive. Maybe its been able to conquer loneliness.  Maybe its been able to conquer poverty.”

Agustin later in the story explains: “The problem is that everything is incredible and people just don’t accept it.”

This video is beautiful. Sad.  Touching.  And inspiring.

And, yes, Agustin, we are blessed. And everything is incredible.  And often times we take it for granted.

Good Sunday morning.


Everything is Incredible from Tyler Bastian on Vimeo.


Related Posts:

I actually attack the concept of happiness…

umbrella in storm“I actually attack the concept of happiness. The idea that – I don’t mind people being happy – but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It’s a really odd thing that we’re now seeing people saying “write down 3 things that made you happy today before you go to sleep”, and “cheer up” and “happiness is our birthright” and so on. We’re kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position – it’s rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don’t teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say “Quick! Move on! Cheer up!” I’d like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word “happiness” and to replace it with the word “wholeness”. Ask yourself “is this contributing to my wholeness?” and if you’re having a bad day, it is.”

~ Hugh Mackay


This quote was inspired (and not in a positive way) by my recent readings of an shockingly large number of children and adults being medicated for a variety of reasons ranging from serious disorders like chronic depression to anxiety, ADD and academic performance.   Sad and disturbing. (This coming from a man who can barely choke down a Bayer aspirin without feeling guilt wash over me.)

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The Better Pain Chart…


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