Flying over I-95 S. On Sunday Morning.

take-off-airplane-fly

It’s 10:00 am. This Sunday Morning. I’m in the car heading to LaGuardia to catch AA 1082, departing at noon.

Saturday was my Sunday. Sunday is my Monday.

I’m a flight and a half away from 2,000,000 miles, and that’s just on American Airlines. I’ve been around the earth 80 times. 80 times. Years of chasing Status, frequent flier status and upgrades. As Kalanithi explains, ‘a chasing after wind, indeed.’ How many Sunday nights in a hotel room, sitting on the bed in front of the TV, eating alone? 

The Boeing twin jet 737-800 taxis to its final turn, pauses, inhales to gather a head of steam, and then Roars down the runway.  I close my eyes and feel. Thrust. Power. Acceleration. Wheels rumbling down the tarmac. Faster. Faster. Faster. And then — calm, and lift off — the Iron Bird is up.  Wings tilt sharply left, and I lean. We surge upward, higher, the nose pointed to the heavens. The weight of the climb, a soft hand on the chest, the back, a magnet affixed firmly to the door of the refrigerator.  A sacred message as you head Up. Sit, wait, pause, be still.

I press the recline button and ease the seat gently backward.

The kids, no, now young adults, were both sleeping when I left the house this morning. They were up late last night, increasingly leading separate lives. Dad, clutching on a string. Oh, go ahead, wake them up, or at least give them a kiss on the cheek before you go.  I linger in front of Eric’s door, and then Rachel’s door. For some reason, I can’t bring myself to wake them. I walk down the stairs and out the door.  I settle in the car. Inhale. Melancholia, campfire smoke in my lungs.

I slip my earbuds in. My eye lids are heavy. I’m drifting in and out. The plane has leveled off. [Read more…]

Floated down the milk river

milk

For months the baby woke at seven, fed, fell asleep at eight thirty, woke at ten, fed, fell asleep at eleven thirty, and so on for the rest of the day. I’d made him into a milk clock. Every hour was part of a ritualized ceremony of adding or subtracting milk. A river of milk flowed in and out and around him. He floated down the milk river toward the rest of life.

~ Sarah Manguso, Ongoingness: The End of a Diary


Notes:

Togetherness lost

reading-book-parent-child-son-daughter

Memories are cloudy. It was a ritual that was conducted on Saturday afternoons or Sunday mornings. It was cold and wet. Cabin Fever had set in. Mom and the Kids needed to get out. Our first stop was Barnes and Noble. Rachel, in her pink galoshes, wandered the aisles in search of the prettiest book covers she could find. She would unzip her down jacket and sit on a Lilliputian bench flipping the pages. Eric would be tugging on his Mom’s coat, impatient, and ready to move on. After negotiating with Rachel that she could only have two, we would head off to lunch, which would include a sandwich or burger, french fries and steamy hot chocolate.

Ah, yes. The good ole’ pre-internet, pre-Amazon days. Who visits book stores today? What book stores carry large inventory? Who’s got time to read to their children? Do children have the patience or interest to sit quietly with a book? The Tech candy is flashing and twitching, coaxing them over. ME. ME. ME. Forget the boring books. Pick ME up.

That evening after we returned from the bookstore, and during weekday evenings that followed, we would read bedtime stories to our children. This parental ritual is beautifully captured by Daniel Pennac below in his reflections:

[Read more…]

In Sync

inspirational

“A baby dolphin earns its jumping stripes as it swims alongside its mother and leaps out of the water next to her. The dolphin calf was virtually stuck to its mother’s side as they swam before simultaneously jumping a metre out of the water near the Sao Miguel Island of the Azores region, Portugal.”


Source: Picture: Sascha Losko/Solent telegraph.co.uk via Mme Scherzo

 

Riding Metro-North. With Pink Galoshes.

train-commute-photography-black-and-white

Monday, November 17, 2014: Rain. 35° F.

The Work Day Monday starts on Sunday. The peaceful easy feeling of Saturday drifts into the grace of Sunday morning, and comes off the mountain in slow motion, the avalanche building momentum until it covers the village at the base of the mountain. It’s 3 pm on Sunday afternoon and my attention shifts to the work that I planned, but failed to get done on Saturday.  There’s my briefcase, bulging with those good intentions from Friday afternoon. (A white-collar Suit but a dues paying member of the proletariat. A plebe, never freeing his rough, calloused hands from the shovel. Need to dig. Never finished. Never complete. Never good enough. And the bell tolls. And the bell tolls.)

I’m reviewing Monday’s calendar. A 7:30 am Breakfast with a colleague. A commitment that was made a month ago. Let’s have breakfast! This will require a 5 a.m. wake up call, a 6 am train, a 7 am arrival at Grand Central and a brisk 15-20 min walk to breakfast. (Why are you pushing the clock? Last time you checked, you were the Boss. Who’s running who? Just cancel and reschedule to a later date. You had a conflict that came up. Who would know?)

I ask Rachel what train she is catching. 7:34 a.m. Father-daughter will ride in together. (I cancel my breakfast meeting. A last minute conflict came up. Unavoidable. My apology covered in a mist of guilt.)

We’re standing on the platform. She has her spot. She knows where the train stops, where the doors open, where she can position herself to get a seat.  She’s in front, and holding her ground.  Other crafty commuters, a herd, all huddle around her. The rain is rapping on the tin roof, and spills over onto the tracks. [Read more…]

Sunday Morning: Life


Take one minute…and watch. Full stop.


Notes:

  • Inspiration – Albert Einstein: “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.”
  • Source for video share: Stepsonmysunlightfloor

Mama’s Boy. Then. And Now.

Here’s Eric with his Mom at 9 years old.

mama's boy 2

And here’s Eric with his Mom last night in front of the restaurant in Norwalk where we had dinner. He’s now 20:

[Read more…]

Riding MetroNorth. With a moment.

woman-painting
The moment, this moment has been orbiting. Gently closing in, then dimming, and working itself softly back into consciousness.

Millions of thoughts slide in and out – – moments of significance, yet these seeds on the blooming dandelion blow away. This ordinary moment hangs on. Why?

She met me in the hallway in front of the elevators. We were both finishing our day. She looked fresher, wearing a blue skirt and jacket, standing with a colleague – offering up a “Hey, Dad.”

It’s early evening in Midtown. The humidity, stifling. Crowds are milling around the theatre ticket booths. Father and Daughter are out of the building looking to catch the 6:49.

We reach a “Don’t Walk” and I point down to 47th. She tugs at my suit jacket.

“Dad, I’ve timed it. It’s not faster to zig-zag. Just wait. Take it straight down. It’s faster.”

She’s timed it. It’s faster. [Read more…]

The quiet irreplaceable and companionable presence of a daughter

father-daughter-beach-walk
Joy is a meeting place, of deep intentionality and of self forgetting, the bodily alchemy of what lies inside us in communion with what formally seemed outside, but is now neither, but become a living frontier, a voice speaking between us and the world: dance, laughter, affection, skin touching skin, singing in the car, music in the kitchen, the quiet irreplaceable and companionable presence of a daughter: the sheer intoxicating beauty of the world inhabited as an edge between what we previously thought was us and what we thought was other than us.

~ David Whyte


Notes:

  • For Rachel, on your Birthday today.
  • Sources: Poem/Quote – Thank you Makebelieveboutique.com. Photograph: dpf.peterFather & daughter walk along beachTofino, BC, Canada — Image by © Henry Georgi/Wave/Corbis

The most impressive students I had over my 30 years of teaching were…

joseph_epstein

…The most impressive students I had over my 30 years of university teaching were those I encountered when I first began, in the early 1970s, who almost all turned out to have been put through Catholic schools, during a time when priests and nuns still taught and Catholic education hadn’t become indistinguishable from secular education. Many of these kids resented what they felt was the excessive constraint, with an element of fear added, of their education. Most failed to realize that it was this very constraint—and maybe a touch of the fear, too—that forced them to learn Latin, to acquire and understand grammar, to pick up the rudiments of arguing well, that had made them as smart as they were…

..So often in my literature classes students told me what they “felt” about a novel, or a particular character in a novel. I tried, ever so gently, to tell them that no one cared what they felt; the trick was to discover not one’s feelings but what the author had put into the book, its moral weight and its resultant power. In essay courses, many of these same students turned in papers upon which I wished to—but did not—write: “D-, Too much love in the home.” I knew where they came by their sense of their own deep significance and that this sense was utterly false to any conceivable reality. Despite what their parents had been telling them from the very outset of their lives, they were not significant. Significance has to be earned, and it is earned only through achievement. Besides, one of the first things that people who really are significant seem to know is that, in the grander scheme, they are themselves really quite insignificant.

~ Joseph Epstein, A Literary Education and Other Essays


Thank you Michael Wade for your recommendation of Epstein’s new book: A Literary Education and Other Essays. I’m half way through and loving it.  Joseph Epstein, 77, was born in Chicago. He is an essayist, short story writer, and editor. In 2003, he was awarded a National Humanities Medal by the National Endowment for the Humanities.