Above Beachy Head in East Sussex, England.
The best thing you and I can do at the end of the writing day is to stash our work gloves in our locker, hang our leather apron on a hook, and head for the workshop door. If we’ve truly put in our hours today, we know it. We have done enough. It won’t help to keep at it like a dog worrying a bone.
I forgot who said this (I think it was John Steinbeck in Journal of a Novel):
Let the well fill up again overnight.
~ Stephen Pressfield, The Office Is Closed
Think of one of those Chuck Close self-portraits. The face takes up the entire image. You can see every pore. Some people try to introspect like that. But others see themselves in broader landscapes, in the context of longer narratives about forgiveness, or redemption or setback and ascent. Maturity is moving from the close-up to the landscape, focusing less on your own supposed strengths and weaknesses and more on the sea of empathy in which you swim, which is the medium necessary for understanding others, one’s self, and survival.
~ David Brooks, Introspective or Narcissistic?
“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
~ Aldous Huxley, Music at Night and Other Essays
↓ click for audio (“Ruth and Sylvie” by Daniel Hart)
When the mind becomes highly relaxed and alert at the same time, three wonderful qualities of mind naturally emerge: calmness, clarity, and happiness. Here is the analogy. Imagine you have a pot of water full of sediments, and imagine that pot is constantly shaken and agitated. The water appears cloudy. Imagine that you stop agitating the pot and just let it rest on the floor. The water will become calm and, after a while, all the sediments will settle and the water will appear clear. This is the classical analogy of the mind in the alert and relaxed state. In this state, we temporarily stop agitating the mind the same way we stop agitating the pot.
Do you have hope for the future? someone asked Robert Frost, toward the end.
Yes, and even for the past, he replied, that it will turn out to have been all right for what it was, something we can accept, mistakes made by the selves we had to be, not able to be, perhaps, what we wished, or what looking back half the time it seems we could so easily have been, or ought…
The future, yes, and even for the past, that it will become something we can bear.
And I too, and my children, so I hope, will recall as not too heavy the tug of those albatrosses I sadly placed upon their tender necks.
Hope for the past, yes, old Frost, your words provide that courage, and it brings strange peace that itself passes into past, easier to bear because you said it, rather casually, as snow went on falling in Vermont years ago.
~ David Ray, “Thanks, Robert Frost.”
David Ray, 82, was born in Sapulpa, Oklahoma. Ray comes from a broken home that was thrown into upheaval when his father left the family by hopping on the back of a watermelon truck headed to California. After his mother’s next failed marriage ended in the suicide of Ray’s stepfather, he and his sister Mary Ellen were placed into foster care—a system that wasn’t kind to young children in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Ray’s classic “Mulberries of Mingo” steeps from memories of he and his sister being thrown out of a foster families home at dinner time – to fend for themselves eating the mulberries from a neighbor’s tree. The years that followed were dark and tragic as he and his sister were separated to face their separate nightmares of abuse. He is a distinguished award winner, and has lectured and read at over 100 Universities in England, Canada and the U.S. Graduating from the University of Chicago, BA, MA. Ray’s poetry varies from short, three to four lines pieces, to longer 30 lines poems. His work is also often autobiographical, providing unique context and insight to scenes of childhood, love, fear, sex, and travel. “Communication is important to him, and he has the courage, working with a genre in which simplicity is suspect, to say plainly what he means.” He and his wife, poet and essayist Judy Ray, live in Tucson, Arizona.
Studs Terkel: “David Ray’s poetry has always been radiant even though personal tragedy has suffused it.” [Read more...]
Charmaine Olivia is an artist from Oakland California.
I spend the majority of my days continually teaching myself how to paint and draw. I am extremely curious and passionate about life, beautiful things and creativity. The best way to know me and my work is through my social networks: Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook. My illustrations, photography and paintings have appeared in publications, museums, galleries and private collections throughout the world. Some of my clients and projects include Urban Outfitters, Lady Gaga, Hallmark, Volcom Stone, Element, Nylon Magazine, & Inked Girls Magazine.
I always have this sense that something is going to resolve my spiritual anxieties once and for all, that one day I’ll just relax and be a believer. I read book after book. I seek out intense experiences in art, in nature, or in conversations with people I respect and who seem to rest more securely in their faith than I do. Sometimes it seems that gains are made, for these things can and do provide relief and instruction. But always the anxiety comes back, is the norm from which faith deviates, if faith is even what you would call these intense but somehow vague and fleeting experiences of God. I keep forgetting, or perhaps simply will not let myself see, what true faith is, its active and outward nature. I should never pray to be at peace in my belief. I should pray only that my anxiety be given peaceful outlets, that I might be the means to a peace that I myself do not feel.
~ Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer
- Photograph: Robert Farber, Seeing Montana, 1992 via Arsvitaest
- Related Christian Wiman Posts: The most blinding illumination, Screaming into Silence and Bang our very bones to roust our own souls, Something is off
↓ click for audio (Linda Ronstadt – “Blue Bayou”)
Frank Bruni, NY Times: A Quiet Cheer For Solitude:
- …Take more time away. Spend more time alone. Trade the speechifying for solitude, which no longer gets anything close to the veneration it’s due, not just in politics but across many walks of life.
- It’s in solitude that much of the sharpest thinking is done and many of the best ideas are hatched. We know this intuitively and from experience, yet solitude is often cast as an archaic luxury and indulgent oddity, inferior to a spirited discussion and certainly to a leadership conference…”
- The calendar of a senior executive or public official is defined by meeting after meeting upon meeting. There’s no comparable premium on solitary pauses, on impregnable periods for contemplation, and a person who insists on them attracts a derogatory vocabulary: loner, loafer, recluse, aloof, eccentric, withdrawn.
- “We live in the new groupthink — there’s a shared belief that creativity and productivity must be a collaborative experience, and solitude has fallen out of fashion,” Susan Cain, the author of the 2012 best seller “Quiet,” told me. But, she added, “There’s so much research that flies in the face of this.”
- Cain’s book focuses on introverts, making the case that they have a kind of intellectual advantage. And their edge stems largely from greater amounts of solitude, from the degree to which they’ve swapped motion for stillness, chatter for calm. They’ve carved out space for reflection that’s sustained and deep.
- This isn’t necessarily a matter of being unplugged, of ditching the hyper-connectedness of our digital lives. It’s a matter of ditching and silencing the crowd…
Read Bruni’s worthy full article here: A Quiet Cheer For Solitude:
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
“We can find peace or anxiety everywhere…The single most important move is acceptance. There is no need – on top of everything else – to be anxious that we are anxious. The mood is no sign that our lives have gone wrong, merely that we are alive. We should be more careful when pursuing things we imagine will spare us anxiety. We can pursue them by all means, but for other reasons than fantasies of calm – and with a little less vigour and a little more skepticism…We must suffer alone. But we can at least hold out our arms to our similarly tortured, fractured, and above all else, anxious neighbours, as if to say, in the kindest way possible: ‘I know…’”
Originally posted on Ophelia's Fiction Blog:
From Alain de Botton’s Philosopher’s Mail.
“Travel, Beauty, Status and Love: the four great contemporary ideals around which our fantasies of calm collect and which taken together are responsible for the lion’s share of the frenzied activities of the modern economy: its airports, long-haul jets and resort hotels; its overheated property markets, furniture companies and unscrupulous building contractors; its networking events, status-driven media and competitive business deals; its bewitching actors, soaring love songs and busy divorce lawyers.
Yet despite the promises and the passion expended in the pursuit of these goals, none of them will work. There will be anxiety at the beach, in the pristine home, after the sale of the company, and in the arms of anyone we will ever seduce, however often we try. Anxiety is our fundamental state for well-founded reasons: Because we are intensely vulnerable physical beings, a complicated network of fragile…
View original 78 more words
~ Miranda July, No One Belongs Here More Than You
It was in June. Circa 1995. A sticky late afternoon. I jump in a Yellow Cab to visit a client’s home to inspect Fine Art collateral. The cab pulls up to his building. A massive, black granite stone polished to a high sheen. Money.
I offer the doorman my name and the purpose for my visit. He reaches for the phone to confirm. Sir, I’ll escort you up.
The Doorman holds the door as I enter the elevator. Hat. Uniform. White gloves. He presses the button. Penthouse.
Hi. Good to see you again. Would you like me to show you around our place?
I graciously accept. My feet are damp in my wing tips; they clop on the white Italian marble floor. The echo ricochets off the vaulted ceiling, off the contemporary furniture with its sharp lines, and off the floor-to-ceiling windows. I look out over the city – – a spectacular view – – and then look down below. I note that my hands are trembling. Take a deep breath. It’s acrophobia. Step back and away.
Would you like something to drink?
I thank him and pass. I can’t have anything near my stomach now. I’m nauseous. Stomach is churning. I’m breathing rarified air. I don’t belong here.
The air conditioning, noiseless, offers a cooling feathery touch. I shiver. Fine Art and humidity are not friends. The temperature, constant and cool, preserves.
Here’s what you came to see.
In a life properly lived, you’re a river. You touch things lightly or deeply; you move along because life herself moves, and you can’t stop it…
~ Jim Harrison
Source: Thank you THISISEVERYTHING
You going to say, you don’t have 12 minutes to watch this. Then you’re going to look back weeks later and find, it has never left your consciousness. Watch Narcose.
Deep water freediving exposes its practitioners to a form of narcosis, which induces several symptoms, among which a feeling of euphoria and levity that earned this phenomenon its nickname of “raptures of the deep”. The short film relates the interior journey of Guillaume Néry, the apnea world champion, during one of his deep water dives. It draws its inspiration from his physical experience and the narrative of his hallucinations.
SMWI*: Saturday Morning Work-Out Inspiration
Not just the body but all natural things, when left undisturbed, move naturally toward beauty and wholeness. If you don’t keep repaving it every few years, an ugly parking lot will crack, grass will come up, and after 100 years or so you’ll probably have a beautiful forest. Your body is the same way. Stop “paving it over” with artificial ways of being, stop trying to be other than what you are, and it will move towards its natural state of health and beauty. It happens sooner than you think. Why else is rest so healing? Have you ever noticed how beautiful a sleeping person looks?
The weekday frenzy slows to a drip.
A quiet sets in.
Zeke jumps on the bed, curls once, twice and falls, leaning into me. And sighs.
Going Down. Down. Down.
The great Unwind commences.
Credits: Image – Lulufrost
You’re already more and less
than whatever you can know.
Breathe out, look in, let go.
~ John Welwood
John Welwood is an American clinical psychologist, psychotherapist, teacher, and author, known for integrating psychological and spiritual concepts. Trained in existential psychology, Welwood did his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Chicago. He has been the Director of the East/West Psychology Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, and is an associate editor of Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. A prominent figure in transpersonal psychology, he is a pioneer in integrating Western psychology and Eastern wisdom. He has written over six books, including Journey of the Heart (1990), Challenge of the Heart (1985), and Love and Awakening (1996). His 2007 book, Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships, won the 2007 Books for a Better Life Award. (Source: Wiki)
it may take years, Dr. Ming whispers,
to wash them out,
telling me to breathe deep, to breathe
the body is nothing but a map of the
—Len Roberts, closing lines to “Acupuncture and Cleansing at Forty-Eight.”
“On his own at sixteen after being raised by an alcoholic father and an abusive mother, Len Roberts is best known for poems of stark imagery that concentrate on his progress in life and how he has come to an acceptance of life’s flux.”
- Len Roberts bio. Poem from The Trouble-Making Finch: Poems.
- Poem Source: A Poet Reflects.
- Image Source: k-omakino.
I’m slumped on a beach chair.
Earbuds are pumping in music, partially muffling the surf.
My baseball cap is pulled down low.
My Kindle is in my right hand, blocking the sun, and the rest of me.
Unrecognizable. Unapproachable. Body language spewing “Prickly Man. No Talking.”
She ambles within 3 feet.
She inches closer, determined to get my attention.
I peak out from under my hat.
Her iris’ are mandarin oranges circling jet black darkness.
And both eyes are locked on mine.
She stares. And stares. And stares.
I go back to reading.
She inches closer. And begins to preen her tail feathers.
Middle Aged Man has managed to repel all bikini clad women.
And, now he’s getting hit on by a Pigeon. What a Stud! [Read more...]
~ Josef Albers
Josef Albers (1888 – 1976) was a German-born American artist and educator whose work, both in Europe and in the United States, formed the basis of some of the most influential and far-reaching art education programs of the twentieth century. In Poems and Drawings, first published in 1958, Josef Albers attempted to penetrate the meaning of art and life by the simplest, most disciplined means. This project was extremely important to Albers, who used its format to create complementary forms in both word and line that appear deceptively simple until they begin to disclose the author’s insights into nature, art, and life. Conceived as a kind of artist’s book, the publication features 22 of Albers’s refined line drawings alongside the same number of his original poems—each appearing in both English and German. (Source: Wiki & Google)
Vitry-sur-Seine by David Walker.
Street/urban art. What this man can do with a can of spray paint is astonishing.
Find more here: art of David Walker
I have never wanted anything more than the wild creatures have, a broad waft of clean air, a day to lie on the grass at times, with nothing to do but to slip the blades through my fingers, and look as long as I pleased at the whole blue arch, and the screens of green and white between; leave for a month to float and float along the salt crests and among the foam, or roll with my naked skin over a clean long stretch of sunshiny sand; food that I liked, straight from the cool ground, and time to taste its sweetness, and time to rest after tasting; sleep when it came, and stillness, that the sleep might leave me when it would, not sooner … This is what I wanted,—this, and free contact with my fellows … not to love and lie, and be ashamed, but to love and say I love, and be glad of it; to feel the currents of ten thousand years of passion flooding me, body to body, as the wild things meet. I have asked no more.
~ Voltairine De Cleyre (1866-1912)
Charles Murray’s 5 Rules For A Happy Life:
- Consider Marrying Young
- Learn How to Recognize Your Soul Mate
- Eventually Stop Fretting About Fame and Fortune (Fame and wealth do accomplish something: They cure ambition anxiety. But that’s all. It isn’t much…)
- Take Religion Seriously
- Watch “GroundHog Day” Repeatedly
#4: Now that we’re alone, here’s where a lot of you stand when it comes to religion: It isn’t for you. You don’t mind if other people are devout, but you don’t get it. Smart people don’t believe that stuff anymore. I can be sure that is what many of you think because your generation of high-IQ, college-educated young people, like mine 50 years ago, has been as thoroughly socialized to be secular as your counterparts in preceding generations were socialized to be devout…I am describing my own religious life from the time I went to Harvard until my late 40s. I still describe myself as an agnostic, but my unbelief is getting shaky…Start by jarring yourself out of unreflective atheism or agnosticism. A good way to do that is to read about contemporary cosmology. The universe isn’t only stranger than we knew; it is stranger and vastly more unlikely than we could have imagined, and we aren’t even close to discovering its last mysteries. That reading won’t lead you to religion, but it may stop you from being unreflective. Find ways to put yourself around people who are profoundly religious. You will encounter individuals whose intelligence, judgment and critical faculties are as impressive as those of your smartest atheist friends—and who also possess a disquieting confidence in an underlying reality behind the many religious dogmas.
Read all five rules here.
~ Florida Scott-Maxwell, The Measure of My Days
- More gems from Florida Scott-Maxwell: I kept calling to you and you did not come and Yes, all that and Ever changing beauty almost ignored and They are stronger than I am. They are me.
- Image: Your Eyes Blaze Out
It’s Saturday, late afternoon.
Dinner out? Or eat in?
I take inventory of the fridge. Eyes pan from the top shelf to bottom. Not feeling it here.
I take inventory: Sweat pants. Shower-less. Shave-less. Matted hair.
I grab a pencil to scribble out my wish list. I’m about to hand it off.
No chance. You’re coming.
I’m not listening to you complain that I didn’t get you what you wanted.
Oh, come on.
The K’s are in the car.
You could have put a hat on.
I could have stayed home.
…“Work-life balance” is a toxic distinction, inviting misery and stress, endless juggling and reconfigurations to try and get it “right,” where no right actually exists.
Maybe the hippies, the yogis, Einstein had it right when they say that everything is life – no matter what you’re doing, where you are, who you’re with – because everything is energy, vibration, movement. You can’t separate work from life anymore than you can separate water from a river.
The question, then, becomes more about where, energetically speaking, do you want to dwell? What sort of pulse and movement do you want to enjoy, through it all? Tortured and low, with the executives and the mind’s cruel categories, or up high, with the lovers, the synergists and the fools?
~ Mark Morford, Is “Work-Life” Balance a Lie?
Photograph Credit: Brooke Didonato
Most people have the hardest time relaxing. We were taught at an early age to ‘do,’ and now we are so addicted to doing that even if we take a break we think about what to do next. Very few ever realize that the priceless treasure in life is ‘Being.’
- Photograph: Thank you Brian Ingram. Note that Brian also kindly permitted the use of his photograph for my blog header.
- Quote: Thank you Karen @ Karen’s Korner.
- 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
There’s no solace
above or below.
Only us —
battling one another.
I pray to myself,
~ House of Cards, 1×12.
This much is irrefutable: How you direct your gaze, where you place your energy and your conviction, how you tune your perception and with what integrity and attitude you offer yourself to the world means, well, everything. Why can’t this basic truth be broadened out to humanity as a whole?…
Maybe that’s a little much. Maybe it’s better to test it all out yourself, every day, on micro scale, to feel into what you really believe, what you know to be true at core level, versus what you’ve been fed, and by whom, and for what spurious purpose…
Who the hell told you you’re broken? Who told you you’re an addict, a loser, a Type-A, a manic depressive? Who said you’re too weak to quit smoking, to start exercising, to eat better, to find love or to quit being an overbearing jerk with zero redeeming qualities? Who told you humanity must operate a certain way? Who told you you’re full of trauma and rage? Who dared tell you you’re not already God? You really believe that? Good lord, why?
~ Mark Morford, Believe this and live forever