Walking Cross-Town. Waxing and Waning.

Simon Birch

It’s Tuesday. 6 am.
The Metro-North train arrives at Grand Central.
I’m walking across town.
It’s there.
I’m, Unstoppable.

Today. It’s back.
The energy geyser bursting from the Center.
The Possibilities? Endless.
Hope?  Springs eternal.
Mystery source?  Soul. Powered. Soulerpowered.*

Other days.
The cauldron bubbles.
The witches’ brew stews.
Lethargy. Worry. Anxiety. Fatigue. Doubt.
Fully Present, in a Civil War of One.
It? It’s just not there.

William James had a bead on it.  The Human energizing. The sum-total of activities. Some outer. Some inner. Some muscular. Some emotional. Some moral. Some spiritual.  The waxing and waning in himself he is at times so well aware.  How to keep it an appreciable maximum? How not to let the level lapse? That is the great problem.

I feel this lapsing.
Mr. Miyagi’s Wax On, Wax off. [Read more…]

Because what are we without five minutes ago?

street-art-paint-roller

My husband, Rich, lost his memory after he was hit by a car and suffered traumatic brain injury. In a moment of perfect clarity he once described his loss like this. “Pretend you are walking up the street with your friend. You are looking in windows. But right behind you is a man with a huge paint roller filled with white paint and he is painting over everywhere you’ve been, erasing everything. He erases your friend. You don’t even remember his name.” It’s terrifying. Because we are we without five minutes ago? What are we without our stories? Where is the continuum of consciousness? Is it all one big lily pad of a moment?

~ Abigail Thomas, Thinking About Memoir


Image: Street Art via mennyfox55

And I know now what a moment can hold

bath-tub

And then I hear the water rumbling into the tub. Naked, the baby’s arms and long legs flail against the bare air, and she wails. “Oh you,” I whisper, unable yet to call her by my name, “it’s all right.” I want my joy pure, I want to get rid of the echo in my head. This is my granddaughter, named for me. This beautiful child. I gather her up, nuzzling her soft face, and bring her into the bathroom, and my daughter, her breasts heavy with milk, reaches up her arms for the child. The moment she is lowered into the water the baby stops crying, her body goes limp, her eyelids drop—it all happens at once. Under her half-closed lids her irises are now moving left to right, over and over, rhythmically, as if to a beat. At first I am afraid, and put my hand in the water to make sure it’s not too hot, but it is fine, comfortable. We don’t speak, but my daughter touches my arm as we realize what we are looking at, what the two of us are being shown. This is the face of the unborn child. And I know now what a moment can hold.

~ Abigail Thomas, What the Moment Can Hold. Safekeeping: Some True Stories from a Life


Photo: With Love and Light

What made me look up?

among-trees-photography

Michael Goldman wrote in a poem,

“When the Muse comes
She doesn’t tell you to write; /
She says get up for a minute,
I’ve something to show you,
stand here.”

What made me look up at that roadside tree?

~ Annie Dillard, The Present, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek


Image: AMCH-Photography

Saturday Morning: May I move in time like a cloud

sky-clouds-aerial-ocean-sea

Lord of having
Hell at hand
Lord of losing
what I have
this heaven now

may I move
in time
like a cloud
in sky
my torn form
the wind’s one sign

may my suffering be
speechless
clarity
as of water
in some reach

of rock
it would take
work
to ascend
and see

and may my hands
my eyes
the very nub
of my tongue
be scrubbed
out of this hour
if I should utter
the dirty word
eternity

~ Christian Wiman, Lord of Having. Every Riven Thing: Poems.


Photo: Sydneyrw

Saturday Morning

peace-sleep-light-portrait
Meditation can happen anywhere – in a supermarket, in a forest, in your hospital bed. It is not a ‘doing’ but the unravelling of doing, a remembrance of the immediacy of life, the thrilling closeness of experience, the fragrance of Home. A single breath, the sound of a bird singing, the beeping of a heart monitor – all of these are little reminders of your true life. With your eyes open, with your eyes closed, remember, you are here, and always will be.

Make contact.

— Jeff Foster, Unexpected Meditation


Photo: precious things

This is Now. Wow.


Alan Watts: My goodness, don’t you remember?

[Read more…]

I step quietly from my bed

feet-walk-souls-black-and-white

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


Notes:

I’d rather live in the instant than ‘gram the instant

12culture-look-sign-2-tmagArticle

This was just that good. Leading me to share more than a few excerpts from Walter Kirn‘s excellent essay titled: Remembrance of Things Lost:

What if Marcel Proust had kept an Instagram account? What if he’d used a smartphone to snap a photo of every evocative morsel he’d ever eaten? Would he still have written “In Search of Lost Time”…

…When I try to recall my childhood…I don’t have recourse to an exhaustive catalog of images and documents. My parents never shot home movies and they took family photos only rarely, on ceremonial occasions when everyone was compelled to smile tautly and mask what was really going on inside them. As a consequence, revisiting my youth can feel rather like a homicide investigation. Working from clues and the accounts of witnesses, including the highly unreliable one who lives behind my eyeballs, I wait for scenarios to form and patterns to emerge. If they seem plausible I delve into them further, especially if the images align with the murky emotions they conjure up. I tend not to question the resulting mental scenes despite being well aware that photographs and secondhand stories have been shown to create false memories. Clear or hazy, bright or dim, my recollections are private, mine alone, and written in synaptic smoke, not subject to verification by instant replay.

…What makes memories precious, even certain “bad” ones, is forgetting, of course. Remember forgetting? …Memory is an imaginative act; first we imagine what we’ll want to keep and then we fashion stories from what we’ve kept. Memories don’t just happen, they are built…the human mind is not a hard drive, a neutral repository of information. The melancholy passage of the years tends to change our values as we age, and the awesome backflips of 13 don’t hold the magic they once did; not when compared to the image of a loved one who has since gone absent, say. If I’d had a smartphone with a video camera back in my early adolescence, I doubt that I would have trained it on the things that matter to me now, like the sight of my mother reading in her blue armchair, underlining passages from Proust.

…One reason that I’ve never kept a journal is that the attention that goes into keeping one is, I feel, more profitably spent on engaging with the moment. I’d rather live in the instant than ‘gram the instant.

A remembrance never formed is worse, far worse, than a remembrance lost. At 52, increasingly forgetful, I sometimes rack my brain for past experiences that I’m positive are in there somewhere and draw a blank. It’s frustrating, but the blank still marks a spot — a spot where a memory used to be and might, if I eat the right cake, reappear. What makes memory magical is its imperfections and its unpredictability; try as we might, we never quite control it. It draws our attention to the margins of stories that once seemed to be the main events. Someday, when my son reviews his footage, what will come back to him may not be his ski stunts but other aspects of that winter day: the voices of his friends, the shadows on the mountain, the face of his father beside him in the car.

Don’t miss Walter Kirn’s entire essay @ Remembrance of Things Lost:


Image: NY Times Magazine.  A 2011 installation of printouts of photos that had been uploaded to Flickr over a 24-hour period.Credit “24 HRS in Photos,” by Erik Kessels at Foam in Amsterdam, KesselsKramer

Bangbangbangbangbang

woodpecker

A very small woodpecker is beating his brains out against a piece of metal on the telephone pole across the street. Bangbangbangbangbang. I stand underneath. “There are no bugs in there,” I call up to him, “you’re going to blunt your beak,” but he keeps hammering away. We have a lot of woodpeckers. Great big ones, and the noise they make is very loud. Maybe this poor baby thinks he’s doing it right. There’s a lesson in this somewhere, and I hope I’ve already learned it.

~ Abigail Thomas, What Comes Next and How to Like It: A Memoir


Notes: