“The world, whatever we might think about it, terrified by its vastness and by our helplessness in the face of it, embittered by its indifference to individual suffering – of people, animals, and perhaps also plants, for how can we be sure that plants are free of suffering; whatever we might think about its spaces pierced by the radiation of stars, stars around which we now have begun to discover planets, already dead? still dead? – we don’t know; whatever we might think about this immense theater, to which we may have a ticket, but it is valid for a ridiculously brief time, limited by two decisive dates; whatever else we might think about this world – it is amazing.”
~ Wisława Szymborska
Wisława Szymborska-Włodek (1923 – 2012) was a Polish poet, essayist and translator. She was described as a “Mozart of Poetry”. Szymborska was awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature “for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality”.
“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
Pamela Druckerman, author of “Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting” shares 20 Lessons she has learned in her 40′s upon turning 44. Here’s a few nuggets from her article in the NY Times: What You Learn in Your 40′s:
3) Eight hours of continuous, unmedicated sleep is one of life’s great pleasures. Actually, scratch “unmedicated.”
4) There are no grown-ups. We suspect this when we are younger, but can confirm it only once we are the ones writing books and attending parent-teacher conferences. Everyone is winging it, some just do it more confidently.
7) Emotional scenes are tiring and pointless. At a wedding many years ago, an older British gentleman who found me sulking in a corner helpfully explained that I was having a G.E.S. — a Ghastly Emotional Scene. In your 40s, these no longer seem necessary. For starters, you’re not invited to weddings anymore. And you and your partner know your ritual arguments so well, you can have them in a tenth of the time.
11) More about you is universal than not universal. My unscientific assessment is that we are 95 percent cohort, 5 percent unique. Knowing this is a bit of a disappointment, and a bit of a relief.
12) Just say “no.”
14) Do not buy those too small jeans, on the expectation that you will soon lose weight.
Read entire NY Times article here.
An intellectual? Yes. And never deny it. An intellectual is someone whose mind watches itself. I like this, because I am happy to be both halves, the watcher and the watched. ‘Can they be brought together?’ This is a practical question. We must get down to it. ‘I despise intelligence’ really means: ‘I cannot bear my doubts.’
— Albert Camus
I know. I know. I am a handsome devil.
Image Credit: Paul Meriweather
We wait for the phone to ring.
For the obligatory college briefing call.
(As long as you feed from the trough, you’ll call home on Sunday. Non-negotiable.)
Rachel jabbering. Eric tight lipped…leaking information on a need-to-know basis.
Not last night.
Big day for me on Tuesday Dad.
I forgot it’s his 20th birthday.
You forgot right?
Of course not.
Of course you did.
You know that I’m leaving for El Salvador on Saturday.
I’ll be taking vitals…blood pressure, temperature…and recording it.
Dad, I’ve been told there will be thousands, all waiting for medical care.
We’ll be readying patients for the doctors and dentists.
And then feeding homeless at night.
I’m dressing for work this morning.
I check the weather app. -5° F with wind chill.
How many children are huddled and shivering in the cold? Hungry. A soda can and not much else in the fridge for breakfast. Not in El Salvador. Here. Right here.
I reach for a t-shirt. Folded. Stacked. Clean. White.
I’m drawn to the label. I squint to read the small print.
XL 100% Pima Cotton. Machine wash warm with like colors. Only non-chlorine bleach if needed. Tumble Dry Low. Warm Iron if needed. Made in Bangladesh.
Made in Bangladesh.
“The enchantment of the sky, ever changing beauty almost ignored. Beyond words, without fixed form, not to be understood, or stated. It ravished away dullness, worry, even pain. It graces life when nothing else does. It is the first marvel of the day. Even when leaden grey it is still a friend, withdrawn for a time.”
~ Florida Scott-Maxwell, Measure of My Days
Image Credit: Natgeo
Sometimes a kind of glory lights up the mind of a man. It happens to nearly everyone. You can feel it growing or preparing like a fuse burning toward dynamite. It is a feeling in the stomach, a delight of the nerves, of the forearms. The skin tastes the air, and every deep-drawn breath is sweet. Its beginning has the pleasure of a great stretching yawn; it flashes in the brain and the whole world glows outside your eyes. A man may have lived all of his life in the gray, and the land and trees of him dark and somber. The events, even the important ones, may have trooped by faceless and pale. And then — the glory — so that a cricket song sweetens his ears, the smell of the earth rises chanting to his nose, and dappling light under a tree blesses his eyes. Then a man pours outward, a torrent of him, and yet he is not diminished. And I guess a man’s importance in the world can be measured by the quality and number of his glories. It is a lonely thing but it relates us to the world. It is the mother of all creativeness, and it sets each man separate from all other men.
~ John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“Pay attention to when the cart is getting before the horse. Notice when a painful initiation leads to irrational devotion, or when unsatisfying jobs start to seem worthwhile. Remind yourself pledges and promises have power, as do uniforms and parades. Remember in the absence of extrinsic rewards you will seek out or create intrinsic ones. Take into account [that] the higher the price you pay for your decisions the more you value them. See that ambivalence becomes certainty with time. Realize that lukewarm feelings become stronger once you commit to a group, club, or product. Be wary of the roles you play and the acts you put on, because you tend to fulfill the labels you accept. Above all, remember the more harm you cause, the more hate you feel. The more kindness you express, the more you come to love those you help.”
- David McRaney
Quote Source: Brainpickings - The Benjamin Franklin Effect: The Surprising Psychology of How to Handle Haters. Image from Amazon.
Where’s Caleb on Hump Day? Merzouga, Morocco. Here he’s posing with his friend before a long walk in the desert…
Source: Russell Bevan
Last night I had the strangest dream. I was in a laboratory with Dr. Boas and he was talking to me and a group of other people about religion, insisting that life must have a meaning, that man couldn’t live without that. Then he made a mass of jelly-like stuff of the most beautiful blue I had ever seen — and he seemed to be asking us all what to do with it. I remember thinking it was very beautiful but wondering helplessly what it was for. People came and went making absurd suggestions. Somehow Dr. Boas tried to carry them out — but always the people went away angry, or disappointed — and finally after we’d been up all night they had all disappeared and there were just the two of us. He looked at me and said, appealingly “Touch it.” I took some of the astonishingly blue beauty in my hand, and felt with a great thrill that it was living matter. I said “Why it’s life — and that’s enough” — and he looked so pleased that I had found the answer — and said yes “It’s life and that is wonder enough.”
~ Margaret Mead, Anthropologist
Quote Source: Brain Pickings - Life Is Like Blue Jelly: Margaret Mead Discovers the Meaning of Existence in a Dream. Image: Unknown.
There’s no solace
above or below.
Only us —
battling one another.
I pray to myself,
~ House of Cards, 1×12.
I tripped into this recipe catching up on the week’s papers. My eyes locked in on Marmalade. And I HAD to have it. The NY Times piece by Melissa Clark was titled: Sweetness is Found In a Slice. The recipe was for British Marmalade Cake. (Who knew the Brits could bake?)
“This beautiful, tender, citrus-scented loaf cake filled with bits of candied orange peel is everything you want with your afternoon tea. The key is finding the right marmalade; it needs to be the thick-cut (also known as coarse-cut) marmalade made with bitter oranges, which will be laden with big pieces of peel. Look for the British brands in the international section of your supermarket if the jam aisle lets you down. (And not give up and use the neon orange marmalade that’s more like jelly.) Your reward is a fine-grained, not-too-sweet cake that will last for days well-wrapped and stored at room temperature (if you can manage not to eat it up all at once).”
Bottom Line: Skip the tea. (Sacrilegious for you Brits, I know). Grab a fork, a glass of cold milk and belly up. THIS IS BLOODY GOOD.
See Recipe below: [Read more...]
Mikaela Shiffrin, the 18-year-old wunderkind of ski racing.
She became the youngest slalom world champion a year ago.
Shiffrin sped past the finish line to become the youngest Olympic slalom champion.
She is the first American to win the event in 42 years.
“You can create your own miracle,” Shiffrin said when the gold medal was on a sash draped around her neck. “But you do it by never looking past all the little steps along the way.”
Don’t miss the full inspirational story @ NY Times – American Mikaela Shiffrin Wins Gold In Slalom
Thank you Susan
Don’t fish? Don’t like fishing? Don’t care about fishing? No worries. This short film is so much bigger than that.
…It’s easy to stay inside when the weather isn’t pleasant. Sometimes convincing yourself to get out is the hardest part. And once you’re out, it’d easy to find an excuse to quit. But there are just some things you can’t see from the inside of your house. Some things you can’t feel and experience from the comfort of your warm home. Things your high definition TV can’t give justice to.
The woods are silent. And the water abandoned by the crowds who surrender to the cold. You fully appreciate the stream you fish, when you see it cycle through all its seasons. The dense thick green canopy is gone. And the stream runs crisp clean and bright. The sun touches water it only reaches a few month a year.
The pain of frozen extremities fades fast when you hook that first fish. And all of the sudden, it all seems worth it. You forget about all of your problems. You forget about the ice in your guides. The frozen hands. The problems at home. Troubles at work. It all fades.
At the end of a cold day of fishing you end up much more thankful than when began. Thankful for the motivation to get up and get out. Thankful for the lessons of the day. Thankful for the fish you may have been blessed with. And thankful to return home to the things outside of fishing.”
Source: Thank you Carol @ Radiating Blossom
Forbes: How Successful People Stay Calm:
TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are skilled at managing their emotions in times of stress in order to remain calm and in control. If you’ve followed my work, you’ve read some startling research summaries that explore the havoc stress can wreak on one’s physical and mental health. The tricky thing about stress (and the anxiety that comes with it) is that it’s an absolutely necessary emotion. Our brains are wired such that it’s difficult to take action until we feel at least some level of this emotional state. In fact, performance peaks under the heightened activation that comes with moderate levels of stress. As long as the stress isn’t prolonged, it’s harmless.
While I’ve run across numerous effective strategies that successful people employ when faced with stress, what follows are ten of the best. Some of these strategies may seem obvious, but the real challenge lies in recognizing when you need to use them and having the wherewithal to actually do so in spite of your stress.
- They appreciate what they have
- They avoid asking “what if”
- They stay positive
- They disconnect
- They limit their caffeine intake
- They sleep
- They squash negative self-talk
- They re-frame their perspective
- They breathe
- They use their support-system
Read full article @ Forbes: How Successful People Stay Calm
Thank you Tarique
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
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
Source: Thank you Carol @ Radiating Blossom
Age is truly a time of heroic helplessness. One is confronted by one’s own incorrigibility. I am always saying to myself, “Look at you, and after a lifetime of trying.” I still have the vices that I have known and struggled with— well it seems like since birth. Many of them are modified , but not much. I can neither order nor command the hubbub of my mind. Or is it my nervous sensibility? This is not the effect of age; age only defines one’s boundaries. Life has changed me greatly, it has improved me greatly, but it has also left me practically the same. I cannot spell, I am over critical, egocentric and vulnerable. I cannot be simple. In my effort to be clear I become complicated. I know my faults so well that I pay them small heed. They are stronger than I am. They are me.
~ Florida Scott-Maxwell, Measure of My Days
Synecdoche, New York (2008)
Millicent Weems: What was once before you – an exciting, mysterious future – is now behind you. Lived; understood; disappointing. You realize you are not special. You have struggled into existence, and are now slipping silently out of it. This is everyone’s experience. Every single one. The specifics hardly matter. Everyone’s everyone. So you are Adele, Hazel, Claire, Olive. You are Ellen. All her meager sadnesses are yours; all her loneliness; the gray, straw-like hair; her red raw hands. It’s yours. It is time for you to understand this.
Millicent Weems: Walk.
Millicent Weems: As the people who adore you stop adoring you; as they die; as they move on; as you shed them; as you shed your beauty; your youth; as the world forgets you; as you recognize your transience; as you begin to lose your characteristics one by one; as you learn there is no-one watching you, and there never was, you think only about driving – not coming from any place; not arriving any place. Just driving, counting off time. Now you are here, at 7:43. Now you are here, at 7:44. Now you are…
Millicent Weems: Gone.
In memory Philip Seymour Hoffman (July 23,1967 – February 2, 2014)
Six Mile run. Sixty-two minutes.
*Sylvia Plath: I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery— air, mountains, trees…I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.”
Related Posts: Running Series. Credit: Thank you Susan for photo of Zeke.
“A moment later,
I was filled with doubts,
and the next moment after that
I began to doubt those doubts.
To think one thought
meant thinking the opposite thought,
and no sooner did that second thought destroy the first thought
than a third thought rose up to destroy the second.”
—Paul Auster, from The Book of Illusions
a many books < on my book shelf > and knowing…
“The windows of a spaceship casually frame miracles. Every 92 minutes, another sunrise: a layer cake that starts with orange, then a thick wedge of blue, then the richest, darkest icing decorated with stars. The secret patterns of our planet are revealed: mountains bump up rudely from orderly plains, forests are green gashes edged with snow, rivers glint in the sunlight, twisting and turning like silvery worms. Continents splay themselves out whole, surrounded by islands sprinkled across the sea like delicate shards of shattered eggshells.”
~ Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield
- Be sure to read full post at Brain Pickings: Astronaut Chris Hadfield on Success and the Meaning of Life
- Image Credit (Sunset over Pacific Ocean)
“The strikingly successful groups in America today share three traits that, together, propel success. The first is a superiority complex — a deep-seated belief in their exceptionality. The second appears to be the opposite — insecurity, a feeling that you or what you’ve done is not good enough. The third is impulse control….
It’s odd to think of people feeling simultaneously superior and insecure. Yet it’s precisely this unstable combination that generates drive: a chip on the shoulder, a goading need to prove oneself. Add impulse control — the ability to resist temptation — and the result is people who systematically sacrifice present gratification in pursuit of future attainment.
But this success comes at a price. Each of the three traits has its own pathologies. Impulse control can undercut the ability to experience beauty, tranquillity and spontaneous joy. Insecure people feel like they’re never good enough…A superiority complex can be even more invidious. Group supremacy claims have been a source of oppression, war and genocide throughout history.”
~ Amy Chua & Jed Rubenfeld, What Drives Success?
Read entire article in NY Times: What Drives Success? Worthy…