What kind of mind is odder
than his who mists
a mirror and then complains
that it’s not clear.
- Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz, “You Foolish Men”
What kind of mind is odder
than his who mists
a mirror and then complains
that it’s not clear.
- Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz, “You Foolish Men”
I wish the whole day were like breakfast, when people are still connected to their dreams, focused inward, and not yet ready to engage with the world around them. I realized this is how I am all day; for me, unlike other people, there doesn’t come a moment after a cup of coffee or a shower or whatever when I suddenly feel alive and awake and connected to the world. If it were always breakfast, I would be fine.”
― Peter Cameron, Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You: A Novel
It had been crossing so long it could not remember.
As it stopped in the middle to look back,
a car sped by, spinning it around.
Disoriented, the chicken realized
it could no longer tell which way it was going.
It stands there still.
— John McNamee, Kafka’s joke book
Traffic is building.
I turn the corner to the I-95 on-ramp. Man in coveralls is standing next to his graffiti stained Seafood Delivery truck. He glances up at me, pauses briefly, and then continues to flick through a bulging wad of bills in his right hand. (You declaring that income, Friend?)
There’s a semi truck in front. A Friendly’s ad adorns its back door: “Eat More Ice Cream.” (What kind of cruel joke is this? You friend, need no more ice cream. Saliva begins to build up, quicker than the traffic flow. I’m worse than Pavlov’s dog. I could use a tall, thick Coldstone Vanilla shake. Right now. I’d skip lunch if I could indulge. I would. I might.)
I come up on a gargantuan, two-trailer Fed Ex semi. Driver sitting up high. The truck gleams in the morning sun. (Bucket list: Need to drive a Semi cross-country. Is he delivering new iPhone 6+s to Manhattan Apple Stores? Gadget man starts to twitch.)
My own brain
is to me the most unaccountable of machinery -
and then buried in mud.
What’s this passion for?
~ Virginia Woolf
Credits: Poem – Et in Arcadia Ego*
‘Always remember, child,’ her first teacher had impressed on her, ‘that to think bad thoughts is really the easiest thing in the world. If you leave your mind to itself it will spiral you down into ever-increasing unhappiness. To think good thoughts, however, requires effort. This is one of the things that need disipline –training- is about. So train your mind to dwell on sweet perfumes, the touch of this silk, tender raindrops against the shoji, the curve of the flower arrangement, the tranquillity of dawn. Then, at length, you won’t have to make such a great effort and you will be of value to yourself.’”
- James Clavell, Shōgun
Welcome to 4 a.m.
Where we lie in limbo,
waiting for the sun to come up,
the moon to go down,
the median between life
and whats left of the dark decay of lifelessness.
Where Your eyes open wide,
where your thoughts wander into the void of the infinite.
Where we wait to see the beginning,
and the end.
In conversation things can be metabolized and digested through somebody else — I say something to you and you can give it back to me in different forms — whereas you’ll notice that your own mind is very often extremely repetitive. It is very difficult to surprise oneself in one’s own mind. The vocabulary of one’s self-criticism is so impoverished and clichéd. We are at our most stupid in our self-hatred.
~ Adam Phillips, The Poetics of the Psyche
Adam Phillips, 59, is Britain’s most celebrated psychoanalytical writer. He explores in his wide-ranging views in a conversation with Paul Holdengräber as part of The Paris Review’s legendary interview series.
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
A turn or two I’ll walk
To still my beating mind.
— Shakespeare, The Tempest
Most of the pain you’re dealing with are really just thoughts.. ever think of that?
Luhrmann doesn’t want to give in to the pressure to repeat himself. During the making of “Gatsby,” he said, he felt challenged and alive, “not panicked that somehow the universe was leaving me behind.” That is the way he needs to feel about his next project, whatever it is. “I’d love to have done James Bond,” he said. “I’d love to just go and do a rom-com or a jeans-and-T-shirt film, because that would be fun.” But he can’t. “It is both maddening and also has a degree of exultation about it, but I’m addicted to doing not that which I really want to do, but that which I feel must be done.” His job now, he said, is “to draw some kind of lines. I have a big inner life. My struggle is how to organize it. How to aim the gun.”
~ Amy Wallace on Baz Luhrmann, Do I or Do I Not Want To Do? (How to Decide)?
Mark Anthony “Baz” Luhrmann, 51, is an Australian film director, screenwriter and producer best known for The Red Curtain Trilogy, comprising his films Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet, and Moulin Rouge!. In 2008, his film Australia was released, starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman. His version of The Great Gatsby was released in 2013. On 26 January 1997, he wed Catherine Martin, a production designer; the couple has two children. (Source: Wiki)
“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
Today we have more time to dwell on our problems than our ancestors ever did. Our free time is dominated by a hundred and one distractions. Thus, when we do get a free moment, the thoughts in our heads think that nothing is happening and want to move quickly to something more pressing. This leaves us with a feeling of “lack of fulfillment” which some people actually mistake for life itself, when in fact it is simply the chattering of the fallen mind. It is not more life itself than the exhaust of a bus is the bus itself.
~Archimandrite Meletios Webber
if I was,
a wee bit bendy,
I could meditate
in her peaceful,
at her fine
And she stills
my racing thoughts.
I’m meditating in
~ DK (Not Mary Oliver)
Image Source: Your Eyes Blaze Out
I step out my steaming shower
and wipe mist from my shaving mirror.
Who’s that spectre slapping lather
on my cheeks with bony fingers?
He’s the Ghost of Present Tense,
although he haunts the past and future.
When he brandishes his razor,
I grin and offer him my throat.
- Richard Cecil
There is within me a thing that is aching, aching, aching always as the days pass.
“Sixteen thousand—that’s how many words we speak, on average, each day. So imagine how many unspoken ones course through our minds. Most of them are not facts but evaluations and judgments entwined with emotions—some positive and helpful…others negative and less so (He’s purposely ignoring me; I’m going to make a fool of myself; I’m a fake).
The prevailing wisdom says that difficult thoughts and feelings have no place at the office: …leaders, should be either stoic or cheerful; they must project confidence and damp down any negativity bubbling up inside them. But that goes against basic biology. All healthy human beings have an inner stream of thoughts and feelings that include criticism, doubt, and fear. That’s just our minds doing the job they were designed to do: trying to anticipate and solve problems and avoid potential pitfalls.
…Leaders stumble not because they have undesirable thoughts and feelings—that’s inevitable—but because they get hooked by them, like fish caught on a line. This happens in one of two ways. They buy into the thoughts, treating them like facts (It was the same in my last job…I’ve been a failure my whole career), and avoid situations that evoke them (I’m not going to take on that new challenge). Or, usually at the behest of their supporters, they challenge the existence of the thoughts and try to rationalize them away (I shouldn’t have thoughts like this…I know I’m not a total failure), and perhaps force themselves into similar situations, even when those go against their core values and goals (Take on that new assignment—you’ve got to get over this). In either case, they are paying too much attention to their internal chatter and allowing it to sap important resources that could be put to better use. [Read more...]
I finished the post last Sunday.
It was titled “Running. To 10.”
~ 50 minutes of prep.
The cursor lingered over the “PUBLISH” button.
My index finger hung over “ENTER” on the keyboard. (Pulse quickening. Typos? Is this Good Enough?)
I eased back my finger. (Your gut. It’s usually right.)
I sent an email copy to Rachel who’s home on Fall break.
“Blah. Blah. Blah. Dull. Re-run. Tired. Been there. Done that. One trick pony. Is that all you got?”
Carpet-bombed by my own offspring.
“Don’t you think that’s a bit harsh?”
“Dad, you asked. If you didn’t want to know, you shouldn’t have asked.”
I laugh. (I built this creature. Chip off the ol’ block.) [Read more...]
To the as-yet unborn,
to all innocent wisps of undifferentiated nothingness:
Watch out for life.
I have caught life.
I have come down with life.
I was a wisp of undifferentiated nothingness,
and then a little peephole opened quite suddenly.
Light and sound poured in.
Voices began to describe me and my surroundings.
Nothing they said could be appealed.
They never shut up.
- Kurt Vonnegut
Hold a magnifying glass to this relentless, unsympathetic city.
And we find ourselves, lonely, but never alone.
We make our way.
We choose our paths.
We decide who we are.
Pulled and pushed in the silence of our thoughts.
While on side streets named for those forgotten.
Preoccupied with universal struggles that seem so unique.
We ask the questions that aren’t always answered.
Who am I?
Who will I be?
What have I become?
We arrive, and the innocence is bliss, but fleeting,
As we learn the truths of being human.
We are the loved, and the unloved.
The wanted, and the forlorn.
And in those moments between the light and the darkness
We find ourselves, lonely, but never alone.
~ Paul Riccio & Molly Finley
Credits: Thank you Swissmiss
It’s a big word for me.
I feel it everywhere.
Almost, but not quite.
~ Joan Bauer, “Almost Home”
Joan Bauer, 62, is an award-winning author of young adult literature. Before publishing her first book, Bauer worked for the Chicago Tribune, McGraw Hill books and WLS Radio.
“I had moved from journalism to screenwriting when one of the biggest challenges of my life occurred. I was in a serious auto accident which injured my neck and back severely and required neurosurgery. It was a long road back to wholeness, but during that time I wrote Squashed, my first young adult novel. The humor in that story kept me going. Over the years, I have come to understand how deeply I need to laugh. It’s like oxygen to me. My best times as a writer are when I’m working on a book and laughing while I’m writing. Then I know I’ve got something.”
I pull on my long sleeve shirt, first of the season.
The sunrise is working itself up on the horizon. A sliver of light in sea of darkness.
My feet are light. A soft, cool breeze kicks up goose bumps on my chest – I shiver. No matter. All body parts functioning. Biorhythms in alignment. Run friend. Run.
I pass a group of early morning runners. One is wearing a nighttime reflective green vest.
Firefighters wearing florescent green vests are lingering – – others are sweeping glass off the highway. My Thursday night commute home, and I’m late for dinner. My Northbound traffic will be clearing in 6 miles. Southbound traffic is at a standstill. I arrive at the bottleneck. The Roof of the Jeep is decapitated. White air bags hanging limp.
Yellow. Double Yellow Lines.
I lumber up the meandering hill on Long Neck Point Road. I’m winded. I slow the pace to catch my breath.
He was 12 years old. I was barreling down a 2-lane highway returning from our vacation in Banff, looking for an opening to pass the car ahead of me. Double yellow lines signal a corner. As I take my foot of the accelerator, a cat bolts in front of the car in front of us. Eric screams and buries his head into his Mother. I’m looking in the rear view mirror. He’s trembling. [Read more...]
to put down
“The outcome of my days is always the same; an infinite desire for what one never gets; a void one cannot fill; an utter yearning to produce in all ways, to battle as much as possible against time that drags us along, and the distractions that throw a veil over our soul.”
~ Eugene Delacroix, “The Journal of Eugene Delacroix”
I get a late jump. Need to drive to the City. I look down at my gas gauge. It’s bobbing on the wrong side of 1/4. Storm expected by mid-afternoon. I can’t be caught on freeway without petrol. I cuss. I should have filled up on the ride home last night. I clench my teeth: WHY do I repeat this scenario? Again and again. I glance down at my watch, and hope for light traffic. I can’t be late. Not today. I pull into a Mobil Service Station.
A late edition Ford Explorer pulls up. Mid-30’s? Pharma Sales? Office Manager? Her make-up, black dress and heels…all poorly camouflaging weariness. Her shoulders are slumped.
Today’s Look: Fatigue. Single Mom? Poor night’s sleep? Did you need to drop Jimmy off at daycare?
$’s whirring on the pump meter. $4.47 a gallon. “Come and listen to a story ’bout a man named Jed. Poor mountaineer barely kept his family fed. Then one day he was shooting for some food, and up through the ground come a bubblin’ crude (Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea.)” I digress. $63.47 and still guzzling. Beast is insatiable.
She puts the pump back in the holster, gives the gas cap an extra twist and trudges back into her car, heels clopping on the asphalt.
You couldn’t have put more than $15 in the tank. Money tight? Stretched into big house, one size too large?
Traffic is flowing. GPS flashing a clear runway to Triborough Bridge. Making good time.
You picked out the dress with your Mother. Your Father cried as he walked you down the aisle. Bridesmaids, flower girls, quaint church. Pachelbel’s Canon in D. A beautiful spring day in May. Church Bells singing. Hope springs eternal. [Read more...]
“The Master, addressing the assembly, said, “Brothers, it is the beginning of autumn, and the end of summer. You may go east or west, but you should go only to a place where there is not a single inch of grass for ten thousand li.” After pausing for a while he asked, “How does one go to a place where there is not a single inch of grass for ten thousand li?”
Later this was related to Shih-shuang, who said, “Why didn’t someone say, ‘As soon as one goes out the door, there is grass’?”
The Master, hearing of this response, said, “Within the country of the Great T’ang such a man is rare.”
-The Record of Tung-Shan
Michael Brown prompted the wheels to turn last night.
And the wheels on the bus go round and round.
“The thing is, I could choose to replace the tape with a new one.”
But what tape is playing?
And what tape will be playing?
The Good Enough tune?
The Patience beat?
The Acceptance rap?
The Gratitude melody?
Or does a sharp gust of wind blow it over.
And scramble it all up.
Y. That perfect letter. The wishbone, fork in the road, empty wineglass. The question we ask over and over.
— Marjorie Celona, Y
“What are we supposed to be looking for?” Stanley asked him.
“You’re not looking for anything.
You’re digging to build character”…
[Stanley] glanced helplessly at his shovel. It wasn’t defective.
He was defective.
— Louis Sachar, Holes
They miss the whisper that runs
any day in your mind,
“Who are you really, wanderer?”
and the answer you have to give
no matter how dark and cold
the world around you is:
“Maybe I’m a King.”
- William Stafford
Related William Stafford Posts:
Lori, my Zen Master and a bubbling brook of knowledge and wisdom, shared this FastCompany article titled: 10 Simple Science Backed Ways to Be Happier Today. I reflected on it for a few days. Here’s my conclusions and scorecard:
“Often when you take on the voice of a great writer, speak his or her words aloud, you are taking on the voice of inspiration, you are breathing their breath at the moment of their heightened feelings, that what all writers ultimately do is pass on their breath.”
I paused and reflected on the “great” writers that I have read. Marilynne Robinson immediately came to mind. She has the ability to transport me to another place and time – – writing with such grace, such beauty and such humanity. She’s won literary “hardware” for her three major novels.
Soon after I read Goldberg’s thoughts on great writers, I came this excerpt from a Chicago Tribune article shared at Lit Verve where the writer asks Robinson about Rev. John Ames, a congregational minister in Gilead, Iowa and the main character in her novel Gilead: [Read more...]
Open a book this minute and start reading.
Don’t move until you’ve reached page fifty.
Until you’ve buried your thoughts in print.
Cover yourself with words.
Wash yourself away.
~ Carol Shields (The Republic of Love)
“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.
Source: Endless Possibilities
I was enjoying my evening after a long day. Finished dinner. Moved on to catch up on reading. Hand – Eyes – flicking and scanning. I lock on a post from Perpetua / The Seeker. She shares her favorite meditation from an Anthony de Mello retreat: “Did you enjoy your last hour?” This statement is actually an examination of conscience at the end of the day before I go to sleep. It is a discernment of moral values and ethics. Anybody can do it. Try it. If you do not believe in God, then leave God behind. Just think about it, mediate on the question.”
So, if it’s working for The Seeker, I need to get it going. I meditate.Did you enjoy your last hour? Did you enjoy your last hour? Did you enjoy your last hour? [Read more...]
“And now here’s the thing. It takes a time like this for you to find out how sore your heart has been, and, moreover, all the while you thought you were going around idle terribly hard work was taking place. Hard, hard work, excavation and digging, mining, moiling through tunnels, heaving, pushing, moving rock, working, working, working, working, panting, hauling, hoisting. And none of this work is seen from the outside. It’s internally done. It happens because you are powerless and unable to get anywhere, to obtain justice or have requital, and therefore in yourself you labor, you wage and combat, settle scores, remember insults, fight, reply, deny, blab, denounce, triumph, outwit, overcome, vindicate, cry, persist, absolve, die and rise again. All by yourself? Where is everybody? Inside your breast and skin, the entire cast.”
- Saul Bellow
Saul Bellow (1915 – 2005) was a Canadian-born American writer. He was born in Lachine, Quebec and died in Brookline, MA. For his literary contributions, Bellow was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the National Medal of Arts. He is widely regarded as one of the 20th century’s greatest authors. Bellow grew up as an insolent slum kid, a “thick-necked” rowdy, and an immigrant from Quebec. As Christopher Hitchens describes it, Bellow’s fiction and principal characters reflect his own yearning for transcendence, a battle “to overcome not just ghetto conditions but also ghetto psychoses. The author’s works speak to the disorienting nature of modern civilization, and the countervailing ability of humans to overcome their frailty and achieve greatness (or at least awareness). Bellow saw many flaws in modern civilization, and its ability to foster madness, materialism and misleading knowledge. Principal characters in Bellow’s fiction have heroic potential, and many times they stand in contrast to the negative forces of society. (Source: Wiki)
Imagine if for the next twenty-four hours you had to wear a cap that amplified your thoughts so that everyone within a hundred yards of you could hear every thought that passed through your head. Imagine if the mind were broadcast so that all about you could overhear your thoughts and fantasies, your dreams and fears. How embarrassed or fearful would you be to go outside? How long would you let your fear of the mind continue to isolate you from the hearts of others? And though this experiment sounds like one which few might care to participate in, imagine how freeing it would be at last to have nothing to hide. And how miraculous it would be to see that all others’ minds too were filled with the same confusion and fantasies, the same insecurity and doubt. How long would it take the judgmental mind to begin to release its grasp, to see through the illusion of separateness, to recognize with some humor the craziness of all beings’ minds, the craziness of mind itself?”
“But I think it is very useful, and indeed more accurate, to call it “the mind” instead of “my mind.”
- Stephen Levine
Stephen Levine, 75, is an American poet, author and Buddhist teacher. He was born in Albany, New York, Levine attended the University of Miami. He spent time helping the sick and dying, using meditation as a method of treatment. He is the author of several books about dying, Levine and his wife Ondrea spent one year living as if it were their last. For many years, Stephen and Ondrea have been living in near seclusion in the mountains of Northern New Mexico. They are both currently experiencing significant illness which prevents them from travelling and teaching. One of the most significant aspects of Stephen’s work and one for which he is perhaps best known, is his pioneering approach to working with the experience of grief. Over 34 years, Stephen and his wife Ondrea have counselled concentration camp survivors and their children, Vietnam War veterans as well as victims of sexual abuse. Although Stephen acknowledges that our experience of grief is perhaps at its most intense when a loved one dies, he also draws our attention to grief’s more subtle incarnations. “Our ordinary, everyday grief,” accumulates as a response to the “burdens of disappointments and disillusionment, the loss of trust and confidence that follows the increasingly less satisfactory arch of our lives”. (Source: Wiki)
And you wait. You wait for the one thing
that will change your life,
make it more than it is -
something wonderful, exceptional,
stones awakening, depths opening to you.
In the dusky bookstalls
old books glimmer gold and brown.
You think of lands you journeyed through,
of paintings and a dress once worn
by a woman you never found again.
And suddenly you know: that was enough.
You rise and there appears before you
in all its longings and hesitations
the shape of what you lived.
- Rainer Maria Rilke
“We’ve all led raucous lives,
some of them inside, some of them out.
But only the poem you leave behind is what’s important.
Everyone knows this.
The voyage into the interior is all that matters,
Whatever your ride.
Sometimes I can’t sit still for all the asininities I read.
Give me the hummingbird, who has to eat sixty times
His own weight a day just to stay alive.
Now that’s a life on the edge.”
― Charles Wright
Charles Wright, born 1935, is often ranked as one of the best American poets of his generation. Born in 1935 in Pickwick Dam, Tennessee, Wright attended Davidson College and he served four years in the U.S. Army, and it was while stationed in Italy that Wright began to read and write poetry. His many collections of poetry and numerous awards—including the Pulitzer Prize, the Griffin International Poetry Prize, and a Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize—have proven that he is, as Jay Parini once said, “among the best poets” of his generation. Yet Wright remains stoic about such achievements: it is not the poet, but the poems, as he concluded to Genoways. “One wants one’s work to be paid attention to, but I hate personal attention. I just want everyone to read the poems. I want my poetry to get all the attention in the world, but I want to be the anonymous author.”
“When you run after your thoughts, you are like a dog chasing a stick: every time a stick is thrown, you run after it. Instead, be like a lion who, rather than chasing after the stick, turns to face the thrower. One only throws a stick at a lion once.”
“Milarepa (1052-1135) was a great Tibetan Yogi who lived an austere life on the bare hillsides of the Himalayas, eking out an existence on donations and the few plants — principally nettles — that grow in that harsh environment. His name means “The Cotton-Clad One,” and he generally wore just a thin sheet, using the heat generated by meditation practices to keep the fierce Tibetan cold at bay.”
I hope that non-Canadians get this too…