That one. The quiet healing road.

face-portrait-duality

I am torn between two ways to handle this doldrum that has been going on for weeks, really since January, when I did at least get down a few small poems. The first way is to give in, to enjoy the light on flowers— yesterday white daffodils and white iris in the dusk— to enjoy this beautiful place, rejoice in the animal presences (Bramble at last comes up here to my study and curls up on the daybed…), to live the slow quiet rhythm of a day as a kind of healing. The other way is to ask a great deal more of myself, to drive myself, and hope to break through into deeper, more valid places.

~ May Sarton, Tuesday, March 9thThe House by the Sea: A Journal


Notes:

  • Image via Mennyfox55
  • Related posts: May Sarton
  • Inspired by Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” – […] I shall be telling this with a sigh / Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – / I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference.

Insanity, Insanity

clive-james

You get to the age when a book’s power to make you think becomes the first thing you notice about it. You can practically sense that power when you pick the book up. The books I already had in the house presumably once generated the same sort of charge when I contemplated buying them. Now there they were, still in their thousands despite the recent winnowing. I roamed slowly among them: old purchases begging to be read again even as the new purchases came in at the rate of one plastic shopping bag full every week. Insanity, insanity. Or, as Johnson might have said, vanity, vanity.

~ Clive James, Latest Readings (August, 2015)


Image Credit: theaustralian.com.au

all of a sudden in a supreme moment of light

light-neck-portrait

Yesterday I had a beautiful letter from Eugénie about old age (she is in her seventies).

Ici la vie continue égale et monotone en surface, pleine d’éclairs, de sommets et de désepérance, dans les profondeurs. Nous sommes arrivés maintenant á un stade de vie si riche en apprehensions nouvelles intransmissibles aux autres âges de la vie – on se sent rempli á la fois de tant de douceur et de tant de désespoir – l’énigme de cette vie grandit, grandit, vous submerge et vous écrase, puis tout á coup en une lueur suprême on prend conscience due “sacré.”

“Here life goes on, even and monotonous on the surface, full of lightning, of summits and of despair, in its depths. We have now arrived at a stage in life so rich in new perceptions that cannot be transmitted to those at another stage – one feels at the same time full of so much gentleness and so much despair – the enigma of this life grows, grows, drowns one and crushes one, then all of a sudden in a supreme moment of light one becomes aware of the “sacred.”

~ May Sarton, March 3rd,  Journal of Solitude


Notes:

 

Perspective of time and distance alter substance

pascal-campion-drawing-illustration-jump-child-youth-memories

In the poems I have been thinking of and writing the last few years, I have grown aware that childhood is a subject somehow available to me all over again. The perspective of time and distance alter substance somewhat, and so it is possible to think freshly of things that were once familiar and ordinary, as if they had become strange again. I don’t know whether this is true of everybody’s experience, but at a certain point childhood seems mythical once more. It did to start with, and it does suddenly again.

~ Donald Justice, from an interview with The Missouri Review, quoted by Linda Pastan, “Yesterday’s Noise: The Poetry of Childhood Memory,” Writer (vol. 105, no. 10, 1992)


Credits: Art – Pascal Campion. Quote: Memory Landscape

 

Time to pull in the boundaries and lift the drawbridge

Roberta-zeta-illustration-red-hair

It’s a season when one gets spread out almost too thin in too many human directions, but come January first I am determined to batten myself down, tighten up, go inward. I feel the day must be marked by a change of rhythm, by some quiet act of self-determination and self-assertion. Everyone earns such a day after the outpourings of Christmas. We are overextended. Time to pull in the boundaries and lift the drawbridge.

~ May Sarton, The House by the Sea: A Journal


Notes:

A soft gray morning

bird-solitude-sky-alone

Such a tightly packed weekend …
I shall never be able to sort it all out today.
But there are things I must capture here this morning …
a soft gray morning, well-suited to a quiet think.

~ May Sarton, The House by the Sea: A Journal


Notes:

Your turn. Go ahead. Light up your particle episode.

  
It is through the individual brain alone that there passes the momentary illumination in which a whole country-side may be transmuted in an instant…Man’s mind, like the expanding universe itself, is engaged in pouring over limitless horizons…The great artist, whether he is a musician, painter, or poet, is known for this absolute unexpectedness.  One does not see, one does not hear, until he speaks to us out of that limitless creativity which is his gift.

The flash of lightning in a single brain also flickers along the horizon of our more ordinary heads. Without that single lightning stroke in a solitary mind, however, the rest of us would never have known the fairyland of The Tempest, the midnight world of Dostoevsky, or the blackbirds on the yellow harvest fields of Van Gogh. We would have seen the blackbirds and endured the depravity of our own hearts, but it would not be the same landscape that the act of genius transformed. The world without Shakespeare’s insights is a lesser world, our griefs shut more inarticulately in upon themselves. We grow mute at the thought – just as an element seems to disappear from sunlight without Van Gogh. Yet these creations we might call particle episodes in the human universe – acts without precedent, a kind of disobedience of normality, unprophesiable by science, unduplicable by other individuals on demand. They are part of that unpredictable newness which keeps the universe from being fully explored by man.

Loren Eiseley, “Strangeness in the Proportion” from The Night Country


Image: eikadan

Journaling yesterday. Blogging (in the “receptacle”) today. We are all in the same boat.

journals-diary-writing

Growing old is certainly far easier for people like me who have no job from which to retire at a given age. I can’t stop doing what I have always done, trying to sort out and shape experience. The journal is a good way to do this at a less intense level than by creating a work of art as highly organized as a poem, for instance, or the sustained effort a novel requires. I find it wonderful to have a receptacle into which to pour vivid momentary insights, and a way of ordering day-to-day experience (as opposed to Maslow’s “peak experiences,” which would require poetry). If there is an art to the keeping of a journal intended for publication yet at the same time a very personal record, it may be in what E. Bowen said: “One must regard oneself impersonally as an instrument.”

~ May Sarton, The House by the Sea (1977)

(Robert) Coles himself says elsewhere in the piece, “Not everyone can or will do that— give his specific fears and desires a chance to be of universal significance.” To do this takes a curious combination of humility, excruciating honesty, and (there’s the rub) a sense of destiny or of identity. One must believe that private dilemmas are, if deeply examined, universal, and so, if expressed, have a human value beyond the private, and one must also believe in the vehicle for expressing them, in the talent.

[…]

But I believe we learn through the experiences of others as well as through our own, constantly meditating upon them, drawing the sustenance of human truth from them, and it seems natural to me to wish to share these aperçus, these questions, these oddities, these dilemmas and pangs. Why? Partly, I suppose, because the more one is a receptacle of human destinies, as I have become through my readers, the more one realizes how very few people could be called happy, how complex and demanding every deep human relationship is, how much real pain, anger, and despair are concealed by most people. And this is because many feel their own suffering is unique. It is comforting to know that we are all in the same boat.

~ May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude (1973)


Notes:

SMWI*: Everything is boring that does not happen in a chair

horse-mouth-funny

After the customary indulgence over the holidays, here’s Donald Hall, the 87 year old American writer and poet (and Poet Laureate), offering work-out inspiration. Think “Opposite Game” you played with your kids.

My trainer, Pamela Sunburn, works me out Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. She’s tiny and strong, four foot ten and a hundred pounds of muscle. If she had to, I’m sure she could carry my two hundred pounds slung over her shoulders. For half an hour each session she has me do cardio on the treadmill, squat with five-pound weights, lift tenners over my head and out from my sides, stretch muscles, stand up no hands with a beach ball between my knees, and do push-ups (as it were) standing against a wall. Exercise hurts, as well it might, since by choice and for my pleasure I didn’t do it for eighty years. (Once in my fifties I walked four miles.) […]

I sit on my ass all day, writing in longhand, which Kendel types up. Sometimes in a car I would pass Pancake Road, two miles away, and see a man walking his collie, the dog stepping out on his forepaws, two wheels harnessed to his backside. These days I no longer drive past Pancake Road or anywhere. I push wheels ahead of me instead of pulling them behind me like the dog. With my forepaws holding the handles of a four-wheeled roller, my buckling hindquarters slowly shove my carcass forward. I drool as I walk, and now and then I sniff a tree. […]

I went out for cross-country. As I did laps for endurance, I heard my eighty-year-old coach— the war had resurrected elderly faculty— mutter, “Truck horse.” My feelings were hurt. I worked on improving my style, but when I ran cross-country, agony rotated from ribs of one side to ribs of the other. I faked turning my ankle. […]

I have been told that as a baby I crawled up on a kitchen table and devoured a quarter pound of butter. I spewed it out quickly, and mouth-memory has endured in my distaste for yellow milkfat. Because it was so athletic to climb the table, perhaps my misadventure also led to my athletic malfitness. […]

Exercise is boring. Everything is boring that does not happen in a chair (reading and writing) or in bed.

~ Donald Hall, Physical Malfitness. Essays After Eighty


Notes:

2015: Top 15 Blogger Tools.

blog-keyboard

It’s that time again for year end awards for blogging and productivity tools:

  1. Best App in Supporting Role: Evernote (for clipping, storing and syncing across devices. My new e-junk drawer.)
  2. Best News / Site Content Aggregator: Feedly. (Indispensable. Every day)
  3. Best Search Engine: Google.  (Bing is too busy. Yahoo? Wow, time for a make-over.)
  4. Best Browser: Safari for Mac/IOS – for its Reader View, for Reading List, for full article emailing and for syncing across devices. Google Chrome can be faster – has much better tabbing framework – but is a battery hog and is missing Reading list integration and full article emailing/storage.
  5. Best Writing Aid: Microsoft OneNote.  Clean interface. Slick syncing across devices. Intuitive. Easy on-the-go writing app on the desktop and the smartphone.
  6. Best Utility Apps: 1password (for passwords), TextExpander (for shortcuts) and Snagit (for photo clipping)
  7. Best Reader App on PC/Phone: Reading List (for Mac/IOS) has replaced Pocket and Instapaper, both excellent apps.
  8. Best e-reader / best reading app: Kindle.
  9. Best Notes App: Google Keep. (Simple. Intuitive. Great syncing across devices.)
  10. Best Photos App: Google Photos.  (Wow! Free. Clean interface. Exceptional syncing across devices.  Cool image identification. You have to try it. Read The Mossberg Review for more.)
  11. Cloud Storage / Back-up: Dropbox is more universal and easier but I’m on iCloud for Apple device integration.
  12. Surprise app of the Year: Apple Music.  A bargain for the family under the monthly subscription.  Downside: Complex! Holy moly!
  13. Favorite Social Media (excluding #1 WordPress): Tumblr.
  14. Biggest Disappointment: WordPress.com for its new update in posting functionality.  There is so much to love about WordPress including the new notifications and response tools but I find the new posting interface to be a step backwards.  (What was wrong with the old format?)
  15. Biggest YOY change: Fewer (many) apps. I’m further embedded into Apple’s ecosystem. While it can be more expensive (especially for Apple crack addicts like me), it’s simpler, easier, more stable and offers better integration.

Am I missing any apps / tools that you find are indispensable?


Notes:

 

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