Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

…We are trying to get off the damn treadmill so that we can remember the purpose and dignity that can come from the whole of our life.

So ask yourself this: Who would you be if work was no longer the axis of your life? How would your relationship with your close friends and family change, and what role would you serve within your community at large? Whom would you support, how would you interact with the world, and what would you fight for?

We are so overextended, so anxious, and so conditioned to approach our life as something to squeeze in around work that just asking these questions can feel indulgent. If you really try to answer them, what you’re left with will likely feel silly or far-fetched: like a Hallmark movie of your life, if you got to cast people to play you and the rest of your family who were well rested, filled with energy and intentionality and follow-through. Your mind will try to tell you it’s a fantasy. But it’s supposed to sound amazing, because you need to want it, really yearn for it, to a degree that will motivate you to shift your life in ways that will make the fantasy a reality.

Think back on a time in your life before you regularly worked for pay. Recall, if you can, an expanse of unscheduled time that was, in whatever manner, yours. What did you actually like to do? Not what your parents said you should do, not what you felt as if you should do to fit in, not what you knew would look good on your application for college or a job.

The answer might be spectacularly simple: You liked riding your bike with no destination in mind, making wild experiments in the kitchen, playing around with eyeshadow, writing fan fiction, playing cards with your grandfather, lying on your bed and listening to music, trying on all your clothes and making ridiculous outfits, thrifting, playing Sims for hours, obsessively sorting baseball cards, playing pickup basketball, taking photos of your feet with black-and-white film, going on long drives, learning to sew, catching bugs, skiing, playing in a band, making forts, harmonizing with other people, putting on mini-plays—whatever it was, you did it because you wanted to. Not because it would look interesting if you posted it on social media, or because it somehow optimized your body, or because it would give you better things to talk about at drinks, but because you took pleasure in it.

Once you figure out what that thing is, see if you can recall its contours. Were you in charge? Were there achievable goals or no goals at all? Did you do it alone or with others? Was it something that really felt as if it was yours, not your siblings’? Did it mean regular time spent with someone you liked? Did it involve organizing, creating, practicing, following patterns, or collaborating? See if you can describe, out loud or in writing, what you did and why you loved it. Now see if there’s anything at all that resembles that experience in your life today…

— Charlie Warzel & Anne Helen Petersen, from “How to Care Less About Work” in The Atlantic (December 5, 2021). This has been excerpted from their forthcoming book, Out of Office: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working From Home.

Lightly Child, Lightly

The wind is careless—

uncertain—

I like the wind—

it seems more like me than anything else—

I like the way it blows things around—roughly—even meanly—

then the next minute seems to love everything—some days is amazingly quiet.

—  Georgia O’Keeffe, in a letter to Alfred Stieglitz on October 1, 1917 in: ”My Faraway One. Selected Letters of Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz. Volume 1, 1915–1933

 


Notes:

Lightly Child, Lightly

I consider the light that enters the room in the early hours of the day as a messenger of the sun, a direct voyager, a particle, a wave, who knows, but an object of sorts that left its solar source, covered miles, and landed on my skin. So the universe constantly visits us while waiting for us to reverse that itinerary.

—  Etel Adnan, from Shifting the Silence (Nightboat Books, October 27, 2020)


Notes:

  • Photo: DK, 7:01 a.m. Wed Dec 2, 2020. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.
  • Quote via lifeinpoetry
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Lightly Child, Lightly.

…And go to work each day
And when the evening rolls around
I’ll go on home and lay my body down
And when the morning light comes streaming in
I’ll get up and do it again
Amen
Say it again
Amen

—  Jackson Browne, from “The Pretender” (1976)


Notes:

  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Lightly Child, Lightly.

Walked by this box at Cove Island Park, what, 100x? 200x? 500x? Had never seen it before.  Today, I noticed.

[Read more…]

Take me way back, take me way back, take me way back

I realized that I have been carrying within me all these years the child I once was, his particular language and details, his impatient and thirsty teeth wanting to dig into the cold flesh of a watermelon, waking up wondering only about one thing: “What is the sea like today? Is it flat as oil or ruffled white with the spit of waves?”

Hisham Matar, The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between


Notes:

  • Photo: DK, 6:43 am, Sept 30, 2020. The Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.
  • Post title inspired by Van Morrison’s Hit: Take Me Back

‘Feel’ This

sleep

(He) said that happiness is what happens when you go to bed on the hottest night of the summer, a night so hot you can’t even wear a tee-shirt and you sleep on top of the sheets instead of under them, although try to sleep is probably more accurate. And then at some point late, late, late at night, say just a bit before dawn, the heat finally breaks and the night turns into cool and when you briefly wake up, you notice that you’re almost chilly, and in your groggy, half-consciousness, you reach over and pull the sheet around you and just that flimsy sheet makes it warm enough and you drift back off into a deep sleep. And it’s that reaching, that gesture, that reflex we have to pull what’s warm – whether it’s something or someone – toward us, that feeling we get when we do that, that feeling of being sad in the world and ready for sleep, that’s happiness.

Paul Schmidtberger, Design Flaws of the Human Condition


Notes: Quote: from liquidlightandrunningtrees via Last Tambourine. Photo: forward to forget

Sunday Morning


My mother’s need for order has nothing to do with the chaos of a life with too little space and too little money and almost no chance to make something beautiful of it all. The chance to create loveliness is always waiting just past the door of our matchbox rental. She never prepares for gardening—no special gloves, no rubber garden clogs, no stiff canvas apron with pockets for tools. No tools, most of the time. She steps out of the house—or the car, setting her bags down before she even makes it to the door—and puts her hands in the soil, tugging out the green things that don’t belong among the green things that do. Now another bare square of ground appears, and there is room for marigold seeds, the ones she saved when last year’s ruffled yellow blooms turned brown and dried to fragile likenesses of themselves. The light bill might be under the covers at the foot of her bed, the unsigned report card somewhere in the mess of papers on the mantel, but she can always put her hands on last year’s seeds. And later, in the summer, the very ground she walks on will be covered in gold.

~ Margaret Renkl, from “My Mother Pulls Weeds, Birmingham, 1978,” Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss


Photo: Cindy Garber Iverson

Sunday Morning

I want to be a monk because I think that would be a very good use of me, he continued. Does that sound strange? It sounds a bit arrogant, I suppose. I don’t mean to be arrogant. I want to be an implement. Something like a shovel with a beard. If I live with humility and intent, if I do what I do well and gracefully, that is good. Beyond that I cannot go. When I speak to children they will ask me things like, if I do enough good, and other people do good, then the good stacks up, right? and the good eventually beats the bad, right? and I cannot say this is so. I am not very interested in speculation about such things. I was never interested in theology. I think theology is an attempt to make sense of that to which sense does not apply. I cannot explain why I hope that what I do matters; all I can do is do what I do, either well or ill, patiently or not, gracefully or not. And I do find that doing things mindfully, patiently, easefully, makes the task far more interesting. I love to cut the grass here, for I sometimes come to a sort of understanding with the grass, and the hill, and the creatures in the grass, and with my legs and arms and back, a sort of silent conversation in which we all communicate easily and thoroughly. Do you have any idea of what I mean with all this?

~ Brian Doyle, from “Because It’s Hard” in “One Long River of Song: Notes on Wonder” (Little, Brown and Company, December 3, 2019)


Notes:

Lightly child, lightly

Human beings are creatures made for joy. Against all evidence, we tell ourselves that grief and loneliness and despair are tragedies, unwelcome variations from the pleasure and calm and safety that in the right way of the world would form the firm ground of our being. In the fairy tale we tell ourselves, darkness holds nothing resembling a gift. What we feel always contains its own truth, but it is not the only truth, and darkness almost always harbors some bit of goodness tucked out of sight, waiting for an unexpected light to shine, to reveal it in its deepest hiding place.

~ Margaret Renkl, “Be A Weed” in Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss 


Notes:

  • Photo: via Mennyfox55.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Lightly child, lightly

Sometimes, when I haven’t slept or the news of the world, already bad, suddenly becomes much worse, the weight of belonging here is a heaviness I can’t shake. But then I think of the glister of a particular morning in springtime. I think of standing in the sunshine and watering the butterfly garden, which is mostly cultivated weeds punctuated by the uncultivated kind that come back despite my pinching and tugging. I think of the caterpillars on the milkweed plants, unperturbed by the overspray, and the resident red-tailed hawk gliding overhead, chased by a mockingbird and three angry crows, and the bluebird standing on the top of the nest box protecting his mate, who is inside laying an egg. I think of that morning—not even a morning, not even an hour—and I say to myself, Be an egg. Be a mockingbird. Be a weed.

~ Margaret Renkl, “Be A Weed” in Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss 


Notes:

Lightly child, lightly

I want to record these first sounds of our trip together, maybe because they feel like the last sounds of something. But at the same time I don’t, because I don’t want to interfere with my recording; I don’t want to turn this particular moment of our lives together into a document for a future archive. If I could only, simply, underline certain things with my mind, I would: this light coming in through the kitchen window, flooding the entire cottage in a golden warmth as I prepare the coffeemaker; this soft breeze blowing in through the open door and brushing past my legs as I turn on the stove; that sound of footsteps—feet little, bare, and warm—as the girl gets out of bed and approaches me from behind, announcing: Mama, I woke up!

~ Valeria Luiselli, Lost Children Archive: A Novel 


Notes

  • Photo: Common Muse (sunlight, shadow, light)
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Lightly child, lightly

Why is it you can have that extraordinary experience of falling violently in love with great poetry … where you are moved by its power before you comprehend it?

~ Harold Bloom, from “Harold Bloom, The Art of Criticism No. 1″ in The Paris Review (Issue 118, Spring 1991)


Notes

  • Photo: landa grazioli with poetry. Quote: Thank you Hammock Papers
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Lightly child, lightly

Just when the worst bears down
You find a pretty bubble in your soup at noon
And outside a bird says “hi”
Slowly the sun creeps along the floor;
It is coming your way. It touches your shoe.

~ William Stafford, from “It’s all Right” in The Poetry of Impermanence, Mindfulness, and Joy by John Brehm


Notes:

  • Poem: Thank you Karl Duffy @ Mindfulbalance. Photo: Hache with “my life plans” (via Mennyfox55)
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Lightly child, lightly

…We came out of a time when birth was happy…

We are prizes. Perhaps we shouldn’t have been so important,
so healthy…

We were sold on dissatisfaction –…

I am very lucky but that’s not life. And maybe no more than
any person born in any year, I want but don’t know what, feel
unsettled in a sea of similarly restless faces. The breadth of
possibility makes choosing seem evasive. We decide but we are
slow and small with doubts.

It was 1954 when my parents moved to have room for me. I
remember a box my mother packed for me to store at school,
filled with canned milk and soup and Hershey bars.

Two thousand good nights. My checked uniform on a hook.
My face to the hall light because that felt like a day in the sun.
Not fear, not loneliness, but my preference for sleeping near the
window and near the floor, humming.

~ Killarney Clary, from “Who Whispered Near Me?”


Notes:

  • Poem Source: Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels. Photo: Blue Canary Night light
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Lightly child, lightly

It’s so delicate, the light.
And there’s so little of it. The dark
is huge.
Just delicate needles, the light,
in an endless night.
And it has such a long way to go
through such desolate space.

So let’s be gentle with it.
Cherish it.
So it will come again in the morning.
We hope.

~ Rolph Jacobsen, “A Few Delicate Needles” from The Roads Have Come to an End Now


Notes:

  • Poems: 3QuarksDaily. Photo: (via Mennyfox55)
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Lightly child, lightly

I could never have dreamt that there were such goings-on in the world between the covers of books, such sandstorms and ice blasts of words, such staggering peace, such enormous laughter, such and so many blinding bright lights, splashing all over the pages in a million bits and pieces all of which were words, words, words, and each of which were alive forever in its own delight and glory and oddity and light.

~ Dylan Thomas, “Notes on the Art of Poetry” in The Poems of Dylan Thomas, Volume 1


Notes:

  • Quote: Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels.  Art: Michael Azgour with Jennifer Reading (2019)
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

It’s been a long day

“Tomorrow’s a brand new day. Never been touched.”

~ Guzmin (Doorman), Modern Love S:1 – E1, When the Doorman is Your Main Man.


Photo: Mennyfox55.  Related Posts: It’s been a long day

Lightly child, lightly

This is the bleached-bone veritas of the Colorado Plateau. We stand on the edge of an erosional landscape looking out. The curvature of the Earth becomes our home range. The silence before us is time. We feel how small we are in the embrace of geologic relief… Watching light captured and held within the pastel pinnacles of Bryce Canyon in shades of pink, orange, and yellow—all these weathered places show us we are merely humans, soft, humble, and temporary.

~ Terry Tempest WilliamsErosion: Essays of Undoing (Sarah Crichton Books, October 8, 2019)


Notes:

  • Photo: Colorado Plateau by tlswan2
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Lightly child, lightly

The leaves are turning,
one by one carried away in the crisp wind […]
Away, away, says the blue and gold day,
and no one hears it but the wind…
Sit here —…
This is heaven.
Sit. Stay.

~ Margaret Gibson, from “Heaven“ in Broken Cup: Poems


Notes:

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