Sunday Morning

Holy silence is spacious and inviting. You can drink it down. We offer it to ourselves when we work, rest, meditate, bike, read. When we hike by ourselves, we hear a silence still pristine with crunching leaves and birdsong…During congregational silences, in meditation rooms or halls, in prison cells and meeting rooms, in silent confession at church, all these screwed-up people like us, with tangled lives and minds, find their hearts opening through quiet focus. In unfolding, we are enfolded, and there is a melding of spirits, a melding of times, eternal, yesterday morning, the now, the ancient, even as we meet beneath a digital clock on the wall, flipping its numbers keeping ordinary time in all that timelessness.

~ Anne LamottHallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy


Notes: Quote – Thank you Make Believe Boutique. Photo: Franziska Korries (via Newthom)

Driving I-95 S. With Plastic or Planet.

It’s Friday morning, I’m in traffic heading south on I-95.  It’s Susan’s car, the change unsettling. Her car is new, power steering is sensitive, dials not where they should be. Both hands grip the steering wheel, fingers caress the soft cowhide leather – – Humpty Dumpty is not all back together again, still jumpy from trees falling out of the sky from the long day, longer.  A call earlier in the morning from Allstate offered a status update on my car: $9,600 for repair; no estimate as to completion.

I pass Exit 7 near Stamford.  A few feet in front is the driver of a late model Toyota Camry. She lowers her window and dumps her ashtray, the cigarette butts skip on the highway, gum wrappers follow. Wow.

Wednesday evening it was Planet or Plastic? An image so jarring, so scarring, and impossible to shake.

Tuesday, on Metro North, a Suit sipping his coffee, sets the cup on the floor between his feet while he surfs on his smartphone. He bumps his cup, the coffee leaks under the seat into the middle of the aisle.  He grabs his brief case, looks down at the cup, looks around to see if anyone is looking, and exits the train. The train empty, the cup and the spill left behind.

It’s Monday morning. I write down a few To Do’s, decide they weren’t in priority order, then toss the note in the trash can. I start my list again, forget two critical items, toss it away again. The lettering on the trash can: “Paper only. Save our Planet.” Trees falling all over.

It’s late last night. I’m drawn to NatGeo’s feature essay on Planet or Plastic.  The loggerhead turtle is caught in a discarded fishing net, it struggles desperately, gnawing at the industrial strength webbing trying to escape to the surface to breathe.

Boris Pasternak, in a letter to his cousin Olga Freidenberg in May 1929, said “The greatest things in the world clothe themselves in boundless tranquillity.”

Where’s the greatness DK? Where?


Photo: National Geographic, June, 2018. An old plastic fishing net snares a loggerhead turtle in the Mediterranean off Spain. The turtle could stretch its neck above water to breathe but would have died had the photographer not freed it. “Ghost fishing” by derelict gear is a big threat to sea turtles. (Photo by Jordi Chias)

 

Lightly Child, Lightly.

“I can tell you that solitude
Is not all exaltation, inner space
Where the soul breathes and work can be done.
Solitude exposes the nerve,
Raises up ghosts.
The past, never at rest, flows through it.”

May Sarton, from “Gestalt at Sixty: Part 1″, in A Durable Fire: Poems

 


Notes:

  • Photo: (via Your Eyes Blaze Out) Poem: Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • 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.”

 

Driving I-287 East. A long day, longer.

I duck out of the office. It’s been a long day.

Waze flashes an estimate for a quick ride home: 28 minutes.  The Dark Sky App sends an alert: Large storm is bearing down.

I’m one mile from the exit to I-95 on I-287.

The sky blackens.

A few leaves gust and float overhead.

Another wind gust blows a large swarm of leaves from the hillside, they hang mid-air, swirl and gust upward in a wind tunnel. Ominous.

Then comes the rain.

Then darkness. [Read more…]

I love the symmetry of a life like that, love the idea of Sunday dinner, the whole family gathered around one big farmhouse table

I was a child of the small-town South of the early ’60s, and all the women I knew stayed home with their children, whether they cared to or not…I also expected to get married and have children. Of course I would; that’s what little girls did…What I would be was a mother.

It’s not such a retro idea when you grow up in a family like mine…But I asked my Mother once what she felt she had been born to be, and without hesitation she said, “I was born to be a mother.” My father felt the same way about being a father. Everything my parents did, they did to support the family. We children were their role in the world…

But God help the woman who believes this message too wholeheartedly, who feels too acutely that motherhood truly defines her. The very culture that insists that raising a child is the single most important thing a woman can do with her life also maintains that she must be willing to surrender that identity the instant her child leaves home. The notorious “helicopter parent,” the meddling mother, the critical mother-in-law — these are all tropes at least as pervasive and unchallenged as any Madonna and Child image of manifest womanhood. A mother who can’t “let go” is a grasping, desperate creature, entirely to be pitied if not openly reviled…

It wasn’t always this way. When the house my grandparents lived in burned down during the Depression, the whole family moved in with my great-grandparents. When my other great-grandmother became widowed, she joined them in the farmhouse. No one questioned the wisdom of this arrangement or suspected any of them of being emotionally stunted, unable to let go. They simply expected to spend the rest of their lives together, sitting on the porch in the cool of the evening, talking to one another.

I love the symmetry of a life like that, love the idea of Sunday dinner after church, the whole family gathered around one big farmhouse table, but I’m also grateful to live in my own time and place…

But I struggle with the constant reminders that my sons share their lives primarily with people I’ve never met, that they all do work I know only in its broadest outlines. They love me; I know that. They call often to chat, and they don’t hesitate to ask for advice if they’re unsure of something. But exactly as their own culture demands, they have also created lives in which my husband and I are on the margins. Peripheral. Almost obsolete. Even a house fire would not send them back to live with us forever.

I will love having them all home for Mother’s Day, but in one tiny little corner of my mind I will also be missing the days when they were still so small and so needy, when the family circle was still close and closed. I will miss the smell of their sweaty little-boy necks and the feel of their damp fingers clutching my blouse as I bounced them on my hip. And I will remember all the years when Mother’s Day meant crayoned cards and plaster-of-Paris handprints and weedy bouquets made of clover and henbit and creeping Charlie and dandelion. The most beautiful flowers in all the world.

~ Margaret Renkl, excerpts from The Mother’s Day Trap (NY Times, May 7, 2018)

 


Photo: Elena Shumilova (Saint-Petersburg) with  a bit more about golden fish

Running. With Mint Chocolate Chip.

Here we go again.

Up 10 lbs in less than 30 days. No walking, no step challenges, no running, no elliptical, no treadmill. How easy to Quit. Devilishly insidious. One day. And then a week. A Month. And counting. How fast it all comes apart.   

Laying in bed, skimming blog posts, RSS feeds, morning papers – words skittering by, wispy clouds, digesting nothing. I pull the covers up. I’ll run this afternoon. Maybe. Sure I willNo I won’t.

I’m out the door, Running.

Mile 1: Cool, 50 F. Lower back stiff. Legs heavy. Can’t see 3 miles today. Hell, not sure I can see the end of 2.

Mile 2: Lower back loosening. Legs heavy. Stomach queasy. 7:30 PM yesterday. Snack run to Palmer’s Grocery. I cut through the rows to the freezer aisle. I wipe the condensation off the glass. Eyes move from Brand to Brand to Brand. Momentary calm settles in. I grab a pint of Häagen-Dazs Mint Chip Ice Cream. And then a pint of Talenti Gelato Mediterranean Mint. And then something called Graeter’s Handcrafted French Pot Mint Chocolate Chip. And a quart of Edy’s mint Chocolate Chip. Yep, 4 containers of Mint Chocolate Chip. [Read more…]

Saturday Morning

hammock-gif

To rise early, reconsider, rise again later
to papers and the news…
Another day of what we bring to it-
matters unfinished from days before,
regret over matters we’ve finished poorly.
Just once you’d like to start out early,
free from memory and lighter for it…
nothing
to shrink from, nothing to shirk,
no lot to carry that wasn’t by choice.
And at night, no voice to keep him awake,
no hurry to rise, no hurry not to.

Tracy K. Smith, from “The Ordinary Life


He sees that this emptiness of self—that this alone—makes a life worth living, a life worth writing. He has been rinsed of ambition, of pride in himself, rinsed of shame over his failures, emptied of his grudges. He has even let go of time, of history—the sources of our regret, our sense that we have done it all wrong. Once reality has stabbed you in the heart like this, you are indeed free—or, when that sweet pain does leave you …the realization remains, a sure memory. This realization, not your ego, is your true self. Alone, outside time, but paradoxically within the moment. There he is, a poet suspended on planet earth in that most ephemeral piece of furniture, the hammock, swinging in the eternity of the moment, and he is empty of himself—at last. The whole world rushes in.

~ Patricia Hampl, The Art of the Wasted Day (Penguin Publishing Group. April 17, 2018)

 

Lightly Child, Lightly.


Notes:

  • Photo: Hans Hammarskiöld (via newthom)
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • 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.”

 

Riding Metro North. With Four.

5:40 am train.

Full.  How can this be possible?

I stand in the vestibule, irritated, and then remember that the 5:40 am train is a Peak train, and further remember that I’m paying a Peak Fare rate to Stand. Irritated.

I set my bag down on the muddy floor, irritated, and wait, hoping for someone to get off at the one and only stop on the express train to Grand Central.

I see a commuter to my right zipping up his backpack. I grab my briefcase, block the aisle (and the commuter who is waiting on the other side of the vestibule) and grab the open seat.  Commuter code: You snooze, you lose. Smiling. I’ve become a New Yorker.

I pull down the bench, a handicapped seat which flips up.  There’s an awkward shifting of knees and legs to avoid all contact. There will be no man-touching.

Two men across from me. Two men to my right. And me.

  • Sleeping. Reading. Reading. Sleeping. Reading.
  • iPhone. iPhone. iPhone. Not visible. iPhone.
  • Earbuds. Earbuds. None. None. None.
  • Sneakers. Loafers. Lace up. Sneakers. Lace up.
  • Baseball cap. Balding. Full head of hair. Hoodie. Balding.
  • Backpack. None.  Backpack. Backpack. Briefcase.
  • No watch. No watch. Wristwatch. Unknown. Smartwatch.
  • T-shirt. Business casual. Suit. Jeans. Suit.
  • Nails (grimy). Nail biter. Manicured. Unknown. Nail biter.

The train car is silent but for the rocking of the car on rails.

We pull into Grand Central and exit without an acknowledgement of the other.

4 head right. I head left.

I walk alone, down the tunnels, with the sound of my footfall on concrete and with Patricia Hampl (again).

“There may be no more solitary location in America than a New York subway—take a look at the faces of those commuters, their heads bent to their open books like monks at their breviaries, little glowing screens casting an otherworldly aura onto their intent faces. They are elsewhere. They are alone. Alone with words as much as any writer at a notebook or screen.”


Notes:

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


Notes:

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