Running. No More. (For now)

“Running is practice for not quitting.”

A line from Robert Andrew Powell’s Memoir titled ”Running Away.”

Unclear why the line stuck after I read it in Beth’s post titled Custodians of the Peace of Mind. But stuck it has. Who’s my Custodian?

Running is practice for not quitting.

It’s been a month. Every day. Every.Single.Day. 

Out the door at ~5 am. Backpack over left shoulder, camera in right hand. Both hands occupied, smartphone tucked away, and inaccessible.

I walk.

5 mile loop.  1.5 hours. 50-70 photos. Every morning.

Followed by a photo upload to the P.C.

Then a slow page turn of the pics.

And a deletion of the misfires.

Then a creation of a Google Photo Album, “June 6 2020 Cove Island Park Walk

Then I connect the Day’s album to the Google Nest Hub Max via my smartphone, which rotates each photo in a slide show on a 10 sec delay.

And, we have a new performance each day.

I’ve moved the Hub Max next to my PC, and there it sits with me, from 7am to 7pm, my entire work day.

Photo’s on the slide show, click, click, click, click. And for that second, I’m swept back to that moment when I took the shot.

During conference calls. During Zoom meetings. During email replies. During text exchanges. Those pictures, that I took, that I made, that captured some beauty in my eye, causing me to stop, and pause, and see…and then snap. They draw me gently away from Work, to the Moment.

Louise’s blog post this morning lands softly. “We call home through everything I do. Everything I create. Everything I am.”

Running is practice for not quitting. I believed this in my bones.

But I’ve quit.

And I like it.


Photo: 6:07 a.m. this foggy morning. 67° F. Wind: 5 mph. Cloud Cover: 68%.  Long Island Sound from Weed Ave, Stamford, CT.

Lightly Child, Lightly

Working in silence, I try to do each task, from stir-fry to writing, as silently as possible—no radio or television or speakerphone—a consummately pleasant exercise to see how quietly I can work, how completely I may cultivate a light hand. Everything is improved in the process, including the task, its doing, and its outcome. The painter’s task—the writer’s task—the composer’s task—the gardener’s task—the cook’s task—the teacher’s task—the meditator’s task—the solitary’s task is to get out of the way, to dissolve and efface the self into the work at hand so as to permit its subject’s essence to shine forth. Cézanne wrote, “You don’t paint souls. You paint bodies; and when the bodies are well-painted, dammit, the soul—if they have one—the soul shines through all over the place.”

Fenton Johnson, At the Center of All Beauty: Solitude and the Creative Life (W. W. Norton & Company, March 10, 2020)


Notes:

  • Image: Handwriting by Ecriture Infinie
  • 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.”

 

Not just another Wednesday…


George Floyd by Adam Berry / Stringer

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

What is it we’re supposed to make of life? There is so much suffering–my own is a tiny stitch in a vast tapestry and many, many people suffer so much more than I have. What is it that keeps rising up in us even when we feel crushed? What keeps putting one foot in front of the other, or looks at the vague blue smudge of a sloe bush and is reminded of a truth that doesn’t even have a name? What is that? It isn’t me. It isn’t me that gets me up this hill each morning, but rather an irrepressibility that must be called life, life itself, a force working independently of my brain, body and mind. I don’t know what it is… What is it that is leaning forward in me now, towards the world? … What is it that dares to want to get back down this hill and go home and write? Or that wants to find out why things in nature are rarely blue. What is it that triggers the synapses that call to the muscles to work the body and keep going on? What is it that still insists on being happy? What is it that refuses the call of defeat?

— Samantha HarveyThe Shapeless Unease: A Year of Not Sleeping (Grove Press; May 12, 2020)


Book Review in The Guardian: “The Shapeless Unease by Samantha Harvey review – a good night’s sleep? In her dreams

 

Sunday Morning

Wassily Kandinsky wrote that “Cézanne made a living thing out of a teacup, or rather in a teacup he realized the existence of something alive. He raised still life to such a point that it ceased to be inanimate. He painted these things as he painted human beings, because he was endowed with the gift of divining the inner life in everything. . . . A man, a tree, an apple, all were used by Cézanne in the creation of something that is called a ‘picture,’ and which is a piece of true inward and artistic harmony.” The artist or writer does not impose harmony on reality but—with sufficient reverence and diligence and selflessness and solitude—uncovers the harmony that is always there but that we conceal from ourselves out of a preference for material comfort and fear of the consequences a full and unreserved embrace of harmony requires.

This faith in the underlying harmony roots itself in a love of and appreciation for nature, because nature, no matter how extreme the human abuse heaped on her, embodies a quiet, continual knitting and healing of life, ever dependent on death to make herself anew. “Art is a harmony parallel to nature,” Cézanne wrote—not identical with but parallel to nature. Art of any kind, undertaken with attention and focus and as part of a commitment to discipline, is an effort at reenactment of the original creative gesture—the precipitation of the universe at the moment of its creation. That, I believe, is why we sing, paint, dance, sculpt, write; that is why any one of us sets out to create something from nothing, and why the creative impulse is essentially religious or, if you prefer, spiritual. We seek to recreate the original creative gesture, whatever or whoever set it in motion—the bringing into being of what is. We seek the center of beauty.”

 — Fenton Johnson, At the Center of All Beauty: Solitude and the Creative Life (W. W. Norton & Company, March 10, 2020)


Notes: Paul Cezanne’s “Fruit and Jug on a Table (1890-1894)

Saturday Morning

5:02 a.m. I’m out the door. 65° F.  Hass: “Still. Not a breath of wind.

Morning routine since May 5th sans running. 5 mile round trip walk to Cove Island Park. New thing, this walking thing. Camera forces me pause, to stop. Apple Watch flashes “Finished Your Workout?” And offers up two options, “End Workout” & “Pause.” I stare at the both options. Even looking at “Pause” makes me uncomfortable.

I look for my Canada Geese and their two offspring. They never disappoint. Fluffy youngsters, hungry, pecking away at the grass. Mother hisses. Hey, I’m Canadian too, cut me some slack!

I look for my Swans, mates, sleeping with their necks tucked back under their wings, floating on their water bed on high tide.

I look for my trio of mallards, two females and the polygamist. Skittish.

I look for my Loon, solo, always solo, fishing. She dives deep. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44…and she’s back up on top. I catch myself inhaling, a deep breath for you girl.

I look for my Egrets. Pure white, as snow.  Heart sinks a wee bit in their absence.

I tune into Fenton Johnson‘s new book on tape At the Center of All Beauty: Solitude and the Creative Life and I’m swept away by the narration: “If the journey through our interior landscape is so critical to our characters, let us become more informed and responsible travelers. Let us start by turning off our phones and spending more time alone…with the red semaphore atop the cell tower blinking on, off, on, off, presence, absence, presence, absence. I bask in this lovely stream of words…thinking: This is why one becomes a monk: to cultivate in every moment presence to the beauty of the world…The spirit works with what she has at hand.

I tuck my earbuds away and walk.

It’s daybreak. Sunrise paints the sky, and the still water below her.

And yes, “soon enough, I was quiet too.”


Inspired by: “In all the mountains, / Stillness; / In the treetops / Not a breath of wind. / The birds are silent in the woods. / Just wait: soon enough / You will be quiet too.— Robert Hass, “After Goethe,” Time and Materials: Poems 1997-2005.

T.G.I.F.: It’s Been A Long Week

It isn’t about peace, a quiet life, not feeling things, not experiencing things. It’s about the shit hitting the fan, and having the courage to sit with yourself, not hide, not deny–to observe the tumult from the end of the snake’s tongue.

— Samantha HarveyThe Shapeless Unease: A Year of Not Sleeping (Grove Press; May 12, 2020)


Note: Photo by NB Hunter

Lightly Child, Lightly

 

Set wide the window.

Let me drink the day.

Edith Wharton, Artemis to Actaeon and Other Verses (First published May 10th 1909)


Notes:

  • Image Source. Quote: Thank you Beth @ Alive on all Channels
  • 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.”

 

Walking. With Airborne Droplets.

2:30 am. I flick open Sleep app. 4 h 25 m.  Hmmmm. Dale-like. How does she do it? Lori’s magnesium? Something. Something.

Morning papers. COVID-19. Masks. No masks. Airborne Droplets. Transmission. Virus is a hoax? Monty Python and the Holy Grail: “Bring out your dead!

4:50 am.  I pack my sling…phone, camera, earbuds, water…and I’m out the door. This unknown life force pulls me forward.

57° F.  Special Alert: Dense Fog. Exactly how my head feels. Dense fog.

I walk.

Dark.

Walking under street lamps to Cove Island Park.

Infinitesimal droplets fall on my face. Airborne droplets.

I roll up my sleeves, first right, and then left.  Droplets land on the inside of my forearms, and they tingle.

“Hey you, Agnostic!”

“You talking to me?”

“See anyone else?”

“Can you feel that?

“I’m feeling Something. Something.”

Droplets stop. Infinitesimal, ephemeral, and gone.

Gull cries overhead.

They trigger David Gray’s tune “Gulls.” I search and play it on a loop:

This land belongs to the gulls
And the gulls to their cry
And their cry to the wind
And the wind belongs to no one…
Toward the sea that god sewn
Toward the sea that god sewn

And I walk, looking out over Long Island Sound, fog beginning to lift.

Feelin’ something…


Notes: Photo mine. Weed Avenue, Stamford, CT. This morning.

Guess.What.Day.It.Is?


Notes:

  • Image Source here. Thank you Sawsan.
  • Background on Caleb/Wednesday/Hump Day Posts and Geico’s original commercial: Let’s Hit it Again. Caleb is grounded in Work For Home and can’t come out to play this week.
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