Lightly Child, Lightly

why don’t you read a poem about the sunrise written 5 centuries ago and contemplate the fact that we have been writing about the same sun for centuries upon centuries and then maybe you’ll calm down

—  Michael


Notes:

  • Photo: DK – 5:25 a.m., April 18, 2022. Sunrise @ Calf Pasture Beach, Norwalk, CT. More photos 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.”

At 63, regret has been a propellant

American culture is saturated with advice on managing regret — which generally amounts to pretending we don’t experience it… The message is clear: Regret is self-defeating, backward-looking, a negative feeling to avoid at all costs.

But for Mariko Yugeta, regret has been a propellant. At 63, the Japanese athlete has quietly become the fastest woman in her age group ever to finish a marathon. She’s a sexagenarian who is beating the times she chased as a promising amateur athlete in her 20s.

After putting her athletic goals aside for decades to raise children and pursue a full-time career, in 2019 she became the first woman over 60 to run a marathon in under three hours. In January 2021, at age 62, she ran her fastest marathon ever, in 2:52:13 — meaning the world records she’s now breaking are the ones she set.

As Yugeta reclaims the dreams she once abandoned, she says her athletic breakthrough is “fueled by regret.”

“I don’t think the feeling of regret is a negative emotion,” Yugeta told me. “What’s negative are thoughts like, ‘I can’t run fast anymore’ or ‘I’m too old to do this,’ and I think that it’s an entirely positive way to live, to use any regrets you might have as motivation to achieve a goal.”

Yugeta didn’t ever stop wanting to win, she explained. “I’ve always wanted to be No. 1,” she told me. “That’s what’s gotten me out the door on rainy and windy days.”

I’d never heard of someone with a comeback story quite like Yugeta’s, which strikes me as a case study in how regret doesn’t have to drag us down. Used the right way, it can inspire us.

“It’s a waste of time to think about days gone by,” she said. “What’s important is the here and now, and the future. How can you improve yourself in the days to come?”

(Read on…)

— Lindsay Crouse, from “A 63-Year-Old Runner Changed the Way I Think About Regret” in NY Times,

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

with our lacks…—we do what we can—we give what we have.” Henry James, “The Middle Years

A writer works with what she lacks as well as what she has. (Watch a dancer adapt a movement to the constraints—the particular length and flexibility—of their limbs. Listen to an actor or singer shift a line’s rhythm to fit their range and timbre.) Assess your lacks to see what use they might be put to. Develop other sources of plenty.

Ask: What do I want desperately to write and how shall I write it? What am I trying not to write? When do my fluencies become clever distractions from what needs writing? How often have I watched with acute irritation a performer’s distractions, hissing silently, “Why don’t you stop making that step, that melody easier than it is? Why don’t you find another way, another technique to get at it? Take the risk that it won’t have the same affect you so admire and covet in some other artist. (That supple arabesque, that quietly sustained high note.) All right. You can’t get that longed-for effect by the same means. Have at it in another way! Can an unexpected tension in the line, a surreptitious harshness in that note make it work?”

Margo Jefferson, Constructing a Nervous System: A Memoir (Pantheon, April 12, 2022)


Notes:

Unselfing

Beauty, (Iris) Murdoch argues, gave us an opportunity for an “unselfing.” She writes:

I am looking out my window in an anxious and resentful state of mind, oblivious of my surroundings, brooding perhaps on some damage done to my prestige. Then suddenly I observe a hovering kestrel. In a moment everything is altered. The brooding self with its hurt vanity has disappeared. There is nothing now but kestrel. And when I return to thinking of the other matter it seems less important.

Chloé Cooper Jones, Easy Beauty: A Memoir (Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster, April 5, 2022)


Notes:

  • Kestrel. Cardinal. Same. Shot taken of Red Cardinal overhead this morning @ 8 am in backyard.
  • Photos from Daybreak walk this morning here.

Walking. With a Trifecta.

718 days. Almost consecutive. Like in a row.  Morning walk @ Cove Island Park @ Daybreak.

Ritual is all we have. It’s what keeps us from the abyss.”  It’s Jillian Horton’s thought from “We Are All Perfectly Fine,” and there’s zero doubt that she wrote it thinking of me.

Perfectly Fine? Definitely not.

I round the turn into the parking lot. It’s empty. I mean Empty. Not a single parked car. Not a single soul lurking around.

My park. My time. Mine.

I walk.

45° F with 10 mph winds blowing from the NW, keeping this Spring’s Here thing real.

Inhale.

Blossoms.

“…as if a rose were flung into the room, all hue and scent” (Szymborska).

And then, came the Trifecta.

(The first being here, alive, standing in this spot, at this moment.)

The second, Luna peaks out from behind the clouds.  And drops her beam down on Long Island Sound.

And the third, at this exact moment, turning up randomly on my iTunes playlist of 3000+ odd tunes —  My Anthem. Van Morrison, So Quiet in Here.

Where we can be what we want to be
Oh this must be what paradise is like
This must be what paradise is like
Baby it’s so quiet in here, so peaceful in here
So quiet in here, so peaceful in here
So quiet in here, so peaceful in here
So quiet in here, you can hear, it’s so quiet

I raise my camera, focus on the train of her gown, and take the shot.

I’m going to remember this.


Notes:

  • DK Photo. Moonlight @ Daybreak. 5:15 am, April 23, 2022. 45° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.  More photos from this morning here.

T.G.I.F. 5:00 PM Bell.

Lightly Child, Lightly

I lie on the floor…I sink into a sweet melancholy and rhythmic waves of words stream through me again. I write them down on brown wrapping paper and conclude sorrowfully that the poems are still not good enough. ‘Children’s poems,’ said Mr Krogh… Then one day I write something that is different from anything I’ve written before, only I don’t know what the difference is. I write the following:

There burns a candle in the night, it burns for me alone, and if I blow at it, it flames up, and flames for me alone. But if you breathe softly and if you breathe quietly, the candle is suddenly more than bright and burns deep in my own breast, for you alone.

—  Tove Ditlevsen, Youth: The Copenhagen Trilogy (FSG Originals (January 26, 2021)


Notes:

  • Photo: Jake Noren via unsplash
  • 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.”

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call


Notes:

  • Photo: Sully waking up… (Susan’s Photo)
  • Sully background

Walking. When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber.

I’m thumbing through Instagram yesterday, and be damned if that photo doesn’t come across my feed.  Location? Cove Island Park!

711 days. 711 almost consecutive daybreak walks at Cove Island Park.  Like in a row. And not one, not one, single Eagle sighting.

And if that’s not bad enough, George, 50% of my Swan duo, is posing behind the Baby Eagle, as if to say, wake up idiot. WTH.

I send the photographer (Pituco1501) a note: “Wow. Great shot. I was there this morning and thought I saw an eagle, but then said nah, can’t be.”

I had punched out a text to Susan & Eric seconds after what I thought was an eagle: “Swear I saw an Eagle, but missed the shot!”

Eric replies: “B.S. Dad. It was a pigeon.”

Nice. And this coming from my offspring.

Instagram Photographer replies:  “Thank you so much!!! I know it’s hard to see them. Be patient sooner or later you will!! 🦅🦅”

Nice touch with the Eagle emojis. If I can’t see them live, maybe I can roll around in emojis.

Be patient. Sooner or later you will. 🦅🦅

711 days, and counting.

My God, like when?


Notes:

Grace eludes you

I leave the restaurant after the sun has set. Rome is dark. I’m tired and need the shortest route to my hotel so I cut down a dim alley. The road turns rough. I trip along the way. I keep my head down, eyes squinting at my path, and so I don’t see the men first but hear them. They’re laughing. I move to one side of the alley and they move to the same side. I step the other way and so do they. There are four of them. I hear one speaking to me, but I don’t know what he is saying.

Their interest in me, their sound, turns me stony. I open my mouth and out comes not words, but strained guttural notes.

One man jogs past to stand behind me. Another puts his hand on my shoulder and backs me up, toward the wall, toward his friend. His friend is tall. They want to take my picture standing next to him. I’m short, a dwarf, which is funny, hysterical. I’m not real. Just a strange thing in the alley. The flash of their camera. I freeze. Then I’m back in the dark.

When I was a teenager, a man once watched me going up some stairs and he said, “Grace eludes you.” I seemed to be struggling, which struck him, I suppose, as ugly.

Does this man remember what he said to me? Does he return to the memory each time he sees stairs?

I still — two decades after this man watched me walk up the stairs — step aside to tie my shoe to allow people to go ahead of me. I fake phone calls so that others will walk up without me. I pretend to wait for someone who isn’t coming. I bide my time, clinging to my weak ruse of self protection, until no one is looking. I do not climb stairs until I can do so unobserved. I’ve never stopped preparing for the next person who will see me walk and deny me grace.

The way words stay, the way sentences stay, the way memories invade my present, the way a stranger looks at me and speaks: shards that become a mirror.

In Rome, men block my path. They are drunk. The tall one wants to leave, done with this picture project. Another man drops his phone. His friends laugh at his clumsiness. One taps the other’s chest and just like that they’re distracted by a new plan, a diverting interest, and they leave me without further incident and carry on with their night, never to think of this moment again.

Chloé Cooper Jones, Easy Beauty: A Memoir (Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster, April 5, 2022)

“I am in a bar in Brooklyn, listening to two men, my friends, discuss whether my life is worth living.”

So begins Chloé Cooper Jones’s bold, revealing account of moving through the world in a body that looks different than most. Jones learned early on to factor “pain calculations” into every plan, every situation. Born with a rare congenital condition called sacral agenesis which affects both her stature and gait, her pain is physical. But there is also the pain of being judged and pitied for her appearance, of being dismissed as “less than.” The way she has been seen—or not seen—has informed her lens on the world her entire life. She resisted this reality by excelling academically and retreating to “the neutral room in her mind” until it passed. But after unexpectedly becoming a mother (in violation of unspoken social taboos about the disabled body), something in her shifts, and Jones sets off on a journey across the globe, reclaiming the spaces she’d been denied, and denied herself.

TGIF: I see the bad moon a-rising


Notes:

  • Post Title: “Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival.
  • DK Photo: Moon. Waxing Gibbous Phase (93%). 52° F. 4:00 a.m. April 15, 2022.

Lightly Child, Lightly

I’m tired.

I want to build a cushion nest in a space under one of the windows where there’s a patch of sunlight and go to sleep.

— Jillian HortonWe Are All Perfectly Fine: A Memoir of Love, Medicine and Healing


Notes:

  • Photo: DK of Sully taking a nap in sunlight. (Wed, April 13, 2022)
  • Sully background
  • 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.”

I felt haunted by a monumental sense of failure, of aborted struggle and lost time.

I set out to write an exploration of music and its relation to the science of time. Music itself embodies time, shaping our sense of its passage through patterns of rhythm and harmony, melody and form. We feel that embodiment whenever we witness an orchestra’s collective sway and sigh to the movement of a baton, or measure a long car ride by the playlist of songs we’ve run through; every time we feel moved by music to dance; when we find, as we begin dancing, that we know intuitively how to take the rhythm into our bodies, that we are somehow sure of when and how the next beat will fall. Surely, I thought, there must be a scientific reason behind that innately human sense of embodied time, a way of grounding our musical intuition in physics and biology, if not completely quantifying it. But I also wanted to write about music because it has shaped the time of my own life more than almost anything else. I have played the violin for nearly twenty years, practicing five or six hours a day for most of them, because all I wanted was to become a soloist. When I realized in my early twenties that this never would be—and never had been—a possibility for me, I began to question why I had wasted so much time on music at all. I stopped playing for a while, and though I eventually picked it up again I no longer felt the same fire or ambition. Instead I felt haunted by a monumental sense of failure, of aborted struggle and lost time. Not only had the effort and sacrifice of the past all been for naught, but the future I had planned from that past seemed obliterated, too.

Natalie Hodges, from Prelude in “Uncommon Measure. A Journey Through Music, Performance, and the Science of Time” (Bellevue Literary Press, March 22, 2022)


This, is failure?


NY Times Book Review: The Violinist Natalie Hodges Writes About Her Devotion to Music & 12 Books We Recommend This Week (April 7, 2022)

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

All of us are a little untethered right now, which means a lot of projecting our own fears and anxieties onto other people. Sometimes, if we get really quiet—quiet enough to hear ourselves—we realize we know.

Emmanuel AchoIllogical: Saying Yes to a Life Without Limits (Flatiron Books: An Oprah Book, March 22, 2022)


Photo credit: Alessandro Gentile

Sea of Tranquility: A beat. A sip of water. Pacing is everything.

While (he) slips immediately into the same stasis that overcame him… It isn’t quite listlessness. He makes a careful inventory of his thoughts and decides that he isn’t unhappy. He just desires no further movement, for the time being. If there’s pleasure in action, there’s peace in stillness.

—  Emily St. John Mandel, Sea of Tranquility: A Novel (Knopf, April 5, 2022)


Notes:

  • Highly recommended.  Let’s just describe this as a Wow. (And if you can listen to book on Audible, a real plus. Excellent narration.)
  • NY Times Book Review: A Dazzling New Foray into Speculative Fiction From Emily St. John Mandel – “In Sea of Tranquility,” Mandel takes up existential questions of time and being…In “Sea of Tranquility,” Mandel offers one of her finest novels and one of her most satisfying forays into the arena of speculative fiction yet, but it is her ability to convincingly inhabit the ordinary, and her ability to project a sustaining acknowledgment of beauty, that sets the novel apart. As in Ishiguro, this is not born of some cheap, made-for-television, faux-emotional gimmick or mechanism, but of empathy and hard-won understanding, beautifully built into language, for all of us who inhabit this “green-and-blue world” and who one day might live well beyond.
  • Image via CBC

And then, there was One.


My Swans @ Daybreak. 6:37 am, April 9, 2022. 47° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.More photos from this morning here.

Walking. With a sound we do not hear that lifts the birds off the water.

I know it’s them. It has to be them. They’re back. The geese that I followed last year.  The Female that nested on the dock. The Male the hovered nearby offering ongoing protection.

I scan through old posts to find that it’s been almost one year to the day, April 11, 2021: “Nest. Where you make it.”

I pull into the park, my eyes hungrily seek them again. It’s been a week now since I’ve spotted them. There’s no nest on the platform. But they swim, quietly, alone, together.  Waiting, I would guess, for the Moment.

Their Moment. Bigger than the madness in Ukraine. Or the toxicity of Washington. Or the gang shootings in Sacramento.

And it’s Ilya Kaminsky from “That Map of Bone and Opened Valves” that seemed to capture how I felt as I stared down at them:

It’s the air.
Something in the air wants us too much.
The earth is still…
On the fourth day I touch the walls,
feel the pulse of the house and I
stare up wordless and do not know why I am alive…
a sound we do not hear
lifts the birds off the water.


Notes:

Lightly Child, Lightly

I notice something, a feeling in my chest. Lightness. Joy. Or something that tastes like it. That flicker you get, of a déjà vu. A place you were once, even though you can’t say where or when. I used to feel like this.

Jillian HortonWe Are All Perfectly Fine: A Memoir of Love, Medicine and Healing (HarperCollins Publishers, February 23, 2021)


Notes:

  • Portrait of and story on Jillian Horton via edialogue: “Reclaiming Herself”
  • 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.”

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

Start close in, 
don’t take the second step  
or the third, 
start with the first  thing  close in,  
the step 
you don’t want to take…

Do I have a first step I don’t want to take? …

What would it be, this step I don’t want to take?

— Jillian Horton, We Are All Perfectly Fine: A Memoir of Love, Medicine and Healing. Poem by David Whyte: “Start Close In


Image: Carolina Pimenta, Arts Center, Riberia Grande, Portugal (via Unsplash)

Sunday Morning


DK @ Daybreak. 6:44 am, April 3, 2022. 38° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT. More photos from this morning here.

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