Riding Metro North. With Nana.

5:55 am train to Grand Central. It’s the 2nd stop.  My head is down, I’m flipping through the morning papers.

The voice is soft, kind: “Excuse me.” She struggles to avoid contact as she slides to the middle seat; she’s directly across and to my left.

Someone’s Mother, Someone’s Grandmother, a Nana.

She settles in, straightening her neat, navy skirt. Her hands clutch a thin, pocket umbrella and rest on her lap, on top of a small black purse attached to a black shoulder strap.

Of Central American origin, Guatemalan, if I was guessing, of Mayan origin, guessing again.

I catch her in a quick glance at me, she was guessing: “Suit. Privileged. WASP. Ivy league educated. Money.” Wrong on most, but not all counts. OK, let’s call it wrong on some counts. [Read more…]

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

Why not just retire?

“Reinhold doesn’t really relax,” Hansjörg said.

“Do you know this saying he has on his website? ‘I am what I do.’ But I think he may also believe the opposite: ‘If I cease to do, I will not be.’

~ Caroline Alexander, on Reinhold Messner, “Murdering the Impossible. Superhumanly determined.” (National Geographic Magazine, November, 2006)


Reinhold Messner, 72is an Italian mountaineer, adventurer, explorer, and author. He made the first ascent of Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen and was the first climber to ascend all fourteen peaks over 8,000 metres (26,000 ft) above sea level. He was also the first person to cross Antarctica and Greenland with neither snowmobiles nor dog sleds. He crossed the Gobi Desert alone.


Photo: gripped.com

Miracle. All of it.

Each fork in the road: the choice to stay home, to go out, to catch the flight, or cancel it, to take the 1 train, to stop at the bar on the corner. The chance encounters, split-second decisions that make the design — that are the design. […] Change even one moment, the whole thing unravels. The narrative thread doesn’t stretch in a line from end to end, but rather, spools and unspools, loops around and returns again and again to the same spot. Come closer now and listen. Be thankful for all of it. […] A coup de foudre: a bolt of lightening. You would not have your bright and sunny boy. There is no other life than this. You would not have stumbled into the vastly imperfect, beautiful, impossible present.

~ Dani Shapiro, Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage


Notes:

  • Credits: Photo by Atsushi Korome (via mennyfox55). Quote: Brainpickings
  • Post Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
  • Related Live & Learn Posts: Miracle. All of it.

It’s like a great oak that rises up from the center of the human race and spreads its branches everywhere

Choral music is not one of life’s frills. It’s something that goes to the very heart of our humanity, our sense of community, and our souls. You express, when you sing, your soul in song. And when you get together with a group of other singers, it becomes more than the sum of the parts. All of those people are pouring out their hearts and souls in perfect harmony. Which is kind of an emblem for what we need in this world, when so much of the world is at odds with itself…that just to express, in symbolic terms, what it’s like when human beings are in harmony. That’s a lesson for our times and for all time. I profoundly believe that.And musical excellence is, of course, at the heart of it. But, even if a choir is not the greatest in the world, the fact that they are meeting together has a social value. It has a communal value. And I always say that a church or a school without a choir is like a body without a soul. We have to have a soul in our lives. And everybody tells me, who has sung in a choir, that they feel better for doing it. That whatever the cares of the day, if they maybe meet after a long day’s school or work, that somehow you leave your troubles at the door. And when you’re sitting there, making music for a couple hours at the end of the day, that’s the only thing that matters at that moment. And you walk away refreshed. You walk away renewed. And that’s a value that goes just beyond the music itself.

Of course, as a musician, I put the music at the heart of it, but all of these other values just stand out as a beacon. I think our politicians need to take note…my gosh do they ever! [laughs], and our educators, those who decide education budgets, church budgets, just need to remember it’s not a frill. It’s like a great oak that rises up from the center of the human race and spreads its branches everywhere. That’s what music does for us. And choral music must stand as one of the supreme examples of it.

John RutterThe Importance of Choir


Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels

I am bound to praise the simple life, because I have lived it and found it good.

I am bound to praise the simple life, because I have lived it and found it good. When I depart from it, evil results follow. I love a small house, plain clothes, simple living. Many persons know the luxury of a skin bath — a plunge in the pool or the wave unhampered by clothing. That is the simple life — direct and immediate contact with things, life with the false wrappings torn away — the fine house, the fine equipage, the expensive habits, all cut off. How free one feels, how good the elements taste, how close one gets to them, how they fit one’s body and one’s soul! To see the fire that warms you, or better yet, to cut the wood that feeds the fire that warms you; to see the spring where the water bubbles up that slakes your thirst, and to dip your pail into it; to see the beams that are the stay of your four walls, and the timbers that uphold the roof that shelters you; to be in direct and personal contact with the sources of your material life; to want no extras, no shields; to find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter; to find a quest of wild berries more satisfying than a gift of tropic fruit; to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest, or over a wildflower in spring — these are some of the rewards of the simple life.

~ John BurroughsThe Writings of John Burroughs (1908)


Sources: Photo – Shutterstock. Quote: Thank you The Hammock Papers

Running. 10, On Great Friday.

Zero Interest. Not on my bucket list. Not sure what possessed me to agree to it.” A colleague at work convinced her to sign up for the SHAPE Women’s Half Marathon in Central Park at the end of the month.

“Rachel, you aren’t a runner. You’ve never run. Do you realize how far that is?”

“Dad, I can always count on you for encouragement. You’re always right there for me.”

So, I watch. Fully expecting her to pull the rip cord and bail.

She’s following the recommended training regimen for newbies. I follow from the shadows as her notifications ping my smart watch, signaling completion of her treadmill runs, her outdoor runs, her elliptical sessions. Her pace: consistently sub 9-minute miles.

Disbelief. [Read more…]

Saturday Morning


it is…quiet…morning
warm sunlight and cool,
crisp air streams through my open window.
my room is heavy with the smell
of flowers, vines, grass, and growth.
the only sounds are of…
a gentle wind chime,
and my own steady, deep breathing.

~ L. J. Buchanan, from Conceptual solitude


Photo: Heinz-Dieter with morning breeze

It all began with her

Bob Greene, excerpts from I Actually Thanked A TeacherNow 88, she gave me a refresher in the lesson I’d learned in first grade: how to read the word ‘look.’ (wsj.com, April 12, 2017):

…My first-grade teacher was named Patricia Ruoff…I still recall the day she helped me learn the first word I could ever read…and she showed me what the shape of the four letters on the first page meant, and what they sounded like. That one word: “Look.”

I went home so thrilled that day. I knew how to read a word. “Look.” When the day had begun I hadn’t known it, and now I did. Such a magical feeling, accompanied by the sure knowledge that other words would soon follow. […]

it became important to me to find that teacher. It took some doing—it turns out she has been twice widowed, and thus has had two different last names since back then—but I reached a woman on the telephone who I thought might be her.

“I’m sorry if I have the wrong number,” I said. “But I’m looking for a Patricia Ruoff, who once was a schoolteacher.”

“Yes,” the voice said. “You have the right person.”

“You taught me to read,” I said.

I told her my name.

“Oh, Bobby,” she said. […] [Read more…]

Lightly child, lightly.

I
am engulfed,
I
succumb…

~ Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse Fragments

Notes:

  • Photo:  Noell S. Oszvald (Self portrait!!!!!) via Your Eyes Blaze Out
  • 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.”

Dinner (Together)

Q: In your memoir The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen, you talk about the importance of having dinner as a family, having everyone together to discuss the issues of the day.

Jacques Pépin: For me, the kitchen is the center of the house. When a kid comes back from school, you sit down in that kitchen and you do your homework. You hear the voice of your mother, your father, you hear the clink of pots and pans, you see the ingredients, the smells. All of that will stay with you the rest of your life. You know, that becomes very important. For a child just home from school, the kitchen is a great place to be.

~ Don’t miss full interview @ GQ.com: Jacques Pépin  (April 11, 2017)


Sources: Quote – Thank you Harvey @ The Happy Curmudgeon. Photo: L.A. Times

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