T.G.I.F.

As he grew older, his life turned into an agreeable routine, with enough human contact to sustain and divert, but not disturb, him. He knew the contentment of feeling less. His emotional life was recast as a social life. He was on nodding and smiling terms with many… He prized stoicism and calm, which he had achieved less through some exercise of philosophy, more from a slow growth within him; a growth like coral, which in most weathers was strong enough to keep out the ocean breakers. Except when it wasn’t.

~ Julian Barnes, The Only Story (Alfred A. Knopf, April 17, 2018)


Art: Phenomenon no. 1 by WanJim Gim (Seoul, Korea)

T.G.I.F.: “I’m done.”

Onward to the night, which is to say insomnia, cell phone on the bedside table, the mind drilling away with yet more frantic interior list-making. Don’t forget! Remember to … Have you … Did you …? Whole decades can go this way—and have—not just in domestic detail, but awash in the brackish flotsam of endeavor, failure and success, responsibility and reward. My work, as I say with foolish vanity. Deadlines piled upon deadlines. That devilishly apt word deadline, the heart seizing as if shot, hands wringing for a reprieve—a week, a day? But delivering. Always delivering. You can count on me. That, in fact, is the problem…

What a surprise—to discover it’s all about leisure, apparently, this fugitive Real Life, abandoned all those years to the “limitless capacity for toil.” What a hard worker you are: always taken as a compliment. You can count on me. Smiling. Deadline met. Always. You should try meditating or maybe yoga, yoga’s good, someone suggested when I mentioned the fevered to-do lists, the sometimes alarming blood pressure readings, the dark-night-of-the-soul insomnia. But meditating is just another thing. Yoga? Another task, yet another item for the to-do list. I find I cannot add another item. I’m done.

~ Patricia Hampl, The Art of the Wasted Day (Published April 17, 2018)


Portrait: upne.com

Riding Metro-North. With Aglets & Eyelets.

Irritated. 

I’m not going to lay down words here about my non-eventful walk to the train station, the brooding weather (light rain), what morning train I’m running to catch, or what day it was. DrossWho cares?

No. I’m not going to spew my wonder (disgust) as to how it’s possible, on the 3rd train of the morning (pre-6am) to be standing. Standing, Again, on a 56 minute ride to Grand Central. There are worse things you ingrate. Hmmmmm….possibly one or two things worse.

I carve out my less-than-a-square-meter of space in the vestibule, among the other Unfortunates. I set my bag down, and grab the stainless steel pole. Relax. Take a deep breath DK. Look at the others around you, in exactly the same situation, yet remain poised, calm, accepting. 

And then there’s you.

Unmoored by a slight ripple of inconvenience, and your mind is chattering, battering, judging.  Me vs. Me, both sides punching.  This whole meditation thing, is just not there, not in the wiring.  It’s like you wish you had copper piping running through the entire house, but it’s plastic. It will always be plastic. It will only ever be plastic.  So accept ‘that.’ [Read more…]

Riding Metro-North. With Missionary Man.

What does it take to sit? No, I mean Sit. Not sit with your iPhone. Or sit with your iPad.  Or sit with your book. Or sit with your paper.

Just Sit.

He was in the window seat in a three seater. I took the aisle. The middle seat was empty.

It’s a one hour ride on the third train of the morning, the 5:56 Metro North to Grand Central, an Express.

His hands rested on his lap. There was nothing particularly distinguishing. Black loafers. Smart black coat. Black slacks. Thin brown leather case, comfortably worn.

He would occasionally glance out the window. And then return, looking straight ahead.

Man at Peace, of normal height and weight, casting a mountain of a shadow.

My hands would not, could not reach for my earbuds. The iPhone heavy, an anvil. My case, stuffed with other electronics and power cords, and papers, a barrel under arm.

I’m restless, fidgety, and shift in my seat — left, right, and back again. And do over. And over. And over.

I want to be that. Him. [Read more…]

Saturday Morning

Do your work, I tell myself. And after? Find a patch of lawn and sit down and hug your knees to your chest and let everything you’ve ever been told and everything you’ve ever seen mingle together in a show just for you, your own eye-popping pageant of existence, your own twelve-thousand-line epic poem. The tickle of the grass on your thighs, the sky moving over you, sunless or blue, echoes from a homily or a wedding toast or a letter your grandmother sent. Remember something good, a sunburn you liked the feeling of, a plate of homemade pasta. Do your work, Kelly. Then lean back. Rest from the striving to reduce.

~ Kelly Corrigan, Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say (January 9, 2018)


Photo: poppins-me

Resolutions. Day 1.

Today I want
to resolve nothing.

I only want to walk
a little longer in the cold…

Kim Addonizio, from “New Year’s Day” in Tell Me


Notes:

  • Inspired by Lucille Clifton, “I am running into a new year” (via Read a Little Poetry): i am running into a new year / and the old years blow back / like a wind / that i catch in my hair / like strong fingers like / all my old promises and / it will be hard to let go / of what i said to myself / about myself…
  • Poem Source – Memory’s Landscape.
  • Photo: Frozen Lake Tremblant in the Laurentides region of Quebec. Photo by Timothy A. Clary, Agence France, wsj.com December 24, 2017)

It’s been a long day

In the darkness he was looking sideways at me. I said nothing for a moment; there had seemed to be some special emphasis on the last sentence.

‘Is this also what you meant by being psychic?’ ‘

It is what I mean by hazard. There comes a time in each life like a point of fulcrum. At that time you must accept yourself. It is not any more what you will become. It is what you are and always will be. You are too young to know this. You are still becoming. Not being.’

‘Perhaps.’

‘Not perhaps. For certain.’

‘What happens if one doesn’t recognize the… point of fulcrum?’ …

‘You will be like the many. Only the few recognize this moment. And act on it.’

‘The elect?’

‘The elect.’

~ John Fowles, The Magus


Notes:

Saturday Morning

It’s a gift, this cloudless … morning
warm enough to walk without a jacket
along your favorite path. The rhythmic shushing
of your feet through fallen leaves should be
enough to quiet the mind…

The rising wind pulls you out of it,
and you look up to see a cloud of leaves
wheeling in sunlight, flickering against the blue
and lifting above the treetops, as if the whole day
were sighing, Let it go, let it go,
for this moment at least, let it all go
.

~ Jeffrey Harrison, from Enough

 


Notes: Poem from Poets.org.  Photo: niaz uddin (Eastern Sierra Mountains)

 

That’s when you want something a little milder, don’t you?

I’m not very interested in my school days and feel no special nostalgia for them. But I remember Sixth Form. In those days, we imagined ourselves as being in a holding pen, waiting to be released into our lives. And when that moment would come, we would be at university. How were we to know that our lives had already begun, and our release would only be to a large holder pen. And in time, a larger holding pen. When you were young, you want your emotions to be like the ones you read about in books. You want them to overturn your life and create a new reality. But as that second hand insists on speeding up and time delivers us all to quickly into middle age, and then old age, that’s when you want something a little milder, don’t you? You want your emotions to support your life as it has become. You want them to tell you that everything is going to be ok.

And is there anything wrong with that?

~ Tony (Jim Broadbent), A Sense of An Ending (2017)


Notes:

Running. Around Gitche Gumee.

6:37 am, Sunday morning. Father’s Day 2017.  57º F, rain is falling. No, better depicted as the heavens opening up, c’était le déluge!

I’m running.

An eerie, fifty foot layer of fog hangs over Lake Superior. I’m looking out at the break wall at Presque Isle Park in Marquette Michigan. I’m alone on the “Island”, as it is referred to by the locals. The park is closed to car traffic.  Alone on a 323 acre island, my idyllic state.

It’s not November, but I start humming passages from Gordon Lightfoot’s The Wreck of Edmund Fitzgerald:

In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed,
In the maritime sailors’ cathedral
The church bell chimed till it rang twenty-nine times
For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call ‘gitche gumee’
Superior, they said, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early

The day before, we walked this same two mile track.  Black flies were feeding on the leeward side of the island, Humans were on the breakfast menu. You don’t see a single insect on 47th and Madison in NYC with tons of auto exhaust and air conditioner coolant spilling into the atmosphere 24 x 7 – the invisible chemical mist numbing everything in its path. [Read more…]

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