It may take God

Alejandro García Restrepo

Today, God, help me focus on a peaceful pace rather than a harried one.

I will keep moving forward gently, not frantically.

Help me let go of my need to be anxious, upset, and harried.

Help me replace it with a need to be at peace and in harmony.

~ Melody Beattie, from “Going Easy” in The Language of Letting Go


Photo: Alejandro García Restrepo via I Hear It in the Deep Heart’s Core

the great bull with its fierce eye, its head raised, its four hooves planted on the summit, at the edge of the abyss

beethoven-1987-andy-warhol

In painting his portrait, I paint that of his stock — our century, our dream, ourselves and our companion with the bleeding feet: Joy. Not the gross joy of the soul that gorges itself in its stable, but the joy of ordeal, of pain, of battle, of suffering overcome, of victory over one’s self, the joy of destiny subdued, espoused, fecundated… And the great bull with its fierce eye, its head raised, its four hooves planted on the summit, at the edge of the abyss, whose roar is heard above the time. […]

If he cannot do this in the world of facts, he wills it in the world of art; everything becomes for him a field on which to deploy the battalions of his thoughts, his desires, his regrets, his furies, his melancholies. […]

The hammer is not all: the anvil also is necessary. Had destiny descended only upon some weakling, or on an imitation great man, and bent his back under this burden, there would have been no tragedy in it, only an everyday affair. But here destiny meets one of its own stature, who “seizes it by the throat,” who is at savage grips with it all the night till the dawn — the last dawn of all — and who, dead at last, lies with his two shoulders touching the earth, but in his death is carried victorious on his shield; one who out of his wretchedness has created a richness, out of his infirmity the magic wand that opens the rock.

~ Romain Rolland, on Beethoven’s struggle with his loss of hearing at 28 in Beethoven the Creator

 


Notes:

Walking. Walking it down the cheek.

tear-cheek

1:32 am.

Halldór’s nightlessness and insomnia in all directions.

A new routine, and I’ve grooved it. To bed early, wake early, read to exhaustion, and back to sleep until sunrise.

I flick on the iPad, illuminating the dark. I get after it. The Journal. The Times. Apple News. Blog posts. RSS feeds in Feedly. A few late night incoming emails. And then to dessert, a chapter or two on Kindle, half-way through Lebedev’s Oblivion.  It’s 3:15 am, I’m turning pages on a title called Oblivion, now that’s something. You must sleep, or you will pay dearly.

I set the e-gear down, turn on the left side, and pull up the covers. Fragments of news, pages, posts, emails and today’s full day calendar are flitting by, churning, the mind workin’, workin’. Anxiety…A piece rises to the top. Begley: “A compulsion is at once psychological balm and curse, surface madness and profound relief…The ability of compulsive behaviors to quiet anxieties great and small is one of the greatest gifts our brains can give us.”

I pause, close my eyes, and marinate in this…if this is the greatest gift our brains can give us, I am fully gifted, fully loaded. FULL UP.

And, then, it stopped. The churning stopped. [Read more…]

Running. Born Blue to Run.

blue-art-sky

I’m less than mile in, on a planned five-miler. It’s not good. The worm flips the stomach over, and over, and over. Nausea. This will pass, don’t stop, run through it.

It doesn’t pass.

Bile backs up the throat, coats the molars and scurries forward. The gag reflex is triggered. I hunch over, hands clutch the knee caps. OMG. 

I stand upright, soldier-like, arms and hands hang. Eyes shut, tears slide down both cheeks, I make no effort to clear. I need this moment. Just a moment to re-grip. 

I grab the water bottle, gargle, and spew. Most clears, too much does not. A thick stream runs down the zipper line of the coat. Puking, on yourself, nice. 

I re-start. The north wind gusts and makes contact, tear ducts gush water, the track in front is a blur. Whoa. Easy does it. [Read more…]

How Does It Feel

patti-smith-nobel-prize

This was so (SO) good. I’ve clipped most of her essay below but not all. Here are excerpts from Patti Smith’s How Does It Feel from the December 14, 2016 issue of The New Yorker:


…In September, I was approached to sing at the Nobel Prize ceremony, honoring the laureate for literature, who was then unknown. It would be a few days in Stockholm, in a beautiful hotel, overlooking the water—an honorable opportunity to shine, contemplate, and write. I chose one of my songs that I deemed appropriate to perform with the orchestra.

But when it was announced that Bob Dylan had won the prize and accepted, it seemed no longer fitting for me to sing my own song. I found myself in an unanticipated situation, and had conflicting emotions. In his absence, was I qualified for this task? Would this displease Bob Dylan, whom I would never desire to displease? But, having committed myself and weighing everything, I chose to sing “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” a song I have loved since I was a teen-ager, and a favorite of my late husband.

From that moment, every spare moment was spent practicing it, making certain that I knew and could convey every line. Having my own blue-eyed son, I sang the words to myself, over and over, in the original key, with pleasure and resolve. I had it in my mind to sing the song exactly as it was written and as well as I was capable of doing. I bought a new suit, I trimmed my hair, and felt that I was ready.

On the morning of the Nobel ceremony, I awoke with some anxiety. It was pouring rain and continued to rain heavily…By the time I reached the concert hall, it was snowing. I had a perfect rehearsal with the orchestra. I had my own dressing room with a piano, and I was brought tea and warm soup. I was aware that people were looking forward to the performance. Everything was before me.

I thought of my mother, who bought me my first Dylan album when I was barely sixteen. She found it in the bargain bin at the five-and-dime and bought it with her tip money. “He looked like someone you’d like,” she told me. I played the record over and over, my favorite being “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.” It occurred to me then that, although I did not live in the time of Arthur Rimbaud, I existed in the time of Bob Dylan. I also thought of my husband and remembered performing the song together, picturing his hands forming the chords.

And then suddenly it was time. The orchestra was arranged on the balcony overlooking the stage, where the King, the royal family, and the laureates were seated. I sat next to the conductor. The evening’s proceedings went as planned. As I sat there, I imagined laureates of the past walking toward the King to accept their medals. Hermann Hesse, Thomas Mann, Albert Camus. Then Bob Dylan was announced as the Nobel Laureate in Literature, and I felt my heart pounding. After a moving speech dedicated to him was read, I heard my name spoken and I rose. As if in a fairy tale, I stood before the Swedish King and Queen and some of the great minds of the world, armed with a song in which every line encoded the experience and resilience of the poet who penned them.

The opening chords of the song were introduced, and I heard myself singing. The first verse was passable, a bit shaky, but I was certain I would settle. But instead I was struck with a plethora of emotions, avalanching with such intensity that I was unable to negotiate them. From the corner of my eye, I could see the the huge boom stand of the television camera, and all the dignitaries upon the stage and the people beyond. Unaccustomed to such an overwhelming case of nerves, I was unable to continue. I hadn’t forgotten the words that were now a part of me. I was simply unable to draw them out. [Read more…]

Truth

anxiety-news-terrorist-fear-chart


Source: Indexed – Existential Heartburn

 

Thundering Hubbub

patty-maher

Nothing is wrong.
The mind says that
Something is wrong which activates
An inner drive to do something
It is thought alone that destroys your peace.

~ Wu Hsin, excerpt from Morning Statements from This Too: The Water Cave Tutelage


Photograph: Patty Maher via Aberrant Beauty

 

Walking Cross-Town. With Thunderdome.

Night-Traveler-trying-to-locate-Broadway-and-Jefferson.-L.A.-Examiner-February-4-1953

The cross-walk.
The yellow cabs.
The street lights.
The cart vendor stacking his bananas.
Real things.

Yet, Upstairs, is the real show.
I turn the dials.
The brightness.
The contrast.
The tint.
And finally, the color.
The picture in picture is sharp, vivid.

I turn my attention to the World,
Gray, blurry, rushing.
A slide projector, click, click, click, click.

But the Tom-Toms beat in Thunderdome.
The Man swings his sticks.
He whips his shoulder-length hair back,
it’s sopping wet from perspiration, it rains. [Read more…]

What’s under it – hell, a snake pit, the repository of nightmares?

blue-art

I was way back in terra incognita with a friend.
At the edge of a black-spruce bog in a thicket
we found a moss-covered cement slab with iron rings.
We are fearful.
We questioned,
what’s under it – hell, a snake pit, the repository of nightmares?
My friend indicates it’s up to me,
I mean the contents.
We lift the slab aside.
The pit is full of brilliant blue sky.

~ Jim Harrison, from “Dream as a Metaphor of Survival,” Just Before Dark: Collected Nonfiction


Credits: Quote – Memory’s Landscape. Art: Trang Bui – Kind of Blue I via Exercice de Style

 

Did you feel this too?

paris-terrorist-flag-blood

After great pain, a formal feeling comes—

The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs—

In the days after Paris, Emily Dickinson’s poem kept ringing through my mind as I tried to figure out what I felt—and, surprisingly, didn’t feel. I did not, as the facts emerged and the story took its full size, feel surprised. Nor did I feel swept by emotion, as I had in the past. The sentimental tweeting of that great moment in “Casablanca” when they stand to sing “La Marseillaise” left me unmoved. I didn’t feel anger, really. I felt grave, as if something huge and terrible had shifted and come closer. Did you feel this too?

[…]

I feel certain that in the days after the attack people were thinking: This isn’t going to stop.

~ Peggy Noonan, Uncertain Leadership in Perilous Times


Image: The Economist

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