Sunday Morning

Yes, and I think we all know that sensation. We have more and more time-saving devices but less and less time, it seems to us. When I was a boy, the sense of luxury had to do with a lot of space, maybe having a big house or a huge car. Now I think luxury has to do with having a lot of time. The ultimate luxury now might be just a blank space in the calendar. And interestingly enough, that’s what we crave, I think, so many of us.

When I moved from New York City to rural Japan — after my year in Kyoto, I essentially moved to a two-room apartment, which is where I still live with my wife and, formerly, our two kids. We don’t have a car or a bicycle or a T.V. I can understand. It’s very simple, but it feels very luxurious. One reason is that when I wake up, it seems as if the whole day stretches in front of me like an enormous meadow, which is never a sensation I had when I was in go-go New York City. I can spend five hours at my desk. And then I can take a walk. And then I can spend one hour reading a book where, as I read, I can feel myself getting deeper and more attentive and more nuanced. It’s like a wonderful conversation.

Then I have a chance to take another walk around the neighborhood and take care of my emails and keep my bosses at bay and then go and play ping pong and then spend the evening with my wife. It seems as if the day has a thousand hours, and that’s exactly what I tend not to experience or feel when I’m — for example, today in Los Angeles — moving from place to place. I suppose it’s a trade-off. I gave up financial security, and I gave up the excitements of the big city. But I thought it was worth it in order to have two things, freedom and time. The biggest luxury I enjoy when I’m in Japan is, as soon as I arrive there, I take off my watch, and I feel I never need to put it on again. I can soon begin to tell the time by how the light is slanting off our walls at sunrise and when the darkness falls — and I suppose back to a more essential human life.

~ Pico Iyer, The Urgency of Slowing Down. An Interview with Krista Tippett (Onbeing, November, 2018)

Guilty

Turning, one evening, from my phone to a book, I set myself the task of reading a single chapter in one sitting. Simple. But I couldn’t. There was nothing wrong with my eyes. No stroke or disease clouded my way. Yet – if I’m being honest – the failure was also not a surprise.

Paragraphs swirled; sentences snapped like twigs; and sentiments bled out. The usual, these days. I drag my vision across the page and process little. Half an hour later, I throw down the book and watch some Netflix…

So, it’s been unnerving to realize: I have forgotten how to read – really read – and I’ve been refusing to talk about it out of pride…

Online life makes me into a different kind of reader – a cynical one. I scrounge, now, for the useful fact; I zero in on the shareable link. My attention – and thus my experience – fractures. Online reading is about clicks, and comments, and points. When I take that mindset and try to apply it to a beaten-up paperback, my mind bucks.

Author Nicholas Carr writes that, “digital technologies are training us to be more conscious of and more antagonistic toward delays of all sorts.” We become, “more intolerant of moments of time that pass without the arrival of new stimuli.” So, I throw down the old book, craving mental Tabasco sauce. And yet not every emotion can be reduced to an emoji, and not every thought can be conveyed via tweet.

~ Michael Harris, “I have forgotten how to read.” For a long time Michael Harris convinced himself that a childhood spent immersed in old-fashioned books would insulate him from our new media climate – that he could keep on reading in the old way because his mind was formed in pre-internet days. He was wrong.

Read on: “I Have Forgotten How to Read.” (The Globe and Mail, Feb 9, 2018)

 

 

Walking Cross-Town. @ 80%.

It’s cold.

I’m zigzagging cross town.

I hit red lights and turn to walk up avenues. I approach walk signs, and turn back down streets.

The skyscrapers cradle the wind currents, they gust and swirl, and find the exposed skin: the neckline, the forehead, up the pant leg — both eyes gush water.

I reflect on a conversation from the day before.

“How you feeling?”

“Much better thanks. But I’m a bit shocked at how quickly I tire. And I have these intermittent bouts of lightheadness. Destabilizing, really.”

“You had material blood loss. You know that red blood cells take 4-6 weeks for complete replacement.”

You had no idea. None. Zero. How little interest you take in something so important to your sustenance. Yet that doesn’t seem to rock you as much as knowing the older you get, the less you seem to know. This jolt makes you lightheaded. Or perhaps it’s the speed walking, and a shortage of red blood cells.

I slow down. Way down. The lightheadness grows.

This movie is running in slow motion. Other pedestrians pass you by. Others pass you by. This makes you uncomfortable. You are losing, behind, slipping, slowing. Increasingly you are feeling ok with that. Really? Are You? Not really. You try to accelerate…want to…can’t…don’t…need to.

I stop. [Read more…]

Gotta have these boots. Now. Right Now.

Dianne Alfaro sat in a pew in the back of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, her head bowed during Mass on Sunday morning. She cast her eyes down as the hymn “Jerusalem My Happy Home” swelled around her.

As the words “Hosanna in the highest!” echoed in the cathedral, she never looked up. That is, until she finished buying a pair of black boots off the internet on her iPhone.

“At some point, the priest during the Mass says, ‘Lift up your hearts.’ He does not say, ‘Lift up your cellphones to take pictures,’” Pope Francis said last week during a general audience at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, where he urged Catholics to leave their phones home.

But during Sunday Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, it seemed either the pontiff’s message had not yet reached across the Atlantic or the churchgoers were not listening.

Beside a font of holy water, tourists took in the Mass via the screens of their phones, some mounted on selfie sticks. By the entrance, devotees stood praying, but every so often phone-holding hands would pop up above the crowd to snap a picture. One man stood in the back, hunched in what appeared to be deep devotion — to select the perfect photo filter for his picture of the cathedral’s eaves.

In the pews, most people pored over the missals. But a surreptitious few checked email, planting their phone between the pages of the Psalms. One woman strode boldly through the nave as the organ played, her earbuds in, video chatting all the while.

“It’s probably a trend they should embrace,” said Edward Zhong, 25, a doctor visiting from Australia with his brother Mark, 21, who spent much of the homily taking pictures. Dr. Zhong suggested the church might go so far as create an app for use during Mass. “They probably could access a greater demographic — people who are born with an iPhone in their hand.”

Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, said that some churches already offer apps, a trend he does not approve. “There are enough occasions for our mind to wander during Mass; we shouldn’t be using these artificial things that take us away,” he said. […]

But as the Mass ended, Ms. Alfaro, shoes newly purchased, was unrepentant. She finds her connection with God, she said, on her own time, in her own way. And as for internet shopping in the pew, she added, “It’s not a sin.”

~ Sarah Maslin Nir, excerpts from Pope Says No Phones in Church. Parishioners Keep Scrolling. (NY Times, Nov 12, 2017)


Notes:

  • Post Inspiration: Thank you Karl Duffy via Mindfulbalance: “How much does a person lack in him or herself who must have many things?” by Sen no Rikyū (1522 – 1591)
  • Photo: Nordstrom

Running. With This.

sky-blue-birds

What cycles up When on the random shuffle on a 7,231 song playlist and Why?

Is it so random?

The ears tune into her lyrics, Joan Armatrading’s “Heaven“:

“Am I in Heaven? Am I in Heaven? Am I in Heaven? Have I gone up. Have I gone up. To the big cloud.”

This asphalt. This footfall. This foam cushioning my footfall. This swoosh of a flock overhead. This red breasted robin foraging on the damp grass. This gentle morning breeze cooling. This bead of sweat that’s made its way from forehead to cheek to lips, this salt lick.  This sky stretching to the heavens, down to earth, to this ground, to this hip, this thigh, this leg, this calf, these feet – all propelling this body forward.

This, not the Rue de l’Abreuvoir in Paris. Not the Ramblas in Barcelona. Or the gardens of Łazienki Królewskie in Warsaw. This patch of ground here. Here. Now. [Read more…]

the simplicity, flexibility and tactility of the page

moleskine

“Sometimes, I just want to get rid of all the technology and sit down in a quiet space with a pen and paper,” she says. “There are so many apps out there and I feel like no one app gives me everything that I need. I’ve tried and really given them a go, doing those to-do lists of having your priorities or brain storming using lots of different apps … [but] when I get a pen and paper, or when I’m using my old-fashioned diary and pen, it just feels more flexible to me. I can always pull it out. I can focus.”

Angela Ceberano is anything but a technophobe. A digital native with a strong social-media presence, she splits her time between traditional and new media, and between Australia and San Francisco.  For certain tasks, she just prefers the simplicity, flexibility and tactility of the page.  But instead of spreadsheets and fancy smartphone apps, the Melbourne, Australia-based founder of public relations firm Flourish PR, uses notepads, an old-fashioned diary, coloured pens and a stack of magazines.

~ Alison Birrane, from Why paper is the real ‘killer app’


Photo of Moleskine Notebook by extrasist0le

Be Better

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NY Times 11 Ways to Be a Better Person in 2017:

Second annual semi-serious list of self-improvement tips, gleaned from the Styles stories that resonated most with readers in 2017. Here’s how to be healthy, happy and a little bit Canadian in 2017.” (And if you’d like to go deeper, our 15 tips for 2016 still hold up.)”

All dust and flashing hooves

hooves-dust

Certainly, being in the moment would seem impossible in our culture’s time-fissioning present, our iPhoned, Facebooked, Googled, Twittered restlessness, our desperate fear of missing the latest morsel of information, our attention never more than a nanosecond from seduction — our discontinuous, du jour present, a Smithsonian so densely packed with experiential exhibits that no lingering look, no settled examination, seems permitted. No sooner do we settle into a moment than another gallops by, all dust and flashing hooves.

~ Jerry DeNuccio, from “A Moment.” Just as you’re ”in” the moment, another moment comes. What to do?. 


Notes: Quote – Thank you Beth at Alive on All Channels. Photo: Richard Baxter (Harcourt, Australia) with Spirit Dance

 

To see the full miraculous essentiality of the color blue is to be grateful with no necessity for a word of thanks

blue-sky-palm-trees-clouds

Gratitude is the understanding that many millions of things come together and live together and mesh together and breathe together in order for us to take even one more breath of air, that the underlying gift of life and incarnation as a living, participating human being is a privilege; that we are miraculously, part of something, rather than nothing. Even if that something is temporarily pain or despair, we inhabit a living world, with real faces, real voices, laughter, the color blue, the green of the fields, the freshness of a cold wind, or the tawny hue of a winter landscape.

To see the full miraculous essentiality of the color blue is to be grateful with no necessity for a word of thanks. To see fully, the beauty of a daughter’s face across the table, of a son’s outline against the mountains, is to be fully grateful without having to seek a God to thank him. To sit among friends and strangers, hearing many voices, strange opinions; to intuit even stranger inner lives beneath calm surface lives, to inhabit many worlds at once in this world, to be a someone amongst all other someones, and therefore to make a conversation without saying a word, is to deepen our sense of presence and therefore our natural sense of thankfulness that everything happens both with us and without us, that we are participants and witness all at once.

Thankfulness finds its full measure in generosity of presence, both through participation and witness. We sit at the table as part of every other person’s strange world while making our own world without will or effort, this is what is extraordinary and gifted, this is the essence of gratefulness, seeing to the heart of privilege.

Thanksgiving happens when our sense of presence meets and fully beholds all other presences. Being unappreciative, feeling distant, might mean we are simply not paying attention.

~ David Whyte, from “Gratitude” in Consolation: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words

 


Notes: Quote: Thank you Beth @ Alive on all Channels. Photo: Ethnoscape via Blue in My World

Saturday, June 18th. I want –

relax-read-hammock

“…June 18th. I want –

Time, leisure to draw and study a few things closely by feeling, not thinking – to get at things.

I want laughter, its satisfaction and balance and wide security.

I want a chance to play, to do things I choose just for the joy of doing, for no purpose of advancement.

To understand patiently the laws of growing things. I feel there is no time for these because I am driven by the crowd, filling my days with earning money, and keeping up with friends – like a ping-pong ball.”

~ Marion Milner, A Life of One’s Own (Originally published in 1934)


Notes:

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