Lightly Child, Lightly


I hadn’t known that a light could be a feeling and a sound could be a color and a kiss could be both a question and an answer.

And that heaven could be the ocean or a person or this moment or something else entirely.

—  Megan Miranda, Fracture. (Walker Childrens; January 17, 2012) 


Notes:

  • Quote: Thank you The Vale of Soul-Making)
  • Photo: DK, Cove Island Park, May 6, 2022 @ Twilight. 5:19 am.  More photos from that morning 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.”

Lightly Child, Lightly

The wonder of a moment in which there is nothing but an upwelling of simple happiness is utterly awesome. Gratitude is so close to the bone of life, pure and true, that it instantly stops the rational mind, and all its planning and plotting. That kind of let go is fiercely threatening. I mean, where might such gratitude end?


Notes:

  • Quote: Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels)
  • Photo: Debby Hudson @ Fort Lauderdale, FL. (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.”

Sunday Morning

My spirituality has always been given to contemplation, even before anyone articulated for me exactly what “the contemplative” was. I was not raised in an overtly religious home; my spiritual formation now comes to me in memories—not creeds or doctrine, but the air we breathed, stories, myth, and a kind of attentiveness. From a young age, my siblings and I were allowed to travel deep into our interior worlds to become aware of ourselves, our loves, our beliefs. And still, my father demanded an unflinching awareness of our exterior worlds. Where is home from here? What was the waitress’s name? Where do we look when we’re walking? If a single phrase could be considered the mantra of our family, it would be Pay attention.

—  Cole Arthur Riley, This Here Flesh: Spirituality, Liberation, and the Stories That Make Us (Convergent Books, February 22, 2022)

 

Sunday Morning

But there’s not much in the Gospel about the afterlife—John is the only one who talks about it. And doesn’t that seem strange? If the afterlife is so important? When the rich young man asks Jesus how he might have eternal life, Jesus doesn’t give him a straight answer… But I’ve read those verses a hundred times. The rich young man asks about eternity, and Jesus tells him to give away his money. He says what to do in the present—as if the present is where you find eternity—and I think that’s right. Eternity is a mystery to us, just like God is a mystery. It doesn’t have to mean rejoicing in heaven or burning in hell. It could be a timeless state of grace or bottomless despair. I think there’s eternity in every second we’re alive.

Jonathan Franzen, Crossroads: A Novel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, October 5, 2021)

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

The present, we assume, is eternally before us, one of the few things in life from which we cannot be parted. It overwhelms us in the painful first moments of entry into the world, when it is still too new to be managed or negotiated, remains by our side during childhood and adolescence, in those years before the weight of memory and expectation, and so it is sad and a little unsettling to see that we become, as we grow older, much less capable of touching, grazing, or even glimpsing it, that the closest we seem to get to the present are those brief moments we stop to consider the spaces our bodies are occupying, the intimate warmth of the sheets in which we wake, the scratched surface of the window on a train taking us somewhere else, as if the only way we can hold time still is by trying physically to prevent the objects around us from moving. The present, we realize, eludes us more and more as the years go by, showing itself for fleeting moments before losing us in the world’s incessant movement, fleeing the second we look away and leaving scarcely a trace of its passing, or this at least is how it usually seems in retrospect, when in the next brief moment of consciousness, the next occasion we are able to hold things still, we realize how much time has passed since we were last aware of ourselves, when we realize how many days, weeks, and months have slipped by without our consent. Events take place, moods ebb and flow, people and situations come and go, but looking back during these rare junctures in which we are, for whatever reason, lifted up from the circular daydream of everyday life, we are slightly surprised to find ourselves in the places we are, as though we were absent while everything was happening, as though we were somewhere else during the time that is usually referred to as our life. Waking up each morning we follow by circuitous routes the thread of habit, out of our homes, into the world, and back to our beds at night, move unseeingly through familiar paths, one day giving way to another and one week to the next, so that when in the midst of this daydream something happens and the thread is finally cut, when, in a moment of strong desire or unexpected loss, the rhythms of life are interrupted, we look around and are quietly surprised to see that the world is vaster than we thought, as if we’d been tricked or cheated out of all that time, time that in retrospect appears to have contained nothing of substance, no change and no duration, time that has come and gone but left us somehow untouched.

—  Anuk Arudpragasam, A Passage North: A Novel (Hogarth (July 13, 2021)

Walking. With Someday & Soon.

479 consecutive days. Like in a Row.  Walking, at Cove Island Park.

~ 20 minutes before sunrise, and I’m walking the shoreline. It twitches. The surface stirs. Their bellies, silver flashes, mica flickering in twilight.

I look overhead. No gulls, no egrets, no herons. Enjoy your quiet time little people, while it lasts.

I keep walking. Multiple schools swirl ahead of me.

The Twilight Zone.

I walk.

Pages of James Tate Hill’s new memoir, Blind Man’s Bluff, turn. “It’s that meaning can rest in the smallest details, in every moment and gesture and line of dialogue.” 

The middle aged Chinese woman runner. Hardy girl that she is, running every morning straight through the winter months. She no longer runs on Weed Avenue, the main artery to the Park.  She ducks in and out of the side streets.  Fearing assault? Retribution for the Chinese Virus?

The Veteran Retiree. No sign of him in months. Visiting his grandchildren? Ill? Hospitalized?

Runner with Spandex and wired, Over-The-Ear headphones. He rolls on. Wired. With Over-the-Ear headphones. With Spandex. Luminescent disco blue. [Read more…]

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

I had been proud of my awareness, aware of my pride, and proud of that awareness again. It went on like this: How clever I am that I know I am so stupid, how stupid I am to think that I am clever, and how clever I am that I am aware of my stupidity etc.

Janwillem van de WeteringThe Empty Mirror: Experiences in a Japanese Zen Monastery


Quote: Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels. Image Source: Zen Masters

Walking. With Toko-pa.

283 days. Consecutive. Cove Island Park morning walk.

14° F, feels like 5° F temp. What fresh hell is this? (Dorothy Parker)

I’m near the end of my loop.  Boots swish through the crusty snow. I’m making my way to Cove Island Point.

And there it was.

It pierced through my tuk…

and through the hoodie pulled over my tuk…

and somehow she pierced through the noise cancelling earbuds that were pumping Taylor Swift’s EvermoreAnd I was catching my breath / Barefoot in the wildest winter.

I snap a picture, that one above. And pause to watch.

The rustling of this single, dry leaf, clinging to the branch by its ever-so-thin stem, and shivering. How delicate. How fragile. How barefoot in the wildest winter.

The north wind gusts, she shudders, and I shudder along with her.

Toko-pa Turner: What is wild in us are the ways in which we meet something freshly and not by habit. Wild is to be full-body alive in response to the conversation life is having with us; the caress of the wind which cools your skin after the sun has penetrated it with warmth. The shadow cast by a soaring bird above. The unmediated glance, surprised by beauty.

The unmediated glance surprised by beauty.

And for that moment…full-body alive.


Notes:

Sunday Morning

[…] Perhaps you feel it, too, as this long, hard year draws to a close — a newfound tenderness for even the smallest, most familiar sounds and sights and textures of a day, along with a heightened awareness of just how fragile and precious each moment really is. Whether or not we have lost loved ones, jobs, routines, or even faith, none of us are who we were a year ago. We’ve been remade, invisibly yet irrevocably, both by our collective grief and by our dawning recognition of the truth of who we are – connected, interdependent, vulnerable, mortal. And, just perhaps, if we’re lucky, we’ve also been altered by wonder.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’ve learned about myself during these many months of being home and being quiet. And surely the most profound lesson has been that, in spite of everything, there is beauty and meaning to be found in life as it is, right here, right now. It’s become my daily challenge, and my daily choice, to find it. As British botanist Kathleen Basford observed, “It is when we are confronted with poignant reminders of mortality that we become most aware of the strangeness and wonder of our brief life on Earth.”

If this time is our only time, and it is, then surely we do owe it to ourselves, and to each other, to pay attention, to look deeply, to listen closely, and to respond to all of it, somehow, with love and gratitude. […]

In her memoir “Wild,” Cheryl Strayed recalls her beloved mother’s parting advice to her, before her too-early death from cancer. “There is always a sunrise and always a sunset,” she told her daughter. “And it’s up to you to choose to be there for it. Put yourself in the way of beauty.”

“Put yourself in the way of beauty.” It’s such a simple instruction. And yet, what a powerful and useful reminder this is as we cross the threshold into an even more challenging time. A reminder that we do have a choice to make each day, no matter how dark and difficult the path may be. We can choose where we put our attention, what we share, what we bow to, what we love – not in spite of what else is going on around us, but because of it. […]

—  Katrina Kenison, from “choosing beauty” @ katrinakenison.com, December 31, 2020


Notes:

  • Putting myself in the way of beauty again this morning.  DK @ Daybreak. Jan 4, 2021. 6:30 to 7am. 30° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford CT.

Tuesday Morning Wake-Up Call

Remember when you would have been over-the-moon thrilled to have just a fraction of your life as it is now?

Look around you: it is enough.

KEEP MOVING

Maggie Smith, Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change (Atria/One Signal Publishers, October 6, 2020)


Photo: Daybreak. December 15, 2020. 6:39 to 7:09 am. 29° F. Feels like 23° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford CT

Walking. With M-G.

Head Cold. Nasal drip. Nagging cough. Light nausea. Friday the 13th. Feels about right.

6:10 am. Cove Island Park. 192 days. Consecutive, and getting long in the tooth.

45° F. Wind gusts up to 25 mph. Drizzle. Wet. Cold.

Cloud cover: 100%. Like a million %.

M-G: You’re dragging.

DK: It’s that obvious?

M-G: Snarky too.

M-G: COVID?

DK: Can’t be.

M-G: How’s that?

DK: Hood Brand Ice Cream Sandwiches.

M-G: Ice Cream Sandwiches? [Read more…]

Monday Morning Wake Up Call

Ordinary isn’t the enemy but instead something nourishing and unavoidable, the bedrock upon which the rest of experience ebbs and flows. Embrace this — the warm water, the pruned hands, the prismatic gleam of the bubbles and the steady passage from dish to dish to dish — and feel, however briefly, the breath of actual time, a reality that lies dormant and plausible under all the clutter we pile on top of it. A bird makes its indecipherable call to another bird, a song from a passing car warps in the Doppler effect and I’m reminded, if only for a moment, that I need a lot less than I think I do and that I don’t have to leave my kitchen to get it.

– Mike Powell, An Ode to Washing the Dishes (NY Times Magazine, June 4, 2019)


Notes: Quote Source: Extraordinary Routines. Photo: Medium

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

And if consciousness is being gradually perfected, then the area of choice is being gradually enlarged, isn’t it? That’s why, if I believe in order, I have to believe in search too… The alternative’s petrifaction, isn’t it? Everything would just stop. So we have to risk disorder to keep the order of the universe expanding and consciousness growing. Doesn’t it thrill you to think that, an inch at a time, we may be creeping toward wider and wider consciousness, until eventually man may just sort of emerge out of the tunnel and be in the full open?

Wallace Stegner, All the Little Live Things 

Shut your mouth; open your eyes and ears. Take in what is there.

Meanwhile, on afternoons and on Sundays, Surrey lay open to me. County Down in the holidays and Surrey in the term — it was an excellent contrast. Perhaps, since their beauties were such that even a fool could not force them into competition, this cured me once and for all of the pernicious tendency to compare and to prefer —  an operation that does little good even when we are dealing with works of art and endless harm when we are dealing with nature. Total surrender is the first step toward the fruition of either.  Shut your mouth; open your eyes and ears. Take in what is there and give no thought to what might have been there or what is somewhere else. That can come later, if it must come at all.

— C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life (Published in 1955. Describes his life from early childhood in the late 1800s to 1931.)


Daybreak. September 6, 2020. 6:02 am. 63° F. Humidity: 84%. Wind: 4 mph. Gusts: 8 mph. Cloud Cover: 5%. The Cove, Stamford, CT

Walking. To Unclenched.

3:50 a.m.

I’m up.

Groggy from Tylenol PM. I stare at the clock, do the math, a whopping 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep.  Whaddya know! 1 day in a row! 

The euphoria burns off quickly. An 8 a.m. appointment weighs heavily. I punch out a few notes for the meeting on my laptop, close the lid, needing at least a full hour to prep for the call.  Unfinished. Unprepared. Anxious. I drag the three horsemen with me as I head out the door.

I’m off.

The Head is not in this game this morning.  That is, my 5-mile walk around Cove Island to start the day. It’s Month 4 of day after day after consecutive day of 90-minute twilight walks. You could have passed on the morning walk, finished your prep to take a load off, but Nooooo. That’s not how you roll.

I’m rushing.  I’m not Here. I’m not There. I’m a bit everywhere. I need to cut my loop short and hurry back.

I tuck the camera away, I’m half way home. I pick up the pace.
[Read more…]

You missed that…

You missed that. Right now, you are missing the vast majority of what is happening around you. You are missing the events unfolding in your body, in the distance, and right in front of you. By marshaling your attention to these words, helpfully framed in a distinct border of white, you are ignoring an unthinkably large amount of information that continues to bombard all of your senses: the hum of the fluorescent lights, the ambient noise in a large room, the places your chair presses against your legs or back, your tongue touching the roof of your mouth, the tension you are holding in your shoulders or jaw, the map of the cool and warm places on your body, the constant hum of traffic or a distant lawn-mower, the blurred view of your own shoulders and torso in your peripheral vision, a chirp of a bug or whine of a kitchen appliance.

~ Alexandra Horowitz, On Looking: A Walker’s Guide to the Art of Observation (Scribner; April 15, 2014)


Notes – Quote: Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels. Photo: Woman with Long Hair, Man Ray 1929 (via Newthom)

Walking. In Twilight.

75 minutes before sunrise, I start out in darkness, and slide into Twilight.

90 consecutive days, same loop, 5 miles, Cove Island Park and back.

I had to Google it, because I didn’t know what it was called, the in-between time between night and sunrise.

Twilight: “the soft glowing light from the sky when the sun is below the horizon, caused by the refraction and scattering of the sun’s rays from the atmosphere.”

I have no clue what all that means —  and no interest in learning more.

I’m deep into Kate Zambreno’s new book: Drifts: A Novel. My kind of book. She describes it as “Prose, little things, I stammer out.” (I wish I could stammer, spit and cough out anything close to this.)

Her words: “A shock of color out of nowhere.” And that’s exactly what it was. Look at it. The photo above, taken @ 5:24 a.m. 24 minutes before sunrise. 24 minutes before sunrise. Where does this light, this ‘shock of color’ come from?

In a different time, a different scene, she goes on to talk about “the light of Vermeer’s paintings. Their silence and mystery…So often the painting seems to be of the same room, at the same picture window… whether the sun floods in directly or diffusely.”

And so here we are. 90 consecutive days on this same walk. The same room, the same picture window, a new Vermeer each morning.

I tuck my camera into my bag, and head home. I twist in my earbuds and listen to Audible pumping in the narration.  She closes out her book on an Albrecht Durer quote, back in the 1500’s (before the internet, before digital cameras):

What beauty is, I know not, though it adheres to many things.”

And so it does Albrecht, so it does.


Notes:

  • Photo: 5:20 a.m. The Cove, Stamford, CT. July 30, 2020.
  • Inspired by: “The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.” ~ Eden Phillpotts, from “A Shadow Passes
  • Book Review of Kate Zambreno’s book “Drifts: A Novel”: “Locked in a Creative Struggle, With Rilke as Her Guide” by Catherine Lacey, NY Times.

Sunday Morning

Life is so full of unpredictable beauty and strange surprises. Sometimes that beauty is too much for me to handle. Do you know that feeling? When something is just too beautiful? When someone says something or writes something or plays something that moves you to the point of tears, maybe even changes you.

—  Mark Oliver Everett, Things The Grandchildren Should Know


Notes:

  • Photos: Daybreak. 5:39 & 5:48 am. July 26, 2020. 75° F. Humidity 90%. Wind: 9 mph. Gusts: 16 mph. Cloud Cover: 62%. Weed Ave & Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT
  • Quote: Thank you Vale of Soul Making

Lightly Child, Lightly.

Do you want to see the most beautiful thing I’ve ever filmed? It was one of those days when it’s a minute away from snowing, and there’s this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it. And this bag was just, dancing with me, like a little kid beggin’ me to play with it – for fifteen minutes. And that’s the day I realized that there was this entire life behind things, and this incredibly benevolent force that wanted me to know that there was no reason to be afraid, ever. Video’s a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember – I need to remember. Sometimes, there’s so much beauty in the world – I feel like I can’t take it, like my heart is just going to cave in.

— Wes Bentley [Ricky Fitts] American Beauty (1999) Written by Alan Ball. Directed by Sam Mendes.


Notes:

  • Quote via Vale of Soul Making.
  • 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.”

Sunday Morning

My cousin’s last day was spent out on his bike, a seventy-mile ride on a Saturday morning. He did the ride alone, and nobody had any contact with him after that. At some time in the next twenty-four hours he died, and his body was found by the police on Monday morning when his employer called them, worried because he hadn’t turned up for work. He always turned up for work.

I would wish for my last day to involve an act of freedom–a walk by the ocean, a long bike ride, something I love. I hope that the walk and the bike ride were suffused with joy, with pleasure, for my stepdad and my cousin. Neither knew it was their last time to do that thing. If they’d known, would they have enjoyed it more or less? Eventually, everything has to be done for the final time. There must be many things that, without our realising it, already fall into that category for all of us.

Final acts acquire holiness. My stepdad’s walk that day has. When we go to Ireland we almost always take the same route. We look out on the sea because it’s the last sea he saw. We write his name in the sand. We reflect, each of us inwardly, that one day we will never see this place again either. It’s a dull shock.

If finality makes something holy then every moment is holy, because every moment could be the last. That’s a thought we spend too cheaply. Live each day as if it’s your last, we think, and then we don’t. Everything is holy. It’s only when we die that the holiness is called up. But it was always holy, all along.

Samantha Harvey, The Shapeless Unease: A Year of Not Sleeping (Grove Press; May 12, 2020)


Photo: Mine. 5:23 a.m. A Holy Moment, on Sunday, a Holy Day. Cove Island Park Stamford, CT.

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