Saturday Morning

Everything is better in the quiet car.

In the quiet car, everyone is calm.

~ Jenny Offill, Weather: A Novel (Knopf, February 11, 2020)

 


Photo: Matthew Jones

New Year

 

I pause to check the milkweed, and a caterpillar halts midbite, its face still lowered to the leaf.

I walk down my driveway at dusk, and the cottontail under the pine tree freezes, not a single twitch of ear or nose.

On the roadside, the doe stands immobile, as still as the trees that rise above her. My car passes; her soft nose doesn’t quiver. Her soft flanks don’t rise or fall. A current of air stirs only the hairs at the very tip of her tail.

I peek between the branches of the holly bush, and the redbird nestling looks straight at me, motionless, unblinking.

Every day the world is teaching me what I need to know to be in the world.

In the stir of too much motion:

Hold still.
Be quiet.
Listen.

~ Margaret Renkl, “Still” in Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss


Photo Credit

Saturday Morning

(She) enjoyed the privilege of stillness, most days did absolutely nothing but breathe and look and hear and smell the world turning.

A self-appointed Judge of Existence.

~ Niall Williams, “This Is Happiness” (Bloomsbury Publishing; December 3, 2019)

 


Photo: Carlos Gotay (via Mennyfox55)

Saturday Morning

And for moments, nothing more.

Some people understand the privilege of stillness and can sit and breathe and look and hear and smell the world turning and let what’s next wait the while.

~ Niall Williams, “This Is Happiness” (Bloomsbury Publishing; December 3, 2019)

 


Photo: Levas Žiriakovas with Spring Sun

Saturday Morning (Basking ‘On the other’)

On one end – excellence, ambition, discipline, defining what you want to be and working towards it, goals, decisions, structure, control, action, obsession (hold on)

On the other – acceptance, peace, polymorphous selfhood, beingness, letting it flow, spontaneity, appreciation of what is not what you want it to be, release (let go)

In this tension – a life.

~ abhumanaex


Notes:

Walking Cross Town. Solvitur ambulando, as they say

Thursday. Metro North train pulls into Grand Central. The morning calendar is light. I’m in no rush to get across town to the office.

I sit on the train reading Ocean Vuong’s new book: On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. Justin Torres’ book review: “the book is brilliant in the way it pays attention not to what our thoughts make us feel, but to what our feelings make us think.” And he’s got it exactly right.

I sip it page by page.

The train clears, and I sit alone. Train engines shut down. Air conditioning rests. I sit in silence.

I finish the chapter, with eyes skimming Vuong: “We sidestep ourselves in order to move forward.” 

I tuck the iPad into my bag. I pause for another moment to enjoy the quiet.

Our feelings make us think…” and I feel just below the surface of the skin, the pull, it tugs, whispering: It’s time, it’s time you get back after it. You had your moment.

‘We sidesteps ourselves…’

I resist the pull for another moment, noting its strength, bordering on a Tsunami. Please, give me another moment. Just one.

I grab my bag and walk.

Instead of 47th, I walk up one block and take 48th street. Mixin’ it up a bit.

Silver Star Spa. Small door for an entrance. Chipped paint. Sketchy. “Best Asian massage in NYC.” I bet. [Read more…]

Driving I-95 N. With Nepo.

Wednesday 6:30 pm.

12 1/2 hours after I stepped in my office, I get into car. I need to get home. Dinner. Digestif –  spoon and half-pint of Talenti Mint Chocolate Chip Gelato. (Tongue slides over sweetness on lips.) Then Bed. Then do it all over again.

I flip open Waze, which signals 45 minutes to get home. Just shy of 2x the normal commute. Painful.

I can save 10 mins (per Waze) bypassing fives miles of I-95 by taking the backstreets, before spilling back onto 95.  Construction? Accident? WTH knows? And yet, it’s a coin toss. Get stuck on back streets in traffic, and good luck finding your way out of that labyrinth.

But 10 minutes is 10 minutes.

I take the back streets.

And so apparently do hundreds of my closest friends following Waze.  It’s stop and go. Narrow 2-lane roads. 4-way stops. Near standstill. Damn, and you knew better. [Read more…]

Riding Metro North. A Voyeur.

6:25 pm train home. Tuesday. It’s been a very long day.

I’m 8 minutes early. I find my aisle seat, set my bag down, remove my coat and place it on the luggage rack overhead. I close my eyes, and pause. My right hand clutches my iPhone – activity is frantic inside the device. News. iMessages. Emails. Work. All churning forward. Just let it be for a moment. Rest. Let it be.

My eyes remain closed. Thoughts flicker, and latch onto Jack Kornfield’s “Your Mind: Friend or Foe” as he passes a cautionary road sign, “Your own tedious thoughts the next 200 miles.

I hear footsteps. She settles one seat up and to my left. She slouches in her seat, knees up against the seat in front of her.

She scratches items on a yellow note pad with a 2H pencil, her to-do list for tomorrow.
List fills, too far away for me to see details. Neat, on the lines. Cursive.

She then grabs her smartphone. Pans through a long list of emails. Then text messages. Then back to emails. Then back to her yellow note pad, to jot down another to-do.

She puts down her phone, and stares out the window. Hair, shoulder length, rests on a light, Patagonia windbreaker.  Clean, white sneakers, must have a long walk from the office to the train. Her heels tucked in her bag.

She lifts her phone, and scans more emails. Sends a few more text messages. Flicks through a few web sites. For some reason, you can’t take your eyes off this woman, her show, her frenetic activity in her private space. A peeping voyeur. [Read more…]

It’s been a long day

Some days are like this:

you can’t move.

Can’t be moved.

What growth there is, is imperceptible.

A slow efflorescence.

— Thomas Centolella, from “Setsubun”, in Terra Firma


Notes:

It’s been a long day

The mind is a hotel with a thousand rooms. When I tilt my head a certain way, I think about certain things. When I tilt my head another way, I think about other things. If I sleep on the right side of my face, for example, I’d dream of a pale rose, the future, or a continental diner in Passaic, New Jersey. When I sleep on the left side of my face, I’d dream that a hand is squeezing my heart, that I’m in prison, or that I’m watching hockey at an airport bar, about to miss a flight.

~ Linh Dinh, “The Mind” from All Around What Empties Out


Notes:

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