Hmmmmm….

Neither season after season of extreme weather events nor the risk of extinction for a million animal species around the world could push environmental destruction to the top of our country’s list of concerns. And how sad, he said, to see so many among the most creative and best-educated classes, those from whom we might have hoped for inventive solutions, instead embracing personal therapies and pseudo-religious practices that promoted detachment, a focus on the moment, acceptance of one’s surroundings as they were, equanimity in the face of worldly cares. (This world is but a shadow, it is a carcass, it is nothing, this world is not real, do not mistake this hallucination for the real world.) Self-care, relieving one’s own everyday anxieties, avoiding stress: these had become some of our society’s highest goals, he said—higher, apparently, than the salvation of society itself. The mindfulness rage was just another distraction, he said. Of course we should be stressed, he said. We should be utterly consumed with dread. Mindful meditation might help a person face drowning with equanimity, but it would do absolutely nothing to right the Titanic, he said. It wasn’t individual efforts to achieve inner peace, it wasn’t a compassionate attitude toward others that might have led to timely preventative action, but rather a collective, fanatical, over-the-top obsession with impending doom.

Sigrid Nunez, What Are You Going Through: A Novel (Riverhead Books, September 8, 2020)


Photo: Patty Maher, Light & Dark

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

It was over, he said. It was too late, we had dithered too long. Our society had already become too fragmented and dysfunctional for us to fix, in time, the calamitous mistakes we had made. And, in any case, people’s attention remained elusive. Neither season after season of extreme weather events nor the risk of extinction for a million animal species around the world could push environmental destruction to the top of our country’s list of concerns. And how sad, he said, to see so many among the most creative and best-educated classes, those from whom we might have hoped for inventive solutions, instead embracing personal therapies and pseudo-religious practices that promoted detachment, a focus on the moment, acceptance of one’s surroundings as they were, equanimity in the face of worldly cares. (This world is but a shadow, it is a carcass, it is nothing, this world is not real, do not mistake this hallucination for the real world.) Self-care, relieving one’s own everyday anxieties, avoiding stress: these had become some of our society’s highest goals, he said—higher, apparently, than the salvation of society itself. The mindfulness rage was just another distraction, he said. Of course we should be stressed, he said. We should be utterly consumed with dread. Mindful meditation might help a person face drowning with equanimity, but it would do absolutely nothing to right the Titanic, he said. It wasn’t individual efforts to achieve inner peace, it wasn’t a compassionate attitude toward others that might have led to timely preventative action, but rather a collective, fanatical, over-the-top obsession with impending doom. It was useless, the man said, to deny that suffering of immense magnitude lay ahead, or that there’d be any escaping it. How, then, should we live?

Sigrid Nunez, What Are You Going Through: A Novel (Riverhead Books, September 8, 2020)


Notes:

Sunday Morning

I take hope in every politician’s or economist’s statement that Americans aren’t buying enough; in every student’s reference to “sustainability” or “mindfulness”—terms that weren’t in my college vocabulary… I take hope from the growing number of solitaries and the growing interest in meditation, contemplation, centering prayer. I have faith in the capacity of truth, if brought to light and given time, to win its cause, the capacity of love to win its cause. I place little hope in conventional politics, so invested are mainstream political parties in endless, unsustainable growth, or in conventional religion, with its interest in perpetuating its power. Instead I find hope in love, for one another, for our earth. Those of us invested in love can choose, must choose noncooperation. I buy less; I consume less; I take myself off the grid in the face of efforts to force me to remain on it; I dedicate myself to friendship as my organizing, bedrock relationship; I study and talk about how to become, in fact, a society of friends.

— Fenton JohnsonAt the Center of All Beauty: Solitude and the Creative Life (W. W. Norton & Company, March 10, 2020)


Portrait: Source

Saturday Morning


Moved! Thank you for sharing Kiki!

At the trial of God, we will ask: why did you allow all this?

North American songbirds have been shrinking steadily in size over the past 40 years, according to scientists who measured tens of thousands of the feathered creatures from dozens of different species and attributed the changes to rising temperatures.

As the birds’ bodies got smaller, their wings gradually got longer, the scientists said in a paper published Wednesday in the journal Ecology Letters. The longer wings, the researchers said, may help offset the loss of body mass so the birds can fly efficiently on their long migrations. The changes were too small to be apparent to the naked eye, the scientists said, amounting to a gram or so in weight per bird and a few millimeters change in individual wing length…

Migrating birds in the modern world face many hazards affecting their growth and survival, from vanishing nesting grounds, dwindling food sources and pesticide use, to domestic cats, which kill up to 3 billion birds annually. Collisions with high-rise buildings kill another 600 million or so migrating birds every year.

~ Robert Lee Hotz, from “Songbirds Are Shrinking in Size, Study Finds. Scientists pin drop-off in size of North American songbirds on rising temperatures” (wsj.com, Dec 5, 2019)


Notes:

Post inspired by: “At the trial of God, we will ask: why did you allow all this? / And the answer will be an echo: why did you allow all this?”  by Ilya Kaminsky, from “A City Like a Guillotine Shivers on Its Way to the Neck,” Deaf Republic

And further inspired by: “But there’s something undoing about the dying light of mid-afternoon. In that empty old house on Marlborough Road all that had stitched me into this life came undone and I couldn’t escape the feeling that folded against my back were wings that had failed to open. ~ Niall Williams, “This Is Happiness” (Bloomsbury Publishing; December 3, 2019)

Sunday Morning

Recognizing the dignity of each living thing, mobile or fixed, insect, animal, tree, or mushroom, has broadened my love for this world and diminished my need for a god in heaven. We have multitudes of gods on Earth.

Terry Tempest WilliamsErosion: Essays of Undoing (Sarah Crichton Books, October 8, 2019)


Photo Credit

Lightly child, lightly

This is the bleached-bone veritas of the Colorado Plateau. We stand on the edge of an erosional landscape looking out. The curvature of the Earth becomes our home range. The silence before us is time. We feel how small we are in the embrace of geologic relief… Watching light captured and held within the pastel pinnacles of Bryce Canyon in shades of pink, orange, and yellow—all these weathered places show us we are merely humans, soft, humble, and temporary.

~ Terry Tempest WilliamsErosion: Essays of Undoing (Sarah Crichton Books, October 8, 2019)


Notes:

  • Photo: Colorado Plateau by tlswan2
  • 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.”

Truth

Most decisions are based on a tiny difference.

People say, ‘This was right, that was wrong’; the difference was a feather.

I keep scales wherever I am to remind me of that. They’re a symbol of my awareness. Of the distortion most people have of what is better and what is not.

~ Terry Tempest Williams, Erosion: Essays of Undoing (Sarah Crichton Books, October 8, 2019)


Photo: Feathers by Marie

What can we do? Step to the side. Give her the right-of-way. Kneel.

Has anyone been face-to-face with evolution? The other day I was eye-to-eye with a Galápagos tortoise that had spent three months walking from the top of the volcano down to the sea to lay her eggs at night on the island of Isabela. In the slow, deliberate nature of her world, she upholds twelve million years of perfection. Beauty is the origin of wonder. What enables her to live eighteen months without food or water? Does a fast predicated by drought or famine become spiritual? What can we do for the tortoise? Step to the side. Give her the right-of-way. Kneel.

~ Terry Tempest Williams, Erosion: Essays of Undoing (Sarah Crichton Books, October 8, 2019)


Notes:

  • Inspiration? I’m searching for my next book. I can’t find it. For some reason I’m drawn to this book. I engage. I’m tempted to drop it, but something keeps pulling me forward. 1/3 of the way in. I wouldn’t recommend it to my friends (yet). But there is something in these essays that won’t let me go. A Teacher teaching, interspersed with meditations, that makes it more important than anything that I’ve read in years. Onward.  Let’s see what’s ahead.
  • Photo: Giant tortoise on Pinzon Island, Galapagos. Rory Stansbury, Island Conservation/Flickr

Sunday Morning

“I’ve been meaning to tell you,” Blake said, his voice serious and quiet. “It isn’t just the yew. Have you noticed the Douglas fir by the science building? Or the blue spruce by the auditorium?” I shook my head. He said recent measurements indicated those trees, too, were growing much faster than they should have been. Blake had talked with several people at the U.S. Forest Service about what he was noticing on campus and they told him recent measurements from around the world showed mature evergreens of all species now regularly exceeding previously recorded height records by twenty to thirty feet. “Why?” I asked. Blake settled a little coral impatiens bursting with buds into the soil. “Global warming,” he said. “I think they’re trying to save us.”

~ Jessica Francis Kane, Rules for Visiting 


Photo: 123RF

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