Lightly Child, Lightly

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For him, love of art is inseparable from love of the outdoors—not raw wilderness, but the landscape of a dirt road cutting through a barren landscape, abandoned boats lying on a shore, an orchard or (a theme he returns to several times in his work) a church in the woods. My father possesses a pure love of light, and trees, the curve of a hill, the angle of a barn roof—shadows and colors. Weekends, as early as I can remember—age five or six maybe—we head out to the horticulture farm of the university with our walking sticks. Now and then, my mother and sister come, but often it’s just the two of us under the experimental apple trees sketching a field of cows or a stretch of abandoned railroad tracks. Sometimes, walking along the path on our way, my father stops so suddenly it seems as though he’s been jolted by electrical current. He points his walking stick toward the sky. “Look at that, chum,” he says. “What?” “See how the light hits that branch?” he says. “Study that cloud formation.”

Joyce Maynard, At Home in the World: A Memoir 


Notes:

  • Photo: DK, 5:46 a.m., June 9, 2020, Weed Ave. Stamford, CT
  • 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.”

 

WFH? Give me another 4 weeks.

Week 2, Work-From-Home, which today in work parlance is WFH.

No early commutes in, or exhausting rides home. No hiding your iPhone to play Words-With-Friends during slow meetings. Had enough? Just turn on ‘Do Not Disturb’, close your eyes, lean back in your chair, and drift away for a few moments.  Or turn to your Kindle app and read a few pages from Yiyun Li’s Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life. “Can one live without what one cannot have,” she asks. I pause at this, and Wonder. Can I?

And WFH here, involves Father and his 26-year Son.

Both suffer from immune deficiency disorders of differing severity levels. Both hunkered down to stay out of the path of COVID-19.

Father in his make-shift office. Anchored to his chair, desktop computer, internet phone, headset and a notepad to scribble. Many days, not more than 1300 steps all day, most to run down to the Fridge. Potato Chips. A fix (or two) of Talenti Gelato. A handful of pistachios. Then, a short run back upstairs to calls. Up 6 lbs since WFH has commenced, and unfazed. Could be worse.

Son prefers to work from his bed. Two laptops running, iPhone on his bed, playstation cued up, ear buds to take his calls. He’s sipping from a tall glass of water. No junk food here. He’s lean, fit, a full head of hair and sits in his shorts and tee-shirt, sock-less, while the morning sun beams in. When did I get so old?

I sit next to him on his bed. Nudge him over. “Come on, give me a little room.” He grunts, and moves over. I lean into him while we check messages on our iPhones.  Illya Kaminsky, that word magician, describes the moments. “…but something silent in us strengthens

And then we have lunch.

And then we sit and have dinner, and we argue over the madness in the 6pm White House Briefings.

And the next day, we repeat.

COVID-19? Give me another 4 weeks. I’m going to remember this.


Art: Kendall Kessler, Clyde and Alan

Sunday Morning. A Minute of Silence.

Tom Hanks as Mr. Fred Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” With an all-star performance by Matthew Rhys.  Movie, Highly Recommended.

Orange

I once watched my father peel an orange
without once removing the knife from the fruit.
He just turned and turned and turned it like a globe
being skinned. The orange peel becoming a curl,
the inside exposed and bleeding. How easily he separated
everything that protected the fruit and then passed the bowl
to my mother, dropping that skin to the floor
while the inside burst between her teeth.

~ Elizabeth Acevedo, “Things You Think While You’re Kneeling on Rice That Have Nothing to Do with Repentance” in The Poet X 


Photo: Orange Peel by Alicia D’Ors

That there is nothing weak about kindness and compassion

It has been remarked that Elijah was a kind man. I tell my daughters—and I have to say, listening to Elijah’s daughters speak, that got me choked up. I am sure those of you who have sons feel the same way, but there is something about daughters and their fathers. And I was thinking, I would want my daughters to know how much I love them, but I would also want them to know that being a strong man includes being kind. That there is nothing weak about kindness and compassion. There is nothing weak about looking out for others. There is nothing weak about being honorable. You are not a sucker to have integrity and to treat others with respect. I was sitting here and I was just noticing the Honorable Elijah E. Cummings and, you know, this is a title that we confer on all kinds of people who get elected to public office. We’re supposed to introduce them as honorable.

But Elijah Cummings was honorable before he was elected to office. There’s a difference. There is a difference if you are honorable and treated others honorably outside the limelight. On the side of a road; in a quiet moment, counseling somebody you work with; letting your daughters know you love them…

~ Excerpt from former U.S. President Barack Obama’s eulogy yesterday honoring Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland (Read full text of eulogy @ The Atlantic, October 25, 2019)

Flying AA1330 on A321S. Need Another Day.

First flight out of Dallas. 6:36 a.m. on-time departure.

Foot traffic unusually light at DFW, as are the lines at Security and at the Gate.

Ah yes, September 11. And, the morning of September 11th.

Pilot gets on the intercom, and announces that we’re flying on an Airbus A321S. 168,000 pounds, 450 mph at cruising altitude.

Plane unusually quiet. More seats empty than usual for this flight.

Pilot dims the lights in the cabin.

Cabin is silent as the plane taxis up to the runway.

It’s dark in the cabin, my seat mate snoozes. Me? Restless. Churning.

[Read more…]

Sunday Morning

The longer my father lived in this world the more he knew there was another to come. It was not that he thought this world beyond saving, although in darkness I suppose there was some of that, but rather that he imagined there must be a finer one where God corrected His mistakes and men and women lived in the second draft of Creation and did not know despair. My father bore a burden of impossible ambition. He wanted all things to be better than they were, beginning with himself and ending with this world. Maybe this was because he was a poet. Maybe all poets are doomed to disappointment. Maybe it comes from too much dazzlement. I don’t know yet. I don’t know if time tarnishes or polishes a human soul or if it’s true that it’s better to look down than up.

~ Niall Williams, History of the Rain.


Notes:

  • Photo by Indonesian Photographer Sukron Ma’mun.
  • Another inspiring quote from same book: “The River Shannon passes below our house on its journey to the sea. Come here, Ruthie, feel the pulse of the water, my father said, kneeling on the bank and dipping his hand, palm to current, then reaching up to take my hand in his. He put your arm into the cold river and at once it was pulled seaward like an oar. I was seven years old. I had a blue dress for summertime. Here, Ruthie, feel.”

Sunday Morning

“You’re going to ask if you can marry my daughter,” Nan’s father said.

“Yes,” James answered.

“Why?”

James thought: Because she is jolly and pretty and bright, like a firefly, blinking in and out of hedges and trees. Because I imagine her in the kitchen, washing dishes, looking out the window and humming to herself, her brow knit in concentration. I imagine myself coming up behind her, putting my arms around her, resting my chin on her shoulder. I imagine her face turning up to me, bright and pale and astonishing, and I imagine her lips just before I kiss her, full and parted, almost singing the words of a song. Because I think beyond kissing her, because I think about her naked and warm under clean sheets and damp from the bath. I imagine her bare ankle rubbing against my own. I imagine her hair disheveled; I imagine myself smoothing it out of her eyes. I imagine making toast with her and eating it at a round table. When I do, I am just as crazed with passion for her as I would be in bed. There is no difference between imagining her naked and imagining her with a kerchief over her hair. 

“Because I love her,” he said.

~ Cara Wall, The Dearly Beloved: A Novel (Simon & Schuster, August 13, 2019)


Notes:

You’re as smooth as Tennessee whiskey

Lori shared it. I can’t let it go. A cover of Chris Stapleton’sTennessee Whiskey.

And a Youtube comment from J. Scott Hamilton that followed: “your voice tells us you’re a great singer. Your daughter’s smile tells us you’re a better dad.”

Driving I-95 S. With Hammer at Rest.

A nothingburger during a nondescript morning commute a month ago.

Not a Vuong nothing Moment that changed everything after it.

But it changed Something.

Why this particular Moment among the billions?

Why is it called up when it is?

And here IT comes again this morning.

This Moment. It’s pulled forward, to the front. Taking its right hand, sweeping aside the incessant swing of the Hammer on the searing molten metal, of not enough, not good enough and Now.

And it’s exactly at this Moment, when the Hammer rests, and Vuong’s luminescence offers its cooling respite.

It whispers listen, pay attention to This. And it hangs around until I do.

The pre-rush hour traffic on I-95 was detoured onto Exit 2. GPS routes me through Port Chester. I pull up to a stop light, and there they are.

Father and Son. Son, maybe 4 years old.  Dad is wearing an overcoat, much too heavy for the season.  Son looks up to his Dad, Dad bends over and picks him up, hugs him tight, then sets him down.

And they walk. Dad’s lunch box swinging in his left hand, his Son’s hand swinging in his right.

Let’s play it again Vuong. One more time.

The Hammer rests, for this Moment.


Photo Credit

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