Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

Sometimes I don’t know how any of us go on. Sometimes I fear there’s no way our species will survive our own self-destructive choices. Sometimes I feel so I gut punched by the backward deal of the universe — that if you’re really lucky, you get people in your life to love, and then, over time, they will all either leave you or die — that I am angry at life. Actually, not sometimes. Always. I always feel that way. I don’t always actively think about it, but it’s in there.

At the same time, I am always looking for some gratitude, warmth, or hope. I often have to really search for it, but when I see something that makes me feel joy — even just a tiny odd hardly anything — you’re damn right I applaud it. Way to go, adorable cat on a leash! Thank you, server who brought my hot pizza! Kudos, writers of a TV show that made me laugh! Hallelujah, sunshine after a week of storms! Yay for good hair day, yippee for hot coffee, huzzah for an outfit that puts bounce in my step.

If I can scrape up some evidence of a thing made beautifully or a gesture made kindly, then can believe, for a few seconds, that this world is careful and kind. And if I can believe that, I can believe it is safe to let the people I love walk around out there. It’s my own attempt at foresparkling, seeking out hints of good, even planting them myself, so I can believe there’s more good to come. It might all be superstition, just mental magic, but why not try?

So I say yes for things that offer some pleasure. Yes for people who choose to be friendly. Yes for any glimmer of light through all the darkness. I mean that yes. I need it. Seriously.

Mary Laura Philpott, Bomb Shelter: Love, Time, and Other Explosives (Atria Books, April 12, 2022)


Notes: Book Review NY Times: Is it Possible to Body-Block Our Loved Ones from Pain? Alas, No.  The Washington Post: Worry much? You’ll relate to Mary Laura Philpott’s book.

a promise of everything the day ahead might hold

Becky that morning had awakened before dawn… She lay in the dark and listened to the tick and wheeze of the radiator, the struggling clank of pipes below. As if for the first time, she appreciated the goodness of being snug in a house on a cold morning. Also, no less, the goodness of the cold, which made the snugness possible; the two things fit together like a pair of mouths…

When the alarm clock went off in her parents’ bedroom, one door over from hers, it wasn’t the usual cruel morning sound but a promise of everything the day ahead might hold. When she heard the faint buzz of her father’s shaver and the footsteps of her mother in the hallway, she was amazed she’d never noticed, until today, how precious ordinary life was and how lucky she was to be a part of it. So much goodness. Other people were good. She herself was good. She felt goodwill to all mankind.

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

Lightly Child, Lightly.

You will live many more years. Many more, in fact, than anyone would have predicted for you. You will read—and sometimes even understand—Nietzsche and Heidegger and Aristotle and Confucius and a bunch of other great thinkers, trying to make some sense out of your world. But you often think that you have never heard a better philosophy than what Mary says that night, drunk on her back porch: It’s the bad parts that make you realize how good the great parts are.

Rob Roberge, Liar: A Memoir (Crown, February 9, 2016) 


Notes:

  • 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

In the margin of my Bible, the heading of Ecclesiastes, I’ve added,

‘Reflections of an old man chasing after ‘good things.’

~ Lisa Anne Tindal, “Vanity and Strife” (Sept 27, 2019)


Notes:

Lightly Child, Lightly

At Seventy-third Street I turn off Lexington and head for the Whitney, wanting a last look at a visiting collection. As I approach the museum some German Expressionist drawings in a gallery window catch my eye. I walk through the door, turn to the wall nearest me, and come face to face with two large Nolde watercolors, the famous flowers. I’ve looked often at Nolde’s flowers, but now it’s as though I am seeing them for the first time: that hot lush diffusion of his outlined, I suddenly realize, in intent. I see the burning quality of Nolde’s intention, the serious patience with which the flowers absorb him, the clear, stubborn concentration of the artist on his subject. I see it. And I think, It’s the concentration that gives the work its power. The space inside me enlarges. That rectangle of light and air inside, where thought clarifies and language grows and response is made intelligent, that famous space surrounded by loneliness, anxiety, self-pity, it opens wide as I look at Nolde’s flowers…

That space. It begins in the middle of my forehead and ends in the middle of my groin. It is, variously, as wide as my body, as narrow as a slit in a fortress wall. On days when thought flows freely or better yet clarifies with effort, it expands gloriously. On days when anxiety and self-pity crowd in, it shrinks, how fast it shrinks! When the space is wide and I occupy it fully, I taste the air, feel the light. I breathe evenly and slowly. I am peaceful and excited, beyond influence or threat. Nothing can touch me. I’m safe. I’m free. I’m thinking.

Vivian GornickFierce Attachments: A Memoir 


Notes:

  • Vivian Gornick’s book was named #1 in The 50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years by the The New York Times (June 26, 2019. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
  • Fine Art: “Stillleben  – Emil Nolde, Expressionism. Watercolour, Gouache
  • 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

Strangely, all of life’s problems, dilemmas, and difficulties are now resolved not by negativity, attack, criticism, force, or logical resolution, but always by falling into a larger “brightness” — by falling into the good, the true, and the beautiful.

Richard Rohr, Adapted from Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

 


Notes:

  • Quote: Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels.  Photo: fabrizio massetti with The sunlight in Dongchuan
  • 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.”

to live as men for others

Many mentors have influenced me with their muscular Christianity, but Father Byrne’s method of shaping souls was different. He drew upon St. Francis of Assisi’s maxim: “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” The diminutive priest was a giant in my life but made himself small so students like me would aspire, as he did, to live as men for others.

This is the phrase—men for others—that runs through my mind this Father’s Day. It’s how men like my dad and Father Byrne lived, and I’m convinced it’s critical to being a good father; indeed, a good person. Find something meaningful that is bigger than yourself and live for it, simple as that. For seeking the good of another is more than living, it is loving.

To my many fathers and to all like them, thank you and Happy Father’s Day

~ Mike Kerrigan, from To All the Fathers in My Life, Thank You (wsj.com, June 14, 2019)


Photo Credit

Are you religious?

Easter, Passover, spring break, holiday weekend. Let us unfurrow the brow and look at something elevated. It’s a small thing, a half-hour television interview from 60 years ago, but it struck me this week as a kind of master class in how to be a public figure and how to talk about what matters…

Is he religious? Here Hammerstein told a story. A year ago he was rushing to work and jaywalked. A policeman called out; Hammerstein braced for a dressing down. But the officer recognized him and poured out his appreciation for his work. Hammerstein thanked him and moved to leave, but the policeman had a question. “He said, ‘Are you religious?’ And I said, ‘Well, I don’t belong to any church,’ and then he patted me on the back and he said, ‘Ah, you’re religious all right.’ And I went on feeling as if I’d been caught, and feeling that I was religious. He had discovered from the words of my songs that I had faith—faith in mankind, faith that there was something more powerful than mankind behind it all, and faith that in the long run good triumphs over evil. If that’s religion, I’m religious, and it is my definition of religion.”

~ Peggy Noonan, excerpts from The Wisdom of Oscar Hammerstein II (wsj.com, March 29, 2018)

Lightly Child, Lightly.


and maybe a good day
is standing outside your window,

quietly tapping
until you are alert enough
to hear its sound
and draw the curtains.

let light in.

Noor Shirazie, into the wildfire: battle scars


Notes:

  • Photo by Ibai Acevedo titled A la vuelta de la esquina
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect 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.”

Elle est bonne

On the Mediterranean beaches of France, in summer, you hear one cry repeated endlessly: Elle est bonne. That is, It’s good. Meaning the seawater. Cautious, modern inhabitants of cities thus assure one another that it’s safe to go in the water, they won’t be stunned by its arctic cold. But in its essence this cry affirms the world, nature. Elle est bonne.

~ Adam Zagajewski, Slight Exaggeration: An Essay (April 4, 2017)


Photo: South of France via Oliver’s Travels. Related Posts: Adam Zagajewski

 

It’s been a long day

Rich: I want to talk about this idea that is super important, the stories that we tell ourselves, about ourselves, and how we get caught up in these narratives that don’t serve you. Where do these stories come from and how we can decouple that narrative and begin the process of telling ourselves a new story.

Sharon: If you have a prevalent, frequent critical voice, your inner critic, sometimes what’s good is giving it a persona, give it a name. Give it a wardrobe. I have named my inner critic Lucy after the character in the Peanuts comic strip…I see this cartoon where Lucy is in the first frame talking to Charlie Brown and she says: “You know Charlie Brown, the problem with you is that you are you.” And then in the second frame poor Charlie Brown says: “Well, what in the world  can I do about that?”  Then in the third and final frame Lucy says: “I don’t pretend to give advice, I merely point out the problem.”

And I would keep coming back to the line: “The problem with you is that you are you.” Because that Lucy voice had been so dominant in my early life, I really credit my meditation training for basically having a different relationship to Lucy. Instead of on the one hand believing her completely, you are right Lucy, you are always right. Where on the other hand hating her, and fearing her and being shamed and all that.  I realized that I had two ways of approaching her. One was, Hi Lucy, I see you and the other was to Chill out Lucy.

Rich: Packed into that is the idea of becoming the Observer as opposed to identifying with that voice as being part and parcel of who you are, like wrapping it up in your identity.

Sharon: Very soon after I saw the cartoon, something great happened for me and my first thought was: “This is never going to happen again.”

Rich: It’s the negative bias. We’re hard wired, we’re predisposed to identify these negative things that occur to us and then choose to string these together and create this story of who we are, how we got here and what’s going to happen to us in the future.

Sharon: …we are conditioned usually towards negativity – – – you are thinking about your day, evaluating yourself on how well did I do today.  It’s not uncommon to only think about the mistakes and what you didn’t do that well, and where you didn’t show up that well, and it takes intentionality to say anything else happened today. It’s not hypocrisy. It’s not denying that there were issues. But it’s not all that happened.   To get to a truer, bigger picture, we have to actually move our attention consciously towards the good. Anything good happened today? Anything good within me? And that kind of elasticity reflects the ability of attention and part of the meditative process. But it begins with seeing the story…

Rich: I think about the story I tell myself, about myself. But also the story I tell about the other people that I encounter throughout my day, and that story is generally reflective of my own state of mind and how I feel about myself. If I feel good about myself, I’m probably going to tell a more flattering version…But when you really analyze it, you realize over the course of your life, billions of things have happened to you. Billions! And we extract out these 10 things that happen over the course of our life and we identify with them so deeply, so thoroughly that they infect and invade how we see ourselves and every decision we make. How we interact with other people. What words that come out of our mouth…Its amazing how pervasive it is. Its so cemented that the idea of even looking at that or being critical of the veracity of that, let alone reframing it, is something that I think that most people don’t even begin to engage in.

Sharon: That’s true. Absolutely true.  Which is why I think seeing the story is the first and most critical step because a lot of people don’t even believe that…we don’t realize how impacted we are by all those views, our Lucy coming at us…

~ Rich Roll, Interview with Meditation Master Sharon Salzberg on Real Love & The Art of Mindful Connection (Podcast, June 25, 2017)

 


Related Posts: It’s been a long day

 

Swirl it around and find it

Set aside 10 minutes before you go to bed each night to write down three things that went really well that day. Next to each event answer the question, “Why did this good thing happen?”

Instead of focusing on life’s lows, which can increase the likelihood of depression, the exercise “turns your attention to the good things in life, so it changes what you attend to,” Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman said. “Consciousness is like your tongue: It swirls around in the mouth looking for a cavity, and when it finds it, you focus on it. Imagine if your tongue went looking for a beautiful, healthy tooth.” Polish it.

~ Julie Scelfo, excerpt from Get Happy: Four Well-Being Workouts (NY Times, April 5, 2017)


Photo: Pinterest

Lightly child, lightly.

Yes,
we have lost track of the light,
the mornings,
the holy innocence of those who forgive themselves.

— Albert Camus, The Fall (Vintage Books, 1957)

 


Notes:

  • Art:  (via mennyfox55). Quote: Vale of Soul Making
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect 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. (2)


Notes:

  • Photo: Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) dir. Benh Zeitlin (via vilus)
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect 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.

13414141_259396687784545_512344956_n1

Lightly the air
presses down on our shoulders
its great blue thumbs,
lightly, as if afraid to hurt us.
What will you do when the sky falls,
brother? See?
the sparrows hold it up:
pray to them.

—  Donald Finkel, from “Vogelfanger,” Poetry (March 1965)

 


Notes:

  • Oil Painting by Laura E. Pritchett . Poem: Thank you The Vale of Soul Making
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect 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.

hands-light

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good. What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes, You Were Made For This (Awakin.org, Jan 28, 2008)

 


Notes:

  • Photo: via Hidden Sanctuary. Poem: Thank you Make Believe Boutique
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect 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.”

Turn it.

john-cage

There is a tendency in the West to be convinced of the badness of human nature… It is essential that we be convinced of the goodness of human nature, and we must act as though people are good. We have no reason to think that they are bad. […]

I noticed in New York, where the traffic is so bad and the air is so bad … you get into a taxi and very frequently the poor taxi driver is just beside himself with irritation. And one day I got into one and the driver began talking a blue streak, accusing absolutely everyone of being wrong. You know he was full of irritation about everything, and I simply remained quiet. I did not answer his questions, I did not enter into a conversation, and very shortly the driver began changing his ideas and simply through my being silent he began, before I got out of the car, saying rather nice things about the world around him.

~ John Cage, in Richard Kostelanetz’s Conversing with Cage


Notes:

“So I decided to start bowing to everyone who crossed my path.  Just a little teeny bow of my head.  Just enough to remind myself not to be a jerk, since no matter who I’m talking to, whether it’s a child, or a principal, or a gas station attendant, or a frenemy, or Craig, it’s GOD I’m talking to. And as I bow, I say Namaste, God in me recognizes and honors God in you. I just think Namaste in my head, like the way Orthodox Jews wear a yarmulke to remind themselves that they are living under the hand of God.  Or how Muslims pray five times a day to remind themselves of whom they serve.  The world and the people in it are so beautiful when you are awake.  And so the bowing and the silent Nameste is just a little practice to remind myself what’s real.  What an amazing life I’m leading and what a gift the people I meet are to me. I know all of this might sound a little nuts, but I have decided that I am just over worrying about that.  Robin P. Williams said, “You’re only given a spark of madness.  You mustn’t lose it.”  And maybe the world needs some crazy love.  So I am embracing my spark of madness.  Fanning it, even.  And I’m bowing.  And something’s happening because of it.  It’s working.  I’m starting to see God everywhere.

~ Glennon Doyle Melton,  Carry On, Warrior:  The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life

The differences are at the 5% level. That’s pretty good.

Craig Newmark

What surprises me, in a way, is how almost universally people are trustworthy and good. There are problems, and sometimes people bicker, which is a pain in the ass, but people are good. No matter what your religious background, we share pretty much the same values. There are some minor differences that we disagree on, but the differences are at the 5 percent level. That’s pretty good.

~ Craig Newmark, Founder of Craigs List in Founders at Work


Quote: Brainpickings. Photograph: bigmarketingsmallbusiness

Our dark and our light are so intertwined

Jeff-Bridges

He considers his latest film (The Giver), co-starring Taylor Swift and Meryl Streep, a cautionary tale. “I think it’s an impulse for human beings to want to suffer less, and we’re kind of addicted to comfort at all costs—at least I am. And of course comfort has a price,” he says. “So the film is asking…what’s the true cost of our comfort, and what are we willing to pay?”

What is he too comfortable with? Sitting on a long white leather couch at a photo studio in New York, Mr. Bridges holds up a half-eaten almond croissant. “I love taste, and I love the immediate gratification of flavor and that satisfying swallow you feel all over,” he says. “But I look at my body and I should say, ‘Is that really the most healthy thing for me?'”…

But leaning back and eyeing the last of his croissant, he says that he is constantly dealing with the idea of perfection. “Wouldn’t it be great if I stopped eating this and worked out every day?” he asks. “Imperfection and perfection go so hand in hand, and our dark and our light are so intertwined, that by trying to push the darkness or the so-called negative aspects of our life to the side…we are preventing ourselves from the fullness of life.”

He’s referring to one of his favorite quotations by the Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn: “…the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” Mr. Bridges interprets it as a reason not to judge other people. “You’re saying that guy’s evil, somebody else is saying you’re evil, and we all have that in common, but as The Dude might say, ‘That’s just your opinion, man,’ ” he says. “What I’m proposing is that we’re all connected, and we’re all in it together.”

~ Alexandra Wolfe in her interview of 64-year old actor Jeff Bridges

Read full interview in wsj.com: Things That Jeff Bridges Can’t Abide


Notes: NY Times Movie Review of The Giver

The Morning News

newspaper-good-news


[I wish…]


Source: themetapicture

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