Walking. Walking it down the cheek.

tear-cheek

1:32 am.

Halldór’s nightlessness and insomnia in all directions.

A new routine, and I’ve grooved it. To bed early, wake early, read to exhaustion, and back to sleep until sunrise.

I flick on the iPad, illuminating the dark. I get after it. The Journal. The Times. Apple News. Blog posts. RSS feeds in Feedly. A few late night incoming emails. And then to dessert, a chapter or two on Kindle, half-way through Lebedev’s Oblivion.  It’s 3:15 am, I’m turning pages on a title called Oblivion, now that’s something. You must sleep, or you will pay dearly.

I set the e-gear down, turn on the left side, and pull up the covers. Fragments of news, pages, posts, emails and today’s full day calendar are flitting by, churning, the mind workin’, workin’. Anxiety…A piece rises to the top. Begley: “A compulsion is at once psychological balm and curse, surface madness and profound relief…The ability of compulsive behaviors to quiet anxieties great and small is one of the greatest gifts our brains can give us.”

I pause, close my eyes, and marinate in this…if this is the greatest gift our brains can give us, I am fully gifted, fully loaded. FULL UP.

And, then, it stopped. The churning stopped. [Read more…]

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

eric-rose-light-face-portrait

An early riser, an optimist by nature, a lover of mornings, I’m always eager to launch myself into the day. And it doesn’t take much to make me happy: A cup of strong coffee laced with cream or a handful of frozen blueberries from my summer-stash in the freezer, a silly joke shared with my husband, a good-morning text from a far-away friend, the hairy woodpecker hanging upside-down at the feeder, busily extracting his morning ration of sunflower seeds, a sky fluid with traveling clouds executing their own sublime choreography, or a soft grey mantle of mist draped across the nearby hills. Looking around at the life I’m privileged to live, I see much to be grateful for.

~ Katrina Kenison, from Mending the World (Jan 20, 2017)

 


Notes:

 

Every morning, even before I open my eyes

simone-de-beauvoir

Every morning, even before I open my eyes, I know I am in my bedroom and my bed. But if I go to sleep after lunch in the room where I work, sometimes I wake up with a feeling of childish amazement — why am I myself? What astonishes me, just as it astonishes a child when he becomes aware of his own identity, is the fact of finding myself here, and at this moment, deep in this life and not in any other. What stroke of chance has brought this about? What astonishes me, just as it astonishes a child when he becomes aware of his own identity, is the fact of finding myself here, and at this moment, deep in this life and not in any other.

~ Simone de Beauvoir (1908–1986) in her autobiography, All Said and Done 

 


Source: Brainpickings – Simone de Beauvoir on the Constellation of Chance and Choice That Makes Us Who We Are

 

To see the full miraculous essentiality of the color blue is to be grateful with no necessity for a word of thanks

blue-sky-palm-trees-clouds

Gratitude is the understanding that many millions of things come together and live together and mesh together and breathe together in order for us to take even one more breath of air, that the underlying gift of life and incarnation as a living, participating human being is a privilege; that we are miraculously, part of something, rather than nothing. Even if that something is temporarily pain or despair, we inhabit a living world, with real faces, real voices, laughter, the color blue, the green of the fields, the freshness of a cold wind, or the tawny hue of a winter landscape.

To see the full miraculous essentiality of the color blue is to be grateful with no necessity for a word of thanks. To see fully, the beauty of a daughter’s face across the table, of a son’s outline against the mountains, is to be fully grateful without having to seek a God to thank him. To sit among friends and strangers, hearing many voices, strange opinions; to intuit even stranger inner lives beneath calm surface lives, to inhabit many worlds at once in this world, to be a someone amongst all other someones, and therefore to make a conversation without saying a word, is to deepen our sense of presence and therefore our natural sense of thankfulness that everything happens both with us and without us, that we are participants and witness all at once.

Thankfulness finds its full measure in generosity of presence, both through participation and witness. We sit at the table as part of every other person’s strange world while making our own world without will or effort, this is what is extraordinary and gifted, this is the essence of gratefulness, seeing to the heart of privilege.

Thanksgiving happens when our sense of presence meets and fully beholds all other presences. Being unappreciative, feeling distant, might mean we are simply not paying attention.

~ David Whyte, from “Gratitude” in Consolation: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words

 


Notes: Quote: Thank you Beth @ Alive on all Channels. Photo: Ethnoscape via Blue in My World

Oh taste how sweet and tart

red-seeds-juice

Bad things are going to happen…
No matter how many vitamins you take,
how much Pilates, you’ll lose your keys,
your hair and your memory…
Your wallet will be stolen, you’ll get fat,
slip on the bathroom tiles of a foreign hotel
and crack your hip. You’ll be lonely.
Oh taste how sweet and tart
the red juice is, how the tiny seeds
crunch between your teeth.

~ Ellen Bass, excerpt from Relax


Notes:

I said, I like my life.

jump-to-touch-the-sky

I said, I like my life. If I
have to give it back, if they
take it from me, let me
not feel I wasted any, let me
not feel…that I forgot
to give what I held in my hands,
that I forgot to do some little
piece of the work that wanted
to come through…

~ Marge Piercy,  excerpt from “If They Come in the Night”, Circles on the Water: Selected Poems


Notes: Poem – Thank you Beth at Alive on all Channels, Photo: Adeline Spengler, The Jump Touch the Sky, 2013 (via newthom)

 

Day and night, gifts keep pelting down on us

ponder-think

Day and night, gifts keep pelting down on us.

If we were aware of this, gratefulness would overwhelm us. But we go through life in a daze.

A power failure makes us aware of what a gift electricity is; a sprained ankle lets us appreciate walking as a gift, a sleepless night, sleep.

How much we are missing in life by noticing gifts only when we are suddenly deprived of them.

~ David Steindal-RastA Listening Heart from The Spirituality of Sacred Sensuousness 


Notes: Photo – via Your Eyes Blaze Out

Morning Meditation: Be ignited, or be gone

meditation-mist

Meditation is old and honorable, so why should I
not sit, every morning of my life, on the hillside,
looking into the shining world? Because, properly
attended to, delight, as well as havoc, is suggestion.
Can one be passionate about the just, the
ideal, the sublime, and the holy, and yet commit
to no labor in its cause? I don’t think so.

All summations have a beginning, all effect has a
story, all kindness begins with the sown seed.
Thought buds toward radiance. The gospel of
light is the crossroads of — indolence, or action.

Be ignited, or be gone.

~ Mary Oliver, “What I Have Learned So Far” from New and Selected Poems Vol. 2


Sources:

Sunday Morning

face,portrait,red,

It could happen any time, tornado,
earthquake, Armageddon. It could happen.
Or sunshine, love, salvation.

It could, you know. That’s why we wake
and look out – no guarantees
in this life.

But some bonuses, like morning,
like right now, like noon,
like evening.

~ William Stafford, “Yes,” The Way It Is: New and Selected Poems


Sources:

Sunday Morning

hair-close-up

While she cooked she’d looked out the window and the daffodils were blooming around the birdbath, and Henry was home, and the house was quiet, and she felt her own luck. There was Henry home and Charlie and Tommy and her house with the bird feeder and summer vacation soon and she felt her own luck at having this quiet moment, this life, this day.

~ Sharon Guskin, The Forgetting Time: A Novel


Photo: Elif Sanem Karakoc

 

Sunday Morning

You mustn’t wish for another life. You mustn’t want to be somebody else.

What you must do is this:
“Rejoice evermore.
Pray without ceasing.
In everything give thanks.”

I am not all the way capable of so much, but those are the right instructions.

~ Wendell Berry,  Hannah Coulter


Notes:

5:00 P.M. Bell: We Live in the Word

 Kristina Alisauskaite

My fingers are on the keyboard.
I punch out the subject heading on the email:

“It’s high time – long overdue.”

She’s a functional partner that supports our team. I don’t know how long she’s been in the role. (Red-faced)

“Hi! Not sure why today and not yesterday, or a year ago, or two.”

She’s steady, effective. The antithesis of flamboyant.  And she’s there. Always There.

“Just wanted to say thank you for your support…”

She doesn’t interrupt. She’s a listener.  And, professional, responsive and conscientious.

“You care. It’s obvious in everything you touch…”

I proof re-read, pause, and then add:

[Read more…]

Chris·tian (n.)

patty-maher-portrait

A Christian is one who is on the way,
though not necessarily very far along it,
and who has at least some dim
and half-baked idea of whom to thank.

– Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC


Notes:

Imagine you wake up with a second chance

egg-yolk

Imagine you wake up
with a second chance:
The blue jay hawks his pretty wares
and the oak still stands,
spreading glorious shade.
If you don’t look back,
the future never happens.
How good to rise in sunlight,
in the prodigal smell of biscuits –
eggs and sausage on the grill.
The whole sky is yours
to write on, blown open to a blank page.
Come on, shake a leg!
You’ll never know who’s down there,
frying those eggs,
if you don’t get up and see.

– Rita Dove, “Dawn Revisited” from On the Bus With Rosa Parks.


Credits: Poem – Schonwieder via literarymiscellanyImage: Marc Gutierrez via Mennyfox55

Well wadded with stupidity

gif-walk-walking-road

Until that moment of exchange…I had neglected to see the life that was all around me. I was a perfect candidate for the wisdom in those great lines of Middlemarch:

If we had a keen vision and feeling for all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar that lies on the other side of silence. As it is, the quickest of us walk about well wadded with stupidity. 

Well wadded with stupidity.

~ Roger Housden, Saved by Beauty: Adventures of an American Romantic in Iran.


Credit: Photo – Mennyfox55

Ripples outward and yokes circles of people in bonds of affection

gratitude-storm-clouds-breathe
[…] Most people feel grateful some of the time — after someone saves you from a mistake or brings you food during an illness. But some people seem grateful dispositionally. They seem thankful practically all of the time.  These people may have big ambitions, but they have preserved small anticipations. As most people get on in life and earn more status, they often get used to more respect and nicer treatment. But people with dispositional gratitude take nothing for granted. They take a beginner’s thrill at a word of praise, at another’s good performance or at each sunny day. These people are present-minded and hyper responsive. This kind of dispositional gratitude is worth dissecting because it induces a mentality that stands in counterbalance to the mainstream threads of our culture.[…]

Gratitude is also a form of social glue. In the capitalist economy, debt is to be repaid to the lender. But a debt of gratitude is repaid forward, to another person who also doesn’t deserve it. In this way each gift ripples outward and yokes circles of people in bonds of affection. It reminds us that a society isn’t just a contract based on mutual benefit, but an organic connection based on natural sympathy — connections that are nurtured not by self-interest but by loyalty and service.

We live in a capitalist meritocracy. This meritocracy encourages people to be self-sufficient — masters of their own fate. But people with dispositional gratitude are hyperaware of their continual dependence on others. They treasure the way they have been fashioned by parents, friends and ancestors who were in some ways their superiors. They’re glad the ideal of individual autonomy is an illusion because if they were relying on themselves they’d be much worse off. […]

If you think that human nature is good and powerful, then you go around frustrated because the perfect society has not yet been achieved. But if you go through life believing that our reason is not that great, our individual skills are not that impressive, and our goodness is severely mottled, then you’re sort of amazed life has managed to be as sweet as it is. […]

~ David Brooks, The Structure of Gratitude


Photo Source: mennyfox55

Driving I-95 N. With Sparks.

lights-driving

There’s a difference.
When your bones hurt,
And when they’re just tired.
When they are looking to heal,
and when they are looking to get set down.
These Bones are aching, to get set down.

Sparks.
The week’s reflections as I ride up I-95.
They light warm fires of gratitude.

Yes, Mary. It is the work.
My work.
Work that I’ve made for myself.
Work that I’ve chosen to claim my life.
My adult life.

And then, a final spark,
for Mary,
who has brought me Home,
and to my handsome life.


I don’t mean it’s easy or assured, there are the stubborn stumps of shame, grief that remains unsolvable after all the years, a bag of stones that goes with one wherever one goes and however the hour may call for dancing and for light feet. But there is, also, the summoning world, the admirable energies of the world, better than anger, better than bitterness and, because more interesting, more alleviating. And there is the thing that one does, the needle one plies, the work, and within that work a chance to take thoughts that are hot and formless and to place them slowly and with meticulous effort into some shapely heat-retaining form, even as the gods, or nature, or the soundless wheels of time have made forms all across the soft, curved universe – that is to say, having chosen to claim my life, I have made for myself, out of work and love, a handsome life.

– Mary Oliver, Wild Geese


Notes:

I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective

Oliver-Sachs-1

Oliver Sacks: My Own Life. Learning of Terminal Cancer

…It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me. I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can…

…While I have enjoyed loving relationships and friendships and have no real enmities, I cannot say (nor would anyone who knows me say) that I am a man of mild dispositions. On the contrary, I am a man of vehement disposition, with violent enthusiasms, and extreme immoderation in all my passions.

I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work and my friends. I shall no longer look at “NewsHour” every night…

I have been increasingly conscious, for the last 10 years or so, of deaths among my contemporaries. My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.

…Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.

Don’t miss reading the full essay by Oliver Sachs: My Own Life. Learning of Terminal Cancer


Notes:

Sunday Morning: As if this quiet day

hazy-day-ocean-landscape-black-and-white

Only a beige slat of sun above the horizon,
like a shade pulled not quite down.
Otherwise, clouds.
Sea rippled here and there.
Birds reluctant to fly.

The mind wants a shaft of sun
to stir the grey porridge of clouds,
an osprey to stitch sea to sky with its barred wings,
some dramatic music: a symphony,
perhaps a Chinese gong.

But the mind always wants more than it has –
one more bright day of sun,
one more clear night in bed with the moon;
one more hour to get the words right;
one more chance for the heart in hiding
to emerge from its thicket in dried grasses –
as if this quiet day
with its tentative light weren’t enough,
as if joy weren’t strewn all around.

– Holly Hughes, Dancing with Joy: 99 Poems


Notes:

Monday Morning Mantra

pablo-casals

For the past eighty years I have started each day in the same manner,” wrote the cellist Pablo Casals in his memoir, Joys and Sorrows. “I go to the piano, and I play two preludes and fugues of Bach. It fills me with awareness of the wonder of life, with a feeling of the incredible marvel of being a human being.

~ Glen Kurtz, Practicing: A Musician’s Return to Music


Pablo Casals (1876 – 1973), was a Spanish Catalan cellist and conductor. He is generally regarded as the pre-eminent cellist of the first half of the 20th century, and one of the greatest cellists of all time.


Credits: Photo – glogster.com

 

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