Walking. For A Thousand Years.

Here we go again. Daybreak walk at Cove Island Park. 760 consecutive (almost) days.  Like in a row.

The narrator @ Audible is pumping “Independent People” into my head, a novel that won the 1955 Nobel Prize for Halldór Laxness.  Not sure what’s up with my fixation on Iceland and Icelanders: Laxness, Ólafur Arnalds, Of Monsters and Men. Something going on here…  Something.

So, I’m walking, and listening to Laxness…

Had the brook lost its charm, then? No, far from it. Clear and joyful it flowed over the shining sand and pebbles, between its banks white with withered grass, its joy eternally new every spring for a thousand years; and it told little stories, in its own little tongue, its own little inflections, while the boy sat on the bank and listened for a thousand years. The boy and eternity, two friends, the sky cloudless and unending.”

Thousand years the brook flowed.  Thousand years, the tide I’m staring out at, receded, and then rolled back in again. Thousand years of nights, twilights, and sunrises…

Laxness continues: “Nothing in life is so beautiful as the night before what is yet to be, the night and its dew.”

I walk.

It’s 5:01 a.m., twilight (aka near dark), and I notice the tracks. Tracks running from the shoreline to the top of beach. WTH is that?  I walk to the top, wary of what I’ll find; God knows, it could be a badger from New Hampshire that lost its way — hiding behind the bushes waiting for its next victim. [Read more…]

Walking. Being A Little More Human.

Monday. 4:48 a.m. Why so early? There is some logic, disturbing as it may seem to some, to catch twilight, or daybreak, or first light or whatever you may want to call it — I have to leave the house precisely 60 minutes from Sunrise. And since Sunrise changes every day, and I have no clue why, my rise-and-go changes daily. For this machine is wound as tight as a Swiss Clock. Precisely (Mostly.) Daily. (Generally.)

So back to the walk. 747 consecutive days on this daybreak walk at Cove Island Park. Like in a row. (Almost.)

64° F, feels like 62° F. This is from the Dark Sky App. No bloody chance in hell it’s even close. Wind gusting up to 20 mph. It feels like a brisk 49°. And thank the lightening bolt premonition before I left the house — I put on a windbreaker or this would have been a damn short walk this morning. And be damed, if I’m still not cold.

So, back to the walk. It’s 4:50 a.m. and I’m getting out of the car. There’s only one other car in the parking lot. What sort of other lunatic is up at this hour? In case of a future need, this may be a match for bone marrow transplant, or white cell transplant, there’s gotta be some bone-to-bone connection here.

I sling the straps of my backpack over my shoulders, synch down the straps, lock the car, and walk.

And walk.

And there he is. The owner of the other car. He’s approaching. He’s carrying a white cleaning caddy in his right hand. Two toilet brushes, cleaning supplies, rags. The white of the caddy, is as white as my egrets. It illuminates the darkness.

[Read more…]

Crisis? Go Watch the Rain for 10 minutes.

It rained one morning this week. I moved back to Texas last year, in part for the rainstorms. Here, it rains decisively, gloriously, like it really means it. It explodes, pounds, roars, thunders and then, suddenly, moves on. I stepped on my back porch, not wanting to miss the show.

I sat, silent, smelling that indescribable rain scent and stretching out my hands, palms open in supplication, the same position I use in church to receive communion. The physicality of the experience, the sensual joy of sounds, smells, touch and sight, was profoundly humanizing. In a very real way, I am made for that. I am made to notice the rain. I’m made to love it.

But digitization is changing our relationship with materiality — both the world of nature and of human relationships. We are trained through technology (and technology corporations) to spend more time on screens and less time noticing and interacting with this touchable, smellable, feelable world. Social media in particular trains us to notice that which is large, loud, urgent, trending and distant, and to therefore miss the small, quiet importance of our proximate and limited, embodied lives…

Both Richtel’s article and another article released the same week by The Times highlight the emerging trend of people having romantic relationships with fictional characters, rather than human beings. There is evidence that teenagers are consuming more pornography, even as fewer are having sex. In a piece for The Atlantic, Derek Thompson highlights the growing concern that screen habits are displacing beneficial experiences for kids, noting that compared with the early 2000s, teenagers are less likely to “go out with their friends, get their driver’s license or play youth sports.” They are also less likely to get enough sleep.

“Children today spend less time outdoors than any other generation,” the National Recreation and Park Association reports, “devoting only four to seven minutes to unstructured outdoor play per day while spending an average of seven and a half hours in front of electronic media.” I realized recently that I can identify more apps by sight than species of trees.

We are made to enjoy the physical presence of other human beings. We are made to enjoy rainstorms or sunshine or walks in the woods. We are made to enjoy touchable things. We cannot escape or overcome this need through technology. Our attempts to do so go against the grain of our deepest human needs and longings…

In the same way, I think we are finding that there is something essential and mysterious — dare I say, holy — about human beings interacting in person and with the natural world that simply cannot be replicated in virtual reality.

So what do we do? In his book “Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Flourishing,” Andy Crouch writes, “Perhaps the two best beginning moves, for those of us swaddled in affluence and intoxicated by our technology, are into the natural world — the world of stars, snow and rain, trees and deserts — and into the relational world — the world of real bodies and heartbeats, hands and faces.”

Just as people have worked to revive slow, unprocessed and traditional food, we need to fight for the tangible world, for enduring ways of interacting with others, for holism. We need to reconnect with material things: nature, soil, our bodies and other people in real life. This doesn’t necessarily have to be big and dramatic. We don’t have to hurl our computers into the sea en masse.

But we do have to intentionally resist the siren song of digitization, which by and large promises far more than it can deliver. We have to be cautious and wise about introducing devices into our lives that fundamentally change how humans have interacted since time immemorial. We have to plunge ourselves primarily into the natural world and embodied human relationships, with all the complexity, challenges, inconvenience and pain that entails.

Go watch the rain for 10 minutes. Go on a walk with a friend. Get off social media and meet one neighbor. Keep your kids offline. Put your hands in the dirt. Play an instrument instead of a video game. Turn off your smartphone and have dinner with people around a table. Search for beauty and goodness in the material world, and there, find joy. The way back to ourselves, as individuals and a society, runs through old, earthy things.

Tish Harrison Warren, from “We’re in a Loneliness Crisis: Another Reason to Get Off Our Phones” (NY Times, May 1, 2022). Warren is an Anglican priest reflects on matters of faith in private life and public discourse.


Photo: Ahmed Nishaath of Manipal Lake, Udpi, India via Unsplash.

Grace eludes you

I leave the restaurant after the sun has set. Rome is dark. I’m tired and need the shortest route to my hotel so I cut down a dim alley. The road turns rough. I trip along the way. I keep my head down, eyes squinting at my path, and so I don’t see the men first but hear them. They’re laughing. I move to one side of the alley and they move to the same side. I step the other way and so do they. There are four of them. I hear one speaking to me, but I don’t know what he is saying.

Their interest in me, their sound, turns me stony. I open my mouth and out comes not words, but strained guttural notes.

One man jogs past to stand behind me. Another puts his hand on my shoulder and backs me up, toward the wall, toward his friend. His friend is tall. They want to take my picture standing next to him. I’m short, a dwarf, which is funny, hysterical. I’m not real. Just a strange thing in the alley. The flash of their camera. I freeze. Then I’m back in the dark.

When I was a teenager, a man once watched me going up some stairs and he said, “Grace eludes you.” I seemed to be struggling, which struck him, I suppose, as ugly.

Does this man remember what he said to me? Does he return to the memory each time he sees stairs?

I still — two decades after this man watched me walk up the stairs — step aside to tie my shoe to allow people to go ahead of me. I fake phone calls so that others will walk up without me. I pretend to wait for someone who isn’t coming. I bide my time, clinging to my weak ruse of self protection, until no one is looking. I do not climb stairs until I can do so unobserved. I’ve never stopped preparing for the next person who will see me walk and deny me grace.

The way words stay, the way sentences stay, the way memories invade my present, the way a stranger looks at me and speaks: shards that become a mirror.

In Rome, men block my path. They are drunk. The tall one wants to leave, done with this picture project. Another man drops his phone. His friends laugh at his clumsiness. One taps the other’s chest and just like that they’re distracted by a new plan, a diverting interest, and they leave me without further incident and carry on with their night, never to think of this moment again.

Chloé Cooper Jones, Easy Beauty: A Memoir (Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster, April 5, 2022)

“I am in a bar in Brooklyn, listening to two men, my friends, discuss whether my life is worth living.”

So begins Chloé Cooper Jones’s bold, revealing account of moving through the world in a body that looks different than most. Jones learned early on to factor “pain calculations” into every plan, every situation. Born with a rare congenital condition called sacral agenesis which affects both her stature and gait, her pain is physical. But there is also the pain of being judged and pitied for her appearance, of being dismissed as “less than.” The way she has been seen—or not seen—has informed her lens on the world her entire life. She resisted this reality by excelling academically and retreating to “the neutral room in her mind” until it passed. But after unexpectedly becoming a mother (in violation of unspoken social taboos about the disabled body), something in her shifts, and Jones sets off on a journey across the globe, reclaiming the spaces she’d been denied, and denied herself.

Walking. And harvesting light.

69° F. 4:30 a.m. My daybreak walk @ Cove Island Park. 410 consecutive days. Like in a Row.

Dark Sky app: 93% cloud cover.

It’s a quiet morning.

A solo fisherman.

A runner. Male. Tights. Headband. Could pass for Richard Simmons. Smartphone strapped to his left arm. And white, wired earbuds. Does anyone use wired earbuds anymore?

And then a brisk walker with a Tuk pulled down over his ears, a North Face coat and gloves. (~70° F. Cancer?)

And me. Man-Child laboring under a massive backpack, containing more gear than you’ll find in stock at your local BestBuy, 98% of which will go unused on the morning walk. But it’s all gotta come, just-in-case.

My eye catches rapid movement, then color over the water. Ellen Meloy: “The complex human eye harvests light. It perceives seven to ten million colors through a synaptic flash: one-tenth of a second from retina to brain.” Lori shared this, and The Mind keeps returning to it in a loop.

Miracle, that my eye spotted this creature in twilight. I’m away at a distance, I quickly swap lenses, and then approach. She’s skittish, and one would wonder why. [Read more…]

Walking. With very faint, very human(s).

Michael Ondaatje: “Trust me, this will take time but there is order here, very faint, very human.”

5:55 a.m. 340 consecutive days. Like in a row. Morning walk. This morning, Calf Pasture Beach, Norwalk. Dark Sky: 48° F. 96% cloud cover.

I walk.

6:01 a.m. Up ahead. Tall, lanky, young and solo. Hat pulled down over his ears. Shoulders sagging, heavy step. Not looking at skyline, head bowed. I stretch my gait to trace his steps, shoes sink in wet sand at low tide, my step, shoe size, almost a match. Ember from his cigarette glows in twilight, he flicks it away, and tucks both hands deep into his pockets. Mary Oliver: “When one is alone and lonely, the body gladly lingers in the wind or the rain…anything that touches.

6:13 a.m. Runner, unmasked, aggressively approaching in my lane on sidewalk. Shouting something, lips moving, but inaudible through my AirPods. “Did you get the sunrise on Wednesday?” He’s like inside of 3 feet, well inside of my personal space. And, it’s Saturday, like 3 days later, it’s near 100% overcast this morning, and I’ve never seen him before in my life. Have I somehow lost a day, or two? And, what was that, that hit my chin, spittle from his mouth, rain droplet or gull deposit?

He continues. “It was amazing!” I nod, smile back. He keeps running. It was amazing.

6:15 a.m. Two on the beach, shoeless, covered in a blanket. Giggling. Waving wands, soap bubbles rising, drifting then disappear. They dip the wands and repeat, giggling.

6:18 a.m. A familiar fellow walker is taking a shot of something in the tree. I look up to see a squirrel gnawing at a red apple, cheeks full. I keep walking, turn back, and see him toss another apple to his bushy friend.

6:20 a.m. Walker. Tall galoshes. Masked. With Goggles. Alien. I try to make eye contact — what kind of human is armoured up like this? She avoids eye contact and continues down the pier.

I walk.

[Read more…]

Sunday Morning

I could not predict the fullness
of the day. How it was enough
to stand alone without help
in the green yard at dawn.

How two geese would spin out
of the ochre sun opening my spine,
curling my head up to the sky
in an arc I took for granted.

And the lilac bush by the red
brick wall flooding the air
with its purple weight of beauty?
How it made my body swoon,

brought my arms to reach for it
without even thinking.

*

In class today a Dutch woman split
in two by a stroke—one branch
of her body a petrified silence—
walked leaning on her husband

to the treatment table while we
the unimpaired looked on with envy.
How he dignified her wobble,
beheld her deformation, untied her

shoe, removed the brace that stakes
her weaknesses. How he cradled
her down in his arms to the table
smoothing her hair as if they were

alone in their bed. I tell you—
his smile would have made you weep.

*

At twilight I visit my garden
where the peonies are about to burst.

Some days there will be more
flowers than the vase can hold.

—  Susan F. Glassmeyer, “I Tell You” from Body Matters. (Pudding House Publications, 2009)


Notes:

  • Poem: Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels
  • Photo: DK. Daybreak. October 4, 2020. 6:30 am, Cove Island Park, Stamford CT.

Lightly Child, Lightly

Life should carry more meaning than the facts would bear. Which facts were these: we occupied a tiny corner of the universe, minor planet orbiting a minor star, in an even tinier corner of cosmological time. Still we wanted all of it, the sun and the moon and the firmament that held them, to be about us. This want had been bred into humanity, selected by nature, so it must have served some purpose once, but it had long outlived its usefulness… What was needed now was to know.

— Christopher Beha, The Index of Self-Destructive Acts: A Novel (Tin House Books, May 5, 2020)


Notes:

Lightly Child, Lightly

How do we forgive ourselves for all the things we did not become?

—  Doc Luben, from “#13” in “14 Lines from Love Letters or Suicide Notes” (Genius.com)


Notes:

  • Doc Luben is a spoken word slam poet. He comes from Portland, Oregon. He can be found on Tumblr, where he posts new poems. (Thank you Make Believe Boutique)
  • 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

The truth? The truth about all this?… We’re doing the best we can, we really are. We’re trying to be grown-up and love each other and understand how the hell you’re supposed to insert USB leads. We’re looking for something to cling on to, something to fight for, something to look forward to. We’re doing all we can to teach our children how to swim. We have all of this in common, yet most of us remain strangers, we never know what we do to each other, how your life is affected by mine. Perhaps we hurried past each other in a crowd today, and neither of us noticed, and the fibers of your coat brushed against mine for a single moment and then we were gone. I don’t know who you are. But when you get home this evening, when this day is over and the night takes us, allow yourself a deep breath. Because we made it through this day as well. There’ll be another one along tomorrow.

—  Fredrik Backman, “Anxious People: A Novel” (Atria Books, September 8, 2020) 


Notes:

  • Fredrik Backman portrait by Casper Hedberg for The New York Times
  • 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.”

Moments snap together like magnets, forging a chain of shackles. Why?

There’s a famous play, Equus, about a troubled boy with a blinding love of horses. The boy sees a psychiatrist named Martin Dysart, who tries to understand him by trying to understand his love. Dysart is confounded by it:

A child is born into a world of phenomena all equal in their power to enslave. It sniffs—it sucks—it strokes its eyes over the whole uncountable range. Suddenly one strikes. Why? Moments snap together like magnets, forging a chain of shackles. Why? I can trace them. I can even, with time, pull them apart again. But why at the start they were ever magnetized at all—just those particular moments of experience and no others—I don’t know. 

I can trace my love, too. Why stars instead of horses, or boys, or hockey? I don’t know. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because the stars are the antithesis of darkness, of abusive stepfathers and imperiled little sisters. Stars are light. Stars are possibility. They are the places where science and magic meet, windows to worlds greater than my own. Stars gave me the hope that I might one day find the right answers.

But there’s more to my love than that. When I think of the stars I feel an almost physical pull. I don’t just want to look at them. I want to know them, every last one of them, a star for every grain of sand on Earth. I want to bask in the hundreds of millions of suns that shine in the thousands of billions of skies in our galaxy alone. Stars represent more than possibility to me; they are probability. On Earth the odds could seem stacked against me—but where you are changes everything. Each star was, and still is, another chance for me to find myself somewhere else. Somewhere new.

Sara Seager, The Smallest Lights in the Universe: A Memoir (Crown, August 18, 2020)


Notes:

Walking. With the Silent Generation.

I counted him out yesterday morning. There was light drizzle from 5:00 am to 6:20 am, and it continued for my entire 5 mile loop around Cove Island Park. But he didn’t disappoint. There he was.

We intersect most mornings.

Never met him. Don’t know him. Never spoken a word to him.

But I imagine his life.

He’s a member of the Silent Generation, following his Parents, who were members of the Greatest Generation who survived the Great Depression. Waste not. Want not. Sacrifice. Freedom. God. Country. (I’m consciously leaving out ‘Guns’.)

He didn’t come from the Privileged. He was drafted, he didn’t seek medical deferment, he fought in the Vietnam War. Memories haunt, Demons always in pursuit. Jennifer Pastiloff’s: “Get out of your head. It’s a bad neighborhood.”  So he walks.

There’s no Apple Watch tracking his steps. No iPhone pumping in music or books on tape.  Nothing to shake that gnawing, that scraping…

There are two flags that hang on his house; they are worn, the whites have long lost their sheen.  They don’t just make their appearance on July 4th, they hang 365 days a year.

The homes around him, one by one, are torn down, rebuilt, taller, larger, and fill with young families fleeing Manhattan. Property values have soared, his taxes have followed upward, and now pinch. He could flee to Florida, land of no State income tax, but that has never crossed his mind. He was born here, and will die here, his home town.  He completes his own tax returns, reports his modest pensioner’s income and pays all of his taxes, because that is what has to be done.

The curtains are always drawn. He’s a Widower, married for 40 years, and then lost Her to Cancer.  No one to open the drapes.  No dog to keep him company. No cat to nestle next to his feet, purring, as he watches The Evening News. Income is tight, he can’t afford the expense. He misses his Wife.

The lawn is cut, never shaggy. A fence, freshly painted brown, provides token separation from the neighbors, with toys strewn all over their front yard.

His Story may be entirely different. But it’s what I see. What I need to see.

Yet, what doesn’t require imagining, is this.

I’ve come to look for him each morning. I round the turn to walk up Anthony Lane and there he is.

No matter how far up the street I am, he looks for me, and always throws up his hand to wave Hello.

Because that’s what he was taught.  And that’s what he Believes. Character. Honesty. Decency. Be a good neighbor.

Some day, I’ll either tire of this same morning walk, or he won’t be there. One, or the other.

And, I’ll miss him.


Notes:

  • Photo: DK, Saturday, Aug 30, 2020
  • Inspired by: “If you can think of times in your life that you’ve treated people with extraordinary decency and love, and pure uninterested concern, just because they were valuable as human beings. The ability to do that with ourselves. To treat ourselves the way we would treat a really good, precious friend. Or a tiny child of ours that we absolutely loved more than life itself. And I think it’s probably possible to achieve that. I think part of the job we’re here for is to learn how to do it.” — David Foster Wallace, from “Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace” by David Lipsky (Broadway, April 13, 2010)
  • Inspired by: “We may be in the middle of a story we don’t know how will end, or even whether it will end, but we are not helpless characters created and directed by an unseen novelist. We have the power, even in this Age of Anxiety, to enfold ourselves in small comforts, in the joy of tiny pleasures. We can walk out into the dark and look up at the sky. We can remind ourselves that the universe is so much bigger than this fretful, feverish world, and it is still expanding. And still filled with stars. —  Margaret Renkl, “A Reminder to Enfold Yourself in Small Comforts” (NY Times, August 24, 2020)

Sunday Morning

I asked him what he thought it meant for our lives, for how we spend them, for what they mean. He said our lives mean nothing except as a cycle of regeneration, that we are incomprehensibly brief sparks, just as the animals are, that we are no more important than they are, no more worthy of life than any living creature. That in our self-importance, in our search for meaning, we have forgotten how to share the planet that gave us life. Tonight I write him a letter telling him I think he was right. But that also I think there is meaning, and it lives in nurturing, in making life sweeter for ourselves, and for those around us.

— Charlotte McConaghyMigrations: A Novel (Flatiron Books, August 4, 2020)


Photo: Sparks by Christine Lynch

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow: and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either…

If we look into this sheet of paper even more deeply, we can see the sunshine in it. If the sunshine is not there, the forest cannot grow. In fact nothing can grow. Even we cannot grow without sunshine. And so, we know that the sunshine is also in this sheet of paper…

And if we continue to look we can see the logger who cut the tree and brought it to the mill to be transformed into paper.

And we see the wheat. We know that the logger cannot exist without his daily bread, and therefore the wheat that became his bread is also in this sheet of paper. And the logger’s father and mother are in it too. When we look in this way we see that without all of these things, this sheet of paper cannot exist.

Looking even more deeply, we can see ourselves in this sheet of paper too. This is not difficult to see, because when we look at a sheet of paper, it is par of our perception. Your mind is in here and mine is also. So we can say that everything is in here with this sheet of paper. We cannot point out one thing that is not here — time, space, the earth, the rain, the minerals in the soil, the sunshine, the cloud, the river, the heat. Everything co-exists with this sheet of paper…This sheet of paper is, because everything else is.

—  Thich Nhat Hanh, from “Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life”

 


Photo: Anka Zhuravleva with Head in the Clouds

A rupture in our constructed realities

I know this pandemic is a big deal. But it is really only now sinking in how much of a bigger deal this will be for our social consciousness than 9/11. Maybe even more significant than WW2, since it is effecting everyone. Every society on earth is having to adjust and respond. And, more than any other event in my lifetime or my father’s lifetime, it is exposing the problems of our society and, perhaps, creating space in our collective capacity to imagine a better world…This pandemic is a sharper reminder of human fragility, the utter incapacity for us to solve these natural crises within our capitalist framework…But this is a rupture. A rupture in our constructed realities, exposing what lies underneath. May we discern, together, the movement of the Spirit of Life so that we might create a new, more compassionate world, with one another.“

— Mark Van Steenwyk


Notes:

  • Quote via Beth @ Alive on All Channels. Photo: David Ramos in NY Times
  • Inspired by a passage Keith shared with me: “There are certain things that happen to you as a human being that you cannot control or command, that will come to you at really inconvenient times and where you have to bow in the human humility to the fact that there’s something running through you that’s bigger than you …” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert (The TED Interview podcast, October 19, 2018)

Flying AA1487 JFK to PHX. More Lav Follies.

I ran the themes of this post by S&S (Spouse and Son).

Both gave me the meh“.  “Tired.” “You’ve done this before.” “What’s so strange about that?”

Give me a hat tip. I choked down my usual retort. “Dumb and Dumber. What do you know?

But Mind only needs a bit of push back, and they had me spinning away from the Topic. Maybe they’re right.

He who- what was it?- walks out of step, hears another drum.”  Me and Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

The Lav drum beats.

JFK to Phoenix. Wide body Airbus.  My usual seat. Exit Row. One seat back from Lav, and clear shot of incoming and outgoing Lavatory activity.

5+ hour flight.  300 minutes of Showtime.

Game time.

  1. Occupant. Male. Boomer. In. Out. Leaves door open. Looks back down aisle, notes door is open, keeps walking.
  2. Occupant. Male. Millennial. In, with Smartphone in right hand. Out, with Smartphone in left. Can’t be without a connection at all times. Helps bowel movements.
  3. Occupant. Female. Boomer +. Waiting in aisle for Lav to free up. Slides into our row to let another passenger pass by. Backs her toosh right into my seatmate’s face.
  4. Occupant. Female. Blonde. Gen X. First in line of 3. “Stinks really bad. I can’t go in there.” Nose scrunched up. Walks to back of plane to find another lav.
  5. Occupant. Male. Millennial. Was standing behind Occupant #4 above. Looks around to see if anyone heard previous occupant. Dips nose in, concludes: Toxic.  Line stretches out.
  6. Occupant. Flight Attendant. Comes by to check the root cause of ruckus. Toilet not flushing.  Accumulation backing up. Steps in. Repairs malfunction. “This was not in the damn training manual.”
  7. Occupant. Millennial. Female. Bose wireless over-the-ear headphones. No point in skipping a tune while conducting your bus-i-ness.
  8. Occupant. Retiree +. Male. Cardigan. Jacket over the top of cardigan. He is pushing, pushing, pushing on door. Passenger taps him on shoulder and points up to the Occupied sign. He shrugs his shoulders and shuffles down the aisle to the Lav in the back of the plane. Occupant inside at the time comes out with “WTH is going on?!?” look. Lady waiting in line lip syncs: Not me!
  9. Occupant. Mom. In 20’s. Holding diapers. With Toddler. Little boy, blond hair, sucking on lollipop, runs back down the aisle. “Poopy Mommy. Poopy.”
  10. Occupant. Man. Early 30’s. Grey Hoodie. Faded blue jeans rolled up to show ankles +. (That’s still in style?) Neck pillow, around his neck. Never know when you’ll need your neck pillow in the Lav when it gets rockin’ in there.
  11. Occupant. Man. Gen X. Face covered with Face Mask, Coronavirus protection?
  12. Occupant. Woman. 50’s. Wearing dark blue, down puffer jacket. Buttoned up to the neck. She comes out, red faced, forehead glistening.  Puffer Jacket in Lav? Really?
  13. And let’s close with the Finalist and Award Winner.  Occupant. Man. Middle Aged. Sport coat. Slacks. Silver pin in lapel. Stripped socks. No shoes. No Shoes. No Shoes. No. No. No.  Can’t be possible. No. No Way!

Photo: View from the Wing

Miracle. All of It.

 Human beings are creations more profound than human beings can fathom…

That’s one of the proofs of God…

there’s no other explanation.

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


Notes:

  • Art.  Finger painter (by default). Artist Mary Jane Q Cross (New Hampshire) with “Breath of Heaven” (via Mennyfox55)
  • Post title Inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

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.”

What’s it like to be a human the bird asked

What’s it like to be a human
the bird asked

I myself don’t know
it’s being held prisoner by your skin
while reaching infinity
being a captive of your scrap of time
while touching eternity
being hopelessly uncertain
and helplessly hopeful
being a needle of frost
and a handful of heat
breathing in the air
and choking wordlessly
it’s being on fire
with a nest made of ashes
eating bread
while filling up on hunger
it’s dying without love
it’s loving through death

That’s funny said the bird
and flew effortlessly up into the air

~ Anna Kamienska, from “Funny


Notes: Poem via Alive on All Channels. (Thanks Beth). Art by Klára Piknerová (via Your Eyes Blaze Out)

Riding Uptown. In Soft Rain.

3:25 pm. I step out of 111 Wall Street, downtown Manhattan.
30 min to get to midtown. Tight.
Rain sprinkles.
Uber: “Car unavailable at this time.” Wow.
I walk up the block to the intersection.  Look in all directions. No cabs. Please.
Walk up another block. Nothing.
Walk across the street. Nothing.
Walk across another street, and he rounds the corner, my right arm flies up. Bam.

“525 5th please…”
He doesn’t repeat it. Did he get it?
He has no smartphone. No GPS. No smart re-routing around traffic.
24 minutes.

No radio blaring. No TV screen behind front seat shouting ads.
No water bottle or coffee cup on console.
No crucifix on thin chain hanging from rearview mirror. No patron saint. No Jesus Saves.
No pics of loved one(s) on dash.
No ring on his finger. None on his ear or his nose.
No sunglasses on visor. No eyeglasses.
No NY Post on the seat.
No box of Kleenex or NY Mets baseball cap in door pocket.
12 min and 3 miles out. [Read more…]

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