He went and said goodbye to the trees in the yard, one by one, embracing them and crying

jose-saramago

It was only many years after, when my grandfather had departed from this world and I was a grown man, I finally came to realise that my grandmother, after all, also believed in dreams. There could have been no other reason why, sitting one evening at the door of her cottage where she now lived alone, staring at the biggest and smallest stars overhead, she said these words: “The world is so beautiful and it is such a pity that I have to die”. She didn’t say she was afraid of dying, but that it was a pity to die, as if her hard life of unrelenting work was, in that almost final moment, receiving the grace of a supreme and last farewell, the consolation of beauty revealed. She was sitting at the door of a house like none other I can imagine in all the world, because in it lived people who could sleep with piglets as if they were their own children, people who were sorry to leave life just because the world was beautiful; and this Jerónimo, my grandfather, swineherd and story-teller, feeling death about to arrive and take him, went and said goodbye to the trees in the yard, one by one, embracing them and crying because he knew he wouldn’t see them again.

~ Jose Saramago, (1922-2010), excerpt from his Nobel Lecture, December 7, 1998


Notes:

Running. And, slow sailing to a quiet dance.

drum-drumline
It’s a coincidence. (Again?)
It’s synchronicity. (Do you believe that?)
You made it up, you’re delusional. (Not yet, don’t think so, not just yet.)
It’s a sign, a message. It’s G – – . (Oh, boy.)

5:45 am. I round the corner to Cove Island – low tide.  The sulfur released from the exposed mud fills the lungs – gas, pungent smelling salts.

I inhale.

Geese float silently in the shadows.

I run.

I’m around the loop and back, 1/4 mile from the entrance.  GPS flashes 4.1 miles in. I don’t glance at the time, that’s been a year now, I’ve conceded. “Matured.”  Over 25 years of daily tracking of body weight and notating work-outs, first in a log book, then Excel spreadsheets and now Google Sheets.  And also, now, on a parallel path on a digital step tracker which automatically feeds volumes of data into machines and is charted and graphed and spliced into pieces – all of which I never look at.  The logging, the tracking, the effort, I mean Really! WHO CARES?

Yet, the tension pulls at both ends, a medieval body rack tearing the limbs from the torso. Wired to Do, whipped by a Mind that makes you Do and strapped to a Body that can no longer Do. And, the Head swims in rip currents.

[Read more…]

Miracle. All of it.

face-paint-powder-red

Picture yourself in an airliner, at high altitude. One of the plane engines has just caught fire, the other doesn’t look very well either, and the pilot has to make an emergency landing. Finding yourself in such a situation can be a shattering, yet also a revealing experience. First, there are of course the cries, the tears, the whispered prayers, the loud hysterics. Amid all the wailing and gnashing of teeth, you cannot think of anything in any detached, rational fashion. For you have to admit it, you are scared to death, just like everyone else. Yet the plane lands safely and everybody gets off unharmed. After you’ve had a chance to pull yourself together, you start thinking a bit more clearly about what just happened.

That’s when we might realise, for example, how close we can be sometimes to not being at all. And also that there is something oppressively materialistic, to an almost obscene degree, in any ‘brush with death’. Some faulty piece of equipment – a worn-out part, a loose screw, a leaking pipe, anything – could be enough to do us in. That’s all it takes. We thus realise that, when we experience failure, we start seeing the cracks in the fabric of existence, and the nothingness that stares at us from the other side. Yet even as failure pushes us towards the margins of existence it gives us the chance to look at everything – at the world, at ourselves, at what we value most – with fresh eyes. The failure of things, coming as it does with a certain measure of existential threat, exposes us for what we are. And what a sight!

From that unique location – the site of devastation that we’ve become – we understand that we are no grander than the rest of the world. Indeed, we are less than most things. The smallest stone we pick up randomly from a riverbed has long preceded us, and will outlive us. Humans are barely existing entities: how can we claim privileges? Fundamentally, we are vulnerable, fragile creatures. And if, unlike the rest of existence, people are endowed with reason, it is this gift of reason that should lead us to understand how modest our place in the cosmos actually is.

~ Costica BradatanEveryone fails, but only the wise find humility


Notes:

Running. With a Black-Winged Bird.

crow

Sunday morning, early, 5:40 am.  Out the door.

Temperature: 78° F.  Humidity? 1 zillion, and climbing. Visibility? Fair. Mist rises from the earth, still absorbing the 3 am deluge – one very large compost pile.  It’s August in the Connecticut rainforest, and I run.  This should be corrected, I used to run. Now I lean forward and move my feet hoping not to take a header.  I’m 1/2 mile in, all exposed body parts glisten with a high sheen…and the rest are feelin’ Heavy.  I flip my music player to Counting Crows and The Rain King.  Yes, if you’ve followed along with me on this blog, this song and its reference would be a repeat. You get old, you repeat sh*t. That’s how it goes.

….When I think of heaven, (Deliver me in a black-winged bird) I think of flying…

I triple click the up volume arrow, Rain King is boomin’ into the earbuds.  The tech gremlin pipes in a warning: “Sir, you can sustain ear damage at high volumes.” Honey, no worries, there’s ain’t nothing up there will be damaged.

I round the corner and approach a steep incline. You’re Usain Bolt. You’re a Kenyan. You’re in Rio. You’re amazing!

I take off. [Read more…]

Saturday Morning

sleep-dog-pet-cute

If you love home—and even if you don’t—there is nothing quite as cozy, as comfortable, as delightful, as that first week back. That week, even the things that would irritate you—the alarm waahing from some car at three in the morning; the pigeons who come to clutter and cluck on the windowsill behind your bed when you’re trying to sleep in—seem instead reminders of your own permanence, of how life, your life, will always graciously allow you to step back inside of it, no matter how far you have gone away from it or how long you have left it.

~ Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life


Photo: Your Eyes Blaze Out

Running. With Man on Wire.

spider-web-close-up-kim-westcott

This body is 6’1″ and yet it always seems to hit me head-high. On the chin. Wraps around my forehead. Straps across the eyes, like strings of celophane plastered on the corneas. And on a bad day, at the end of a long morning run when I’m heaving, it hits me full on the mouth like strands of cotton candy, without the sweet and the color. Here, the scene would be a middle aged man who’s lost his marbles, arms waving maniacally and spitting like a machine gun.

Yet, it’s so fine. A fraction of the electrical wires slung between the poles overhead. Thinner than the monofilament fishing line I would cast in the eddies of the Kootenay river. And thinner yet, than the fiber optic cable laid across the Atlantic.

Yet on this road, this morning, this path less travelled, it was apparent that overnight he was working. At 5:15 a.m., it hit me across both eyes. A single strand. Not on the forehead. Not on the chest. Not on the knees. Not even on the neck. Not one eye, square across both eyes, as if he had a plum bob, measured me up and said: to get him, it has to be right here. 5’x” off the ground, and assume a bit of up and down motion because he’s running.

The single web line was strung across a two lane highway, to a tree on the other side. Across a two-lane highway!

How? Now that is the question(s). [Read more…]

Running. With Blood.

aerial-highway-solitary

Captain’s Log.
Last run: March 13, 2016.  Jesus. 4 months.
I step on the scale. Hope springs eternal.
Flash. Flash. Flash. Bam: 204.6. Exactly the same weight. Well, that’s something.

I grip the Body Glide cylinder and rub it on the nipples.
There’ll be no breast pads for this Hombre after today’s run.
I pause before setting down the magic wax, and look down at my groins.  Are they touching? Can’t be. Must be the way I’m standing. I spread my legs. That’s better, pleased at the separation. Another year or so and you’ll be able to drive a bus between my legs – they’ll be spread that wide.

I’m out the door.
4:57 a.m.
66° F.  Cooler today.
Weather App calls for the sun to rise at 5:30 am.
My Goal: Exceed the 5.38 mile distance in March or run to the Sunrise, whichever comes first.

It’s like riding a bike. You don’t forget how to run. Right. A nerve in the upper left shoulder blade pinches. And this slides down to the lower right back achieving beautiful pain symmetry. Sedentary Suit on the move.  Jesus.

[Read more…]

Tuesday Morning Wake-Up Call: A dream can weigh more than iron

train-passenger

And then there were the poets, those unbelievable people so different from other men, who told anyone who would listen that a wish is more important than a fortune, and that a dream can weigh more than iron or steel. What nerve they had, those poets, but how right they were! Everything, they said, comes from inside us, passes through things outside and then goes back in. And that to them is the meaning of life, feeling, understanding, love.

~ Jacques Lusseyran, And There Was Light: The Extraordinary Memoir of a Blind Hero of the French Resistance in World War II


Notes: Photograph: philippe conquet with Pas 5.  Related Posts: Jacques Lusseyran

Flaubert and Socks.

socks-color

My deplorable mania for analysis exhausts me. I doubt everything, even my doubt.”

It started with these words, Gustave Flaubert’s words in his letter to Louise Colet. And spiraled from there. A middle aged man crippled with analysis, dragging his lame foot behind him as he trudges ahead.

I run the math. 10 years in this house. 365 days a year. Deduct 500 days for vacation, travel, walking the floors au naturel. Round it. We’re talking 3000 discrete events.  3000 discrete events.

And as I sit pecking this post out, I couldn’t tell you if the drawer handle is circular or square, platinum color or brass, a smooth or a rough finish.

But for 3000 events, mostly mornings, with a few afternoon and evenings sprinkled in, I open the drawer, peer in, and stare at my socks. The first big decision of the day.

Color? Must match the pants. And because socks are put on first (Why? Just because) the decision is momentous – the first domino tripping the shirt, suit, tie and shoe selection. Like an algorithmic equation forced on a poet, I’m paralyzed by the complexity. A lab rat for Barry Schwartz’s Paradox of Choice.
[Read more…]

Walking Cross-Town. 47th, wrong side.

walker-photography-mist-fog-light

6:32 a.m. I exit Grand Central onto 47th. I glance at my watch, plenty of time for the 7 a.m. breakfast.

The crane’s steel arm groans and stretches up four floors. One worker guides the load of sheet rock in through the window. Another waves off the early morning commuters with his red caution flag. He looks me in the eye and directs me to the other side of the street.

I cross.

Have you ever walked this side of 47th? Ever? Eight years. 100’s of cross-town walks. Zero recollection of ever walking on the other side.

I glance over. It’s now free of construction. The wind whistles. Come back. Now. Come Home to me.

I lean right but resist. No.  Not today. Live dangerously DK.  Go way out on a limb.

I walk.

The legs and feet are heavy. I trudge on alien ground. The Amygdala twitches.

I pass delivery upon delivery truck offloading the day’s supplies.

“Fiji Water. Fiji. Untouched by man. Every drop is green.”

I pass the jewelry district

“Time in Motion – Watch Repair”
[Read more…]

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