Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

It seems selfish to talk about such a mundane breaking apart in a world where real wreckage lies scattered everywhere. Instead, I try to carry the sadness around quietly, so as not to take up too much air with it, to leave space for the far more significant sadnesses of others. How do we appropriately mourn the passage of time when it’s passing beautifully, safely, but not for everyone? And how do we honor milestones that happen while we aren’t looking? The first toddling steps, taken at home with the sitter while we’re at work, or the first baby tooth, lost at preschool. The last time we saw someone, not knowing it was the last. All I know to do is acknowledge the fortune of having milestones to celebrate at all. I can celebrate people whose accomplishments mark time in my own life. I can accept that firsts and lasts are both glorious and breathtakingly sad, especially when they sneak up on us. I can watch and listen for losses I can do something about, and then I can stand by someone’s side, make a phone call, give my time, cast a vote—anything I can do, as often as possible—to try to make sure fewer parents suffer the unthinkable, that more people will bear only the most ordinary losses. And I can try to contain my emotions when they hit me like a wave in public, the way they did that late-summer afternoon while shopping for peaches. If you happen to catch me moping while gazing upon my firstborn’s favorite food, know that I’m pulling myself together. Really, I am. I’ve just slipped for a second into my own tiny, self-indulgent grief. And if you, too, are thinking, I thought I had more time, for any reason—a loss large or small or so eclipsed by refracted rays of joy that you’re ashamed to call it a loss at all—come stand quietly by the fruit with me. We don’t even have to talk, unless… well, would you mind telling me to turn my oven off? It’s so easy to miss the moment when things begin to burn.

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


Notes:

You ask me am I crazy for playing the cello in a war zone

One night, I dreamed that I was meeting my friend, a poet named Mariana, in Sarajevo, the city of love. I woke up confused. Sarajevo, a symbol of love? Wasn’t Sarajevo the site of one of the bloodiest civil wars of the late twentieth century? Then I remembered. Vedran Smailović. The cellist of Sarajevo…

You ask me am I crazy for playing the cello in a war zone, he says. Why don’t you ask THEM if they’re crazy for shelling Sarajevo?

His gesture reverberates throughout the city, over the airwaves. Soon, it’ll find expression in a novel, a film. But before that, during the darkest days of the siege, Smailović will inspire other musicians to take to the streets with their own instruments. They don’t play martial music, to rouse the troops against the snipers, or pop tunes, to lift the people’s spirits. They play the Albinoni. The destroyers attack with guns and bombs, and the musicians respond with the most bittersweet music they know.

We’re not combatants, call the violinists; we’re not victims, either, add the violas. We’re just humans, sing the cellos, just humans: flawed and beautiful and aching for love.

Susan Cain, “Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole” (Crown, April 5, 2022)


Image: Manny Becerra via Unsplash

…his long neck folded

All winter
the blue heron
slept among the horses.
I do not know
the custom of herons,
do not know
if the solitary habit
is their way,
or if he listened for
some missing one—
not knowing even
that was what he did—
in the blowing
sounds in the dark,
I know that
hope is the hardest
love we carry.
He slept
with his long neck
folded, like a letter
put away.

— Jane Hirshfield, “Hope and Love” from “The Lives of the Heart: Poems


Photo: DK @ Daybreak. Heron. 6:03 am, August 22, 2021. 75° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT. 

Tuesday Morning Wake-Up Call

I beg your pardon, I hear my disease answer in reply to my many charges leveled against it—of trespass, hijack, squatting, invasion, vandalism, anxiety, psychosis, psoriasis (of the mind), catatonia (of the spirit), a Gordian knot (of my reason), poisoning, pollution, warping—I did not grow in you uninvited by the way you lived and the life that you were given to begin with. I started in you with time and from time. I opened my eyes thanks to you finding the combination to unlock my presence in you by the way you lived your life. I had no intention to riot against you, my host, upon whom I depended for sustenance and a quiet life—which is all I ever wanted. I did not intend to finish you and me in the process. As long as you lived on, so would I. As long as you left me undisturbed, I would keep quiet and dormant in you until the end of your days.

You see me as spikes, barbed wire, and broken bottles, all cutting edges in you, and you forget that you set me going, turned me on and cut me loose in your body. I did not expect it. All your talk, reading, and tree-hugging company, and demonstrations for good, signaled to me that I would not have a hectic life that charged to a rapid end for my host and for me, but that I would be in a quiet place, unseen and ignored and quite content to amble to an octogenarian’s crawl and walker decked with tennis balls for a snail’s mobility, staggering brakes and watch-paint-dry stoppage. I could see it when you meditated or did your yoga or ran or lifted weights or ate greens, lots of them, with poker-faced enjoyment. I stopped thinking of a day when I would be free to run to my end and in the process, bring about yours preternaturally early. [Read more…]

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

We hug across the gearbox console. I tell her I love her very much and she tells me she loves me too. I drive around the block of her school for her red face to clear and for her to stop hiccupping with upset. I beg her to forget everything bad that sprang out of my mouth. That I am a fool at the mercy of my diagnosis. That I lack the necessary control to be a proper father to her. She says she wants me to be her dad, none other, and that she loves me and she will be fine in a minute or two. She offers me my soaked handkerchief. I tell her to keep it in case she needs it again. She says that she is fine. We have never been closer and with such intensity—thanks to my cancer. We are late for the start of her school day. I tell her if she feels bad just call me or text and I will leave work and pick up her in under ten minutes. She says she will be fine, really. That I shouldn’t worry. That she feels better. She asks me how I am doing. I tell her I feel better too. We part with a brief lock of eyes and hurried mutual I-love-yous. Thank you, cancer. I called you a f*cker for turning up uninvited and ruining what was supposed to be the party of my life. Now I thank you. You turn up the intensity in my routine domesticity.

Truth…

Somewhere each day we have to fall in love with someone, something, some moment. Somehow each day we must allow the softening of the heart . Otherwise our hearts will move inevitably toward hardness. We will move toward cynicism, bitterness, fear and despair. That’s where most of the world is trapped and doesn’t even know it.

~ Richard RohrRadical Grace: Daily Meditations


Quote – Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels)

Touching her was like taking a drug.

From the moment Ally was born, pushed out of Sam’s body (nothing could be more common than motherhood and yet nothing about it could ever be banal), Ally became Sam’s sun, Sam’s primary concern. She felt a directedness and a purpose and a meaning she had never experienced before. Another way of putting it: it was the least fake feeling she had ever had, the most earnest. Did all mothers feel this way? Did fathers feel this way? No, yes, doesn’t matter. On some level, it was Ally and then there was every other human on the earth. At first it was physical. The need to hold and feed and comfort. That was the best part of being a mother, answering that need. It was so simple and complete. Sure, there were times Sam longed for sleep, times she felt positively enslaved, but all it took was the head on her chest, the hand clutching at her, Sam’s own hand supporting the plump, perfect back. Touching her was like taking a drug. The back, the foot, the leg, the little arm; the lips, the ears, the toes, the perfect tiny nose. The thighs, the dimpled knees, the lines of fat at the wrists, the tapered, padded fingers with the tiny oval of a nail. Look at her. The eyes, well, they were the same always, the same today. Large, heavy lidded, dark brown, wide-set, extravagantly lashed. What a beauty she was and is. Even at the height of her adolescent awkwardness, Sam had found her profoundly, significantly beautiful. Was it “true”? Did others see her the way Sam did? It didn’t matter. What mattered was that Sam had felt this abiding love for sixteen years, and it was the best thing she had ever felt or would ever feel.

— Dana Spiotta, Wayward: A Novel (Knopf, July 6, 2021)


Notes:

Lightly Child, Lightly.

If we are separated I will
try to wait for you
on your side of things

your side of the wall and the water
and of the light moving at its own speed
even on leaves that we have seen
I will wait on one side

while a side is there

W.S. Merwin,Travelling Together”  from The Rain in the Trees


Notes:

  • Poem via adrasteiax. Photo: By Margarita (via seemoreandmore)
  • 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.”

 

Now Raise Your Hand and Caim…


By Histoire d’Elle (via Your Eyes Blaze Out)

A quiet moment


Photo: DK @ Daybreak 6:31 am, April 14, 2021. 45° F. Norwalk, CT. More pictures from this morning’s walk on Calf Pasture Beach can be found here.

Sunday Morning

we touch each other.

how?

with wings that beat…

— Rainer Maria Rilke, in an inscription to Marina Tsvetaeva, from Letters Summer 1926: Pasternak, Tsvetaeva, Rilke


Photo: DK. Gull. 6:56 am, February 14, 2021. 28° F, feels like 20° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.

And she said Yes!


Our Rachel, with her fiancé Andrew who proposed last night.

Tuesday Morning Wake-Up Call

Perhaps what eternal recurrence means is not that our life will actually repeat itself forever, but rather that we should not rest content until we have reached a point where we love it enough just as it is, to wish it were indeed so. Play it again, I say.

—  Helen Morrison, (Katie Holmes), Coda (2019)


Notes:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.


Notes:

  • “Martin Luther King with Group on Street, Montgomery, Alabama1965″ (Steve Schapiro Photograph
  • Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr. Strength to Love and seems to have been said originally in a 1957 sermon he gave on loving your enemies.

Merry Christmas

The picture was taken last night. Part of a family tradition that Grandma started years and years ago —  Grandma sends her gifts which they open on Christmas Eve. It’s always pajamas. The ritual never grows old, and has travelled with us as we moved from city to city, and from house to house, chasing a Life.

It’s 5 a.m. It’s silent now, but for the high winds howling outside my window. The moment reminds me of their younger days, when we lived in much smaller quarters.

We call out good night to each other down the hall. How beautiful, the way that children sleep so deeply and peacefully that their parents’ voices do not wake them.” (Elizabeth Alexander, “The Light of the World: A Memoir.”)

I sit, writing this post. It’s quiet but for my breathing. A tear slides down my cheek.

Martin Amis said that “Time has come to feel like a runaway train, flashing through station after station.”  Melancholy sweeps over me —  I wonder how many more Christmas moments are left before they move on with their lives.

Maybe one more. Please, give us at least one more…

Merry Christmas.

Thanksgiving Morning

Quiet has many moods. When our sons are home, their energy is palpable. Even when they’re upstairs sleeping I can sense them, can feel the house filling with their presence, expanding like a sail billowed with air. I love the dawn stillness of a house full of sleepers, love knowing that within these walls our entire family is contained and safe, reunited, our stable four-sided shape resurrected.

~ Katrina Kenison, Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment 


Photo: DK, home, Thanksgiving Day, Nov 26, 2020. 55° & Rain.

Saturday Morning

Guess who came to visit!?!? Sully!


More on our Sully here and here and here. (Thank you Susan for taking photo)

Truth

Have you ever held a three year old by the hand on the way home from preschool?…

You’re never more important than you are then.

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


Eric Kanigan @ 4 years old. He used to clutch on to his Momma’s hand, tears welling up, before he released her on his way into pre-school. 26 years old now. Still clutching on to his Momma. 🙂

Lightly Child, Lightly

“I unlatched the shutters. The light was as intense as a love affair. I was blinded, delighted, not just because it was warm and wonderful, but because nature measures nothing. Nobody needs this much sunlight. Nobody needs droughts, volcanoes, monsoons, tornadoes either, but we get them, because our world is as extravagant as a world can be. We are the ones obsessed by measurement. The world just pours it out.”

— Jeanette Winterson, Lighthousekeeping (Harvest Books; April 3, 2006)


Notes:

  • Quote: Thank you Beth @ Alive on all Channels
  • Photo: Here comes the sun by hpskurdal
  • 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.”

It’s like an eggshell, only much tinier, much more delicate.

I’m holding the skull of a baby wren. I found it this morning in one of the nests in our yard, right down the back in those willow trees; I think its parents must have left it there when it died. Discarded. Or maybe they waited with it as long as they could. It’s like an eggshell, only much tinier, much more delicate. It barely fits on the tip of my pinkie finger. I keep thinking about how easy it would be to crush. It reminds me of her. But not of you. You are made of a different thing. Something far more enduring. I never saw that thing you spoke of, the one that was missing from the stuffed birds in my lab. I see it now, or its absence. Your absence has never felt crueler. I’ve never hated you until now. I’ve never loved you more.

Charlotte McConaghy, Migrations: A Novel (Flatiron Books, August 4, 2020)


Notes:

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