Saturday Morning

late summer

Solitude isn’t loneliness.

Solitude is when the entire serene universe

seems to surround and hold you quietly.

Victoria Erickson


Notes: Quote via Counselling Blog. Photo by Marta Bevacqua

Lightly Child, Lightly

When silence reaches an ultimate point,

the light penetrates everywhere.

Hsuan HuaThe Chan Handbook: Talks About Meditation


Notes:

  • Photograph by Marta Bevacqua. Quote via Memory’s Landscape
  • 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.”

Friend of My Mind

Often when he was starting a new project, he didn’t know what was driving him, as if his thoughts had developed an independent life and a will of their own, as if they were merely waiting for him to finally think them, as if an investigation he was about to begin already existed before he had started working on it, and the path leading through everything he knew and saw, everything he encountered and experienced, already lay there waiting for him to venture down it. And probably that’s just how it was, given that you could only ever find what was already there.

Because everything is always already there.

~ Jenny Erpenbeck, Go, Went, Gone


Notes:

  • Post title “lifted” and post inspired by two quotes found in Beth’s post on “Alive on All Channels” titled a Friend of My Mind:
  • Martha Beck: “Think of a problem that’s had you stumped for a while: Your preschooler won’t nap, you can’ make yourself exercise, you need to cut expenses without sacrificing quality of life. With this challenge in your mind, read a few paragraphs in several totally unrelated books. Then relax. Play with your cat, wash the dishes, watch the neighbors through binoculars. Think of the problem periodically, then drop it again. This process encourages eureka epiphanies, like those moments in TV dramas where the brilliant doctor or sleuth gets the “ping” of insight that solves the case. Your first few ideas may not be perfect—many will be awful—but there are more where they came from. Once you begin encouraging the right brain to churn out solutions, it will do so more and more abundantly.”
  • Kathryn Schulz: On being wrong, TED talk [12:00-12:17]: “The miracle of your mind isn’t that you can see the world as it is, but that you can see the world as it isn’t. We can remember the past and we can think about the future, and we can imagine what it’s like to be some other person in some other place. And we all do this differently.
  • Art: Francesco Clemente with “Friendship (via Your Eyes Blaze Out)

Sunday Morning

Theirs was then and remains even more today the stranger passion, the one little understood—or even comprehended as passion. Not erotic life, but the pleasure of the mind filling like the lower chamber of an hourglass with the slow-moving grains of a perfect day—sky, carnations, walking, reading, writing, Toasted Cheese, the presence of another who wishes to be so still, so silent too… It is possible to feel the fact of being alive as it breathes in, breathes out. It’s a life. It’s the life.

Patricia HamplThe Art of the Wasted Day (Published April 17, 2018)


Image: (via Your Eyes Blaze Out)

Saturday Morning

clouds

Still looking for bliss in nothing at all, the cloudy mind moving over existence, outside time.

Patricia HamplThe Art of the Wasted Day (Published April 17, 2018)


Notes:

  • Post Inspired by Patricia Hampl: “Daydreaming doesn’t make things up. It sees things. Claims things, twirls them around, takes a good look. Possesses them. Embraces them. Makes something of them. Makes sense. Or music. How restful it is, how full of motion. My first paradox. I couldn’t care less what it’s called. It’s pure pleasure. Infinite delight…This is what is called the life of the mind. It’s what I want to do. It’s where I want to be. Right here.” (Patricia Hampl, The Art of the Wasted Day)
  • Photo by Mikael Aldo (via see more)
  • Related Posts: Patricia Hampl

 

Riding Amtrak 2151-2172: Baltimore.

Five days gone. 4 memories remain. Freeman Dyson’s memory: Unreliable. Selecting. Rearranging. Forgetting. Embroidering. Inventing.

Scene 1: 

My assistant. So grateful to have an assistant. So grateful for her. Two introverts in well plowed furrows. “Are you sure, you want to go there and back same day? 7 hours on train, in 10 hours?” I look up. She knows the answer. There. Back. Exhaustion traded for sleep, sleep in my own bed.  Book it.

I’m waiting on the platform for Amtrak 2151 leaving at 7:54 am to Baltimore. It was for Dickens, and it was for me:  “One of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”

Scene 2:

She boarded at Penn Station. Student. Maybe 20. She’s determined, bangin’ away on an old model MacBook Air. Wireless white earpods pumping in music, she’s bobbing her head. The cover of her notepad: Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. Biomed? Engineering? Medicine? She snaps the laptop lid shut, turns her head to the window, leans back, closes her eyes and lets the morning sun warm her face. Confident. Ivy leaguer. At peace.

It’s Thursday, three days later, and I’m deep into Irvin Yalom’s Becoming Myself: A Psychiatrist’s Memoir. I wouldn’t be caught dead seeking therapy, but this, ‘this’ memoir is well within bounds.  I’m back on the train, Ms. Johns Hopkins sitting across from me, and me, I’m so Irvin Yalom, so wanting to repeat that trip: [Read more…]

Riding Metro-North. With Holy Cow.

Morning. Today. 5:01 a.m. First train to Grand Central.

Dark Sky reports 33° F, feels like 25°.  Feels like: Not Spring. March 5th.  Spring backward. Falling and stumbling forward.

I wedge myself into a two seater, nudging the occupant awake. (Same occupant who was sprawled across two seats).  He’s annoyed. I’m annoyed that he’s annoyed. I’m way more annoyed. 

I glance up at the few unfortunates standing in the vestibule. Now they should be annoyed.

But for the low throb of the annoyances, and the giant overhead heaters blowing through the vents, the train car is silent. No talking. No whispering. No paper shuffling. Nada. Silence.

It’s as if Jack Kornfield blew the whistle and yelled Go: “It was the silence, stopping and taking a breath, opening the heart, seeing that the whole planet, and everything on it, is holy.”

And at that moment, the lead-weighted shoulders are freed.

The soles of the feet, through the leather soles of my lace-ups, feel the vibration of the steel of wheels on the steel of the tracks, bumping along with the rhythmic skip of steel on steel at the ties.

The seat under me is soft and shifts with each rail tie.  The train car rocks, my body sways ever so slightly left and right and then back again. My knees gently knock on the seat in front, first right knee then left.

Feet, knees, palms, seat — sensations are elevated.

I close my eyes. Drift off, and float along on Kornfield’s holy train.

His holy car. Holy Cow.

I awaken to the conductor’s announcement: “This station is Grand Central. Please mind the gap between the train and the platform.”

Meditation? Nah.

Mediation is not for real men.


Notes:

It’s been a long day (from ~ A.D. 409)

Bryan-jones

I live in town without all that racket
horses and carts stir up, and you wonder

How that could be. Wherever the mind
dwells apart is itself a distant place.

Picking chrysanthemums at my east fence,
far off, I see South Mountain: mountain

air lovely at dusk, birds in flight
returning home. All this means something

something absolute. Whenever I start
explaining it, I’ve forgotten the words.

Colors infusing autumn chrysanthemums
exquisite, I pick dew-bathed petals,

float them on that forget-your-cares
stuff. Even my passion for living apart

Soon grows distant. I’m alone, but after
that first cup, the wine jar pours itself.

Everything at rest, dusk: a bird calls,
returning to its forest home. Chanting,

I settle into my breath. Somehow, on this
east veranda, I’ve found my life again.

~T’ao Ch’ien, No. #3 and #4 from Drinking Wine in The Selected Poems of T’ao Ch’ien


Notes:

Lightly child, lightly.

When we examine our thought stream with mindfulness, we encounter the inner sound track. As it plays, we can become the hero, the victim, the princess, or the leper. There is a whole drama department in our head, and the casting director indiscriminately handing out the roles of inner dictators and judges, adventurers and prodigal sons, inner entitlement and inner impoverishment. Sitting in a meditation class, we are forced to acknowledge them all. As Anne Lamott writes, “My mind is like a bad neighborhood. I try not to go there alone.”

When we see how compulsively these thoughts repeat themselves, we being to understand the psychological truth of samsara, the Sanskrit word for circular, repetitive existence. In Buddhist teaching, samsara most commonly refers to the wheel of life. On this wheel, beings are reborn and subject to suffering until they develop understanding and find liberation. Samsara also describes the unhealthy repetitions in our daily life. On a moment-to-moment level, we can see our samsaric thought patters re-arise, in unconscious and limited ways. For example, we see how frequently our thoughts include fear, judgment, or grasping. Our thoughts try to justify our point of view. As an Indian saying points out: “He who cannot dance claims the floor is uneven.”

~Jack Kornfield, The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology


Notes:

  • Quote: Make Believe Boutique. Photo: Patty Maher with She danced among the trees
  • 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.”

Riding Metro North. And Brooding.

6:16 am train to Grand Central. No seats, need to stand. I wait until the first stop at Stamford and then shoe horn myself across from a lady in a bright, pumpkin colored dress.  In order to fit, I need to sit on a diagonal with my knees in the aisle. Pumpkin shifts her knees to the right to avoid contact. The top of her left knee has a deep burn mark, her right knee is clean. Listen, in these close quarters, it’s impossible not to notice. I shift uncomfortably. Personal space inadequate, we’re bordering on claustrophobia here. It’s the trade you made friend, stand for an hour or this…so this is it.

The Suit to my left is asleep. Meaning, like dead to the world. Rip’s hands hug a hard cover book against his chest; a monogrammed cover, title unknown.

I turn to my morning reading. A blog post by Beth @ Alive on All Channels: “These People Are Not Drowning Today.” Pacino in Taxi Driver pops to mind: You talkin’ to me?She’s certainly is not talkin’ to me. My eyes flick down the page and catch a passage from Zen teacher Barry Magid: “Leave Yourself Alone“:

The paradox…is that the most effective way of transformation is to leave ourselves alone. The more we let everything be just what it is, the more we relax into an open, attentive awareness of one moment after another. Just sitting leaves everything just as it is.[Read more…]

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