Driving I-95 N. With Nepo.

Wednesday 6:30 pm.

12 1/2 hours after I stepped in my office, I get into car. I need to get home. Dinner. Digestif –  spoon and half-pint of Talenti Mint Chocolate Chip Gelato. (Tongue slides over sweetness on lips.) Then Bed. Then do it all over again.

I flip open Waze, which signals 45 minutes to get home. Just shy of 2x the normal commute. Painful.

I can save 10 mins (per Waze) bypassing fives miles of I-95 by taking the backstreets, before spilling back onto 95.  Construction? Accident? WTH knows? And yet, it’s a coin toss. Get stuck on back streets in traffic, and good luck finding your way out of that labyrinth.

But 10 minutes is 10 minutes.

I take the back streets.

And so apparently do hundreds of my closest friends following Waze.  It’s stop and go. Narrow 2-lane roads. 4-way stops. Near standstill. Damn, and you knew better. [Read more…]

Riding Metro North. A Voyeur.

6:25 pm train home. Tuesday. It’s been a very long day.

I’m 8 minutes early. I find my aisle seat, set my bag down, remove my coat and place it on the luggage rack overhead. I close my eyes, and pause. My right hand clutches my iPhone – activity is frantic inside the device. News. iMessages. Emails. Work. All churning forward. Just let it be for a moment. Rest. Let it be.

My eyes remain closed. Thoughts flicker, and latch onto Jack Kornfield’s “Your Mind: Friend or Foe” as he passes a cautionary road sign, “Your own tedious thoughts the next 200 miles.

I hear footsteps. She settles one seat up and to my left. She slouches in her seat, knees up against the seat in front of her.

She scratches items on a yellow note pad with a 2H pencil, her to-do list for tomorrow.
List fills, too far away for me to see details. Neat, on the lines. Cursive.

She then grabs her smartphone. Pans through a long list of emails. Then text messages. Then back to emails. Then back to her yellow note pad, to jot down another to-do.

She puts down her phone, and stares out the window. Hair, shoulder length, rests on a light, Patagonia windbreaker.  Clean, white sneakers, must have a long walk from the office to the train. Her heels tucked in her bag.

She lifts her phone, and scans more emails. Sends a few more text messages. Flicks through a few web sites. For some reason, you can’t take your eyes off this woman, her show, her frenetic activity in her private space. A peeping voyeur. [Read more…]

Walking Cross Town. With Ooga-Chaka Ooga-Ooga.

She asks: Why do you post what you post on your blog? I had to stop, and pause for a moment.

Well, it’s Morris Berman’s “tipoff…whenever a project comes to me, one that is right, that is genuine, I feel a kind of ‘shiver’ in my body, and that tells me that it corresponds to something very deep in me, and that I need to pursue it.”

And for me, that never-fail-catalyst, is misty rain.

I’m walking cross town. Tuesday morning.

Riffs of Sally Rooney’s new book Normal People flash by…I’m transported to place I’ve never been, but I’m walking, in Dublin, on cobblestone streets. “Dublin is extraordinarily beautiful to her in wet weather, the way gray stone darkens to black, and rain moves over the grass and whispers on slick roof tiles. Raincoats glistening in the undersea color of street lamps. Rain silver as loose change in the glare of traffic.”

I cross Madison. And it begins. [Read more…]

Lightly Child, Lightly.

Each second the earth is struck hard

by four and a half pounds of sunlight.

Each second.

Try to imagine that.

No wonder deep shade is what the soul longs for.

And not, as we always thought, the light.

~ Charles Wright, from “In Praise of Thomas Hardy,” A Short History of the Shadow: Poems


Notes:

  • Photo Nirav Photography via Mennyfox55.  Poem: Thank you memoryslandscape
  • 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.

 

When you were small, your cupped palms

each held a candlesworth under the skin,

enough light to begin…

~ Carol Ann Duffy, from The Light Gatherer in “Collected Poems

 


Notes:

  • Photo Credit.  Poem: Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels
  • 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.”

Truth. Taste it. No, savor it.

You cannot be grateful without possessing a past. That is why children are incapable of gratitude and why night prayers and dinner graces are lost on them. “Gobbles Mommy, Gobbles Grandpa …” George races through it. She has no reference points. As I get older the past widens and accumulates, all sloppy landlessness like a river, and as a result I have more clearly demarcated areas of gratitude. Things like ice cream or scenery or one good kiss become objects of a huge soulful thanks. Nothing is gobbled. This is a sign of getting old.

~ Lorrie Moore, from “Anagrams


Notes: Quote – Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels. Photo: Korean froyo. by Jennifer Nguyen

Lightly Child, Lightly.

Light staggers through the trees.
Every moment is filled with other moments…
In the silence that follows
don’t we all have to begin again? At the end of a line, the door
left open for a moment where you can fall in love, remember
what you wanted to forget, forget what you wanted to remember…
We have to light
our dark spaces with the sputtering matches of our words.
We have to follow wherever they lead us. There’s this little
hole in existence we all pass through…

—Richard Jackson, from “About This Poem” in Out of Place


Notes:

  • Photo by Andy58/András Schafer titled Morning in the forest. Poem via endless-unfolding
  • 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.”

we can smell wood smoke in the air and taste snowflakes on our tongues

We’ve had decades to develop resilience. Many of us have learned that happiness is a skill and a choice. We don’t need to look at our horoscopes to know how our day will go. We know how to create a good day.

We have learned to look every day for humor, love and beauty. We’ve acquired an aptitude for appreciating life. Gratitude is not a virtue but a survival skill, and our capacity for it grows with our suffering. That is why it is the least privileged, not the most, who excel in appreciating the smallest of offerings.

Many women flourish as we learn how to make everything workable. Yes, everything. As we walk out of a friend’s funeral, we can smell wood smoke in the air and taste snowflakes on our tongues.

Our happiness is built by attitude and intention. Attitude is not everything, but it’s almost everything. I visited the jazz great Jane Jarvis when she was old, crippled and living in a tiny apartment with a window facing a brick wall. I asked if she was happy and she replied, “I have everything I need to be happy right between my ears.”…

There is an amazing calculus in old age. As much is taken away, we find more to love and appreciate. We experience bliss on a regular basis. As one friend said: “When I was young I needed sexual ecstasy or a hike to the top of a mountain to experience bliss. Now I can feel it when I look at a caterpillar on my garden path.”

Older women have learned the importance of reasonable expectations. We know that all our desires will not be fulfilled, that the world isn’t organized around pleasing us and that others, especially our children, are not waiting for our opinions and judgments. We know that the joys and sorrows of life are as mixed together as salt and water in the sea. We don’t expect perfection or even relief from suffering. A good book, a piece of homemade pie or a call from a friend can make us happy. As my aunt Grace, who lived in the Ozarks, put it, “I get what I want, but I know what to want.”

We can be kinder to ourselves as well as more honest and authentic. Our people-pleasing selves soften their voices and our true selves speak more loudly and more often. We don’t need to pretend to ourselves and others that we don’t have needs. We can say no to anything we don’t want to do. We can listen to our hearts and act in our own best interest. We are less angst-filled and more content, less driven and more able to live in the moment with all its lovely possibilities…

By the time we are 70, we have all had more tragedy and more bliss in our lives than we could have foreseen. If we are wise, we realize that we are but one drop in the great river we call life and that it has been a miracle and a privilege to be alive.

~ Mary Pipher, excerpts from The Joy of Being a Woman in Her 70s (The New York Times · January 12, 2019). Mary Pipher is a clinical psychologist in Lincoln, Neb., and the author of the forthcoming “Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing as We Age.”


Photo Credit

Walking Mid Town. With Keats…

Early evening. Heat shimmers from the asphalt. I stand waiting for the Don’t Walk sign to turn…I’m three blocks from the entrance to Grand Central and my Metro North train ride home.  Hulking skyscrapers, mid-town Manhattan Gods, offer shade, a welcome cover to a day that needs to end. You are spent. 

And…as I stand waiting, here they come. Non consecutive lines from the Keats’ sonnet Bright Star

The moving waters at their priestlike task…
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors —
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell

And why Keats? Why this poem? Why these lines? Why now? What algorithm upstairs decides it’s time for this?  Here on 42nd Street, so far from the glacial waters of Home, so many galaxies from The Rockies, so many months from snow.  Yet, and somehow, and for some reason, it’s pulled up.

I feel the pillowy softness of snow in August, and the cool melt of crystals on my tongue. And I’m swept away, miles from the cacophony of horns, engines, tourists and the sweltering August heat.

The light turns. I walk. I cross the street and the smell of fried chicken fills my lungs…I inhale deeply…tantalizing. Keats’ grip on me vaporizes. [Read more…]

This morning. This moment is close by. Today it will arrive.

Many people believe that there exists in the world’s coordinate system a perfect point where time and space reach an agreement. This may even be why these people travel, leaving their homes behind, hoping that even by moving around in a chaotic fashion they will increase their likelihood of happening upon this point. Landing at the right time in the right place—seizing the opportunity, grabbing the moment and not letting go—would mean the code to the safe had been cracked, the combination revealed, the truth exposed. No more being passed by, no more surfing coincidences, accidents, and turns of fate. You don’t have to do anything—you just have to show up, sign in at that one single configuration of time and place. There you will find your great love, happiness, a winning lottery ticket… Sometimes in the morning one even has the impression that this moment is close by, that today might be the day it will arrive.

~ Olga Tokarczuk, from “The Right Time and Place” in Flights (Penguin Publishing Group. August 13, 2018)


Photo: Monica dofa (via Mennyfox55)

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