Riding Metro North. With Curious Dog.


5:40 am train.
Metro North south to Grand Central.
Need to buy a ticket.
I look down the long platform. Four minutes to scheduled arrival. Gotta go.

He’s 25 yards up.
His right foot is lame. His gait is slow. Handicapped.
I close in on him.
He’s in his late teens.
Baseball cap.
Backpack slung over his right shoulder.

He stops and turns to stare at the billboard.
His chest is rising up and down – giggling.
It’s an ad for a Broadway play based on the 2003 best selling novel “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
I remember the book. And smile.
I take one last look as I pass him. His head leans on his right shoulder as he takes in the poster, playing back chapter by chapter.

I buy my ticket. The train approaches and I look for him. He’s the last to get on, the conductor urges him in. [Read more…]

No longer so tightly wound. Little shards of self fly off into the wind.

..

Art, attention, gratitude and grace. A quiet healing, ordinary joy. I know these things in my own body. For several years now, my head has felt loose on my shoulders, and I too have felt oddly permeable, no longer so tightly wound. Little shards of self fly off into the wind, and frankly, I am glad to see them go.

In the same way as one pulls the petals from a daisy, she loves me, she loves me not, so too one can pluck one letter at a time from familiar words, revealing the core beneath. Verandah Porche (who invented the term “pluck words”) is especially fond of examples like “slaughter” and “laughter” where the missing letter not only transforms the meaning of the word, but alters its sound as well.

My own favorites center on a little cluster of words that seem, like koans, to conceal a deeper meaning. It is as if one bit into a juicy peach to find its wizened stone, or broke apart an egg to show its golden yolk. For example, when where is plucked, it reveals the answer here; less is the hidden wisdom crouching inside bless; your gives way to the more generous-hearted our; and the small domestic hearth expands into the cosmic earth. Most miraculous of all, perhaps, eyes open into an all-confirming yes. [Read more…]

Oryoki

japanese-garden-brooklyn-fish

“Stay here forever,” said the little girl in the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. We were in the Japanese Pavilion, leaning over the rail to watch the fish.

Cherry blossoms swirled like confetti in the dark water. “No,” said her father. “Gonna see more fish—” and he dragged her away from the ones she was already looking at: their shadowy bodies, their smiling mouths, their multicolored scales. Black and gold and pure albino white; cadmium yellow/charcoal; silver-blue-green-gray. The little girl protested, but her father didn’t listen. “More fish,” he said, as if more and different were always, unquestionably better. More fish. Again more fish.

Oryoki, the Japanese word for a begging bowl, means “just enough.” The Irish word go leor (anglicized as “galore”) also meant “sufficiency,” at least at first, sufficiency being a synonym for plenty. But over time, “plenty” has metastasized into “more than enough,” and finally into “too much.” There is nothing wrong with having “too much of a good thing” on a feast day, or for a celebration. But when one comes to take that “more” for granted, requiring excess on every ordinary day, then its celebratory aspect is destroyed.

“Stay here forever,” said the little girl. All she wanted was to watch the fish: to dissolve into that moment of enchantment.

~ Christian McEwen, “Slow is Beautiful.” From World Enough & Time: On Creativity and Slowing Down


Photo: faungg’s photos with fish in Japanese Garden, Brooklyn Botanical Gardens

How did we get so fast? Is it possible, or even desirable, to slow down?

erin-cone
Because that’s kind of the world that we live in now, a world stuck in fast-forward. A world obsessed with speed, with doing everything faster, with cramming more and more into less and less time. Every moment of the day feels like a race against the clock. To borrow a phrase from Carrie Fisher, which is in my bio there; I’ll just toss it out again — “These days even instant gratification takes too long.” […]

I think that in the headlong dash of daily life, we often lose sight of the damage that this roadrunner form of living does to us. We’re so marinated in the culture of speed that we almost fail to notice the toll it takes on every aspect of our lives — on our health, our diet, our work, our relationships, the environment and our community. And sometimes it takes a wake-up call, doesn’t it, to alert us to the fact that we’re hurrying through our lives, instead of actually living them; that we’re living the fast life, instead of the good life. And I think for many people, that wake-up call takes the form of an illness. You know, a burnout, or eventually the body says, “I can’t take it anymore,” and throws in the towel. […]

And I had two questions in my head.

The first was, how did we get so fast?

And the second is, is it possible, or even desirable, to slow down?

~ Carl Honore, In Praise of Slowness


Art: Erin Cone with Traverse” from the exhibition “Ineffable” (via Mennyfox55)

Lightly child, lightly.

light,lightly,
Good memories that even now can heal.
Those mornings when I laddered to the loft,
made my straw manger beside the square bale door.
There on the straw-strewn floor,
a sundial of slanted light.
I’d reach my child’s palm into it,
hold sunspill like rain.

– Ron Rash, Above the Waterfall


Notes:

  • Quote: Thank you Memory’s Landscape. Photo: Thank you Your Eyes Blaze Out
  • 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.”

 

Walking Cross-Town. With Thunderdome.

Night-Traveler-trying-to-locate-Broadway-and-Jefferson.-L.A.-Examiner-February-4-1953

The cross-walk.
The yellow cabs.
The street lights.
The cart vendor stacking his bananas.
Real things.

Yet, Upstairs, is the real show.
I turn the dials.
The brightness.
The contrast.
The tint.
And finally, the color.
The picture in picture is sharp, vivid.

I turn my attention to the World,
Gray, blurry, rushing.
A slide projector, click, click, click, click.

But the Tom-Toms beat in Thunderdome.
The Man swings his sticks.
He whips his shoulder-length hair back,
it’s sopping wet from perspiration, it rains. [Read more…]

Walking Cross-Town. With Snaps.

dark-hands-paint

Snap a picture a minute, from the instant we open our eyes in the morning until we go to sleep. Calvino‘s words.  And they’ve stuck.

Snap. A pigeon, wings fluttering, in her soft landing.
Snap. Powder blue Converse sneakers.
Snap. A leafless tree on 48th rising out of concrete.
Snap. A wind gust from a passing truck lifts a green ribbon, it floats, twists and lands – softly, gently.
Snap. The morning sun, luminous, warming.

Snap. Snap. Snap. Snap. Snap. Snap.

Billions of Snaps of Light, stored, restored in a snap.

The Scoreboard? Light: Billions Served. Non-Light: ~ 30.

And, yet, here they come. [Read more…]

Lightly child, lightly.

Olafur-Eliasson-light

My God, a moment of bliss.

Why, isn’t that enough

for a whole lifetime?

― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, “White Nights,” 1848. White Nights and Other Stories The Novels of Fyodor Dostoevsky, Volume X.


Notes:

  • Quote: Thank you Vale of Soul-Making. Photo: Olafur Eliasson via Exercice de style
  • 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.”

 

Walking Cross-Town. Stopped By Three.

three

There were three moments that stuck, that hijacked the ever-present Consumption, that tireless Rat, Work, gnawing at the tubular intestines.  It was Tuesday morning. The train arrived at Grand Central Station. I glance at my watch. It’s 8:26 a.m., plenty of runway for my 9:00 a.m. meeting across town.

Moment One: Mom.

The feet of a throng of commuters shuffle forward a few steps at a time.  We are moving to the doorway, a bottleneck, leading to two flights of stairs (steep) and down to the underground passage, and then up the escalators onto Madison Street.

She was directly to my left pushing a stroller. Her Baby, leaning back, face invisible, is docile. Mom is wearing beige slacks, black flats and a sharp, fitted brown spring coat.  Early 30’s. Moderate build – 5′ 5″ tall. No brief case, no baby-item shoulder bag.

We are 30 feet away. How will she get that stroller down?

The commuters are diverse, it’s late morning, Suits mix with administrative staff, construction workers and students.  But, among the masses, there are no children. And certainly no Mothers pushing babies in strollers.  We shuffle forward.

We’re 20 feet away.

The line slows in front of us. We stop. I’m waiting for her to grab her child, fold up the stroller and prepare for the cautious trek down the stairs. She makes no moves. [Read more…]

Lightly child, lightly. (Reply? Yes!)

chest-bird-portrait

Sometimes, when a bird cries out,
Or the wind sweeps through a tree,
Or a dog howls in a far off farm,
I hold still and listen a long time.

My soul turns and goes back to the place
Where, a thousand forgotten years ago,
The bird and the blowing wind
Were like me, and were my brothers.

My soul turns into a tree,
And an animal, and a cloud bank.
Then changed and odd it comes home
And asks me questions. How should I reply?

~ Herman Hesse, “Sometimes” (translated by Robert Bly)


Notes:

  • Poem: Schonwieder. Photo:Laura Makabresku with Birds (via Hidden Sanctuary)
  • 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.”
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