Morning Walk ( < 30 seconds)

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Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

On the other hand, you could just relax and realize that, behind all the worry, complaint and disapproval that goes on in your mind, the sun is always coming up in the morning, moving across the sky, and going down in the evening. The birds are always out there collecting their food and making their nests and flying across the sky. The grass is always being blown by the wind or standing still. Food and flowers and trees are growing out of the earth. There’s enormous richness. You could envelop your passion for life and your curiosity and your interest. You could connect with your joyfulness. You could start right now.

~ Pema Chodron, The Wisdom of No Escape: And the Path of Loving Kindness


Notes: Quote – Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels. Portrait of Chodron

Lightly Child, Lightly

I’m lighter than anything. I can hear elephant seals head-butting one another on Sand Dollar Beach ten miles away, the whoosh of the brown pelicans way below at Limekiln, gray whales groaning fifty meters off the shore at Kirk Creek; I am IMAX, high-definition Dolby, whatever.

~ A. K. Benjamin, Let Me Not Be Mad: My Story of Unraveling Mind (Dutton, June 11, 2019)


Notes:

  • Photo: Stephen Cain
  • 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.”

Sunday Morning

Last year, as often happens, my mood waned with the autumn light. At work, I stared blankly at my computer, inexplicably on the verge of tears. At home, I counted the minutes until I could sleep. I still woke early, intending to read and write, but instead lay on the couch, idly thumbing at my phone. I felt numb to the world. My psychiatrist adjusted my medication and suggested I invest in a light-therapy lamp. “Winter is coming,” he said without a hint of irony…

The darkness threw me over the edge. Over the next few days, as I began a free fall into despair, I was surprised to find a quiet comfort in the birds flitting about my friend’s window. Suddenly, I grew envious of his yard, a seeming prerequisite for a feeder. Then it occurred to me: I am not the first apartment dweller with this predicament. I opened Amazon, where I’d been browsing for light-therapy lamps, and discovered feeders that could be attached to our apartment windows with suction cups. “I bought myself a Christmas present,” I told my wife when I arrived at my in-laws’ house.

When we returned to Brooklyn, a house-shaped plexiglass feeder and four pounds of Deluxe Treat birdseed were waiting…Three days later, my wife texted me a picture of a blue jay. More soon appeared. So did sparrows, nuthatches, cardinals, mourning doves and a single red-bellied woodpecker. Within two weeks, I was ordering 20-pound bags of birdseed, Eastern Regional Blend, and filling the feeder’s trough daily.

Initially, it was the sheer novelty that caught my attention. My phone couldn’t compete with a woodpecker eating two feet away. Then I started to actually notice the birds, the peculiar rituals and particular charms of each species. I saw the nuthatches creeping down the window frame vertically, like awkward thieves, and dashing in for single sunflower seeds. The fat, insatiable mourning doves gorging themselves on white millet. The cardinals loitering shyly in the pear tree, waiting for them to finish.

The novelty has faded over time. But the beauty of the birds continues to draw my attention. In the tableau of blues gridded across the jay’s wing and tail, I see patterns of a Mondrian. More than once I have begun to scare away greedy doves only to stop short at the gleam of iridescent plumage. In these moments, and in the daily routine of filling the feeder with seed, I forgot my anxieties.

That something as simple as bird-watching could release me from the confines of my mind came as a surprise. When I began to struggle with depression, at an evangelical college, the faithful proffered a verse from the Gospel of Matthew: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” This provided exactly zero comfort. I wasn’t sure I still believed in a benevolent father. And besides, I’d seen enough dead birds in my cat’s maw to question their value in his eyes.

If the birds still don’t fill me with any divine reassurance, they provide something far more valuable: a respite, a chance to turn my attention away from myself to the grace and beauty of the world. I don’t know if God is feeding them, but I am.

~ David Michael, from “Letter of Recommendation: Bird Feeders” (NY Times, July 9, 2019)

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

A butterfly,

pinked by the hour, lands on a blade of sweetgrass,

then flits off.

The blade twitches once, then stills.

Ocean Vuong, from his new book titled: “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous: A Novel” (Penguin Press, June 4, 2019)

 


Photo Josephine Cardin with “Butterfly” by (via Newthom)

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call (60 sec to Breakfast)

It hums, it throbs, it improvises.  So many voices. Only one song.

breathe

A cardinal, the very essence of red, stabs
the hedgerow with his piercing notes;
a chickadee adds three short beats,
part of the percussion section, and a white-
throated sparrow moves the melody along…
And today, the sun, waiting for its cue,
comes out from the clouds for a short sweet
solo, then sits back down, rests between turns.
On the other side of the world, night’s black
bass fiddle rosins its bow, draws it over
the strings, resonates with the breath
of sleepers, animal, vegetable, human.
All the world breathes in, breathes out.
It hums, it throbs, it improvises.  So many voices.
Only one song.

~ Barbara Crooker, from “One Song. After Rumi” in Line Dance


Photo credit: via your eyes blaze out. Poem: Beyond the Fields We Know

Saturday Morning

My life is quiet.

There is little beside working and walking.

I have no desire to see people, and I feel as though I am waiting for something new and strange which will burn the unburnt side of my soul.

~ Kahlil Gibran, (1912) from “Beloved Prophet: The Love Letters of Kahlil Gibran and Mary Haskell, and Her Private Journal” 


Notes: Photo: Sébastien CHAZALET (Annecy) with Alone.

Two words: Duck Parade.

One surefire way to bring a smile to anyone’s face? Two words: Duck Parade…

Patients in the continuing care wing of the University of Rochester‘s Thompson Health hospital in Canandaigua, New York, were treated to just that last week. According to the hospital’s Facebook page, a mother duck parades her new ducklings through the hospital every year.

“Every year, without fail, a mama duck chooses one of the enclosed courtyards at our M.M. Ewing Continuing Care Center to lay her eggs and take care of her babies.” “She lets us know when she’s ready to go by tapping on the glass, and this morning, it was time for this annual rite of spring.”

The duck follows the same path every year, and facility services staff use old signage to gently guide her and the ducklings through the halls.


Source: Mother Duck Parades Her Babies Through a New York Hospital Which She Does Once a Year, Every Year (People.com, May 21, 2019)

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…]

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