Lightly Child, Lightly.

And change comes like a little wind that ruffles the curtains at dawn,

and it comes like the stealthy perfume of wildflowers hidden in the grass.

~ John Steinbeck, Sweet Thursday (1954)


Notes:

  • Photo: Lisa Epp with The air is all softness. Quote: Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels
  • 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.”

 

Sunday Morning

 

From the stillness around you a high glassy sound descends, like first light. Each new sound seems to breathe — emerging from and receding back into the stillness — and the glint of bells, like desert plants, here and there. Almost imperceptibly the music swells and continues falling in pitch. From somewhere above — like a gleam of metal, like sunlight emerging from behind a ridgeline — comes the sound of flutes. You are in a strange landscape. You don’t know how to read the weather or the light. You are unsure how long you will be here, or how challenging the journey may be. “This is beautiful,” you think. “But will anything ever happen?”

You resist. Yet the sound draws you in. You resolve to suspend your impatience, to listen as carefully as you can, as if watching a sunrise. You notice your breathing becoming slower. Falling, still falling…The music continues floating upward, growing more and more distant, until at last it dissolves into a deep and resonant stillness.

~ John Luther Adams, from “What It’s Like to Hear the Desert in Music” in   The New York Times, March 23, 2018)


Photo: saoud with Desert

Lightly Child, Lightly.

I have become aware: nature breathes, smells, listens, feels in all its parts; it adds to itself, couples itself, falls to pieces, and finds itself.  I see myself evaporate and breathe forth more and more strongly; the oscillations of my astral light become swifter, sharper, simpler.

Egon Schiele, from a diary entry written c. September 1911


Notes:

  • Photo: Aberrant Beauty. Quote: Violent Waves of Emotion
  • 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.”

 

Running. In Place. With Hagerman.

July 2, 2017. My last Running post.

The last time I ran outside? 258 days ago? Could it be that long ago? Really? Wow.

Updike: “How innocently life ate the days.” How obviously it didn’t eat my expanding waist line.

Read that we spend 87% of our time indoors, 6% in autos and … do the math on the balance, time spent outdoors. Ouch. My outdoor count is lower than average. And here I sit, lay actually, on the bed, indoors, yet another Sunday morning. Motivation to get out: 0% 

Haven’t been able to shake last Sunday’s share: “Boycott. The Embargo. It was draconian and complete” and Hagerman going cold turkey on media, social media, politics et al.  Look at him in the photo above — look at those night stands. There’s nothing there.

I take inventory from my current semi-horizontal position on the bed:

Lamp. Cable TV Remote. Smart TV Remote. Cable Box. Smart TV. Land-line phone. Apple HomePod. (Don’t buy it.) Cell Phones (2). Not a typo. Laptop. iPad. Apple Pencil. Plus backup. Over-the-Ear headphones. Earbuds. (New ritual. Fall asleep to daily podcasts.) Digital Clock. (2). Wireless Charger. Power strip with power cords.  Octopi (…puses?) (Angry, tangled and snarling.) Hard cover books stacked on shelf in nightstand. (Gathering dust).

NY Times story on Hagerman was titled The Man Who Knew Too Little.

This story is titled:

Man Who Knows Nothing And Is Tethered to his Gadgets Needing Detox, Intervention, or Something.


Post Inspiration,  Jonathan Franzen, Best American Essays 2016: “Kierkegaard, in Either/Or, makes fun of the “busy man” for whom busyness is a way of avoiding an honest self-reckoning. You might wake up in the night and realize that…you need to think about what your carbon footprint is doing to the planet, but the next day you have a million little things to do, and the day after that you have another million things. As long as there’s no end of little things, you never have to stop and confront the bigger questions.”

Sunday Morning


Upon arriving in the huge, landlocked country of Mongolia—more than seven times larger than Great Britain—you may be taken aback by the runaway developments in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. Ever since some of the world’s largest gold and copper deposits were discovered, some within 70 miles of the city, Mongolia’s economy has taken off like a rocket…But then you hear that more than half of the 1.4 million people in the capital still live in settlements dominated by gers (a traditional style of yurt, like a domed felt tent), sometimes in shockingly simple conditions…

As soon as I ventured out of the city and began bumping across the level, otherworldly steppes of Mongolia, in fact, I realized that nothing I’d seen in 40 years of traveling across Asia could compare with its great, heart-clearing stillness. Within 30 minutes of the hyper-malls, herders will welcome you into their gers to share a feast of marmots, roasted sheep and freshly boiled goats’ heads, much as they might have done in the time of Genghis Khan, the warrior who masterminded the Mongol Empire in the 13th century. If the horsemen who rode all the way to Europe to extend that empire were to return to their ancestral spaces next week, they’d feel right at home.

Part of the special beauty of rural Mongolia is that it redefines everything you thought you knew. A road, I realized as soon as I was jouncing past Bronze Age burial mounds, is a red-dirt scratch across the void; a sight is a jeep the size of an ant, inching across the horizon. A town in the steppes could pass for a subway station almost anywhere else; once, after hours of nothingness, I stopped at a ger camp to find that it also served as a meditation space, a car-repair shop and a leather-tanning workshop. No wonder. Gazing out miles and miles in every direction, I could catch nothing but emptiness—vast enough for the mind to go anywhere (or nowhere at all)—and the sound of the wind, whipping in my ears…

Mongolia haunts a visitor as few other destinations can. After I’d returned home, the power of stepping out of my luxury ger in the Gobi to be met by a 74 million–year-old volcanic outcropping, the eeriness of knowing that dinosaur bones were all around, had gotten inside of me, like a shared dream I couldn’t shake.

In a world flooded with distractions, Mongolia returns one to something ancestral. The clock has little meaning here. Days turn into an ageless cycle of random moments, scanning of the heavens, simple meals, long journeys. Often I didn’t know whether I was traveling into the past or the future. I could simply tell that this was a place that everybody would recognize, if only because it’s somewhere lost inside most of us, lodged like the people we once were and might one day again become.

~ Pico Iyer, excerpts from The Heart-Clearing Stillness of the Mongolian Countryside (wsj.com, February 27, 2018)


Notes:

  • Inspired by Maggie O’Farrell in “I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death“: “When Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was read to me and Alice sighs, “Oh, how I long to run away from normal days! I want to run wild with my imagination,” I remember rising up from my pillow and thinking, yes, yes, that’s it exactly. The school trip showed me that it was possible to ease this longing, to sate it. All I had to do was travel. After he had sailed around the Mediterranean in 1869, Mark Twain said that travel was “fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Neuroscientists have been trying for years to pin down what it is about travel that alters us, how it effects mental change. Neural pathways become ingrained, automatic, if they operate only by habit. They are highly attuned to alterations, to novelty. New sights, sounds, languages, tastes, smells stimulate different synapses in the brain, different message routes, different webs of connection, increasing our neuroplasticity…I sensed this, at an instinctive level, at age seventeen. That unassailable flood of novelty, the stimulus of uncharted territory, the overload of the unfamiliar, with all synapses firing, connecting, signalling, burning new pathways. I have never forgotten that bus ride from the airport into the centre of Rome, my first sighting of the city. And I have never lost the thrill of travel. I still crave the mental and physical jolt of being somewhere new, of descending aeroplane steps into a different climate, different faces, different languages. It’s the only thing, besides writing, that can meet and relieve my ever-simmering, ever-present restlessness. If I have been too long at home, stuck in the routine of school-runs, packed lunches, swimming lessons, laundry, tidying, I begin to pace the house in the evenings. I might start to cook something complicated very late at night. I might rearrange my collections of Scandinavian glass. I will scan the bookshelves, sighing, searching for something I haven’t yet read. I will start sorting through my clothes, deciding on impulse to take armfuls to the charity shop. I am desperate for change, endlessly seeking novelty, wherever I can find it. My husband might return from an evening out to discover that I have moved all the furniture in the living room. I am not, at times like this, easy to live with. He will raise his eyebrows as I single-handedly shove the sofa towards the opposite wall, just to see how it might look. “Maybe,” he will say, as he unlaces his shoes, “we should book a holiday.”
  • Photo: Frederic LaGrange – “Still Waters.” A full moon rises over a pond near Buir Lake in eastern Mongolia, near the Chinese border.

T.G.I.F.: Where’s Goldilocks?


Ursula Dubrick (Melbourne, FL) with “Three Little Bears” via Newthom

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call


Photo: Matt Cowell (via Cheetah Camp). “Got into this mass/pod/gathering of hippo in the southern Serengeti – as the river was drying up, so these animals amassed together in a soup of old water and faeces. It was interesting to note that despite there being over a hundred grouped together, there was little friction and there seemed to be a quiet patience and understanding, all were waiting for the rains, not just for the river to rise, but also the grasses to flush again on the plains so they didn’t have to wander so far at night for food. Until then each was forced to wait, and while waiting so use their neighbour as a leaning post as they lazed through the hot hours of the day…”

so this was obviously a devastating and silent moment

The whale on the left is an adult female. The one on the right is her male escort. We were on our way to Roca Partida when we heard that the female’s calf had been attacked by a few killer whales. When we got there, the mother was inconsolable. The male was trying to comfort her by touching her gently, but it was useless. Some of you may already know this, but it’s only the male whales who sing (while mating), so this was obviously a devastating and silent moment. The man in the photograph is my father.”

~ @rodrigofriscione, Roca Partida, Revillagigedo Archipelago

 

Saturday Morning

I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.

L M Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables


Photo: Shinji Aratani

 

Ditch them. You just might hear the world calling your name.

 

I hereby dub them Generation Deaf and Blind.

 I’ve always been vaguely offended by people who walk around wearing headphones, and I only recently realized why. Both my parents were profoundly deaf. I grew up watching them struggle to communicate with others, often misunderstanding and, in turn, finding themselves misunderstood.

So I never took hearing for granted. More than once as a boy, I pressed my hands over my ears, trying to simulate the experience of deafness. Other times I pretended to be Superman, equipped with superhearing to function as a surrogate for my parents.

Why would anyone deliberately tune out sound from the world around us? Granted, music makes us happy. Headphones give us control over what we hear, as well as when and where. They insulate our ears from the din of jackhammers, car horns and the noise of daily life.

The trend toward wearing earpieces in public is unmistakable. Apple has sold more than 300 million iPods since its introduction in 2001. A 2014 survey found that the average millennial wore headphones for nearly four hours a day, and 53% of them owned three or more pairs.

But pedestrians who tune out the sounds around them are taking a real risk. The number of people in the U.S. seriously injured or killed while walking in public and wearing headphones tripled between 2004 and 2011, according to one study. In 29% of those accidents, a warning—such as a horn, siren or shout—evidently went unheard.

People are free to impose such sensory deprivation on themselves. If, in commuting to and from your job, you prefer to listen to music or a podcast than to hear birds warbling or the wind rustling the leaves or an infant giggling as a puppy licks her face—or for that matter, a speeding ambulance honking at you to step aside—be my guest.

Even so, consider the alternative. Ditch the earpieces once in a while, if only as a change of pace. Listen to the sounds around you, a luxury that eludes more than a million deaf Americans. You just might hear the world calling your name.

~ Bob Brody, from “The Case Against Deliberate Deafness. Constant use of headphones creates hazards and muffles the music of daily life.” (wsj.com, Feb 8, 2018)


Photo by ShannonVanB

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