Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

The present, we assume, is eternally before us, one of the few things in life from which we cannot be parted. It overwhelms us in the painful first moments of entry into the world, when it is still too new to be managed or negotiated, remains by our side during childhood and adolescence, in those years before the weight of memory and expectation, and so it is sad and a little unsettling to see that we become, as we grow older, much less capable of touching, grazing, or even glimpsing it, that the closest we seem to get to the present are those brief moments we stop to consider the spaces our bodies are occupying, the intimate warmth of the sheets in which we wake, the scratched surface of the window on a train taking us somewhere else, as if the only way we can hold time still is by trying physically to prevent the objects around us from moving. The present, we realize, eludes us more and more as the years go by, showing itself for fleeting moments before losing us in the world’s incessant movement, fleeing the second we look away and leaving scarcely a trace of its passing, or this at least is how it usually seems in retrospect, when in the next brief moment of consciousness, the next occasion we are able to hold things still, we realize how much time has passed since we were last aware of ourselves, when we realize how many days, weeks, and months have slipped by without our consent. Events take place, moods ebb and flow, people and situations come and go, but looking back during these rare junctures in which we are, for whatever reason, lifted up from the circular daydream of everyday life, we are slightly surprised to find ourselves in the places we are, as though we were absent while everything was happening, as though we were somewhere else during the time that is usually referred to as our life. Waking up each morning we follow by circuitous routes the thread of habit, out of our homes, into the world, and back to our beds at night, move unseeingly through familiar paths, one day giving way to another and one week to the next, so that when in the midst of this daydream something happens and the thread is finally cut, when, in a moment of strong desire or unexpected loss, the rhythms of life are interrupted, we look around and are quietly surprised to see that the world is vaster than we thought, as if we’d been tricked or cheated out of all that time, time that in retrospect appears to have contained nothing of substance, no change and no duration, time that has come and gone but left us somehow untouched.

—  Anuk Arudpragasam, A Passage North: A Novel (Hogarth (July 13, 2021)

Monday Morning Wake Up Call

Ordinary isn’t the enemy but instead something nourishing and unavoidable, the bedrock upon which the rest of experience ebbs and flows. Embrace this — the warm water, the pruned hands, the prismatic gleam of the bubbles and the steady passage from dish to dish to dish — and feel, however briefly, the breath of actual time, a reality that lies dormant and plausible under all the clutter we pile on top of it. A bird makes its indecipherable call to another bird, a song from a passing car warps in the Doppler effect and I’m reminded, if only for a moment, that I need a lot less than I think I do and that I don’t have to leave my kitchen to get it.

– Mike Powell, An Ode to Washing the Dishes (NY Times Magazine, June 4, 2019)


Notes: Quote Source: Extraordinary Routines. Photo: Medium

Good Morning

And on this uneventful morning, the soft rain makes the oak outside my window dip enough for the early light to stream across the braided mountain hanging on my wall. Now the thread on the border swells with the sun and seems for the moment the source of all strength. Then the sun steps higher in the sky, and the thread that holds all things together goes back to work.

~ Mark Nepo, from “The Golden Thread” (Patheos.com, April, 13, 2020)


Photo: Rain Drops by DEmiJAN Me

Flying AA1011 N.W. With Miracles?

6 a.m. this morning.

7.5 hours of uninterrupted sleep. WTH is that?

Dallas, TX. Hotel check-out.

This Hotel, a fine property.

Receptionist punches my room number into the system and then quickly lifts her head, and makes eye contact.

She pauses. And looks back down, reading. And that ain’t no coincidence.

The hotel record has to be Red Flagged with an Alert. Has to be.

“Be damn careful here. That gnarly look is squarely aligned with his disposition. Man has been a patron here for 3 years. Many (MANY) nights. We’ve had a string of 5 straight stays of really bad luck.

  • #1 & #2: A/C out 2 nights.
  • #3: Party next door and in hallway from 1:30 am to 3:30 am. (He typically wakes at 4am. He doesn’t Party.)
  • #4: Room Service delivered meal to the wrong room, and he had to wait another hour.
  • #5: The pièce de résistance. Room Service barreled through his locked door (the wrong door) at 2 a.m. Yes, he was sleeping. But not any longer.

He’s advised the Hotel Manager that he’s a Simple Man. He’s not interested in fresh towels (he reuses his), he’s not interested in turn down service, or mint chocolate squares on his pillow, or a Shoe Shine. He’s not interested in a coupon for a free dessert, and not interested in you walking around the counter to hand him his key. He wants his key (fast), he wants a Quiet room, he wants working AC and he would like his order for room service to be delivered within the hour. [Read more…]

Saturday Morning

Sometimes he thinks of her, of them. Of what could have been.
Sometimes it’s all he thinks about…
He can feel the weight of their lives in a single step forward.
And he is enchanted by the beauty of small things:
hot coffee,
wind through an open window,
the tapping of rain,
a passing bicycle…

— Simon Van Booy, Everything Beautiful Began After


Notes: Quote via see more. Photo: Milka Awgul

Sunday Morning

The voice, the tale, the image, the parable that gets through to you – that wins your heart – religiously is the one that makes it past your defenses. You’ve been won over, and you probably didn’t see it coming. You’ve been enlisted into a drama, whether positively or negatively, and it shouldn’t be controversial to note that it happens all the time. When you really think about it, there’s one waiting around every corner. It’s as near as the story, song or image you can’t get out of your head. Religion happens when we get pulled in, moved, called out or compelled by something outside ourselves. It could be a car commercial, a lyric, a painting, a theatrical performance or the magnetic pull of an Apple store. The calls to worship are everywhere.

David DarkLife’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious

 


Notes: Quote Source – Thank you Whiskey River. Photo: Manuel Cosentino with Behind a Little House

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

True story: One summer, years ago, I went tubing…The sun was blazing, and the water was cool. It was a perfect day to close your eyes and let the current carry you. I was enjoying myself, until we rounded the final bend and saw the parking lot. I leaned back to get my arms in the water and I started to kick and paddle. In a froth of churning water, I passed my mom, my sister, my boyfriend and my brothers, and as I reached the dock, I shouted out, “I won!”

That’s me. All my life, I’ve made lists and set deadlines, never content, or even able, to just glide.

That kind of drive has served me well when aimed at challenges within my control, like writing a novel…I never stopped hoping that if I worked hard enough, wanted it badly enough, I’d finally get the acclaim that I craved…

That did not happen. And my brain, which had propelled me toward so many successes, could not push me past disappointment. Instead of focusing on everything that had gone right, including how lucky I was to make a living as a writer, it got stuck on what had gone wrong. Let’s think about it! my brain suggested, like a Roomba endlessly butting itself into a corner. Let’s think about it a lot. Especially at 3 in the morning. Let’s go over every single choice. Let’s dwell.

I tried yoga. I attempted meditation. Nothing helped. Instead, each spiritual setting and inner-growth-focused class presented new opportunities to compete: I held that pose for longer than anyone in the class. I’m way more Zen than she is. Finally, I remembered reading about how learning something new — creating new neural pathways — was a way to send your thoughts in different directions.

And so, after a 35-year hiatus, I started taking piano lessons again.

I had been an indifferent piano student as a kid…By high school, I had bumped up against the limits of my natural abilities. So I quit. I turned my attention toward activities at which I could excel…


Photo: videvo

Sunday Morning

I have found such joy in simple things;
A plain, clean room, a nut-brown loaf of bread,
A cup of milk, a kettle as it sings,
The shelter of a roof above my head.
And in a leaf-laced square along the floor,
Where yellow sunlight glimmers through the door.

I have found such joy in things that fill
My quiet days: a curtain’s blowing grace,
A potted plant upon my windowsill,
A rose, fresh-cut and placed within a vase;
A table cleared, a lamp beside a chair,
And books I long have loved beside me there.

Grace Noll Crowell, from I Have Found Such Joy


Notes:

with no one to tell

Today, from a distance, I saw you,
walking away, and without a sound
the glittering face of a glacier
slid into the sea. An ancient oak
fell in the Cumberlands, holding only
a handful of leaves, and an old woman
scattering corn to her chickens looked up
for an instant. At the other side
of the galaxy, a star thirty-five times
the size of our own sun exploded
and vanished, leaving a small green spot
on the astronomer’s retina
as he stood on the great open dome
of my heart with no one to tell.

— Ted Kooser, “After Years,” Solo: A Journal of Poetry, Spring 1996


Photo: Supernova remnant is the spectacular remains of an exploded star, located about 190,000 light-years away. The expanding multimillion degree remnant is about 30 light-years across and contains more than a billion times the oxygen contained in the Earth’s ocean and atmosphere…We see the remnant as it was about 190,000 years ago, around a thousand years after the explosion occurred. The star exploded outward at speeds in excess of 20 million kilometers per hour. (Image Credit – NASA via Anne’s Astronomy News)

Sunday Morning

It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they’re supposed to be.
I’ve been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?

Pat Schneider, The Patience of Ordinary Things, “Another River: New and Selected Poems


Notes: Poem – Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels. Photo: Colorinstantfilm

(My) Ordinary Life is Good

…Mr. Landau dismantles common myths and offers strategies to help people find greater purpose in their own lives. Systematically, he refutes the usual arguments as to why life is pointless: Since the universe is so vast and we’re so tiny, nothing that we do matters … no one will remember us; everything we do and treasure will one day perish from the earth. None of these deters Mr. Landau from his rational, philosophical argument for why each individual’s life is meaningful…

Mr. Landau notes that all such concerns are animated by the same mistaken belief: that a valuable life must necessarily be a perfect one. “According to this presupposition,” he writes, “meaningful lives must include some perfection or excellence or some rare and difficult achievements.” Those who despair of life’s meaning can’t see the value in the ordinary; only lives of greatness such as Michelangelo’s or Lincoln’s can be worthwhile.

As Mr. Landau observes, such perfectionism sets a standard for meaningfulness that is nearly impossible to attain. He mentions a talented biologist he knows who considers her life wasted because she didn’t reach the very top of her field. Perfectionism’s other, more odious, problem is its elitism: It assumes that some lives have more worth than others. Though clearly wrong, a version of this idea is deeply embedded in our secular culture. A meaningful life, we’re constantly told, lies in worldly success: going to certain colleges, landing certain jobs and living in certain communities. Mr. Landau doesn’t spell it out, but he seems to understand where this flawed assumption leads. Does the life of a child with Down syndrome have less value than the life of a healthy child? Is a retail clerk leading a less meaningful life than, say, Elon Musk? A perfectionist would have to say yes and yes. But Mr. Landau wisely points out that it’s cruel and misguided to hold ourselves or others to this standard for meaning, because it neglects each life’s inherent worth. […]

In “Finding Meaning in an Imperfect World,” Mr. Landau presents a much-needed lesson in humanity and compassion. Don’t beat yourself up if you fail to achieve your lofty goals, he urges; instead, celebrate the value of an ordinary life well lived. In the same way you don’t have to become a monk or nun to be a good Christian, you don’t have to be a Shakespeare or Rockefeller to lead a good life. Holding your child’s hand, volunteering in your community, doing your job, appreciating the beauty around you—these are the wellsprings of meaning all of us can tap.

~ Emily Esfahani Smith, in her book review titled “Review: Redefining a Well-Lived Life” of “Finding Meaning in an Imperfect World” by Iddo Landau (August 1, 2017)


Photo: Hard Rock Hotel in Pattaya, Thailand via Eclecticitylight. Thank you Doug.

 

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call (Draw Water. Carry Wood.)

firewood

The ordinary moments of our daily life may appear commonplace, but in reality they are not so; they carry enormous significance. To polish a pair of shoes, to serve a helping of apple pie, to break bread, to chop firewood- these can be lordly activities. Any action performed with a sense of reverence, of care and of pleasure, can become what I would call a sacrament. Zen, in particular, lays emphasis on ‘everyday life’ as the real path to the great mystery. One of its Masters, Joshu, replied to a question about the true nature of the Great Way, the Tao, by saying, “Our everyday life, that is the Tao.” It is the worship of the moment’s duration, inviolate, detached, and passionate. It is the observation of the sunlight on a bald of grass, the sight of a beetle crawling across a leaf; the worship of the day’s most commonplace events:

I draw water,
I carry wood,
This is my magic.

~ John Lane, from the “Art of Commonplace” in The Spirit of Silence

 


Quote: Thank you Make Believe Boutique. Photo: tapioanttilacollection

 

Sunday Morning

rain-drop-light-flower-garden

I have loved the peacefulness of an ordinary Sunday.

It is like standing in a newly planted garden after a warm rain.

You can feel the silent and invisible life.

― Marilynne Robinson, Gilead: A Novel

 


Notes: Quote: Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels. Photo: Celeste Mookherjee

It is a kind of love, is it not?

wind-breeze

It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they’re supposed to be.
I’ve been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?

~ Pat Schneider, The Patience of Ordinary Things, “Another River: New and Selected Poems


Notes:

february has been a small month of small sentences and thoughts

 bird-long-hair-whimsical
february has been a small month of small sentences and thoughts.
i manage to write a line or two each day.

from the first day: it has just turned february, the month when the days can’t decide what to do.  an in betweener for us – a fire lit this morning, not needed by the weekend.  a week later: the sky goes lavender on its way to dark. a week into february with open doors and a small fire in the heater.  a week after that, i squoosh a few days into this: monday:  the wind is singing a chilly song of february, slinging small stones and twigs and bits of leaves against the doors and windows.  the glass creaks in protest and surrender, the cat twitches in her sleep, dreams disturbed almost to waking. the morning birds are silent. thursday: we are warm.  flipflops, heaters off, windows open.  the night sky clear.  jingle bell cat a white presence in the darkness.  i can’t sleep and can’t read.

~ d smith kaich jones, february in bits and pieces


Photograph: gabriel isak via (Mennyfox55)

Reading in Sanctuary. With Chia.

chia

Susan comes in with a spray bottle. I lift my head, but otherwise don’t move, following her silently as she moves across the room. She waters a small green plant on a white marble end table. She leaves. I drop my head back to my reading.

I’m in the Sanctuary. Sunday mornings and the end of each working day. The bedroom door closed; I’m on the bed. Zeke, with his head between his paws, is snoozing and leaning into me. We’re in the decompression chamber.

I glance over to my right.
I have never seen that plant.
I have never seen that end table.

I’m in the middle of Patti Smith’s memoir “Just Kids” and recall a line that stuck: “Nothing is finished until you see it.” Thank God for me for that. There’s a lot left to See.

Susan’s on the ground floor. I send her a text.

“How long has that plant been there?”
“Really, Dave? It’s been there for over a month.”

One month? It’s five feet away. I didn’t know it existed. I send a follow-on text. [Read more…]

What else is there? What else do we need?

waterfall-gif

I am pleased enough with surfaces — in fact they alone seem to me to be of much importance. Such things for example as the grasp of a child’s hand in your own, the flavor of an apple, the embrace of friend or lover, the silk of a girl’s thigh, the sunlight on rock and leaves, the feel of music, the bark of a tree, the abrasion of granite and sand, the plunge of clear water into a pool, the face of the wind — what else is there? What else do we need?

~ Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire


Source: Thank you Whiskey River

 

Dipped a spoon into the plain water of an ordinary day, then lifted it, salty with tears, to my lips.

light-melancholy-sad-back

Oh, melancholy, how poor I would be without you drawing my attention to this or that. Yesterday it was the wild plum blossoms along the brief road to today, and today it’s this rain that will rain only once. Each grain of sand on each shingle lights for an instant, like a window across a black lake, and then the tiny shade is drawn, as time strikes the wet panes and glances away. Tomorrow, too, you will be waiting with something to show me. That time, for example, when you dipped a spoon into the plain water of an ordinary day, then lifted it, salty with tears, to my lips.

~ Ted Kooser, May. The Wheeling Year: A Poet’s Field Book


Photograph: Irina Munteanu (Dawning on Me) via eikadan

We never think about the glories of breath, oxygen cascading down our throats to the lungs

breathe-mist-breathe-black and white

All That Is Glorious Around Us
is not, for me, these grand vistas, sublime peaks, mist-filled
overlooks, towering clouds, but doing errands on a day
of driving rain, staying dry inside the silver skin of the car,
160,000 miles, still running just fine. Or later,
sitting in a café warmed by the steam
from white chicken chili, two cups of dark coffee,
watching the red and gold leaves race down the street,
confetti from autumn’s bright parade. And I think
of how my mother struggles to breathe, how few good days
she has now, how we never think about the glories
of breath, oxygen cascading down our throats to the lungs,
simple as the journey of water over a rock. It is the nature
of stone / to be satisfied / writes Mary Oliver, It is the nature
of water / to want to be somewhere else, rushing down
a rocky tor or high escarpment, the panoramic landscape
boundless behind it. But everything glorious is around
us already: black and blue graffiti shining in the rain’s
bright glaze, the small rainbows of oil on the pavement,
where the last car to park has left its mark on the glistening
street, this radiant world.

– Barbara Crooker, “All That Is Glorious Around Us” from Radiance


Notes:

Nostalgia for a lost world, an unrecoverable childhood

Quentin-tarantino

From Larissa MacFarquhar’s 2003 Profile of Quentin Tarantino:

“For every monologue he writes about an old movie or TV show, he writes one about European hamburgers or tipping waitresses or eating pork. … The love of minutiae, like the love of pop culture, is a form of nostalgia—a junk-food version of Proust’s madeleine. But, unlike madeleine-nostalgia—nostalgia for a lost world, an unrecoverable childhood—minutiae-nostalgia is nostalgia for a world that still exists, for a life you’re still living.”


(Source: newyorker.com). Photograph by Ruven Afanador

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