Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

Five years ago, you were teacher of the year and now this.

All this would be fine—well, not exactly fine but manageable—if you were not due at this faculty meeting in half an hour. You look at the other drivers—some passing you, and some you are passing. You look at their faces and wonder how great the gap is between who they are and who they know they could be. You’re on Interstate 10. The I-10 is known to locals, depending on your direction, as the San Bernardino Freeway or the Santa Monica Freeway. Freeways here, true to the romantic nature of the West and its ever-hopeful revision of the life that came before, are made for movement and the future and they’re named for where you’re going—not where you’ve been.

The past, well, that’s for when you turn around. Where you’ve been is only important in the context of where you are. And if where you are this moment is good, the past makes sense and every moment of horror and dread seems worth it. If where you are is terrible, the past just seems like an accumulation of data that confirm you were on this path all along.

How things end up matters.

Rob Roberge, Liar: A Memoir (Crown, February 9, 2016)


Photo of Santa Monica Freeway (10)

Lightly Child, Lightly.

Can you not sometimes feel how all pasts
grow light, when you’ve lived a while,
how they gently prepare you for amazement,
companion each feeling with images,—

Rainer Maria Rilke, from “The Singer Sings Before a Child of Princes,” The Book of Images, Trans. Edward Snow.


Notes:

  • Photo: DK @ Daybreak, 6:08 a.m., 35° F. March 26, 2021. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.
  • Poem Source: Thank you The Vale of Soul-Making
  • 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.”

Light child, lightly.

Can you not sometimes feel how all pasts
grow light, when you’ve lived a while,
how they gently prepare you for amazement,
companion each feeling with images,—

—  Rainer Maria Rilke, from “The Singer Sings Before a Child of Princes”, in The Book of Images


Notes:

  • Quote via memoryslandscape. Photo: Untitled, 2009 – by Marta Navarro, Spanish (via newthom.com)
  • 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.”

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

Sometimes now I envy those people who are at the beginning of the long road of the lives they’ll make, who still have so many decisions ahead as the road forks and forks again. Imagining their trajectories, I picture a real road, branching and branching, and I can feel it, shadowy, forested, full of the anxiety and the excitement of choosing, of starting off without quite knowing where you will end up…

I have no regrets about the roads I took, but a little nostalgia for that period when most of the route is ahead, for that stage in which you might become many things that is so much the promise of youth, now that I have chosen and chosen again and again and am far down one road and far past many others. Possibility means that you might be many things that you are not yet, and it is intoxicating when it’s not terrifying.

— Rebecca SolnitRecollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir (Viking, March 10, 2020)

Running. With Perforated Edges.

6:39:47 a.m. April 10th. The time stamp on photo.

I recall the moment. The end of my run, I’m rounding the last corner before home, breathing heavily.

Morning sun. A light warm hue painting the tips of trees and bushes. Beautiful.

I slip off my glove, the tip of my index finger is moist, trembling, and sticking to the screen. I wipe it dry and slide the menu bar from Pano, Portrait, Video, Slo-Mo, Portrait, and stop on Photo. Pleased, I pause for a moment longer, admiring the view, so glad I was able to catch the moment. 

I walk the rest of the way home, catching my breath.

I’m sitting in the backyard, 30° F, sweat drying, goosebumps form on skin. I shiver. Legs sore, but that good sore after finishing a run.

I open the camera app to check out the photo.

I tap the image, and it pops up. It stutters for a moment, then a series of frames, and it stops. Irritated.

I tap the image again. And there on the top of the image, a “Live” tag.  WTF is that?

I tap the image again. It stutters, pans through a series of frames, and then stutters to silence. Jesus. You can’t even get this right.

I grab the phone and slide my index finger along the menu options, and don’t see a “Live” option. Damn it!

Index finger. Dotted line. Bad outcome. Mind draws up the Moment.

35 years later, like yesterday. My hands trembling. The course of Life would change based on the GMAT test results in that ever so thin envelope. Before I tear it open, the tip of my index finger slides along the perforated edge, my skin tingling as it passes each tiny raised dot.  I don’t recall who was with me at the time: “How’d you do?” I walked away, needing to be alone, needing to be quiet, needing to be still.

I’ve been dragging that anvil around for 35 years.

I turn back to the photo. Love photos. But it’s clear, cameras, are not my thing.

The photo syncs on iCloud to my laptop. (Magic!)

I convert the Live Photo to a still image.  Upload it to the blog post.  And pause.  Didn’t notice my shadow in the photo until now.

I run my finger around the silhouette. There you are DK. 

You caught yourself in the shot.

Your legs look a bit long, but you turned out to be ok.

Yep. This Tune.

Someone once told me the reason songs get stuck in our head is because the mind wants to hear them to completion. Remembering only a refrain it’ll repeat.

The best way, then, to get a song out of your head is to listen to the whole thing.

~ Fiona Alison Duncan, Exquisite Mariposa: A Novel (Soft Skull Press, Oct 1, 2019)


Quote Source: Thanks Beth @ Alive on All Channels

I wonder how on earth we keep track of any of it

Bristling as well as warm breezes circulate among those people, and one may find oneself in a crosswind without knowing why. It must be connected to the density of memories in the room. Each person drags his past into a chair with him and then he sits down next to another person who has her past along with her as well—mothers and fathers and aunts and uncles and friends and enemies and hometowns and roads and mailboxes and streets and diners and skyscrapers and bus stops are all there in the events that have stayed with him or her because the thing that happened caused pain or joy or fear or shame, and as I look back on the dinner party, I understand that the memories seated in the chairs along with the guests included dead people like Irma and Lindy and Ted Jr., yes, real ghosts borne into the present by each mind at the table—and when you multiply the pasts and memories and ghosts of everyone in the room, you understand they aren’t quiet or contained because they inevitably reappear in the conversation in one form or another, and then they begin to mingle and stir up the rest of the company, one blending into the other, and it’s not only the words of the conversation that count but the tone of voice each person uses when he or she talks, and then think of all the looking back and forth that goes on at a dinner table and the gesturing and all the visible information as well—faces that flush momentarily and tiny beads of sweat that form on upper lips and wrinkles that arrive on a face only in a smile, or the various pairs of eyes that appear cool and indifferent and other pairs that are alive with interest, or the same pair of eyes that seem far away one instant and focused the next, and every person is reading and rereading and interpreting all the big and small signals that are whirling about and that can’t be kept separate from the memories at all, and I wonder how on earth we keep track of any of it.

~ Siri Hustvedt, Memories of the Future (Simon & Schuster, March 19, 2019)


Notes: Portrait of Siri Hustvedt by Werner Pawlok

Sunday Morning

Our time always shortening.
What we cherish always temporary. What we love
is, sooner or later, changed…
Giving thanks for what we are allowed
to think about it, grateful for it even as it wanes…
And occasionally the bright sound of broken glass.
All of it a blessing. The being there. Being alive then.
Like a giant bell ringing long after you can’t hear it.

~ Jack Gilbert, excerpt from “Burma” from Refusing Heaven


Notes: Poem via Mythology of Blue. Photo: Maximus Audacious of Bell

A good memory moves me through the current

I hear birds and whispers
Like water gnawing a hull

I build a fire
In the bottom of my boat
A good memory moves me through the current

Frank Stanford, from “If She Lives in the Hills,” What About This: Collected Poems of Frank Stanford

 


Notes: Poem: via Vale of Soul Making. Photo (via The Guardian) by Cherry Kearton in 1890s: Dartford warbler and chick on Richard Kearton’s hand: ‘By the exercise of a little patience I tamed the adult female until she would at last alight on my hand and feed one of the fledglings, at rest on my wrist, without the slightest sign of fear or nervousness.

 

Put your lips to the world

What I want to say is
that the past is the past,
and the present is what your life is,
and you are capable
of choosing what that will be,
darling citizen.

So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,

and put your lips to the world.
And live
your life.

~ Mary Oliver, from “Mornings at Blackwater” in Red Bird: Poems


Notes: Photo “Lips” by sadpunkandpastaforbreakfast. Poem: Thank you Karl @ Mindfulbalance

Lightly Child, Lightly.

May the poems be
the little snail’s trail. Everywhere I go,
every inch: quiet record of the foot’s silver prayer.

I lived once.
Thank you.
It was here.

Aracelis Girmay, “Ars Poetica,” Kingdom Animalia


Notes:

  • Photo:  Julie Renée Jones Rewrites Memory In ‘Umbra.’ Since 2001, photographer Julie Renée Jones has been capturing places somewhere in between reality and figments of imagination (via ignant).
  • Poem: via lifeinpoetry
  • 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.”
  • Related posts: May Sarton

 

Jimmy

open-gate-bo-bartlett

Tuesday.

I’m leaning back in the chair.  The bodies on the teleconference are shifting, their paper shuffling is booming on the mic. The update continues, I’m fading, drifting. I look up at the clock and it tugs me back, way back.

It’s hidden inside, in a dark space, deep in a corner on the edges, frayed but biting.

~ 1967

I was a child. You were a child. A Boy.

The schoolhouse had two classrooms, three grades in each room, one row for each grade, four to six students in each grade.  Three rows of heavy steel, four legged desks, each having a pocket for school things.  We were in the First Grade.

He was oversize in first grade, having been held back. Tall, thin, with hunger hanging from his bones. His brother was already categorized as a Juve, his Father an alcoholic, in and out of small jobs and a Mother desperately trying to keep it all together, and losing.

Faded jeans, not from stone washing, but from hand me downs from his older brother, or from a flee market sale. Everything wrong-sized, tattered and carrying a whiff of moth balls. Laces on too-big shoes loosely tied. Hair long, unruly and badly in need of a sheer. [Read more…]

Saturday Morning

eric-rose-portrait-freckles

Fragile as ash
a memory stirs
and the past comes back. […]

a single breath
can make it
crackle and burn.

~ Gary Catalano, “Breath,” Slow Tennis: Poems 1980-83

 


Notes: Poem – Memory’s Landscape. Catalano was an Australian poet and art critic. Photo: Eric Rose.

Lightly child, lightly.

bird-in-hand
[…]
This is what I want.
I want to keep the past like a pearl on my tongue,
to inherit the salt in my skin. I want to learn how horizon can curve
back into itself so I can say what ocean says of wreckage: Dive into
my chest, stay as long as you can breathe, chart this hull of bones.

Bryce Emley, from “Everything All at Once (My Self as Ocean)


Notes:

  • Photo – mennyfox55. Poem: Memory’s Landscape
  • 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.”

 

It’s been a long day

water-blue-art-painting-self-portrait

The odd little magpie of the mind.
Nothing is finally finished, then?
The past emerges and re-emerges.
It builds its random nest in the oddest places.

~ Colum McCann, Thirteen Ways of Looking


Notes:

and a whole door to the past blows open

art-woman-red-remember-emotion

At unexpected points in life, everyone gets waylaid by the colossal force of recollection. One minute you’re a grown-ass woman, then a whiff of cumin conjures your dad’s curry, and a whole door to the past blows open, ushering in uncanny detail. There are traumatic memories that rise up unbidden and dwarf you where you stand. But there are also memories you dig for: you start with a clear fix on a tiny instant, and pick at every knot until a thin thread comes undone that you can follow back through the mind’s labyrinth to other places. We’ve all interrogated ourselves— It couldn’t have been Christmas because we had shorts on in the snapshot. Such memories start by being figured out, but the useful ones eventually gain enough traction to haul you through the past. Memory is a pinball in a machine— it messily ricochets around between image, idea, fragments of scenes, stories you’ve heard. Then the machine goes tilt and snaps off. But most of the time, we keep memories packed away. I sometimes liken that moment of sudden unpacking to circus clowns pouring out of a miniature car trunk— how did so much fit into such a small space?

~ Mary Karr, The Past’s VigorThe Art of Memoir (HarperCollins. 2015)


Notes:

Anemoia: So clear and still you can see your own reflection.


anemoia – n. nostalgia for a time you’ve never known

Imagine stepping through the frame into a sepia-tinted haze, where you could sit on the side of the road and watch the locals passing by. Who lived and died before any of us arrived here, who sleep in some of the same houses we do, who look up at the same moon, who breathe the same air, feel the same blood in their veins—and live in a completely different world.

Don’t miss full transcript below…
[Read more…]

avenoir


avenoir – n. the desire that memory could flow backward

We take it for granted that life moves forward. But you move as a rower moves, facing backwards—you can see where you’ve been, but not where you’re going. And your boat is steered by a younger version of you. It’s hard not to wonder what life would be like facing the other way…


Source: John Koenig: The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

Again this morning, in a cold wind

bridge-cables-red-Golden-Gate-Bridge

Again this morning, in a cold wind from the future, I walked all the way to the end of the long bridge of my life, having a look at its cables, its rods and rivets, its perforated metal flooring through which I could see whitecaps slamming the pylons. Then I turned and came back, inspecting it all from the other direction, fretting about every hex nut and bolt though they seem sound enough to hold things together. I ought to give the long bridge of my life a little rest, but every day it seems I’m walking from past to possibility and back to past with my brush and aluminum paint, hiding the rust, the deepening cracks, dabbing a shine here and there.

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


Notes:

  • Note to self: Now. 4:23 am. 21º F. Wind, cold. 13 mph from the West.
  • Credits: Photograph – peopleus.

Just like that…

woman,stare,wonder,ponder,

“What was, is;
What might have been, might be.
What’s kept. What’s lost. A snap decision.”

– Adrienne Rich, from Later Poems Selected And New


Poem Source: Soaked In Soul. Photograph: “Enigma”; Kenny Sweeney

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