Guest Post: “Chores”

Good morning. 

I asked David if he would post a guest entry from me on his blog. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my experience with so many of my virtual friends in a space and a community that inspires me. So here we go…

Chores by Haley Nahman inspired this. 

First, some background.

I have six months left on the right side of 50. This makes me Generation X. My Father is from the Silent Generation. My Mother is a Baby Boomer.  The Silents and the Boomers built this world we live in. They ground it out. They stood it up. They worked. And while their blood flows through me, my body, mind, and soul roam in a new era. The pace can’t be maintained. The planet can’t sustain it. It is time for a fine-tuning of the approach for our way forward. A re-setting so to speak. Everyone from all generations now needs to Learn, the learning that requires lots of unlearning to take place. That needs slowing down.

I took a two-year break from Social Media. It’s difficult to explain why, but I just had enough. There was too much mindless scrolling. It was very noisy.

And then, if that wasn’t enough, I quit a professionally fulfilling job in August, with a preeminent institution that I highly respect…I’m sure most would say, “Wow, impressive.” Hours were long (very). But, I loved the work. The pay was good. I was told that I was highly effective at a job I dreamed about — but…I needed to move on.

Team members (friends) continue to call to chat. They call to understand why I left.  Why? They call to ask what I’m doing now, so I explain.

“I’ve been walking to the grocery store daily to get what I need to cook dinner.” The work friend suggests: “Why don’t you plan for the week and go to the store once.”  It’s hard to explain to those of us on the treadmill, but I find joy in walking to the grocery store. I take the long way. I walk through alleys. I then meander up and down the aisles in the grocery store to find what inspires me. And then I walk home. All of this can best be explained as finding peace and joy that I had not felt in a long time.

Chores.’ English is not my first language. Ever since I started learning English, my brain registered chores as work people did not want to do.  It does not feel like a synonym for a task, errand, or something I need to do or would like to check off my list as I put my beautiful day together. 

Taking a sabbatical from Social Media in January of 2021, and then resigning from my job in August 2022, have enabled me to control how I spend my days. Because “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing.” Annie Dillard said.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. Just because I am good at something is not reason enough for me to do it for a living. And I acknowledge it is so hard to stop!
  2. I am a gas guzzler with low miles per gallon. Or an electric car. I need to make frequent stops for fuel. 
  3. To refuel or recharge, I need to disconnect FULLY.
  4. My center of gravity is not my work life. Toni Morrison said it best here in “The Work You Do, The Person You Are:”
    • Whatever the work is, do it well—not for the boss but for yourself.
    • You make the job; it doesn’t make you.
    • Your real life is with us, your family.
  5. You are not the work you do; you are the person you are.

There was an ache akin to a pain only she who has breastfed knows. The ache a nursing mother feels when something stands between her and nurturing her infant, what matters the most. Work was the adult with a tight grip on my wrist, a little girl being dragged along, weaving in and out of oncoming traffic. I could not keep up. And it hurt. And I felt small. I felt a need to just stop to pull myself together.  So, I’ve traded long hours and a few bucks each year, and then I took those few bucks and invested in Me. Yet, I acknowledge the Grinders, building the rails that we ride, while others, me included, contribute in our own way, and watch the sunrise above the din.

The Pandemic slowed our world down. What got away as background noise, became loud and disturbing as everything else paused. It’s like my world was saying, “please, stop, get down on your knees at my eye level and pay attention to me.” I am still at its eye level paying attention, and I will be down here for some time.

Thank you,

Sawsan


DK: Note. This quote from Thich Nhat Hanh reminded me of Sawsan living his guidance: 

“If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.” What’s more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future—and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.”



Lightly Child, Lightly.

“It helped that my life slowed down. Quitting my media job played a big part in that, then Covid, then my cat’s sickness, and then eventually it felt like a choice—to invest more in my immediate surroundings, to learn to cook, to read more, to post less, to dream differently. The relief in that shift was recognizing how much the little stuff always mattered, even when I treated it like a nuisance. These days I really do believe that chores give my life meaning. Not just because they present texture and struggle and a necessary counterpart to rest (all true), but because maintenance is in itself profound. Caring for ourselves, for other people, for our homes, for plants and other animals—these are the unfinishable projects of our lives. We do them over and over not to conquer them, or for personal gain, but to maintain and nourish them, with no greater expectation. Given how swayed humans are by the pursuit of growth, wealth, ownership, and power, I think this is very sweet and pure. Almost spiritual.”

— Haley Nahman#118: Mark this off your to-do list (Maybe Baby, October 18, 2022)

 


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.”

The clamor of the world, that is outside and inside, needs to be quelled sometimes to breathe.


Notes:

  • Cartoon Source
  • Post Title from: Fred D’Aguiar, “Year of Plagues: A Memoir of 2020“: “The clamor of the world, that is outside and inside, needs to be quelled sometimes for poetry to breathe.”

Sunday Morning

Five decades ago,the philosopher Max Picard warned: “Nothing has changed human nature more than the loss of silence.”

• In the 21st century, Ed Schlossberg, creator of ESI Design,a company dedicated to making innovative design spaces,has stated that “attention will be the most scarce and precious asset in the future”.

• Paying attention to a single object, stopping receiving information for an instant, consuming content, images, sounds, alerts, calls is almost impossible today.

We use the new technologies that connect us to the world of messages, tweets, Facebook posts, Google alerts, mobile phone alarms, news from our RSS feeds, Whatsapp invocations, 24 hours a day, wherever we are.

• Only when we get on the plane and the stewardess forces us to turn off our electronic devices, can we afford to feel us, alone. But then we avidly look for what movie they are going to put on.

• Schlossberg says he longs for the times when art offered a space for silence and attention. The static frame and the motionless spectator held together, exchanging radiation in the visible spectrum,without emitting a single noise. Contemplation is a luxury from another era…

✅The human being has owned silence for more than a million years.

Stillness and the absence of noise are part of the natural landscape as are the wind or the sky. We have adapted to silence, and without it we could not survive. So much so that, although it may seem like a lie, we can hear it…

— Steven Melbourne, from “Silence” in Abstract Universe


Notes:

Lightly Child, Lightly.

it’s terribly important that I understand this.
Because, you see, sir,
students rush from one class to the other,
because the period is short,
run from mathematics to geography,
from geography to history,
chemistry, biology – you follow? – run, run.
And if I was one of the professors, teachers, I would say,
Look, sit down.
Be quiet for five minutes.
Be quiet.
Look out of the window, if you want to.
See the beauty of light on the water,
or the leaf, and look at this and that, but be quiet’.

— J. Krishnamurti, from Dialogue 16 with Allan W. Anderson in San Diego, 27 February 1974


Notes:

  • Photo: DK @ Daybreak. 5:19 am. July 1, 2021. 73° F.  Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.
  • 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. With #1 Son.

383 consecutive days. Like in a Row. Morning Walk to Cove Island Park. You’ll say, impossible. I’m telling you, you don’t understand the Wiring. Only 1 day during the streak that put it in jeopardy, and that’s a story for another day.

Back to this morning’s walk.  Eric’s on My Mind.

We set up a makeshift office for him in the attic.  A white IKEA desk. A desk chair from Staples. A floor mat under the chair from Amazon. A small single bed against the wall.  And there he hibernates. 

Late night, he shifts in the chair, the floorboards creak, his office directly above the Master bedroom. His chair directly on top of me, sleeping. He’ll be editing his photos, the same photos for hours. Days. The penguin from South Africa, that one up top, took weeks. Deliberate. Meticulous. Punctilious. Like a Professional.

He crawls into bed at ~3 a.m. About the time when his Dad, me, stirs, getting ready for his Daybreak walk. [Read more…]

Lightly Child, Lightly.

(He) lived a Yeatsian dream life where peace came dropping slow.

— Heather Clark, Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath


Notes:

  • Photo: DK @ Daybreak. 5:51 am, March 4, 2021. 32° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.
  • 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.”

Morning Walk. See, But Can’t Sit.

It started on Friday with my virtual Aussie friend commenting on my T.G.I.F. post: “So, are you sitting there yet.” And like Pavlov’s dog, I take the bait and reply: “Sitting? There? Anywhere? No.”  But, the punch lands and it hangs all day yesterday, and into the wee hours of this morning when I reply: “It’s 2:10 am here. Lifeline required.” She gives me another shot, this time about gadget addiction.  What is it about me that encourages these blows?

I step away from her truths (therapy) and go back and re-read her last post titled “Accept…then Act” @ Living in This Moment —  “change comes from making space in stillness to see my situation from a higher perspective…” Like WTH is that, and where does one start? I totally have the “Act Act Act” part down, or perhaps better stated” Do Do Do Do.”

I read several chapters in Susan Burton’s new book “Empty: A Memoir” and stop at “…A deeper understanding, a new tenderness.” I close the book, crawl out of bed and get ready for my morning walk.

4:30 am. I’m out the door. [Read more…]

Running. No More. (For now)

“Running is practice for not quitting.”

A line from Robert Andrew Powell’s Memoir titled ”Running Away.”

Unclear why the line stuck after I read it in Beth’s post titled Custodians of the Peace of Mind. But stuck it has. Who’s my Custodian?

Running is practice for not quitting.

It’s been a month. Every day. Every.Single.Day. 

Out the door at ~5 am. Backpack over left shoulder, camera in right hand. Both hands occupied, smartphone tucked away, and inaccessible.

I walk.

5 mile loop.  1.5 hours. 50-70 photos. Every morning.

Followed by a photo upload to the P.C.

Then a slow page turn of the pics.

And a deletion of the misfires.

Then a creation of a Google Photo Album, “June 6 2020 Cove Island Park Walk

Then I connect the Day’s album to the Google Nest Hub Max via my smartphone, which rotates each photo in a slide show on a 10 sec delay.

And, we have a new performance each day.

I’ve moved the Hub Max next to my PC, and there it sits with me, from 7am to 7pm, my entire work day.

Photo’s on the slide show, click, click, click, click. And for that second, I’m swept back to that moment when I took the shot.

During conference calls. During Zoom meetings. During email replies. During text exchanges. Those pictures, that I took, that I made, that captured some beauty in my eye, causing me to stop, and pause, and see…and then snap. They draw me gently away from Work, to the Moment.

Louise’s blog post this morning lands softly. “We call home through everything I do. Everything I create. Everything I am.”

Running is practice for not quitting. I believed this in my bones.

But I’ve quit.

And I like it.


Photo: 6:07 a.m. this foggy morning. 67° F. Wind: 5 mph. Cloud Cover: 68%.  Long Island Sound from Weed Ave, Stamford, CT.

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call


A giraffe peers up at a drone at a closed safari park, which has begun selling half-price advance tickets online to raise money to feed its more than 2,000 animals. Rebecca Blackwell, April 19, 2020, Chapa de Mota, Mexico. 

 

 

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

From one citizen to another, I beg of you: take a deep breath, ignore the deafening noise, and think deeply about what you want to put back into your life. This is our chance to define a new version of normal, a rare and truly sacred (yes, sacred) opportunity to get rid of the bullshit and to only bring back what works for us, what makes our lives richer, what makes our kids happier, what makes us truly proud. We get to Marie Kondo the shit out of it all. We care deeply about one another. That is clear. That can be seen in every supportive Facebook post, in every meal dropped off for a neighbor, in every Zoom birthday party. We are a good people. And as a good people, we want to define — on our own terms — what this country looks like in five, 10, 50 years. This is our chance to do that, the biggest one we have ever gotten. And the best one we’ll ever get.

~ Julio Vincent Gambuto, from “Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting” (forge.medium.com, April 13, 2020)


Notes: Thank you  Lori Ferguson for sharing. Portrait: boro5

Where you at?

Where You At?

Trace the water you drink from precipitation to tap.

How many days till the moon is full?…

From what direction do winter storms generally come in your region?

Name five grasses in your area.

Name five resident and five migratory birds…

Were the stars out last night?

From where you are reading this, point north.

~ Jenny Offill, Weather: A Novel (Knopf, February 11, 2020)


Notes:

  • Inspired by: “As it is, we are merely bolting our lives—gulping down undigested experiences as fast as we can stuff them in—because awareness of our own existence is so superficial and so narrow that nothing seems to use more simple than simple being. If I ask you what you did, saw, heard, smelled, touched, and tasted yesterday, I am likely to get nothing more than the thin, sketchy outline of the few things that you noticed, and of those only what you thought worth remembering. Is it surprising that an existence so experienced seems so empty and bare that its hunger for an infinite future is insatiable?” ~ Alan Watts, The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are (Published August 28th 1989 by Vintage, first published 1966) (via noosphe.re)
  • Illustration by Ariduka55 (via Your Eyes Blaze Out)

Lightly Child, Lightly

“Thinking about daylight and artificial light I have to admit that daylight, the light on things, is so moving to me that I feel it almost as a spiritual quality. When the sun comes up in the morning – which I always find so marvelous, absolutely fantastic the way it comes back every morning – and casts its light on things, it doesn’t feel as if it quite belongs in this world. I don’t understand light. It gives me the feeling there’s something beyond me, something beyond all understanding.”

Peter Zumthor, Atmospheres


Notes:

  • Photo: Stephen Carroll FotoFiction (via Mennyfox55). Quote via noosphe
  • 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.”

Lightly Child, Lightly

Every now and then, when my dad was working away, my grandfather came over from Ireland to stay with us. He brought a black holdall containing his only suit, a clean shirt, some vests and underpants and a bottle of home-brewed poitín. My mother slept with me in my single bed, so my granddad could have her room. ‘I envy him, a bit, you know,’ she said to me, squashed against my army of teddy bears. ‘He moves through his life so lightly. Just packs a bag and goes, without thinking twice.’

~ Jessica Andrews, Saltwater: A Novel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, January 14, 2020)


Notes:

  • Prior blog post and Reviews of Saltwater: A Novel
  • Grandfather probably wasn’t carrying this black leather holdall from Lotuff
  • 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.”

Lightly Child, Lightly

The light wavers;

perhaps the person holding it is tired.

The steps slow.

The rush seems to be over.

– Ann Napolitano, Dear Edward: A Novel (The Dial Press, January 6, 2020)

 


Notes:

  • Photo: (via Mennyfox55)
  • 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.”

Lightly Child, Lightly

There’s a lightness in things.

Only we people move forever burdened,

pressing ourselves onto everything, obsessed by weight.

How strange and devouring our ways must seem

to those for whom life is enough.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, “Part Two XIV,” from Sonnets to Orpheus


Notes:

  • Photo: Elif Sanem Karakoç
  • 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.”

Lightly Child, Lightly


Notes:

  • Source: Famousfishathletecookie (via Your Eyes Blaze Out)
  • 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.”

Saturday Morning

(She) enjoyed the privilege of stillness, most days did absolutely nothing but breathe and look and hear and smell the world turning.

A self-appointed Judge of Existence.

~ Niall Williams, “This Is Happiness” (Bloomsbury Publishing; December 3, 2019)

 


Photo: Carlos Gotay (via Mennyfox55)

Saturday Morning

And for moments, nothing more.

Some people understand the privilege of stillness and can sit and breathe and look and hear and smell the world turning and let what’s next wait the while.

~ Niall Williams, “This Is Happiness” (Bloomsbury Publishing; December 3, 2019)

 


Photo: Levas Žiriakovas with Spring Sun

Saturday Morning

Oh, the coming-out-of-nowhere moment
when, nothing
happens
no what-have-I-to-do-today-list

maybe half a moment
the rush of traffic stops.
The whir of I should be, I should be, I should be
slows to silence,
the white cotton curtains hanging still.

~ Marie Howe, “The Moment” (via Poets.org)


Photo: Eylül Aslan

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