Tuesday Morning Meditation


My first attempt @ video. Far from awesome, but that won’t distract from the beauty of these Atlantic Brants. I’m smitten.  Cove Island Park @ Daybreak on Sunday.

Walking. With a Trifecta.

718 days. Almost consecutive. Like in a row.  Morning walk @ Cove Island Park @ Daybreak.

Ritual is all we have. It’s what keeps us from the abyss.”  It’s Jillian Horton’s thought from “We Are All Perfectly Fine,” and there’s zero doubt that she wrote it thinking of me.

Perfectly Fine? Definitely not.

I round the turn into the parking lot. It’s empty. I mean Empty. Not a single parked car. Not a single soul lurking around.

My park. My time. Mine.

I walk.

45° F with 10 mph winds blowing from the NW, keeping this Spring’s Here thing real.

Inhale.

Blossoms.

“…as if a rose were flung into the room, all hue and scent” (Szymborska).

And then, came the Trifecta.

(The first being here, alive, standing in this spot, at this moment.)

The second, Luna peaks out from behind the clouds.  And drops her beam down on Long Island Sound.

And the third, at this exact moment, turning up randomly on my iTunes playlist of 3000+ odd tunes —  My Anthem. Van Morrison, So Quiet in Here.

Where we can be what we want to be
Oh this must be what paradise is like
This must be what paradise is like
Baby it’s so quiet in here, so peaceful in here
So quiet in here, so peaceful in here
So quiet in here, so peaceful in here
So quiet in here, you can hear, it’s so quiet

I raise my camera, focus on the train of her gown, and take the shot.

I’m going to remember this.


Notes:

  • DK Photo. Moonlight @ Daybreak. 5:15 am, April 23, 2022. 45° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.  More photos from this morning here.

Sea of Tranquility: A beat. A sip of water. Pacing is everything.

While (he) slips immediately into the same stasis that overcame him… It isn’t quite listlessness. He makes a careful inventory of his thoughts and decides that he isn’t unhappy. He just desires no further movement, for the time being. If there’s pleasure in action, there’s peace in stillness.

—  Emily St. John Mandel, Sea of Tranquility: A Novel (Knopf, April 5, 2022)


Notes:

  • Highly recommended.  Let’s just describe this as a Wow. (And if you can listen to book on Audible, a real plus. Excellent narration.)
  • NY Times Book Review: A Dazzling New Foray into Speculative Fiction From Emily St. John Mandel – “In Sea of Tranquility,” Mandel takes up existential questions of time and being…In “Sea of Tranquility,” Mandel offers one of her finest novels and one of her most satisfying forays into the arena of speculative fiction yet, but it is her ability to convincingly inhabit the ordinary, and her ability to project a sustaining acknowledgment of beauty, that sets the novel apart. As in Ishiguro, this is not born of some cheap, made-for-television, faux-emotional gimmick or mechanism, but of empathy and hard-won understanding, beautifully built into language, for all of us who inhabit this “green-and-blue world” and who one day might live well beyond.
  • Image via CBC

Lightly Child, Lightly

I notice something, a feeling in my chest. Lightness. Joy. Or something that tastes like it. That flicker you get, of a déjà vu. A place you were once, even though you can’t say where or when. I used to feel like this.

Jillian HortonWe Are All Perfectly Fine: A Memoir of Love, Medicine and Healing (HarperCollins Publishers, February 23, 2021)


Notes:

  • Portrait of and story on Jillian Horton via edialogue: “Reclaiming Herself”
  • 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.”

You ask me am I crazy for playing the cello in a war zone

One night, I dreamed that I was meeting my friend, a poet named Mariana, in Sarajevo, the city of love. I woke up confused. Sarajevo, a symbol of love? Wasn’t Sarajevo the site of one of the bloodiest civil wars of the late twentieth century? Then I remembered. Vedran Smailović. The cellist of Sarajevo…

You ask me am I crazy for playing the cello in a war zone, he says. Why don’t you ask THEM if they’re crazy for shelling Sarajevo?

His gesture reverberates throughout the city, over the airwaves. Soon, it’ll find expression in a novel, a film. But before that, during the darkest days of the siege, Smailović will inspire other musicians to take to the streets with their own instruments. They don’t play martial music, to rouse the troops against the snipers, or pop tunes, to lift the people’s spirits. They play the Albinoni. The destroyers attack with guns and bombs, and the musicians respond with the most bittersweet music they know.

We’re not combatants, call the violinists; we’re not victims, either, add the violas. We’re just humans, sing the cellos, just humans: flawed and beautiful and aching for love.

Susan Cain, “Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole” (Crown, April 5, 2022)


Image: Manny Becerra via Unsplash

Lightly Child, Lightly

Drifting, what am I like?

A gull between earth and sky.

—  Du Fu, (712- 770). “Thoughts While Traveling At Night”, trans. by Vikram Seth, in Three Chinese Poets: Wang Wei, Li Bai, and Du Fu


Notes:

  • Photo – DK @ Cove Island Park on March 21, 2022. Quote via antigonick
  • 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.”

T.G.I.F.: Perhaps this is the time to take an extra slow sip from a piping mug of coffee

From where I write, the world is a storm of scars and grief, and somehow, of unexpected delight. This mélange isn’t logical. It’s a mystery. But perhaps now is the perfect time for such a thing.

Perhaps this is the time to take an extra slow sip from a piping mug of coffee, to let the steam melt into the waiting face and to savor the way that dark substance can invigorate the body. Perhaps this is the time to gaze at squirrels in the yard, those lucky rodents who don’t seem to realize—or care—that we’ve changed, those chipper squirrels whose routines continue with full gusto despite everything else. Perhaps this is the time to sit with someone you’ve grown accustomed to seeing each day, to stare at their familiar face under familiar light and look for the unfamiliar things that made you love them in the first place.

This is a time when one of the few things we’re certain about is how little certainty there is. We can scramble to find answers and do what we can to act in the midst of these swirling questions and trials, but this can also be a time to pause. Somehow, in the middle of all these current messes, there are still pleasant—even delightful—mysteries to be found. There are friends to check in on (from a distance), there’s astonishment to be shared. There are poems to be read. There is hope to be found, embraced, passed along.

The heavy blanket of fog in the yard has lightened so that it’s no more than a sheet. The baby maple, still alone, stretches up from its cast. Next year, it may be crowned with leaves, and someday, it will give us shade, like the ones who came before it. Somehow, in the midst of everything, it grows stronger each day.

—  Angela Hugunin, from “The Comfort Of A Poem: Reflections on Mary Oliver’s “Mysteries, Yes. ” (cvwritersguild.org, April 7, 2020)


Photo by Nathan Dumlao

Lightly Child, Lightly

I have a favorite sound.

To be precise, it’s not a singular sound but a multitude.

Have you ever stood in the presence of a tree and listened to the wind pass through its leaves? The roots and body stand defiant and unmoved. But listen. The branches stretch out their tongues and whisper shhhhh.

Trees make symphonies without their trunks ever moving, almost as if the stillness of their centers amplifies their sound. The tree may appear still, but if you look closer, you’ll see that each leaf flails with breath. The tree may seem alone, but plow deep and you’ll unearth its secret gnarled roots—the grotesque and the beautiful—creeping in the soil, reaching toward the ancestors.

Thomas Merton said, “No writing on the solitary, meditative dimensions of life can say anything that has not already been said better by the wind in the pine trees.” I hold this close.


Notes:

  • Photo:  DK @ Daybreak 6:54 am August 29, 2021.
  • 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

But I also say this:

that light is an invitation to happiness,

and that happiness, when it’s done right,

is a kind of holiness, palpable and redemptive.

~ Mary Oliver, from “Poppies” in New and Selected Poems, Volume One.


Notes:

  • Photo: DK @ Daybreak. Daybreak. 5:45 am, March 8, 2022. 38° F, feels like 27° F, winds up to 40 mph. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT. . More pictures from this morning here.
  • Poem from Make Believe Boutique.
  • 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

Through no fault of your own, there never seems to be enough stillness —

enough cool, clear space —

for you to stop and think.

— Johann Hari, “Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention–and How to Think Deeply Again” (Crown, January 25, 2022)


Notes:

  • Photo: DK @ Daybreak. 6:19 am, March 2, 2022. 34° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT. More pictures from yesterday morning 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.”

Walking. Quiet with Highsmith.

6:00 a.m. Forget the preamble. Take my word for it. It’s cold.

I twist in my ear buds and cue up Patricia Highsmith’s 1000 page diary on Audible. I’m 900 pages in, the home stretch.  It’s late August, she’s living in France: “My French house is like my life and body. The garden represents work, very hard work, never perfect, never finished, and I find there is hardly one day a year when I can say, ‘It all looks nice.’

I think about this for a moment, nodding, in full agreement with the metaphor, and work.

I sit in the car, building up the energy to step out in the cold. And she continues, and has me twisting on a follow-on post: “Work is the only thing of importance or joy in life. Trouble begins when one pauses to consider what one has done.”  I noodle on both ends of this sandwich and get out of the car.  Too deep, too early in the morning.

I walk. Shuffling in my Sorel boots, counterclockwise around the park. The Connecticut-Chinook at my back.

The curtain is preparing to rise at 7:10.

It’s Quiet.

This has to have been a transforming practice – almost two years of quietness,” a friend on FB posits.

I stand looking out over the horizon. The blues. The oranges. The yellows. And all of it blending and shimmering on the water. A Rothko-looking exhibit.

And then I’m back to Highsmith in the 1970’s: “With greater universal education, there is paradoxically greater stupidity. One gets further from the land and nature, instead of being in harmony with it, as were our less educated forebears. We now read about pills and take them—and are afraid to give an honest belch.”

Transformation & Quiet & Harmony.

Hmmmm. 

You know DK, you may have gotten this Thing right.

 


Note: (1) DK @ Daybreak. 6:36 to 6:50 am, January 27, 2022. 12° F, feels like 9° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT. More of this morning photos here. (2) Rothko was described by Sawsan!

Walking. Who but an imbecile?

5:00 a.m.  Glance at weather app. 10° F, feels like Hell frozen over. Wind gusts up to 30 mph.  Every ligament and nerve ending in the body is screaming, No! Stay under the covers.

But Duty calls. That magnetic pull. To what, for what, God only knows. But it pulls.

I’m sitting in the car at Cove Island Park, and, yes, the heater blows on my feet.

I twist in my ear buds and cue up Patricia Highsmith’s 1000 page diary on Audible. I’m 800 pages in and she grumbles: “Who but an imbecile would have chosen such a hard way?

I step out.  A wind gust greets my start. Both eye balls gush water in defense. And they keep draining. Must be another one of these old age blessings, sh*t leaking oil from all orifices.

Bela called it. “It can be below zero, and I can go out in crocs if it’s dry…But if there’s moisture in the air, you can never warm up below 30F.” Yep, Bela. Here we stand.  Frigid wind (Chinook the Albertan’s call it, except wet) blowing off Long Island Sound, and it’s ripping right through my North Face gear. I’m coated with 3 layers from head to toe, except for the face which is exposed. Face-lift, no charge, God-Styling.

I walk.

I take the loop with the wind at my back. (I’m not a total imbecile.) [Read more…]

T.G.I.F.

Snow had started falling from the Illinois sky, white crystallizations of water as pure as he felt… His thoughts had slowed to a happy medium, no slower than that, not yet. He stood for a moment on the sidewalk, amid the melting snowflakes, and wished the world could just stand still.

Jonathan Franzen, Crossroads: A Novel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, October 5, 2021)


Photos: DK @ Daybreak. 6:15 to 6:435 am, January 7, 2022. 28° F, feels like 17° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT. (More pictures from this morning here.)

Sunday Afternoon

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 RobinsonGilead: A Novel


Notes: Quote via Mythology of Blue. Photo: DK @ Daybreak. 7:21 am, January 2, 2022. 52° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT. More photos from this morning here.

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

December 29, 1941.

I’m at the age where I cease to reform my tastes:

I accept what I find—within—without shame.

Patricia Highsmith, “Patricia Highsmith: Her Diaries and Notebooks: 1941-1995.″ Anna von Planta (Editor). (Liveright, November 16, 2021)


Notes:

  • Side Note: Patricia Highsmith was 20 years old when writing this in her diary entry. 20 years old! And here I am…still workin’ it…
  • New York Times: 9 New Books We Recommend This Week
  • Photo credit

like a cold gem against dark velvet…

There was a full moon outside and it was the only peaceful thing they had seen all day.

It shone with an impassive beauty, like a cold gem against dark velvet, not at all interested in the human pain down below.

Elif Shafak, The Island of Missing Trees: A Novel (Bloomsbury Publishing; 1st edition (November 2, 2021)


Photos: DK’s Moon shots @ 5:45 pm today from backyard.

Then the guns open up and flames light the sky


Note:

  • This morning’s post, in honor of our Veterans.
  • “You stand in a trench of vile stinking mud / And the bitter cold wind freezes your blood / Then the guns open up and flames light the sky / …Flashing red tabs, Brass and Ribbons galore / What the Hell do they know about fighting a war?” —  from a poem written by C.S.M Sidney Chaplin.
  • Photos: DK @ Daybreak. 5:45 to 6:15 am, November 11, 2021. 33° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT

Sunday Morning

On Aug. 29, 1952, in an open-air converted barn in Woodstock, N.Y., pianist David Tudor, known for his interpretations of contemporary music, gave the premiere of a work by John Cage (1912-1992) remarkably different from anything else in the classical repertoire. Tudor had been familiar with the full range of the avant-garde, from the spacious pointillism of Morton Feldman’s “Extensions 3” to the thorny complexity of Pierre Boulez’s First Piano Sonata, both of which were also on the program.

For the Cage piece, however, the pianist curiously sat motionless at the keyboard, holding a stopwatch. The composer had indicated three separate movements with specific timings. Keeping an eye on the timepiece, Tudor announced the beginning of each section by closing the keyboard lid, then paused for the required duration before signaling its end by opening the lid again. All the rest was stillness; throughout the performance he didn’t make a sound.

But Cage’s “4’33”” is actually not about silence at all. Though most members of the audience were focused on the absence of music, there were also ambient vibrations they ignored: wind stirring outside, raindrops pattering on the tin roof—and, toward the end of the performance, the listeners themselves making “all kinds of interesting sounds as they talked or walked out. Music is continuous,” the composer explained. “It is only we who turn away.”

Stuart Isacoff, from “The Sounds of Silence” (Wall Street Journal, November 5, 2021)


Notes:

Daybreak

Some gulls soared in the air above me.
They seemed almost to be enjoying the warmth and stillness.
A stillness so seldom here.

—  Karl Ove Knausgaard, The Morning Star: A Novel. (Penguin Press, September 28, 2021)


Photo: DK @ Daybreak. 6:57 am, October 19, 2021. 45° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT

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:

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