Tuesday Morning Wake-Up Call

light

When you get into your car, shut the door and be there for just half a minute. Breathe, feel the energy inside your body, look around at the sky, the trees. The mind might tell you, ‘I don’t have time.’ But that’s the mind talking to you. Even the busiest person has time for 30 seconds of space.

Eckhart Tolle, from Oprah Talks to Eckhart Tolle (Oprah.com)


Notes: Quote – Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels. Photo: maggie kirkpatrick

It’s been a long day

Human life is a kind of myopia, everyone walking around, seeing only what’s in front of them, or not even that—passing each other by, embroiled in our little dramas to such an extent that we miss out on everything; making big what is small.

Sheila HetiMotherhood: A Novel (Henry Holt and Co., May 1, 2018)


Notes: Illustration: Owen Gent. Related Posts: It’s been a long day

Invisibly, almost without notice, we are losing ourselves

Physicist, novelist, and essayist Alan Lightman has added his own manifestoIn Praise of Wasting Time. Of course, the title is ironic, because Lightman argues that by putting down our devices and spending time on quiet reflection, we regain some of our lost humanity, peace of mind, and capacity for creativity—not a waste of time, after all, despite the prevailing mentality that we should spend every moment actually doing something. The problem is not only our devices, the internet, and social media. Lightman argues that the world has become much more noisy, fast-paced, and distracting. Partly, he writes, this is because the advances that have enabled the much greater transfer of data, and therefore productivity, have created an environment in which seemingly inexorable market forces push for more time working and less leisure time.

Lightman starts his book with an anecdote from his recent time in a rural village in Cambodia. When he asked a villager how long it took her to bike daily to the market ten miles away to barter for food and goods, she replied that she had never thought about it. Lightman is “startled” at this, and jealous. He points out that we in the “developed” world (his scare quotes) have carved up our days into minuscule portions, not a single one to be wasted. He admits that “from the instant I open my eyes in the morning until I turn out the lights at night, I am at work on some project. First thing in the morning, I check my email. For any unexpected opening of time that appears during the day, I rush to patch it, as if a tear in my trousers…” 

Lightman points to several productive, creative individuals who routinely had unstructured time in their days. A fellow physicist at MIT, Paul Schechter, used to sit for hours daydreaming on park benches, which he credited with helping come up with important ideas, including a formula for the number of galaxies with different luminosities. Gertrude Stein used to drive around in the country every day and find a place to sit and write; much of that time was not spent writing, but gazing at cows. Mathematician Henri Poincaré, after a few weeks of fruitless work on functions, drank coffee one evening and in his sleeplessness found that “[i]deas rose in crowds; I felt them collide under pairs interlocked, so to speak, making a stable combination. By the next morning I had established the existence of a class of Fuchsian functions . . . “

Lightman feels we are in a “dire” situation:

Invisibly, almost without notice, we are losing ourselves. We are losing our ability to know who we are and what is important to us. We are creating a global machine in which each of us is a mindless and reflexive cog, relentless driven by the speed, noise, and artificial urgency of the wired world.

~ Anitra Pavlico, from “Alan Lightman On Wasting Time” (3quarksdaily, January 7, 2019)


Photo: Financial Times

Sunday Morning

Carrying a day
is like carrying a mountain,
Brooding over your own horizon
those endless small words
The silence at the end of sentences.
Come to the bank
Breathe the snow
Put your day down

Terrance Keenan, excerpted and edited from “Lullaby of Crossing the River” in St. Nadie in Winter


Notes: Poem via The Vale of Soul Making. Photo by Patty Maher (The Quiet Storm).

Saturday Morning


Photo: Shutterstock via Newthom

It’s been a long day

Sometimes
everything
seems
so
oh, I don’t know.

Joe Brainard, “Poem” from The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard

 


Notes: Poem – Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels. Photo by damian hovhannisyan (via see more)

Sunday Morning

Yes, and I think we all know that sensation. We have more and more time-saving devices but less and less time, it seems to us. When I was a boy, the sense of luxury had to do with a lot of space, maybe having a big house or a huge car. Now I think luxury has to do with having a lot of time. The ultimate luxury now might be just a blank space in the calendar. And interestingly enough, that’s what we crave, I think, so many of us.

When I moved from New York City to rural Japan — after my year in Kyoto, I essentially moved to a two-room apartment, which is where I still live with my wife and, formerly, our two kids. We don’t have a car or a bicycle or a T.V. I can understand. It’s very simple, but it feels very luxurious. One reason is that when I wake up, it seems as if the whole day stretches in front of me like an enormous meadow, which is never a sensation I had when I was in go-go New York City. I can spend five hours at my desk. And then I can take a walk. And then I can spend one hour reading a book where, as I read, I can feel myself getting deeper and more attentive and more nuanced. It’s like a wonderful conversation.

Then I have a chance to take another walk around the neighborhood and take care of my emails and keep my bosses at bay and then go and play ping pong and then spend the evening with my wife. It seems as if the day has a thousand hours, and that’s exactly what I tend not to experience or feel when I’m — for example, today in Los Angeles — moving from place to place. I suppose it’s a trade-off. I gave up financial security, and I gave up the excitements of the big city. But I thought it was worth it in order to have two things, freedom and time. The biggest luxury I enjoy when I’m in Japan is, as soon as I arrive there, I take off my watch, and I feel I never need to put it on again. I can soon begin to tell the time by how the light is slanting off our walls at sunrise and when the darkness falls — and I suppose back to a more essential human life.

~ Pico Iyer, The Urgency of Slowing Down. An Interview with Krista Tippett (Onbeing, November, 2018)

Walking Cross Town. With No Next.

It’s Wednesday.  I take a late morning train to attend a late morning meeting. There are no meetings that follow. There is no Next, and Next and Next.

I sit in the train. The train clears. I’m immersed in the final chapter of the last book in Rachel Cusk‘s trilogy. I take the time to finish up, I grab my bag, and exit the train. There’s no rushing to the exits, the platform is empty. I walk alone in Kaminsky’s quiet: “What is silence? Something of the sky in us.”

Security at Grand Central is tight. Each entrance is heavily armed. Yet, I don’t flinch – the gunmetal black, semi-automatic weapon looks like a prop in a scene in Toy Story – I’m among the extras, commuters rushing to their Next, and tourists snapping photos.

Broadway teems with tourists mingling on sidewalks, trying to decide What’s Next. I smile, step around them, not interrupting their chat as they stand three abreast. Tis’ the season.

Full body sized neon letters hum and flash overhead: Mueller probe. Cohen. Trump. Russia. This nasty, viscous, mucus is non-stick, and glances off. You won’t touch me, not today. 

My meeting ends. A luncheon thanking colleagues for exceptional work on a project with a highly successful outcome.  I learn at lunch that today is the 86th Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting CeremonyAha! This accounts for the heavy security and unusually large crowds. [Read more…]

It’s been a long day

On some nights it’s best to stop thinking about the past, and all that’s been won and lost.

On nights like this, just getting into bed, crawling between the clean white sheets, is a great relief.

Alice Hoffman, Practical Magic

 


Notes: Photo – windworkss. Quote – shitiunderline

Saturday Afternoon

I went to the kitchen to start making lunch, but no sooner had I picked up a knife than I realized I was no longer ravenously hungry. Instead, I was very sleepy. I got a blanket, stretched out on the living room sofa, and promptly drifted off. I had a dream, a short one. It was clear and very vivid. But I couldn’t remember anything about it. Just that it was clear and vivid. It felt as though a fragment of real life had slipped into my sleeping mind by mistake. Then the moment I awoke, it fled like a quick-footed animal, leaving no trace behind.

~ Haruki Murakami, Killing Commendatore: A Novel. (October 9, 2018)


Photo: Yourtango

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