Saturday Morning

I’ve noticed that people love to hurry. Meals are always quick, coffees are never savoured, glances are fleeting, conversations brief and it feels like this is becoming normal, that people only expect surface level and they only strive for surface level in all aspects of life. Mediocre coffee. Luke-warm love. Convenience. Because life is scary and when you sit with it long enough, and really listen to the silence, you notice what you’re missing, and some of what we miss, we know we will never be able to find again.

—  Seyda Noir (seydanoirwords @ Instagram, April 28, 2022) (via balancedhuman)


Photo: Pixaby

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.”



Truth.


Photo: Michael Odelberth (via Unsplash)

And then, there’s the Tuesday Morning Wake-Up Call

We compartmentalized the stress and ongoing trauma, flattening it into something survivable, but we nonetheless ate it for breakfast, and lunch, and dinner. We swam in that stress. We slept in it. We swallowed it in gulps. We lived through it, and we told ourselves stories of resilience, because what other choice did we have.

But the body is bad at pretending. It keeps the damn score.

Lightly Child, Lightly

In the midst of financial news that seems to get grimmer by the day, one story of a man trying to escape caught my eye. Andrew Formica, the 51-year-old CEO of a $68 billion investment firm, abruptly quit his job. He did not have another job waiting—or anything else, it seems. When pressed about his plans, he said, “I just want to go sit at the beach and do nothing.”

Easy, right? Not for a lot of us, it isn’t. Besides the fact that you need to have a good deal of financial security to quit working, “it is awfully hard work doing nothing,” as Algernon said in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. I can relate to this. I work long hours and have sometimes planned to go away and do nothing just for a week or two. But when I try, I find I am utterly incompetent: Idle chitchat drives me crazy; I get the jimmy legs 30 minutes into a movie; sitting on a beach is a form of torture. Whenever I make an effort to rest, my mind always wanders back to the work I am fleeing.

As difficult as it may be, Formica has the right idea. For the sake of happiness, strivers and hard-driving work machines of any income level need to learn to stop. If you are in this category, nothing should be high on your to-do list

Choose soft fascination.

During your unstructured vacation, choose activities that can gently hold your attention while also leaving you plenty of bandwidth to mentally meander. This is what three University of Michigan psychologists call “soft fascination,” and you might find it by walking in nature, or watching the waves. In contrast, “hard fascination” (found by, say, watching television) occupies attention and rules out mind-wandering. Research has found that soft fascination is more restorative than hard fascination. For example, in a 2018 study, survey respondents said that walking in nature was 15 percent more effective at helping them “get away from it all” than watching television…

If scheduling leisure seems unnatural to you, consider the way good health requires you to schedule your meals and exercise at more or less a certain time each day for a particular amount of time. Schedule “white space” in your day, and keep it off-limits from the tyrannical urgencies of your work (as well as from eating and exercise). If your guilt creeps in, or if you’re worried that “wasting” this time will somehow make you poorer, try to remember the words of the Welsh poet William Henry Davies: “A poor life this if, full of care, / We have no time to stand and stare.”

— Arthur C. Brooks, from “How to Embrace Doing Nothing” (The Atlantic, August 4, 2022)


Notes:

  • Photo: DK @ Daybreak. 6:51 a.m. May 8, 2022. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.
  • 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.: 5:00 Bell

That first taste of my end-of-day beer, which is always the moment when the anxiety starts to leach out of me, like sweat cooling on the skin.

Jo Ann Beard, Festival Days (Little, Brown & Company, March 16, 2021)


Photo: Elevate via Pexels

Inemuri in a box. Absolutely Not.


Notes:

Lightly Child, Lightly

I’m tired.

I want to build a cushion nest in a space under one of the windows where there’s a patch of sunlight and go to sleep.

— Jillian HortonWe Are All Perfectly Fine: A Memoir of Love, Medicine and Healing


Notes:

  • Photo: DK of Sully taking a nap in sunlight. (Wed, April 13, 2022)
  • Sully background
  • 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.”

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.

Saturday Morning

Brian Wilson went to bed for three years. Jean-Michel Basquiat would spend all day in bed. Monica Ali, Charles Bukowski, Marcel Proust, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Tracey Emin, Emily Dickinson, Edith Sitwell, Frida Kahlo, William Wordsworth, René Descartes, Mark Twain, Henri Matisse, Kathy Acker, Derek Jarman and Patti Smith all worked or work from bed and they’re productive people. (Am I protesting too much?) Humans take to their beds for all sorts of reasons: because they’re overwhelmed by life, need to rest, think, recover from illness and trauma, because they’re cold, lonely, scared, depressed – sometimes I lie in bed for weeks with a puddle of depression in my sternum – to work, even to protest (Emily Dickinson, John and Yoko). Polar bears spend six months of the year sleeping, dormice too. Half their lives are spent asleep, no one calls them lazy. There’s a region in the South of France, near the Alps, where whole villages used to sleep through the seven months of winter – I might be descended from them. And in 1900, it was recorded that peasants from Pskov in northwest Russia would fall into a deep winter sleep called lotska for half the year: ‘for six whole months out of the twelve to be in the state of Nirvana longed for by Eastern sages, free from the stress of life, from the need to labour, from the multitudinous burdens, anxieties, and vexations of existence’.

— Viv Albertine, To Throw Away Unopened: A Memoir (Faber & Faber Social; May 8, 2018)


Notes: Photo via S L @ gingermias @ Unsplash. Quote via neverneverland

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.”

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

The part of life
devoted to contemplation
was at odds with the part
committed to action…

Life, my sister said,
is like a torch passed now
from the body to the mind.
Sadly, she went on, the mind is not
there to receive it.

Louise Glück, from “Autumn” in “Winter Recipes from the Collective: Poems” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, October 26, 2021)


Portrait: Louise Gluck via The Atlantic

Walking. With Franzen.

6:45 a.m. – ish this morning. I’m walking Cove Island Beach. I reach the breakwall, and pause. It’s hard not to look out into this and not feel Small. The gentle breeze off the ocean. The lapping of the waves on the shoreline. The cloud formations. The warmth in early October. The thin strip of sunlight on the horizon.

Mark Oliver EverettSometimes that beauty is too much for me to handle. Do you know that feeling? When something is just too beautiful? When someone says something or writes something or plays something that moves you to the point of tears, maybe even changes you. 

And this beauty, the landscape in front, and the words from Audible being pumped into my head from Jonathan Franzen’s new novel, Crossroads, made me feel exactly that: Just too beautiful. [Read more…]

I like Sunday Nights

It’s Sunday. I like Sunday nights, and this particular time always puts me in a good mood…

A transition into Monday, a waiting room.

—  Brenda Lozano, “Loop.”


Photo: Sully.

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:

T.G.I.F.


Source

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.”

Day Off


Photo: DK, Daybreak. 6:38 am, February 15, 2021. 29° F, feels like 21° F. Cove Island Park, Stamford, CT.

Saturday Afternoon

What can be better than to get a book out on Saturday afternoon and thrust all mundane considerations away until next week.

—  C.S. Lewis, The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 1. Family Letters, 1905-1931


Quote Source: delta-breezes

Sunday Morning

The Sun’s rays shimmered through the needles of the tall pine tree overhead, and the grass glistened with dew as Joshua walked through the meadow, deep in thought. Sunday morning was quiet in Auburn. No noisy traffic broke the peaceful silence of the Sabbath rest. Sunday should be that way everywhere so people could give their wearied souls a rest from the nerve-shattering noise of their workdays. The quiet of nature is God’s tranquilizer.

— Joseph F. Girzone, from “Joshua: A Parable for Today” (Macmillan Publishing Company, 1983)


Notes:

  • Joshua, a Parable for Today” was a gift to me from our virtual blogging friend Ray Visotski. Ray’s Blog can be found at Mitigating Chaos. Ray, I’m grateful for the gift (which will stay with me) and for the friendship. (BTW, to tie into this quote, I looked for a pine tree and could not find one, and the grass was glistening but not with dew but with ice – and the meadow will have to be replaced with Long Island Sound and the Atlantic – – but the tranquilizer was all there.)
  • Photo: DK, Cove Island Park this morning @ 7:28 a.m.
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