Flying Over I-95 S. So With Hopper.

Best day of the week?  Friday. Friday afternoon. Doesn’t matter how backed up traffic is on I-95 North, Home is no more than 45 minutes away.  Nothing, I mean, Nothing will jam up this vibe. Nothing will impede the start of the Great Unwinding. The seat is reclined a wee bit. The A/C beats back the 86° F mid-August heat. Home, home in minutes.

Best day of the week?  Friday. Friday afternoon. Except when you’re on I-95, heading the wrong way, heading South to LaGuardia Airport.

A working weekend. A long week, getting longer, and blurring into the week after.

Baggage check. A line snaking through the ropes waiting to pass Security. The listless, iron backed chairs in the waiting area. The rush to board. The hopeless prayer for an empty seat next to you to stretch out.  “Drink Sir?” Weary flight attendants forcing smiles with their offers of pretzels and tasteless shortbread cookies – and then, they hawk their gourmet sandwiches tightly shrink wrapped in plastic. “No thanks to that.” A three and a half hour flight that feels like five.  The interminable wait for your luggage to slide onto the conveyer in baggage claim. The 35 minute ride to the hotel, hoping the cabbie will let you sit in silence. The wait for Room Service. The unpacking of the suitcase. A glance in the shower. That would be nice. Too tired, the shower is reduced to a splash of cold water from the sink. Room service arrives. You sit on edge of the bed in front of the TV, a fork in one hand, the remote in the other, clicking by all News (real, fake or otherwise). A Kit-Kat calls out to you from the mini-bar. And then the M&Ms. Laying flat on your back, you float with your eyes closed, savoring the sugar high as the smooth milk chocolate coats your tongue. And then, only then, you let go, Salzberg’s letting go, it’s an inside job, and you let exhaustion sweep you away to your alarm for the Uber pick-up at 6:15 a.m. on Saturday morning.
[Read more…]

Flying Over I-40 S. With Repose.

Cut me some slack. It was a long day. Too long to even share a "It's been a long day" post. Ok, so I didn't know what "repose" meant.  I turned it in my head: Pose…Portrait…Re-pose…Repeat…Poster…Model posing…Model posing? Wow.

“Please repeat the word.”

“And now the origin of the root please.”

A nine year old would have nailed this in a Spelling Bee.

Like it makes a bloody difference. Long day or short day, I don't have a clue what it means. Google it Dummy.

It's 10:15 p.m. and I'm flying over I-40 heading South – reflecting on last night.  It was 8:30 pm.  The house is empty, the TV is spewing white background noise and I’m sprawled out on the couch.

I'm flipping through my RSS feeds and stop. I can't seem to untangle myself from a passage written by Sadegh Hedayat:  “Henceforth I lived like a soul in torment. All my waiting, watching and seeking were in vain.[…] Repose was utterly denied me. How could I have found repose?”

Like a rock skipping over water, the mind ignores words that don’t fit and locks on words that seem to have a mysterious grip. [Read more…]

Riding Metro North. Est-ce-réel?

real-true.jpg

It came Monday afternoon, an Amazon order. Tall, soft and plastic, the kind that you would see end up with other marine debris choking the life out of Nemo in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Calm is stenciled in 80 point font on the cylindrical container. “Natural Vitality Natural Calm Calmful Sleep Magnesium Anti Stress Extra Sleep Support, Organic, Wildberry, 16 oz.”

Bullsh*t. No chance this works but desperate people need to take desperate…

“Natural Vitality Natural Calm Calmful.”

Seriously? Really? Who writes their copy? What idiot would buy something with this lead?

I yank off the seal, tilt, then look down inside. The soft, white pillowy substance slides to one side and then the other. Contents may settle. Product sold by weight not volume“. It has settled below the half way mark. $28.49. Bullsh$t. Shysters. At least get it above halfway. [Read more…]

Flying Over I-40 N. Moments, Sparkling. Moments, Not.

2006. July. (I think.) Barcelona. I’m sitting in a conference room in the basement level of an aging hotel. You know the hotel – the one where all of the investment was poured into the lobby, and you don’t need to search to find disappointment, it finds you, at every turnThis Barcelona could have been anywhere – a Days Inn within a cab ride of O’Hare in Chicago, or a budget hotel in Newark, or a refurbished hotel in downtown Philadelphia serving small, short tenor business meetings. Yet, it wasn’t. The room was windowless, the walls were free of art. There was dim overhead lighting, the florescent tubes emitting a low sizzle. There was a whiff of fresh blue paint, cheap plastic surgery fooling no one. Beneath its blue skin, the bones of the room emit traces of hand rolled tobacco from 50 years ago.  It’s an hour after the working lunch, Hour Six of a day long meeting, and stupor is settling in. There was no audio visual equipment. There were no extra notepads or pens. There was no coffee. No bottled water. In the center of the table, stood a one quart jug, fingerprints visible on its belly, and a slice of lemon, not dressed in its distinctive canary yellow, but a dull yellow mustard clinging to the wall of the jug as if it were licked and pressed like a postage stamp, desperately seeking escape. The jug sweats, the air is thick, the overhead aluminum ducts rattle with the firing and re-firing of the AC system that was built for a building half the size. Hard back chairs surround the table and line the walls, with the butt cheeks of thousands of prior occupants having grooved and flattened the frayed cushions. Butt to cushion to metal, do-over and over and over.  I can see the blue palette. I can smell the decaying Gyprock. I can feel the heaviness of the air. Yet, I can’t extract a single shred of why I was there and what was accomplished, not on this day, not on Day 2 which ran ten hours.  The Blue Room returns and returns and returns and returns. The question is: Why?

~ DK


Notes:

  • Inspired by: Saabye Christensen: “You store everything inside yourself and then one day, wherever you are, whatever the time, it appears just like that, just like I could smell wet lilac now, lilac after the rain, even though we were well into autumn.”
  • Image Credit: Marius Tamosauskas with Blue Room 1
  • Related Posts: Commuting Series.

Walking Across Town. Blinded By the Light.

Isabel Miramontes, Come On

Mid July in Manhattan.

I step out of the Metro North car onto the platform, and walk down the tunnel in Grand Central. There’s zero transition from the air cooled train car @ 69° F to This. The body is swallowed by dampness, cool to not cool, Bam. The softness of the pressed shirt turns to less soft, to not soft, to moist, to sticking to the chest. Feet, are choking from their leather wraps, swollen from weight gain (6.3 lbs in less than 30 days) – chafing is coming, oh, it’s coming, by days end, or sooner. There will be blood.

I exhale little puppy breaths to pass the heat, trying to keep cool. Fail.

It’s 6:28 a.m. Tourists mingle in midtown, coalesce around the network TV studios and their Morning Shows – holding their cups of coffee, hoping to spot a celebrity, or better yet, get a cameo for the folks back home. Hi, Jane from Iowa! [Read more…]

Riding Metro North. And Brooding.

6:16 am train to Grand Central. No seats, need to stand. I wait until the first stop at Stamford and then shoe horn myself across from a lady in a bright, pumpkin colored dress.  In order to fit, I need to sit on a diagonal with my knees in the aisle. Pumpkin shifts her knees to the right to avoid contact. The top of her left knee has a deep burn mark, her right knee is clean. Listen, in these close quarters, it’s impossible not to notice. I shift uncomfortably. Personal space inadequate, we’re bordering on claustrophobia here. It’s the trade you made friend, stand for an hour or this…so this is it.

The Suit to my left is asleep. Meaning, like dead to the world. Rip’s hands hug a hard cover book against his chest; a monogrammed cover, title unknown.

I turn to my morning reading. A blog post by Beth @ Alive on All Channels: “These People Are Not Drowning Today.” Pacino in Taxi Driver pops to mind: You talkin’ to me?She’s certainly is not talkin’ to me. My eyes flick down the page and catch a passage from Zen teacher Barry Magid: “Leave Yourself Alone“:

The paradox…is that the most effective way of transformation is to leave ourselves alone. The more we let everything be just what it is, the more we relax into an open, attentive awareness of one moment after another. Just sitting leaves everything just as it is.[Read more…]

Driving I-95 S. With a ‘vanity’ plate.

I’m trailing behind a late model Chevy SUV in the left lane.

It’s twenty minutes in front of the morning rush hour on I-95 S. Traffic is light, I’m cruising at 15 over the limit.

Morning news is spewing Hamburg, Trump, Putin, G-20, protesters, North Korea missile launch, sanctions, UN. Sickening. I turn the dial to 70’s on 7 and turn the volume down.

Chevy won’t give way to the center lane.

Mind shifts to yesterday. Shouldn’t have said that. Could have done that. Not moving fast enough on that. Annoyed with that. Behind on that. Need to press harder on that. Anxious about that.

Chevy is white, I mean like Snow White, not a spec of dirt. I catch the vanity plate. I stare at the plate. I’m overcome with gratitude.

Two men going to work.

Two men sitting in their car and replaying yesterday, today, 10 years ago, 20 years ago.  One swimming in nonsense, the other in horror.

I gently ease off the accelerator, he widens the gap until he disappears and I turn off onto the I-287 ramp.

I get to the office.  I can’t find a replica of the plate online but the image below is close enough.

Peace Friend. Peace.
[Read more…]

Running. Against Time. To Relief.

4:59 a.m.

Dark Sky reports 71° F. Cloudy for three hours. 22 minutes til sunrise. And…95% humidity.

I’m out the door.  The edge of night has turned. I’m late. Disappointment drips. Morning brings others. I’m part way through Catherine Lacey’s “The Answers” where she explains: “Some people need to be unseen, to be alone, to be unreachable. And there was nothing wrong with this…”  This felt so right, so me. Yet, I would have finished it differently…“And there is everything right with this.”

It’s not been a good week – not a single, self-inflicted act, but a culmination of events. A cumulative pile-up of sleep deficit.

  • 4 hours. (Monday)
  • 5 hours. (Tuesday)
  • 5 hours. (Wednesday)
  • 6 hours (Thursday)
  • 4 hours (Friday)
  • 6 hours (Saturday)

A cumulative deficit of 18 hours. The insomniac gets through his days, 1/2 present, 1/2 hallucinating. This Man, blessed to be migraine-free, now has intermittent lightening bolts sizzle – Warning shots – Wake-up calls.

It’s a new habit. Deep sleep for two to four hours and then UP, followed by half-a**ed attempts to get back to sleep.

The e-equipment on the night stand beckons.  Work emails. 5-6 books at various stages of completion. Early morning editions of the newspapers. Blog posts. A dozen unplayed podcasts. Music playlists.

No. Don’t reach for it. Don’t touch it. [Read more…]

It’s been a long day

Rich: I want to talk about this idea that is super important, the stories that we tell ourselves, about ourselves, and how we get caught up in these narratives that don’t serve you. Where do these stories come from and how we can decouple that narrative and begin the process of telling ourselves a new story.

Sharon: If you have a prevalent, frequent critical voice, your inner critic, sometimes what’s good is giving it a persona, give it a name. Give it a wardrobe. I have named my inner critic Lucy after the character in the Peanuts comic strip…I see this cartoon where Lucy is in the first frame talking to Charlie Brown and she says: “You know Charlie Brown, the problem with you is that you are you.” And then in the second frame poor Charlie Brown says: “Well, what in the world  can I do about that?”  Then in the third and final frame Lucy says: “I don’t pretend to give advice, I merely point out the problem.”

And I would keep coming back to the line: “The problem with you is that you are you.” Because that Lucy voice had been so dominant in my early life, I really credit my meditation training for basically having a different relationship to Lucy. Instead of on the one hand believing her completely, you are right Lucy, you are always right. Where on the other hand hating her, and fearing her and being shamed and all that.  I realized that I had two ways of approaching her. One was, Hi Lucy, I see you and the other was to Chill out Lucy.

Rich: Packed into that is the idea of becoming the Observer as opposed to identifying with that voice as being part and parcel of who you are, like wrapping it up in your identity.

Sharon: Very soon after I saw the cartoon, something great happened for me and my first thought was: “This is never going to happen again.”

Rich: It’s the negative bias. We’re hard wired, we’re predisposed to identify these negative things that occur to us and then choose to string these together and create this story of who we are, how we got here and what’s going to happen to us in the future.

Sharon: …we are conditioned usually towards negativity – – – you are thinking about your day, evaluating yourself on how well did I do today.  It’s not uncommon to only think about the mistakes and what you didn’t do that well, and where you didn’t show up that well, and it takes intentionality to say anything else happened today. It’s not hypocrisy. It’s not denying that there were issues. But it’s not all that happened.   To get to a truer, bigger picture, we have to actually move our attention consciously towards the good. Anything good happened today? Anything good within me? And that kind of elasticity reflects the ability of attention and part of the meditative process. But it begins with seeing the story…

Rich: I think about the story I tell myself, about myself. But also the story I tell about the other people that I encounter throughout my day, and that story is generally reflective of my own state of mind and how I feel about myself. If I feel good about myself, I’m probably going to tell a more flattering version…But when you really analyze it, you realize over the course of your life, billions of things have happened to you. Billions! And we extract out these 10 things that happen over the course of our life and we identify with them so deeply, so thoroughly that they infect and invade how we see ourselves and every decision we make. How we interact with other people. What words that come out of our mouth…Its amazing how pervasive it is. Its so cemented that the idea of even looking at that or being critical of the veracity of that, let alone reframing it, is something that I think that most people don’t even begin to engage in.

Sharon: That’s true. Absolutely true.  Which is why I think seeing the story is the first and most critical step because a lot of people don’t even believe that…we don’t realize how impacted we are by all those views, our Lucy coming at us…

~ Rich Roll, Interview with Meditation Master Sharon Salzberg on Real Love & The Art of Mindful Connection (Podcast, June 25, 2017)

 


Related Posts: It’s been a long day

 

Running. Around Gitche Gumee.

6:37 am, Sunday morning. Father’s Day 2017.  57º F, rain is falling. No, better depicted as the heavens opening up, c’était le déluge!

I’m running.

An eerie, fifty foot layer of fog hangs over Lake Superior. I’m looking out at the break wall at Presque Isle Park in Marquette Michigan. I’m alone on the “Island”, as it is referred to by the locals. The park is closed to car traffic.  Alone on a 323 acre island, my idyllic state.

It’s not November, but I start humming passages from Gordon Lightfoot’s The Wreck of Edmund Fitzgerald:

In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed,
In the maritime sailors’ cathedral
The church bell chimed till it rang twenty-nine times
For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald
The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call ‘gitche gumee’
Superior, they said, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early

The day before, we walked this same two mile track.  Black flies were feeding on the leeward side of the island, Humans were on the breakfast menu. You don’t see a single insect on 47th and Madison in NYC with tons of auto exhaust and air conditioner coolant spilling into the atmosphere 24 x 7 – the invisible chemical mist numbing everything in its path. [Read more…]

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