A mind fed on words such as heaven, earth, dew, essence, cinnabar, moonlight, stillness, jade, pearl, cedar, and winter plum is likely to have a serenity not to be found in minds ringing with the vocabulary of the present age–computer, tractor, jumbo jet, speedball, pop, dollar, liquidation, napalm, overkill! Who would thrill at the prospect of rocketing to the moon in a billion-dollar spacecraft if he knew how to summon a shimmering gold and scarlet dragon at any time of the day or night and soar among the stars?
“My deplorable mania for analysis exhausts me. I doubt everything, even my doubt.”
It started with these words, Gustave Flaubert’s words in his letter to Louise Colet. And spiraled from there. A middle aged man crippled with analysis, dragging his lame foot behind him as he trudges ahead.
I run the math. 10 years in this house. 365 days a year. Deduct 500 days for vacation, travel, walking the floors au naturel. Round it. We’re talking 3000 discrete events. 3000 discrete events.
And as I sit pecking this post out, I couldn’t tell you if the drawer handle is circular or square, platinum color or brass, a smooth or a rough finish.
But for 3000 events, mostly mornings, with a few afternoon and evenings sprinkled in, I open the drawer, peer in, and stare at my socks. The first big decision of the day.
Color? Must match the pants. And because socks are put on first (Why? Just because) the decision is momentous – the first domino tripping the shirt, suit, tie and shoe selection. Like an algorithmic equation forced on a poet, I’m paralyzed by the complexity. A lab rat for Barry Schwartz’s Paradox of Choice.
Perhaps the hardest feeling
is the one
Of unrealized possibility:
Thoughts left unspoken,
actions left undone
~John Koethe, from “The Secret Amplitude,” North Point North: New and Selected Poems
There were only numb mind tones,
thoughts clenched like little fists,
And syllables struggling to release their sense to my imagination.
I tried to get out of myself
But it was like emerging into a maze
I was way back in terra incognita with a friend.
At the edge of a black-spruce bog in a thicket
we found a moss-covered cement slab with iron rings.
We are fearful.
what’s under it – hell, a snake pit, the repository of nightmares?
My friend indicates it’s up to me,
I mean the contents.
We lift the slab aside.
The pit is full of brilliant blue sky.
~ Jim Harrison, from “Dream as a Metaphor of Survival,” Just Before Dark: Collected Nonfiction
The odd little magpie of the mind.
Nothing is finally finished, then?
The past emerges and re-emerges.
It builds its random nest in the oddest places.
~ Colum McCann, Thirteen Ways of Looking
I think 99 times and find nothing.
I stop thinking,
swim in the silence,
and the truth comes to me.
~ Albert Einstein
- Photography by jo cardin (comfort in chaos); Quote: a dream within a dream
- Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect 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.”