We seldom long for a future where our bodies are less but our spirits and insight are more. Yet, that future is there.

man-on-bench

They just look like old men. And because of that, they are seen as elderly rather than wise. But there is a wisdom that comes with age. The old have walked the path we tread. They have seen the landscape through which we are traveling. They have felt our passions and known our dreams, though perhaps in different shape and in different measure. In their eyes we can see our future. In our eyes they can see their past. In some fundamental way, they know the place where we are going.

The look I saw in the eyes of both those older men in the past two days was a look of deep compassion and understanding. They understood something about me, just as I understand something about the hopeful, headphone-wearing twenty-year-olds in that gym. It is knowledge unspoken, but it is knowledge, nonetheless. They also know that few will seek them out. They have accepted the fact that few will ask them to share what it is that they have come to understand. Their time has come and passed; the younger generations want little more from them than reminiscences.

I was honored to speak to both these men. I hope I showed them proper respect in our conversations. I hope, too, that I was listening to them for what they can teach me about life, not merely for what they can reveal as witnesses to the past. For each touched me deeply. In their presence, I felt both judged and understood. It was as if their eyes, still bright, saw something I myself could not see. Their gazes gave me silent comfort, as if to say, “It’s all right to be where you are. It is exactly where you ought to be.” It was the kind of comfort that I hope to give my son as I see him moving through choppy waters — a look of understanding that says, “You are not alone.”

We live so strongly within the boundaries of our own experience. If we long for anything, it is usually for a time past, when we were younger, stronger, better looking, and not yet so bound by decisions we have made. We seldom long for a future where our bodies are less but our spirits and insight are more. Yet, that future is there. It is in the eyes of those who have lived longer, seen more, and come closer to a resolved understanding of their place and purpose on this planet. I feel better as a man, better as a person, and filled with a new sense of challenge and responsibility for having encountered those two old men. Their mortality, so close to the surface, has touched me in some deep and irreducible part of my own being. I feel observed and, in a strange way, renewed. They have given me the gift of their witness and the blessing of their understanding. May I take that gift, learn from it, and find a way to pass it on.

~ Kent Nerburn, Two Old Men in Ordinary Sacred


Photo Credit: va.gov

Rule #1

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“Last year someone gave me a charming book by Roger Rosenblatt called ‘Ageing Gracefully’…I did not appreciate the title at the time but it contains a series of rules for ageing gracefully. The first rule is the best. Rule number one is that ‘it doesn’t matter.’ ‘It doesn’t matter that what you think. Follow this rule and it will add decades to your life. It does not matter if you are late or early, if you are here or there, if you said it or didn’t say it, if you are clever or if you were stupid. If you were having a bad hair day or a no hair day or if your boss looks at you cockeyed or your boyfriend or girlfriend looks at you cockeyed, if you are cockeyed. If you don’t get that promotion or prize or house or if you do – it doesn’t matter.’ Wisdom at last.”

~ Milton Glaser, Ten Things That I Have Learned


Milton Glaser, 84, is among the most celebrated graphic designers in the United States. He has had the distinction of one-man-shows at the Museum of Modern Art and the Georges Pompidou Center. In 2004 he was selected for the lifetime achievement award of the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum. As a Fulbright scholar, Glaser studied with the painter, Giorgio Morandi in Bologna, and is an articulate spokesman for the ethical practice of design. He opened Milton Glaser, Inc. in 1974, and continues to produce an astounding amount of work in many fields of design to this day. (Source: MiltonGlaser.com)


Credits: Quote Source: Revisionarts.com – Ten Things That I Have Learned. Portrait: Sam Haskins

Is that a path or a rut?

photograph,sand,dune,desert,path,solitude,

“What we don’t know chains us, leaves us sitting in the valley with a stupid smile. We discover our ignorance as we go. After a lifetime, if we’ve been attentive, we should fall to our knees before the vastness, the ungraspable minutiae of our world. We should suspect that it constitutes our God. And we so-called experts of this or that, could we have done more than play our one chord? Wisdom is to know, at best, that we make only a little good noise, a few small dents. It’s why the wise laugh a lot, why the laughter of metaphysicians echoes in the spaces they probe. We walk out of our houses into the enormity of our task. What kind of ant is that? Who named the phlox? Is that a path or a rut?”

 ~ Stephen Dunn, Ignorance – Riffs & Reciprocities


Stephen Dunn (born 1939) is an American poet. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his 2001 collection, Different Hours.  He was born in Forest Hills, Queens in New York. Dunn completed his B.A. in English at Hofstra University and his M.A. in creative writing at Syracuse. He has taught at Wichita State, University of Washington, Columbia University, University of Michigan and Princeton University.  Dunn lives in Ocean City New Jersey.


Sources: Quote – whiskeyriver.blogspot.com. Image: Jakupwashere

Looking, we do not see. Listening, we do not hear. Loving, we do not feel.

John Daido Loori - 1

“The thing that blinds us and deafens us is the ceaselessly moving mind, the preoccupation we have with our thoughts. It is the incessant internal dialogue that shuts out everything else. That is the problem with trying to take a preconceived photograph. Before you even walk out of the building, you blind yourself. All day long we talk to ourselves. We preoccupy ourselves with the past, or we preoccupy ourselves with the future, and while we preoccupy ourselves, we miss the moment and miss our lives. Looking, we do not see. It is as if we were blind. Listening, we do not hear. It is as if we were deaf. Loving, we do not feel. It is as if we were dead. Preoccupied, we do not notice the reality around us. How can we be present? How can we taste and touch our lives? The answer to these questions is not outside yourself. To see this truth requires the backward step, going very deep into yourself to find the foundation of reality and of your life. To see it is not the same as understanding it or believing it. To see it means to realize it with the whole body and mind. To realize it transforms one’s life, one’s way of perceiving the universe and the self, and of expressing what has been realized…When you practice the Zen arts, practice your life – trust yourself completely. Trust the process of sitting. Know that deep within each and every one of us, under layers of conditioning, there is an enlightened being, alive and well. In order to function, it needs to be discovered. To discover this buddha is wisdom. To make it function in the world is compassion. That wisdom and compassion is the life of each one of us. It is up to you what you do with it.”

~ John Daido Loori [Read more…]

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