Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

“In fact, from the first clasped stick and improvised carrier, tools have extended the body’s strength, skill, and reach to a remarkable degree. We live in a world where our hands and feet can direct a ton of metal to go faster than the fastest land animal, where we can speak across thousands of miles, blow holes in things with no muscular exertion but the squeeze of a forefinger. It is the unaugmented body that is rare now, and that body has begun to atrophy as both a muscular and a sensory organism. In the century and a half since the railroad seemed to go too fast to be interesting, perceptions and expectations have sped up, so that many now identify with the speed of the machine and look with frustration or alienation at the speed and ability of the body. The world is no longer on the scale of our bodies, but on that of our machines, and many need—or think they need—the machines to navigate that space quickly enough. Of course, like most “time-saving” technologies, mechanized transit more often produces changed expectations than free time; and modern Americans have significantly less time than they did three decades ago. To put it another way, just as the increased speed of factory production did not decrease working hours, so the increased speed of transportation binds people to more diffuse locales rather than liberating them from travel time (many Californians, for example, now spend three or four hours driving to and from work each day). The decline of walking is about the lack of space in which to walk, but it is also about the lack of time—the disappearance of that musing, unstructured space in which so much thinking, courting, daydreaming, and seeing has transpired. Machines have sped up, and lives have kept pace with them.”

— Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking


Image: rpffm58 with speed

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

 


Image: Good4thesoul (via Your Eyes Blaze Out)

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

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There are two things you have to do if you have big ambitions and want to create something important that lasts. The first is the daily work and trying to keep it at a height that satisfies you. That’s hard. If you succeed, the second is dealing with the effects of the work, managing a career. That’s tricky. It involves making big, real-time decisions about pathways and ways of being. You have to figure out if an opportunity is a true opening or an easy way out; if a desire for security has the potential to become a betrayal of yourself and the thing God gave you, your gift.

— Peggy Noonan, Bob Dylan, a Genius Among Us (wsj.com, June 18, 2020)


Image: via thisisn’thappiness

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

What is it we’re supposed to make of life? There is so much suffering–my own is a tiny stitch in a vast tapestry and many, many people suffer so much more than I have. What is it that keeps rising up in us even when we feel crushed? What keeps putting one foot in front of the other, or looks at the vague blue smudge of a sloe bush and is reminded of a truth that doesn’t even have a name? What is that? It isn’t me. It isn’t me that gets me up this hill each morning, but rather an irrepressibility that must be called life, life itself, a force working independently of my brain, body and mind. I don’t know what it is… What is it that is leaning forward in me now, towards the world? … What is it that dares to want to get back down this hill and go home and write? Or that wants to find out why things in nature are rarely blue. What is it that triggers the synapses that call to the muscles to work the body and keep going on? What is it that still insists on being happy? What is it that refuses the call of defeat?

— Samantha HarveyThe Shapeless Unease: A Year of Not Sleeping (Grove Press; May 12, 2020)


Book Review in The Guardian: “The Shapeless Unease by Samantha Harvey review – a good night’s sleep? In her dreams

 

T.G.I.F.: It’s Been A Long Week

It isn’t about peace, a quiet life, not feeling things, not experiencing things. It’s about the shit hitting the fan, and having the courage to sit with yourself, not hide, not deny–to observe the tumult from the end of the snake’s tongue.

— Samantha HarveyThe Shapeless Unease: A Year of Not Sleeping (Grove Press; May 12, 2020)


Note: Photo by NB Hunter

Tuesday Morning Wake-Up Call

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Epiphanies aren’t lightning bolts. They are a hummed note, a prayer mumbled constantly, brought to the surface given the right conditions. It’s as if I am always hearing three ways, first shallowly, collecting, then one level deeper as I’m processing, and finally, I am hearing with my body, which is when I’m hearing myself. That’s one way, for me, information combines with experience and becomes knowledge. I wish there were a shortcut.

Stephanie Danler, Stray: A Memoir (Knopf, May 19, 2020)


Notes: New York Times Book Review on “Stray: A Memoir” – “In ‘Stray,’ Stephanie Danler Asks How a Victim Becomes a Perpetrator

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

I want to reinstate a respect for soil. We must touch the soil. How many times do we touch our mobile phone every day? Maybe 100 times. How many times do we touch the soil? Hardly ever. We must give dignity to peasants, farmers and gardeners. We are all part of this healthy web of life maintained by soil. The Latin word humus means soil. The words human, humility and humus all come from the same root. When humans lose contact with soil, they are no longer humans.

Satish Kumar, from “The Link Between Soil, Soul and Society” (The Guardian)


Notes: Quote via Liquid Light and Running Trees. Photo – Soil by Alexandra

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call?

And what a wonderful thing that artifice can be. Now that we are all working from home, amid the children, the toast crumbs and the laundry, we are realising that the pretence of an orderly life at the office is also a liberation. It allows each day to have its own architecture, its rhythms of departure and arrival. Putting on a perfectly ironed silk shirt or a crisp suit and leaving the house may be contrived but it is also, says Kellaway, “one of the beauties of working life…It allows us to be a different person. And we’re all so fed up with who we are, the opportunity to be someone else, someone a little bit more impressive, is just so tempting.” When such an escape is denied us, that allure may only grow.

Catherine Nixey, from “Death of the Office” in The Economist (June/July 2020)

 

T.G.I.F.: It’s Been A Long Week

Go wreck yourself once more against the day

and wash up like a bottle on the shore,

lucidity and salt in all you say.

David Mason, from “Another Thing,” Sea Salt, Poems of a Decade: 2004-2014


Notes: Poem via The Vale of Soulmaking. Photo: (via Your Eyes Blaze Out)

WFH: Week 3

Thursday morning.

Work-From-Home Week 3. I think. Days merging together. Shelter-in-Place. Work-in-Place. Work 7 x 17.

I miss my commute. Miss my 30 minutes of quiet time in the car. Miss my 60 minutes of reading time on Metro North.

First conference call of the day. I step away from the call to grab dental floss. Multi-tasking WFH style.

I adjust the wireless headset, and focus back on the call. Tense. I catch myself grinding my teeth. A night (and now day) grinder. He warned me. After each check-up for years. “DK, you should consider a mouth guard. A retainer.” Nope. This Insomniac is not going to roll around in bed at night gagging on plastic.

Back to the call. I lean forward on the desk, and wrap up the call. I summarize the next steps and as I’m about to thank the group, my bridge loosens, and tumbles down my mouth, then my throat.  I gag, eyes water, I spit the bridge out onto my desk. My thank you comes out Thunkkkkk. Stunned by the chain reaction, I disconnect the line.

My tongue, an anteater, desperately searching for teeth, finds none. Cool air, laps the soft gums, fills the void.

Not the COVID-19 disruption that I anticipated.

Next morning. He agrees to take me in, my dentist. He opens his closed office. No assistants, a one-man band. Air suction, water syringes, sputum splashing from my mouth, onto his googles, onto his shield. 1 hour it took, reconstructing the breaks, putting Humpty back together again.

He walks me out to the door.

My tongue passes across the ivory of my front teeth. Smooth.

I bite down. The Bite, in line.

“Thank You Doc. You didn’t need to come in.”

I open the door, walk down the empty hallway leaving him behind me as he shuts down the office.

Thank you Doc. Thank you.


Inspired by: “And so I remind myself: my real challenge right now is a spiritual one. In the midst of an evolving, unprecedented crisis, can I truly practice living moment to moment? Can I take on this strange new life day by day, from a place of tender awareness rather than fear? Can I let go of the ways I thought life would unfold and save my strength to swim with the tide? Can I stay focused on what’s good, right now?” ~ Katrina Kenison, from “The gift of an ordinary day

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