Saturday, June 14, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
Catherine Drinker Bowen
We can never fully know.
I simply believe that some part of the human Self or Soul
is not subject to the laws of space and time.
From beneath me arises the energy of the Earth, my home and my foundation.
From above me pours down the light of the Sun and the enchanting Moon.
To my right hand flows the strength to control and direct, the power of magic.
To my left hand comes the skill to divine and to heal, the source of blessing.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
If water derives lucidity from stillness, how much more the faculties of the mind! The mind of the sage, being in repose, becomes the mirror of the universe, the speculum of all creation.
I just finished shaving, and spent a long, long time peering into my eyes, my soul.
What did I find?
In what my soul has, what my soul receives, and what my soul is willing to and wants to give.
Which is itself.
There is a lot of nourishment, nurturing, growth willing to be given freely to the heart and soul of another.
I am always ready to pour it out.
You can't write well with a tight grip. Writing is a dance. The words in your heart call the tune, and you move with the rhythm.
Writing is life, and life is writing.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
But, God Almighty. I hate, hate articles like this.
I hate being sold short. I hate being put in a cubbyhole I don't belong in.
I hate being knee-capped like that.
I'm not scared of my wounds, or my faults, or my idiosyncrasies at all.
They, plus all my goodness ;-), make chehaw, chehaw.
No matter how boring or passionless he may seem. ;-)
Or, standing on the shoulders of giants
I was reading my hometown paper and on the front page was the story of a remarkable woman. It ended this way...
"God has been merciful to me." "I still feel like I'm 14!"
I hope when I turn 105, like she did on June 1, I still feel that way.
Even though I've 36, I have felt younger--a smarter 29 or 30 as it were. And with the changes in me over the the past 15 months, and with the journey my heart is going through now, I believe it will stay that way.
The woman in the story is remarkable, the soul of resilience. Her father was a slave. She couldn't go to school, instead being home-taught. Yet, she worked for the State Department in Washington for 11 years.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
The sky here went from peacefully cloudy to menacing in 40 minutes. A bad thunderstorm is approaching. The wind has strengthened, bringing change and cool air to ease the heat of the past few days. The trees rustle and sway, the horizon brightens with flashes of brilliant light.
When I was little, I was scared to death of thunderstorms. The lightning and the thunder frightened me. The closer the thunder came, the jumpier I got. Once, I was looking out the window when lightning struck nearby. I jumped for my life and ran back into the living room.
My second greatest fear was a storm was dealing with it at night. My greatest fear was being alone in one.
Like right now.
But I learned more about storms, and weather, and what scared me fascinated me. Instead of running away and hiding, I discovered. I discovered these things that tower overhead. And I discovered myself.
The sound of the rain against the pavement, the scent of the air, the sight of lightning filling, the rolling thunder chasing the wind---you can't imagine the beauty it brings to my soul.
I have a stupendous amount of energy for someone special, yet I can't put that energy where I want.
So. What do I do with it?
It flows here. Instead of me burying it, hiding it in a closet, bottling it up.
I let it roam and play. Breathe the fresh air of life.
My focus isn't on what I have, but what I can give.
And I dreamed it last night.
I am surrounded by warmth and protection. What I dreamed--the company I was with; the incredible, incredible walk I took--so stirred my soul.
I smile because something, some force is moving me somewhere.
My heart and my soul are bound together. Thankfully.
Monday, June 9, 2008
When I was in high school, I sat in the back of pre-algebra class sketching out bridges on graph paper.
At one point, I even toyed with being a civil engineer and build bridges, the same things that scare me. (What scares me, fascinates me.)
I've had a keen interest in architecture, the way buildings dot the sky. I'm drawn to how buildings play together, and against, each other.
I'm picking thorugh the New York Times magazine's special report on cities and architecture. (The cover shot is playful, and stark.)
Nicolai Ouroussoff, the Times' architecture critic, writes a great piece on instant cities, and how they are changing the very definition of how cities get build.
Dubai is of particular interest to me. There is a sort of Wild West aspect to it, a place build almost literally out of nothing. I want to go there out of sheer curiosity, to see if it is for real, or a Potemkin village, all show and no go.
What do these places mean for our future? For the past few decades, our growth has been outward, sprawling generically into the countryside. Will the future of architecture be just as generic, but climbing ever higher instead of out?
Back to Dubai. The Burj Dubai, when completed, is expected to be a half-mile high. Yes, 2,500-plus feet. Do we need something like that? Maybe not. Is it wasteful? Possibly. But there is something about it that is fascinating. To crane our necks skyward, and marvel at man's brilliance (and hubris), and wonder if we ourselves could--or would--live 1,600 feet above the ground.
A supertall skyscraper like the Burj Dubai is sort of a metaphor for life. Even as we may wag our finger at the expense and wastefulness, we wonder what it would be like with our heads above the clouds.
Good architecture should do that--move the onloooker.
A friend just came back from Paris, and recalled a dinner party where the subject of men and women came up. A woman there said French men are more like women than French women. While the men were steamed about that statement, they agreed--sheepishly--that they are more reticent about making the first move.
So much for that stereotype. Though beginnings aren't always what they're cracked up to be.
Vive la difference
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Young man, you're going to do special things in your life. I see it.
When you're that young, you don't see it. You're too busy being a teenager.
But that moment has stayed with me.
There are special things left that I have to do. Some things I know. Others, I haven't the slightest idea.
Why do I believe in what's possible? Why am I as resilient as I am? Why am I so optimistic, even in the face of sadness?
Eleven words that were seared into the consciousness of a teenager.
I was going to wait and write this next weekend, when it's Father's Day--and my dad's birthday.
Sometimes sons feel a need to overcompensate for what their fathers did or didn't have, or do or didn't do.
I didn't meet my dad until I was 15. A strange thing to say, yes, but a stranger thing to feel.
I had male figures in my life--uncles, teachers, men in Scouting, men at church. But no father. I think I did ok, and my mom and my grandmother did the best they could on the limited means they had.
There were a lot of things I had to learn and do on my own, because I didn't have that central figure.
In Cub Scouts, there was something called the Pinewood Derby, where you have to make a car out of wood and race down a wooden track. The first year, I didn't have anyone to make a car for me. A neighbor tried to carve a design, but it wasn't good at all, and I finished last. I did get help the next year, from the father of another scout. But my dad.
I even taught myself how to shave.
You don't know how lucky and blessed I am. Black males without fathers can get into so much trouble. No, the place I grew up in wasn't dangerous (at all), but a small town can leave you with nothing to do sometimes. But the scouts and school activities kept me busy--and helped me grow. I look back and think of all the people who were angels, who looked out for me. Just me saying how thankful I am for them can't do justice to everything great and small they've done for me.
I've done a lot, and achieved a lot in my life. And my dad and I are cool now (except when the Redskins play the Cowboys). But every so often I wonder, how different my life would have been.
My best friend in school lived a couple of houses down from me. We played ball in the streets, played Star Wars and G.I. Joe, and ride our bikes through the neighborhood. What he didn't know was that I was jealous of him. He had a brother, a sister, a mother--and a father. A normal family.
I don't want my lack of a father growing up to be a crutch for me, for what I don't have. There are a lot of things I could have done with him, but I did a lot of things without him. I bear no grudge or ill-will to him. There is every reason in the world for me to be angry at him, and the world. I'm not.
So, you have a partial understanding of why I am the way I am. My story is one of not having what everyone has, and still making the best of what I have--and maybe being a little better than I have a right to be. This is why I don't give up easily--if I had given up when I was a kid, succumbed, if other people had given up on me, God only knows where I would be now.
Maybe I overcompensate. Maybe I overanalzye. Maybe it's because I owe people--people on this earth, people gone from it, people not yet on it--a debt. A debt I willing, cheerfully, gratefully want to pay back. I want to give what I didn't receive, until late.
I owe them the debt of a man who wasn't there.
I want to be better than my father. Not for the sake of competition or payback. But because I want to be there when my child needs that Pinewood Derby car made. Or needs to sell cookies. Or needs to know what life is like.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
"I'm a pawn," he says happily a few days earlier. "A pawn has power. You can never tell what a pawn will do next. A pawn can take anybody on the board."
"I would -- what do you call that word? -- sacrifice myself for my family," says the 15-year-old. "If my mother was in danger, I would put myself in front of her so she doesn't get hurt. I would sacrifice myself for my mother."
Here's the story of a remarkable young man.
Godspeed, my young brother.
Look at a tree. It's there, yes, and it may not seem to be doing much of anything.
But you can't see the roots grow day after day, week after week. Receiving nourishment from the sun and the rain.
Even as I am being, I am growing.
-Ajahn Chah, "Taste of Freedom"
My heart, my words I write here, and the feelings I feel are organic. Nothing is forced, everything moves and flows naturally and freely. If my energy says go, I go. If my energy says rest, I rest. Simple.
The dream I had was vivid, lucid. I was there before. Surprised to be there, but there I was. Her voice, her clothes, her face, her mannerisms, her eyes, just like before.
I was glad to be there.
Bend and remain straight.
Be empty and remain full.
Be worn and remain anew.
Own little and be replete.
Own much and be restless.
Therefore the Sage embraces the ONE
And sets an example for the whole world.
He does not display himself,
And so he shines;
He does not defend himself,
And so he is distinguished;
He does not swagger,
And so he never stumbles;
He does not exult,
And so he excels.
He does not contend,
And so the world cannot contend with him.
The ancient adage "Yield and remain whole"
Is not empty assertion.
Be truly whole
And all things will come to you.
Tao Te Ching
Friday, June 6, 2008
Sunset on MarsOn May 19, 2005, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit captured this stunning view as the Sun sank below the rim of Gusev crater on Mars. This Panoramic Camera mosaic was taken around 6:07 in the evening of the rover's 489th Martian day, or sol.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Texas A&M/Cornell
This is awe-inspiring, almost like the picture of Earth rising from the horizon of the moon.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Yes, the patina of sadness is present.
But, let's think of it like creme brulee.
There's a restaurant in Brussels, near the old canal, called La Villette. Small place, not conducive for loud Americans. I can't remember what they had, except for the creme brulee, because it was made from Chimay beer. And, yes, it was good.
Good creme brulee should have a surface that shouldn't be too hard to crack. My patina, my surface, is really nothing.
That creamy, rich filling below--ah, that is where the fun is.
In Belgium, I would see these signs around:
Ouvert 24h sur 24h
Or, open 24 hours (a rarity there).
This is what I aim for with my heart. To be open to everything that comes into its realm.
And it hurts sometimes.
Twice today, I found myself shedding tears. Of joy, and of sorrow.
Tears for my friend's mother, who will be ok after chemo to get rid of the cancer.
Tears of sorrow for a man hit by someone who didn't stop. And tears of anger at the people who stood by and did nothing to aid him.
And you want me to close off my heart, my soul, my empathy, my compassion?
They will stay open.
^BY STEPHEN SINGER=
^Associated Press Writer=
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Police released chilling surveillance
video of a hit-and-run accident in hopes of catching the
unidientified driver who ran down a 78-year-old pedestrian,
paralyzing him, and to show the callousness of bystanders who did
nothing to help.
The gripping one-minute video shows the violent May 30 accident
and bystanders' apparent lack of sympathy. No one rushes to Angel
Arce Torres' aid, and no one bothers to stop traffic as Torres lays
motionless in the street.
In the video, released by police Wednesday, Torres walks in the
two-way street at 5:45 p.m. after buying milk at a local grocery.
He is struck by a dark Honda that was chasing a tan Toyota. Both
cars dart down a side street as Torres crumples to the pavement.
Several cars pass Torres as a few people stare from the
sidewalk. Some approach Torres, but most stay put until a police
cruiser responding to an unrelated call arrives on the scene.
Police suggested the video shows a city that has lost its moral
``At the end of the day we've got to look at ourselves and
understand that our moral values have now changed.'' Police Chief
Daryl Roberts said. ``We have no regard for each other.''
Torres is paralyzed and remains in critical condition in
His son, Angel Arce, begged the public for help.
``My father is fighting for his life,'' Arce said. ``I would
like the public right now to help us in identifying the car and the
person that did this.''
Robert Luna, who works at a nearby store, blamed witnesses for
failing to help Torres. ``It took too long to call police,'' he
said Thursday. ``Nobody did nothing.''
Witness Bryant Hayre said he didn't feel comfortable helping
Torres, who he said was bleeding and conscious.
``Whoever did this should be sent away for a long time,'' Hayre
told The Hartford Courant. ``It was as if he was a dog left in the
street to die.''
Some mornings, when I drive, I get this strange feeling coming over me.
Like, I am holding a woman while I drive. I feel her arms around me, her warm skin against mine, her kisses on my lips.
It's not that I can't explain it (I can't), but I don't want to.
It's just there.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
A fool in the rain
Most people hate the rain. This corner is not among them.
I've camped, danced, played, kissed, ate in the rain.
And I've driven in it.
A couple of weeks ago, I encountered the worst commute I've had. Fog, rain, sloppy road, scared commuters: A mix asking for trouble.
I drove through this deluge and fog calm, steady, sure-footed. And slow. My goal was to get home in one piece. I slowed down just enough to give myself a cushion to react. In a way, stepping back and observe myself.
But there was something else. Everyone else on the road seemed to be moving in slow motion as I moved past them. As if they were scared of the rain. Why? It's as natural as breathing.
Just slow down.
When I drive, I don't want to tailgate (yeah, lady in the blue Volvo, I'm talking to you). If I need to pass someone, I'm going to be patient. See the hole, take it. If it's not there, I don't force it
I move with the rhythm of the river of cars.
Until my moment comes.
“In any activity, it is important to know what to expect, the means of obtaining the objective, and our capability for the proposed task.
“Only he who, thus equipped, feels no desire for the results of the conquest, and remains absorbed in the combat, can truly say he has renounced the fruit.
“One can renounce the fruit, but that renouncement does not mean indifference to the result.”
The warrior of the light listens respectfully to Ghandi’s strategy. And is not distracted by people who, incapable of achieving any result, are forever preaching renouncement.
What I am swimming through is as deep, rich, and soulful an experience as I have ever encountered. This is what I have, what I feel and want to give to someone. And isn't that the point?
I want to reach my highest good for someone, and for me, it is to give her that deep, rich, soulful experience. To let her know she is loved unconditionally. And that deep, rich, soulful experience is always there for her to take strength.
Because as she can see, and I can feel, I am inexhaustible.
Don't worry about it.
What I am experiencing now, and have been for months, has been, and will continue to be, extraordinary. I don't want less than this experience.
I've never occupied such a space, and it scares me. No matter. The toughest thing is not being able to share this closely with someone.
Thank you my sensei. I wouldn't be in this space without you.
They would tell me to practice, and they would get on my case, but only because they knew that's what I wanted to do. They never really did pressure me. They wouldn't have made me take lessons if my heart wasn't in it. I was 3 or 4 years old, and I wanted it.--Taylor Eigsti
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Now, the patina does not hold me hostage. I acknowledge its presence, how it runs its finger along my conscience.
But even as it touches me, what envelops me soul is the warm veil of possibilities, the journey, its rewards. The veil serves a dual purpose. To shield me from the patina's draining energy, and to give me energy to continue the journey.
Life is about overcoming, growing, strengthening. And having fun.
The Greek poet Kavafis, referring to Ulysses, says: “keep Ithaca in mind, but I hope that your journey will last many years, and you will learn everything you need to learn.” Although he was forced to face difficult circumstances, he knew that Penelope was waiting for him at the end of his ordeals. This happens to all of us - we must have confidence that, in the end, we will find what we have been struggling for.
I don't want the journey to last years. I guess I'm a victim of the I-want-it-now culture we live in. But I think I'm built a little different. I know that the journey is never as fast as I want it to be. Experience has taught me that. Experience has also taught me to keep...fighting.
The confidence/high regard I have for myself is hard-won, battle-tested. It doesn't shoot out of my butt like fireworks, but it is ever-present.
The journey/sojourn/pilgrimage, I suppose, is like a child--just beginning.
“Yes,” the warrior hears someone say, “I must understand everything, before taking a decision. I want the freedom to change my mind.”
The warrior considers this sentence and questions it. He may have the same freedom, but this does not prevent him from fulfilling some duty, even if he does not understand exactly why he does so.
A warrior of the light takes decisions. His soul is as free as the clouds in the sky, but he has a duty to his dream. On his freely chosen path, he must awake at times he dislikes, speak to people who bring him nothing, and make some sacrifices.
Friends comment: “you are forever sacrificing. You are not free.”
The warrior is free. But he knows that an open oven does not bake bread.
Why don’t we get the best out of people? Sir Ken Robinson argues that it’s because we’ve been educated to become good workers, rather than creative thinkers. Students with restless minds and bodies — far from being cultivated for their energy and curiosity — are ignored or even stigmatized, with terrible consequences.
“We are educating people out of their creativity,” Robinson says. It’s a message with deep resonance. Robinson’s TEDTalk has been distributed widely around the Web since its release in June 2006. The most popular words framing blog posts on his talk? “Everyone should watch this.”
I hate this feeling of helplessness, of sitting on the sidelines not being able to do anything to help.
The story of my life for the past few months.
Still, if all I can give are good words and good thoughts, here they are.
My fingers are crossed for her.
Monday, June 2, 2008
For starters, I'm not always so serious. For example, I'm watching hockey right now. (Dude, shave your beard. Seriously.) I snort like a pig when I laugh. I crack jokes.
As for the movies, when Hollywood makes a movie as hilarious as Blazing Saddles, I'll go. It's the funniest movie of all-time. Don't fight me on this--it's true.
Now, go out there, and do that voodoo that you do so well!
Rest in peace, Bo Diddley...
"Seventy ain't nothing but a damn number," he told The Associated Press in 1999. "I'm writing and creating new stuff and putting together new different things. Trying to stay out there and roll with the punches. I ain't quit yet."I'm glad I saw him at the Bottom Line years ago.
I saw this in a description of what a woman is looking for in a guy on a dating site...
I want somebody with a little thug in him.
Want to make me seethe? Ask me to be this way.
And then watch me walk out the door.
When you look at me, you will not find a thug.
You will find a caring, passionate, compassionate, loving man.
If that's not what you want, I can't help you.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
But the rebellion/journey/sojourn/pilgrimage is for the heart, the soul and the spirit. To feed and be fed.
The rich, fertile soul my spirit lies in is for growth, not burial.
Do not bury your spirit. You wholly acknowledge your position, and the position of others. Nourish and nurture your spirit. Allow it to bloom. Remember the lotus flower? Such a fragile thing contains enormous strength. We are all fragile. We are all strong. Allow your spirit to grow and nourish yourself. It will nourish the soul of another. Namaste, my beautiful angel of spirit.
Happiness is a journey, not a destination.
We often lose sight of that small nugget of insight. And that's where trouble can start.
Stay out of trouble.
Let's be clear here...
It's the journey, the pilgrimage, the sojourn.
The tangibles of life are not what I seek. It is the intangibles I seek that wake me from my slumber, and begin a new adventure as the light breaks the horizon.