Monday, June 20, 2016

To take what is given



"What do I know?

But this: it is heaven itself to take what is given,
to see what is plain; what the sun lights up willingly;
for example – I think this
as I reach down, not to pick but merely to touch –

the suitability of the field for the daisies, and the
daisies for the field.”

Mary Oliver

From here.


No, my friends
darkness is not everywhere
for here and there
I find faces illuminated
from within.

Japanese lanterns
among dark trees.

Carol Ann Borges

The Effort to Return


"That we go numb along the way is to be expected. Even the bravest among us, who give their lives to care for others, go numb with fatigue, when the heart can take in no more, when we need time to digest all we meet. Overloaded and overwhelmed, we start to pull back from the world, so we can internalize what the world keeps giving us.

Perhaps the noblest private act is the unheralded effort to return: to open our hearts once they’ve closed, to open our souls once they’ve shied away, to soften our minds once they’ve been hardened by the storms of our day."

 Mark Nepo, "Hearing the Cries of the World"

Sunday, June 12, 2016


We suffer, often unknowingly, from wanting to be in two places at once, from wanting to experience more than one person can. This is a form of greed, of wanting everything. Feeling like we're missing something or that we're being left out, we want it all. But being human, we can't have it all. The tension of all this can lead to an insatiable search, where our passion for life is stirred, but never satisfied.

When caught in this mindset, no amount of travel is enough, no amount of love is enough, no amount of success is enough...

The truth is that one experience taken to heart will satisfy our hunger. "

Mark Nepo

100 Butterflies (excerpt)

Where you are going
and the place you stay
come to the same thing.

What you long for
and what you've left behind
are as useless as your name.

Just one time, walk out
into the field and look
at that towering oak --
an acorn still beating at its heart.

Peter Levitt

A Real Measure of Peace

"On yet another level, silence means listening. We follow the Rule of St. Benedict and the first word of that Rule is "Listen." That's the great ethical element of silence: to check my words and listen to another point of view. I'll never have any real peace should my sense of well-being depend on soundless peace.

When I can learn the patience of receiving, in an un-threatened way, what I'd rather not hear, then I can have a real measure of peace in any situation."

How Silence Works: Emailed Conversations With Four Trappist Monks
Jeremy Mesiano-Crookston

Cancer, our Doppelgänger

After 3 occurrences of cancer within the family (2 dead, one will go any day now) I finally bought this book I have been meaning to read since years. Brilliantly written, very easy reading for the layman. And a great reminder that any day you wake up and are still alive and well, and no one in your family is dying, you must remember to be happy and cheerful.

"...This image - of cancer as our desperate, malevolent, contemporary doppelgänger - is so haunting because it is at least partly true. A cancer cell is an astonishing perversion of the normal cell. Cancer is a phenomenally successful invader and colonizer in part because it exploits the very features that make us successful as a species and as an organism. [AM: cell division, cloning, survival of the fittest, growth via evolution]

...When a chemotherapeutic drug or the immune system attacks cancer, mutant clones that can resist the attack grow out. The fittest cancer cell survives. This mirthless, relentless cycle of mutation, selection, and overgrowth generates cells that are more and more adapted to survival and growth. In some cases, the mutations speed up the acquisition of other mutations. The genetic instability, like a perfect madness, only provides more impetus to generate mutant clones.

Cancer thus exploits the fundamental logic of evolution unlike any other illness. If we, as a species, are the ultimate product of Darwinian selection, then so too is this incredible disease that lurks inside us."

Page 38, 'The Emperor of Maladies, A Biography of Cancer', Siddhartha Mukherjee
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction 2011
Winner of the Guardian First Book Award 2011

Ukemi, the Art of Falling

"Ukemi is a Japanese word used in Judo for the method of falling without getting injured.

...He [my Judo teacher] made me practice nothing but falling for six months, correcting every infinitesimal detail. He would sense my frustration when he caught me wistfully looking at the other judoka. They would be performing their techniques and sparring while I rolled for hours on the mat, with my teacher sometimes deftly throwing me to demonstrate a nuance I had missed.

He would then remind me that the art of falling was the foundation of good Judo.

...One day the head teacher, a seventy-year-old eighth Dan judoka, legendary for his insightful teaching called me aside after a randori. “How can you do beautiful Judo if you don’t risk falling?” he asked. I was taken aback. I thought the whole idea of a randori was to avoid getting thrown.

He continued, “A lot of judokas don’t like to fall, so they try to avoid it at all cost. By doing this, they get tense, their techniques become wooden and their Judo lacks zest.”

Seeing he had piqued my interest, he went on, “Real Judo is like life. The little losses and gains don’t count for much. What matters is whether you lived beautifully, with courage and joy.

For this, you must learn not to fear falling or failure and welcome it like a friend. Because only when you learn to love it, then can you really live to your full potential.”

Sanjay Kabir Bavikatte

The Kindness

Banff, Alberta

The mother elk and 2 babies are sniffing
the metal handle of the bear-proof trash bin.

I remember the instructions for city people:
3 football fields of space between you &
the elk if their babies are with them.

I’m backing up slowly,
watching the calves run into each other
as they bend to eat grass/look up
at the mother at the same time.

The caramel color of their coat,
the sloping line of their small snouts &
I want to hold that beauty,
steal it for me,
but I’m only on football field # 2 & walking
into the woods past the lodge pole pines.

Their fragility, their awkward bumping
opens me to a long ago time—
a hand on the door,
I was walking in
to the psych hospital in Pittsburgh,
feeling broken and stripped down—
a hand on the door
from around my body

& I looked up to see the body
of a man, who said:
Let me get that for you—
a hand on the door
& the bottom of me

I couldn’t breathe for the kindness.
I couldn’t say how deep that went
for me.

I had been backing up, awkward
I had been blind to my own beauty.

Jan Beatty

Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person

"But though we believe ourselves to be seeking happiness in marriage, it isn’t that simple. What we really seek is familiarity — which may well complicate any plans we might have had for happiness. We are looking to recreate, within our adult relationships, the feelings we knew so well in childhood.

The love most of us will have tasted early on was often confused with other, more destructive dynamics: feelings of wanting to help an adult who was out of control, of being deprived of a parent’s warmth or scared of his anger, of not feeling secure enough to communicate our wishes.

How logical, then, that we should as grown-ups find ourselves rejecting certain candidates for marriage not because they are wrong but because they are too right — too balanced, mature, understanding and reliable — given that in our hearts, such rightness feels foreign.

We marry the wrong people because we don’t associate being loved with feeling happy."

Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person
Alain de Botton

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