Saturday, December 31, 2016

Henri Matisse

[Henri Matisse] later described those first experiences painting as almost like a religious conversion. He said, “For the first time in my life I felt free, quiet, and alone … carried along by a power alien to my life as a normal man.”
-Writer's Almanac

Friday, December 30, 2016

Cemetery Mystery

We went for a walk on my birthday and when we rounded the Precious Blood Cemetery hill we spotted a chocolate cake on the ground with a chunk missing, probably eaten by squirrels. It had white frosting with pink decorative details and a penny and a dime stuck on the rim of the gold plate.

Today I walked through Precious Blood Cemetery again and as I was descending the hill I heard a phone ringing. It was very loud and sounded just like an old fashioned 1950's telephone. I looked around and there wasn't a living soul in sight.

The French Robots Love Me

I've noticed a lot of traffic on my blog recently. It all seems to be from France. My husband told me it could be robots reading my blog. "Really? Then the French robots must love me," I said.

Healing Soup

Yesterday we had driving rain from the Nor'easter. I made a vat of kale soup. I chopped the whole bunch of celery because it was wilting, I rinsed and chopped three heads of kale, I added a can of crushed tomatoes, I chopped a whole bulb fresh garlic and I peeled and chopped a nob of fresh ginger, then I added hot sauce, soy sauce, frozen corn niblets, some olive oil and sliced leftover smoked kielbasa sausage. It is so good.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Irvin D. Yalom

“One of the great paradoxes of life is that self-awareness breeds anxiety.”
― Irvin D. Yalom, Love's Executioner

“Four major existential concerns—death, meaning in life, isolation, and freedom—play a crucial role in the inner life of every human being.”
― Irvin D. Yalom, Love's Executioner

“From both my personal and my professional experience, I had come to believe that the fear of death is always greatest in those who feel that they have not lived their life fully.”
― Irvin D. Yalom, Love's Executioner

“Therapists have a dual role: they must both observe and participate in the lives of their patients. As observer, one must be sufficiently objective to provide necessary rudimentary guidance to the patient. As participant, one enters into the life of the patient and is affected and sometimes changed by the encounter.”
― Irvin D. Yalom, Love's Executioner

Richard A. Friedman

In the end, whether or not we are more than our brain is less important and less interesting than the fact that our brain does not just give orders; it takes them, too.
Article

-Richard A. Friedman is a professor of clinical psychiatry and the director of the psychopharmacology clinic at the Weill Cornell Medical College, and a contributing opinion writer.

C.S. Lewis

“This is one of the miracles of love: It gives a power of seeing through its own enchantments and yet not being disenchanted.”
― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

C.S. Lewis

“Aren't all these notes the senseless writings of a man who won't accept the fact that there is nothing we can do with suffering except to suffer it?”
― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

C.S. Lewis

“The time when there is nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help may be just that time when God can't give it: you are like the drowning man who can't be helped because he clutches and grabs. Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear.”
― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

A Grief Observed

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”
-C.S. Lewis, in the opening line of A Grief Observed

Inner Search

“One of the great purposes of the American nation is to shelter and guard the rights of all men and women to seek the conditions and the companions necessary for the inner search.”
― Jacob Needleman

A Grieving

When I was working with troubled teens at a local art high school eight years ago, I had a profound grieving episode towards the end of the school year. I had heard the students stories for months and had contemplated their lives with compassion. I was not a trained therapist I was just a receptive artist in the community hired to help. Then one night I woke up and sat up in bed. I had coughing sobs that came from the deepest place, in my abdomen. The image that came to me was was of a snake being uncoiled from my gut. It was a waterfall of emotion which was terrifying but I trusted it. I was finally grieving my teenage traumas along with those of the students. I'll never forget it. It was healing.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Non-Judgement

“Non-judgment quiets the internal dialogue, and this opens once again the doorway to creativity.”
― Deepak Chopra

Peggy O'Mara

“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.”
― Peggy O'Mara

Inner Dialogue

“Beautify your inner dialogue. Beautify your inner world with love light and compassion. Life will be beautiful.”
― Amit Ray, Nonviolence: The Transforming Power

Lev Golinkin

“My memory of the books stretched beyond consciousness. They were there when I first opened my eyes and began to identify things like "warm," and "house," and "bed," and while I didn't know about or understand the byzantine game of passports, imaginary relatives, summonses, and exit visas, it was the breakup of Dad's library that made leaving a reality. The books were the background of my little world, and seeing them carted away by friends and relatives was like watching someone dismantle the sky.”
― Lev Golinkin

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

William Shakespeare

All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts.
– William Shakespeare

Abraham Lincoln

And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.
– Abraham Lincoln

Touching Water

As long as I can touch water I can calm myself. When I was three years old my mother used to set me up to play with a bowl of soapy water. That's all I needed to amuse myself. Even now I find washing dishes enjoyable and centering.

Mary Pipher

“Prayer is vastly superior to worry. With worry, we are helpless; with prayer, we are interceding. When I hear sad news, I try to say a prayer for the victims. When I am troubled, I will say a prayer that asks for relief for myself and for all those who suffer as I do. When I am concerned about my relatives or friends I say a short prayer to myself - "May they be happy and free of suffering."
― Mary Pipher, Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World”

Mary Pipher

“Pain, as well as beauty, is necessary to give us perspective. We can place our suffering against the backdrop of time and allow our nagging little egos to rest in the great verdant container of the timeless.”
― Mary Pipher, Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World

Mary Pipher

“In Smart Girls, Gifted Women, Barbara Kerr explores the common experiences of girls who grew into strong women. She studied the adolescent years of Marie Curie, Gertrude Stein, Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Mead, Georgia O’Keeffe, Maya Angelou and Beverly Sills, and she found that they had in common time by themselves, the ability to fall in love with an idea, a refusal to acknowledge gender limitations and what she called “protective coating.” None of them were popular as adolescents and most stayed separate from their peers, not by choice, but because they were rejected. Ironically, this very rejection gave them a protected space in which they could develop their uniqueness. Many strong girls have similar stories: They were socially isolated and lonely in adolescence. Smart girls are often the girls most rejected by peers. Their strength is a threat and they are punished for being different. Girls who are unattractive or who don’t worry about their appearance are scorned. This isolation is often a blessing because it allows girls to develop a strong sense of self. Girls who are isolated emerge from adolescence more independent and self- sufficient than girls who have been accepted by others.”
― Mary Pipher

A Ledge

“With meditation I found a ledge above the waterfall of my thoughts.”
― Mary Pipher, Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World

Carrot

“I'm a perfectly good carrot that everyone is trying to turn into a rose. As a carrot, I have good color and a nice leafy top. When I'm carved into a rose, I turn brown and wither.”
― Mary Pipher

Mary Pipher

“I want to write. I have always wanted to write. I do not care it I am not good at it. I just want to try.”
― Mary Pipher

Language

“Language imparts identity, meaning, and perspective to our human condition. Writers are either polluters or part of the cleanup.”
― Mary Pipher

Mary Pipher

“I read of a Buddhist teacher who developed Alzheimer's. He had retired from teaching because his memory was unreliable, but he made one exception for a reunion of his former students. When he walked onto the stage, he forgot everything, even where he was and why. However, he was a skilled Buddhist and he simply began sharing his feelings with the crowd. He said, "I am anxious. I feel stupid. I feel scared and dumb. I am worried that I am wasting everyone's time. I am fearful. I am embarrassing myself." After a few minutes of this, he remembered his talk and proceeded without apology. The students were deeply moved, not only by his wise teachings, but also by how he handled his failings.

There is a Buddhist saying, "No resistance, no demons.”
― Mary Pipher, Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World

Mary Pipher

“Another vital skill is managing pain. All the craziness in the world comes from people trying to escape suffering. All mixed up behaviour comes from unprocessed pain. People drink, hit their mates and children, gamble, cut themselves with razors and even kill themselves in an attempt to escape pain. I teach girls to sit with their pain, to listen to it for messages about their lives, to acknowledge and describe it rather than to run from it. They learn to write about pain, to talk about it, to express it through exercise, art, dance or music.”
― Mary Pipher, Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls

Quiet

We don't need to constantly fill the air with sounds. Sometimes, when its quiet, surprising things happen.”
― Mary Pipher, Letters to a Young Therapist

Mary Pipher: Observe and Respect

“I teach girls certain skills. The first and most basic is centering. I recommend that they find a quiet place where they can sit alone daily for 10 to 15 minutes. I encourage them to sit in this place, relax their muscles and breathe deeply. Then they are to focus on their own thoughts and feelings about the day. They are not to judge these thoughts or feelings or even direct them, only to observe them and respect them. They have much to learn from their own internal reactions to their lives.”
― Mary Pipher, Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls

Telling Stories

“Telling stories never fails to produce good in the universe.”
― Mary Pipher, The Middle of Everywhere

Mary Pipher

“Good therapy, gently but firmly, moves people out of denial and compartmentalization. It helps clients to develop richer inner lives and greater self-knowledge. It teaches clients to live harmoniously with others and it enhances Existential consciousness, and allows people to take responsibility for their effects on the world at large. For me, happiness is about appreciating what one has. Practically speaking, this means lowering expectations about what is fair, possible and likely. It means, finding pleasure in the ordinary.”
― Mary Pipher, Letters to a Young Therapist

Truth

“When one of us tells the truth, he makes it easier for all of us to open our hearts to our pain and that of others.”
― Mary Pipher

Dopamine

“Via our machines— be it phone, television, or computer— we receive an enormous amount of information every day. But we don’t have the time, the energy, and the emotional resilience to deal with all of this information. We do triage as best we can, but we still are flooded with more stimulation than we can process and integrate. Still, many people are hooked. Scientists have discovered that every time we hear the blip or ding of an e-mail or text message a small amount of dopamine is released into our brains. We humans are programmed to be curious and it is natural to want to know more, more, and more. Therapists have coined a phrase for a new addiction: FOMO, or “fear of missing out.”
― Mary Pipher, The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture

Mary Pipher

One day a month, we go off the grid. We wake up and make one decision at a time about what we feel like doing. We don’t take phone calls or look at our computers. We don’t pay bills or do housework. We just enjoy whatever we feel like doing in our area.
― Mary Pipher, The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture

Looking at The Sky

“What I find most sustaining is what I loved as a girl: lying down on my back and looking at the sky. That is my first memory and I hope it is my last.”
― Mary Pipher, The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture

Mary Pipher

“Healing the earth is not a liberal or conservative idea— it is a form of prayer.”
― Mary Pipher, The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture

Mary Pipher

“As we go about our troubled and sometimes frenzied lives, in this time of the Great Acceleration, we have close at hand ways we can move out of the time zone of our current century and into a transcendent experience. We can do this by simply recognizing our kinship with another living being, by finding one beautiful thing to enjoy, or by allowing ourselves to be swept away emotionally by the miraculous and intricate world we have all around us.”
― Mary Pipher, The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture

Multiplication of Courage

“One of our most effective coping skills is simply sticking together. In a 2011 New Yorker article called “Social Animal,” David Brooks writes, “Research over the past thirty years makes it clear that what the inner mind really wants is connection . . . Joining a group that meets just once a month produces the same increase in happiness as doubling your income.”
― Mary Pipher, The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture

“Working together, we were experiencing what Nelson Mandela called “the multiplication of courage.”
― Mary Pipher, The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture

When people come together, they can accomplish more than they can by individual actions. With this transformation from “me” to “we,” the wind picks up, the sails fill, and the boat is off. . .
― Mary Pipher, The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture

“Coalition members learned to make our points via stories. It is impossible to argue with a story that simply reflects the experience of the storyteller. People like stories and remember them. They create emotions that are essential to motivation and action. Emotions, not facts, are what energize humans to act. Our best stories were about our own inconsistencies and failings or about our own emotional struggles with the issue.”
― Mary Pipher, The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture

“This bittersweet phenomenon of a successful event paired with no discernible political gain seemed to be a chronic problem for our group. However, we were experiencing a victory that could not be taken away from us. That is, we were by now a transcendent, connected community. We were learning that relationships always trump agendas, and that a good process is sustaining, regardless of outcome.”
― Mary Pipher, The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture

“I do it for the relationships. I like to spend my time with people who are trying to make the world a fairer, kinder place. I’ve been in groups like this since college, and they have made me happy.”
― Mary Pipher, The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture

Mary Pipher

“The cure for the pain is the pain. Unprocessed pain almost always leads to something much worse than pain. Opening ourselves up to our emotional reactions to that world and allowing ourselves to feel the gamut of emotions that opening inevitably produces is the beginning of a movement toward wholeness and healing. This can produce energy, focus, and a sense of urgency. To quote Bob Dylan, “Behind every beautiful thing is some kind of pain.”
― Mary Pipher, The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture

Metaphorical Systems

“Religions are metaphorical systems that give us bigger containers in which to hold our lives. A spiritual life allows us to move beyond the ego into something more universal. Religious experience carries us outside of clock time into eternal time. We open ourselves into something more complete and beautiful. This bigger vista is perhaps the most magnificent aspect of a religious experience.

There is a sense in which Karl Marx was correct when he said that religion is the opiate of the people. However, he was wrong to scoff at this. Religion can give us skills for climbing up on onto a ledge above our suffering and looking down at it with a kind and open mind. This helps us calm down and connect to all of the world's sufferers. Since the beginning of human time, we have yearned for peace in the face of death, loss, anger and fear. In fact, it is often trauma that turns us toward the sacred, and it is the sacred that saves us.”
― Mary Pipher, Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World

Mary Pipher

“We can deal with our cultural and environmental crises only after we deal with our human crises of trauma, denial, and emotional paralysis. This will require that most difficult of all human endeavors, facing our own despair. This involves waking from our trance of denial, facing our own pain and sorrow, accepting the world as it is, adapting, and living more intentionally.”
― Mary Pipher, The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture

Mary Pipher

“Too many people only dream at night. I like to dream during the day.”
― Mary Pipher, The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture

Mary Pipher

“If you want to know the time, ask a dog. They always know, and they’ll tell you the correct time, which is now, now, now.”
― Mary Pipher, The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in Our Capsized Culture

Mary Pipher

“When Europeans arrived on this continent, they blew it with the Native Americans. They plowed over them, taking as much as they could of their land and valuables, and respecting almost nothing about the native cultures. They lost the wisdom of the indigenous peoples-wisdom about the land and connectedness to the great web of life…We have another chance with all these refugees. People come here penniless but not cultureless. They bring us gifts. We can synthesize the best of our traditions with the best of theirs. We can teach and learn from each other to produce a better America…”
― Mary Pipher

Monday, December 26, 2016

Nguzo Saba: The Seven Principles

Umoja (Unity)
To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.

Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.

Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
To build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together.

Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.

Nia (Purpose)
To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Kuumba (Creativity)
To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

Imani (Faith)
To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

­ Maulana Karenga

50th Kwanzaa

Today marks the 50th annual celebration of Kwanzaa, the seven-day pan-African and African-American holiday that celebrates community, family, and culture. It’s celebrated by millions of African peoples across the globe. Its name is derived from “matunda ya kwanza,” which means “first fruits” in Swahili, the most widely spoken African language. The extra “a” on the end of “kwanza” was added because there were seven children present at the first celebration in 1966, and each child wanted to be represented by a letter.

In 1966, a graduate student named Maulana Karenga found himself disillusioned after the infamous Watts Riots (1965) in Los Angeles. He was already involved in community organizing and the Black Power movement as a way to bring African-Americans together, but he was also looking for something to honor the heritage that had been erased by the slave trade. He wanted, he said, “to give blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and their history rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society.”

Karenga began combining aspects of several African harvest celebrations, like those of the Ashanti and Zulu. He incorporated songs, dance, poetry, storytelling, and a traditional meal.

There are seven principles of Kwanzaa, known as Nguzo Saba:
Umoja (unity)
Kujichagulia (self-determination)
Ujima (collective work and responsibility)
Ujamaa (cooperative economics)
Nia (purpose)
Kuumba (creativity)
Imani (faith)

-from The Writer's Almanac

http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/index.shtml

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Rumi

Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.
-Rumi

The wound is the place where the Light enters you.
-Rumi

Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.
-Rumi

Imagination

“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Stephen King

“A little talent is a good thing to have if you want to be a writer. But the only real requirement is the ability to remember every scar.”
― Stephen King

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Anne Lamott

I decided that the most subversive, revolutionary thing I could do was to show up for my life and not be ashamed.”

― Anne Lamott, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year

Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin

In the pope’s view, the church should emphasize humility and service to the poor. It should be multicultural, welcoming different styles of worship. It should reach out to other faiths and stand up for immigrants, refugees and nuns.

Article

Melody Moezzi

Wise words

Stephen King

“Fiction is the truth inside the lie.”
― Stephen King

Good Books

“Good books don't give up all their secrets at once.”
― Stephen King

Art for Life

"Life isn't a support system for art. It's the other way around."
-Stephen King

In a culture drowning in reality television and celebrity memoirs, life sometimes seems like nothing more than grist for the mill or as a writer might put it, "material." This Stephen King quote reappraises the relative values of life and art and challenges you to rethink the role of art in your life. And if you're an artist or writer, it means even more: Don't live for the sake of your art; create art for the sake of your life.
source

Friday, December 23, 2016

Kabir

“It is time to put up a love-swing!
Tie the body and then tie the mind so that they
swing between the arms of the Secret One you love,
Bring the water that falls from the clouds to your eyes,
and cover yourself inside entirely with the shadow of night.
Bring your face up close to his ear,
and then talk only about what you want deeply to happen.
Kabir says: Listen to me, brother, bring the shape, face, and odor of the Holy One inside you.”
― Kabir, The Kabir book: Forty-four of the ecstatic poems of Kabir, versions by Robert Bly

Kabir

“All know that the drop merges into the ocean, but few know that the ocean merges into the drop.”
― Kabir

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Marge Piercy

One of the things I chose explicitly was to put my writing first. Everything else in my life waxed and waned, but writing, I discovered during my restructuring, was my real core. Not any relationship. Not any love. Not any person. I had become more selfish and less accessible. I ceased to be the universal mommy of the tribe. I wanted to see people when I was done with my writing for the day, and not in the middle of my work time.
― Marge Piercy, Sleeping with Cats

Marge Piercy

“In fiction, I exercise my nosiness. I am as curious as my cats, and indeed that has led to trouble often enough and used up several of my nine lives. I am an avid listener. I am fascinated by other people's lives, the choices they make and how that works out through time, what they have done and left undone, what they tell me and what they keep secret and silent, what they lie about and what they confess, what they are proud of and what shames them, what they hope for and what they fear. The source of my fiction is the desire to understand people and their choices through time.”
― Marge Piercy, Braided Lives

Attention is Love

“Attention is love, what we must give
children, mothers, fathers, pets,
our friends, the news, the woes of others.
What we want to change we curse and then
pick up a tool. Bless whatever you can
with eyes and hands and tongue. If you
can't bless it, get ready to make it new.”

― Marge Piercy, The Art of Blessing the Day: Poems with a Jewish Theme

Marge Piercy

“The real writer is one who really writes. Talent is an invention like phlogiston after the fact of fire. Work is its own cure. You have to like it better than being loved.”
― Marge Piercy

Evanescently

“Writing sometimes feels frivolous and sometimes sacred, but memory is one of my strongest muses. I serve her with my words. So long as people read, those we love survive however evanescently. As do we writers, saying with our life's work, Remember. Remember us. Remember me.”
― Marge Piercy, Braided Lives

Alice Neel

“Art is two things: a search for a road and a search for freedom.”

“The minute I sat in front of a canvas I was happy. Because it was a world, and I could do what I liked in it.”

“I know all the theory of everything but when I paint I don't think of anything except the subject and me.”

“It's a privilege, you know, to paint and it takes up a lot of time and it means there's a lot of things you don't do. But still, with me, painting was more than a profession, it was also an obsession. I had to paint.”

“Whether I'm painting or not, I have this overweening interest in humanity. Even if I'm not working, I'm still analyzing people.”

“I do not pose my sitters. I do not deliberate and then concoct... Before painting, when I talk to the person, they unconsciously assume their most characteristic pose, which in a way involves all their character and social standing - what the world has done to them and their retaliation.”

“You can't leave humanity out. If you didn't have humanity, you wouldn't have anything.”

“Whether I'm painting or not, I have this overweening interest in humanity. Even if I'm not working, I'm still analyzing people.”

“Like Chekhov, I am a collector of souls... if I hadn't been an artist, I could have been a psychiatrist.”

“The place where I had freedom most was when I painted. I was completely and utterly myself.”

“Cezanne said, 'I love to paint people who have grown old naturally in the country.' And I say I love to paint people who have been torn to shreds by the rat race in New York.”

“If you're sufficiently tenacious and interested, you can accomplish what you want to accomplish in this world.”

“I don't paint like a woman is supposed to paint. Thank God, art doesn't bother about things like that.”

“I paint; I'm a woman but I don't paint china. The first time I got a canvas I felt free. Art is overreaction to life. I love these early drawings; they show my innocent beginnings in a small town. Life is a sentence -- you live it out. Maybe these portraits jump out at you too much. People like things that conform.”

Quotes by Alice Neel

John Steinbeck

“I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is indestructible.”
― John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Steinbeck

“All war is a symptom of man's failure as a thinking animal.”
― John Steinbeck

Freedom of the Mind

“And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about.”
― John Steinbeck, East of Eden

John Steinbeck

“Try to understand men. If you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and almost always leads to love.”
― John Steinbeck

Thich Nhat Hanh

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

You Can Love

“When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don't blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

Our Own Life

“Our own life has to be our message.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh, The World We Have: A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology

Thich Nhat Hanh

“We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child -- our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh

“The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.”

― Thich Nhat Hanh

Dream

I was a passenger in a swerving white Cadillac. We were in Newport RI and there was antique furniture for sale out on the sidewalks. "Stop," I yelled. We may have even bumped a couch but we jumped out of the car and acted like we wanted to buy it.

Is the Radio On?

"Is the radio on? I can barely hear it," she asked.
"I like it that way. It's a game for my brain. How quiet can I make the music? My brain fills in the gaps," he said, casting a blue shadow on his pillow.

On Writing

“The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.”
― Voltaire

Mood

“The most important decision you make is to be in a good mood.”
― Voltaire

Voltaire

“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.”
― Voltaire

Every Man

“Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do.”

― Voltaire

Arthur Miller

“You don't realize how people can hate, they can hate so much they'll tear the world to pieces.”
― Arthur Miller, All My Sons

Sing

“‎Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.”
― Voltaire

Voltaire

“Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”
― Voltaire

Voltaire

“I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: Oh Lord, make my enemies ridiculous. And God granted it."

(Letter to Étienne Noël Damilaville, May 16, 1767)”
― Voltaire

Voltaire

"I have wanted to kill myself a hundred times, but somehow I am still in love with life. This ridiculous weakness is perhaps one of our most melancholy propensities; for is there anything more stupid than to be eager to go on carrying a burden which one would gladly throw away, to loathe one's very being and yet to hold it fast, to fondle the snake that devours us until it has eaten our hearts away?"
Voltaire, Candide

Voltaire

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”
― Voltaire, Questions sur les Miracles à M. Claparede, Professeur de Théologie à Genève, par un Proposant: Ou Extrait de Diverses Lettres de M. de Voltaire

Voltaire

“The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.”

― Voltaire

Arthur Miller

I don't think there is anything that approaches the theater. The sheer presence of a living person is always stronger than his image. But there's no reason why TV shouldn't be a terrific medium. The problem is that the audience watching TV shows is always separated. My feeling is that people in a group, en masse, watching something, react differently, and perhaps more profoundly, than they do when they're alone in their living rooms. Yet it's not a hurdle that couldn't be jumped by the right kind of material. Simply, it's hard to get good movies, it's hard to get good novels, it's hard to get good poetry—it's impossible to get good television because in addition to the indigenous difficulties there's the whole question of it being a medium that's controlled by big business.
- Arthur Miller, Paris Review

Arthur Miller: On the Genesis of The Crucible

I thought of it first when I was at Michigan. I read a lot about the Salem witch trials at that time. Then when the McCarthy era came along, I remembered these stories and I used to tell them to people when it started. I had no idea that it was going to go as far as it went. I used to say, you know, McCarthy is actually saying certain lines that I recall the witch-hunters saying in Salem. So I started to go back, not with the idea of writing a play, but to refresh my own mind because it was getting eerie. For example, his holding up his hand with cards in it, saying, “I have in my hand the names of so-and-so.” Well, this was a standard tactic of seventeenth-century prosecutors … It was a way of inflicting guilt on everybody, and many people responded genuinely out of guilt; some would come and tell him some fantasy, or something that they had done or thought that was evil in their minds. Many times completely naive testimony resulted in somebody being hanged.
- Arthur Miller
(from an interview with the Paris Review in 1966)

Arthur Miller

“Great drama is great questions or it is nothing but technique. I could not imagine a theater worth my time that did not want to change the world.”
― Arthur Miller

Arthur Miller

“We must re-imagine liberty in every generation, especially since a certain number of people are always afraid of it.”
― Arthur Miller

Value

“Don't be seduced into thinking that that which does not make a profit is without value.”
― Arthur Miller

Arthur Miller

“If you believe that life is worth living then your belief will create the fact.”
― Arthur Miller

Arthur Miller

“We are what we always were in Salem, but now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law!”
― Arthur Miller, The Crucible

Arthur Miller

“I believe in work. If somebody doesn't create something, however small it may be, he gets sick. An awful lot of people feel that they're treading water -- that if they vanished in smoke, it wouldn't mean anything at all in this world. And that's a despairing and destructive feeling. It'll kill you.”
― Arthur Miller

Arthur Miller

“If a person measures his spiritual fulfillment in terms of cosmic visions, surpassing peace of mind, or ecstasy, then he is not likely to know much spiritual fulfillment. If, however, he measures it in terms of enjoying a sunrise, being warmed by a child's smile, or being able to help someone have a better day, then he is likely to know much spiritual fulfillment.”
― Arthur Miller

Inner Chaos

“The very impulse to write springs from an inner chaos crying for order - for meaning.”
― Arthur Miller

On the Verge

“The best work that anybody ever writes is the work that is on the verge of embarrassing him, always.”
― Arthur Miller

Sam Shepard

“I hate endings. Just detest them. Beginnings are definitely the most exciting, middles are perplexing and endings are a disaster. … The temptation towards resolution, towards wrapping up the package, seems to me a terrible trap. Why not be more honest with the moment? The most authentic endings are the ones which are already revolving towards another beginning. That’s genius.”
― Sam Shepard

Sam Shepard

“Look it - you start out as an artist, I started out when I was nineteen, and you’re full of defenses. You have all of this stuff to prove. You have all of these shields in front of you. All your weapons are out. It’s like you’re going into battle. You can accomplish a certain amount that way. But then you get to a point where you say, “But there’s this whole other territory I’m leaving out.” And that territory becomes more important as you grow older. You begin to see that you leave out so much when you go to battle with the shield and all the rest of it. You have to start including that other side or die a horrible death as an artist with your shield stuck on the front of your face forever. You can’t grow that way. And I don’t think you can grow as a person that way, either. There just comes a point when you have to relinquish some of that and risk becoming more open to the vulnerable side, which I think is the female side. It’s much more courageous than the male side.”
― Sam Shepard

Sam Shepard

“There's gonna be a general lack of toast in the neighborhood this morning.”
― Sam Shepard, True West

Edward Albee

“Good writers define reality; bad ones merely restate it. A good writer turns fact into truth; a bad writer will, more often than not, accomplish the opposite.”
― Edward Albee

Albee

“If you have no wounds, how can you know if you're alive?”
― Edward Albee, The Play About the Baby

Edward Albee

“Unless you are terribly, terribly careful, you run the danger-- without even knowing it is happening to you-- of slipping into the fatal error of reflecting the public taste instead of creating it. Your responsibility is to the public consciousness, not to the public view of itself.”
― Edward Albee

Edward Albee

“I write to find out what I'm talking about.”
― Edward Albee

August Wilson

“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.”
― August Wilson

Strangers

“I been with strangers all day and they treated me like family. I come in here to family and you treat me like a stranger.”
― August Wilson, The Piano Lesson

Valley of the Blind

“In the valley of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”
― August Wilson, Gem of the Ocean

August Wilson

“Everybody in a hurry to slow down.”
― August Wilson, Radio Golf

August Wilson

“My early attempts writing plays, which are very poetic, did not use the language that I work in now. I didn't recognize the poetry in everyday language of black America. I thought I had to change it to create art.”
― August Wilson

Trust That Adventure

“Aunt Esther: You think you supposed to know everything. Life is a mystery. Don't you know life is a mystery? I see you still trying to figure it out. It ain't all for you to know. It's all an adventure. That's all life is. But you got to trust that adventure.”
― August Wilson, Gem of the Ocean

August Wilson

“All you need in the world is love and laughter. That's all anybody needs. To have love in one hand and laughter in the other.”
― August Wilson

Subtlety

The problem is that subtlety is not entertaining enough.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Black Out

The orange man is shouting
I unplug the radio, pull the shades
and hide behind the green couch

Eating Poetry

by Mark Strand

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.

The librarian does not believe what she sees.
Her eyes are sad
and she walks with her hands in her dress.

The poems are gone.
The light is dim.
The dogs are on the basement stairs and coming up.

Their eyeballs roll,
their blond legs burn like brush.
The poor librarian begins to stamp her feet and weep.

She does not understand.
When I get on my knees and lick her hand,
she screams.

I am a new man.
I snarl at her and bark.
I romp with joy in the bookish dark.

- from Collected Poems by Mark Strand

the defense of poetry is inseparable from the defense of freedom

“I'm not a historian or a sociologist or a political scientist: I am a poet. My writings in prose are closely associated with my literary vocation and my artistic preferences. I prefer to speak of Marcel Duchamp or Juan Ramon Jimenes than of Locke and Montesquieu. Political philosophy has always interested me, but I never tried nor would try to write a book about justice, freedom or the art of government. Nevertheless, I published many essays and articles on the state of democracy in our time: the external and internal dangers that threatened and continue to threaten it, the doubts and ordeals it faces.”
- Octavio Paz

Paz was passionate about freedom, because, as he stated in his acceptance speech of the Tocqueville Award in 1989, he early on understood that the defense of poetry is inseparable from the defense of freedom and that the latter, in a dialectic of complementariness, requires democracy: “Without freedom democracy is despotism; without democracy freedom is a chimera.”
- Octavio Paz

source

As One Listens To The Rain

by Octavio Paz

Listen to me as one listens to the rain,
not attentive, not distracted,
light footsteps, thin drizzle,
water that is air, air that is time,
the day is still leaving,
the night has yet to arrive,
figurations of mist
at the turn of the corner,
figurations of time
at the bend in this pause,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
without listening, hear what I say
with eyes open inward, asleep
with all five senses awake,
it's raining, light footsteps, a murmur of syllables,
air and water, words with no weight:
what we are and are,
the days and years, this moment,
weightless time and heavy sorrow,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
wet asphalt is shining,
steam rises and walks away,
night unfolds and looks at me,
you are you and your body of steam,
you and your face of night,
you and your hair, unhurried lightning,
you cross the street and enter my forehead,
footsteps of water across my eyes,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
the asphalt's shining, you cross the street,
it is the mist, wandering in the night,
it is the night, asleep in your bed,
it is the surge of waves in your breath,
your fingers of water dampen my forehead,
your fingers of flame burn my eyes,
your fingers of air open eyelids of time,
a spring of visions and resurrections,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
the years go by, the moments return,
do you hear the footsteps in the next room?
not here, not there: you hear them
in another time that is now,
listen to the footsteps of time,
inventor of places with no weight, nowhere,
listen to the rain running over the terrace,
the night is now more night in the grove,
lightning has nestled among the leaves,
a restless garden adrift-go in,
your shadow covers this page.

- Octavio Paz

The Unspoken

“This is perhaps the most noble aim of poetry, to attach ourselves to the world around us, to turn desire into love, to embrace, finally what always evades us, what is beyond, but what is always there – the unspoken, the spirit, the soul.”

― Octavio Paz, The Other Voice: Essays on Modern Poetry

Octavio Paz

No one behind, no one ahead.
The path the ancients cleared has closed.
And the other path, everyone's path,
easy and wide, goes nowhere.
I am alone and find my way.

― Octavio Paz

To Love

“To love is to undress our names.”
― Octavio Paz

Translate

“When we learn to speak, we learn to translate.”
― Octavio Paz

Transcends

To be a great painter means to be a great poet: someone who transcends the limits of his language.
- Octavio Paz

Language

Literature is the expression of a feeling of deprivation, a recourse against a sense of something missing. But the contrary is also true: language is what makes us human. It is a recourse against the meaningless noise and silence of nature and history.
- Octavio Paz

Octavio Paz

I think we all have our own personality, unique and distinctive, and at the same time, I think that our own unique and distinctive personality blends with the wind, with the footsteps in the street, with the noises around the corner, and with the silence of memory, which is the great producer of ghosts.
- Octavio Paz

Interview Mark Strand

—why can’t we be a little more patient with poetry?

SHAWN

Maybe the New York Times reader just isn’t in the right frame of mind to read poetry.

STRAND

Well, you can’t expect to jump from The New York Times into John Ashbery or Jorie Graham. Language is put to a different test. And it’s used for different ends. The language of a poem is meant to be meditated on. You clear a psychic space for poetry that’s different from the one you clear for prose. It’s a space in which words loom large. And this cleansed psychic space that readies itself for a poem is really one in which the poem is both read and heard.

SHAWN

But how does a person prepare such a psychic space?

STRAND

Well, if you spend a lot of time alone, particularly if you’re thinking about your life, or other people’s lives, you’re already used to the space I’m talking about. There are certain painters I know to whom the language of poetry means a great deal. And it may be because these people spend a lot of time in front of canvases, alone, with nobody to talk to, that they’re prepared: they’re ready to take the poem in. Their minds are not full of a lot of noise and clutter and unfulfilled desire. I mean, you have to be willing to read poetry; you have to be willing to meet it halfway—because it won’t go any further than that if it’s any good. A poem has its dignity, after all. I mean, a poem shouldn’t beg you to read it; it’s pathetic, if that’s the case. Some poets fear that they won’t be heard unless they flatter the reader, go ninety percent of the way, do it all for the reader. But that’s pathetic.

SHAWN

Damn! I’m sort of worried that we’re not living in the right world to read what you and the poets you admire are writing.

Interview

Mark Strand Interview

Well, poetry—at least lyric poetry—tries to lead us to relocate ourselves in the self. But everything we want to do these days is an escape from self. People don’t want to sit home and think. They want to sit home and watch television. Or they want to go out and have fun. And having fun is not usually meditative. It doesn’t have anything to do with reassessing one’s experience and finding out who one is or who the other guy is. It has to do with burning energy. When you go to the movies, you’re overcome with special effects and monstrous goings-on. Things unfold with a rapidity that’s thrilling. You’re not given a second to contemplate the previous scene, to meditate on something that’s just happened—something else takes its place.

We seem to want instant gratification. Violent movies give you instant gratification. And drugs give you instant gratification. Sporting events give you instant gratification. Prostitutes give you instant gratification. This is what we seem to like. But that which requires effort, that which reveals itself only in the long term, that which demands some learning, patience, or skill—and reading is a skill—there’s not enough time for that, it seems. We forget that there is a thrill that attends the slower pleasures, pleasures that become increasingly powerful the more time we spend pursuing them.

SHAWN

Maybe people avoid poetry because it somehow actively makes them nervous or anxious.

STRAND

They don’t want to feel the proximity of the unknown—or the mysterious. It’s too deathlike; it’s too threatening. It suggests the possibility of loss of control right around the corner.”
― Mark Strand

source

Mark Strand

“You want to get a good look at yourself. You stand before a mirror, you take off your jacket, unbutton your shirt, open your belt, unzip your fly. The outer clothing falls from you. You take off your shoes and socks, baring your feet. You remove your underwear. At a loss, you examine the mirror. There you are. You are not there.”
― Mark Strand

Mark Strand

“A poem is a place where the conditions of beyondness and withinness are made palpable, where to imagine is to feel what it is like to be. It allows us to have the life we are denied because we are too busy living. Even more paradoxically, a poem permits us to live in ourselves as if we were just out of reach of ourselves.”
― Mark Strand

Keeping Things Whole

by Mark Strand

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body's been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

― Mark Strand, Selected Poems

When I Walk

“When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body's been.”

― Mark Strand, Selected Poems

Blizzard of One

“From the shadow of domes in the city of domes,
A snowflake, a blizzard of one, weightless, entered your room
And made its way to the arm of the chair where you, looking up
From your book, saw it the moment it landed. That's all
There was to it.”

― Mark Strand, Blizzard of One

Shadow

“It came to my house.
It sat on my shoulders.
Your shadow is yours. I told it so. I said it was yours.
I have carried it with me too long. I give it back.”
― Mark Strand

Strand

“Each moment is a place
you've never been.”

― Mark Strand, New Selected Poems

Mark Strand

We forget that there is a thrill that attends the slower pleasures, pleasures that become increasingly powerful the more time we spend pursuing them.
- Mark Strand

We seem to want instant gratification. Violent movies give you instant gratification. And drugs give you instant gratification. Sporting events give you instant gratification. Prostitutes give you instant gratification. This is what we seem to like. But that which requires effort, that which reveals itself only in the long term, that which demands some learning, patience, or skill—and reading is a skill—there’s not enough time for that, it seems. We forget that there is a thrill that attends the slower pleasures, pleasures that become increasingly powerful the more time we spend pursuing them.
- Mark Strand

Lines for Winter

by Mark Strand

Tell yourself
as it gets cold and gray falls from the air
that you will go on
walking, hearing
the same tune no matter where
you find yourself—
inside the dome of dark
or under the cracking white
of the moon's gaze in a valley of snow.
Tonight as it gets cold
tell yourself
what you know which is nothing
but the tune your bones play
as you keep going. And you will be able
for once to lie down under the small fire
of winter stars.
And if it happens that you cannot
go on or turn back
and you find yourself
where you will be at the end,
tell yourself
in that final flowing of cold through your limbs
that you love what you are.

― Mark Strand, Selected Poems

Charles Simic

Wanted: a needle swift enough to sew this poem into a blanket.

- Charles Simic

Lighthouse