Recognizing — Just Noticing — Reasons to Go On

[Music video by Dr. How and the Reasons to Live, a band based in Harrisonburg, Virginia. All I really know about this is what the caption at Vimeo says: “featuring Maarten Vanhaverbeke’s cross-Canada cycling trip.” The band’s Bandcamp page is here. It describes the band — genre Americana — as “a joy ride that is unique to feel, great to see and awesome to hear. Imagine Yogi Bear finding his picnic basket. Yeah, that’s happiness.”]

From whiskey river:


Most coincidents are not
miraculous, but way more
common than we think—
it’s the shiver
of noticing being
central in a sequence
of events
that makes so much
seem wild and rare—
because what if it wasn’t?
Astonishment’s nothing
without your consent.

(Lia Purpura [source])


We are stories still going.

If you’re reading this, if there’s air in your lungs on this November day, then there is still hope for you. Your story is still going. And maybe some things are true for all of us. Perhaps we all relate to pain. Perhaps we all relate to fear and loss and questions. And perhaps we all deserve to be honest, all deserve whatever help we need. Our stories are all so many things: Heavy and light. Beautiful and difficult. Hopeful and uncertain. But our stories are not finished yet. There is still time, for things to heal and change and grow. There is still time to be surprised. We are still going, you and I. We are stories still going.

(Jamie Tworkowski [source])


It all matters. That someone turns out the lamp, picks up the windblown wrapper, says hello to the invalid, pays at the unattended lot, listens to the repeated tale, folds the abandoned laundry, plays the game fairly, tells the story honestly, acknowledges help, gives credit, says good night, resists temptation, wipes the counter, waits at the yellow, makes the bed, tips the maid, remembers the illness, congratulates the victor, accepts the consequences, takes a stand, steps up, offers a hand, goes first, goes last, chooses the small portion, teaches the child, tends to the dying, comforts the grieving, removes the splinter, wipes the tear, directs the lost, touches the lonely, is the whole thing.

What is most beautiful is least acknowledged.

What is worth dying for is barely noticed.

(Laura McBride [source])

Not from whiskey river:

Corn Picking 1956 — Afternoon Break

I needed a heavy canvas jacket riding the cold red tractor, air
an ice cube on bare skin. Blue sky over the aspen grove I drove
through on the way back to the field, throttle wide open, the
empty wagon I pulled hitting all the bumps on the dirt road. In
the high branches of the aspens little explosions now and then
sent leaves tumbling and spinning like coins tossed into the air.
The two-row, tractor-mounted corn-picker was waiting at the
end of the corn rows, the wagon behind it heaped so high with
ears of corn their yellow could be seen a mile away. My father,
who ran the picker, was already sitting on the ground, leaning
back against the big rear wheel of the tractor. In that spot out
of the wind we ate ham sandwiches and doughnuts, and drank
hot coffee from a clear Mason jar wrapped in newspaper to
keep it warm. The autumn day had spilled the color gold every-
where: aspen, cornstalks, ears of corn piled high, coffee mixed
with fresh cream, the fur of my dog, Boots, who was sharing
our food. And when my father and I spoke, joking with the
happy dog, we did not know it then, but even the words that
we carelessly dropped were left to shine forever on the bottom
of the clear, cold afternoon.

(Tom Hennen [source])


Ode to a Maintenance Man and His Family

Renato O. Jones, you maintain my beliefs
And service my thoughts when they cease to function.
You repair the ailing equipage of the present, transform
The past into flowers around the shuffle-board court
Where there were none before. You speak
The melodious languages of countries that bask
In the sun, employ vacuum respirator as though
It were rod or staff from the garden of Paradise.

You anoint windowpanes with Windex and kneel
In concern for stains on the carpeting,
as men knelt in ancient cathedrals where their voices
Murmured in prayer. You restore me with dance-steps
From harbors you knew: Shanghai, Marseilles, Trinidad,
And how many others. The songs that you sing
(As you unclog drains or retrieve lights when bulbs
Flicker and fail, or weave copper patches into the webs
Of damaged screen doors) are magical with the music
Of names of your family: Carmelita, Christopher, Dissere,
Alex and Mark, and Kevin and Kenneth and Kerwin.

Each day you say to me — not in words but in the eloquence
Of your presence — that infinite patience with mankind is everything.

(Aug.-Sept. 1990)

(Kay Boyle [source])


Lesson 2: Learning Mudras in Bhutan

Here, in this room of Bhutanese Elders,
I learn to catch my breath again, allow my fingers
to be shaped into lotus-flower offerings
to the sky. And when I can do this 108 times without
guidance, the woman behind me—cataract-beset,
toothless, wrinkled—who’s been picking stray flecks
of fleece off my back, touches me in a way you can’t;
gives me the food she hasn’t eaten all day, the words
she hasn’t spoken. So afterwards, it is almost easy.
To walk outside where the young monks are chewing
gum in the sun, listen to them scatter down stairways
like sparrows, point to the opening of space through
which I mean to escape. I want it to be graceful,
as she was, feather touches on your jacket and a jewel
in your hands. But when the light hits us from behind
the granite cliffs, all I can muster is to lie with you
on the monastery floor, guide your fingers to the door-
ways of my weary heart, so you can feel it too—
the ocean that travels with me; how it gathers and breaks,
gathers and breaks; like love, how it stills, then parts.

(Tishani Doshi [source])

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