Come Back, Come Back

'coming back/remembering,' by Jane Cornwell on Flickr

[Image: “coming back/remembering,” by Jane Cornwell (on Flickr). As indicated, the quotation comes from Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, by Shunryu Suzuki.]

From whiskey river:

For a Friend Lying in Intensive Care Waiting for Her White Blood Cells to Rejuvenate After a Bone Marrow Transplant

The jonquils. They come back. They split the earth with
their green swords, bearing cups of light.
The forsythia comes back, spraying its thin whips with
blossom, one loud yellow shout.
The robins. They come back. They pull the sun on the
silver thread of their song.
The irises come back. They dance in the soft air in silken
gowns of midnight blue.
The lilacs come back. They trail their perfume like a scarf
of violet chiffon.
And the leaves come back, on every tree and bush, millions
and millions of small green hands applauding your return.

(Barbara Crooker [source])

and:

Our intention is to affirm this life, not to bring order out of chaos, nor to suggest improvements in creation, but simply to wake up to the very life we’re living, which is so excellent once one gets one’s mind and desires out of its way and lets it act of its own accord.

(John Cage [source])

and (in part; follow the link to read the rest):

Stalking the Poem

I

Only one word will do. It isn’t on the tip of your tongue, but you know it’s not far. It’s the one fish that won’t swim into your net, a figure that hides in a crowd of similar figures, a domino stone in the face-down pool. Your need to find it becomes an obsession, single-minded and relentless as lust. It’s a long time before you can free yourself, let it go. “Forget it,” you say, and think that you do. When the word is sure you have forgotten it, it comes out of hiding. But it isn’t taking any chances even now and has prepared its appearance with care. It surrounds itself with new and inconspicuous friends and faces you in a line up in which everyone looks equally innocent. Of course you know it instantly, the way Joan of Arc knew the Dauphin and Augustine knew God. You haven’t been so happy in weeks. You rush the word to your poem, which had died for lack of it, and it arises pink-cheeked as Lazarus. The two of you share the wine.

(Lisel Mueller [source])

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The Mutable (and Not Mutually Exclusive) Real

[Video: “Chameleon,” by Johannes Stötter. For more information, see the note at the bottom of this post.]

From whiskey river:

I would argue that if consciousness exists, it can’t be obliterated; thus we borrow from consciousness in order to become (to get an identity), and we return what we borrow as egos to the greater conscious field when we die, so that’s what happens to “us.” The real question then is the fate not of our consciousness but of our personal identity.

You know, science’s definition of us is that a light goes on, a light goes off, and it wasn’t even a light, but that’s like not existing at all. And we do exist — in the sense that we are not just interdependent with everything else in the universe; we are everything else in the universe, and ourselves too. That’s why we exist at all, why we have a personal identity. Likewise we are not just everything else in the universe; we are one probabilistic form even of ourselves. At each moment, all of our other selves, making different choices and experiencing themselves differently exist elsewhere as well as in deep latency in us, and in states just as physical as ours. They bail us out of this mess, but we bail them out of their messes. We support one another eternally. The light we share never goes on, never goes off, and that’s the Soul.

(Richard Grossinger [source])

and:

This Might Be Real

How long in a cold room will the tea stay hot?
What about reality interests you?
How long can you live?
Were you there when I said this might be real?
How much do you love?
Sixty percent?
Things that are gone?
Do you love what’s real?
Is real a partial form?
Is it a nascent form?
What is it before it’s real?
Is it a switch that moves and then is ever still?
Is it a spectrum of cross-fades?
Is what’s next real?
When it comes will everything turn real?
If I drink enough tea to hallucinate, is that real?
If I know I’m waiting for someone but I don’t know who, is he real?
Is he real when he comes?
Is he real when he’s gone?
Is consequence what’s real?
Is consequence all that’s real?
What brings consequence?
Is it what’s real?
Is it what turned everything to disbelief, the last form love takes?

(Sarah Manguso [source])

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What Made You Think It’d Be Easy?

'The Place du Havre, Paris,' by Camille Pisarro (1893)

[Image: The Place du Havre, Paris (detail), by Camille Pisarro (1893). Says the Art Institute of Chicago: “This bustling scene, alive with the noise and movement of traffic and pedestrians, was the view from his window at the Hôtel Garnier in Paris, where he stayed for a few weeks early in 1893.”]

From whiskey river (italicized stanza):

If You Knew

What if you knew you’d be the last
to touch someone?
If you were taking tickets, for example,
at the theater, tearing them,
giving back the ragged stubs,
you might take care to touch that palm,
brush your fingertips
along the life line’s crease.

When a man pulls his wheeled suitcase
too slowly through the airport, when
the car in front of me doesn’t signal,
when the clerk at the pharmacy
won’t say Thank you, I don’t remember
they’re going to die.

A friend told me she’d been with her aunt.
They’d just had lunch and the waiter,
a young gay man with plum black eyes,
joked as he served the coffee, kissed
her aunt’s powdered cheek when they left.
Then they walked a half a block and her aunt
dropped dead on the sidewalk.

How close does the dragon’s spume
have to come? How wide does the crack
in heaven have to split?
What would people look like
if we could see them as they are,
soaked in honey, stung and swollen,
reckless, pinned against time?

(Ellen Bass [source])

and:

I think, therefore I am is the statement of an intellectual who underrates toothaches. I feel, therefore I am is a truth much more universally valid, and it applies to everything that’s alive. My self does not differ substantially from yours in terms of its thought. Many people, few ideas: we all think more or less the same, and we exchange, borrow, steal thoughts from one another. However, when someone steps on my foot, only I feel the pain. The basis of the self is not thought but suffering, which is the most fundamental of all feelings. While it suffers, not even a cat can doubt its unique and uninterchangeable self. In intense suffering the world disappears and each of us is alone with his self. Suffering is the university of egocentrism.

(Milan Kundera [source])

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Uncanny Revelation

'Always Becoming'; photo by catface3, on Flickr (used under a Creative Commons license)

[Image: photograph of an exhibit, Always Becoming, at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC. The sculptures — “Moon Woman” on the left, and “Mountain Bird” on the right — are the work of artist Nora Naranjo-Morse. For more information, see the description at the photographer’s Flickr page… or, of course, at the Always Becoming site linked above.]

From whiskey river:

Often, change doesn’t come trumpeting itself in. It comes in quiet, barely noticed ways. No bolts of lightning and grand entrances here. Just a subtle relaxation into the body. A tiny shift towards where you are. An old belief, an outdated story, seen for what it is. A new path emerging in the darkness. A vague, unspeakable hope dawning in the first light of the day you imagined would never come. Everything the same, everything different, everything always resting in motion, and the mysteries of change forever unresolved.

(Jeff Foster [source])

and:

Of Love

I have been in love more times than one,
thank the Lord. Sometimes it was lasting
whether active or not. Sometimes
it was all but ephemeral, maybe only
an afternoon, but not less real for that.
They stay in my mind, these beautiful people,
or anyway beautiful people to me, of which
there are so many. You, and you, and you,
whom I had the fortune to meet, or maybe
missed. Love, love, love, it was the
core of my life, from which, of course, comes
the word for the heart. And, oh, have I mentioned
that some of them were men and some were women
and some — now carry my revelation with you —
were trees. Or places. Or music flying above
the names of their makers. Or clouds, or the sun
which was the first, and the best, the most
loyal for certain, who looked so faithfully into
my eyes, every morning. So I imagine
such love of the world — its fervency, its shining, its
innocence and hunger to give of itself — I imagine
this is how it began.

(Mary Oliver [source])

and:

Factual information alone isn’t sufficient to guide you through life’s labyrinthine tests. You need and deserve regular deliveries of uncanny revelation. One of your inalienable rights as a human being should therefore be to receive a mysteriously useful omen every day of your life.

(Rob Brezsny [source])

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Art Forms

[Above, the trailer for the short film Lost and Found, an adaptation of the children’s book of the same name by Oliver Jeffers. For stills from the movie, visit the Cartoon Brew link above, and STUDIO aka.]

From whiskey river:

Recipe for an Ocean in the Absence of the Sea

You have the ingredients on hand,
Get to the edge of something,
yourself best of all, and take
yourself in hand. Take, I mean, your hand,
trace out the blue menaces
released and lapsing there,
watch closely around the wrist: they will
remind you what you must do,
They are what you must do. Be
them, until there is nothing but them,
then you are ready. Now take
time, all there is in the house —
it does not have to be yours. Take time
and never for a moment
losing track of what changes
back into yourself, bitter enough
so that you will need almost
no salt, mix well and then leap
over the edge. Wait there. When you can
wait no longer, it is done.
Serve at once. It does not keep.

(Richard Howard [source])

and:

The world of the arts is by no means always comfortable, but neither is it likely ever to be boring. It is full of surprises, humor, traps for the unwary, and challenges to smugness. It is a world of moods as well as of revelation, of beliefs and fears, of unpleasant truth as well as of delicious fantasy. Perhaps it is arrogant to say that anyone who does not venture into this world is only half-interested in life. I say it, nonetheless.

(Russell Lynes, The Fine Edge of Awareness)

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