In Media Res

'Charon,' by user h-k-d (Hartwig HKD) on Flickr

[Image: “Charon,” by user h-k-d (Hartwig HKD) on Flickr. (Used under a Creative Commons license.)]

From whiskey river:

Limbo

Each of them can’t decide if there is a God
or if there is a self.

Do I have an I? one says
to another who seems distracted, looking out what might have been a window.

What is the difference between a self and a soul?
Is it true that one god is in relationship to each of us?
Or is the each of us an illusion, and we are the god we are looking for?
That’s what the distracted one is thinking and what
she wants to know,

and she wishes that other person would stop bothering her,
and she wishes she had more time to think about these things,
although she has all the time in the world.

(Marie Howe [source])

…and:

Les géographies solennelles des limites humaines…
(Paul Eluard, Les Yeux fertiles, p. 42)

(“The solemn geographies of human limits”)

Car nous sommes où nous ne sommes pas.
(Pierre-Jean Jouve, Lyrique, p. 59)

(“For we are where we are not.”)

But how many daydreams we should have to analyze under the simple heading of Doors! For the door is an entire cosmos of the Half-open. In fact, it is one of its primal images, the very origin of a daydream that accumulates desires and temptations: the temptation to open up the ultimate depths of being, and the desire to conquer all reticent beings. The door schematizes two strong possibilities, which sharply classify two types of daydream. At times, it is closed, bolted, padlocked. At others, it is open, that is to say, wide open…

And what of all the doors of mere curiosity, that have tempted being for nothing, for emptiness, for an unknown that is not even imagined?

Is there one of us who hasn’t in his memories a Bluebeard chamber that should not have been opened, even halfway? Or — which is the same thing for a philosophy that believes in the primacy of the imagination — that should not even have been imagined open, or capable of opening half-way?

How concrete everything becomes in the world of the spirit when an object, a mere door, can give images of hesitation, temptation, desire, security, welcome and respect. If one were to give an account of all the doors one has closed and opened, of all the doors one would like to re-open, one would have to tell the story of one’s entire life.

But is he who opens a door and he who closes it the same being?

(Gaston Bachelard [source])

[Read more…]

Send to Kindle
Share

The Hour of Lead

[Video: “Numb,” by U2. (Lyrics)]

From whiskey river:

A mystical experience would be wasted on me. Ordinary things have always seemed numinous to me. One Calvinist notion deeply implanted in me is that there are two sides to your encounter with the world. You don’t simply perceive something that is statically present, but in fact there is a visionary quality to all experience. It means something because it is addressed to you. This is the individualism that you find in Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. You can draw from perception the same way a mystic would draw from a vision…

It’s not an acquired skill. It’s a skill that we’re born with that we lose. We learn not to do it.

(Marilyn Robinson [source])

and:

Mary’s Argument

To lead the uncommon life is not so bad.
There is an edge we come to count on
when all the normal signs don’t speak,
a startled vigilance that keeps us waking
to watch the moon, the peculiar stars;
the usual, underfoot, no more a solid comfort
than a rock that might move as a turtle moves,
so slowly only the nervous feel the sudden bump
of the familiar giving way to unrequested astonishment.
And for a small time, the sheer cliff of everything
we never knew can rise in front of us
like the warm dark, where starlight
has its constant conception, where the idea of turtle
blinked and was: a wry joke, an intricate affection.

(Marie Howe [source])

and:

Within each of our forms lies the existential mystery of being. Apart from one’s physical appearance, personality, gender, history, occupation, hopes and dreams, comings and goings, there lies an eerie silence, an abyss of stillness charged with an etheric presence. For all of our anxious business and obsession with triviality, we cannot completely deny this phantasmal essence at our core. And yet we do everything we can to avoid its stillness, its silence, its utter emptiness and radiant intimacy.

Being is that which disturbs our insistence on remaining in the life-numbing realm of our secret desperation. It is the itch that cannot be scratched, the whisper that will not be denied. To be, to truly be, is not a given.

Most of us live in a state where our being has long ago been exiled to the shadow realm of our silent anguish. At times being will break through the fabric of our unconsciousness to remind us that we are not living the life we could be living, the life that truly matters. At other times being will recede into the background silently waiting for our devoted attention. But make no mistake: being—your being—is the central issue of life.

(Adyashanti [source])

[Read more…]

Send to Kindle
Share

The Waking Moment

Wake up. WAAAAAAAAKE UP!!!

[Image: Because of childhood associations, all I can think of when I see this is something like, “Come ON. It’s Saturday morning! Can I watch cartoons yet? Can I can I can I?!?”]

From whiskey river:

The Gate

I had no idea that the gate I would step through
to finally enter this world

would be the space my brother’s body made. He was
a little taller than me: a young man

but grown, himself by then,
done at twenty-eight, having folded every sheet,

rinsed every glass he would ever rinse under the cold
and running water.

This is what you have been waiting for, he used to say to me.
And I’d say, What?

And he’d say, This — holding up my cheese and mustard sandwich.
And I’d say, What?

And he’d say, This, sort of looking around.

(Marie Howe [source])

and:

Annunciation

Even if I don’t see it again — nor ever feel it
I know it is — and that if once it hailed me
it ever does —
And so it is myself I want to turn in that direction
not as towards a place, but it was a tilting
within myself,
as one turns a mirror to flash the light to where
it isn’t — I was blinded like that — and swam
in what shone at me
only able to endure it by being no one and so
specifically myself I thought I’d die
from being loved like that.

(Marie Howe [source])

and:

A lifetime may not be long enough to attune ourselves fully to the harmony of the universe. But just to become aware that we can resonate with it — that alone can be like waking up from a dream.

(David Steindl-Rast [source])

[Read more…]

Send to Kindle
Share

Getting Around

Rocket dog

[Image: well, that’s one way to do it. I’m not really sure what this represents, but it got my attention.]

From whiskey river:

The Meadow

As we walk into words that have waited for us to enter them, so
the meadow, muddy with dreams, is gathering itself together

and trying, with difficulty, to remember how to make wildflowers.
Imperceptibly heaving with the old impatience, it knows

for certain that two horses walk upon it, weary of hay.
The horses, sway-backed and self important, cannot design

how the small white pony mysteriously escapes the fence every day.
This is the miracle just beyond their heavy-headed grasp,

and they turn from his nuzzling with irritation. Everything
is crying out. Two crows, rising from the hill, fight

and caw-cry in mid-flight, then fall and light on the meadow grass
bewildered by their weight. A dozen wasps drone, tiny prop planes,

sputtering into a field the farmer has not yet plowed,
and what I thought was a phone, turned down and ringing,

is the knock of a woodpecker for food or warning, I can’t say.
I want to add my cry to those who would speak for the sound alone.

But in this world, where something is always listening, even
murmuring has meaning, as in the next room you moan

in your sleep, turning into late morning. My love, this might be
all we know of forgiveness, this small time when you can forget

what you are. There will come a day when the meadow will think
suddenly, water, root, blossom, through no fault of its own,

and the horses will lie down in daisies and clover. Bedeviled,
human, your plight, in waking, is to choose from the words

that even now sleep on your tongue, and to know that tangled
among them and terribly new is the sentence that could change your life.

(Marie Howe, The Good Thief [source])

and:

Time is not a straight line, it’s more of a labyrinth, and if you press close to the wall in the right place you can hear the hurrying steps and the voices, you can hear yourself walking past on the other side.

(Tomas Tranströmer [source])

[Read more…]

Send to Kindle
Share

The Line Between Should and Do

Modal verbs

[Image: The English translation — with original emphasis — is, “Daughter, you have to go out and become rich.” Found it at the Grimm Grammar site of the University of Texas, which uses 36 characters from the classic fairy tales to illustrate how German grammar works; the characters above are Cinderella’s stepmother and a (bored, dissolute) stepsister. This illustration accompanies the discussion of modal verbs.]

From whiskey river:

We continually look and hope for a new, special thing that is going to last or make us happy, fulfill our needs, answer all our questions. In actuality, what are we going to get? We will get more seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and thinking. That’s it. That’s what life is.

(Jack Kornfield [source])

and:

What the Living Do
(excerpt)

…We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss — we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:
I am living…

(Marie Howe [source])

and:

The Moment

Oh, the coming-out-of-nowhere moment
when,   nothing
happens
no what-have-I-to-do-today-list

maybe  half a moment
the rush of traffic stops.
The whir of I should be, I should be, I should be
slows to silence,
the white cotton curtains hanging still.

(Marie Howe [source])

[Read more…]

Send to Kindle
Share