Monday, September 26, 2011
Sunday, September 25, 2011
A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.
If all you can do is crawl, start crawling.
Your mind, this globe of awareness, is a starry universe. When you push off with your foot, a thousand new roads become clear.
Still, I sit, waiting,
wanting the thing to move in me.
To move me. My heart used to be
an engine. Now it's a leaf,
sitting on a pond, waiting for wind
or a surfacing fish. Take it
somewhere, attach it to a tree again.
These last few months, it's been hard to push off of my own volition, but something stirred me today. Maybe it was the wind. I was up at the lake for a picnic, a big picnic full of fellowship and the wind was fierce, my hair blew into all kinds of curls and my skin was washed with air--summer's over, I thought, briefly. And though it's normally Spring that offers renewal, with my birthday in the fall and Rosh Hashanah near my birthday, there's a general trend towards newness each fall. During college, we used to start late September, so that also gave a new sense of fresh chances each September.
And all the leaves, working so hard to stay green through the heat of the summer, get to turn these brilliant colors and fall away--they, we, get to let go, and be swept up into something new. The old form disintegrating, becoming a part of the sky, and oh, I crave my place in that sky, that blue and blustery sky, and the rain coming down, and the stars, oh, the stars. . .
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
“I always loved running... it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.” ~Jesse Owens
“Jogging is very beneficial. It's good for your legs and your feet. It's also very good for the ground. It makes it feel needed.” ~Charles Schulz, Peanuts
“There are as many reasons for running as there are days in the year, years in my life. But mostly I run because I am an animal and a child, an artist and a saint. So, too, are you. Find your own play, your own self-renewing compulsion, and you will become the person you are meant to be.” ~George Sheehan
I ran a four-mile race in 1999 and then two weeks later, injured my knee, so my running progression ceased for many years. I did try to run from time to time. I guess I always had this idea about running a marathon. I know it tears the body apart, but I’ve done worse things to my body in my lifetime, and my life kind of functions with the relentless of a marathon, so I figure I’m cut out for it. I love the idea of pushing the body as far as it can go. I mean, I went all weepy when I watched the previews for that documentary on those guys who swam the English channel as part of their midlife crisis. Our life is the body. The body stops moving and disintegrates after we die, so I want to live in the body as fully as possible in this short little lifespan.
I do believe in life ever-lasting, which is eternal, and I’m not sure what the body will be like then—no one really is—or if I’m too prone to selfishness to escape the fiery gates of hell (did I feed the hungry or just my own belly?), so I’m going to try and make the most out of this body, the life I currently know.
Last May, I started running (jogging) again. I tried to start slow, as had been recommended, but I became impatient and tried to add more distance, more time, too quickly, and I believe that put my body into shock because it started packing on the fat even though I didn’t change my diet at all.
So, then I started from scratch, using the Couch-to-5K app on my Iphone, which I love. It has so much more faith in me than I do. I’m on week 7 of the 9 week program and it thinks I can jog 28 minutes, and you know what? I can. Though it has the false notion that I can jog 5K in 30 minutes, which, you know what? Not yet. After the 9th week, I’m going to work on my pace until I can jog a ten minute mile and then start doing longer runs one day a week, until I can run a 10 mile race in Big Sur in April. This may involve some weight training as well, since it will be way more hilly in Big Sur than it is along the creek here in Merced.
I was a pretty inactive child, though I craved activity. I guess people just didn’t think I could be in books and also have a curiosity for athletics, so I was never particularly encouraged and somehow didn’t know how to become athletic on my own. But here I am, 45 years old, becoming the athlete, little by little, that I always wanted to be.
Also, because readers may be curious to know, since I haven’t mentioned him in awhile, I have a much more kind and tolerant view of X-man these days, and I will say, that he sometimes went jogging with me and was happy to slow his pace down to mine, and seemed to really enjoy just having the company on his jogs. It’s so easy when a relationship ends to keep looking for the negative memories; it’s somehow easier to reconcile an ending when one can see the negative. It’s much harder to reconcile an ending when there was so much positive.
All I can say is that right now, I’m meant to be alone on the path, listening to my footfalls, watching the sunlight reflect off the creek, sometimes listening to some pre-made Pandora station on my Iphone or my new favorite band, Farewell Typewriter on my Ipod, listening for basslines I can imitate and learn from. I’m meant to be alone with my running, with my re-making myself. I am becoming.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Anthony de Mello
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Friday, September 9, 2011
“A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy dare live.” --Bertrand Russell
“All men's miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.”--Blaise Pascal
“Arranging a bowl of flowers in the morning can give a sense of quiet in a crowded day - like writing a poem or saying a prayer.”--Anne Morrow Lindbergh
"I lived in solitude in the country and noticed how the monotony of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind."– Albert Einstein
It seems, these days, I cannot find enough quiet, though I live in a relatively quiet town, on a quiet street, just when I think I will be able to sink into a pool of quiet, the train speeds by, blaring its horn. It doesn’t make me angry, I’m just startled by noise, as if there’s something forming inside me that needs the dead quiet of winter in a deep snowy valley to complete its making.
I was never a person who thought, Friday night, Saturday night! where will I go, what will I do? I come more from the type of people that go out on Monday or Tuesday nights, when places are less crowded, when lines are shorter. I despise malls and break out in hives during festivals (even if I love the idea of festivals). Most of the dancing I’ve done has been alone or with a friend or two in my kitchen or living room, the music spinning on my turntable or in a small boombox sitting on the floor. This is not to say I haven’t had loads of fun out dancing on a weekend or at a festival. However, the act of moving from the quiet inside me to the fullness of an event sometimes feels beyond me, like it will be a violence against my body. And lately, I feel I must honor that feeling and stay in, tuck myself into bed at an early hour with a book or the quiet of my mind. It’s a return, I suppose, to the safety of my mother’s womb. It honors, I believe, the idea that all music happens because of the silence between notes, and all poetry exists in what’s left unsaid.
My love of the quiet is probably why I’ve taken so heartily to the bass guitar. At its best, it’s the low hum beneath the surface of all the activity happening in the music, it’s the foundation that holds the rest of the instruments up and together. Bass lines are like stepping stones across a creek. It’s the quiet vibration that no matter how much silence there is in a day, helps remind me, I’m alive, of this earth.
If I’m racing around in the noise, if I don’t take moments of quiet throughout my day, to hear my breath, to connect to that part of me that’s connected to the center of the earth, then I crash. Quiet is the sustaining force in my life. It’s why I may go home after church instead of joining the others for conversation at coffee hour. Quiet is the great mother of new life. Something’s right around the bend, and if I sit still enough, and surround myself with enough quiet, I will have the chance to witness it.
Have you ever noticed, the more a person talks, the more he or she has a chance to lie? Love is quiet, made up of small consistent actions. I will not love again with words, but with quiet—vast swaths of it. And that’s what I’m spending my time doing now, weaving yards of quiet so I will have it available when you come along, ready to be loved.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
"But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: 'Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.'" Ephesians 5:13-14 (Orthodox Study Bible)
"Love is not consolation. It is light."
"A rooster crows only when it sees the light. Put him in the dark and he'll never crow. I have seen the light and I'm crowing."
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light."
It's finally the tangible morning light when I let up the window shade that heals me. The light in Merced's slightly diffused, so that these mornings, objects have a softened edge to them, like paintings of heaven. It's out into this light that I start the day on an early jog. I have limbs; I use them. I have eyes; they're made use of, this morning, finally, after some days of darkness, by light, by Light. This newness enters me like a creeping quiet, and with, it seems, little effort on my part (unless noticing the light and holding my gaze on the noticed could be considered effort), some ugly feelings fall away and I am something else. I praise the day with whispers as I jog lightly down the creekside path; I ask for Divine breath to move and sustain me. I cannot take these moments of light for granted or try to hold onto them or boast about them. I do find myself cherishing the whole course of my life--each joy and even more so, each tragedy or perceived loss. It's a kind of faith I'm granted after weeks of obedient prayer, the prayer of discipline, not of feeling.
I used to always imagine that when a romance was shattered, that the pieces were colored tile that I could pick up again and re-arrange, but now I see them as shards of crystal, each staying still in its place, reflecting light.
And everything, for this morning, is light, and I crave the next morning, so I put myself to bed a little bit earlier, so I can wake with the new sun.
Some mornings, she walks the asphalt path
along the creek and the sun
shines it shines on water
so she thinks her reflection is light
she is light
all is light
it’s like this late summer
wants her figure to be such a big she
she becomes the cottonwood trees
and the sky between