Monday Morning Inspiration: Don’t follow your passion

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“Don’t follow your passion, rather let it follow you in your quest to become ‘so good they can’t ignore you.’

[…]

Working right trumps finding the right work – it’s a simple idea, but its also incredibly subversive, as it overturns decades of folk career advice all focused on the mystical value of passion. It wrenches us away from our daydreams of an overnight transformation into instant job bliss and provides instead a more sober way toward fulfillment.”

– Cal Newport, So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love

“Blue – Southern France” painting by Painted Works by KB


Sunday Morning: there is always more

virgin mary“It’s so easy to see the tragedies and endings and hardship and diagnosis all around us as the end of the story – but, not unlike those who mourned as Jesus was laid in his tomb, we are terrible story enders – putting – as some would say – a period where God places a comma. God is still writing, still sighing, still loving us and all that is into redemption.

This makes us an odd people, you know. I mean Christians, people who believe in God the Father, Christ the son and the Holy Spirit – we are a people for whom the story isn’t ever finished. A people for whom there is always more. Within our suffering, there is always more, when we think our lives are hopeless there is always more, when the plot points of our lives don’t end up the way we planned, there is always more, when we feel powerless there is always more. Why? Because after the humiliation and suffering of the cross – there was more – after he was laid in a tomb there was more – and after there was Pentecost flames on people’s heads and speaking in other languages there was more. We as Christians base our hope not on our own power, not on the Dow Jones, not on how awesome our lives look, not on our own righteousness, but on the God of an empty tomb. That story of birth and death and resurrection and ascension and the spirit is still being told.”

– From Nadia Bolz-Weber’s Pentecost sermon

Virgin Mary painting by Chili Dogma


Saturday morning Sartonic

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5:52 a.m.

Saturday morning.

That figures, waking up too early on a Saturday when I could sleep in. Sigh.

My mind races through today’s To Do list.

Exercise.
Clean.
Laundry.
Pick up daughter from awakeover.
Make sure that daughter packs for strings camp.
Mow the yard.
Write email copy for a client.
Maybe, just maybe, make a small dent in the stack of books, beginning with Primates of Park Avenue

Stop.

I need to calm down even though I haven’t gotten out of bed.

So I grab a May Sarton journal
,  which usually does the trick (a Sartonic if you will).

A rich life is bought at a high price in energy.

Indeed.

I am far better able to cope at seventy than I was at fifty. I think that is partly because I have learned to glide instead of to force myself at moments of tension.

Nice. Glide. I like that.

Instead, for about fifteen minutes I looked on a magic congregation of birds – red, blue, purple, rosy – topped, of course, by the half-moon crimson in the grosbeak’s white breast. What a stunning bird he is!

I can always count on May for bird descriptions such as these. Her journals are peppered with them.

If you are a writer or an artist, it is work that fulfills and makes you come into wholeness, and that goes on through a lifetime. Whatever the wounds that have to heal, the moment of creation assures that all is well, that one is still in tune with the universe, that the inner chaos can be probed and distilled into order and beauty.

Lovely. And applicable to all types of creative acts.

Perhaps the answer is not detachment as I used to believe but rather to be deeply involved in something, to be attached. I am attached in a thousand ways – and one of them compels me now to leave this airy room up in the house to go down and get ready for my guests.

And I’m off. Gliding. Attached.

 

–Artwork by Painted Works By KB

 

 

 


TGIF! But hold the books

Definitely the effect reading has on me on Fridays after a long work week:

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Fortunately Saturday’s coming.

Source: Garfield Minus Garfield


Tuesday closest far-moon

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Full moons get all the attention, but tonight’s moon has the distinction of being the closest far-moon of the year, which is worth noting.

And now a word from poet Ted Kooser:

How many moons have I been too busy to notice? Full moons, half moons, quarter moons facing those thousands of suns, watching them bringing the years up, one piece at a time. Even the dark phases of moon after moon, gray stoppers plugged into a starry sky, letting a little light leak out around the edges. By my reckoning, almost a thousand full moons have passed above me now, and I have been too busy and self-absorbed to be thankful for more than a few, though month after month they have patiently laid out my shadow, that velvet cloak that in the moonlit evening waits for me.

p. 3 of The Wheeling Year: A Poet’s Field Book

Photo credit: Ralph Miner, closest far moon photo taken on June 23, 2015


Monday Morning Inspiration: have some clouds with your coffee

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“Years ago I used to drive a cab for a living. There was a blind woman I used pick up at one of the local universities. She was taciturn, proper, almost British in her sense of propriety and reserve. And though she seldom talked, we gradually became friends. One day I asked her what one thing she would wish to see if, for only one minute, she could have the gift of sight. She smiled and thought a moment. Then, she said, “Clouds.” The answer surprised me. Of all the choices in the wide breadth of the world, she had chosen one that would never have crossed my mind. “Why clouds?” I asked. “Because I can’t imagine them,” she said. “People have tried to explain them to me. They tell me they are like cotton. The tell me they look like fog feels. They spray whipped cream in my hand. They move my fingers over paintings of skies and let me feel the shapes of clouds painted on canvas. But I am still no closer to an understanding. Yes, it would be clouds.” […]

As I drove along I pondered her words. I, who saw clearly, spent each day wishing for some distant object — a place, a person, some prize of life I hoped to win. But one who valued sight the most — one to whom it was denied — knew that the greatest gift her eyesight could bestow was before me, unnoticed and unhallowed, at that very moment.

“Clouds,” I thought. Of course. What else in this great universe so eludes description, so fills the spirit with wonder? What else floats gossamer and ethereal above our lives, never touching down but always present with us, a reminder of the majesty of an unseen God? As a child we are alive to their magic. We lie on our backs on summer hillsides, make up stories, find giants and dragons in their forms. They are God’s sketchbook, the measure of our capacity to dream. But as we grow, they fall victim to numbing familiarity. Their poetry and majesty, though still alive in our hearts, is easily overlooked, easily ignored.

“Now, let me ask you,” she was saying, “What is a cloud like?” I returned from my reverie. The traffic was churning angrily on the rush-hour streets. Far above, the clouds were moving slowly, like horses, like carriages, like elephants holding each other’s tails. “They’re like God’s dreams,” I said. “Thank you,” she responded. She did not speak again. But her still, small smile filled the cab with the eloquence of peace.

-Kent Nerburn, from Small Graces: The Quiet Gifts of Everyday Life:


Father’s Day: Remembering

wedding2“We attend the hushed memorial service for a dead friend and find the list of his achievements moves no one in the assembly, but the atmosphere does quicken in the crowded room when his daughter speaks of all the many things he loved and everything and everyone he held in his affections. The dogs, the chopping of the wood, the homemade telescopes, the sunsets from the porch, his daughter’s children, the jokes that enlivened the long meetings at work. There is laughter, surprise, revelation. Suddenly we know who we have lost… Death is not impressed by what we have done, unless what we have done leaves a legacy of life; death’s tide washes over everything we have taken so long to write in the sand. What is remembered in all our work is what is still alive in the hearts and minds of others.”

Speaking of which, here is the reflection I wrote about my father that was included in the funeral bulletin insert. It was accompanied by a bluebird drawing my daughter made but unfortunately you can barely see it in this scan. I didn’t think to scan the original at the time and, appropriately, it is now buried with him.


Above quote from David Whyte, Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity


Sunday Morning: the Gospels aren’t social work

passion flower. 2 002“On the way home I thought of another guy I’d run into once on a sidewalk in Venice (CA). ‘Could you just stand still for a minute so I can walk around you a few times?’ he’d asked. ‘Oh absolutely,’ I’d said. And this guy who was clearly not well, who smelled, who my heart so went out to, made four or five rotations around me, politely thanked me, and went on his way.

I understood completely the thought that your entire sanity, your existence, hangs on the happening or not happening of what to others seems a random, arbitrary event.

My whole purpose on earth may have been to stand still that day so that OCD-guy could walk around me and hang on for another twenty-four hours.

The Gospels aren’t social work. They’re not about shaping ourselves and the people around us up into people who “deserve.” They’re not about an “effective” use of our money, energy, and hearts. They’re about one human being having compassion for another. They’re about love.”

Heather King, from her Lazarus at the Door blog post


Friday night glamour at Woodman’s grocery store

And here we go, our Friday night tradition: shopping at Woodman’s.

“Night, for many, especially in the tremulous expectancy of youth, can offer sudden, glamorous transformation.”

V__0572(1)Mom, you’re just standing there.

That’s because I’m just a walking debit card on Friday nights while you all run around and fill the cart.

Walking debit card! Haha. You should start calling yourself that!

She’s right, I probably should. At least being a walking debit card is a “transformation” of sorts, I guess.

Night is the time of masks, of leaving behind our daylight identities through spectacle, celebration, and intoxication. The big movie, the big party, the big game. It is dressing up, going out, putting on the Ritz of rich scents and glamours that provide us entry to worlds beyond the province of any professional work environment. The restaurant, the opera, the orchestra, the club, the clothes, the atmosphere..

The Woodman’s.

I’m not exactly leaving behind my daylight identity and dressing up. I’m still wearing what I wore to work. My co-workers would recognize me. Oops.  In fact, I have an alarming tendency to run into former co-workers here.

Night is the time for taboo, the stretching of boundaries and edges; the illicit liaison…In the night we cross boundaries that our professional personalities find hard to fathom.

Can I get a new water bottle? Popsicles? My own shampoo and conditioner so I don’t have to share?

I said no to all her attempts to stretch boundaries.

Illicit liaison? The closest I got to that tonight was when I briefly considered cheating on my usual brand of Sobe water and trying another brand. But that one was twice as expensive. Betrayal always has a price. So I passed.

Night lights are bright lights: the strip in Las Vegas, the Eiffel tower, the luminarios of Santa Fe.

The fluorescent lights at Woodman’s. Ugh. I hate flurouscent lights. The first moments of entering a store I often feel like I’m walking a bit like a drunk person until I get used to the lights.

Speaking of drunkenness:

Intoxication is foundational for most human beings, a literal or metaphorical losing of ourselves, a forgetting of the self we attempt to hold together through the controlled hours of work.

I’ll take the literal intoxication, please.

Through the window of a crowded pup in County Clare, you can look from the outer blackness of a cold, Irish night and see the lit, laughing, talking faces all pressed together…

OMG why are there lines of people in all the checkout lanes? One reason I come here on Friday nights is because there aren’t supposed to be faces all pressed together.

Night still waits for us at the end of all the drama, the fervor and the celebration. The drinking must stop, the flirtation end in commitment or aloneness. The glamour and glitter of the evening grays by morning into another, less flattering picture.

Good, I’m glad all the people having fun right now soon won’t be having fun. It’s only fair.

Night and sleep is the time of summation and integration, when we work unconsciously to thread together a bedrock identity independent of work or rational thought.

The integration of chips with salsa is the only integration I’d be interested in right now, but I forgot to buy them tonight. Sigh. That’s what I get for just standing there.

 

Excerpts from p. 218-221 of David Whyte’s Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity


TGIF! Elephants swaying to classical music


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