And if thou gaze long into a blank canvas…

November 8, 2015

“If one wants to be active, one mustn’t be afraid to do something wrong sometimes, not afraid to lapse into some mistakes.  To be good – many people think that they’ll achieve it by doing no harm – and that’s a lie….  That leads to stagnation, to mediocrity.  Just slap something on it when you see a blank canvas staring at you with a sort of imbecility.

You don’t know how paralyzing it is, that stare from a blank canvas that says to the painter you can’t do anything.  The canvas has an idiotic stare, and mesmerizes some painters so that they turn into idiots themselves.

Many painters are afraid of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the truly passionate painter who dares – and who has once broken the spell of “you can’t.”

Life itself likewise always turns towards one an infinitely meaningless, discouraging, dispiriting blank side on which there is nothing, any more than on a blank canvas.

But however meaningless and vain, however dead life appears, the man of faith, of energy, of warmth, and who knows something, doesn’t let himself be fobbed off like that.  He steps in and does something, and hangs on to that…”

~Vincent van Gogh

“The best things in life…”

October 30, 2015


It’s not you, it’s not me.

October 25, 2015

“The earth was warm under me, and warm as I crumbled it through my fingers. Queer little red bugs came out and moved in slow squadrons around me. Their backs were polished vermilion, with black spots. I kept as still as I could. Nothing happened. I did not expect anything to happen. I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.”

~Willa Cather, from My Antonia

Island Earth

October 4, 2015

Chills.  When the earth disappeared, I actually felt a bit scared, as if I were lost at sea.  Later, when I read “and back to our home,” I actually felt homesick, and was looking forward to the journey, very much.


October 2, 2015

“I dunno what to tell you, Marge! I don’t think about things. I mean, I respect those who do, but… I just try and make the day not hurt until I can crawl back in with you.”

~Homer Simpson

Gratitude (RIP Oliver Sacks)

August 30, 2015

“Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.”

~Oliver Sacks

Travel Writer

August 25, 2015
     "Take some more coffee," I said.
     "Good.  Coffee is good for you.  It's the caffeine in it.  Caffeine, 
we are here.  Caffeine puts a man on her horse and a woman in 
his grave.  You know what's the trouble with you?  You're an 
expatriate.  One of the worst type.  Haven't you heard that?  Nobody 
that ever left their own country ever wrote anything worth 
printing.  Not even in the newspapers."
     He drank the coffee.
     "You're an expatriate.  You've lost touch with the soil.  You get 
precious.  Fake European standards have ruined you.  You drink 
yourself to death.  You become obsessed by sex.  You spend all your 
time talking, not working.  You are an expatriate, see?  You hang 
around cafes."
     "It sounds like a swell life," I said.

~Ernest Hemingway, from The Sun Also Rises

Resistance is Futile

July 13, 2015

Remember what it feels like when you’re snowboarding, and you start to pick up just a little too much speed, on a slope that’s just a little too steep?  First the nervousness, then the fear?  And how your muscles start to tighten up, until you realize you’re in more trouble now, because the stiffer your limbs get the less control you have over them, making it much more likely that you’re going to crash?  And how the only solution is to release, utterly, and to let your muscles relax, and to embrace the speed?

Do you remember that?

Good.  Now, release into your life.

canyons stand

How to Believe in Yesterday

May 10, 2015

The distinction between past, present and
future is only an illusion, however persistent.

~Albert Einstein

Modern physics tells us that time does not “move” forward.  Instead, time, like space, simply is.  To us humans who cannot help but perceive our lives as proceeding from yesterday to today to tomorrow, this is a mind-boggling concept.  So let’s try to wrap some more words around it….

The laws of physics do not, indeed cannot, distinguish between an event in the “past” or an event in the “future.”  In fact, these laws do not even distinguish between change which occurs “forward” in time or “backward” in time.  The arrow of time exists only in our heads.

We humans insist that the past is gone, that only those things that can be perceived right now actually exist.  Physics tells us, quite clearly, that though this is our perception, it is not reality.  The reality is that everything, whether in the past, present or future, simply exists.  Always.  This is not wishful thinking.  This is what hard science tells us is true, even if this truth, like other hard truths from science, seems patently absurd to our perceptions (like the fact that every atom making up all physical objects is mostly empty space, even though we perceive things as solid.)

Why am I harping on this this morning?  Because this seemingly absurd description of reality comforts me.  Because it means that nothing is ever lost, nothing ever dies. It means that we are still sitting at the dinner table in the old house on Wedgemere, even though you are long gone and the house has been sold away.  It means that your infectious laugh is still ringing, even if my ears can no longer hear it.

Life as Koan

March 8, 2015

It’s only confusing
if you try to figure it out.


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