Archive for the ‘Original Sins’ Category

Paint Night

August 13, 2016

What you can do in a one-night paint class when a good instructor demonstrates how to do it step by step. Cheating? Maybe. I’m okay with it. In the spirit of historically prosaic titles for great works of fine art, I call it “Red Fox and Birches”.

Red Fox and Birches

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.

“The circumference is nowhere”

January 31, 2015

I know that I have regained my center when I forgive myself both for having lost it and for the fact that I will inevitably lose it again.


October 31, 2014

Night Jacks


July 15, 2014

She was getting a little frustrated, almost angry, asking me again why I could get so sad sometimes.

“I get so happy sometimes, too,” I said.

“I know,” she said, “but why not stay that way?  Why not be happy all the time, or almost all the time?”

“Because I’m in love with life.”

Her eyes lit up.  She thought she had won the argument.  She thought there was an argument.  “Then as long as you’re alive, you should be happy.”

I shook my head.  “I don’t think love works that way.”

Say it anyway

July 9, 2014

I want you to know that you may have once said something very kind to me, or that you may yet someday say something like that, a word or thought that glows as it passes through the air to me, something simple like “Dad always said you were so talented,” or “Your smile makes my brain stop working,” and maybe I will have thanked you, or not, and maybe I will have smiled or otherwise responded in an appropriate way to let you know that I appreciate not just that you felt that way, or that he felt that way, but that you cared enough to share it with me, were brave enough to share it with me, or maybe I will not have responded much at all, but I want you to know that, later, months or years later perhaps, I will stop suddenly and have to sit down in my living room, because the mysterious circuitry of my mind will have recalled to me those words you shared and the feelings behind them, and I will hear them as clearly as if you were sitting here with me, and I will cry, I will have to wipe the tears from my eyes in order to make room for more, because the joy in my heart will not be able to burst out in any other way.

Sleeping Life

May 4, 2014

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had incredibly vivid and unusually linear, storylike, dreams.  Last night was no exception.  I’ll spare you the full account, and say only that it included teetering on the edge of a fire escape over a thousand foot cliff in Yosemite National Park, biking away from mountain lions in a San Francisco city park, watching a troupe of zombies gather peacefully outside my window, and, most powerfully, speaking with an old love for the first time in years.  (Okay, maybe they’re not always so linear.)

It was all disturbingly real, and I woke up still feeling the frozen weakness of fear in my legs as if I were still on that fire escape, and the horrible ache of lost love in my chest as if I were still hugging my old love, hearing her say my name.

I wondered why it is that dreams can seem more “real” than this world that surrounds me now.  This waking life.  Perhaps it is because, when I am in any of those dream moments, I am aware of nothing but that moment.  I’m never thinking about this waking life, or what anyone else is doing who is not right there in that dream moment with me.  In other words, I’m fully present.

In my waking life, I’m much more likely to be thinking about other things or people or times or places.  This can scatter my awareness to the point where this moment that I’m in seems less substantial.  Less real.  Which kinda sucks.

Then again, I suppose it’s hard to compare typing a blog post on your laptop with escaping from mountain lions, or holding tight to someone you love.

“There’s no there there.”

February 15, 2014

This is another beautifully evocative and mysterious quotation from Gertrude Stein.  Some say she wrote it in reference to her hometown of Oakland, as a comment on the relative lack of culture at the time.  Others say it was written in reference to the place where once stood her childhood home, since razed to the ground.

To me it seems best applied to the Future, or to any Goal we set for ourselves in that imaginary timespace.  How often do we reach that future, that goal, to find it is not what we anticipated?  That it doesn’t fill the heart the way we hoped?  That it can be described, if at all, not as the end of one line but as the beginning of some other?  Or if, indeed, it truly is the end, the destination, the final resting place, that there is an emptiness to it?

There’s no there there.  But maybe that’s okay.  It doesn’t mean there’s no there anywhere.  It just means the only there is here.  Now.

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