Notes from “A Tale for the Time Being”

Just finished this wonderful novel by Ruth Ozeki.

I won’t spoil it, but there are a few things I highlighted that seemed worth sharing here.

Comparing reading typed text and written:

“Handwriting, by contrast, resists the eye, reveals its meaning slowly, and is as intimate as skin.”

“…but they weren’t tears. She wasn’t crying. They were just the memories, leaking out.”

“Both life and death manifest in every moment of existence. Our human body appears and disappears moment by moment, without cease, and this ceaseless arising and passing away is what we experience as time and being. They are not separate. They are one thing, and in even a fraction of a second, we have the opportunity to choose, and to turn the course of our action either toward the attainment of truth or away from it. Each instant is utterly critical to the whole world.”

“The ancient Greeks believed that when you read aloud, it was actually the dead, borrowing your tongue, in order to speak again.”

“…not-knowing keeps all the possibilities open. It keeps all the worlds alive.”

If you haven’t read it yet, get thee hence.

Not that, but everything else

Last night as I was waiting to fall asleep, I had what seemed almost like a moment of enlightenment that included the knowledge that my “hold” on living was a conscious one, something that could be let go of at any time. I walked up to the edge and peered over, feeling all of those things that cause suffering — regrets, disappointments in my self and others, worry — drift away. A few moments later I felt the slight panic I often feel in the middle of a hot flash, and sat up, desperately, as if some part of me said “No. Not yet.” I lay there then for a while, wondering if I could just let go of all that suffering while I keep hold on the living.

Now of course it’s entirely possible, likely in fact, that I was just dreaming. But the rest of it seems like something to try.

True Love is Unconditional

I’m going to put this here partly so I can find it again, and partly because I think it’s really interesting, true, and important (which is basically why I want to be able to find it again).

Only click if you don’t mind gratuitous swearing. I love Mark Manson, but he does have a bit of what my mother would call a “potty mouth.”

Also thinking that the best place to start is to turn all that unconditional love on oneself. [Ommmmm…..]


The (?) reason for living

From “The Famished Road,” by Ben Okri

“…Could these be the reason why I wanted to be born – these paradoxes of things, the eternal changes, the riddle of living while one is alive, the mystery of being, of births within births, death within births, births within dying, the challenge of giving birth to one’s true self, to one’s new spirit, till the conditions are right for the new immutable star within one’s universe to come into existence; the challenge to grow and learn and love, to master one’s self; the possibilities of a new pact with one’s spirit, the probability that no injustice lasts forever, no love ever dies, that no light is ever really extinguished, that no true road is ever complete, that no way is ever definitive, no truth ever final, and that there are never really any beginnings or endings?”

Ah, he asks the tough questions, doesn’t he.


Just joined a meditation/mindfulness group this week. Last night was my first visit. An hour of meditation. I think there might have been 2 minutes of all the little fragments added together where I was only “thinking” about my breath. But I guess it’s a start.

The hour also didn’t feel like seven, so that must mean something.

We were just emailed the subject of the next two weeks, with this blog post attached.

Last night’s guided meditation (after the hour of “just” meditation) was on equanimity. Recognizing that all things rise and fall, and reminding ourselves to observe those things with compassion and balance. I spoke during the discussion on the freeing revelation I had a couple of years ago that I can actually care a great deal about the happiness of the people I love; but that I am not personally responsible for it beyond my own actions.

This sentence from the lionsroar post speaks to me profoundly today as well:

“We free ourselves from what offends us not by turning away from the people with these faults, but by dropping the need to make others responsible for not being how we think they should be.”

Ah, yes.


Each one is a gift, no doubt,
mysteriously placed in your waking hand
or set upon your forehead
moments before you open your eyes.

Today begins cold and bright,
the ground heavy with snow
and the thick masonry of ice,
the sun glinting off the turrets of clouds.

Through the calm eye of the window
everything is in its place
but so precariously
this day might be resting somehow

on the one before it,
all the days of the past stacked high
like the impossible tower of dishes
entertainers used to build on stage.

No wonder you find yourself
perched on the top of a tall ladder
hoping to add one more.
Just another Wednesday,

you whisper,
then holding your breath,
place this cup on yesterday’s saucer
without the slightest clink.

~Billy Collins

Meditation before the Kaddish

When I die give what’s left of me away
to children and old men that wait to die.
And if you need to cry,
cry for your brother walking the street beside you.
And when you need me, put your arms around anyone
and give them what you need to give me.

I want to leave you something,
something better than words or sounds.
Look for me in the people I’ve known or loved,
and if you cannot give me away,
at least let me live in your eyes and not in your mind.

You can love me best by letting hands touch hands,
and by letting go of children that need to be free.
Love doesn’t die, people do.
So, when all that’s left of me is love,
give me away.

It might be the Lexapro

Before I had cancer
I knew I wouldn’t live forever, but thought maybe I might
I cared what other people thought
and daily
thanked my feet for carrying me
my kidneys for doing their job

and almost always ate my vegetables.

When I had cancer
I feared I might not live at all
and my eyes cried for days,
and I realized I didn’t really care even what
I thought
much less anyone else

and my body felt like a time bomb (traitor) that only I could hear.

After I had cancer
I stopped living all of my unlived lives
and realized that having always done my best
was, actually, having done enough
and I ran into something I didn’t recognize,
but It felt a little like joy

of course, it might be the Lexapro.

But sometimes it seems I’m crying still
in dreams I don’t remember.