what makes a life

“Ordinary moments make the life. This was what [my mother] knew to be trustworthy, and this is what I learned, eventually, from those years we spent together. No leaps or falls. I inhale the little drizzly details of the past, and know who I am. What I failed to know before is clearer now, filtered up through time, an experience belonging to no one else, not remotely, no one, anyone, ever. I watch her use the roller to remove lint from her cloth coat. Define ‘lint,’ I tell myself. Define ‘time,’ define ‘space.'”

~Don DeLillo, Sine, cosine, tangent, “New Yorker,” February 22, 2016

Have I put this up here already?

“…You’ve traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the window.
Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied of expectation.
Relax. Don’t bother remembering any of it. Let’s stop here,
under the lit sign on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.”

Excerpt From: Antilamentation, Laux, Dorianne. “The Book of Men: Poems.” WW Norton, 2011. iBooks.

Agreements, Rules, Whatever; Seem like good ideas

Be impeccable with your words.

  • Speak with integrity.
  • Don’t speak against yourself or others in gossip.

Don’t take anything personally.

  • Nothing others do is because of you*
    • What they do is a projection of their own reality, their own imagination.
    • What others think of you is not only out of your control, it’s none of your business.
  • When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you will no longer suffer needlessly.

Don’t make assumptions (or force others to do so).

  • Find the courage to ask questions, and to express what you really want.
  • Communicate as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and/or drama.

Always do your best.

  • And recognize that what that is might change from moment to moment.

Make peace with your past (so it doesn’t spoil your present).

Time heals almost everything, especially if you let it.

No one is the reason for or has the responsibility of your happiness. Just you.

Don’t compare your life with others.

  • You don’t actually know much of anything about anyone else’s anyway. Chances are, if you threw everyone’s problems in a pile, you’d take yours back in a heartbeat.

Don’t think too much.

  • Sometimes you won’t know the answer, sometimes there isn’t one, hasn’t been one, never will be one.
  • Accept, move on.

At least once a day, look directly into your own eyes in the mirror, and smile. Really smile. You are a beautiful person, “in all your cracked perfection.”(1) (Remember about the cracks — “that’s how the light gets in.”(2))

 

*I think this is the most important one to remember, even though at first you might think, Yuh-huh!

(1) Clementine von Radics “Mouthful of Forevers”

(2) Leonard Cohen “Anthem”

 

the disease of busyness

Read this.

I believe it, I agree with it.

I also feel that there is too much time spent in “pursuit” of something, and not enough time left to create. People don’t sit and stare and watch the world and think creative thoughts — what happens to our poets and playwrights, our composers and artists, when every minute to spare is spent being entertained by our phones? Parents drive their children to take more and more AP classes and to be on every academic team available and to prepare for way too many standardized tests, but don’t support their school district’s music and art programs and, as soon as the child gets “too busy,” discontinues their music lessons, even though this is probably the ONE area of the child’s life that involves personal expression, investigation, long-term discipline and artistic creativity.

I’m aware of this almost daily when I contemplate how much more financially comfortable my family could be if I were willing to work more hours and realize that I really don’t want to. That my time for yoga and reading and knitting and weaving and sitting on the couch every night with my husband watching hockey or Netflix movies or worthwhile TV series on DVDs (currently The Good Wife, although we’re almost out of discs — any recommendations?) is as or more important to my and my family’s comfort and happiness than a few hundred more dollars a month in our checking account. And then I’m SO grateful that I have that option, that I get to make that DECISION rather than being forced to work 2 or 3 minimum-wage jobs just to pay the mortgage and buy minimal groceries — a situation I know is true for many.

But many of these choices that lead to what I’m going to call Diseased Busyness ARE choices. Even Only Daughter right now has 3, 14-hour days each week because of extensive Nutcracker rehearsals. She leaves the house at 7 a.m.; is home for half an hour and then at ballet until 9 (if they let her out on time, which they rarely do), at which point she comes home and eats dinner and does her homework. She’s not getting enough sleep, she’s stressed half the time, she’s probably not eating enough, but this is just for a couple of months, so I accept it. Even though I don’t think it’s particularly good for her in a short-term sense, I believe it is in the long-term, but only because it is short term. Does that make any sense?

Anyway, I fear this lack of “down” will exact a cost on all of us, on society, ultimately on our success as PEOPLE (not automatons, not worker bees, but thinking/feeling/creative/compassionate people).

I believe it so much I’m going to do something I don’t usually do, but post this on BOTH of my blogs, and link to it on my personal AND professional Facebook pages.

Let’s start a rebellion. Let’s not over schedule. Let’s not pull out our phones when we have less than 10 minutes to wait for something. Let’s try to maintain a balance for ourselves and our children of work-, hobby-, and creative/artistic pursuits. Let’s leave our houses dirty and eat dinner together. And when we ask someone how they are, ask how their heart is — not about how many awards their child has won or how many committees they are on, but really ask — How ARE you? And then take those minutes (since you’re not going on your phone anyway, remember?) to really listen to the answer.

the joy of the ordinary

Do not ask your children to strive for
extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is a way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples, pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.

~William Martin