Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Deadlines, Real and Imagined

Writing this blog is completely voluntary, of course. No one is paying me to do it, no one is expecting me to do it. Which is why, when things are especially crazy at work, I post here later in the day.

Today has been one of those days. Having waited all day for a logical stopping point, I've finally given up. I'm writing now at an illogical stopping point — meaning that I still have work to complete before close of business.

Ironically, it's often when I telecommute that I don't post here until later in the day.  Overcompensation, a different routine, real deadlines interfering with imagined ones.

But which are more important? The real ones demand response, will get it one way or the other. The imagined ones can slip away. Does that not make them the ones that need me most?

Seems that way to me.

(Rushing here, rushing there. But at least I'm not riding Metro today.)

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Musical Measure

The other day I walked exactly as long as it took to listen to Brahms' "Variations on a Theme by Haydn." Then I turned around, walked back and listened to the same piece again. Eighteen minutes down and 18 minutes back. Adding a couple minutes on each end for the turn-around and the cool-down made it a 40-minute walk, three to four miles.

It was simple. It was pure. It was exquisite. At least the musical part.

Usually my walks are prescribed by geography — to the end of the neighborhood and back — or by time — 15 minutes out and 15 minutes back. Measuring the walk by music was deliciously different: organic and thematic.

I don't always have the freedom for a musical measure, but it's something to aspire to.

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Monday, February 26, 2018

River of Spring

We had a lot of rain over the weekend, and as I dodged the drops (not always successfully), I thought about the moistness that’s the beginning, the true origin, of spring — and of all life.

Noticing the swollen buds on the forsythia, a pinch of yellow here and there. The greening of stems, the smallest actors.

The birds get it before we do. They know the days are getting longer, the light stronger. They know the river of spring is rising.

I want to enter this river, knowing it will be muddy and cold. I want to be carried along into true spring. Beyond the pale yellow of forsythia into the pinks and whites and purples of azalea, dogwood and lilac. Right now we are on the banks, just dipping our toe into the waters. But soon we will be riding high.

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Saturday, February 24, 2018

Doves in Love

Yesterday's damp chilly walk was full of birdsong and the smell of fresh earth. I'd already heard spring peepers, and then I spied a pair of mourning doves. More signs of spring. They sat on the road until a car was almost upon them, then flew away together into the gray sky.

Mourning doves are also called rain doves, which may be why there were out and about yesterday.

And it was a good day to be out and about. A light drizzle fell, but the earth was alive in a way it hasn't been recently. No more cold, frozen ground.

As the body moves through space, thoughts move through the mind, and what was cluttered is suddenly cleared, as if a plump bird swept away the cobwebs with its swift wing.

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Friday, February 23, 2018

Post Patience

As I slowly rebuild the blog's home page inventory, I'm reminded of its original intent:
The snow has clung to every available surface. The most spindly branches of the forsythia have “Vs” of snow, and I can imagine the accumulation, patient and slow, crystal attracting crystal until little pockets formed. I hope this blog will be the same, a slow, patient accumulation of words.
Today I focus on the patience part of this equation. Patience has never been my strong suit. In the little inventory I sometimes take at the end of the day — when could I have been kinder or stronger? — many failures come down to impatience, wanting to check off a box, complete a task, rather than waiting a while, living with the the slight discomfort of uncertainty.

In Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke wrote, "Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue."

That will be my mantra today, to live with what is unsolved, to love the questions themselves.


Thursday, February 22, 2018

What Happened?

Yesterday I wrote my entry as I always do, pushed "publish," and checked to make sure the blog post was there. It was ... but nothing else. Instead of 14 posts on the page, there was only one. The other posts are reachable, but you must click on them from the right-hand column. Not a catastrophe, but not what I wanted to see at the beginning of my day.

It was, as usual, a hectic morning. I was already late. So I came into the office, hoping that when I arrived and checked the blog, it would have magically fixed itself. This is something I believe in, by the way. I've known many appliances that have fixed themselves — phones and computers and maybe, once, an answering machine.

This was not one of those times.

So now I'm writing today's post, hoping that when I push "publish," it will appear on the page — along with its 13 lost cousins.

Here goes ...

(Choosing a calm photograph this morning!)


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Writer's Writer's Writer

James Salter, I read recently, is not just a writer's writer. He is a writer's writer's writer.

I'm not sure exactly what that means, but I like the sound of it. And I agree with it. Here's why:

I had three lives, one during the day, one at night, and the last in a drawer in my room in a small book of notes. There were wonderful things in that book, things that I am unable to write or even imagine again. That they were wonderful was not my doing—I merely took the trouble to put them down.    
The poets, writers, the sages and voices of their time, they are a chorus, the anthem they share is the same: the great and small are joined, the beautiful lives, the other dies, and all is foolish except honor, love, and what little is known by the heart.
Writing is filled with uncertainty and much of what one does turns out bad, but this time, very early there was a startling glimpse, like that of a body beneath the water, pale, terrifying, the glimpse that says: it is there.
 In the darkness the soft hum of the tires on the empty road was like a cooling hand. The city had sunk to mere glowing sky. My own book was not yet published but would be. It had no dimensions, no limit to the heights it might reach. It was deep in my pocket, like an inheritance.

(These passages are from Salter's memoir, Burning the Days. Photo: detail of wall mural from Mission San Xavier del Bac, Tucson, Arizona)


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