AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

31 May 2012

4.

Poet Rives does 8 minutes of lyrical origami, folding history into a series of coincidences surrounding that most surreal of hours, 4 o'clock in the morning.



Thanks, Randolfo.

30 May 2012

Be.


Get some sleep.

Eat an orange every morning.

Be friendly. It will help make you happy.

Hope for everything. Expect nothing.

Take care of things close to home first. Straighten up your room
before you save the world. Then save the world.

Be nice to people before they have a chance to behave badly.

Don't stay angry about anything for more than a week, but don't
forget what made you angry. Hold your anger out at arm's length
and look at it, as if it were a glass ball. Then add it to your glass
ball collection.

Wear comfortable shoes.

Do not spend too much time with large groups of people.

Plan your day so you never have to rush.

Show your appreciation to people who do things for you, even if
you have paid them, even if they do favors you don't want.

After dinner, wash the dishes.

Calm down.

Don't expect your children to love you, so they can, if they want
to.

Don't be too self-critical or too self-congratulatory.

Don't think that progress exists. It doesn't.

Imagine what you would like to see happen, and then don't do
anything to make it impossible.

Forgive your country every once in a while. If that is not
possible, go to another one.

If you feel tired, rest.

Don't be depressed about growing older. It will make you feel
even older. Which is depressing.

Do one thing at a time.

If you burn your finger, put ice on it immediately. If you bang
your finger with a hammer, hold your hand in the air for 20
minutes. you will be surprised by the curative powers of ice and
gravity.

Do not inhale smoke.

Take a deep breath.

Do not smart off to a policeman.

Be good.

Be honest with yourself, diplomatic with others.

Do not go crazy a lot. It's a waste of time.

Drink plenty of water. When asked what you would like to
drink, say, "Water, please."

Take out the trash.

Love life.

Use exact change.

When there's shooting in the street, don't go near the window.


- Ron Padgett

Doc Watson, R.I.P.



I'm very appreciative of your introduction, John,

Head in the clouds.

Frazier, Untitled, 2012


Thanks, Pops!

Study.


One of the best Baba Ram Jimmy interviews I've ever heard ...

If you spend a lot of time in the woods and see a lot of bears, obviously you reach a point where you know a bear is not just a bear and a wolf is not just a [wolf]. In that sense it's what Wallace Stevens said, "We were all Indians once." If you really study crows and ravens for a long time, you don't overlook their splendors and peculiarities. Most of the bad attitudes against the natural world, of course, come from utter ignorance of the processes of the natural world. If you really knew what a river was you couldn't dump all that garbage in it, but most of the people who dump the garbage in the river don't have any idea what a river is.

You can't count on much, so listen, become exposed, and get properly attuned, but "don't get goofy about it" ... here.

Thanks, Writers & Company.

Thought.

From the fine folks at the Open University comes 60-Second Adventures in Thought, a fascinating and delightfully animated series exploring six famous thought experiments.

The Twin Paradox, first explained by Paul Langevin in 1911, examines special relativity:



More at Brain Pickings.

29 May 2012

Willy Tea Taylor, "Life is Beautiful"

It's playin' catch with my boy ...

Instant.

Larson, The Family Tree, Undated


Casting an over-the-shoulder glance, a male grizzly takes a second look at a favorite oak tree. Was that an acorn he had missed? Or, for an instant, had he seen in the twigs and branches, a mate with a cub or two, or perhaps three?

Judy Larson's site is here.

Thank you, Michelle.

One.

Fouch, Joseph, 1877


The Earth was created by the assistance of the sun, and it should be left as it was. The country was made with no lines of demarcation, and it's no man's business to divide it. I see the whites all over the country gaining wealth, and I see the desire to give us lands which are worthless.

The Earth and myself are of one mind. Perhaps you think the Creator sent you here to dispose of us as you see fit. If I thought you were sent by the creator, I might he induced to think you had a right to dispose of me.

Do not misunderstand me; but understand me fully with reference to my affection for the land. I never said the land was mine to do with as I choose. The one who has a right to dispose of it is the one who created it. I claim a right to live on my land, and accord you the privilege to return to yours.

Brother, we have listened to your talk coming from our father, the Great White Chief in Washington, and my people have called upon me to reply to you.

In the winds which pass through these aged pines we hear the moaning of departed ghosts, and if the voice of our people could have been heard, that act would never have been done. But alas though they stood around they could neither be seen nor heard. Their tears fell like drops of rain.

I hear my voice in the depths of the forest but no answering voice comes back to me. All is silent around me. My words must therefore be few. I can now say no more. He is silent for he has nothing to answer when the sun goes down.


- Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt, or Thunder Rolling Down the Mountain, or Chief Joseph

Confidence.

David Kelley discusses the process of gaining confidence by turning fear into familiarity ...

Lights.

This video explains how particles originating from deep inside the core of the sun create the northern lights, also called aurora borealis.

Better.


Perhaps the more important power of Mindfulness is
its power to deal with distress. After practicing
Mindfulness for a while, we would make an important
discovery, that we tend to REACT towards situations.
When something happens, or somebody says or does
something, we react with anger, or happiness, or
hatred etc etc. From here, I learned the first and
most important lesson about happiness, that I am fully
responsible for how I feel. Thus, it is not skillful
to say, "he MAKES ME feel angry". If he "MAKES me"
feel angry, then why is it that ten other people in
the same situation would react in ten different ways?
And not all of them would be angry.

The truth is that *I* react with anger to the
situation. So it's more skillful to say, "*I* feel
angry about what he said", instead of "*HE* makes
me...". There is an important difference here. The
difference is that I take full responsibility for my
own feelings instead of putting the responsibility on
somebody else, and I started to look towards myself
for my own happiness. That, I realized, is the key to
happiness. If only we could work with our reactions,
we would stop being angry, or be less angry, in the
same situation. The same applies to other painful
feelings like disappointment, hatred etc.

This is where the power of Mindfulness lies. When I am
mindful of my state of mind and emotions at all time,
I begin to get a "feel" of how it works. When
something happens, I notice "anger
arising...arising...", and after a while, "anger
falling ... falling..., feeling of regret arising
...", and so on. What is most amazing is that after a
while, I began to develop some mastery over my
reactions! So when anger or hatred arises, I was
mindful of its arising and thus able to dissipate it.
I was no longer a slave of my reactions, getting
swamped by my feelings, but I had developed some say
of how I should feel.

The wonderful thing is that now, I was able to
practice what I already knew. In the past, I knew, for
example, that I should not have shouted at my friend.
Unfortunately, I couldn't control myself, and this "I
knew I shouldn't have" becomes just an elusive,
useless knowledge. It's just like a compulsive
gambler, he *KNOWS* for a fact that what he is doing
is hurting himself and his family, but he simply
couldn't help it. He has no mastery over himself. With
Mindfulness, I began to develop some mastery over
myself and I became more able to apply the "I should
not do it" knowledge to make my life better.

I discovered that with Mindfulness, I am more able to
work with my feelings. I became more patient, less
likely to be angry, more able to take disappointments,
more able to accept myself and those around me. I am
also more appreciative, my emotions more peaceful, and
my mind more concentrated. Simply put, I feel better.


~by Tan Chade Meng

28 May 2012

Brave.


The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.

- Patrick Henry

In memory of those brave men and women in our Armed Forces who have paid the ultimate cost to preserve our blessed freedoms.

Happy Birthday, Gibby.


My all-time favorite Tiger, Kirk Gibson, was born on this date in 1957.

The Detroit Athletic Club remembers Gibby's dinger off of Gossage in the 1984 World Series ...

Gossage had faced Gibson late in Game Four the day before, coaxing Gibby into a harmless popout. The Tigers won that game, and now they were trying to tack on some insurance runs late in Game Five on a Sunday evening at Tiger Stadium. Gossage walked Marty Castillo to start the 8th. Whitaker followed with a bunt that was misplayed by the Padre infield. Runners were now on first and second. Sparky asked Trammell, despite his hot-hitting, to bunt the runners over, which he did. That put runners at second and third with first base open and Gibson coming to the plate. San Diego manager Dick Williams instructed Gossage to walk Gibson to set up a double play situation and force at any base. But Goose, recalling his tremendous success against Gibson in the past, motioned that he didn’t want to issue the free pass. Williams trotted out to the dugout, and after a discussion on the mound that included much of the Padre infield, Gossage won the argument. He would get to face Gibson.

Famously, an isolated camera and microphone documented Sparky Anderson’s reaction to the scenario. The gum-chewing Tiger manager was amazed that Williams was swayed by Gossage. “No sonofabitch is going to tell me what to do, I can guarantee you that,” Sparky said to coach Roger Craig as he witnessed Williams go to the mound to debate with Gossage.

But Gossage did persuade Williams and he was allowed to pitch to Gibson. Pitch one was deposited into the right field upper deck by a powerful swing from Gibson’s bat. It was the first home run Gibson hit off Gossage, the pitcher who had welcomed him to the big leagues by striking him out in his first at-bat, and who had manhandled the Detroit hitter for so long.

Detroit fans don’t need me to tell them what happened next. Gibson pounced around the bases, fists in the air, while the Tiger Stadium crowd shook the old ballpark with their approval. Everyone knew that the Tigers would be World Champions. They’d really known it since April, but the World Series was the final chapter. Gibson’s blast off Gossage was the exclamation point. He would never get another hit off the Goose, but it didn’t matter. He’d won the most important battle.


Read the rest here.

Watch with Sparky ...

25 May 2012

Happy Birthday, Emerson.


Ralph Waldo Emerson was born on this date in 1803.

Bacchus

Bring me wine, but wine which never grew
In the belly of the grape,
Or grew on vine whose tap-roots, reaching through
Under the Andes to the Cape,
Suffer'd no savour of the earth to 'scape.

Let its grapes the morn salute
From a nocturnal root,
Which feels the acrid juice
Of Styx and Erebus;
And turns the woe of Night,
By its own craft, to a more rich delight.

We buy ashes for bread;
We buy diluted wine;
Give me of the true,
Whose ample leaves and tendrils curl'd
Among the silver hills of heaven
Draw everlasting dew;
Wine of wine,
Blood of the world,
Form of forms, and mould of statures,
That I intoxicated,
And by the draught assimilated,
May float at pleasure through all natures;
The bird-language rightly spell,
And that which roses say so well:

Wine that is shed
Like the torrents of the sun
Up the horizon walls,
Or like the Atlantic streams, which run
When the South Sea calls.

Water and bread,
Food which needs no transmuting,
Rainbow-flowering, wisdom-fruiting,
Wine which is already man,
Food which teach and reason can.

Wine which Music is,--
Music and wine are one,--
That I, drinking this,
Shall hear far Chaos talk with me;
Kings unborn shall walk with me;
And the poor grass shall plot and plan
What it will do when it is man.
Quicken'd so, will I unlock
Every crypt of every rock.
I thank the joyful juice
For all I know;
Winds of remembering
Of the ancient being blow,
And seeming-solid walls of use
Open and flow.

Pour, Bacchus! the remembering wine;
Retrieve the loss of me and mine!
Vine for vine be antidote,
And the grape requite the lote!
Haste to cure the old despair;
Reason in Nature's lotus drench'd--
The memory of ages quench'd--
Give them again to shine;
Let wine repair what this undid;
And where the infection slid,
A dazzling memory revive;
Refresh the faded tints,
Recut the agèd prints,
And write my old adventures with the pen
Which on the first day drew,
Upon the tablets blue,
The dancing Pleiads and eternal men.

Happy Birthday, Weller.

Paul Weller was born on this date in 1958.

Above the Clouds

Autumn blew its leaves at me,
Threatening winter as I walked.
Summer always goes so quick, Barely stopping like my thoughts.
Which dip and spin and change so fast
I have to wonder - Will I last.

Through the windows of the train,
I caught reflections of a paper cup,
Hanging small in a pale blue sky,
Never knowing which way's up.

Above the clouds, what's to be found,
I have to wonder - Will I be around.
As my anger shouts - At my own self doubt,
So a sadness creeps - Into my dreams
When you're scared of living - But afraid to die
I get scared of giving - And I must find the faith to beat it

I must be me that's rushing by,
Time just lingers on the wind.
Bristlin' through my open fears,
I wonder what it's going to bring.

Above the clouds, what's to be found,
I have to wonder - Will I be around.

Run and hide, run and hide
I catch the sail at evening's tide.


Happy Birthday, Roethke.


Poet and good ol' Saginaw boy Theodore Roethke was born on this date in 1908.

In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
I hear my echo in the echoing wood--
A lord of nature weeping to a tree.
I live between the heron and the wren,
Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.
What's madness but nobility of soul
At odds with circumstance? The day's on fire!
I know the purity of pure despair,
My shadow pinned against a sweating wall.
That place among the rocks--is it a cave,
Or a winding path? The edge is what I have.

A steady storm of correspondences!
A night flowing with birds, a ragged moon,
And in broad day the midnight come again!
A man goes far to find out what he is--
Death of the self in a long, tearless night,
All natural shapes blazing unnatural light.

Dark, dark my light, and darker my desire.
My soul, like some heat-maddened summer fly,
Keeps buzzing at the sill. Which I is I?
A fallen man, I climb out of my fear.
The mind enters itself, and God the mind,
And one is One, free in the tearing wind.

Systematic.

You want to have a mind that’s open enough to accept radical new ideas, but not so open that your brains fall out.

The above sentiment in particular echoes this beautiful definition of science as “systematic wonder” driven by an osmosis of empirical rigor and imaginative whimsy.

The complete checklist:

1. How reliable is the source of the claim?

2. Does the source make similar claims?

3. Have the claims been verified by somebody else?

4. Does this fit with the way the world works?

5. Has anyone tried to disprove the claim?

6. Where does the preponderance of evidence point?

7. Is the claimant playing by the rules of science?

8. Is the claimant providing positive evidence?

9. Does the new theory account for as many phenomena as the old theory?

10. Are personal beliefs driving the claim?




This "Baloney Detection Kit" is brought to you by Brain Pickings.

Relearn.


"To cancel the fluxes, to lower the self-controlling guard, to accept exploding from time to time: this is what we should do with our brain. It is time to remember that some explosions are not in fact terrorist – explosions of rage, for example. Perhaps we ought to relearn how to enrage ourselves, to explode against a certain culture of docility, of amenity, of the effacement of all conflict even as we live in a state of permanent war. It is not because the struggle has changed form, it is not because it is no longer possible to fight a boss, owner, or father that there is no struggle to wage against exploitation. To ask “what should we do with our brain?” is above all to visualize the possibility of saying no to an afflicting economic, political, and mediatic culture that celebrates only the triumph of flexibility, blessing obedient individuals who have no greater merit than that of knowing how to bow their heads with a smile."

Dr. Jan Slaby reviews Catherine Malabou book, What Should We Do with our Brain?, at The Creativity Post.

These are important issues related to metacognition that kids need to be taught early in school.

24 May 2012

Paul Thorn, "That's Life"



Thanks, Mom.

Achieve.


That’s three times more than I ever achieve on an average Saturday, yet we left home late in the morning and did everything at a snail’s pace!

I usually run round like a crazy person all day, never stopping, and achieve about one thing. So big lesson number one, just what the hare and the tortoise fable tried to show us when we were young: there’s no hurry!


Read the rest and don't miss the picture at Being Happiness..

22 May 2012

Wings.

Doolittle, When The Wind Had Wings (detail), 1994


A broken song beneath the snow, the echo of a soaring joy, a shape in the mist, a touch in the rain, in the wilderness you come again ... you tell us what we used to know... you speak for all the free wild things whose ways were ours when the wind had wings.

- Bev Doolittle

See the whole image here.

Thank you, Michelle.

Ravel, Piano Concerto in G major

Hélène Grimaud performs the Adagio assai ...

Choose.


David Foster Wallace
Kenyon Commencement Speech 2005

It is extremely difficult to stay alert and attentive, instead of getting hypnotized by the constant monologue inside your own head (may be happening right now). Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about “the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master.”

This is Water, Part 1 ...



Part 2 ...



Thank you, Denouement.

Dawn.


The rosey fingered goddess of the dawn performs at wanderations.

Art.


Art music has been one of the pleasures of my life – playing instruments, going to concerts, listening to it on LP, then CD. Playing in an orchestra was one source of joy; another was discovering one composer's world after another; another was the pilgrimage paid to hear the Berlin Philharmonic at its source, or Wagner on a Bavarian stage. I never thought that everyone would share my love for the Chopin Études, or Debussy's La Mer. But it never occurred to me that the whole art would diminish, in this country; that "music" would come entirely to mean pop music.

The art seems likely to survive in the hands of bad practitioners. There is now something called an opera singer who has never, and could never, sing an opera on a professional stage. There is now so much more of an audience for so-called "classical crossover" artists, giving a traduced idea of a Rossini aria, than ever before. There is space on television for people who can't conduct and can't sing – Maestro and Popstar to Operastar – but not for people who can. Soon, we will be asked to admire a pretty girl playing a first-month piano exercise with elaborate orchestration behind her. The art acquired over a lifetime will be sought out for admiration by a diminishing few.


Read the rest at The Independent.

20 May 2012

Extraordinary.

Firchau, 4 fish, 2012


The future belongs to God, and it is only he who reveals it, under extraordinary circumstances. How do I guess at the future? Based on the omens of the present. The secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And, if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better. Forget about the future, and live ach day according to the teachings, confident that God loves his children. Each day, in itself, brings with it an eternity.

- Paulo Coelho

Thanks, Zuzu!!!

Eclipse.


An annular eclipse happens whenever the new moon swings directly in front of the sun, blocking out all but the outer portion of the solar disk from view. This kind of eclipse presents an apparent ring of fire – really, the outer edge of the sun – around the moon in the daytime sky at mid-eclipse.

This annular – ring of fire – eclipse will be visible from China and Japan on May 21, 2012. Outside the path of the annular eclipse, sky watchers in much of northern, central and southeastern Asia will see a partial solar eclipse. See below for a worldwide map and for eclipse times in both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres!


Read the rest at EarthSky.

Mindfulness.

Professor Mark Williams, a leading authority on mindfulness, takes to our pulpit to explore the science behind it and look at its practical application in everyday life. He takes us through the myths, realities, and benefits of meditation, and looks at how such practices can help us to live lives of greater presence, productive and peace.

19 May 2012

Your.

Award-winning author and graphic novelist Neil Gaiman delivered the keynote address and received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts (HDFA) at the University of the Arts' 134th Commencement, held May 17, 2012, at the Academy of Music on Philadelphia's Avenue of the Arts. In his first-ever university commencement address, he urged young artists to "make good art."

"The one thing you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and dance and build and play and dance and live as only you can. The moment that you feel that just possibly you are walking down the street naked…that's the moment you may be starting to get it right."




Thank you, Underpaintings.

Beethoven, Symphony No. 3 in E flat major (Op. 55), "Eroica"

Leonard Bernstein conducts the Vienna Philharmonic ...

Present.


Being present is undoubtedly the only way to enjoy life to the fullest. By being mindful, you enjoy your food more, you enjoy friends and family more, you enjoy anything you’re doing more. Anything. Even things you might think are drudgery or boring, such as housework, can be amazing if you are truly present. Try it — wash dishes or sweep or cook, and remain fully present. It takes practice, but it’s incredible.

How to Be Mindful

1. Do one thing at a time. Single-task, don’t multi-task. When you’re pouring water, just pour water. When you’re eating, just eat. When you’re bathing, just bathe. Don’t try to knock off a few tasks while eating or bathing or driving. Zen proverb: “When walking, walk. When eating, eat.”

2. Do it slowly and deliberately. You can do one task at a time, but also rush that task. Instead, take your time, and move slowly. Make your actions deliberate, not rushed and random. It takes practice, but it helps you focus on the task.

3. Do less. If you do less, you can do those things more slowly, more completely and with more concentration. If you fill your day with tasks, you will be rushing from one thing to the next without stopping to think about what you do. But you’re busy and you can’t possibly do less, right? You can. I’ve done it, and so have many busy people. It’s a matter of figuring out what’s important, and letting go of what’s not. Read more: The Lazy Manifesto: Do Less.

4. Put space between things. Related to the “Do less” rule, but it’s a way of managing your schedule so that you always have time to complete each task. Don’t schedule things close together — instead, leave room between things on your schedule. That gives you a more relaxed schedule, and leaves space in case one task takes longer than you planned.

5. Spend at least 5 minutes each day doing nothing. Just sit in silence. Become aware of your thoughts. Focus on your breathing. Notice the world around you. Become comfortable with the silence and stillness. It’ll do you a world of good — and just takes 5 minutes!

6. Stop worrying about the future – focus on the present. Become more aware of your thinking — are you constantly worrying about the future? Learn to recognize when you’re doing this, and then practice bringing yourself back to the present. Just focus on what you’re doing, right now. Enjoy the present moment.

7. When you’re talking to someone, be present. How many of us have spent time with someone but have been thinking about what we need to do in the future? Or thinking about what we want to say next, instead of really listening to that person? Instead, focus on being present, on really listening, on really enjoying your time with that person.

8. Eat slowly and savor your food. Food can be crammed down our throats in a rush, but where’s the joy in that? Savor each bite, slowly, and really get the most out of your food. Interestingly, you’ll eat less this way, and digest your food better as well.

9. Live slowly and savor your life. Just as you would savor your food by eating it more slowly, do everything this way — slow down and savor each and every moment. As I type this, for example, I have my 3-year-old daughter, Noelle, on my lap. She’s just sitting here quietly, as the rain pours down in a hush outside. What a lovely moment. In fact, I’m going to take a few minutes off just to be with her now. Be right back. :)

10. Make cleaning and cooking become meditation. Cooking and cleaning are often seen as drudgery, but actually they are both great ways to practice mindfulness, and can be great rituals performed each day. If cooking and cleaning seem like boring chores to you, try doing them as a form of meditation. Put your entire mind into those tasks, concentrate, and do them slowly and completely. It could change your entire day (as well as leave you with a cleaner house).

11. Keep practicing. When you get frustrated, just take a deep breath. When you ask yourself, “What should I do now, Self?”, the answer is “keep practicing”.


Read the rest at Zen Habits.

Full.

Live the full life of the mind, exhilarated by new ideas, intoxicated by the Romance of the unusual.

- Ernest Hemingway

Grow.


I suspect many people never get a handle on their creative identity. They take their urges, their biases, their work habits for granted. But a little self-knowledge goes a long way. If you understand the strands of your creative DNA, you begin to see how they mutate into common threads in yoyr work. You begin to see the "story" that you're trying to tell; why you do things you do (both positive and self-destructive); where you are strong and where you are weak (which prevents a lot of false starts), and how you see the world and function in it.

Take the following questionnaire. If even one answer tells you something about yourself, you're one step closer to understanding your creative DNA. There are no right or wrong answers here. The exercise is intended for your eyes only, which means no cheating, no answers to impress other people. It's supposed to be an honest self-appraisal of what matters to you. Anything less is a distortion. I urge you to answer quickly, instinctively. Don't dawdle.

Your Creative Autobiography

1. What is the first creative moment you remember?
2. Was anyone there to witness or appreciate it?
3. What is the best idea you've ever had?
4. What made it great in your mind?
5. What is the dumbest?
6. What made it stupid?
7. Can you connect the dots that led you to this idea?
8. What is your creative ambition?
9. What are the obstacles to this ambition?
10. What are the vital steps to achieving this ambition?
11. How do you begin your day?
12. What are your habits? What patterns do you repeat?
13. Describe your first successful creative act.
14. Describe your second successful creative act.
15. Compare them.
16. What are your attitudes toward: money, power, praise,rivals,work, play?
17. Which artists do you admire most?
18. Why are they your role models?
19. What do you and your role models have in common?
20. Does anyone in your life regularly inspire you?
21. Who is your muse?
22. Define muse.
23. When confronted with superior intelligence or talent, how do you respond?
24. When faced with stupidity, hostility, intransigence, laziness, or indifference in others, how do you respond?
25. When faced with impending success or the threat of failure, how do you respond?
26. When you work, do you love the process or the result?
27. At what moments do you feel your reach exceeds your grasp?
28. What is your ideal creative activity?
29. What is your greatest fear?
30. What is the likelihood of either of the answers to the previous two questions happening?
31. Which of the answers would you most like to change?
32. What is your idea of mastery?
33. What is your greatest dream?

I devised this questionnaire because it forces us to go back to our origins, our earliest memories, our first causes. We change through life, but we cannot deny our sources, and this test is one way to recall these roots.

The better you know yourself, the more you will know when you are playing to your strengths and when you are sticking your neck out. Venturing out of your comfort zone may be dangerous, yet you do it anyway because our ability to grow is directly proportional to an ability to entertain the the uncomfortable.


- Twyla Tharp, from The Creative Habit

Out.

Collins, Ocean Waves with Storm Clouds, 2007


A life on the ocean wave,
A home on the rolling deep,
Where the scattered waters rave,
And the winds their revels keep!
Like an eagle caged, I pine
On this dull, unchanging shore:
Oh! give me the flashing brine,
The spray and the tempest's roar!

Once more on the deck I stand
Of my own swift-gliding craft:
Set sail! farewell to the land!
The gale follows fair abaft.
We shoot through the sparkling foam
Like an ocean-bird set free; -
Like the ocean-bird, our home
We'll find far out on the sea.

The land is no longer in view,
The clouds have begun to frown;
But with a stout vessel and crew,
We'll say, Let the storm come down!
And the song of our hearts shall be,
While the winds and the waters rave,
A home on the rolling sea!
A life on the ocean wave!


- Epes Sargent

Now.

Karr, Untitled, 2012


Letting Go Of What Cannot Be Held Back

Let go of the dead now.
The rope in the water,
the cleat on the cliff,
do them no good anymore.
Let them fall, sink, go away,
become invisible as they tried
so hard to do in their own dying.
We needed to bother them
with what we called help.
We were the needy ones.
The dying do their own work with
tidiness, just the right speed,
sometimes even a little
satisfaction. So quiet down.
Let them go. Practice
your own song. Now.


- Bill Holm

Thanks, Jess.

Robert Plant & The Band of Joy, "Harm's Swift Way"

There is a home out of harm's swift way
I set myself to find
I swore to my love I would
Bring her there
Then I left my love behind
The desert was long
The mountain high
The road ran steep and winding
The promises so easily made
Unbearable, yet binding
Oh me, oh my
Who's gonna count my time

Time will go, it never stays
Memory locked in her passing
Try, oh try to cling to her
Until she becomes everlasting
The world's still blue
My word's still true
I feel I'm turning hollow
She does as she please
If ever she leaves
I'll strangle upon the sorrow
Oh me, oh my
Who's gonna mark my time

The road is past, tomorrow the sky
Between sometimes is blinding
Someday soon when I turn to cloud
I will fly on her wings somehow
Wrapped in the road and filled with above
The ground seems to fade away
Hold to the earth like a new born child
Pray she returns someday
Oh me, oh my
Who's gonna mark my time


Gem.


Someone referred to the effort as "just a one-hitter." Verlander has spoiled us. But in many ways this one-hit gem further validated his 2011 American League MVP. How many times last season did he stop a slide, putting whatever struggles befuddling the team in the rearview mirror, if only momentarily?

More at The Freep.

Thanks, JV.

Silence.

Karr, Untitled, 2012


All Profound things, and emotions of things are preceded and attended by Silence … Silence is the general consecration of the Universe. Silence is the invisible laying on of the Divine Pontiff’s hands upon the world. Silence is at once the most harmless and the most awful thing in all Nature. It speaks of the Reserved Forces of Fate. Silence is the only Voice of our God.

- Herman Melville

Thanks for sharing the wonder of your art, Jess.

18 May 2012

George Strait, "Murder on Music Row"

WANTED for crimes against humanity: Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift, and Rascal Flatts ...

One.


Freight Train just one-hit the Pirates.

Read it at The Freep.

Appreciating.


Remember, you're not looking for things to appreciate—you're appreciating the things you sense.

Reminders for mindful living at Psychology Today.

Smoking.


I remember the feeling more than the sound; a palpable ‘crack’ shattered through the bones of our house. At first we thought it was a car accident or maybe a gas explosion, but as we looked out the bay window to the north, we knew it was far worse... a mushroom cloud vigorously boiled up over the Portland skyline.

The youngest of the Cascade volcanoes, Mount St. Helens has always had the geological temperament of a teenage girl, marked by no less than four Current Era outbursts rivaling that which we experienced the morning of May 18, 32 years ago today. The peak's personality played a prominent figure in Native American oral history. According to the Klickitats, she was caught in a love triangle with two brothers who destroyed villages and territory while vying for her attention. As punishment, the chief of the gods turned all three to stone: Adams to the north, Hood to the south, and Loowit, to the west, became Louwala-Clough—or smoking mountain.


Read the rest at The Cleanest Line.

The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens leveled surrounding forest, blasted away over a thousand feet of the mountain's summit, and claimed 57 human lives.

Landsat satellites have tracked the recovery of the surrounding forest. This video shows that recovery, in a timelapse of annual images from 1979-2011.


Happy Birthday, Strait.

George Strait was born on this date in 1952.

"There Stands The Glass"



"All My Ex's Live In Texas"



"Twang"

17 May 2012

Lusting.


How Mexican food became more American than apple pie ...

That you have a nation (and increasingly a planet—you can find Mexican restaurants from Ulan Bator to Sydney to Prague) lusting after tequila, guacamole, and tres leches cake isn’t an exercise in culinary neocolonialism but something closer to the opposite. By allowing itself to be endlessly adaptable to local tastes, Mexican food has become a primary vehicle for exporting the culture of a long-ridiculed country to the far corners of the globe. Forget Mexico’s imaginary Reconquista of the American Southwest; the real conquest of North America is a peaceful and consensual affair, taking place one tortilla at a time.

Read the rest at Reason.

Thank you Arts & Letters Daily.

Keith Richards, "Little Red Rooster"

... with James Cotton.

15 May 2012

Happy Birthday, Smoltz.


Long-time Braves hurler and good ol' Michigan boy, John Smoltz was born on this date in 1967.

Willie Nelson, "Just Breathe"

Agree.


Thank you, Cultural Offering.

Fullest.

Annigoni, Study for a Portrait of Rossella, undated


With much gratitude to Underpaintings ...

Pietro Annigoni was a passionate man and a very serious artist. But he would have had to be in order to be successful swimming against the tide of the art world. He lived life to the fullest and experienced great anguish at times. He worried about the state of humanity. I have heard stories of a dramatic and sometimes dangerous temper, but as one of my Italian artist friends put it when I asked if this were true, "Si, Annigoni aveva un caratteraccio, ma fondamentale molto buono." (Yes, he had a temper, but was fundamentally of a very good character.)

Annigoni is not only the greatest artist of the century, but also able to compete on the level of the greatest artists of all time.


Read the rest here.

Water.


This picture shows the size of a sphere that would contain all of Earth's water in comparison to the size of the Earth. The blue sphere sitting on the United States, reaching from about Salt Lake City, Utah to Topeka, Kansas, has a diameter of about 860 miles (about 1,385 kilometers) , with a volume of about 332,500,000 cubic miles (1,386,000,000 cubic kilometers). The sphere includes all the water in the oceans, seas, ice caps, lakes and rivers as well as groundwater, atmospheric water, and even the water in you, your dog, and your tomato plant.

Lots more at the U.S. Geological Survey. Thanks, Moldy Chum.

Connect.


According to the Mayan calendar ..

Ajpu is the Sun, captain of Time, a day of personal strength and for good to triumph over evil. Ajpu, who cares for the boys and guides men, begins the men's cycle. This is a day to connect with the ancestors, who can reward and punish.

Read the rest at The National Museum of the American Indian.

Thanks for leading the way, Michelle.

Bach, Orchestral Suite No. 4 in D major, BWV 1069

Jordi Savall leads my favorite early-music percussionist, Pedro Estevan, his beard, and The Concert of Nations through Bourées I & II, and the Gavotte ...



Good morning!

14 May 2012

Extraordinary.

Karr, Abyss, 2012


Beauty can spontaneously occur at any moment given the proper circumstances, context, or point of view. Beauty is thus an altered state of consciousness, an extraordinary moment of poetry and grace.

- Leonard Koren

Enjoy wanderations.

13 May 2012

Mom.



My Mom instilled in me an appreciation for books, art, music, and stillness.

She taught me how to cook.

She showed me the importance of patience.

Thanks, Mom.

Happy Mother's Day!

I love you.

Revealed.

I'm an artist, I have an amazing ability to show you what's there. Yoiu're not this kind of observer ... I'm a participant. And things are beings continuously revealed through what I make ...

- Andy Goldsworthy

Big.

This day at Teahupoo- Aug 27th 2011 during the Billabong Pro waiting period is what many are calling the biggest and gnarliest Teahupoo ever ridden. Chris Bryan was fortunate enough to be there working for Billabong on a day that will go down in the history of big wave surfing. The French Navy labeled this day a double code red prohibiting and threatening to arrest anyone that entered the water.

Kelly Slater described the day by saying "witnessing this was a draining feeling being terrified for other people's lives all day long, it's life or death. Letting go of that rope one time can change your life and not many people will ever experience that in their life."




Thank you, Viktoria.

Extraordinary.

More from Susan Cain ...

In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. But, as Susan Cain argues in this passionate talk, introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated.



Thanks, Jess.

Happy Birthday, Chatwin


Bruce Chatwin was born on this date in 1940.

I haven't got any special religion this morning. My God is the God of Walkers. If you walk hard enough, you probably don't need any other god. Sluggish and sedentary peoples, such as the Ancient Egyptians -- with their concept of an afterlife journey through the Field of Reeds -- project on to the next world the journeys they failed to make in this one.

- Bruce Chatwin

Dream.


Native Coloradan Zoey Frank, after spending years abroad studying art, now lives and paints in her hometown of Boulder. Her initial education in the Waldorf school system allowed Frank to more fully develop her creativity and imagination, and by the time she was thirteen, she was daydreaming about what it would be like to apprentice in Raphael's studio in the 1500s. Years later, when the renewed interest in classical training facilitated the growth of private ateliers, Frank saw the opportunity to fulfill her dream. She has since trained in Florence, Italy, and most extensively, at Juliette Aristedes' Classical Atelier at the Gage Academy of Art in Seattle, from where she graduated in 2011. She works primarily from life, and includes Rembrandt, Vermeer, Sargent, and Andrew Wyeth as among her influences.

This summer, Frank will be participating in the Hudson River Fellowship program founded by Jacob Collins, and has future plans of obtaining her Master's Degree from the Laguna College of Art and Design in California, at which she was recently accepted.


Much appreciation to Underpaintings for this and much more.

Zoey Frank's website is here.

12 May 2012

Head in the clouds.


Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.

- Marcus Aurelius

Happy Birthday, Winwood.

Steve Winwood was born on this date in 1948.

Performing "In The Presence of the Lord," with Eric Clapton ...

Solitude.


Solitude is out of fashion. Our companies, our schools and our culture are in thrall to an idea I call the New Groupthink, which holds that creativity and achievement come from an oddly gregarious place. Most of us now work in teams, in offices without walls, for managers who prize people skills above all. Lone geniuses are out. Collaboration is in.

But there’s a problem with this view. Research strongly suggests that people are more creative when they enjoy privacy and freedom from interruption. And the most spectacularly creative people in many fields are often introverted, according to studies by the psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Gregory Feist. They’re extroverted enough to exchange and advance ideas, but see themselves as independent and individualistic. They’re not joiners by nature.


Read the rest at New York Times.

Get a copy of Cain's book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking here.

UPDATE: A look under the rock ... here.

Eudaimonia.


So what's the appeal of sitting around talking about Plutarch, the Cartesian perfect apple or epistemology? Phillips says it's about finding "exhilarating perplexity", which he defines as "moments where your vision of the truth is a little less solid". He suggests it is encapsulated in Aristotle's word eudaimonia, which is roughly translated as "human flourishing".

Based on the Socratic notion that the unconscious determines emotional and physical well-being, Evans believes philosophising can actually reduce personal suffering. The idea (much simplified) is that uncovering "bad ways of thinking" can help in a similar way to modern forms of cognitive behavioural therapy. "The word 'ethics' is actually rooted in the Greek word for 'habit'," he says. "The ancients carried handbooks digesting their ideas and memorised catchphrases to help them out in difficult situations."


Read the rest at The Independent.

See.

Homer, The West Wind, 1891


I
She Had Some Horses

She had some horses.

She had horses who were bodies of sand.
She had horses who were maps drawn of blood.
She had horses who were skins of ocean water.
She had horses who were the blue air of sky.
She had horses who were fur and teeth.
She had horses who were clay and would break.
She had horses who were splintered red cliff.

She had some horses.

She had horses with eyes of trains.
She had horses with full, brown thighs.
She had horses who laughed too much.
She had horses who threw rocks at glass houses.
She had horses who licked razor blades.

She had some horses.

She had horses who danced in their mothers' arms.
She had horses who thought they were the sun and their
bodies shone and burned like stars.
She had horses who waltzed nightly on the moon.
She had horses who were much too shy, and kept quiet
in stalls of their own making.

She had some horses.

She had horses who liked Creek Stomp Dance songs.
She had horses who cried in their beer.
She had horses who spit at male queens who made
them afraid of themselves.
She had horses who said they weren't afraid.
She had horses who lied.
She had horses who told the truth, who were stripped
bare of their tongues.

She had some horses.

She had horses who called themselves, "horse".
She had horses who called themselves, "spirit", and kept
their voices secret and to themselves.
She had horses who had no names.
She had horses who had books of names.

She had some horses.

She had horses who whispered in the dark, who were afraid to speak.
She had horses who screamed out of fear of the silence, who
carried knives to protect themselves from ghosts.
She had horses who waited for destruction.
She had horses who waited for resurrection.

She had some horses.

She had horses who got down on their knees for any saviour.
She had horses who thought their high price had saved them.
She had horses who tried to save her, who climbed in her
bed at night and prayed as they raped her.

She had some horses.

She had some horses she loved.
She had some horses she hated.

These were the same horses.



II
Two Horses

I thought the sun breaking through Sangre de Cristo
Mountains was enough, and that
wild musky scents on my body after
long nights of dreaming could
unfold me to myself.
I thought my dance alone through worlds of
odd and eccentric planets that no one else knew
would sustain me. I mean
I did learn to move
after all
and how to recognize voices other than the most familiar.
But you must have grown out of
a thousand years dreaming
just like I could never imagine you.
You must have
broke open from another sky
to here, because
now I see you as part of the millions of
other universes that I thought could never occur
in this breathing.
And I know you as myself, traveling.
In your eyes alone are many colonies of stars
and other circling planet motion.
And then your fingers, the sweet smell
of hair, and
your soft, tight belly.
My heart is taken by you
and these mornings since I am a horse running towards
a cracked sky where there are countless dawns
breaking simultaneously.
There are two moons on the horizon
and for you
I have broken loose.



III
Drowning Horses

She says she is going to kill
herself. I am a thousand miles away.
Listening.
To her voice in an ocean
of telephone sound. Grey sky
and nearly sundown; I don't ask her how.
I am already familiar with the weapons:
a restaurant that wouldn't serve her,
the thinnest laughter, another drink.
And even if I weren't closer
to the cliff edge of the talking
wire, I would still be another mirror,
another running horse.

Her escape is my own.
I tell her, yes. Yes. We ride
out for breath over the distance.
Night air approaches, the galloping
other-life.

No sound.
No sound.



IV
Ice Horses

These are the ones who escape
after the last hurt is turned inward;
they are the most dangerous ones.
These are the hottest ones,
but so cold that your tongue sticks
to them and is torn apart because it is
frozen to the motion of hooves.
These are the ones who cut your thighs,
whose blood you must have seen on the gloves
of the doctor's rubber hands. They are
the horses who moaned like oceans, and
one of them a young woman screamed aloud;
she was the only one.
These are the ones who have found you.
These are the ones who pranced on your belly.
They chased deer out of your womb.
These are the ice horses, horses
who entered through your head,
and then your heart,
your beaten heart.

These are the ones who loved you.
They are the horses who have held you
so close that you have become
a part of them,
an ice horse
galloping
into fire.



V
Explosion

The highway near Okemah, Oklahoma exploded.

There are reasons for everything.
Maybe there is a new people, coming forth
being born from the center of the earth,
like us, but another tribe.

Maybe they will be another color that no one
has ever seen before. Then they might be hated,
and live in Muskogee on the side of the tracks
that Indians live on. (And they will be the
ones to save us.)

Maybe there are lizards coming out of rivers of lava
from the core of this planet,

coming to bring rain

to dance for the corn,
to set fields of tongues slapping at the dark
earth, a kind of a dance.

But maybe the explosion was horses,
bursting out of the crazy earth
near Okemah. They were a violent birth,
flew from the ground into trees
to wait for evening night
mares to come after them:

then into the dank wet fields of Oklahoma
then their birth cords tied into the molten heart
then they travel north and south, east and west
then into wet white sheets at midnight when everyone
sleeps and the baby dreams of swimming in the
bottom of the muggy river.
then into frogs who have come out of the earth to
see for rain
then a Creek woman who dances shaking the seeds in
her bones
then South Dakota, Mexico, Japan, and Manila
then into Miami to sweep away the knived faces of hatred

Some will not see them.

But some will see the horses with their hearts of sleeping volcanoes
and will be rocked awake
past their bodies

to see who they have become.


- Joy Harjo

11 May 2012

Verlon Thompson, "Boats to Build"

... a fair curve from a noble plan.

Prize.


The rare highlight in the movie adaptaion of Bridge to Terabithia, is Bill Burkes' comment to Jess Aarons that "the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." I was reminded of it when I read this at Execupundit ...

... [H]appiness without a good work ethic is pretty impossible. I guess I always knew that intuitively, but back then I still equated happiness with “Leisure” and “Party” way too much.

Read the rest of the interview with Hugh MacLeod at The Happiness Project.

Thank you, Mr. Wade.

10 May 2012

Better.


Certain circumstances favor creative expression.

Capitalism is one of those. When people are given the chance to pursue self-interest they usually do. They also tend to cluster: poets hang out with poets; fashion designers hang out with fashion designers; cognitive science professors hang out with cognitive science professors. The byproduct of our natural tendency to seek out likeminded people is improvement; being surrounded by the best makes us better. This is why, in a larger sense, competition is good for creativity.


Read the rest at The Creativity Post.

Marvelous.

Wyeth, The Carry, 2003


I am an excitable person who only understands life lyrically, musically, in whom feelings are much stronger as reason. I am so thirsty for the marvelous that only the marvelous has power over me. Anything I can not transform into something marvelous, I let go. Reality doesn't impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls.

- Anaïs Nin

Happy Birthday, Bono.

Bono was born on this date 1960.

Enjoy.


Isaac Asimov on science, creativity, and student-centered learning ...

Once we have computer outlets in every home, each of them hooked up to enormous libraries where anyone can ask any question and be given answers, be given reference materials, be something you’re interested in knowing, from an early age, however silly it might seem to someone else… that’s what YOU are interested in, and you can ask, and you can find out, and you can do it in your own home, at your own speed, in your own direction, in your own time… Then, everyone would enjoy learning. Nowadays, what people call learning is forced on you, and everyone is forced to learn the same thing on the same day at the same speed in class, and everyone is different.

Read the rest at Brain Pickings.

Head in the clouds.

THP foreign coreespondent, Big Poppi, posts this report of current happenings in New York ...


Thanks, buddy! TIGHT LINES!

09 May 2012

Lucidity.

van Gogh, Almond Blossom (detail), 1890


It is hard to pinpoint when exactly Vincent van Gogh crossed over from being a mere titan of modern art to a general symptom of our culture—a painter whose name adorns bottles of vodka and whose supposedly liberating madness is regarded with worshipful reverence. Twenty-five years ago, his paintings ushered in the era of stratospheric prices for leading Modernists, with the sale of "Sunflowers" for $39.7 million and "Irises" for $52.9 million—at the time, three- and fourfold increases over the previous world record for any work of art. Not long after that, Japanese industrialist Ryoei Saito set a new mark again by paying $82.5 million for "Portrait of Dr. Gachet" and then suggested that he might have it cremated and buried with him.

But despite continual invocation in exhibitions, movies and books, little of the legend of mad Vincent withstands serious scrutiny. If anything characterizes Van Gogh's intensely felt landscapes and portraits, the critic Robert Hughes long ago observed, it is lucidity, not lunacy.


Read the rest at The Wall Street Journal. Thanks, Arts & Letters Daily.

Clearer.


I was a senior in high school and we were back over the Maryland border in Pennsylvania. What’s different about this time is context. We had spent weeks talking about the battle and its role in the Civil War. We watched Gettysburg, read The Killer Angels to see how the battle was interpreted, and recognized the love for a fictional Buster Kilraine. I knew more about what I was looking at, and where I was standing. Together the group – like many before us – reenacted Pickett’s Charge, posed in Devil’s Den like a Matthew Brady photograph, and tried to charge up Little Round Top – getting a clearer idea for tactics.

An appreciation of Gettyburg at PreservationNation.