Comfort

When I was stressed I just wanted someone to say, « it will be okay. ». I asked him to say it, just say it for me and he said how can that comfort you if you asked me to say it. Just say it. Everything will be okay or all right, thank you Bob Marley. Sometimes I just want someone to speak aloud words, any words of solace, even if they are formulaic. When my yoga teacher says words of comfort, I want to cry but in a good way.

Chair…no chair.

I looked up the etymology and as you may well imagine, it is con with and fort strength. Give me strength, succor, a gentle phrase to help me sleep. Friends are reading children’s books online, posting dance videos, making art challenges, texting about what to eat for dinner. Comfort. We all want to console each other or be consoled and where is the line between the two?

The chair that was.

In Sevilla, in a very loud café, I watched a baby sleeping in a stroller, a Spanish baby with fortitude. He woke up. Nothing jolted or started. His eyes blinked open slowly and then he smiled, hair still in his eyes, his head still cocked sideways. I am here. You are here. I want words of comfort that feel like that baby’s face. A slow dawning delight, oh, here we are, on this planet together and there you are. But since the baby does not have language maybe it is even more marvelous without words, just that feeling. Go ahead, tilt your head, close your eyes, and then simultaneously slowly open your eyes and smile. There you are precious being, there you are precious world.

A detail I never noticed before, a cicada on Mistral’s open book. May we sit outside drinking rose again and listen to the cicadas.

In my younger years I wanted words of comfort that would save me, pull me out of the wild sea of my own trauma, of my pain. Save me. I wanted someone to say I see you, I acknowledge you, maybe I see you and the light within you. All these years, all these yoga classes, we’ve been saying it. Namaste. I still crave the imagined life raft of words from long ago: you are beautiful, we belong together, I love you, my life is better with you but it’s like the donuts or cigarettes or even a golden glass of whisky that all look so appealing but won’t make the night any shorter or the love any truer. We do not know what lies ahead. Words of comfort, time of comfort or a comforting touch. If you’re too old or your mother is too far away, just stroke your own hair. Does it matter who says the words of comfort? Can we just say them aloud to ourselves? A long time ago I wanted to write a book called the involuntary consolation of sheep. All the life around us can give us strength, can remind us of our own strength even if the wisteria refuses to speak and other people’s cats run the other way.

Secret garden

I loved that book so much that when I recently obtained an old copy of it, I simply couldn’t bring myself to read it. My memories of the secret garden had become their own secret garden. Now is a time of all secrets and no secrets. In French the expression jardin secret means something that you keep for yourself, a fantasy, a passion or even just a past time that absorbs you and that you don’t share with others.

I wanted to take a picture of the little lone anemone but the ducks are lonely these days.

In my experience of US culture, we like to tell each other everything. For many French people the way a new American acquaintance will just share their family drama, their financial woes, or even their eating regimen are a bit shocking. Is having privacy, and the laws uphold it so much more here, a loss of closeness, of intimacy? I like to get to know someone by hearing about their favorite philosopher or a film they’ve enjoyed rather than knowing how many siblings they have or what they eat for breakfast. When I moved to Toulouse I started doing all sorts of things that I don’t explain to very many people. And I also began writing on this blog which everyone and my mother can read. How do we decide what is secret and what is not? We all love reading the most vulnerable, the most human, the sweetest stories about each other which bare all but don’t bare everything.

Shopping with the pigeons. I talked to a homeless guy who said all the people from the streets are staying in hotels now except he can’t because he has a dog. But he said the police leave him alone and told him he isn’t required to have the attestation so that seemed nice.

When family are around all day and all night you may have to tend to your secret garden in the bathroom, or at dawn or only in your imagination. I am far from the raised beds I built and filled two springs ago in the pouring rain while listening to all of Esther Perel’s podcasts. All over the US people are getting ready to plant their gardens, to have greens despite the uncertainty. I water the scraggly lavender plant on my balcony and buy my vegetables. And yet, and yet, it’s nice to think of all of the secret gardens I am tending. The metaphor is a good one. I have eradicated a few weeds, they had tenacious taproots, and I’m sheltering a few sprouts from the frost.

Now is the time to water your little dreams, to take stock of how big your tree of desires has grown and to keep the little weeds from getting too big.

Hello California poppies my old friends – here in Toulouse!

Where I live, or walking as a feminist

I see wisteria and budding trees and moldering dead stone landscaping. This neighborhood is a mosaic of turn-of-the-century brick villas, so lovely, and mid-century apartment buildings with no sense of which way the sun shines. We can see the most beautiful sunsets from our bathroom but only if we stand on the toilet and look out the one little window that faces the prettiest direction. At dusk our bathroom glows in a romantic pink light, picking up the rosy shades of our four rolls of toilet paper and casting an amorous blush on our toothbrushes.

Heaven is just a few jumps away outside of our building.

I have become particularly covetous of the gardens, courtyards, even the overgrown parking areas behind buildings where weedy trees grow. The footpath along the Canal du Midi is closed, the Jardin des Plantes all locked up and every green space is forbidden. The big allée where the boules players used to congregate cannot be closed and I circle the flower beds over and over. I live near the Allée des Demoiselles, the street of the young ladies. And by young ladies they mean feminists. Ha! No, of course not. My French friend tells me that the street is named for prostitutes. So everyday I run down a street named for a group of sex workers from long ago.

Yes – the signs are vandalized and people aren’t happy about the name.

I looked it up and the historical site said that the canal workers were lonely for love and so this was Pont de las Pute in occitan. En mal d’amour. Lonely for love after all that digging to make the canal. The only other streets I can find named after women are saint streets – Catherine, Philomena. Do you know the story of Saint Philomena? She died a consecrated virgin at age 13. She is a saint because she held onto her virginity at AGE THIRTEEN. And then she was killed by a Roman emperor. This street runs parallèle to the aforementioned Sex Worker Street.

Seeing the duvets airing out always reminds me of my grandmother.

All of the rest of the streets are named after men. I look them up when I come home from my wanders: a mathematician, a university rector, many Resistance fighters, a museum director, an explorer and even a botanist. Men, men, men. Penis homage on sign after sign. So I grumble at the patriarchy and I wish for more gardens.

This guy was immensely wealthy and so he had a lot of plants and trees.

The other end of my neighborhood is capped by a large war memorial. I read somewhere that the military men were unhappy at how fat the naked lady sculptures are on top of the arch. I like seeing their big thighs, warrior women.

A realistic fighter.


There aren’t really bars in my neighborhood but in the round park there is a huge gazebo where I could dance tango if we were still allowed to touch each other. There are two museums nearby, a beautiful Asian museum and the museum of the Resistance.

The grass grows with a vengeance in these days of no mowing.

According to my son’s math I have an area of 3141.59 square meters to explore. I have to stick to the streets and the sidewalks but I am sure there is more to be seen out there. Today I shall look through another lens.

Peacock story

Two weeks of posting every day and now a minister has announced that these days will continue until April 15. Which is no longer tax day persons US, you have until mid-July. In an alternate reality this April 15 would have found my mother, my child and I very near the place of my birth which would have made some good inter generational stories. I fear that all of this time away from people is making my brain soupy and my personality sharper, more reactive, more prone to rage or despair. The good news is that given my very contained environment, none of these feelings stick around long. We are just missing stimulation – spice, crunch, people we don’t know, movement through space – and so emotions can provide some entertainment.

Fleeing the meringue.

Writing every day and posting it is bound to reveal some lunacy, some ick and some tipping over, like a mythical cow at night, but this is also an opportunity to see what arises.

I grew up mostly on a farm in rural Oregon. My mother loves plants and animals and so we had a bit of everything in stages. The cows destroyed our fences so that was a very brief chapter, the guinea hens were raucous and no one was sad when that chapter ended but the goats were always around. Goats are good cheer. Chickens make sense because everyone loves eggs and sheep were a lot of work and so eventually they ended. We had geese when I was little and I have an inordinate fear of them. And yes, there is a Greek word for it, and they deserve it because those sneaky little hissers loved nothing more than to hunker down, snake their necks low and stealthy and pinch/bite the ankles of children. I have also been attacked by beautiful roosters who fling their sharp talons in front of them as they flurry wing at your face.

We also had many cats and I kind of wish I had one to squeeze right now.

At some point my mother got peacocks and she still has them. When friends would come over to spend the night when I was little they would wake me up convinced that a woman was being violated in the chicken yard because of the peacock shrieks. When the males molted we scrounged all their beautiful feathers and saved them in a box in the planting shed. Peacocks are mildly more entertaining than chickens but they don’t follow the chicken rules of returning to the safety of the chicken house when the sun sets. The peacocks and their ladies, the pea hens, preferred to roost in the ancient gnarled apple trees someone had planted long ago, right after Oregon was declared free land booty for white men (only white ones).

Arguably the most generous federal land act in American history, the law legitimized the 640-acre claims provided in 1843 under the Provisional Government, with the proviso that white male citizens were entitled to 320 acres and their wives were eligible for 320 acres. For citizens arriving after 1850, the acreage limitation was halved, so a married couple could receive a total of 320 acres. To gain legal title to property, claimants had to reside and make improvements on the land for four years.

Section 4 of the Donation Law outlined the requirements for eligibility: “granted to every white settler or occupant of the public lands, American half-breed Indians included, above the age of 18 years, being a citizen of the United States, or having made a declaration according to law of his intention to become a citizen. In effect, the Oregon Donation Land Law benefited incoming whites and dispossessed Indians.

But I digress. Let’s talk about pretty birds. My mother had a system of shooshing birds out of trees after dark and herding them into the chicken coop where they would have to spend the night with the lowly chickens. Herding peacocks with their light dancing gait and their swishy tails is absurdist at best so she needed help.

You want me to go where?

She drafted me that evening and we walked out into the dark summer evening with flashlights to scare the birds into a safety they did not want. I was annoyed at this being a job for me given that these were not my birds but I stood under the apple tree and waited while my mother did her peacock shooing. Something warm and soft dropped on my head in the dark. A rotten apple falling from the tree. I put my hand up and encountered a dripping crown of peacock shit. I shrieked and cried and my mother whirled and turned her flashlight on me.

Yes I do empty my bowels when I’m scared. Like you do before giving an important speech.

My mother laughed and laughed, bent over in hysterics at the poop while I stood in the dark feeling the warm diarrhea drip down my face. And then, oh yes justice, she stood up and plop, some more peacocks emptied their cargo right on her face. And then we both screamed and ran inside to bathe. She never made me help with peacock wrangling again.

Ask not on whom the peacock shits my friend, the peacock shits on you.

Microadventures!

We are the giants. I wander around my proscribed 1 kilometer radius and suddenly the world is revealing itself on another scale. Yesterday no one was on the orangey sidewalk except me and a bee. I walked by and then thought, no, that’s not a good place and so I let it crawl up on my sleeve and deposited on a weedy flower where maybe it could have a second chance. The sidewalks in Toulouse are not grey but sort of brownish orange. I think this is something to do with us being in la ville rose but I have not been able to google my way out of this profound question.

I have walked by this villa so many times and only yesterday did I figure out that those are chameleon heads! Boggly-eyed ceramic reptiles peer out of this fancy house.

And yet I am so thankful for my kilometer of roaming space. There is much to be seen. Yesterday I waved at an old woman reading in a window. People here don’t do that, they are still all being very polite and restrained. She waved back happily and then, fake out!, she pretended to adjust her hair when she realized she didn’t know me. I’ll keep waving. Adventures in micro social norms. I’ve also started raising a hand, like Caesar, or trying a little nod with the very, very few people I pass in the street. Tiny anthropology going on here in this bourgeois neighborhood.

This extremely confusing sign cracks me up. Is it like a modern version of Dante? Abandon hope all ye who enter here because these streets will never let you leave?

The whole neighborhood sounds different. There are hardly any cars or trains and every day I can hear children playing somewhere nearby, someone down on the street saying ooh la la on the telephone, a neighbor hammering away on something. It’s nice. And the birds that I hear are more complex and seem to be completing their chirp sentences, not always truncated by a machine.

Is this real? Does Patagonia really have a consulate here hidden away on a tiny street? I think it is an hommage to a French writer.

I can’t believe I’ve lived in this neighborhood for five months and there are so many things I never really looked at. The canal path, my favorite, is technically closed so I’m off to walk around and around my streets. There’s the tiny one with blooming trees named after a mathematician who had a very short life and then there’s the pretty big one named after the hipster dashing Paul Crampel.

Didn’t live long, went to Africa, made a bunch of maps.

He married a woman named Paule and she stayed home and illustrated his accounts. But I haven’t found anything named after her. Maybe I should go out and add some e’s. According to the BNF she lived for 100 years and she made some lovely pictures.

A painting by Paule, with an e.

Micro history. I have only begun to scratch the surface of my allotted space. Every day nature is slightly different as well. Micro biology as I watch the wisteria poof out its flowers, the magnolia drop hers and the unmown grass, ah, it is turning into a weedy lush jungle while the schools are closed.

In a few weeks these buds will be bloomed out and this laundry will be washed again.

I walk around still trying to imagine 120 nanometers. Bringing my attention from all the wild pings and pongs around the world to one kilometer has felt like an enormous recalibration. If you didn’t watch the video, here is the math. If the width of my hair were the Empire State Building, that’s a hard one to squeeze out of the brain, but if it were, then 120 nanometers would be just a few inches! Yep! The entire world is changing because of something so, so, so tiny. Luckily here we are on the decimal system so I can start doing the math. It’s tiny time.

I love the font of these two numbers.

En

I sit down to write and my son says,“If only you lived in the US, then Walmart would take care of you.“

In French there is a sign by the railroad tracks that I have always loved.  Un train peut en cacher un autre. I found a 23 page article analyzing the grammar of this iconic sentence but after four pages I gave up.

It‘s the ‚en‘ that intrigues me, that little tiny barely phoneme means so many things in France.  It‘s like a less literal, less physical ‚in‘. In English we say the cat is in the box like, he is in a coma or, she is in mourning or, Venice is in Italy.  But some of those would be ‚en‘ in French and some would be ‚dans.‘ Because there are so many different ways to be in something. If only being in mourning were like being in a box.  You could jump out, run around, go knock over a flowerpot and then get on with your cat life. But no. En is harder to escape, en grows into you, becomes part of you, explains a circumstance that is a whole story.  We are ‚en France‘. This means so many things right now. We are in a solid apartment on the third floor. I am in my stripy pants and orange sweater. En deuil, en anticipation, en attente, en vie.

The train that is unseen, roaring along behind the train you know, is the dangerous one.  You look both ways, the train is gone and whomp, you are flattened by the second train. One catastrophe can hide another.  

The wind against your nose when you half step into a moving train or bus but your primal brain slows you down, that little whoosh is the breath of another chance.

We are all grieving.  I read it on the internet so it must be true.  Like my nephew who proclaimed at age 7 that Jesus was real.  And then he told us it was true because he saw it on the internet.  We are all grieving. It was the Harvard Business Review, I choose to believe them.  

I lost my capoeira classes, singing and touching hands, and my favorite lunch spot, beautiful soup and delightful cookies, and I lost oh so many notions I had about the future.  

A tiny chair on an empty street.

The tricky thing about grief, cat dominoes and George Washington‘s ugly wooden dentures, is that one little knocked over, knocked out, piece can cascade us into the other, the other, the other.  An echo chamber of loss. I am so sad and missing what I do not have. But which of those losses is really chewing on my tender heart? A lost love, career, parent, child, geography.

So the Smithsonian says they weren‘t really wood but grief about this American mouth.

I look into George Washington‘s dead mouth, a rabbit hole of grief that at first just looked like a little black space.  Grief can hit you behind the knees with a baseball bat. That big bite mark he took out of you like you were a delicious cherry pie, at a certain angle, that huge gnawed off dent is still there.  

These are tender times.  An echo of old pain can easily sneak up on you and there‘s a sob in the shower, a hand that shakes too much, or a part of your body that says ow ow ow I don‘t want this.  

A dear student (I miss her!) told me that the only way she could finally live life with her terrible anxiety was to invite it in to sit down for tea.  And it worked. She smiled and laughed again and courageously graduated and was happy.

So, welcome grief, you old bastard.  I thought I was done with you but you can sit in the bathroom and talk to me and I‘ll even let you sigh and stink in here for a while.  

Here is Bukowski inexplicably and without saying anything just standing up and leaving the set of a French tv show, Apostrophes.

To me grief looks a cross between a dementor and a drunken Charles Bukowski, quite smelly and terrible company, but I‘ll make him a cup of ginger tea tonight.

Storyless

It’s almost midnight and I am tired but I committed to writing every day. Today I woke up at 4:30 am to talk to four women with four septum rings in Oregon and I have been dragging all day. The conversation made me happy so it was worth it. Some days the pleasures are tiny, just a crumb of good feeling in there amongst the returning grief or heavy questions. Today I smelled the ceanothus.

Always makes me think of walking to the beach near Point Reyes.

But mostly today was bags of rocks.

No mortal could haul these.

I always stop to look at the free books on my interminable and surely soon to be curtailed walks.

Yup, a brand spanking new copy of Camus, there’s got to be a story there.

Grief is like cat dominoes of the heart. One grief, one long trail of falling ivories. And then time passes and they seem stable, they will not tumble. The next grief arrives, looks like mah jong or jenga, all is well in the game of sadness. But now, one grief can awaken another and another and another. Am I sad today for this loss or that one?

Again

When I was pregnant with my son and disheartened by my then-colleagues, I decided to start studying Sanskrit at lunch. I had always wanted to learn Sanskrit because I like learning things that I can never get to the end of. In my fantasy job interview I would present a class called Tomes and explore the idea of reading the longest possible books, Proust, Richardson’s Pamela, Don Quixote, you get the picture. Things that take an enormously long time are so appealing. Also, going to Sanskrit class meant having a good excuse to take my round belly far from any microwave meal socializing with the people in my department.

I turned this into a labyrinth today, I walked in a spiral around the numbers into the center, back out again, into the center, back out again. Not as pretty as the lavender-scented labyrinth in Ashland, but very effective for calming the mind.

Sanskrit class was the bomb. It is so much harder than the modern languages I teach but also just so much more enticing because every little bit of it has a certain logic, a way of being that matters. The professor was annoyed at having to teach it but if no one learned Sanskrit then no one could keep up with his much more interesting classes on various ancient texts. Last night I managed to join an online class, some 14 years later, with the same teacher. Now seems like the best time to finally study the Bhagavad Gita and there he was, a little older, a little grayer but still talking a mile a minute and most engaging. The big belly I had had so many years ago was in his bedroom watching skateboarding videos and I thought about what if the thing I missed the most about the East Coast was just the way people talked.

The theme of the night seemed to be that our past comes from our future and only by really learning from this past can we be in the present. Let me say that again as I wrote it in my notes: « what we receive as the present is in fact the past coming from the future. » So that might mean that actually my Sanskrit classes in that dark room so many years ago were from now – in that room trying to decipher a language so old, I was enjoying the fruits of my future past and now, today, I am being challenged to create a new future from the past I am experiencing as the present. I love this stuff. If you are tempted, go to rajanaka.com and sign up for a course. I’ll see you there.

Is this Dali or faux Dali?

I was in Paris a few weeks ago, oh you know, when it was just a thing to hop on a train, ride a metro, go to a big city and eat at crowded restaurants. That past. Anyhow, we walked and scootered all over town and even to my old neighborhood. I showed my son the street I had lived on and the apartment building but he wasn’t particularly impressed or interested until we stopped at the Greek restaurant where my crazy destructive boyfriend briefly worked almost 30 years ago and had rice pudding. It tasted the same as it did back then. Then we wandered along more streets in search of a skate shop. I walked by a store I had worked in but it didn’t look like I remembered. Was it really yellow? I only worked there for a few months but I did once make a sandwich for the magnificent Carole Bouquet.

It was smoked turkey on white bread with mayo, it was an ‘American’ shop.

I remembered the name of the place and looked across the street at it, saw through the windows and there was my old boss. A face with the same hair, but white, so I walked in. Jean-Noel. His name came back to me and there was Mathilde, his wife. I hadn’t seen them in at least 30 years and here they were. We weren’t close but we worked together for several years at various businesses they ran in Paris and they gave me an apartment to stay in way back then. He said very little (just like back then), and she started telling me a complicated story about zoning and leases (just like back then) and I wondered how so much time could have passed and yet they were still just like I remembered them.

I have been walking down this street for five months and only today did I notice my fellow American.

I am doing another course online, more groovy-woovy in the best possible way, and my notes from that one say: « every time you up level, the really deep stuff will come up again. » So here I am going round and round, pinging between my pasts, our futures, and trying so hard to be in this big fat present. I’m not sure what upleveling means but it sounds nice.

The good thing about reading Proust or a very long book like Moby-Dick is that after a while it doesn’t really matter if you’re coming or going. You might be sleeping and dreaming a better book or you might be reading the same sentence again and again. The last line of the hundreds of pages sends you back to read the very first sentence and here we are again.

Whatever you end up doing today, just do it again. Why not?

Kant Stop Won’t Stop

I have become inordinately fond of the word ‘delight’ thanks in great part to the poet Ross Gay whose work is a balm these days.  Unfortunately, the other word that I would like to discuss, great, has gotten trampled and squashed and overused by an executive who seems to lack all executive function.  Great, as a word, just comes from the German word for big, gross, so every time that red-hatted imbecile violates the English language feel free to insert gross for great and let philosophy and religion have their important word back!  Yup. Make America Gross Again. I am the grossest ________. Anything to help. You’re welcome.

So when we take delight in the greatness of things, of things beyond our imagination, things that we can barely fathom because, we are moving toward an experience of the sublime.  Kant makes an explicit difference between that which we find beautiful, usually because of its form, and that which elicits an experience of sublime, something whose greatness lies well beyond the outer reaches of our imagination.  Delighting in the tremendous, in the enormity, in the impossibility of total comprehension is a lovely pleasure still available and so much more nourishing than a box of hoarded pasta. The vastness is not necessarily connected to an emotion but it can follow channels of feeling to terror, to warm love, to cold numbness or even to giddy silliness.  Some things are just funny.

All pandas must stay inside until further notice.

Reading philosophy or physics can inspire this sublimity for some.  My enormous new French synonym dictionary gives me a frisson of sublime.  I will never be able to know all of those words. Looking down the long, long barrel of often orally transmitted yoga sutras and asanas and the Bhagavad Gita can also give my brain a delight in knowledge greatness and vastness.  For others nature provides a connection to biological webs and time through her redwood forests, night skies or even the rapidly growing and blooming unmown parks of our European cities.

As I grow older I have begun to wonder if my discoveries are moving from the outer world to the inner world.  A long time ago I saw a wonderful power of ten film with my Swiss godparents in Luzern. The film starts in the Plaza San Marco in Venise and then zooms out by powers of ten until the largest thing that humans have any inklings about.  And then it zips back down to the Plaza and goes inside the world we know, microscoping by powers of ten until the smallest thing we have named. (IMAX Cosmic Voyage narrated by Morgan Freeman). The documentary was made before they discovered the Higgs-Boson particle but you know it’s in there somewhere.

The plaza at noon today via a webcam.

As one of my students said, we are meat sacks, just watery cells traipsing around and hosting many, many microscopic beings.  The flora and fauna of your intestines might have more to do with your mood and mental acuity than any intrinsic nature you think you have.  The mere fact that this flesh can balance so much weight on two small surfaces and then propel these limbs through space is almost a miracle.  

Le Salève on a rare sunny day. It’s quite a ride to get to the top and so satisfying to come back down.

When I lived in Switzerland and studied so much phenomenology I was predisposed to have a very physical experience of the sublime.  I couldn’t figure out, thanks for nothing Kant, if it was pulling me out of my body or putting me back in my body. I rode my bike to the top of Le Salève on a cold day, through dark fog, desperate to move and see some light or blue sky.  It’s a long ridge, not really a mountain, and a curving road, very small, wanders along the top of it. As I rode along in the freezing damp mist which muffled everything, occasionally, for just a few meters, my pedaling would take me to a slight rise in the road and I would see the blue sky and a white blanket.  But then the breeze and the tarmac would turn and my airplane view was gone and it was just me, dripping wet with condensation, lost in cold cloud. I couldn’t control or anticipate the breaks in fog. I had no idea where I was going and jacked up on all of that philosophy I felt, this is it, this is that inarticulable experience of the sublime.  My words can’t do just to the feelings that my imagination and body experienced. I delighted in the greatness of the world and the infinite tininess of my self moving at the border of sky and land. I was nothing and yet there I was, still feeling my hot breath, my damp sweater arms, my ability to move through space.

Here is a little taste of Kant: Hence it must be the aesthetic estimation of magnitude in which we get at once a feeling of the effort towards a comprehension that exceeds the faculty of imagination for mentally grasping the progressive apprehension in a whole of intuition, and, with it, a perception of the inadequacy of this faculty, which has no bounds to its progress, for taking in and using for the estimation of magnitude a fundamental measure that understanding could turn to account without the least trouble.

Excerpt from: “Kant’s Critiques: The Critique of Pure Reason; The Critique of Practical Reason; The Critique of Judgement” by Immanuel Kant. Scribd.

Magnitude is in the air, both in massive numbers and graphs but also in tininess, do you know how big a diameter of 120 nm is?  Can you put your brain around that?

Now is the time to explore the sublime on a more microscopic level.  Who am I ? What do I know? What is love? How is it possible that in just this one breath so much can be present, can be intuited, can continue?  Let the sublime adventures continue!

Yin Day

Some years ago I roomed with a devout Jewish woman from South Africa for a week and she shared a little bit about how she organized her life around the Sabbath. Traveling was tricky, especially hotels with key cards but she ate very well and her life had a quality of devotion that felt deep and beautiful to me. I remember standing outside in rural France with her on a summer evening waiting to see enough stars in the sky, I think it was three, so that she could break her Sabbath. We stood silently, barefoot in the grass as the summer sky grew darker and darker and she waited for that extra twinkling light so she could turn on her phone and call her family.

The roof garden at the Metropolitan Museum, a place I want to write about but not today.

Today I woke up and decided I needed some entertainment so in my head I declared it yin day. I had no idea that homeschooling and just being home all of the time would be so tiring. I have been exhausted every evening. One thing that I have written in my notes to myself this year is that it’s important to slow down. Although I haven’t, no, not one bit. So today, in the interest of doing something different, I decided to be as yin as possible. The first thing I did was to get on the internet and look for a checklist so I could get all of the yin stuff done. I pondered all sorts of websites about eating vegetables and moon energy until I realized there’s not a damn yin thing about googling lists of things to do!

Castle Crags in Northern California. So still, so solid, so cool in its own special fog.

So then I thought about my more yin friends and I proceeded to think WWHD or WWVD. Instead of a second cup of coffee I had herbal tea. I spent an hour and a half cleaning the house, trying on clothes, listening to a lecture about something groovy, and trying not to tell my son what to do.

I decided not to go grocery shopping until Monday and then I took a bath. I’m still going to go on my mega mental health walk but I will try to stroll slowly. And today I’ll skip the capoeira workout and do some restorative yoga.

I dance tango too fast, I eat too fast, many think I walk too fast, I talked too fast for my grandmother and I love things that are quick and delightful. However, today, I am going to try to do things very slowly. There’s really nothing else to do and no time like the present to try this experiment.

I went on a long walk yesterday through this very empty city but I didn’t take any pictures. The air is so still, the streets so quiet, the entire atmosphere is vast and completely changed and no picture can capture that. The grass in the soccer fields and parks is growing, little daisies and dandelions taking over and I think it’s time to rewatch one of my favorite films, La Jetée by Chris Marker. And I will do a session or two of ceiling staring, my old hobby.

p.s. And I was reading a book and just found this fantastic meditation for days like this – lie on your left side, in a fetal position, eyes closed, imagine you are on a beach at night and the waves are moving with your breath. Stay as long as you’d like, maybe the sun will rise in your visualization. And, if you fall asleep like I did, that’s perfectly fine. thanks to André van Lysbeth…