Sunday, December 21, 2008

Youth is not a period of time. It is a state of mind, a result of the will, a quality of the imagination, a victory of courage over timidity, of the taste for adventure over the love of comfort. A man doesn't grow old because he has lived a certain number of years. A man grows old by deserting his ideals. The years may wrinkle his skin, but deserting his ideals wrinkles his soul.
Preoccupations, fears, doubts, and despair are the enemies which slowly bow us toward earth and turn us unto dust before death. You will remain young as long as you are open to what is beautiful, good, and great; receptive to the messages of other men and women, of nature, and of God. If one day you should become bitter, pessimistic, and gnawed by despair,
may God have mercy on your old man's soul.
Douglas MacArthur.
he said.

and then i smiled for a good while..

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lo excesivo (forgive me, i've written an essay)

too much driving.
too much eating out.
too much thinking about things that do no good.
too much talking when it isn't necessary.
too much sitting on the white couch.
too much clutter.
too much rushing.

Surfeit [sur-fit] n: overabundance; a general disgust with excess or over-indulgence.

In January of this year I wrote feverishly in a portion of my daybook on the concept of excess. Just excess in general, as it appears in so many different forms in my daily life. I’ve been stricken with a conviction about this periodically over the last couple years, and when it hits- maaaaan it hits.

I wrote once that I wanted to ‘wage a personal war on excess,’ within myself, and as a part of the greater society I subscribe to.

As of yet, I’d say I haven’t done a very good job fighting that war.

It’s everywhere. It’s literally everywhere. And one of the most mind-boggling thing I've ever tried to process is this: I take part in these absurdly selfish, excessive, unproductive ways, but am simultaneously disgusted by those cyclical behaviors. In a book on Benedictine hospitality, a monk wrote that immature distractions “just keep us running on the treadmill of our little egocentric worlds.”
Sometimes I find I’ve been sprinting on mine without realizing it.

What’s easy, comfortable, and instantly gratifying dangles in sparkling allure.. Even when headed in the right direction, I am by no means guaranteed a direct trip from point A to B. I get lost, lost. lost. to myself.

It’s the indelicate way I tromp through my day
Spitting out empty words and crumpled up goals.
To make a slightly over-critical analogy, I envision my priorities all written on bingo balls; they live in a gameshow raffle spinner and each morning I wake- reach in and pull out the purpose of the day. It’s a toss-up; to what will I prove my commitments today?
Vanna smiles and says condescendingly, “consistency isn’t the name of her game.”
The simple and the necessary hang at the wayside, because I’ve laid a red carpet for the trinkets of distraction.

This may be getting a bit overly-intense..**(see bottom) But regardless, it’s simple truth that I often I fail to do the things that will develop me into the person I want to become.

I sing in chorus with this tongue twisting conviction- “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate to do… For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do…”
And my behavior is as blatantly redundant as the verse is.

This poem by Tagore is unfortunately relevant:

Obstinate are the trammels, but my heart aches when I try to break them. Freedom is all I want, but to hope for it I feel ashamed. I am certain that priceless wealth is in thee, and that thou art my best friend, but I have not the heart to sweep away the tinsel that fills my room.

The shroud that covers me is a shroud of dust and death; I hate it, yet hug it in love.

My debts are large, my failures great, my shame secret and heavy; yet when I come to ask for my good, I quake in fear lest my prayer be granted.
-Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali

(**This certainly wouldn’t be uncommon of my writing.. I often begin with a level-headed quandary or observation, but see it snowball into some frazzled rhetoric that’s facing an entirely different direction than when I began. I think it’s because I start with an idea, but during the written expression of it I get caught up in the description and syntax and movement of the writing.. I get a bit distracted from fluid thought while riding the wave of descriptions, analogies, rhythm of language..
Ooh I’ve just realized what it is- once I get rolling, the writing pulls my thoughts to and fro, rather than my thoughts dictating what is to be written next.

The act itself of writing becomes the guide, determining the next thought to entertain; whereas typically, the act of expression is subordinate to the thought which is to be expressed.

Well clearly I’ve again lost cohesion of content. But at least in most cases there does remain a portion of what I've written that reflects what i originally set out to voice..)

Monday, December 15, 2008

a time when we were together:

When you live in a place like this...

and this is just a typical friday night at home...

you begin to understand the invaluable rarity of the mix of people closest to you.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

12 holes. always 12 holes...

In a world where not many things are consistent, permanently dependable, or altogether without debate, I found some wonderfully simple kind of satisfaction when I picked up a shower curtain at the market today. Because you see with shower curtains, there are always 12 holes. It doesn’t matter what street you live on, or where you grew up for that matter. Or how many gold rings you have on your fingers, or which position you take on the wars. It doesn’t matter how many kids you have, or if you can’t have kids, or if you are depressed, or if you are an addict. Because whether you are an asshole or a philanthropist or a tiny person or a person with 11 toes.. when you purchase a shower curtain, you agree that there are 12 holes needed- no more, no less.

Trivial? yep.

But I think sometimes it is good to appreciate the transient points of connection between ourselves and the rest of the wanderers living their lives in different bodies with different minds and different eyes..

I read a quote from a magazine in the dentist’s office today from a guy named John Cacioppo who studies social neuroscience; on watching strangers at Grand Central Station in NY, he said “You’d see these people walking in all these different ways and different paces, and all of a sudden, they’d be synchronized.”
The premise of the article in which he was quoted was on the perception of loneliness in NYC because the majority of residents there supposedly lead more isolated and independent lives than in any other US city, and thus they must be more lonely. But what the whole thing set out to voice was that in fact, New Yorkers are far less likely to report feeling lonely and that perhaps amidst all the outward chaos and hustle and bustle… there is a deep thread of connection that binds these people together. The article plays with the thought of some bond existing in their being

“Alone. Together.”

And with a warm but understated smile, with just the slightest melancholic undertone, I thought 'I like the sound of that.'