Made it to Chicago! Listened to this guy the whole way. Proud to be in his town.
STUFF I THINK ABOUT
Comfort food for stranger blues.
because sometimes you gotta tend to yer roots.
in a world gone mad, he's still the best <3
Just now I was thinking about the proverbial glass half-full vs. glass half-empty. As I prepared dinner and put the kettle on the stove, I had a thought I’d never thunk before, one which, now thunked, amazes me with its obviousness. Either way, the glass is the same.
As my stomach growled and the water simmered I marveled at the judgement hidden in that question, do you see the glass half-full or half-empty? The implication is that if you see the glass half-full you’re a positive person who will attract friends and good fortune, and if you see the glass half-empty you’re a miserable person no one wants to be around. Early in life I reasoned, I never want to be one of those negative people! (lol, see albums 1-13).
However is this true? Is there value in emptiness? Does there need to be value? Does value make a thing? Is there another way of seeing? Must we be so reliant on sight?
I had a friend who saw the glass emptier than half-empty. He believed that everything eventually goes wrong, which meant I had to work extra hard to believe that everything eventually goes right. When things went wrong, he was right. When things went wrong, I was devastated. It was exhausting. Both of us attempted to control the flow of the glass because neither could bear the unknown.
I don’t automatically see the glass half-full. I don’t see the glass half-empty, either — mostly I take the glass for granted, seldom noticing unless it’s empty or overflowed. There are many senses to indulge in. Most likely I’m thinking about thirst or a song or sex (again, different words for the same thing).
As the water boiled and I filled the mug I marveled at how complicated we can make something so simple. Life is fluid. So are we.
Some see half-empty, some see half-full, some see something else. Despite what the news or angry bumperstickers tell us, we have a heck of a lot in common with people who see the world differently. We occupy the same space. When we fixate on how we see the glass (or the world) we’re no longer seeing the glass (or the world). We’re seeing our own mind, reflected back to us as we guzzle what is or isn’t there. We're drunk on being right, rather than on learning what is here. Glass is fragile. We must handle it with care.
I wonder... what’s in this glass, anyway? Is it wanted? How much is enough? Is there someone other than us who might benefit from its contents? Can we acknowledge the privilege of having a glass, holding a glass, seeing a glass, empty or full or in any state of emptiness or fullness? And what of the whole universe surrounding this glass...
Right now the windows are open and the room is filled with the music of leaves rustling and birds settling in for the night. My belly is more than half-full with the satisfaction that comes only after one has known the feeling of being more than half-empty. Despite everything, I'm optimistic.
Just some thoughts. Thank you for taking a sip.
I'm attaching an old half-full song from a young wholehearted swan, circa 2006.
We put so much pressure on ourselves to find our path — as if there's only one, as if one is right, as if there's one at all. Krishnamurti proposed that truth is a pathless land, and when I read this in a bathtub some years and miles ago I underlined it three times, not really knowing what he meant, and yet knowing it to be true. Truth is complex and contradictory, a wilderness that includes yet evades us. We can explore and uncover it, as we explore and uncover ourselves, but if there's a clear path it's probably because someone else put it there. That doesn't make it less true; it also doesn't make it truth.
Sometimes it’s helpful to follow a well-worn path. Mama always said, the beaten path is beaten for a reason. If we're certain of where we want to go, a clear path is faster and more comfortable than carving our own.But what if we’re uncertain? How do we know where we want to go when we don't know where we are? How do we know where we are until we’ve wandered a way? What if we want to explore in a different direction? What if we enjoy the uncertainty of not knowing, even if it feels frightening? We’re taught we need a path because everything outside the path could potentially cause harm, from the rattlesnakes to the other humans to the land itself. Is the path not also the land? Are we not also the land? Are we really going to assume we know the way?For me, the danger in following a path isn’t the path itself but that it exists between here and an imagined future point. Rarely do I experience the no-path of here, which is why I fell in love with music. Music helps me be present. Of course, I tried (and still catch myself trying) to make music my path, instead of simply making music. Expectations, no matter how sweet, lead to disappointment. Unless we expect the worst. Either way, there's suffering where there might have been... well, being.
(To be clear, I stayed on the path to take these photos because I respect the poppies. Don't they look like they could talk? Or chirp? What do you think they are saying?)
While it’s fun to plan a trip — especially if it’s a tour — I've found that true fulfillment lies not in the paths we take but in the ones that emerge within that barely perceptible space between future and past that is us. Each wavering, confusing, frustrating, inspiring, challenging, gratifying, humbling step that feels pathless is our truth. How do we know this? Why else would we keep going?
A year ago I left what had become a well-trodden path to try something different. It hasn’t been easy or comfortable, but I don’t think ease and comfort are the point. We’re here to explore and to experience, and sometimes that hurts. Sometimes we have to be beside ourselves to know where we are, to know what is true. This, too, changes! We, too, are changing! Sometimes we have to get on the path in order to abandon it. We have to abandon it in order to be here, the one place we are now.
After all, it's pretty great to be here, isn't it? Even if we're tired and a little sore? I'm glad you're here. Thank you for joining me in my rambling.
I'm about to venture deeper and farther into the wilderness... of Chicago? Yes, sometime in the near future (trying not to get too ahead of myself, but an apartment needs to manifest at some point) I'm going to dig into words and sounds and images at the School of the Art Institute. I don't know what's ahead, but right now feels pretty great. Thank you to the wonderful patrons who've supported me through the past year of tortuous (if not torturous) applications. If you’d like to join us on our M.F.A. adventure you can subscribe here!
Happy Earth Day Every Day,
More than a cathedral, Notre Dame is a container for our collective soul. Regardless of faith or nationality, she has been the receptacle for millions of our prayers, dreams, and meditations. She has inspired our poems, art, and imaginations. She has hosted our proposals, weddings, funerals, vacations, memories, and reunions. She has served as a portal to our shared history.
Tonight she reminds us to hold sacred what is here, now. To appreciate the beauty that surrounds us, and the people we love. Just because something existed before us doesn’t mean it will exist forever.
Notre Dame will be repaired, as she was after the revolution. Once again we will study her rainbow rosette, gazing through the eyes of countless humans across the time-space continuum, marveling at the way the dust sparkles like friendly spirits overhead. We will climb her narrow stairs to emerge, breathless, at the Paris skyline, sharing membership to the most beautiful city in the world. We will perhaps be even more grateful, more reverent, knowing what we lost, and knowing what we still have.
Until then, let us hold space for each other, and tend to this weary world soul. We love you, Paris.
by Mary Oliver
I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?
Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?
Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
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