Unmarked Trails

August 21, 2011

This week I received delivery of my new wicker furniture in my downtown space. It feels extravagant. For years I have been claiming that possessions are burdensome, and that I want fewer, not more. So why this burst of material consumption?

I think of these furnishings as a means to an end, though I’m not sure yet what the end might be. I believe it has something to do with connection and hospitality. (It’s a conversation grouping, after all.) It has something to do with creating beauty. And it has something to do with having a room of my own.

Roethke said, “I learn, by going, where I have to go.” I suppose this is an experiment in moving toward the unknown, following unmarked trails, doing something entirely different. My hope is that it will jump start my creativity.

What have you done lately that is uncharacteristic, that shifts your perspective, that challenges your habitual preferences a bit?

Beauty Seen

April 25, 2009

Beauty seen makes the one who sees it more beautiful. ~David Steindl-Rast

Who Is Seeing

A dark cloud streak
topped by silver-white brilliance
hovers above
the pink-orange corona
of the rising sun.

I have been tugged awake
called to beauty
by the part of me
that is sunrise,
or the part of sunrise
that is me.


September 9, 2008

Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.  ~Bob Dylan

We have had lovely rain today, and this time not because of any tropical storms threatening others. There is something about rain, this gentle kind of rain, that is soothing and beautiful. Mist hangs between the hills, and things are still and quiet now except for an occasional rumble of thunder. The trees and plants are rejoicing, and there will be more grass to mow this year. I am grateful for this rain.

How often have I thought of rain as that inconvenience that makes me wet, that I don’t like to drive in, that ruins an outing? More times than I’d care to remember. I want a rhythm in my life that allows for being with rain. I think it would be heaven to awaken each morning and tune in to what the day will bring, adjusting one’s activities accordingly, rather than forcing our artificial routines on the day.

There is so much beauty in the sound of rain, as much as in the sound of poetry to me. Gentle or torrential, on the grass or a tin roof, rain can have a mesmerizing, meditative effect. May I listen to, feel, and be with the rain as often and completely as I can.

Cereus Blooms!

August 26, 2008

Beauty, more than bitterness, makes the heart break. ~Sara Teasdale

We live only to discover beauty. All else is a form of waiting. ~Kahlil Gibran

Here it is, before and after blooming. As you can tell, I had to stand in the rain to shoot, and, of course the photo doesn’t do the bloom justice. Just the whiteness of this flower is breathtaking, let alone its exotic beauty. Hoping next year for fair skies!

Healthy Habits Redux

August 25, 2008

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do. ~Confucius

I had such good intentions of practicing healthy habits, losing weight, getting fitter, in my post of May 17. Things have not worked out the way I envisioned them then, but today I am again eating well, doing yoga, meditating, and loving what is. For I know that these practices are a series of choices, moment by moment. I am starting a tiny journal (a Moleskine Cahier to be exact) to record my motivation, resistance, and success. I can’t imagine what life would be like for me without the ability to chart, to write, to record!

On another topic entirely, our Night-Blooming Cereus bloomed last night! I always feel like I am witnessing a miracle when that happens. There are more buds, and I hope to take a picture tonight for tomorrow’s blog entry. Meanwhile, here’s another blog devoted entirely to this extraordinary member of the cactus family, including some beautiful digital photos by Professor Robert Fovell.

The Beauty We Love

February 20, 2008

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened.
Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading.
Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.


What a beautiful last line. It almost makes up for Rumi’s dissing of reading! 😉 And just look at that first line that describes the human condition–not one that’s special (“like every other day”) nor one that is unique to us as individuals (“we wake up”). The question Rumi begs here, of course, is “What is the beauty you love?” This poem is one answer for me.

Only in midlife have I begun to understand that this is the right question, much less to consider the answers to the question. As a child, I don’t remember having dreams about what I would be when I grew up. It didn’t occur to me to aspire to anything in particular, even though I came from a solidly middle-class household that valued education and achievement. Possibly this was true for many girls, whose socially acceptable options typically consisted of teacher, nurse, wife and mother. Most certainly, though, the question in my family would have had more to do with accomplishment as measured by society than with the beauty I loved. 

So…what is the beauty I love? Poetry, words, music, textural arts (fiber, glass, multimedia), laughter, yoga, living spaces with feng shui, human connection, singing. What is the beauty you love?


October 14, 2007

A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.  ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I am reading You’ll Be Okay: My Life with Jack Kerouac, by Edie Kerouac-Parker, and Above the River: The Complete Poems of James Wright.  I am also listening to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on my commute.  I can’t imagine a life without books, a life without poets, a life without magic.  And though sometimes those wordly cares Goethe speaks of do nearly obliterate the sense of the beautiful, I always know deep down which is more important.  What do you do to retain and nourish that sense of the beautiful?


August 17, 2007

Not everything that can be counted, counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. ~Albert Einstein

What is now considered education, it seems to me, is teaching to a test, and test scores are the most important measure of the success of the educational system.  I’m all for using outcomes to measure the success of programs, as long as we remember that for many programs, it’s next to impossible to really understand their impact by measuring.  Who can say what reading great literature really does for a person?  Yet we know it is of value.

Is the liberal education really dead in our modern world of job training disguised as school?  As T. S. Eliot put it, “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”–which reminds me of another of my favorite quotes: “Remember, Information is not knowledge; Knowledge is not wisdom; Wisdom is not truth; Truth is not beauty; Beauty is not love; Love is not music; Music is the best.” ~Frank Zappa