Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world

There’s a particular feeling I get sometimes, a paradoxical combination of “wow I am just so connected to everyone and everything right now” and “wow I am totally incapable of describing this to anyone to my satisfaction, much less sharing it with them, gotta just sit here and experience it all by myself.”

Connected / Disconnected. All One / All Alone. Everyone / No One. Everything / Nothing. Self / No Self.  Object / No Object. Lately I’ve found some comfort in the belief that it’s possible to transcend this dualistic way of interpreting experience (Möbius?!), but then what words suffice?

Sometimes, songs are the friends I am looking for / are more immediately-available reflections of my half-twist inner landscape. Inevitably, when I find myself in the aforementioned state, lyrics from a particular Grateful Dead song pop unbidden into my consciousness:

Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world
The heart has its beaches, its homeland and thoughts of its own
Wake now, discover that you are the song that the morning brings
But the heart has its seasons, its evenings and songs of its own

And:

Sometimes the songs that we hear are just songs of our own

Here’s my favorite version available on Spotify:

Or, if you’re that kind of nerdy, give this 19-minute version a try and see, as you’re listening, if you end up back where you started, but with a slightly different perspective.

Full lyrics: Continue reading “Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world”

The Well of Grief, a poem by David Whyte

Every time a crack appears in the dam that keeps my sea of grief at bay, I am reminded of this David Whyte poem:

The Well of Grief
David Whyte

Those who will not slip beneath
the still surface on the well of grief,

turning down through its black water
to the place we cannot breathe,

will never know the source from which we drink,
the secret water, cold and clear,

nor find in the darkness glimmering,

the small round coins,
thrown by those who wished for something else.

Source: David Whyte’s Facebook page, accessed 6 November 2020.

The audio of the video below* features David Whyte himself reciting the poem, and talking about how it came to be. The imagery is irrelevant, and I’d suggest ignoring:

I love hearing him tell the deeper story about the bottom of the well, and how he repeats certain lines, certain words, and then the entire poem in entirely different ways!

*That said, I have mixed feelings about sharing this video as it sets of an alarm related to “not taking that which is not given.” Continue reading “The Well of Grief, a poem by David Whyte”

Book review: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

OliveKitteridge

We were going to be visiting Scott’s family in Maine and I’d never been there before, so I wanted to read something that was set in that state; Scott did a bit of research and suggested Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge. Extra points for a Maine novel written by a Maine author!

This book reminded me of:

I kept thinking back to Anne Tyler (Ladder of Years especially, not that I can remember a single detail other than how the book made me feel) and Alice Munro’s Still Life in terms of the female character’s experiences. Alice Munro again because the novel is a collection of short stories that could very well stand on their own. And Wendell Berry because of Strout’s choice to illuminate one small town through the eyes of several very different inhabitants and their very different stories… though to be fair, I think Strout covers a lot more ground in terms of humanizing a wider range of characters and situations.

This book got me thinking about:

…the many different ways aging relationships can go.
Apparently I had unconsciously assumed a very narrow spectrum of feelings and/or options available to people that had been in a relationship for decades, because I was very pleasantly surprised by the number of representations in this book.

…the fraught nature of parent/child relationships.
So many of the characters and scenarios reminded me of just-slightly-more-extreme versions of people and relationships in my own life Continue reading “Book review: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout”

Dancing with our demons: artistic perspectives on inner struggles

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There are a lot of things that art, broadly speaking, does for me. During tough times especially, I appreciate the opportunity to get beyond words and into something deeper, vaster, and paradoxically more accessible, if less explicable.

Here are four dance performances that illuminate the challenge of staying on one’s own path, which to me often feels a lot like going against the grain. The differences, gross or subtle, between what I believe and what I value, and how I live. The various arguing inner voices, the wrestling-with-angels, the sleepless nights.

I highly recommend watching full-screen with a good headset or speakers. I have to believe the third was inspired by the second, but who knows? The last one gives me the most hope, though I reject the implication that we need to buy anything in order to liberate ourselves, as it were.

I’d love to hear how you interpret any or all of these performances, how the lyrics resonate with you (or not – honestly I’m so moved by the physical performances it’s hard for me to pay attention to the lyrics!), and/or to see any art you’ve made to represent the struggle of remaining true to yourself when it feels like you’re supposed to stay within the lines. ❤

Let me fall

Scott picked Laura Mvula’s Let Me Fall as one of his top songs of 2017, and I’ve been listening to it multiple times a day lately. So many layers to discover, and the lyrics make me think…