Aimless Love: a poem by Billy Collins

Aimless Love
by Billy Collins

This morning as I walked along the lake shore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table.

In the shadows of an autumn evening,
I fell for a seamstress
still at her machine in the tailor’s window,
and later for a bowl of broth,
steam rising like smoke from a naval battle.

This is the best kind of love, I thought,
without recompense, without gifts,
or unkind words, without suspicion,
or silence on the telephone.

The love of the chestnut,
the jazz cap and one hand on the wheel.

No lust, no slam of the door—
the love of the miniature orange tree,
the clean white shirt, the hot evening shower,
the highway that cuts across Florida.

No waiting, no huffiness, or rancor—
just a twinge every now and then

for the wren who had built her nest
on a low branch overhanging the water
and for the dead mouse,
still dressed in its light brown suit.

But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.

After I carried the mouse by the tail
to a pile of leaves in the woods,
I found myself standing at the bathroom sink
gazing down affectionately at the soap,

so patient and soluble,
so at home in its pale green soap dish.
I could feel myself falling again
as I felt its turning in my wet hands
and caught the scent of lavender and stone.

Original source: Billy Collins, Nine Horses, Pan Macmillan and Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2003, accessed via Pan Macmillan on 9 August 2018. Continue reading “Aimless Love: a poem by Billy Collins”

Self care and art as acts of resistance

It’s hard to deny that there’s a lot of shit going down in the world right now. As the daughter of two immigrants (into the US) and an immigrant (into NZ) myself, what’s happening at the US border hits me in a particular way, and there are so many other examples we might point to around the world.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it takes to stay open to and present with this sort of unpleasantness, for a couple reasons. First, I believe it is important to actually SEE and GRIEVE these atrocities, rather than pretending they don’t exist or that they don’t hurt. And more importantly, I believe we must be present to what is going on if we might hope to effectively address any issues that are not in alignment with our own values.

And so I have been super inspired by a few things that my friends have shared this week. They remind me that there are so many ways to contribute to upending the status quo, and so many ways to take care of ourselves as we do that work. Continue reading “Self care and art as acts of resistance”

The Solstice is Our Anniversary

The paradoxical thing about monogamy, for me at least, is that it took someone who doesn’t insist upon it to inspire me to live it so willingly.

Read on for two poems (one that speaks to the inevitably-ephemeral nature of relationships, and one that speaks to the phenomenon I described above), the story about how Scott and I came to find ourselves in a relationship the second time around, and a bit of Wendell Berry’s ever-inspiring wisdom.

Sonnet of Fidelity
by Vinicius de Moraes

Above all, to my love I’ll be attentive
First and always, with care and so much
That even when facing the greatest enchantment
By love be more enchanted my thoughts.

I want to live it through in each vain moment
And in its honor I’ll spread my song
And laugh my laughter and cry my tears
When you are sad or when you are content.

And thus, when later comes looking for me
Who knows, the death, anxiety of the living,
Who knows, the loneliness, end of all lovers

I’ll be able to say to myself of the love (I had):
Be not immortal, since it is flame
But be infinite while it lasts.

I discovered this next one in the book Loving and Leaving the Good Life, by Helen Nearing; she had sent it to her husband, Scott Nearing, in response to a poem he sent her while they were separated by an ocean:

The Wind Bloweth Where It Listeth
by Countee Cullen

“Live like the wind,” he said, “unfettered,
And love me while you can;
And when you will, and can be bettered,
Go to the better man.

“For you’ll grow weary, maybe, sleeping
So long a time with me;
Like this there’ll be no cause for weeping;
The wind is always free.

“Go when you please,” he would be saying,
His mouth hard on her own;
That’s why she stayed and loved the staying,
Contented to the bone.

***

Because Scott and I didn’t see each other for two and a half years following our first date (except for one unacknowledged, wordless encounter in the doorway of Green Apple Books), I count our second date as our anniversary.

Except that I can’t really call it a date because it wasn’t really meant to be a date. We’d been hanging out platonically for several weeks, going to shows and having philosophical discussions, and had even gone on a double date. Which is why it hadn’t occurred to me that it might be awkward to invite Peter, a friend from work, to join us at The Independent on the evening of the Summer Solstice, 2016… Continue reading “The Solstice is Our Anniversary”

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…

Focus on Five – a system for practicing a more balanced, contented life

You’ve probably seen at least one version of this advice floating around the internet:

3hobbies

“Three Hobbies” has always bothered me, for two reasons.

The first is that for those of us running our own businesses, the distinction between a hobby and a business is super important. If you want to write off your business expenses on your tax return, for instance, you’d better make sure the tax authorities don’t deem your business a hobby! (I’m not going to cover this in any more detail here, but do check out the link above for more details on the critical difference between a hobby and a business.)

The second issue is that “Three Hobbies” is INCOMPLETE, almost to the point of irresponsibility, when it comes to business owners. We know how common burnout, anxiety, and depression are among entrepreneurs. While running businesses, we might also be exercising and creating obsessively… all while totally disconnected from other human beings, or a sense of connection to what is driving all this activity in the first place.

And so I’m trying on a slightly different system for cultivating — as in, actually practicing — a balanced life. Continue reading “Focus on Five – a system for practicing a more balanced, contented life”

The view from “down there”

In the last coupla weeks I’ve managed to delete my Facebook account, get sick-and-then-better, demonstrate the high-level function of our relationship by making it through a 3-day power outage with minimal food wastage (we ate well!), attend a meditation retreat, and discover dozens of beautiful, brave people who are fighting the good fight(s) with regard to identity politics on Twitter.

MiddleFingers

I’m working up the nerve to write (but mostly still grokking how to connect the dots, and deciding how much I am actually willing to share) something that somehow weaves together the male gaze, heteronormativity, my own internalized beliefs about fashion and fitting in, representation, aging, model minority stereotypes, growing up bi-racial in a predominantly-white, very privileged community, the tension between building a platform that “scales” and staying 100% committed to my own voice, the dangers women face for expressing any sexuality, one (or more) of my #metoo stories, and what it means for me, as a woman of color who has so often reported to white men (I currently report to a Māori man), to fully step into my power.

SexCells

It’s probably more like 12 pieces to write over the course of the rest of my life. Every other hour, I convince myself that I just need to keep meditating instead of attempting to make sense of it all, much less write it down for an audience.

In the meantime, I will share this stunning Janelle Monáe video, from which I have stolen the above screenshots:

I really don’t want to ruin it with any more commentary BUT (I can’t help it!) it gives me many of the same magical, tingly, “we got this,” “it ain’t all bad” feelings that this Bomba Estereo video also evokes:

May I one day master my craft to the point where I too can wrap the messages I’d like to convey in packages as powerful as these.

#DeleteFacebook: How to permanently delete your Facebook account (while saving as much of it as you can for posterity)

I spent an absurd amount of time over the 4-day Easter weekend bumbling my way through the process of permanently deleting my Facebook account while saving as much of it as I could for posterity. This second part was important to me, and it’s really not as straightforward as it could be – as far as I can tell there are 6 things you need to do BEFORE requesting that Facebook permanently delete your account to ensure that your data is as protected as it can be, and to make sure you still have access to as much as you can reasonably collect from Facebook before saying goodbye.

I consulted a bunch of different How To articles and videos, went down several dead ends, screwed up (and had to cancel/restart the deletion process) multiple times, etc etc just to get to a place where I genuinely believe I did as much as I was willing to do without running some random script.

To add to the body of knowledge around this topic I decided to write up everything I’ve figured out so far. I sincerely hope this will save you some time and stress! I may be geeky but I’m no Facebook expert, so please please please let me know if I’ve misunderstood or misrepresented anything so I can update this article accordingly.

Good luck! This was a pain in the ass, but if I could do it, so you can you 🙂

Step 1: Download a copy of your Facebook data (and be amazed / disappointed with what you get)

You can read Facebook’s own instructions on how to do this here (Settings > Download a copy of your Facebook data). I’m suggesting you do this before Steps 2 and 3 so that you’ll have a record of all the Apps etc that used to be connected in case this list becomes useful at some point in the future…

So you have an idea what to expect when you download a copy of your Facebook data, here are some of the things that I noticed: Continue reading “#DeleteFacebook: How to permanently delete your Facebook account (while saving as much of it as you can for posterity)”

Getting out of my own way

For years I told myself I wasn’t cut out for a 9-5 job. When I ditched that story, I found a job that ultimately inspired me to move across an ocean. As of last week, this has officially been my longest stretch of employment ever (not counting the years I worked for myself) and I’m not planning on leaving any time soon!

I mentioned Rachel Meyer’s piece, You Are Not Your Story, for Down Under Yoga. I just adore Rachel’s writing; check it all out (and sign up for her e-newsletter!) on her website!

 

There are many truths: on multiple perspectives and (too many?) modes of communication

Whatever it is that I’m tapped into right now reminds me a LOT of a similar period I went through back in 1998 (dropped out of University; went to Australia to chart my OWN path; “discovered” art symbols God yoga Buddhism and so many other things that remain very important in my life…)

I still have lot of questions about how to make correspondence work in an era when we have too many communication choices. And I’m still hoping you’ll interact with me via this YouTube channel!

You can read more about the Paradox of Choice and the actual details of the jam sampling study here; I didn’t quite get the details right during the recording.

It’s alive: My first vlog (aka an invitation to collaborate)

Per my last post about how nobody ever reads YouTube descriptions, here’s the description in most of its glory (I took out bits that are irrelevant in this context):

Dear friends: I miss you… and yet my life is so much better without social media. (“But YouTube is also a form of social media!” “I know, I’m embracing the contradiction!”). Can we figure out a way to transcend time zones and busy schedules so we can connect and collaborate around the BIG, JUICY STUFF that’s beyond what can happen via social media? I hope so!

You can sign up for my e-newsletter here.

And here’s a link to my very awesome brother’s Instagram account, where he showcases his very awesome life.

Also a note – just because Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat don’t work FOR ME doesn’t mean they might not do wonders for you! I don’t mean to judge anyone who finds that these platforms do in fact improve your lives. And I’m still hoping you’ll join me here somehow 🙂

Tech details: Continue reading “It’s alive: My first vlog (aka an invitation to collaborate)”