Archive for the ‘thinking’ Category

I dedicate my respect of water  to my German „Oma“ (technically my great aunt, but I didn’t know the difference for well over a decade). I have a particularly keen sense of the value of water. Particularly HOT water. As a thrifty Swabian, my Oma made it very clear that those long, languorous, hot and steamy bubble baths were not an option in her tightly run household. A daily hot shower was not an option. And washing your hair every day was positively out of the question.

Luckily for me, the (cold) room she allowed us to stay in had a small sink. This sort of thing was a typical architectural oddity in Germany – and much of Europe – at the time. You see it in movies where the bed is lice-infested, wallpaper peeling off the walls and a filthy community toilet where the last guy on not only smokes but burps and farts his was down the hall. Swabians being particularly tidy, there were no lice, the wallpaper was doing okay and the cleanliness of the family toilet (downstairs and through a door that was sometimes locked) was okay. The water that came out of the faucet on the little sink was – never to be forgotten – ice ice cold.

Forget bungee jumping, snowboarding on wild slopes off the beaten path: wash your hair (upside down) in ice water http://pharmacieviagra.com/boutique/commander-cialis/. There’s nothing like it for a truly tingly head rush. This indescribable experience may, on the flip side, bring you numerous compliments on shiny hair. This was the case for me that summer.

Every bath I have taken since, every shower, every time I brush my teeth … I say prayers of thanks for this glorious stuff coming out of the faucet. For the physical property of it being hot – a heat I love making so high and tangy that I can get the full rush of the other extreme. My (only) heirloom from Oma.

What has compounded my respect of water as an adult is the bitter lack of it elsewhere. The breathtakingly respectless, wasteful use of water in my homeland. The three showers a day, gallon-filled toilet bowls, golf courses in Arizona, Las Vegas in its entireity and dozens of other things, the looming devastation of fracking not to be forgotten …

There it is: simple, humble adoration of something so beautiful, fragile, powerful, precious. That begins simply and humbly, like today, with tiny droplets forming on leaves and windowpanes.

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One of the most sensual things I have ever done needs a new word to describe it. When I was a kid, we called it “skinny-dipping”. But that’s no longer appropriate, since there’s rarely a skinny person anywhere in sight, and a “dip” implies it’s in and out and rather risqué all the while. This is not the case. It’s a small peninsula in a lake full of people doing the same thing: lying on various mats, blankets, towels, with assorted paraphernalia, stark naked. Occasionally taking a swim. Having a cigarette. Reading. Sunning various sides and flipping from time to time. Adjusting their sun umbrellas as the sun moves. And watching everyone else around them.

I’m old enough not to care much if I’m being appraised while naked. There’s a discreet rule that everyone more or less adheres to: no staring. Eyes flit around but rarely meet. You steal glances at particularly interesting pieces of flesh quickly and furtively. The one situation where it seems appropriate to take longer, more direct looks is when people get into or out of the water or get up to get dressed or arrive and undress.

The entire situation is sensual. Meeting the elements, the air, the heat, the water, the grass and the occasional ant or two with your entire length and folds of skin is a wondrous thing. Absorbing everyone else around you doing the same thing, being so different yet so close to you, in an exquisite long-distance intimacy… truly awesome.

I enter the water gradually. No one will ever convince me that doing it any other way is “better” (men seems to like the idea of plunging, preferably head first, into water considerably colder than bike-ride heated bodies). When I think about it, my preferred pattern of sexuality is similar. Not to be rushed into anything here. And why? Ankles, then knees, thighs. Slowly fingering my way with my toes on the slimy, stony lake bottom. When the coolness hits the perineum, I let out tell-tale breaths, gasps of temperature transition. I cannot help this, and it pretty much continues, if not escalate, while tediously working my way up to the belly, solar plexus, heart. Once the nipples tickle the water, I’m usually okay. From there, it’s sink in. And go. First with a bit of old person, head-stay-dry breaststroke until I feel the moment where the water beckons like a lover to let just go. I turn on my back and relish my best discipline: the backstroke. My goal is the little string of buoys, big yellow balls with little white balls between them, all on a very long rope stretching from coast to coast. On this particular day, I seem to be racing the ominous clouds going in the same direction - obviously the day’s outing isn’t going to be a leisurely one. I reach the rope and glide it between big toe and the next to hang onto my algae soaked flipflop, balancing my way along, arms outstretched. It’s a wonderful chance for a breather and to get a look around, to sink deeper into the fluid hugging me tightly and release more, more, more. Letting go of the rope is always a tiny, sad moment, so I do a bit of floating, twisting, turning, playing. My body is a natural floater and I could stay that way effortlessly for what seems to be forever, making the idea of lying on an inflatable mattress – for many pass me left and right – slightly absurd. And no amount of plastic sticking to skin can ever be seen as good, as sweet, as deliriously encompassing as just lying on water, feeling every little ripple (and bigger ripples), listening, letting go, moving gently with the entire mass – as part of it.

As I slowly paddle/stroke my way back to shore, I am utterly taken by the sight of a young couple entering the water. She is an amazing beauty and he fades at first in her light. Reddish hair in a PR-person sort of short bob, her skin is immaculate and truly radiantly white. She has perfect, perky, anti-gravitational breasts that she coyly covers with a towel that looks like she must have inherited from her grandmother. Striped and oldish, it’s peculiarly unfitting to the rest of what she exudes. Both of them are ridiculously thin but still not what I would define as skinny; they are true peninsula eye-candy with fashionably hairless pubes. As I get closer (though far enough away to be able to stare without being obvious about it), I see there is an obvious age difference between the two of them, he being younger, if perhaps not by much. He late twenties to her mid-thirties, hard to say. She was protesting. The slime on the stones was too much for her. She was not going in farther than her calves. This gave everyone around the satisfaction of being able to look at her longer. He was playfully encouraging her to go deeper. She wasn’t having any of it. And then, I noticed a glint. On the tip of his penis, there was … well … something silver. The idea of a pierced penis makes me shudder. I can’t get my head around it. But then, I can’t understand most piercings. Or tattoos. I tried not to look too intently but the pull is awful. In my mind’s eye, I could envision swimming up to him to inspect it – up-close. Instead, I opted for pulling myself out of the water as quickly as possibly. By the time I padded onto shore, they were in an embrace, kissing like the fresh lovers they certainly were. I wondered (as any curious girl would) how his cold metal tip must feel inside. If it hurt him. Or helped him. How long it took her to like it. If she did. And why.

The next day, not a cloud in the sky, the perfect contrast to the porcelain princess marched past my flat little fortress: a proud old woman I would guess to be somewhere over 60. Her flesh literally hung off her bones, she was covered head-to-toe with wrinkles but her skin was as dark as any Caucasian could possibly ever become. I suspect she’s among the daily retiree crowd who play cards and casually talk about life and politics while spread-legged on their little chairs, some fully manicured, some big old hairy beasts, all having an excellent, peaceful time of it.

The beauty of the elements, these people, each and every one of them majestic and beautiful, the energy, the let-go flow and genuine air of “the world is okay today” is intriguing, intoxicating. An experience to relish – and repeat.

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Looking forward to the end of a very trying day, I weave my way through the maze of empty ugly blue office chairs alternating with filled ugly blue office chairs with students slumped over keyboards, now happily pulling up Facebook since I’ve finished with them. Only one left to go. The student that has pissed me off all semester. The student that I like quite a lot. I love how he speaks perfect German and then seamlessly segways into something British-y or Colonial British. Maybe New Zealand. He mentions New Zealand a lot.

Clipboard and threatening-looking piece of red-marked paper in hand, I sit next to him and ask what I have asked all the others. “So … what’s your project going to be about?” This is the project they will receive a grade for. Without missing a beat he says, “My tattoo.” “Your tattoo?” I say, praying that what is now flashing through my mind is not apparent on my face. But then, it always is. There is nothing I have ever been able to do about that. I am now envisioning an image seen somewhere – time, place and context on the Internet completely, dutifully erased from memory – of a man’s completely tattooed penis. It had literally become a very colorful, quite beautiful, snake. From tip to base and front to back, the testicles, the surrounding thighs and, if I remember correctly, there was even a great amount of detail around the anus. I still shudder in horror at how sedated this man must have been (and for how many days) to have that worked performed. And a performance it was. Tattoo Art at its finest. Looking at my student, I see him fishing with his eyes for me to somehow go on. As if he really knows about the pictures flickering through my brain and how he wants to link them permanently to his own body’s artwork. “Right, well, I’m not sure if I want to know about your tattoo,” was my lame response, knowing full well that if there is going to be any editorial design being done, I’ll have to be knowing about, and looking at his tattoo at some point. This was the boy that had, in passing one day, asked me if I thought the product designers from Apple knew people would have clitoral associations when using the little ball on their “Mighty Mouse”. I tried to respond as dryly as I could, “I certainly hope they considered it. It’s evidently worked on you. I find it to be a positive thing, men thinking about clitorises…” stopping in my tracks right there. Slippery slope with this one. Luckily, I could escape from “what subject” to “which publication” and was able to escape further pain.

I could have left it alone, but he’s my Nr. 1 rebel, so I asked him why he boycotted the last assignment. A shrug not being an answer, I proceed to tell him that he has pissed me off. That he was rude and had no respect. From the get-go. And that I agree with Apple on yet another count, that the rebels are actually more often than not the good guys, the creative souls, the geniuses that motor innovation and create beauty. But doing nothing and just rebelling gave you just as much potential to be regarded as an asshole as it does a genius. Until there is something done. Or performed. Or discussed. So until he did something, his behavior dictated that I must regard him as an asshole. I really like this student. He brings out the best in me. Bullseye.

Today I run away from the school as if the sky were falling. The last day with a group of older students that some uninspired teacher before me had turned totally sour on design. For all practical purposes, i.e. making them realize the true and marketable added-value of beauty, they were lost. Three students out of 14 gave it a good, honest, genuine go, but for the rest I was a petulant and hysterical babysitter howling something indiscernible about aesthetics. The speed and acridness of their retorts took my breath away. The balls of social media-izing while I offered all my deepest design secrets and passions was humbling to say the least, to put it in the mildest words without flagellating myself. As I pull away from the building, all I can think is, “don’t they realize that it isn’t about speed? That, more and more, it can only be about the ability to go s-l-o-w?” I am envisioning the technique that I do, where my breath guides small movements, tai-chi-like but much more fluid and beautiful storecialis.net. I move space and space moves with me – the slower you can pull it off, the more beautiful the dance. Or the fact that advancing adulthood has actually brought an upexpected prize, one I don’t expect them to understand or even try: finding the control and will and the partner with which to take lovemaking to the slowest possible pace. Will they ever be able to recognize the exquisite bliss in that? “Sticks and stones can break my bones but chains and whips excite me…” This particular boy was just repeating a popular song during that last class, but he was repeating it rather breathlessly while taking in the beautiful blonde girl next to him, avidly atching for her reaction. Chains and whips. Is that what it’s coming to? Sitting there, passing time, I bit on my tongue. Don’t say one word about S&M. Don’t say one thing about the state of “sexual education” (for the most part bad porn) in the world. And stop thinking about what Chris Hedges wrote! But I truly cannot stop thinking about what Chris Hedges wrote and never will be able to, ever again, for that matter, when I think of porn. And S&M making it into mainstream music is simply nauseating. Sure, Madonna played with a bit of spanky, but no one really took her seriously. Or, more aptly, no one wanted to really do the things Madonna did. They were always so obviously not her, so obviously staged and calculated that we just enjoyed the show and went home. The chicks singing these things now are different. Certainly hungrier, more desperate, much closer to a slimy truth than Madonna most likely ever saw. My stomach is fully turned imagining this clean-cut soccer-player-physiqued boy actually finding arousal when the blonde girl comes in with her cheap domina apparel, clumsily cracking a whip. And to make matters worse, imagining that these kids may truly be tomorrow’s public relations managers on the side of business that gives me work – that pulls me down deep. Work that is becoming increasingly difficult to do because they choke the elemental conditions a designer needs to do successful work. They choke creativity because they know nothing about beauty. Because they are working so bound and magnetized by tightroped sets of rules, never doing more than they must, and doing it all very, very fast.

They know nothing about beauty because they don’t want to listen, learn … or … go slowly. At anything.

Whips. And chains. Excite them.

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I paid a visit to a man that will soon be 99 years old. He was – at one point in my pre-divorce nuttiness – a lover of sorts (he was well over 90 at the time). He is now a man who I have grown to love dearly, even if his bottom set of dentures fall out during dinner. He’s just that great of a guy.

Then I biked home to my daughter who was curious if I had somehow experienced his death since I had been gone so long (at his age, she reasoned, you really never know)… A very clever teen who is absolutely on the emotional money nearly 100% of the time.

There was a message on my machine from a man who had enchanted me only two nights before and he had me utterly tickled again to hear his soft voice telling me sweet things that (this time!) were of a more personal nature. A man who spoke to my soul because he had said, basically: BEAUTY WILL HEAL YOUR BRAIN. Well, sort of. But it was as if the speech he was giving was the one I had been formulating in my head for years, where you sit there in the audience going “yes! yes! duh! yes! God, I know! yes!!” and your energy is shooting off in all directions as you forget to breathe.

I guess I have a knack for falling in love immediately (and irretrievably!) with brains. That was the case with my 90 year old, that was the case with the ethics and beauty man on stage. Looking back, that was the case with just about every relationship I have ever been in, from the get go. I beg that 50% of the world’s population will forgive me, but normally, it happens to me with members of the opposite sex. It just works out that way, for the most part. With the exception of one or two dear friends and Rachel Maddow – as I certainly love them/her and am indebted and inspired to Rachel by what she contributes (literally daily!) to society.

But falling in love – while nice – isn’t enough to sustain this particular body. Being loved in return is what gets the glow going. Which, although the day had been going better than expected in regards to reciprocity … I was having an awful time with something else:

… the man on my machine made only one mistake during his lecture. He said that designers would have “plenty of work.” While I am sure some do – and what a wonderful thing for them – I seem to be in a process of becoming something else – from designer to ? … what exactly is not quite clear yet. It has evolved into fact that I simply cannot handle the eminently shallow, art and creative directing, better-and-wittier-than-thou and we-are-all-that types in agencies. To their credit, they are doing what they have to do. But are they REALLY giving us true cultural contributions? Ästhetic value? Deeper moral spaces? Now that they have perfect command of flash (after years of code study), are they REALLY going to let us in on something truly interesting, inspiring and culturally relevant? I suppose perhaps some are, but unlucky for me, I have never met them. Would they REALLY also be able to watch a 90+ lose his teeth after biting on roast duck and still not miss a beat in their devotion (or lose their appetite?) because they know what “it’s” REALLY about? Are they loving their own partners intensely against all physical odds (giving birth, aging, too little exercise, gravity)? Are they learning about sharing food with snails in their own gardens because killing all of them is just plain impossible? Are they acting constructively as often as possible on matters of absolute importance to the world? I certainly HOPE so. But I have my share of doubt, and it’s growing. Sadly. So much for the upholders of the truth, the good, the beautiful.

And even if agency life wasn’t so bad, then there are the clients. Clients I have lost only because they found me to be “educational” (the word, when spoken in German, smacks painfully of being a condescending wench that has no business talking to marketing directors like that). Indeed, I had been trying to teach the man about taste. Meaning. Clarity. Beauty. Truth. My career as a teacher at a design school was beginning, so he was a unwitting prophet, bless his naive heart.

Then there are other clients that essentially order you to do things you would never, ever, ever do. And you put up and shut up, or you lose a client. Which, considering that you are now working for less than a third of what you had been able to charge five years ago, you of course do. I’m not complaining about price, I have learned the value – quite literally – of less. But culturally, ethically, you know you are making a mistake. You know you should get up and walk out. You know you should start producing your own dandelion wine for sale at local farmer’s markets before you continue to put up with such degradation for even one more minute. The only problem: you have virtually no clue how to make dandelion wine. And getting the recipe online just doesn’t seem to be the right way to go about it…

And so it goes. Despite all the thunder and lightning, the heat isn’t going away.

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Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity, they say.

They USED to say. I think it’s time to re-think all four expressions. Fighting and fucking have been lumped into one strange space as have peace and virginity (failing that, at least a chaste style of living - those that claim to be celibate are only claiming to live outside of wedlock, which is a pretty big part of society these days, not only clergy and “holy” men and women…).

In my quest for the perfect peace logo - which I remain convinced must include a circle of some sort, in some manner - I have waded from one “fight” to the next. Looking back, I realize that I have fought many personal and professional “wars” in an effort to attain a semblance of peace in my life.

The Wiki-Warrior definition (I love using Wikipedia as a starting point, right or wrong, it fixes a spot in the fog):
The first literal use refers to “someone engaged or experienced in warfare.” The second figurative use refers to “a person who shows or has shown great vigor, courage, or aggressiveness, as in politics or athletics.”

Or as in love, relationships, business, child-raising, gardening…

… or being human.

At another meeting of great men thinking great thoughts for the betterment of mankind (not a drop of cynicism here, I assure you it was so), I postulated that peace and the striving for such a luminous state could be more appropriately expressed with the capacity to explore, develop and “withstand” ecstasy. To “stand with ecstasy” is not an easy feat. It takes willpower, dedication, practice, committment prednisolone en ligne. All of which are attributes found in any classic “warrior”. The fact that life moves with twists and turns and is unpredictable makes it all the more important to exercise flexibility. Flexibility of thought but also of action that is fueled by the underlying birthright and intuitive striving for … ecstasy. Jefferson was cautious and called it “the pursuit of happiness”, but language has become more matter-of-fact, perhaps raw, uncovered, outright. And with perhaps just a touch of… impatience.

The report on the logo, for all involved up to this point:

The group of men are carving out the legalities and a name has been established: “Bell Amani”. Although the official deadline for logos has long passed, I welcome anyone who feels motivated to still contribute a logo to the process. At some point, there will be an exhibition involving all entries with the details (assuming permission has been granted) of all involved. The first 470+ kilo bell will be transported to Vienna soon, positioned around the unfolding of this event: http://www.afrika-tage.at/

Stay tuned for more, if sporadic, information.

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UPDATE:  Thank you for those that sent in early entries for the first presentation that took place yesterday, April 6th, in Munich. That helps us all to get a feel for what it could be – I will post the results of these first steps soon, either here or at another location. Stay tuned! And keep those entries coming!

Pretty much everyone I know (and many people I don’t) seem to agree that, generally speaking, peace is a nice “add-on” to have. “We’re good” when it’s there and – if we can remain alive – we somehow manage to bumble through when it isn’t.

This is the current “branding status” for peace:

120px-peace_symbolsvg
120px-peace_dovesvg
bandiera_della_pace
120px-origami-crane
85px-peace-sign

The symbol with the lines was originally developed by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. The dove (with an olive branch in his beak) is an ancient symbol. The “V” sign with two upheld fingers is actually signalling victory and thus - peace. The flag comes from Italy: peace, pace, paz, pax (and in another context shalom and salaam) … all in the same spirit and this time with rainbow colors. Then there is the little origami bird from Japan with its own fascinating history …

… but the symbol I find most fascinating of all is this one:

150px-pax_culturasvg

Having appeared (without the circle) on Stone Age amulets, this one goes back a ways. With the circle, it became the logo for Pax Cultura (Peace through Culture, Cultural Peace) with the dots symbolizing Art, Science and Religion, three of the most embracing of human cultural activities. Anno 1935 or so.

Fast forward to 2010. It just so happens that I know this lovely person who also happens to be a prince. And a prince with a mission.

The idea is to take energy and resources from “developed” countries and bring them to less developed countries in forms that differ from the current status quo (one example: weapons). Currently, the form being not only discussed but actually produced can be found in: tiny little bells. You know, the kind the Salvation Army rings. These little brass babies are bells intended to ring in peace. Become bigger. Figuratively. Literally. If cultural work won’t bring us peace, maybe sound will? Bells to represent peace, to resound in and with peace. Raw materials from Africa processed in Europe, erected in … whatever place needs to hear the sound of peace, if only for a moment. Where I grew up, if you could actually ring a big bell that vibrated through the countryside, it meant you wore a lot of black, swore rarely, kneeled daily. Perhaps that can change. (The who can ring it part, not clerics swearing.) Perhaps the reason for ringing a bell needs to change. And who is actually “allowed” to do so, for though I firmly believe it should still be a “sacred” act – like the singing bowls or the minaret – I think more people should be allowed to step into and experience what “sacred” is, can be…

A foundation has been established, much work has already been done, the prince is running ragged trying to find support for this undertaking. He asked me to help and I am simply extending the invitation out to whoever is interested in finding a NEW SYMBOL FOR PEACE / PEACE BELLS, to be used for anything and everything involved with the ensuing marketing procedures: flyers, posters, websites, banners, brochures, etc., all advertising as an active, positive, pro-active productive force for peace. The romans recognized with the olive branch and dove that it wasn’t just the absense of war, that peace meant active cultivation. I would add to that: at all times, all levels.

Bells ringing may not be everyone’s ideal. In fact, I know some who are extraordinarily irritated by the sound. But I come, time and again, to the symbolism within both the bell, the sound, the logo, the condition and state of being that peace is. Sustaining peace is like sustaining bliss (truth be told, I find them synonymous) – it takes dedicated work, inner and outer.

If you would like to join us on the development of this logo, I’m asking entries to be sent in by May 1, 2010. Low-ish resolution PDFs are fine, with name, country, email on the page. All entries will be handled with the utmost care, authorship respected and credit given where credit is due. By sending something, you are agreeing to it being published/used. Should any type of renumeration ever be possible, that is not ruled out, but currently all work is understood to be pro-bono. Send to meafb at hotmail dot com.

Thanks to all who have already expressed interest in this undertaking! Much love, M.

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Something just wasn’t enough to pull me into a theater for three hours to watch blue people. There was just too much finger-wagging and admonishment going on, consciously or subconsciously, and I am in no state of mind to hear it. Watching the world turn is a bit like standing in a subway without holding on to anything. Sure, sure, sure. I can keep myself upright by simply balancing and keeping myself in-tune with the motion of the train. But one sudden curve, brake or the tiniest lapse in my attention (What is that girl playing on her cell phone? Is she winning?) will throw me against the closest immobile piece. With any luck, it’s a door or a divider, not another passenger wise enough to hang on.

It wasn’t just me unwilling to watch alien planets do it better than we do. The planned birthday party, to take place in the dark with popcorn and fizzy beverages, just wouldn’t take place. Until Alice came along.

Have we all seen Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland”?? This is an absolute must-see film, in my eyes. And it got the birthday boy into the theater! And three kids along for the ride!

Bless the powers that be for letting Burton have his way. And bless Burton for giving us, essentially, the same story that the blue people tried to impart with one very, very, very essential difference: One single soul and one soul alone, sweet, blue-clad Alice, made up her mind. Alice discovered who she really is, what makes her happy, where she wants to be, and with whom! And she fought. She fought against all odds. She had, truly, nothing more to lose and decided to fall into the only thing that could save her: her own strength. She trusted. Whatever “it” is that one trusts, she went for it. All alone. We see the shift. We feel the shift. The entire audience is with her, on the edge of their seats, watching this fragile, beautiful, sensitive creature fight the ugly, ugly, stupid ugly beast. Within this beast are all the Madoffs, all the Tea Party Revelers (strange twist in there, eh?), and all the greedy, power-hungry, resource-sucking, cancerous, demonized me!-me!-me!-ers, my view only, my religion/business/profit only, my expertise only, my way only, twisted, tainted, tar-covered souls (represented also by the Queen of Hearts, though we are given to believe that it isn’t entirely her fault. Mummy and Daddy had something to do with it…) that appear to be turning our precious blue planet into … ultimately, perhaps … a human-less orb. Unless, of course, Alice gets her wits about her. We hold our breath while she recites the six impossible things … A good exercise: think of six impossible things before breakfast … (it’s easy today:   1) world health care for all humans 2) clean, accessible water for all humans 3) strict laws for the humane treatment, feeding and – where necessary – slaughtering of animals, worldwide!! 4) free education for everyone, everywhere, at all ages; no secrets, no tuition, just ideas exchanging for the betterment of mankind 5) limits to excessive personal wealth – the world “billionaire” becomes a bit like the word “pharaoh”; wealthy people get mandatory sabbaticals in the least fortunate areas of the world 6) love becomes a word people use with reverence again - because they understand, finally and truly understand (like the golden rule or E = mc2) the full implications, meaning and potential.)

Ah, yes. Alice gives us a taste of the “Yes, I Can!” mentality. It doesn’t come easily to her. She didn’t believe it, she was ready as ever to peel out and let someone else take the sword. She let us stare at and empathetically embrace the coward in all of us. But there was a tipping point, if ever so gentle …

An inspiring film.

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JUMP!!!!

… and?

How was the feeling? Gliding through the air in a sudden burst of compact body energy, hot with anticipation yet totally released into the unknown?! The millisecond of breaking the surface of the water a plethora of sensations, all appendages on alert, sucking in which one felt it first while it all melts into one simultaneous moment of explosive cannonball. Or jacknife. Or bellyflop.

And so it is, 2010. Watching the planet turn, every day brings some new piece of news to jump into, the surface of information just as unpredictable, as impossible to imagine or comprehend, the process of letting go on the flight into it just as intense.

Why Haiti? Why bitter poverty? Why obscene wealth? Why destructive, faulty food? Why polyester fibers? Why atomic power? Greenhouse gases? Supreme court rules so obviously without wisdom or even the vaguest bit of (intelligent, democratically just) supremacy? Why all this pain?! Surely a benevolent God would never let all these horrendous things happen…

JUMP!!!!

How do I feel? Am I upside down? What part of me is struggling? Where is the surface? How deep am I? Kick, kick, kick! All systems go to rise above the surface? There are two elements: me, and everything around me that is seemlessly surrounding my thrashing, giving me something to push against, kick into, hold in my hand without being able to grasp it at all really, to exercise my might and will upon.

Water. News. Life.

JUMP!!!!

(Dedicated to JM, in the hopes that he begins to understand – and please note: no one ever finishes understanding!! – that the precious beauty of our world lies precisely in its infinite complexity and perpetual newness in which we swim. I love you very much.)

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Yesterday I decided I had screwed around enough, read enough, twittered enough, cooked enough and worked enough. I decided to do a few minutes of introspective meditative practice. So here I am, doing my better-than-Tai-Chi stuff - which was indeed wonderful – and then move into the sitting position. Float, one could even say.

And there he was. Since my eyes were closed, I could only guess what he was. Or if it was indeed a she, which is pretty difficult to determine as a lay person that doesn’t specialize in insects. One thing was clear, whatever it was, it had wings. And was pretty pissed. Or frustrated. Or both. Meditative practice being what it is, I refused to “go there”, took it all as part of the immaculate picture of the moment, and finished up.

But the bounce upward once I had determined I was done was pretty springy indeed. I immediately saw what it was: a huge yellow-jacket wasp, perhaps even a queen. Aren’t they the bigger ones? Or is that just with bees? Either way, I knew it needed saving. Watching its predicament, I was reminded of a bee in the same state a while back where I wondered about the frustration such a creature may/must feel. They see the great outdoors right there in front of them. See the trees, the open sky, the clouds, perhaps even smell it all, and they crawl hither and thither and cannot fathom why they cannot get back to that state of openness. It’s just the simple, stupid pane of glass that separates them. Easy enough for us, maddening for them.

Sometimes my life feels just like that. I see it all, I feel it all “out there” - and yet, the pane between makes me do all sorts of things that get me nowhere. Of course, you may think, “just open the door/window”! Were it so easy for the bee or the wasp! The door is opened by something bigger than either of us, that much was clear that morning as I fumbled for a glass and a piece of heavy paper to transport my co-meditator outdoors.

Sit and wait? Hardly. I find myself in the unusual position of having not one but two elderly “patients” - people I visit on a regular basis. For whatever it’s worth, both seem to benefit from our sessions. The one, a 97-year old man, is alert, alive, vital - just old and frail. The other, a 94-year old woman, is blind, slightly dement, not very vital, but usually pretty healthy and perky. On my last visit to the woman, another elderly woman sat next to me and began to talk about how her life used to be (being outside), how she was in charge of her own household, etc., and how it is now (being on the pane) about her many fears, and how awful it is to be so frail…

Sitting on the other side of me was the blind woman. Essentially crawling on the same pane of glass, “my” 94-year old said that “She can’t complain. She’s healthy mostly and what more could you want? Sure, she’s old, but that’s just how it its.” (For the record, that is pretty much the same sentiment that comes from the 97-year old man, though he lived - and lives - a life of relative luxury…) And there you have it, I thought.

There’s the door. It’s as easy as that. And I took her hands in mine and looked in her blind, glowing, beautiful, toothless face and was full of admiration, love and contentment. Just being.

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Interesting poem from Dylan re: Guthrie with wonderful visual accompaniments…

(Due to Absurd Copyright Laws – Sony Music Entertainment, in this case – the performance is lost to posterity.)

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