Time well spent. A love of books.
I am sitting at my desk writing staring out across the roof tops at the mountains well beyond with their stencil like black and white beneath blue outline. It’s 3pm on a Saturday. With a long paddle this morning out chasing bumps beside “the Grizzly” and “Sir Richard” still flickering through my nervous system and the mundanes done for the day this is my version of a bloody brilliant way to spend an afternoon.
Bob Dylan Street Legal is playing on vinyl. I bought it for 5 bucks at Brians. There is something about this album, the lyrics and the beat, today it is on repeat, which means getting up and flipping the record; it is worth it.
*“no time to think”* tell me about it. Again and again.
I have been conversing with myself for a few hours now having departed company at noon.
Talking to paper. A favourite pastime.
My desk is, my desk, a clean’ish space featuring copious amounts of writing utensils and a lamp that looks like an African women in a long cream coloured dress with a skinny neck ordained in a stone necklace of orange, brown and gold chevrons carrying a very large beige basket on her head, at least it does to me. Apparently to others it looks like the 70’s. Beside my desk is another desk, populated with papers upon papers, books stacked on books beside more books; on top of and on either side of the desk, and under it.
I have the intention of reading all of them but Blood Median has me captivated again, Cormac, you eloquintionist.
[“Eloquintionist” - “that is not a thing” says Websters - I do not care says i - it makes sense to me, despite not being very… eloquent]
Cormac’s descriptive genius.
*“they crossed before the sun and vanished one by one and reappeared again and they were black in the sun and they rode out of that vanished sea like burnt phantoms with the legs of animals kicking up the spume that was not real and they were lost in the sun and lost in the lake and they shimmered and slurred together and separated again and they augmented by planes in lurid avatars and began to coalesce and there began to appear above them in the dawn-broached sky a hellish likeness of their ranks riding huge and inverted and the horses’ legs incredibly elongate trampling down the high thin cirrus and the howling antiwarriors pendant from their mounts immense and chimeric and the high wild cries carrying that flat and barren pan like the cries of sounds broke through some misweave in the weft of things into the world below*”
You can feel it can’t you. I have watched the entire scene in my minds eye many times, quivering riders emblazoned on the horizon only to disappear “through some misweave in the weft of things into the world below”.
I just wanted to write it out again.
Some misweave in the weft of things…
Blood Meriden is on the top of one stack, The Path by Micheal Puett - *what Chinese philosophy can teach us about the good life* - is there too, thank you Mr. Puett, your distillation, as best as able, of the wisdom of the ages has had a profound effect on me.
To exist “as if” I am another, and commit myself to the smallest of incremental gains.
‘The Prophet’ by Kahil Gibran is on top of a separate pile.
*“then said Almitra, Speak to us of Love. And he raised his head and looked upon the people, and there fell a stillness upon them, and with a great voice he said: when love beckons to you, follow him, Though his ways are hard and steep. And when his winds enfold you yield to him, Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you. And when he speaks to you believe in him, though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden. For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning. Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun, So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth. Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself. He threshes you to make you naked. He sifts you to free you from your husks. He grinds you to whiteness. He kneads you until you are pliant; and then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for gods sacred feast. All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life’s heart. But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure, Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor, Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears. Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself. Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; for love is sufficient unto love. When you love you should not say, “god is in my heart,” but rather, “I am in the heart of God.” And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course. Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself. But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires; To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night. To know the pain of too much tenderness. To be wounded by your own understanding of love; And to bleed willingly and joyfully. To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving; To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy; To return home at eventide with gratitude; And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.”*
I am grateful for Mr. Gibran. I am listening grandmaster. Life with its mystery, you have left behind some clues.
I feel lost and yet I know somewhere there is light.
Osho made it to my desk too, ‘Life is a soap bubble’
“*Man is born in slavery. We are born as slaves to ourselves. We come into this world imprisoned in chains of desire, held tight by those subtle chains. We have been enslaved like this since birth. It is something given by nature; we dont have to do anything to earn it. Man simply finds he is a slave. Freedom has to be earned and only someone who struggles and strives for it will find it. For freedom, a price has to be paid. Nothing of value in life is ever free. This slavery which nature gave you is not misfortune; it would be a misfortune only if we failed to win our freedom. There is nothing wrong in being born a slave, but it is definitely wrong to die as one. Unless you find inner freedom, nothing in life will have any meaning or fulfillment. You may have been given life, but if you remain trapped in a prison of desires, if you never know life. There is no difference at all between someone imprisoned in desire and a bird imprisoned in a cage. You only enter the world of real life when your awareness is freed from desire. If you want to know truth, become a master of yourself. Victory over truth is not for someone who is defeated by their own self”*
but Osho.. “the truth is a bully we all pretend to love” and ignorance is bliss. Or so I keep telling myself.
‘A thousand mornings’ poems by Mary Oliver is next to Osho. I have only really flipped through it but I saw a piece of wood painted white with *“tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life - Mary Oliver”* written on it and knew I needed to read some Mary Oliver. I came across ’tides’ which spoke to me as I love nothing more then paddling in and amongst the space in between.
* ~Tides~ *
*Every day the sea*
*blue grey green lavender*
*pulls away leaving the harbor’s*
*Slick and rutted and work-riddled, the gulls*
*walk there among old whalebones, the white*
*spines of fish blink from the strandy stew*
*as the hours tick over, and then*
*far out the faint, sheer*
*line turns, rusting over the slack,*
*the outer bars, over the green-furred flats, over*
*the clam beds, slippery logs,*
*barnacle-studded stones, dragging*
*the shining sheets forward, deepening,*
*pushing, wreathing together*
*wave and seaweed, their piled curvatures*
*spilling over themselves, lapping*
*blue gray green lavender, never*
*resting, not ever but fashioning shore,*
*and here you may find me*
*on almost any morning*
*walking along the shore so*
*light-footed so casual*
I read this to Evelyn last night and she told me she would bring me a poem in the morning, what she wrote made her dad smile ear to ear.
*‘Mornings together’ by Evelyn Claire Whitfield*
*Whenever we wake up*
*together we write and we draw*
*I copy from books sometimes and for other*
*times I draw from my imagination you seem to*
*write about our day*
many thanks Mary Oliver.
‘The Heart and the Breath of Love’ an article by my favourite Zen Buddhist Monk Brian Maclean is on my desk too.
*“Where does Love reside? It is generally agreed upon among spiritual traditions, that ‘Love’ and ‘Ego’ are ‘Lands’ in the the sphere of human functioning. Where ego strategizes, Love embraces. Where ego closes in on, Love open to. Where ego feels fear, Love feels fearlessness. Where ego finds reasons to run, Love knows the value in staying. Among the Inuit, Raven is the trickster, pleasure seeking and greedy, and symbolically represents the ego. Raven-ego is always vigilant in checking out for the best advantage. Raven-ego is looking for which one is the biggest, which bed is the softest and which Lover is the most trouble free. Raven-ego does not have the patience to learn deep Love, the resilience to endure travel on a not always smooth path. The mythic centre of Love is not Raven-ego, but the Heart”*
I’ll see you on Tuesdays Brian, I look forward to our conversations, I can’t wait to write our book together, “conversations between a Zen Buddhist Monk and an Olympic Champion, on life, the theatre inherit in pretending to understand relationships, cognitive dissidence and other things considered; is my submission for the working title, we’ll see what Brian thinks.
What it has to do with Zen Buddhism and running around in your speedo not being particularly good at any one thing, is yet to be determined.
[*Hey Brian “a buddhist monk walks into dominoes and orders pizza… “one with everything please”.*]
And finally, in a spot all to itself, for no stack can contain it, ’The Paper Menagerie and other stories’ by Ken Lui.
This maybe my favourite book of all time, when I travel Europe in July for two weeks it is coming with me.
The Paper Menagerie is always coming with me.
With its opening paragraph.
*“There is no definitive census of all the intelligent species in the universe. Not only are there perennial arguments about what qualifies as intelligence, but each moment and everywhere, civilizations rise and fall, much as the stars are born and die. Time devours all. Yet every species has its unique way of passing on its wisdom through the ages, its way of making thoughts visible, tangible, frozen for a moment like a bulwark against the irresistible tide of time. Everyone makes books”*.
Mr. Lui, you have had a profound impact on my life, i read and i read and i read in search of universal meaning in specific incidences, you have this mastered, I am simply gob smacked at your profound wisdom, your creativity, your insights and most astoundingly your imagination. I wish I met Ken Lui as a kid, what I would have done to play dungeons and dragons with Ken, the worlds this man would have created. There is a seat at my table for him any day, I’d make fish taco’s with a side of guacamole and find his favourite pint. I have no idea why. And there would be stacks of blank paper. And pencils. Heaps of pencils. Coloured ones. Whatever he needs to express his latest vision.
My kids would be there too, they have some ideas they would like to share having been read “an advanced readers’ picture book of comparative cognition”
“*My darling, my child, my connoisseur of sesquipedian words and convoluted ideas and meandering sentences and baroque images, while the sun is asleep and the moon somnambulant, while the stars bathe us in their glow from eons ago and light-years away, while you are comfortably nestled in your blankets and I am hunched over in my chair by your bed, while we are warm and safe and still for the moment in this bubble of incandescent light cast by the pearl held up by the mermaid lamp, you and I, on this planet spinning and hurtling through the frigid darkness of space at dozens of miles per second, let’s read.”*
**So that happened**
What a writer.
My darling, let’s read.
And that is my desk. Behind me sit fifty more books waiting on shelves to eventually be adored again. Some of my own art and endless streams of pictures and doodles by Pippa and Evelyn occupying the walls to either side.
Sitting on top of a stack of some of my favourite books by the record player is a picture of a fog covered lake, the reflection of a ghost like tree mirrored on its surface, with a dock perched out into the mist; an ideal cove for quite contemplation, a sanctuary to timelapse.
I have spent hours staring into the fog; the stillness, an escape, to lapse with time. Moments of reprieve.
A blank canvas adorns the other wall, a reminder that the past is the past, and the time is always now, a blank slate.
For now - it is time to read.