Posted on Leave a comment

This Dance of Life

 

Though the health benefits of gyrating along with others have been well-documented,

I went to a college where, at the time, “most forms of social dancing” were prohibited;

Perhaps for the reason that one of the greatest dangers of dancing

Is that it makes it very difficult to think.

And thinking, of course,

Is a great security.

 

If your students stop thinking for a hot minute,

It’s very likely they will instead begin to experience,

And in real time,

For themselves.

And if they’re out there dancing with life 

Instead of securing themselves against it,

There comes a very real threat to the security of something else.

 

 

Fiddler Jones by Edgar Lee Masters

The earth keeps some vibration going
There in your heart, and that is you.
And if the people find you can fiddle,
Why, fiddle you must, for all your life.
What do you see, a harvest of clover?
Or a meadow to walk through to the river?
The wind’s in the corn; you rub your hands
For beeves hereafter ready for market;
Or else you hear the rustle of skirts
Like the girls when dancing at Little Grove.
To Cooney Potter a pillar of dust
Or whirling leaves meant ruinous drouth;
They looked to me like Red-Head Sammy
Stepping it off, to “Toor-a-Loor.”
How could I till my forty acres
Not to speak of getting more,
With a medley of horns, bassoons and piccolos
Stirred in my brain by crows and robins
And the creak of a wind-mill–only these?
And I never started to plow in my life
That some one did not stop in the road
And take me away to a dance or picnic.
I ended up with forty acres;
I ended up with a broken fiddle–
And a broken laugh, and a thousand memories,
And not a single regret.

Posted on Leave a comment

Graduation Day

skeleton at graduation

The universe lovingly tears away

Those things we most affectionately cling to:

A job, a friend, money, a spouse, good looks, a child

To see how we might respond.

 

The lesson is presented again and again

Through the course of one lifetime;

Until we finally understand (even at the moment of bodily death)

That only by losing everything do we gain everything.

Posted on

Reflections on Film & Memory

“In a certain sense the past is far more real, or at any rate more stable, more resilient than the present. The present slips and vanishes like sand between the fingers, acquiring material weight, only in its recollection.”

– Russian film-maker, Andrei Tarkovsky

 

Earlier this year I went to the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens and spent some time there trying to imagine what it was like to live in a time before the invention of film, or during a time while it was still evolving (as it still is).

It turns out that’s as difficult a trick as trying to remember what one’s experience was before acquiring language.

A zoetrope.

As I walked through the many exhibitions at the museum, I reflected on how the ubiquitous nature of film in modern culture has us forget how remarkable a trick film actually is:

When watching a film, our memory and connecting of individual images (proceeding rapidly before us) creates a perception (or illusion) of a coherent visual narrative and reality.

Mutoscopes still delighting today… at least for a handful of seconds.

When the child was a child,
it didn’t know that it was a child,
everything was soulful,
and all souls were one.

When the child was a child,
it had no opinion about anything,
had no habits,
it often sat cross-legged,
took off running,
had a cowlick in its hair,
and made no faces when photographed.

– from Song of Childhood by Peter Handke

Memories of our past are similar to film in that they allow for an illusion to be created as well. This is the illusion of coherence and meaning, when in reality our memories of the past are subjectively stitched together by our consciousness according to the fears, desires, biases, worldviews, beliefs, and such. accumulated in one’s lifetime.

Memories are given what meaning we assign them, which is then firmed up into our own unique and personal story… for better or for worse.

This is true for all of us, except for those rare individuals who cannot create or recall memories. Their experience is closer to a film-goer who is only able to remember the most recent ten seconds of the film.

 

Individual frames… images… stitched together become a film.

Individual moments… experiences… stitched together become a life.

 

This is the remarkable trick of human consciousness.

A song Bono wrote about after first seeing his then-deceased mother in an early home movie.

Posted on

Rebalancing Freedom vs. Attachment

When the child was a child,
It played with enthusiasm,
and, now, has just as much excitement as then,
but only when it concerns its work.from Song of Childhood, by Peter Handke

When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” – Matthew 8:18-22

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. John 3:8

 

Posted on

Our Shared Future

“History is not the soil of happiness. The periods of happiness are blank pages in it.” – Hegel

 

To be lost, a thing must first be possessed.

Beyond both possessing and losing

Lies our future as well as our past.