Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Running away from Decisions

Time to get organized. I write out a long list of things to be done. Then all of a sudden something pops into my head. Something that absolutely must be done first. And it doesn’t even make the list. I devote myself to it completely. Finally, at the end of the day, I look at that list and laugh. The list of things I won’t do today!

Is it just me?

Or else something must be done. It absolutely needs to be done. Then, for sure, I will either leave it until the last conceivable moment to get started, or else I’ll pause, and let go of this need, perhaps after having delayed and procrastinated so long that it makes no difference. And then occasionally, snap!, out of nowhere, I’ll do it after all, with a resolution quite unexpected. Isn’t the will a strange thing? For in that pause, the vice-like grip of needing and wanting is released, its message cast out into the winds and sometimes the wind in its grace blows it back, and with that new-found momentum at our backs we can set sail. (Music can help too, as can the inspiration of imagery, or merely the setting limits on how long to spend on it, all of which occupy the little mind, so the big mind can go about its business unimpeded.)

Notice that image of the wind! The wind is at our backs. We can never push the wind. So it is with our lives. We like to plan and organize in advance, to push the proverbial cart of our desires. But this is something I learnt just yesterday. Those two-wheeled levered trolleys for transporting boxes… try to push them, and they veer left, right, and all over, but pull them behind you, and you make a beeline to your destination. The horse must indeed come before the cart.

Is there anything you’ve learnt recently which you should have known ages ago?

And so it is with life. Why anxiously plan ahead when so often we will veer from our plans when the time comes… and then look back with guilt at not having done what we had planned? Or perhaps, you know exactly how things should be, in which case you’ll enjoy this little experiment:

Imagine tomorrow as your ideal day. Run through in fast motion everything you would like to happen, the places you would go and the people you’d meet, and all the unresolved situations in your life and for each, running through all the possibilities in your mind’s eye, settle on how you will resolve them or how you will begin to resolve them on this day. Do you have clear and distinct ideas, or worlds of contradiction?

This is actually a great way of reminding oneself of decisions we’ve made in the past, decisions we’ve often forgotten, so they couldn’t have been decisions after all, merely possibilities to remember when the time comes, and the reminder is useful! But the imagination is boundless, and the possibilities also.

So if, like me, you are lost in worlds of contradiction, then you’ll appreciate my call for spontaneity:

  • to concentrate almost all one’s thoughts and actions and importance in the present,
  • to trust oneself to make the right decisions in the future,
  • to make those decisions and run with them leaving a gap of silent mind which the resisting thought can’t breach, and
  • to loosen wilfully the desire for complete control.

You know, pulling the barrow of desires behind you, some of them might fall off without you noticing. But don’t worry! Anyway, the best things in life, at least in my experience, have always been those that were completely unplanned and totally unexpected! Ah, bliss!!! :^)

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Songs of the Valley

A selection of nature-inspired poems by five American poets I had never heard of before.


The Fountain (Denise Levertov)

Don't say, don't say there is no water
to solace the dryness at our hearts.
I have seen

the fountain springing out of the rock wall
and you drinking there. And I too
before your eyes

found footholds and climbed
to drink the cool water.

The woman of that place, shading her eyes,
frowned as she watched, but not because
she grudged the water,

only because she was waiting
to see we drank our fill and were

Don't say, don't say there is no water.
That fountain is there among its scalloped
green and gray stones,

it is still there and always there
with its quiet song and strange power
to spring in us,

up and out through the rock.

Forsooth I am a Gypsy  (Charles G. Blanden)

My soul is full of morning,
My heart is full of song;
Forsooth, I am a gypsy
That roves the world along.

Beyond the Hills of Shadow,
Beyond the Vales o' Fear,
I pitch my tent and tarry
A day, a month, a year.

And none shall tax my spirit,
And none my dreams destroy;
For I am free as winds are,
A comrade unto Joy!

I Hear a River thro’ the Valley Wander  (Trumball Stickney)

I hear a river thro’ the valley wander
Whose water runs, the song alone remaining.
A rainbow stands and summer passes under.

Stranger (Thomas Merton)

When no one listens
To the quiet trees
When no one notices
The sun in the pool.

Where no one feels
The first drop of rain
Or sees the last star

Or hails the first morning
Of a giant world
Where peace begins
And rages end:

One bird sits still
Watching the work of God:
One turning leaf,
Two falling blossoms,
Ten circles upon the pond.

One cloud upon the hillside,
Two shadows in the valley
And the light strikes home.
Now dawn commands the capture
Of the tallest fortune,
The surrender
Of no less marvelous prize!

Closer and clearer
Than any wordy master,
Thou inward Stranger
Whom I have never seen,

Deeper and cleaner
Than the clamorous ocean,
Seize up my silence
Hold me in Thy Hand!

Now act is waste
And suffering undone
Laws become prodigals
Limits are torn down
For envy has no property
And passion is none.

Look, the vast Light stands still
Our cleanest Light is One!

The Song of Siva  (Ameen Rihani)

'Tis Night; all the Sirens are silent,
All the vultures asleep;
And the horns of the Tempest are stirring
Under the Deep;
'Tis Night' all the snow-burdened Mountains
Dream of the Sea,
And down in the Wadi the River
Is calling to me.

'Tis Night; all the Caves of the Spirit
Shake with desire;
And the Orient Heaven's essaying
Its lances of fire;
They hear, in the stillness that covers
The land and the sea,
The River, in the heart of the Wadi,
Calling to me.

'Tis Night, but a night of great joyance,
A night of unrest; --
The night of the birth of the spirit
Of the East and the West;
And the Caves and the Mountains are dancing
On the Foam of the Sea,
For the River inundant is calling,
Calling to me.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Stay Awake Silly!

We could all do with some tips to stay awake sometimes, when we haven't slept the previous night, when we're in a boring lecture we can't understand, when we've eaten too much for lunch or for whatever reason the eyes just keep drooping shut and we can't concentrate. Caffeine is the usual remedy. Did you know that green tea contains caffeine? And it's good for you also... how cool is that! The smell of peppermint is said to be reviving also, as is brushing your teeth, splashing your face with cold water, eating an apple, staring out the window, opening the window, jumping out the window (no, please don't do that!), taking a breath of fresh air, turning on the tunes, and if all else fails and you can't just let yourself surrender to a delicious little nap on your desk, then here are some exercises for you. This is a re-post from taogirl, now "no more taogirl", who in turn got it from here:

Below is the routine that I recommend each and everyone of you to preach and practice and follow it every step of the way at work.
As a warm up, let’s do some Tai Chi..

Follow like this to ease your
neck & shoulder pain

Wa..wa.. aaa

Move to the right
and then to the left

After that, move to the left
and then to the right

Just follow. Don’t force yourself to do 360 degrees, 180 degrees will do. Bend down a bit like you gonna faint. Repeat a few times till you’re bored

Grab anything on your desk and smash your head hard. If you are still sleepy smash harder


After that move your feet and swing your body a bit like this. Do it like it’s nobody’s business and remember to smile.


Move your feet and body just a bit like this….
Do it like there’s no problem at all…

And now more aggressive!
Don’t bother about what others say

Let go of all your stress…

If your boss ask what you are doing, move your head slowly like this and tell them you’re dying in the office.

When your boss walked off, get your colleague to join you and move your body like this. The more the merrier …

Finally, dance like this.

Still Sleepy ??

Pssssst: Hopefully you are still employed!