November 26th, 2006

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Good Morning -

Steve and I went to our local 142 Throckmorton Theatre last night and saw "Butch Whacks & the Glass Packs."   They are just great, and have as much fun as the audience.  It was a wonderful revival of  the early years of "our" music, nothing profound, just silly and fun.  Everyone joined in and danced and laughed.   They also had a few jokes.    One was about Bush's fence along the border, and how the fence is about fencing ourselves in, rather than keeping others out.   Amazingly, the audience was such that not everyone appreciated the joke.  It was interesting to watch people recoil, especially since this band and their humor is about as light as it gets.  It is billed as for the whole family, and certainly is.  We had a great time, and I really felt the importance of live music, and we have two venues right here in town.   Tuesday night is comedy night at the Throckmorton Theatre, so we'll try to make that too.

I am reading The Power of Babel,  A Natural History of Language  by John McWhorter.   His premise is that the approximately six thousand languages on Earth today are each a descendent of one language first spoken 150,000 years ago in East Africa.   I haven't finished it, but according to the cover he discusses "why most of today's languages will be extinct within one hundred years."   At first, I balked at such a uniformity of thought, and then, I thought of television and the internet and the predominance of English, and perhaps, I can see how this may come to be.  I find it interesting to think that we began with one language and may return to one.  

I was intrigued with this aside in the book.  I have always loved that the Eskimos had many words for "snow."  It made sense to me that what so hugely defines their world would be minutely defined.  McWhorter says this: 

        "Many readers will at this point be thinking about Eskimos and their words for snow.  One just wants such an idea to be true, but sorry, folks.  Let me do my part her to dispel this myth: the idea that Eskimos have a plethora of words for snow is a mistake perpetuated by increasingly distorted generations of citations in the past century.  The original source that this misconception stems from cites only four words for snow, and even this must be seen within light of the fact that we have snow, slush, sleet, and blizzard, despite English speakers having traditionally had neither any particular fascination with nor any significant cultural rootedness in snow.  See Geoffery K. Pullum's The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax and Other Irreveverant Essays on the Study of Lanugage (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991) for a tart, funny, and authoritative deconstruction of this myth."

    It also seems that language is getting simpler, rather than more complex.    We, English speakers,  do not change the form of the verb depending on our power relationship with the person to whom we speak.   This does still happen, especially  in Japan and Java.   And, there is Swiss German, learned by all Swiss Germans, rich and poor, and spoken at home and Standard German which is taught in the schools and is the language of writing.   This book probes here and there in a very light way, and has me thinking  about language and how it may relate to thought and perception, though that does not seem to be the theme of this book.   So, I sit with that,  as I mosey through this day.  I am feeling well-rested and calm, and more able to hold a place for my friends who are struggling right now.

    Happy third day after Thanksgiving.   Perhaps, the turkey resurrects to rise. 

    I am still in Thanksgiving mode.  It is not yet time for me to transition from gold, rust, and bronze, to red and green, and blue and white. 

    Happy Celebration of whatever season rolls and warms your heart!!

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Mindfulness -

            Mindful in the Middle of a Football Scrimmage

One of the most difficult things to learn is that mindfulness is not dependent on any emotional or mental state. We have certain images of meditation. Meditation is something done in quiet caves by tranquil people who move slowly. Those are training conditions. They are set up to foster concentration and to learn the skill of mindfulness. Once you have learned that skill, however, you can dispense with the training restrictions, and you should. You don't need to move at a snail's pace to be mindful. You don't even need to be calm. You can be mindful while solving problems in intensive calculus. You can be mindful in the middle of a football scrimmage. You can be mindful in the midst of a raging fury. Mental and physical activities are no bar to mindfulness. If you find your mind extremely active, then simply observe the nature and degree of that activity. It is just a part of the passing show within.

            --Henepola Gunaratana, Mindfulness in Plain English
                    from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book

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words on a journey -

I open Francis Mayes book, A Year in the World, to these words by W. S. Merwin:

    ..... we are words on a journey
    not the inscriptions of settled people. 

These words are interesting to me, because I am caught now, balancing on the movement from journeys within to journeys without.  My world is expanding, and yet, I still love to pause and feel the universes within, even as I know they are with me, wherever I go.

The rain has just begun.   What a gift, manna from above.   I feel caught in nectar, like a bee wallowing in a comb of honey.   Moisture beads.  Rosaries ripen in me.

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our joyful daily task -

    God created the nuts for us, but He didn't crack them.

          - Goethe

       Alan Watts suggested listening to the vibrations of life as you would listen to music.

             What a perfect day to do so, as those of us where I am, listen to the falling of the rain,
                   and the worms reach up with joyful bowls to taste, and bring it in,
                                to wrap, like ribbons,
                                          around and through the soil, enriched with gifts.  

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nourishment -

    Today in the NY Times, Harriet Brown writes a heart-breaking account of her experience with her daughter's anorexia.   She, literally, has to feed her daughter one spoonful of food at a time, and she lives in fear that her child might not make it through, and could die.

    I sit today with all the suffering that surrounds.   We can't know what another is going through.  Sometimes, pain is obvious.  Other times, it may be well-hidden.  I suppose what I am trying to say today that even as my intention is to move towards non-judgment, I am aware that there is a difference in the quality perhaps of each person's day as to what they are given to handle.  Where our children involved, the burden may be painful indeed.  I am blessed, that in this moment, all my family members are doing extremely well, and I understand the built-in tendency is many of us, as to "staying under the radar" as to making statements like that.

    May your burdens and new meetings seems easy today, and lift in smiles on roller skates. 

    Yesterday I saw two children with the most amazing shoes.  They could walk in them, and they could also roll.  Steve says these shoes have been around for awhile, but I had not seen them, and I was enchanted watching these two children change gears, from a rather sedate, contrived walk to a roll.

    I have a wall hanging I love that says, "I spent a long time trying to find my center until I looked closely one night and found it had wheels and moved easily in the slightest breeze, so now I spend less time sitting and more time sailing."  It is by Brian Andreas.   

    May we each sail and roll!!