December 23rd, 2006

Book Cover

Good Morning!!

I am awake and just completed reading a wonderful book, The Language of Change, Elements of Therapeutic Communication by Paul Watzlawick.  I think I am beginning to comprehend why the format of the book Breast Stroke is challenging for the reader.  As Hari Bhajan, the second person to read it,  said yesterday, the story, which comes from the blog is "compelling, immediate, raw."   We interrrupt that story to insert the poems, which are a right-brain rangy way of looking at things.  The poems need to come out of the book,  and then, come back in as they choose, like "fairies.".   It is odd to realize that what motivated the book, the poems, may have been a framework that disappears.  She is suggesting we completely pull the poems out for now.  I sit with all of this, this morning, and come to this poem.


by Tess Gallagher

I go to the mountain side
of the house to cut saplings,
and clear a view to snow
on the mountain. But when I look up,
saw in hand, I see a nest clutched in
the uppermost branches.
I don’t cut that one.
I don’t cut the others either.
Suddenly, in every tree,
an unseen nest
where a mountain
would be.

                              for Drago Štambuk

“Choices” copyright �© 2006 by Tess Gallagher. Reprinted from Dear Ghosts, with the permission of Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Book Cover

I believe!!

Here is an interesting comment on our jolly friend Santa.

Op-Ed Contributor

Published: December 23, 2006

Austin, Tex.

WE delight in our children’s belief in reindeer that can fly and a fat man who fits through chimneys and travels the whole world in a single night. Many children believe fiercely not only in Santa Claus but also in other fantastical beings like the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy from the time they are about 3 until they are 7 or 8.

Their eager belief contributes to the common view, shared by psychologists and other scientists, that young children are credulous (and conversely, that adults are not). Children believe everything they are told, we assume, with little regard for logic, a sense of the real world or any of the other criteria adults use to debunk such fictions as the Loch Ness monster or Sasquatch.

But are children really that different from us? A study that my colleagues and I conducted at the Children’s Research Laboratory at the University of Texas suggests not. We found that, in fact, children use many of the same cues adults use to distinguish fantasy from reality.

Our experiment was designed to investigate how a young child, upon encountering a fantastical being like a unicorn in a storybook, decides whether it is real or imaginary. Adults often make the call based on context. If, for example, we encounter a weird and unfamiliar insect at a science museum, we are more likely to think it is something real than if we find it in a joke store.

To see if children could also use context in this way, we described “surnits” and other made-up things to our study group. To some of the children, we put surnits in a fantastical context: “Ghosts try to catch surnits when they fly around at night.” To others, we characterized them in scientific terms: “Doctors use surnits to help them in the hospital.”

The 4- to 6-year-olds who heard the medical description were much more likely to think surnits were real than children who were told they had something to do with ghosts. The children demonstrated that they do not indiscriminately believe everything they’re told, but use some pretty high-level tools to distinguish between fantasy and reality.

If children are so smart, why do they believe in Santa Claus? My view is that they are exhibiting their very rational and scientific cognitive abilities. The adults they count on to provide reliable information about the world introduce them to Santa. Then his existence is affirmed by friends, books, TV and movies. It is also validated by hard evidence: the half-eaten cookies and empty milk glasses by the tree on Christmas morning.

In other words, children do a great job of scientifically evaluating Santa. And adults do a great job of duping them. As we gradually withdraw our support for the myth, and children piece together the truth, their view of Santa aligns with ours. Perhaps it is this kinship with the adult world that prevents children from feeling anger over having been misled.

So maybe this holiday season, when the children come rushing in to see what Santa brought, we should revel not in their wide-eyed wonder, but in how sophisticated and clever their young minds really are.

Jacqueline Woolley is a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.

Book Cover

Poem -

Human Beauty

by Albert Goldbarth

If you write a poem about love ...
the love is a bird,

the poem is an origami bird.
If you write a poem about death ...

the death is a terrible fire,
the poem is an offering of paper cutout flames

you feed to the fire.
We can see, in these, the space between

our gestures and the power they address
—an insufficiency. And yet a kind of beauty,

a distinctly human beauty. When a winter storm
from out of nowhere hit New York one night

in 1892, the crew at a theater was caught
unloading props: a box

of paper snow for the Christmas scene got dropped
and broken open, and that flash of white

confetti was lost
inside what it was a praise of.

“Human Beauty” copyright �© 2007 by Albert Goldbarth. Reprinted from The Kitchen Sink: New and Selected Poems with the permission of Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Book Cover

Gifts -

Priceless Gifts

by Anna Swir

An empty day without events.
And that is why
it grew immense
as space. And suddenly
happiness of being
entered me.

I heard
in my heartbeat
the birth of time
and each instant of life
one after the other
came rushing in
like priceless gifts.

Translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Leonard Nathan

Anna Swir, “Priceless Gifts” from Talking to My Body. Copyright �© 2006 by Anna Swir. Reprinted with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P. O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA 98368-0271,
Book Cover

The evening before Christmas Eve -

Ahhhhh!   Did you see the crescent moon?

As much as I thought I was prepared, this was still a busy day.   It began with a sip of wine, as I was making beef bourguignonne, and I wanted to try a new red wine for it.  Since the taste matters in the dish, I needed to have a nip before breakfast.   Well, that is quite a way to begin the day.  I've never had red wine for breakfast before, and probably never will again.  I cooked and snacked, and walked down to the junction, where I was greeted with the words, "Merry Christmas," over and over again, and I must say that I love those words.  I had moved toward Happy Holidays, but today, Merry Christmas, really rolled my day.

I would like to comment on the book.   I did not intend to alarm.  We won't take the poems out, but we had them matched, poem to poem, and in the order in which they were written and interspersed in the blog, kind of like "real time."   Perhaps, in book form, they need more definition, and people need more sway.   Also, they need more introduction to me.  Most of you know me, and so I don't go into who various people are.  We are a family, but a book requires, it seems, a little more explanation.   We are being gentle with the book, and there is no reason to fear that any poem is being shoved aside like an old shoe.  All is honored here, and we are looking for our form.

I never appreciated how much was involved in forming a book before.  We felt we had the elements, and so we had a book, but each time we think it is done and we read it, we see we need something else.  We will get there, and are highly motivated, and all words are treated kindly, as are we.  We may be on break, but my dreams are of climbing and breaking through to breathe a new kind of, a fuller air.   All is well.

Tomorrow, we go down to Jeff and Jan's.  Chris and Frieda, and Paul are coming as is Cindy Sue, so we are quite a celebratory group.  Each of us seems to have prepared enough food for all, so we will be well-fed, and we will circle in gratitude, love, and care.

Today, has been a day of re-connecting.  I am receiving emails and phone calls and feeling quite embraced.  It is an amazing world in which we live.  One thing Hari Bhajan said on the book is she wants to know more how I wove this web.  I think the web wove.  I'm not sure I had much to do with it.  I am breathed, and you are here, and we join hands in celebrating the return of the sun, the love of green, and the birth of what is meant to be peace.   Peace on Earth is the message of these days.   May they come to truly be so!
Book Cover

Poem -


by Thomas McGrath

How could I have come so far?
(And always on such dark trails?)
I must have traveled by the light
Shining from the faces of all those I have loved.