July 24th, 2008

alexander calder

Good Morning!

Zach and I shared a wonderful time together yesterday.  It turned out it was the celebration, the parade of tall ships, so in addition to everything else, we saw tall ships with their sails billowed out, and a fireboat radiating water.

I am content, and also filled with the subject of receiving.   Zach's grandmother said she could never repay me and I thought of how it isn't about that, about how we live in such a generously full world that being able to do for another has nothing to do with repayment or balance sheets.

That led me to one of my favorite guys, Antonine de Saint Exupery and his delicious quote in The Little Prince.

"Here is my secret. It is very simple. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; What is essential is invisible to the eye."

And that led to the discovery of another of his quotes.

  • A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.     Pilote de Guerre (1942) (translated into English as Flight to Arras

How much we are given to carry joy. 

As the Indian mystic Sri Ramakrishna said, "The winds of grace are always blowing, but we must raise our sails."

Raise your sails, high as the tall ships,  today and everyday!!

Book Cover

with thought -

I spoke with my neighbor about her son's upcoming wedding.   Her son and his bride-to-be have a wedding planner, which Chris and Frieda chose not to do,  mainly because of price and potential conflict.

My neighbor was hoping that her family members could sit together, since many are flying in and don't get to see each other that often, but she was informed it didn't matter who they were sitting with as it would only be an hour for dinner anyway, as they had to get to the first dance.  The bride and groom are already told by the wedding planner that they get two bites of food, and then, they mingle, and then, the band begins.

When I was in college, I took classes in early childhood development.  Our big fear at the time was that communism was molding the minds of young children in Russia.   Now I read in an article by Martin Cruz Smith in National Geographic that "There are more billionaires in Moscow than in any other city.  Millionaires are as common as pigeons."

Who is more capitalistic and does it matter, but what I worry about is freedom of thought, activity and flow.  Zach and I sat yesterday and watched one starfish for about fifteen minutes.  He/she had one foot curved down as though sleeping.   We then watched a flat fish lay in the sand, swoosh a bit, swoop up once, and then, cover in sand.  I believe it is important for each of us to have that kind of time to observe, receive, reflect.   Watching Zach's process yesterday again allowed me to see the brilliance of the human mind.  He figures things out, puts things together.  When he fell coming down a ramp, we talked about the gravel.  He still ran down it, but each time he was practicing how to balance on the gravel.  He didn't fall again.   He is thoughtful, careful, aware.

I don't know where the idea of a wedding planner came from, but I wonder about spontaneity in our lives.  Is so much orchestration necessary and maybe it is.  There are so many of us.  Our children are socialized early in preschool and I think that is a good thing, and I wonder where the place is to pause and reflect.

Jane and I met last night and spoke about her work day.  To me, it seemed we had the same kind of day, though hers had huge words to describe it.  She was at a seminar where they worked in groups and piled up dominoes so they would fall in a sequence.   The idea was to see how people work and to help them become more effective and efficient, to make less mistakes.   The "supervisors" watched the "workers," and were not to interfere.   I said that is what I did, watching the children interact at the discovery museum, seeing how they share, and who dominates and who doesn't, noting if it might be necessary to step in, and wanting to be as unobtrusive as possible, so Zach could learn and figure out on his own.  

Perhaps nothing was produced at the museum, and there will be results from the study of falling dominoes, and ... I wonder about it all, about the place, the opening where spontaneity has its day of play. 

I open now a book called Free Play, Improvisation in Life and Art, by Stephen Nachmanovitch.   I know we can't play all the time and Jane's work is about saving lives, and yet, I think we each need a chance to let go, to have no agenda or schedule, to play.  Maybe we do that in our own time.   Yesterday, Zach played the xylophone, then, he sang, and then, he danced.  He did that over and over again.

Nachmanovitch says that "It is curious that both meditation and dancing are ways to "disappear."

He speaks of different ways to tune the spirit.   Here is one.

    "Look at whatever is in front of you and say, "Yes!  Yes!  Yes!" to it, like Molly Bloom's life-affirming, love-affirming mantra at the end of Ulysses.  The universe of possibilities becomes visibly, tangibly larger, over a period of mere moments. When you say, "No, No, No," the world gets smaller and heavier. Try it both ways and verify the truth of this very simple method.  Look at water lilies or other highly vascular flowering plants. When the sun comes out, the flowers unfold before your eyes; when the sun goes away, they close. What the sun's radiation and the lilies say to each other, translated through the biophysical language of chlorophyll, sugar, protein, and water, is, "Yes! Yes! Yes!"

alan - joshua tree bloom

Zach -

Yesterday I said to "granmama" that hanging out with Zach looking at fish a good part of the day had me feeling I need to return to true vegetarianism.  We certainly didn't have fish for dinner.  Luckily, leftovers of lentil-feta salad were waiting at home in the frig.

Marlene said Zach personifies everything and she picked up the cup.  "Talk Cup," she said, but the cup doesn't move, and my stomach is feeling a new sensitivity about what it ingests.  I do try and eat with awareness, and I must admit to having a huge fondness for protein, protein that ran, swam or pecked, and now, translates to me.

Here is my morning poem for my small, wise friend.

At Two and a Half


Zach watches the shadows of fish

through the aquarium window.

Starfish hug the sides,

one with his foot curved like a hug.

Anemone open and close.


We talk about gills and lungs

and why we are on one side of the window

and the fish are on the other.   

I think of Wendy sewing on the shadow of Peter Pan.

Must we grow up?


Zach applauds each poop

something he produced letting go

down into the water to be with the fish

fish who may be on the other side

of the glass.   


alan - joshua tree bloom

Vision -

The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics
or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities.
We need men who can dream of things that never were.

— John F. Kennedy