November 26th, 2013

sea otter


When Anthony Marra was asked how he chose the title of his book, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, he answered, "One day I looked up the definition of life in a medical dictionary and found a surprisingly poetic entry: “A constellation of vital phenomena—organization, irritability, movement, growth, reproduction, adaptation.” As biological life is structured as a constellation of six phenomena, the narrative life of this novel is structured as a constellation of six point-of-view characters."

I am intrigued that "irritability" is one of the six "stars" of life.  I think of how I get irritated at my irritation. How can I embrace it differently?  I am sitting with the idea of irritability being as vital as organization, movement, growth, reproduction, and adaptation.  Can I embrace it wisely, and with compassion, and even, delight?

Yesterday I was with a friend at the marsh.  Mt Tam is called the Sleeping Maiden.  We were looking at the different ways one can view the maiden.  Perhaps her legs lie this way, or that.  I loved changing my perspective on the view. At times, I see no maiden at all.   I believe yesterday's lunch with a friend was my final birthday celebration for this year.  It's funny how as one gets older the celebrating goes on and on.  Perhaps that is the grace of age, the beauty of our faces as they soften and change, so the year is not delineated but instead falls into gentle waves.

At my book group Friday night, an 8th grade teacher spoke of the importance of reading the book, 46 Pages, by Scott Liell.  It is about Thomas Paine and his powerfully influential book, Common Sense.  If you want to be motivated on your own writing, this is the book to do it.  One book, a pamphlet really, led to the Revolutionary War.  It is a fascinating look at our separation from England, and how a change in perspective, a true definition of freedom led to the formation of this country.  It is motivating to read as we head into the Holiday season, a time to celebrate the growing dark that will soon turn back to light.  I love the feel of this time of year.  Birds fill the marsh.  The egrets stretch their necks, and the ducks are here.

Alan - sunrise - Palm Springs area


I have been gradually gathering provisions for Thanksgiving dinner, but, even so, today required trips to two different grocery stores.  My intention was to enjoy the lines, and I did.  I said to one woman who had been looking at the toxic display of check-out papers, and then put them down in disgust, what a difference it might make if Thomas Paine's Common Sense was offered for our perusal as we waited.  She agreed and got all excited, and when I saw her at the next store we both went to, she said she had shared the idea with the woman in line behind her.  Let's all read Common Sense, and propose offerings from Pema Chodrun, Jack Kornfield and others as we wait in line.  I think it would change the atmosphere of the store, and gift us all, and give the "famous" some peace.

Home, after arranging flowers, I came to an email where a friend shared her poem.  Oh, my.  I'm filled.

It is a time for poetry, isn't it?

What comes through each of us now?

I think I will ask my family members to bring a poem to our table on Thursday, one they've written or found.  We usually listen to Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant.  Perhaps we could augment that with poems read aloud.

I bought firewood today and a woman said I was optimistic.  Today is a "spare the air" day, so no fires, but there is a 20% chance of rain on Thanksgiving and if it happens, that means a possible fire.  Olay!

Fire or not, we will be warm with Autumn gifts.