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So much for resolutions (and a throwback Thursday)

Sarah P. Duke Gardens, October 2022.

One thing I want to be cautious of – by which I really mean refuse – are the ways we sometimes consider, for instance, gardening (or health, or healthcare, or potable water or clean air or pleasant and stable housing or decent jobs or good schools or libraries or living relatives or being unabused or having ‘free time’ or not being imprisoned or not living near a power plant or incinerator or a landfill of a million acres of corn or soybeans sprayed with toxins) a privilege, which actually obscures the fact that to be without a garden, or to be without green space, or to be without access to a park or clean water or the forest or fruit trees or birdsong or shade or a deep and abiding relationship with a tree, or to be without healthcare, and so often to be without health, is violence, it is abnormal (even if it is the norm) and it is an imposition of precarity that is not natural. All these comorbidities, all these communities more exposed to toxins, all this absence of sick pay or good pay, every day, is not simply an affliction, (Oh too bad! You landed in Cancer Alley! Or, Oh, bummer about those opioid deaths! Or, So unlucky about the lead in your water!) but an infliction. It is on purpose. And the withholding from some of the means of life, of which means there are plenty to go around, is a disprivilege.  Which is to say; life, though it is a gift, is not a privilege.

And rather than indulging in the virtue signalling that simply reifies or maybe even enjoys the guilt – guilt can be titillating, let’s admit that; bathing in it oneself or dumping it on others – of so-called privilege, rather than wading around in that little impotent cess-pool of hand-wringing regret, how about instead we figure out how to get rid of disprivilege, which we could do.

Part of which includes acknowledging that, baseline, we should all be able to get into a garden or a forest or an orchard if we want. It includes acknowledging that we should all have clean drinking water and good schools and excellent healthcare and safe housing. What would happen if we acknowledged that none of this is privilege, but rather it is as it should and could be? And what if we figured out, together, in a million different ways how to make it so? Or to say it another way: rather than cursing the darkness, what if we planted some seeds?

~ Ross Gay, Inciting Joy

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Joy in the body

A weekend sunset at the Point.

Winter: Tonight: Sunset
by David Budbill

Tonight at sunset walking on the snowy road,
my shoes crunching on the frozen gravel, first

through the woods, then out into the open fields
past a couple of trailers and some pickup trucks, I stop

and look at the sky. Suddenly: orange, red, pink, blue,
green, purple, yellow, gray, all at once and everywhere.

I pause in this moment at the beginning of my old age
and I say a prayer of gratitude for getting to this evening

a prayer for being here, today, now, alive
in this life, in this evening, under this sky.

(“Winter: Tonight: Sunset” by David Budbill, from While We’ve Still Got Feet. © Copper Canyon Press,  2005.)

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At home

The front yard, the front of the house, and the pond escaping its usual confines.

I’ve always tried to make a home for myself, but I have not felt at home in myself. I’ve worked hard at being the hero of my own life. But every time I checked the register of displaced persons, I was still on it. I didn’t know how to belong. Longing? Yes. Belonging? No.

~ Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

When you are born–what you are born into, the place, the history of the place, how that history mates with your own– stamps who you are, whatever the pundits of globalisation have to say.

~ Jeanette Winterson, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

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Spring travels and love

Exploring the crocus.

Our bones know the way of things. Our guts understand what baffles the mind. The soul or spirit is often most clearly manifest in the sensations and language of the body. We feel called towards or driven away by people, places, and things at the gut/bone level. The head can then clarify or obscure this information, or choose to work with or against this body-knowledge.

~ Aidan Wachter, from ‘Six Ways: Approaches & Entries for Practical Magic’

I urge you to find a way to immerse yourself fully in the life you’ve been given. To stop running from whatever you’re trying to escape, and instead to stop, and turn, and face whatever it is. Then I dare you to walk toward it. In this way, the world may reveal itself to you as something magical and awe-inspiring that does not require escape. Instead, the world may become something worth paying attention to.

~ Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence by Anna Lembke

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Beautiful acts

Hints of a season to come.

Look closely. The beautiful may be small.

~ Immanuel Kant

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Matins

Morning has broken.  (Groundhog Day)
mat·ins
/ˈmatnz/
noun
  1. a service of morning prayer in various churches, especially the Anglican Church.
    • a service forming part of the traditional Divine Office of the Western Christian Church, originally said (or chanted) at or after midnight, but historically often held with lauds on the previous evening.
    • LITERARY
      the morning song of birds.

Matins

~an excerpt from Morning Prayer Poem by John O’Donohue

1
Somewhere, out at the edges, the night
Is turning and the waves of darkness
Begin to brighten the shore of dawn

The heavy dark falls back to earth
And the freed air goes wild with light,
The heart fills with fresh, bright breath
And thoughts stir to give birth to color.

2
I arise today

In the name of Silence
Womb of the Word,
In the name of Stillness
Home of Belonging,
In the name of the Solitude
Of the Soul and the Earth.

(You can find the rest of this beautiful poem here.)

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A Monday meander: Striving for perfection

Through the lattice

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.

~ Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird:  Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Perfectionism doesn’t believe in practice shots. It doesn’t believe in improvement. Perfectionism has never heard that anything worth doing is worth doing badly–and that if we allow ourselves to do something badly we might in time become quite good at it. Perfectionism measures our beginner’s work against the finished work of masters. Perfectionism thrives on comparison and competition. It doesn’t know how to say, “Good try,” or “Job well done.” The critic does not believe in creative glee–or any glee at all, for that matter. No, perfectionism is a serious matter.

~ Julia Cameron, Finding Water:  The Art of Perseverance

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