miscellany

Oct 01

“If I met me, but younger, we’d talk about the value of one thing. You have to choose one thing to do for yourself every day. No matter what practice you choose — how fulfilling or meaningful — it will sometimes overwhelm you. Choose something for yourself every day. Do it repeatedly and without fail. If you do something for yourself every day, no matter how many standoffs or negotiations or letdowns you face throughout the day, no one can take that away from you.” —

Stillness In Motion— Liz Danzico

Part of the narrative of late has been about returning to practice, rededicating to routine. I came back from South Africa and found myself facing a hefty mountain of work to drive through. And sometimes it feels thankless. Sometimes it’s harder to see the big picture— the “why”, when you’re in the mucky trenches. Before I came across Liz’s post, I was also thinking about the idea of small victories— ensuring that I celebrate at least one thing every day that stands as a victory or success, no matter how small. This resonates nicely.

Sep 27

[video]

Sep 26

“I like my memories as they are, like thousand year old insects preserved whole in amber. Old loves and grudges, the way things smelled that day out on the boat, or the strong metallic taste of fear in the mouth when we got caught stealing. Maybe it wasn’t that way at all. Maybe these memories are entirely wrong and I have created or been distorting them for decades. But most antique dealers will tell you never to clean up or polish old metal because the patina that has built up on the surface over the years greatly enhances the look of the piece. So too with many memories, I believe.” —

Old Loves and Grudges — Medium

Writing challenge: list a series of striking memories. Select one. Interrogate that memory, the memory itself, as if it were a loved but untrustworthy narrator. Beyond what it always offers (a narrative, the details, the moment that’s lodged in your recollection), what other gifts does that memory bear? What do you owe it? What has it allowed you to do or stopped you from doing?

Sep 24

“Mindfulness, as defined by Ellen Langer, is about putting your mind into what you’re doing at the moment you’re doing it, and, in this sense, is akin to Csíkszentmihályi’s concept of “flow.” The relevance of mindfulness to the study of human creativity is that, beyond immersion and perseverence, it also requires a disposition to look at things afresh, as if for the first time, and a desire to move off the beaten path: a continuous and active quest to break loose from habitual ways of thinking! Mindlessness, in contrast, emerges as a result of having things all figured out. To Langer, experts are especially prone to becoming mindless whenever they put themselves on autopilot, rely on acquired skills, or apply standard routines—whenever they cease to look at what they know as potential obstacles in disguise.” — The Craftsman, The Trickster, And The Poet “Re-souling” the Rational Mind— Edith K. Ackermann

Sep 23

“A northern observer will see things topsy-turvy when looking at the southern skies – familiar constellations seem upside down – but getting a glimpse of Crux, the Southern Cross, which is the smallest and the most famous constellation in the southern hemisphere (it is displayed on the New Zealand, Australian, and Brazilian flags) is a thrill that reminds you how dependent we used to be on the stars to navigate our way across the world. Equally impressive is the glowing band of our own galaxy – the Milky Way – with its patches of light and dark stretching across the sky. The non-luminous part of the Milky Way is called the Great Rift (or more poetically “the Dark River”); it is made of overlapping dust clouds containing about 1 million solar masses of plasma and dust situated in the Sagittarius Arm of our galaxy at a distance of about 300 light years from Earth.” —

Dark Constellations of the Incas

Writing Prompts:

A) What are the fixed points in your life? The anchors; the constants by which you navigate?

B) Consider the concept of inversion in some aspect of your experience, something you may not have considered previously, the way we recognise the light of the Milky Way, while the Incas found value and things to worship in the Milky Way’s Dark River

In responding to either of these prompts, try to allude to the source material in some way— practise navigating between the received information and your own personal experience…

Sep 22

“The ‘passive supporter problem’ (if it can/should be called that!?) is, of course, not only prevalent in the magazine scene, I think it can be applied to all ‘indie’ makers out there. I can easily think of a handful of app developers and bloggers with tons of supporters that really want to see the project grow and succeed, but that rarely take practical action (in most cases by signing up for a paid account, paying a small membership fee, etc.) to actively enable the creators to continue the work they appreciate.” —

What Goes Around Comes Around— Offscreen Mag Blog

I’ve been thinking a lot about passive supporters recently, and how we transform them into active supporters. I manage a few communities, and I’ve always come up against a Pareto weighted breakdown of participation: 20% of the people involved make 80% of the effort required to keep the community/enterprise/initiative going. Which is not sustainable (can we say: burnout?).

I’m thinking about solutions. Maybe we need to consider active expansions and contractions. Maybe on a regular cycle you need to rededicate to your core audience, to draw a line and define what it means to be a supporter. At this point, you may well lose some of the “passive support”. And maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe that allows you to move forward with clarity and focus, which could in turn entice new supporters? Something like razing a field to have it grow back. Burn it all down, but the enterprise (if strong enough) will survive…

Sep 21

Lessons Learned

1: write the poem. The language of it. The actual words are important. The music is as important as the idea. If the music isn’t there, the idea doesn’t take flight.

2: don’t get precious. Write until you find your way. You’re a millionaire of words. Speculate to accumulate.

3: figure out how to get into the sweet spot between idea and music as quickly as possible, ever more directly.

4: no time to second guess yourself. That’s what later is for.

Sep 20

“You don’t get to decide the truth. Other people have their own experiences, just as valid. This is easy to forget. Your slice of life seems so large and unmistakeable, like a mirage of wholeness from where you stand. But it is your job to know better and not confuse your small piece for the whole, even if you sometimes forget. Life is big—much bigger than just yours.” —

Frank Chimero – The Only Note To Self

When we teach poetry, we often encourage poets to deepen their internal focus or extend their technical range and critical faculties. How often do we encourage people to engage with other people, other perspectives? To not just look beyond themselves, but to actually attend to other people, real people, in a meaningful and authentic way?

Sep 18

“I throw my passport in the sea,
And name you my country.
I throw all my dictionaries in the fire,
And name you my language.” — Nizar Qabbani (via kathleenjoy)

Sep 17

“I showed you a picture I took that day using the camera that leaks light in a way that makes me want to cry, makes me want to move to Mount Fuji and paint my life onto 8×10 transparencies. About the picture, you said that’s how it felt, but not how it looked. How could that be? I held the cold aperture-ring with my fingers and pressed the shutter gently enough, trusting to the chemicals on cold film and the tenets of sympathetic magic.” — Time Expanding the Air Forcibly— Sam Ross