Life Lessons

Seizing Moments

I opened my eyes from my morning meditation to a radiant blaze of glory. I sat, mesmerized, holding onto the moment.

When I’d shut my eyes twenty minutes earlier, the world had been dark, my window looking into a splotchy gloom of little promise.

Twenty minutes more, and the sky was leaden once again.

Dawn erupts, golden,

Like bold summer fireworks. Then,

As swiftly, ashen.

Life Lesson #37: Moments matter.

Curiosity Journal

Curiosity Journal #5 – Questions and Pauses

Over lunch the other day a friend asked if curiosity is ever inappropriate. It’s a good question, and I’ve been puzzling over it and questions in general. Is there such thing as a bad question? How do we set ourselves up to really hear answers, whatever the question?

Listen to Curiosity Journal #5 – Questions and Pauses  [2 minutes]

Transcript: My on-air broadcasting class has begun and I’ve had my first introduction to the production booth – which has gotten me thinking about my very rudimentary audio blogs so far…It feels like time to look at them with a curious eye.

I’m avoiding calling it a “critical eye” because the moment I say or think that I can feel the tingle up my spine and my neck stiffens and I get into this defensive mode  — and I haven’t even done or said anything yet!

So: its a “curious eye”.

I’m not just looking at my own work, I’ve started to listen to podcasts and radio differently. What about that segment really caught my attention? What resonated – and how did they ensure it would? What’s their rhythm? How do they use music? How do pauses work?

Ah – pauses. You need that break – that stillness – to absorb what you just heard, reflect, let something sink it. What’s a good pause? What makes a pause pregnant?

I’m asking myself endless questions, all the time — walking down the street and there I was:

I’m trying to think about how to turn curiosity in on itself with my audio blog….and while I have this thought I want to capture it.  I’m thinking about that it’s not about just that you ask questions, but the questions that you ask, and also that you don’t ask questions that are yes or no — like, do I like that? yes or no — but what is it about that that does what I hoped it would? Or, what is it about that that doesn’t do what I hoped it would? That’s what I don’t want to lose.

Life Lessons

Swimming in the Confluence

Rivulets wiggle along, joining others in liquid delight, mingling, swelling, forming a babbling synergistic brook. Sometimes, it feels like all roads lead you to the same place — the Rome of your life, at least for a time. Yesterday was such a day.

My newest favorite broadcast/podcast The Big Listen featured Manoush Zomorodi on performance artist Marina Abramovic’s efforts to create more fully present concert audiences through intentional immersion pre-performance… A news report out of  neuroscience revealed researchers have identified neural pathways that react almost exclusively to the sound of music… A casual note on my calendar about an upcoming concert prompted me to check a website, where another casual note promoted a (free!) presentation by the pianist, offered in just an hour from that very moment…

And so not once but twice in the space of a day, I found myself in a church hall filled with plaster dust and retirees, fully present for Michael Brown, a decidedly undusty pianist and composer of 29.

Mendelssohn’s preludes and fugues, a bit of Bernstein and some of Brown, a closing piece by Ravel all washed over me. I paddled in the churn, feeling the cool spots, sensing the depths. Floating. My eyes closed, I rode the swells, followed the twisting currents, grateful the rivulets had led me there.

Life Lesson #36: When you really pay attention, everything is your teacher. – Ezra Bayda


Back Story

West of the Moon, East of the Sun

I’m like a woman possessed. With a plan in hand and about ten irons in the fire, things are definitely heating up. My days are full of reading, note taking, Post-it making. My walls are covered with stickies. My mind, with even more.

As I felt around for something to grab me, N. reminded me of Tolkien’s line,

All those who wander are not lost.

So I poked about, reassuring myself I wasn’t lost, exactly, just not on a known path. My plan: to get a plan.

And then this curiosity bug bit me and suddenly I’m mocking up a web site, prepping a workshop, pitching a TEDx talk and a radio show, and thinking forget wander/lost, this is wonder-lust!

I’m reminded of another passage from Tolkien, less often reprised, that captured my imagination back at 17…east west

Still round the corner there may wait,

A new road or a secret gate:

And though I oft have passed them by,

A day will come at last when I

Shall take the hidden paths that run

West of the Moon, East of the Sun.





Winter Wonder Land

icy windowI’m hunkered against the cold, my shoulders around my ears, my chin in my coat. I feel betrayed by the weather, assaulted by the wind. Of all the discomforts, resisting where I am feels the worst.

Walking is for being present, for being exactly where you are when you are there. It’s why I don’t wear headphones, why I’m as happy to walk alone as not, why I walk so very much. No surprise: despite all this cold, I’m looking to reclaim my walks. From under my hat and behind my scarf, I wage my battle against the elements. I choose to be curious.

Where’s the bird I hear? What’s it saying? How much frost beards the storm drain? What’s become of the crocuses? Can I find a route that’s all in the sun — and out of the wind? Why is that there?

My head comes up. My shoulders go down. The world comes in.

A little curious — even in short chilly bursts — I reconnect with myself, my place, the very thing I’ve been resisting.

In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.

~ Albert Camus



Same Week, Different Perspective

Last week I had a date with Nature, but my gaze wandered, attracted elsewhere.

Was I unfaithful, or simply unfocused? Wasn’t this actually a chance for yes/and? That capricious, complicated embrace of natural and human forces – wasn’t there beauty there, too?

Behold, Human/Nature.

Imagine an eye unruled by man-made laws of perspective, an eye unprejudiced by compositional logic, an eye which does not respond to the name of everything but which must know each object encountered in life through an adventure of perception.  ~ Stan Brakhage

Fellow blogger Sky Blue Daze recently shared a way of looking — and seeing — that has been tickling my brain ever since. She wrote, “I had a photo instructor who taught me to see everything and make the background something that you want in the photo so the eye looks at the focus but boings back & forth to something unforgettable also in the frame.” 

It’s all the same pursuit — an adventure of perception, a journey to seeing everything. An odyssey across the ordinary, discovering within it the unforgettable.

What a gift life is, this unrelenting opportunity for fresh perspective.


Seven Days: So Many Things to See

I could almost hear D.’s eyes rolling around in her head — enough with the rules! — but I liked identifying the boundaries, feeling my way around the edges of what I considered “nature.”

Another week, another Facebook challenge. Seven #photographsofnature in seven days. But what is “nature” — and what can you shoot in February, in a sorta (sub)urban neighborhood, in a week dominated by flat light and grey skies?

Nature, I decided, was going to be something I saw, firsthand, on the day in question, captured as best I could with the ol’ iPod camera.

Nature wouldn’t be man-made, but might be cultivated by human hands. Did birds on a wire count? Winter cabbage?

Nature could be animal, vegetable, mineral, within limits. Birds, bamboo and sand would do — but not human babies, navel oranges or stone steps.

I thought: we’re inclined to go big or go home, but nature appreciates its own intimacy. What can you find that you don’t expect to see?

I started out, as I so often do, by looking up. And then I looked down, way down. Way small. To the surprising bursts of vitality that might otherwise be invisible in February, in my sorta (sub)urban neighborhood, in a week dominated by flat light and grey skies.

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
Life Lessons

Why I Love This Picture


This photograph is one of my favorites from Viet Nam. I keep it where I can see it.

I love the statue’s artistry and expression — and the calm they elicit in me. I loved the temple where I found it — and the Vespa ride that got me there. I love the ugly calendar next to that beautiful head.

Wait, what?

Look closely. There it is: “Monday” right over his left ear, just a hint of the secular on the wall behind him.

But Buddha doesn’t mind. Buddha rests easy, even with the work week looming over him.

To be honest, I wished that calendar wasn’t there when I took this picture. I thought it detracted from the image.

But now I look at it and I see beauty anyway. I see a sneaky little reminder that things don’t have to be perfect to be quite lovely.

Life Lesson #35: We see what we want to see.