Sunday, April 30, 2017

Befriending Who I Am

Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better, it’s about befriending who we are.
~Ani Pema Chodron~

Knowledge is Only a Rumor

Creativity embeds knowledge so that it can become practice. We move what we’re learning from our heads to our hearts through our hands. We are born makers, and creativity is the ultimate act of integration — it is how we fold our experiences into our being… The Asaro tribe of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea has a beautiful saying: “Knowledge is only a rumor until it lives in the muscle.”
–Brené Brown, from Rising Strong 

Friday, April 28, 2017

On the 20th Century

Tonight I went to see the Cygnet Theater's production of On the 20th Century. It's an over-the-top operetta musical comedy farce with no opportunity for a cheap laugh left untouched. I haven't laughed at a show of any kind like that in a long time. My friend Nate went with me and enjoyed it as well. What a treat!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tonight's Bonfire

Though Tuesday nights are not usually good nights for me to plan evening activities tonight I made it to the bonfire for the first time in many months and I was very glad I did. North Cove Beach on Vacation Island in Mission Bay is a lovely quiet spot during the week. Sometime after this picture, after the sun set and after the fire quieted down the wind fell away and the bay turned to glass reflecting all the lights of the city. A lovely way to spend the evening.

Book Review

Dombey and SonDombey and Son by Charles Dickens

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

noun: dated literary
a substitute, especially for a medicine or drug.
“The head was followed by a perfect desert of chin, and by a shirt-collar and neckerchief, and by a dreadnought pilot-coat, and by a pair of dreadnought pilot-trousers, whereof the waistband was so very broad and high, that it became a succedaneum for a waistcoat: being ornamented near the wearer’s breast-bone with some massive wooden buttons, like backgammon men. As the lower portions of these pantaloons became revealed, Bunsby stood confessed; his hands in their pockets, which were of vast size; and his gaze directed, not to Captain Cuttle or the ladies, but the mast-head.”

noun: a feeling of unease or embarrassment; awkwardness.
synonyms: embarrassment, unease, uneasiness, awkwardness, discomfort, discomposure
"Shame, disappointment, and discomfiture gnawed at his heart; a constant apprehension of being overtaken, or met—for he was groundlessly afraid even of travellers, who came towards him by the way he was going—oppressed him heavily. The returned unweakened in the day. The monotonous ringing of the bells and tramping of the horses; the monotony of his anxiety, and useless rage; the monotonous wheel of fear, regret, and passion, he kept turning round and round; made the journey like a vision, in which nothing was quite real but his own torment."

Some of Dickens most vivid language. It flows effortlessly from realism to impressionism, from muddy, gritty details to allegory and free association of universal truths and the indifference of the glory of the rising sun to the misery of our maddening lives. It's similar in theme to Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" except instead of romance the story is told through the experience of a shipping magnate whose excessive pride takes him from extreme wealth, wife, and children to bankruptcy, isolation, and near death. And like Jane Austen's novel Dickens' Dombey is redeemed by the love and forgiveness of a strong woman.

Reading Dombey and Son is like sitting down to a rich dinner; the language and detail of emotions is delicious and amazing. And Dickens never seemed to grow tired of it and rush the ending as some authors do, but kept up the pace of brilliance through each of about four endings while he wraps up all of the story lines and characters he's introduced.

"...when I thought so much of all the causes that had made me what I was, I needed to have allowed more for the causes that had made him what he was. I will try, then, to forgive him his share of blame. Let him try to forgive me mine!”

My main critique, and the reason I took so long to finish, is that most chapters detail the actions and motivations of the members of the Dombey household and almost everything happens within London. As beautiful as it's written I kept hoping the action would switch to one of the other characters who's lost at sea. He eventually finds his way back, but the details of how or his adventures doing so are not included. If Herman Melville would've been enlisted to step in and give us exploits of our boy Walter on the high seas that would have been fun indeed.

But it's a great book and worthwhile for any Dickens fan to read. I found myself newly amazed at Dickens' insights into the human heart and the motivations of women and men. In this age of the fast words found in Twitter, texts, and Facebook clickbait sinking one's teeth into a full course reading rich in all the colors of the English language is food for the soul.

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We Need Each Other and We Need Diversity

   I came across two articles that seems about very different things, but to me they're saying the same thing.
   The first one is a summary and review of the book The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben:

 “Why do they share food with their own species and sometimes even go so far as to nourish their competitors? The reasons are the same as for human communities: there are advantages to working together. A tree is not a forest. On its own, a tree cannot establish a consistent local climate. It is at the mercy of wind and weather. But together, many trees create an ecosystem that moderates extremes of heat and cold, stores a great deal of water, and generates a great deal of humidity. And in this protected environment, trees can live to be very old.”

   The second article is a Ted Talk describing the newest research into why a trait limiting reproduction doesn't disappear, but instead is seen throughout history, across cultures, and in most species of animals.

   Both articles point to our need for each other and the more diverse we are the stronger we are.

Friday, April 21, 2017


Vang brought flan she'd made to Mama's Kitchen this morning. Man, was it good! Way better than any I've had before. I tend to avoid ordering it in Restaurants, and now I know it's because I've never had any like this.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Guest House


We can also approach
the importance of compassion 
through intelligent reasoning.
If I help another person, 
and show concerns for
him or her, 
then I myself
will benefit from that.
However, if I harm others,
eventually I will be in trouble.
I often joke, half sincerely
and half seriously, saying
that if we wish to be truly selfish, 
then we should be wisely selfish
rather than foolishly selfish.
Our Intelligence can help
to adjust our attitude in this
respect. If we use it well,
we can gain insights as to
how we can fulfill our own
self-interest by leading a 
compassionate way of life.

H.H. the XIVth Dalai Lama