Archive for the ‘Spiritual Experience’ Category

The best moment at Wild Goose…a sendoff by Gareth Higgins

~ Thursday, July 14th, 2016

Jill and JamesyA BLESSING FOR FRIENDSHIP WITH YOUR OWN SOUL

JULY 12, 2016
You deserve to be known by the miracle of a day.
You are cradled through the night, the dusk affirming yesterday’s work.
You don’t just wake. You awaken unto something.

The miracle of a day.

What can happen in a day?
Everything.
Stand in front of the mirror and repeat twenty times

‘I’m super-cool, and beautiful, and thrillingly alive.’

In the shower, be gentle with your skin, as if you were caressing a Rodin sculpture.
Pick up the first piece of trash you see, and turn it into an origami Yoda.
Make breakfast as if you were making love, and eat it that way too.

Make sure no one’s looking.

This time is for you.
To ready yourself for the miracle of a day.

Your day.

Go out into the world of wonder – trees and cars and roads and buildings and books and restaurants and computers and desks and the greatest wonder: people!
Oh, people, fucked-up and gorgeous; alive and dying; deceitful and trying; and trying hard to be good.

They need you.

We need you.

Show us your love, and your origami Yoda.

Hold yourself like you believe in your own glory – not more than or less than others, but inviting them into the same.
Take delight in your foibles. Laugh when you lose your keys (again). Smile a wry smile at the first fifteen sexual fantasies that interrupt your conference call.

Stretch your arms and legs and neck and let your voice transcend Whitman, for goodness’ sake: make it a beatific yawp!
Take yourself out to lunch and enjoy the sacrament of interruption that is queuing and choosing and eating.

Look up at the sky!
Look up at the sky!
Look up at the sky!

This is your roof.

Know that you’re not the only one thinking this. And that both of you are right.

Then, when the working day is winding down,
readying itself to give way to rest and play,
find someone who needs your smile.

Give it to them. And you’ll never lose it.

May you find the Anam Cara within.
Soul Friendship with yourself,
that opens unto others,
makes a home for them,
and transfigures your inner life.

May you be the friend to yourself that we are all waiting for.

“It’s we who win”

~ Friday, April 27th, 2012

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Oh Wow. Oh Wow. Oh Wow.

~ Monday, October 31st, 2011

A Sister’s Eulogy for Steve Jobs, By Mona Simpson

I grew up as an only child, with a single mother. Because we were poor and because I knew my father had emigrated from Syria, I imagined he looked like Omar Sharif. I hoped he would be rich and kind and would come into our lives (and our not yet furnished apartment) and help us. Later, after I’d met my father, I tried to believe he’d changed his number and left no forwarding address because he was an idealistic revolutionary, plotting a new world for the Arab people.

Even as a feminist, my whole life I’d been waiting for a man to love, who could love me. For decades, I’d thought that man would be my father. When I was 25, I met that man and he was my brother.

By then, I lived in New York, where I was trying to write my first novel. I had a job at a small magazine in an office the size of a closet, with three other aspiring writers. When one day a lawyer called me — me, the middle-class girl from California who hassled the boss to buy us health insurance — and said his client was rich and famous and was my long-lost brother, the young editors went wild. This was 1985 and we worked at a cutting-edge literary magazine, but I’d fallen into the plot of a Dickens novel and really, we all loved those best. The lawyer refused to tell me my brother’s name and my colleagues started a betting pool. The leading candidate: John Travolta. I secretly hoped for a literary descendant of Henry James — someone more talented than I, someone brilliant without even trying.

When I met Steve, he was a guy my age in jeans, Arab- or Jewish-looking and handsomer than Omar Sharif.

We took a long walk — something, it happened, that we both liked to do. I don’t remember much of what we said that first day, only that he felt like someone I’d pick to be a friend. He explained that he worked in computers.

I didn’t know much about computers. I still worked on a manual Olivetti typewriter.

I told Steve I’d recently considered my first purchase of a computer: something called the Cromemco.

Steve told me it was a good thing I’d waited. He said he was making something that was going to be insanely beautiful.

I want to tell you a few things I learned from Steve, during three distinct periods, over the 27 years I knew him. They’re not periods of years, but of states of being. His full life. His illness. His dying.

Steve worked at what he loved. He worked really hard. Every day.

That’s incredibly simple, but true.

He was the opposite of absent-minded.

He was never embarrassed about working hard, even if the results were failures. If someone as smart as Steve wasn’t ashamed to admit trying, maybe I didn’t have to be.

When he got kicked out of Apple, things were painful. He told me about a dinner at which 500 Silicon Valley leaders met the then-sitting president. Steve hadn’t been invited.

He was hurt but he still went to work at Next. Every single day.

Novelty was not Steve’s highest value. Beauty was.

For an innovator, Steve was remarkably loyal. If he loved a shirt, he’d order 10 or 100 of them. In the Palo Alto house, there are probably enough black cotton turtlenecks for everyone in this church.

He didn’t favor trends or gimmicks. He liked people his own age.

His philosophy of aesthetics reminds me of a quote that went something like this: “Fashion is what seems beautiful now but looks ugly later; art can be ugly at first but it becomes beautiful later.”

Steve always aspired to make beautiful later.

He was willing to be misunderstood.

Uninvited to the ball, he drove the third or fourth iteration of his same black sports car to Next, where he and his team were quietly inventing the platform on which Tim Berners-Lee would write the program for the World Wide Web.

Steve was like a girl in the amount of time he spent talking about love. Love was his supreme virtue, his god of gods. He tracked and worried about the romantic lives of the people working with him.

Whenever he saw a man he thought a woman might find dashing, he called out, “Hey are you single? Do you wanna come to dinner with my sister?”

I remember when he phoned the day he met Laurene. “There’s this beautiful woman and she’s really smart and she has this dog and I’m going to marry her.”

When Reed was born, he began gushing and never stopped. He was a physical dad, with each of his children. He fretted over Lisa’s boyfriends and Erin’s travel and skirt lengths and Eve’s safety around the horses she adored.

None of us who attended Reed’s graduation party will ever forget the scene of Reed and Steve slow dancing.

His abiding love for Laurene sustained him. He believed that love happened all the time, everywhere. In that most important way, Steve was never ironic, never cynical, never pessimistic. I try to learn from that, still.

Steve had been successful at a young age, and he felt that had isolated him. Most of the choices he made from the time I knew him were designed to dissolve the walls around him. A middle-class boy from Los Altos, he fell in love with a middle-class girl from New Jersey. It was important to both of them to raise Lisa, Reed, Erin and Eve as grounded, normal children. Their house didn’t intimidate with art or polish; in fact, for many of the first years I knew Steve and Lo together, dinner was served on the grass, and sometimes consisted of just one vegetable. Lots of that one vegetable. But one. Broccoli. In season. Simply prepared. With just the right, recently snipped, herb.

Even as a young millionaire, Steve always picked me up at the airport. He’d be standing there in his jeans.

When a family member called him at work, his secretary Linetta answered, “Your dad’s in a meeting. Would you like me to interrupt him?”

When Reed insisted on dressing up as a witch every Halloween, Steve, Laurene, Erin and Eve all went wiccan.

They once embarked on a kitchen remodel; it took years. They cooked on a hotplate in the garage. The Pixar building, under construction during the same period, finished in half the time. And that was it for the Palo Alto house. The bathrooms stayed old. But — and this was a crucial distinction — it had been a great house to start with; Steve saw to that.

This is not to say that he didn’t enjoy his success: he enjoyed his success a lot, just minus a few zeros. He told me how much he loved going to the Palo Alto bike store and gleefully realizing he could afford to buy the best bike there.

And he did.

Steve was humble. Steve liked to keep learning.

Once, he told me if he’d grown up differently, he might have become a mathematician. He spoke reverently about colleges and loved walking around the Stanford campus. In the last year of his life, he studied a book of paintings by Mark Rothko, an artist he hadn’t known about before, thinking of what could inspire people on the walls of a future Apple campus.

Steve cultivated whimsy. What other C.E.O. knows the history of English and Chinese tea roses and has a favorite David Austin rose?

He had surprises tucked in all his pockets. I’ll venture that Laurene will discover treats — songs he loved, a poem he cut out and put in a drawer — even after 20 years of an exceptionally close marriage. I spoke to him every other day or so, but when I opened The New York Times and saw a feature on the company’s patents, I was still surprised and delighted to see a sketch for a perfect staircase.

With his four children, with his wife, with all of us, Steve had a lot of fun.

He treasured happiness.

Then, Steve became ill and we watched his life compress into a smaller circle. Once, he’d loved walking through Paris. He’d discovered a small handmade soba shop in Kyoto. He downhill skied gracefully. He cross-country skied clumsily. No more.

Eventually, even ordinary pleasures, like a good peach, no longer appealed to him.

Yet, what amazed me, and what I learned from his illness, was how much was still left after so much had been taken away.

I remember my brother learning to walk again, with a chair. After his liver transplant, once a day he would get up on legs that seemed too thin to bear him, arms pitched to the chair back. He’d push that chair down the Memphis hospital corridor towards the nursing station and then he’d sit down on the chair, rest, turn around and walk back again. He counted his steps and, each day, pressed a little farther.

Laurene got down on her knees and looked into his eyes.

“You can do this, Steve,” she said. His eyes widened. His lips pressed into each other.

He tried. He always, always tried, and always with love at the core of that effort. He was an intensely emotional man.

I realized during that terrifying time that Steve was not enduring the pain for himself. He set destinations: his son Reed’s graduation from high school, his daughter Erin’s trip to Kyoto, the launching of a boat he was building on which he planned to take his family around the world and where he hoped he and Laurene would someday retire.

Even ill, his taste, his discrimination and his judgment held. He went through 67 nurses before finding kindred spirits and then he completely trusted the three who stayed with him to the end. Tracy. Arturo. Elham.

One time when Steve had contracted a tenacious pneumonia his doctor forbid everything — even ice. We were in a standard I.C.U. unit. Steve, who generally disliked cutting in line or dropping his own name, confessed that this once, he’d like to be treated a little specially.

I told him: Steve, this is special treatment.

He leaned over to me, and said: “I want it to be a little more special.”

Intubated, when he couldn’t talk, he asked for a notepad. He sketched devices to hold an iPad in a hospital bed. He designed new fluid monitors and x-ray equipment. He redrew that not-quite-special-enough hospital unit. And every time his wife walked into the room, I watched his smile remake itself on his face.

For the really big, big things, you have to trust me, he wrote on his sketchpad. He looked up. You have to.

By that, he meant that we should disobey the doctors and give him a piece of ice.

None of us knows for certain how long we’ll be here. On Steve’s better days, even in the last year, he embarked upon projects and elicited promises from his friends at Apple to finish them. Some boat builders in the Netherlands have a gorgeous stainless steel hull ready to be covered with the finishing wood. His three daughters remain unmarried, his two youngest still girls, and he’d wanted to walk them down the aisle as he’d walked me the day of my wedding.

We all — in the end — die in medias res. In the middle of a story. Of many stories.

I suppose it’s not quite accurate to call the death of someone who lived with cancer for years unexpected, but Steve’s death was unexpected for us.

What I learned from my brother’s death was that character is essential: What he was, was how he died.

Tuesday morning, he called me to ask me to hurry up to Palo Alto. His tone was affectionate, dear, loving, but like someone whose luggage was already strapped onto the vehicle, who was already on the beginning of his journey, even as he was sorry, truly deeply sorry, to be leaving us.

He started his farewell and I stopped him. I said, “Wait. I’m coming. I’m in a taxi to the airport. I’ll be there.”

“I’m telling you now because I’m afraid you won’t make it on time, honey.”

When I arrived, he and his Laurene were joking together like partners who’d lived and worked together every day of their lives. He looked into his children’s eyes as if he couldn’t unlock his gaze.

Until about 2 in the afternoon, his wife could rouse him, to talk to his friends from Apple.

Then, after awhile, it was clear that he would no longer wake to us.

His breathing changed. It became severe, deliberate, purposeful. I could feel him counting his steps again, pushing farther than before.

This is what I learned: he was working at this, too. Death didn’t happen to Steve, he achieved it.

He told me, when he was saying goodbye and telling me he was sorry, so sorry we wouldn’t be able to be old together as we’d always planned, that he was going to a better place.

Dr. Fischer gave him a 50/50 chance of making it through the night.

He made it through the night, Laurene next to him on the bed sometimes jerked up when there was a longer pause between his breaths. She and I looked at each other, then he would heave a deep breath and begin again.

This had to be done. Even now, he had a stern, still handsome profile, the profile of an absolutist, a romantic. His breath indicated an arduous journey, some steep path, altitude.

He seemed to be climbing.

But with that will, that work ethic, that strength, there was also sweet Steve’s capacity for wonderment, the artist’s belief in the ideal, the still more beautiful later.

Steve’s final words, hours earlier, were monosyllables, repeated three times.

Before embarking, he’d looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life’s partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them.

Steve’s final words were:

OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.

Mona Simpson is a novelist and a professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles. She delivered this eulogy for her brother, Steve Jobs, on Oct. 16 at his memorial service at the Memorial Church of Stanford University.

Almost anything can happen

~ Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

Aristotle
BY BILLY COLLINS

This is the beginning.
Almost anything can happen.
This is where you find
the creation of light, a fish wriggling onto land,
the first word of Paradise Lost on an empty page.
Think of an egg, the letter A,
a woman ironing on a bare stage
as the heavy curtain rises.
This is the very beginning.
The first-person narrator introduces himself,
tells us about his lineage.
The mezzo-soprano stands in the wings.
Here the climbers are studying a map
or pulling on their long woolen socks.
This is early on, years before the Ark, dawn.
The profile of an animal is being smeared
on the wall of a cave,
and you have not yet learned to crawl.
This is the opening, the gambit,
a pawn moving forward an inch.
This is your first night with her,
your first night without her.
This is the first part
where the wheels begin to turn,
where the elevator begins its ascent,
before the doors lurch apart.

This is the middle.
Things have had time to get complicated,
messy, really. Nothing is simple anymore.
Cities have sprouted up along the rivers
teeming with people at cross-purposesi
a million schemes, a million wild looks.
Disappointment unshoulders his knapsack
here and pitches his ragged tent.
This is the sticky part where the plot congeals,
where the action suddenly reverses
or swerves off in an outrageous direction.
Here the narrator devotes a long paragraph
to why Miriam does not want Edward’s child.
Someone hides a letter under a pillow.
Here the aria rises to a pitch,
a song of betrayal, salted with revenge.
And the climbing party is stuck on a ledge
halfway up the mountain.
This is the bridge, the painful modulation.
This is the thick of things.
So much is crowded into the middlei
the guitars of Spain, piles of ripe avocados,
Russian uniforms, noisy parties,
lakeside kisses, arguments heard through a walli
too much to name, too much to think about.

And this is the end,
the car running out of road,
the river losing its name in an ocean,
the long nose of the photographed horse
touching the white electronic line.
This is the colophon, the last elephant in the parade,
the empty wheelchair,
and pigeons floating down in the evening.
Here the stage is littered with bodies,
the narrator leads the characters to their cells,
and the climbers are in their graves.
It is me hitting the period
and you closing the book.
It is Sylvia Plath in the kitchen
and St. Clement with an anchor around his neck.
This is the final bit
thinning away to nothing.
This is the end, according to Aristotle,
what we have all been waiting for,
what everything comes down to,
the destination we cannot help imagining,
a streak of light in the sky,
a hat on a peg, and outside the cabin, falling leaves.

50 Things I Learned at the Wild Goose Festival

~ Friday, July 1st, 2011

1. MaryAnn is a great driver and doesn’t need any help from me putting on the passenger side imaginary brakes or adding sounds from me to the sights in the rearview and side mirrors, warning her of impending “danger.”
2. Margaret is a child of endless energy, and when there’s a “party” and people around, she doesn’t want to miss a thing, with something as unnecessary as sleep.
3. When I think that Caroline doesn’t want to be involved with the yarn ceremony because she’s sitting there looking rather unengaged, I shouldn’t assume that. Truth be told, she may have been more involved with it than anyone else.

4. A shower under the stars works wonders for the psyche.
5. I don’t really need to shampoo my hair every day. It felt clean even after 3 days of heat and sun and hat-hair.
6. Frank Schaeffer would have been a great preacher like his Dad, but I’m glad he is doing what he’s doing and writing what he’s writing. My favorite line of his from his latest book: “One of the things I love most about being with my grandchildren is that they only know me now.”
7. Peter Rollins continues to make me scratch my head about what he says, but I enjoy him while he’s saying it with that cute Northern Ireland dialect.
8. Billy Jonas is a true gift from god.
9. Air conditioning is not ever overrated.
10. It makes my daughter sad that I’m so hooked on being connected and that I shy away from the sounds of silence.
11. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese tastes the same cooked over a Coleman stove as it does cooked in our home kitchens.
12. Ticks are painless and you only know you have one on you if you really examine your whole naked body.
13. Unitarians can have fun at a “christian” festival, or at least a “spiritual” festival.
14. Heat does strange things to people, and a good night’s sleep works wonders.
15. Duct tape doesn’t fix everything.
16. It’s really pretty easy to strike up a conversation with a stranger.
17. Kids need an ice-breaker (glo-sticks) too when meeting new kids.
18. Jim Wallis’s advice to our leaders (President Obama) is easier said than done.
19. North Caroline is a very pretty state.
20. Ostrich burgers taste a little like beef and a little like chicken.
21. If you’re going to camp on an incline, you absolutely should not put your nylon sleeping bag on a slick air mattress.
22. My skepticism a year ago when I first heard about them wanting to hold a Wild Goose Festival this year is not something I’m proud of.
23. 2 sprained ankles don’t slow me down much, unless I sit for a couple of hours and then try to walk on them.
24. Robert Dana is the “go-to” parent for my granddaughters when everything else fails to comfort them.
25. I am delighted when someone comes up to MaryAnn and asks her what her last name is and upon hearing it they say “I’ve read your stuff” (or something to that effect).
26. I can actually go 4 whole days camping without getting one mosquito bite (and no, I never even touched the bug spray).
27. Sunscreen is not ever overrated, and I’ve got an appointment with a dermatologist to check out that strange little spot on my arm.
28. Porta-potties aren’t all that bad, if they are tended to regularly (but you still shouldn’t look down).
29. Poison ivy can easily be avoided.
30. Wild blackberries are sometimes not black, but red, and wonderfully sour.
31. When carting my camping gear from my apartment to the metro, I got tons of stares from people, probably thinking “well, there goes another homeless person.”
32. I can still dump a ton of money on a 4-day campout if there are books and CDs to buy.
33. Crackle Barrel is still the go-to place for Val-o-milks, biscuits, and fried okra.
34.Walmart doesn’t have everything one needs.
35. The engineering of outdoor camping gazebos has changed over the years, for the better.
36. A Barbie movie on my iPad is a good thing to wind down to, if you’re 5 and 8 years old.
37. Not hearing the news for 4 days isn’t the end of the world.
38. Having enough wifi to see that NY passed marriage equality on Friday night was a thrill.
39. I can actually go several hours after I wake up without coffee.
40. Clogs are not as good as tennis shoes when walking over uneven terrain.
41. How does anyone camp without having bags of ice, readily available?
42. Music soothes the soul, but sometimes you just wish they would have closed the Main Stage a little earlier.
43. It was fun to camp with the families, but I sometimes wondered what kind of mischief the other campers were getting in to.
44. Although camping at Woodstock ’99 prepared me for any camping experience I may have going forward, Wild Goose was no Woodstock (but that’s a good thing) (although I loved Woodstock!)
45. Really enjoyed my Monday back at work…sitting at my desk, in A/C, with a potty down the hall, and all my creature comforts.
46. You don’t need a man to set up a tent.
47. Kids can go days without ever missing the fact that they haven’t had a bath.
48. Just when you think you’ve got it all planned out, it’s necessary to hit the reset button, make a new plan, and go with it. We learned from Friday and Saturday benefitted from it.
49. I-95 isn’t always horrendous.
50. I want to go again next year.

I want America to be as good as she imagined it.

~ Thursday, January 13th, 2011


Obama’s Triumph in Tucson -The President’s Speech by Joe Klein

Barack Obama spoke to the city of Tucson, and to the United States of America, not so much as our President tonight, but as a member of our family. He spoke as a son–I couldn’t help but think of his personal regret over not being by his mother’s side when she passed as he said, “Did we spend enough time with an aging parent, we wonder.” You could see the devastation insinuate itself onto, and then be quietly willed away from, his face. He spoke as a brother to his fellow public servants, killed and wounded in the events–an eager brother bringing the glad tidings the Gabrielle Giffords had opened her eyes. He repeated it, joyously, three times. But most of all, he spoke as a father–rising to a glorious peak describing the departed 9-year-old, Christine Taylor Green, a girl near the age of his daughters, whose own deaths, perhaps in the line of fire, he had so clearly been thinking about. And he spoke, more broadly, as the head of our national family, comforting, uplifting, scolding a little, nudging us toward our better angels.

It was a remarkably personal speech, effortlessly sweeping away any notion of pomposity, over-intellectuality or distance. It was written and delivered in plain English. It summoned images, and emotions, that every American–even those who cannot countenance his legitimacy–could relate to and be moved by. His description of the victims was at the heart of it: Judge Roll went to mass every day. George and Dot Morris had a 50-year honeymoon. Dorwan and Mavy Stoddard lost their teenaged love and then regained it many years later. Phyllis Schneck sat quilting under her favorite tree. We all know them–and we know people like Daniel Hernandez, big and loyal and kindly, who would have stopped a bullet to save his boss, but saved her instead by tending to her wounds and begging her to hold on. Their ordinary decency, simply evoked, made the tragedy our own. Their simple nobility beggared the absurd screech of the debate surrounding this terrible event. His appreciation of their humanity was an appeciation of our own.

And in summoning the community and the nation and the Congresswoman that Christine Taylor Green imagined we are, he summoned for us the country that we should be. On this night. certainly, he was the President she–and we–imagined he might be. On this night, finally, he became President of all the people. It was a privilege to behold.

Going from consumer to do-er

~ Saturday, January 1st, 2011

This was a stark realization of how my preferences have shifted over the years. In filling out the Groupon survey so that they could customize “deals” just for me, I found my selections startling:

Beannacht

~ Monday, November 29th, 2010


Beannacht (Gaelic word for blessing) by John O’Donohue

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.
And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.
When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.
May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

Conversations

~ Monday, November 29th, 2010


One of the many blessings I experienced this Thanksgiving weekend, was listening to the interview between Krista Tippett and the Irish poet and philosopher John O’Donohue.

Here’s a meaningful takeaway for me:

And the question is when is the last time that you had a great conversation, a conversation which wasn’t just two intersecting monologues, which is what passes for conversation a lot in this culture. But when had you last a great conversation, in which you overheard yourself saying things that you never knew you knew. That you heard yourself receiving from somebody words that absolutely found places within you that you thought you had lost and a sense of an event of a conversation that brought the two of you on to a different plane. And then fourthly, a conversation that continued to sing in your mind for weeks afterwards?

Something eventually will happen

~ Sunday, October 24th, 2010

“This is an absolute necessity for anybody today: You must have a room, or a certain hour of the day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.”
– Joseph Campbell, ‘The Power of Myth’