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Posts Tagged ‘quiet living’

Bloedel Reserve, Bainbridge Island, WA

I walk to work
The same hour each day
And make a time-lapse film
Frame by frame
To capture the passing year.

Buildings fall into vacant lots,
Rise from the rubble.
Storms flash overhead.
Cars blur past
Dreary commuters
Taking dreary steps
Toward dreary jobs.

But along the sidewalk,
Sweetgums grow
Tall, stately, serene,
Life in the grey and black canyons.

In winter, they sleep.
I walk wet pavement
Beneath dark, dripping skeletons.

With springtime sun,
Acid green buds
Burst open in an eyeblink
To shake new leaves
In the morning air.

My summer path leads
Beneath crinoline branches,
Silken leaves rustling,
Lazing in the light.

Autumn comes and the sun,
Tired out by long days,
Grows tardy.
The sweetgums sport fall fashions and,
For a few brief frames,
The sunrise and I,
Bleary-eyed,
Collars turned against the season’s chill,
Walk the streets together.

The sky is a purple shell.
The air is still.
The trees are dark,
Their branches garbed in orange and rust.
They do not rustle.
They do not shake.

They sizzle.

Deep within them, hidden by dying leaves,
A thousand starlings wake.
They greet the sunrise with
Gricks and whistles,
Creaks and pips.
I stand smiling
Beneath a thousand chittering mouths,
Listening to
The sound of butter in a hot skillet.

Sizzle. Pop. Hiss. Flutter. Zing.

A few more days,
A few more frames,
And the sun lags behind me.
The sweetgums now are silent,
Branches laden with sleeping birds.
Later still,
Once the trees drop their leafy frocks,
The starlings leave the city to winter’s cold,
And once more I walk alone
Beneath dark and bony boughs.

k

Typewriter

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Simple LivingMy world has become meaner, of late, and I’m guessing yours has, too.

Mean, in the sense of “harsh, spiteful, and cruel,” but also in the sense of “crude, lowly, or ignoble.”

Work, politics, society, and even some relationships have taken on a more callous, retributive aspect. People don’t want to listen — They don’t even want to care. — and it feels like the whole social contract has begun to unravel.

My world has indeed become more mean.

In response, I find that I have becoming meaner, as well. Patience has vanished. Reactions have intensified. Empathy has hit rock bottom.

And I hate it.

So I’m doing something about it.

I’m changing the only thing I can.

Me. (more…)

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It's a Trap!Last week, my wife had her 60th birthday.

So, naturally, I’ve been thinking about dying.

In the past few years, life has changed. My wife and I have buried three of our four parents, making me thoroughly cognizant of my own mortality and the fact that I will, someday, end. As a result, I’ve been reevaluating … everything … from relationships with friends and family to the mental gymnastics that, while I’ve been doing them my entire life, are merely bad habits left over from an insecure childhood.

Enter should. (more…)

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Recommendations

Gossamer WheelTake coffee with cream in a glass mug:
When the dollop of white plunges into the dark liquid depths, I see the beauty of swirling nebulae and brief-candle galaxies, fluid artwork made just for me.

Learn to cook at least one thing really well:
It not only provides my dearest ones with the anticipation and enjoyment of a favorite meal, but it also comes with a big side of love.

Enjoy five-minute vacations:
Be it windswept mountainside, lonely seashore, or busy coffee shop, having a personal oasis where I can relax enough to untie the knots of modern life makes getting through modern life a little bit easier, even if I only have time to imagine myself there for five minutes.

Observe the world’s cycles:
Whether it’s the Apache dance of dandelions across my lawn or the fact that my cat is most finicky during the dark of the moon, an appreciation of the long-phase patterns of life slows down the whizzing whirl of time and gives me time to catch my breath.

k

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The weather has turned cold here in Seattle. Nothing like what most of the nation is experiencing, to be sure, but cold nonetheless. The leaves that haven’t fallen are withered and frostbitten on their stems, and the remnants of Autumn’s glory now lie in patches of brown detritus scattered across the gardens.

Bloedel Reserve, Bainbridge Island, WAOn clear, cold afternoons, when the sky is a robin’s egg blue and the sun has just melted the frost off the shaggy lawns, I hear the machinery of modern yard maintenance fire up. Mowers, blowers, strimmers, and edgers set up a whirring, sputtering rumble that blankets the neighborhood as homeowners take advantage of a rainless November day.

For myself, I prefer to use manual tools when possible. The lawnmower, the strimmer, these I keep and use, but on bright autumn days I reach instead for the rake, the broom, and the shovel to tend my garden. I spend so much of my day working nothing but my mind–analyzing systems, cross-checking code, diagramming solutions, navigating interoffice politics–that the thought of surrounding myself with machinery and noise is abhorrent.

Before I step outside, I bundle up with scarf and gloves and quilted overshirt, but soon, as I warm to my task, these layers drop away. It takes me longer to tidy my garden than it does my more mechanized neighbors–yesterday, after a couple hours’ work, I only cleared out the patio and lower section of the back garden–but it’s a quieter time, and that’s what I want.

Peace. Serenity. Take in a clean, cold lungful of air and let it out in a frosty breath.

Repeat.

k

Typewriter

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Gossamer WheelThe Monkey-Boy Day Job has been a tooth-grinder this week, and it’s made me think of the Jewish ritual of havdalah. (more…)

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Simple Living

One evening, when I was courting my wife-to-be, we were at my place when the phone rang. Since we were talking, I ignored the phone. “Aren’t you going to answer that?” Nope. If it was important, they’d call back (I didn’t have an answering machine). This was my relationship with technology in those days. Technology was my servant, not the reverse.

Well, sometime during the last three decades, that has changed, so I’m just now coming off a full week of an “internet fast.”

Overall, I am surprised at how easy it was. I stuck to my “going dark” guidelines so successfully that when I tried to go back online, I found that all my little electronic connectimoids needed to be charged up. The computer, the tablet, even the smartphone had gone almost entirely unused for a whole week.

What did I miss? What didn’t I miss?

(more…)

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