Web Camel Transport 7

The Happiness of Inverse Proportions: Humble Dog/ Small god

Monday, February 8, 2016

I heard the roof creaking in the wee hours and exhalations from the old refrigerator. I imagined waking to piles of snow, but then, I didn’t hear any plows and, indeed, this morning the tarmac is black and some of the slippery iced divots have coalesced into fewer locations by the wind. The wind has also swept drier the smoother surface of the parking lot. And I am both edgy and curious to see what the wind will bring. How much snow? How heavy? How havoc-wreaking with my schedule for the day? At least my seven and eight o’clock appointments will arrive. Both have confirmed.

I woke thinking about happiness at its most emotionally elevated. Euphoria: a rapture of singing nerve endings and a mind expanding gymnastically. Euphoria is a magical address like Alice’s Wonderland where possibilities seem endless and infinite and the present bubbles in the vast cauldron of itself. Euphoria engulfs. There is some brinksmanship to jumping into the cauldron. But once in, we are consumed, awed, permeable, permissive, dis-inhibited.

And yet, like a thin silk cord, a vein of attention sluices off a bit of down-light from such heat and effulgence. And then we experience more dimming, more cooling, in an unconscious self-reclaiming, self-regulatory process.

Soon the down-light, the softening, begins to feel good, in its own diminutive way, as does sleepiness feel relieving after a full day, or an empty mind after a problem is solved meticulously. Our bodies humbly serve our illustrious ambitions and unfettered imaginations like obedient dogs, but only to the point where the leash is stretched to its maximum tautness between the two realms. We are both the dogs and their small gods, tethered on this precious planet, but afloat in a vast space.

Is happiness the spice or the meal, the ecstatic mirage or the camel’s back? The dance or catching the breath?

Guest saddle: What’s one of your euphoric experiences or imaginings? How did you recover? Who are you as ‘dog?’ Who are you as ‘small god?’

Web Camel Transport 6

Glass Half Full / Half Empty

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Happiness, or love, is in the eye of the beholder, whatever the adage. Perspective is everything. But we tend toward bifurcation in the ways we think. We have lefts and rights, ups and downs, high roads and low roads, good and bad, devastation and restoration. Yet, those polarities describe the extremes. Extremes are rarer than middles, in reality.

We are mixes of traits and characteristics. We are spectrum dwellers. We are park rangers on a landscape of continua—subtly, granularly, evolutionarily recapitulating eons of  shifts in the surround.

We are always toggling in our perspective. Someone close to us dies young and we reflect on the bigger existential issues: Are we living a good life, are we developing our best selves? Serving the good of all? And then an hour later, we are thinking about what luncheon to serve our guests who will arrive hungry in two hours, and whether there is time enough to shop for the food, prepare the lunch and do a load or two of laundry. We read a newspaper article about Sudanese refugees who have arrived in Manchester, New Hampshire with barely any clothing let alone plans for a future. And our hearts go out to them, perhaps a donation. And then we are thinking about losing weight, about paperwork piled on the desk that needs going through. Toggle, toggle. Microscopic; telescopic; ever changing lenses.

Everything moves, gyrates, rumbles, ribs, redistributes, fills and empties. Our glass overflows and then we sip from it or share it around.  It sits on the counter, refills, empties out completely when tipped upside down, only a few drops remaining on its interior walls.

This filling, this emptying, this beauteous dance captivates and vitalizes. Our very cells recognize the flux, the process, how this process has sameness and yet, also, the marvel of nothing exactly reiterative—more an endless set of echoes than restatements.

‘Happy’ is familiar spiced with nuance, or novel mellowed by the known. Both and.  Both and.

Guest saddle:  What did you behold with awe today, or marvel, or even a speck of curiosity?  What enlivened your eyes, your ears, or quickened your heart beat?  What did you forget to notice, or pass by in a fog?  What awaits your happy attention or atunement?

Web Camel Transport 5

Oohs and Aahs

Saturday February 6. 2016

Who wouldn’t happiness include in such an un-doctored juncture of mind and snow heavy trees–suddenly lit by golden caps of sun in the late afternoon. A small palette of colors, a short window until New England dark descends, and a surprising view challenge Megan and me to grab her camera and capture such ephemera in ‘oohs and aahs’ for lack of more explicit words.

Early this morning, even the relatively drab appearance of the sky cannot quash some anticipatory spark as each hint of sun delights.

To apprehend with a gossamer mind might illuminate what’s been previously unthinkable–living in the shadow of assumed impossibility. And to have close to hand a quirky hammer for nailing the unusual thought to an open-ended wall for further contemplation.

Attention, attention, I cannot think of a greater gift one being can offer to another but an undivided beam of warm and curious attention. But we are sitting, these days, at tables whose place settings include, not only forks and knives, but phones and IPADS, for the main meal. Our faces, like sunken moons, live in their borrowed light.

Happiness is unplugged, unfettered, free and in-the-face, before and after the followers and unfollowers, the friends and unfriends, the glued and unglued have documented their moments in coffee spoons or shot glasses or Instagrams.

The ludic inventiveness of mind, so so happy, and reflected in these complex toys and applications, becomes dulled by the overuse of these contrivances. As if inventiveness might erase the need for itself because of its inventions. But that is a drab thought. Not a happy one.

The camel stretches, awaiting marching orders on this mostly uncharted terrain of happiness. Such vast sands of possibility juxtaposed against the trackless snow of this New England morning.

Guest saddle: Upon what or whom do you lavish your attention? What grows in the beam of it?


Web Camel Transport 4

Jahk = -Jahk:  A Bad Math

Friday February 5, 2016

Jahk = -Jahk

A terrible equation, Jahk has his math facts mixed up. He walks around in a perpetually negative mindset and worse, he forces it on others without recognizing the impact. Jihl, typically a +Jihl, whether she cleans out a linen closet or solves a knotty business problem at work, leaves a room of neutral Dihks and Jayhns a bit more buoyant and lighthearted than when she entered. But by the water cooler –Jahk +Jihl = -Jahk/-Jihl.

It takes Jihl a few hours to let the negative energy imparted to her by Jahk filter through her so she can release it innocuously into the surrounding environment.

A ton of negative human energy weighs nothing on a scale and is unseen by the human eye, yet it can sink a spirit, a nation, a planet, and cause conflicts on microscopic and macroscopic levels. A ton of camel sh#t would be easier to clean up than a ton of human negativity.

If you are happily mindful you may be able to greet your own or others’ negativity as easily as in Rumi’s poem, The Guest House: “The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.” The happy narrator has already alchemized their purposes to gold, to light, to forerunners of future delight.

In Florence Scovel Shinn’s book, The Game of Life, written in the 1950’s, she says something like, “Every failure is a link in the chain of your success.”

Minus Jahk has a minus mindset. In contrast, Jihl lives simply and is without a fancy car, a big house, a significant other. To her those simple “minus” facts of her life have no power to define her energetic output.

Guest saddle:  Do you put a minus or a plus at the beginning of yourself, at the interface between you and others, you and your world?  Do you buoy others or weight them down with your presence?  Who lightens or lifts you?  What weighs you down in a choppy sea?

Web Camel Transport 3

The Mouth of Fear

Thursday February 4, 2016

Anyone’s most off-putting threshold is fear: Fear of the tigers facing you in the savanna with their hungry maws and powerful legs, or of the spectral tigers known as: Failure, Reject, Ignorant, Presumptuous, Ridiculous, Worthless. . .

But when we are Lili’s age we simply chew on tiger tail. The world is food or not-food; worthy of mouthing for taste, texture, shape, and the momentary satiation of endless curiosity. For a lucky baby the world has not exposed her tigers yet, but the pack of tigers bide their time, waiting to take over the world of oysters and pearls.

Guest saddle:  Who are your tigers?  Who would you be and what would you do if you could move past them, or if they swirled around fast enough to turn into butter?

Web Camel Transport 2

Spoonful by Spoonful

Wednesday February 3, 2016

I read of a man who digested glass. I heard an NPR story one time about a woman who remembered her life day by day and hour by hour. It reminds me of ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ by T.S. Eliot, these lines:

“In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;”

What is it she remembers, this woman with a documentary mind? The smells of Thanksgiving? The sadness of Uncle Ricky’s untimely departure from the planet? Or that they had mushroom gravy in 1961 at exactly 2:30 as they sat by the wintry window in Lexington when she was an age you can count on two hands, just once?

Memory is identity’s strand of silk, and the pearls its nacreous stories. I remember eating plastic pearls when I was eight and knew they were not meant to be eaten. Maybe I was eating stories. Maybe I’m making up this story. There is a mirage ahead.
Imagination doesn’t live in the body though the brain feeds it. Imagination gloriously underestimates the time it takes to do things because it’s all wild stallions leaping out of  earth-time’s corral.

Guest saddle:  What parts of your life are measured?  What imagined?

Web Camel Transport 1


Tuesday February 2, 2016

4 AM: I say ‘Happy Birthday Me,’ in a whisper, but definitely out loud, not subvocally.  At 5:40 AM the phone alarm’s coaxing tones sound. “Happy Birthday Me!” I say one more time, a bit louder. Shimmery, like silver strands in a beaded purse, I shimmy in the thought that this is to be my year of happiness. I will make it happ(y)en every day.

Any kind of happiness will do: the cheesy sentimental kind, the recreational, superficial sort we call ‘fun,’ the meaningful variety derived from using myself well and expressing my signature strengths, and finally the bigger-than-me kind where those silver strands envelop others who need a little radiance.

All day buoyancy lifts me on waves of ebullience and through valleys of depletion. I seek only what is readily available to me for time, for food, for movement.

The fur of the old camel hardly shows where I have been sitting as he plods across the deserts and desserts of time.

Guest saddle:  What have you made happ(y)en today?