Saturday, September 04, 2010
My father always said God gave us work to keep us out of trouble. I think he was right.
All of us on Spark People work.
Some of us herd cows.
Some of us raise horses.
Some of us are librarians, some teachers.
Some of us are medical providers.
Some of us are website designers.
Some of us are tax collectors.
Some of us work taking care of small children, or elderly parents.
Some of us mow lawns or plant flowers.
Most of us clean house, do laundry and cook meals.
Itís all work, and something to celebrate. So letís all celebrate work this Labor Day, and hope it keeps us out of trouble.
By Katha Pollitt
Adam was happy -- now he had someone to blame
for everything: shipwrecks, Troy,
the gray face in the mirror.
Eve was happy -- now he would always need her.
She walked on boldly, swaying her beautiful hips.
The serpent admired his emerald coat,
the Angel burst into flames
(he'd never approved of them, and he was right).
Even God was secretly pleased: Let
The dog had no regrets, trotting by Adam's side
self-importantly, glad to be rid
of the lion, the toad, the basilisk, the white-footed mouse,
who were also happy and forgot their names immediately.
Only the Tree of Knowledge stood forlorn,
its small hard bitter crab apples
glinting high up, in a twilight of black leaves.
How pleasant it had been, how unexpected
to have been, however briefly,
the center of attention.
Katha Pollitt (born October 14, 1949) is an American feminist poet, essayist and critic.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Today I am sharing an amazing poem I discovered a couple of years ago. It was written by a twentieth century American poet, Jack Gilbert. I was first attracted to this poem by the scene at the end of standing in a boat in a dark harbor, listening to the sound of oars. Being on the water at night is so beautiful and peaceful.
The poet seems to be saying that in spite of all the sorrow and suffering in the world, there is also beauty and laughter, and we should enjoy them.
See what you think.
A Brief for the Defense
Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because thatís what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music, despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafťs and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
I had yoga class again on Tuesday. Yogi Clare couldn't be there, but we had a lovely Asian lady named JK to lead us. I am beginning to get just a glimmer of insight into what yoga may be about. Those of you who do yoga regularly can let me know if I'm on the right track.
Yoga is not just about twisting your body into weird shapes. It is more about being mindful of your body and movement, even the movement of your breath. We spent several minutes lying on the floor focusing on our breathing, not trying to breath in any particular way at first, but just being mindful of how we were breathing. We got up slowly. In fact, all our movements were slow and deliberate. It seemed like the movement from one pose to another was as important as the pose itself. The journey was as important as the destination. I found it all very appealing.
On Thursday I went to my weight lifting class and again the coach was talking about being mindful of our bodies and how we were moving. We are not just to toss weights around, we are to lift slowly and return slowly with a focus on form. We had fun, too, bouncing around on Stability Balls, being mindful of our balance.
It's odd that I heard the word "mindful" in both classes. Or maybe not so odd. Spark People teaches us to practice mindful eating. Now I am learning mindful movement.
My poem to share today is one I've loved since I was a child. It seems particularly appropriate for summer.
by Edna Casler Joll
Every child should know a hill,
And the clean joy of running down its long slope
With the wind in his hair.
He should know a tree --
The comfort of its cool lap of shade,
And the supple strength of its arms
Balancing him between earth and sky
So he is a creature of both.
He should know bits of singing water
The strange mysteries of its depths,
And the long sweet grasses that border it.
Every child should know some scrap
Of uninterrupted sky, to shout against;
And have one star, dependable and bright.
For wishing on.
Thursday, July 01, 2010
I went to my first yoga class this week, and thought I would share it with you all.
Our instructor is Yogi Clare, who looks like a little round Buddha. She has a round knot of gray hair on top of her head, round cheeks, and a round belly. I was chastised early on for talking too loudly to my neighbor. Apparently one is supposed to whisper during yoga, or better yet be calmly silent. Asking me to be silent is like asking me to touch my toes, but with practice I hope to be able to do both. If Yogi Clare can sit on the floor with her legs out straight and lean forward to grab her own feet, there is no reason why I can't get there, too.
We did some very simple stretching and poses. I am so not limber, and my balance isn't so great, either. Moving slowly and stretching gently is just what I need. Yogi Clare is quite encouraging and takes into account your current physical abilities. The class is called "gentle yoga" and is designed for those who may have physical limitations. One class member has MS, one has artificial knees, one has arthritis, and one is almost blind. I felt right at home.
I've been trying to do some of the moves at home. I know this is going to take practice. Once a week in class won't be enough for me to gain the strength and stability I want.
If you're considering yoga, but are afraid you're too old, too stiff or too type A, I say give it a try. You are not competing against anyone but yourself in yoga and you can move at your own pace.
Just remember to whisper.
Here is a little poem by Dorothy Parker that I love:
The ladies men admire, I've heard,
Would shudder at a wicked word.
Their candle gives a single light;
They'd rather stay at home at night.
They do not keep awake till three,
Nor read erotic poetry.
They never sanction the impure,
Nor recognize an overture.
They shrink from powders and from paints...
So far, I've had no complaints.
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