Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hedgehogs in motion

I'm feeling philosophical today. Perhaps it was brought on by five full days of sitting more-or-less in one place, listening to nature, conspicuously NOT producing anything. I'm feeling de-cluttered in a way I haven't been for about nine months. It's delicious and clean and, well, simple.

On the way back from our vacation, Beloved and I were listening to the audiobook version of our wonderful book club's next selection, The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. Two chapters in, it seems to me as if this is going to be one of those books I'll end up buying more than once because I keep thrusting it into the hands of all the readers in my life. You can find a synopsis at the link, so I won't bother with it here, but I have to say that Paloma–a mordant, intellectual, twelve-year old genius–will stay with me long after I finish the book. She has created a project for herself: to keep a journal of Profound Thoughts. I'll offer three of them here for your consideration:
  • (Art is) the beauty that is there in the world; things that, being part of the movement of life, elevate us...grace, beauty, harmony, intensity.
Paloma understands Major Works of Art (and has a fondness for Vermeer), but doesn't see them as the only containers for artistic expression; for her, art is both ever-present (like Meister Eckhart's image of God as a "great underground river") and something that must be sought, held and practiced.

Movement is a major intellectual theme for Paloma. Her observations thus far encompass not only the way we're defined by the direction we're pointed, but the way that progress (or even the anticipation of progress) irrevocably alters us:
  • Most people, when they move, well, they just move depending on whatever's around them. At this very moment, as I'm writing, Constitution the cat is going by with her tummy dragging close to the floor. This cat has absolutely nothing constructive to do in life, and still she is heading toward something–probably an armchair–and you can tell by the way she is moving that she is headed toward. Maman just went by on her way to the front door. She's going out shopping, and in fact, she already is out, her movement anticipating itself. I don't really know how to explain it, but when we move we are in a way destructured by our movement toward something. We are both here and at the same time not here, because we're already in the process of going elsewhere.
It's not simply our attitude that changes (which we can-do Americans hold as Tremendously Significant), but our fundamental nature. Simultaneous presence and absence...if you've ever tried to hold a conversation with someone who's absorbed in their TV program/text message/insert-your-pet-distraction-here, you know what this means. But to what effect on the person who's in two places at once? Paloma again:
  • What makes the strength of a warrior isn't the energy he uses trying to intimidate the other guy by sending him a whole lot of signals; it's the strength he's able to concentrate within himself by staying centered.
Food for thought, no?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday five: Remember me?

Hi, everyone–it's been a while, and I've missed you! But here I am, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, redesigned and looking forward to coming back to the Reef.

RevGal Jan writes:

As I opened up my computer this morning, I directly went to my blog and RevGals to see what the newest Friday Five would be! Nothing was here, which seemed odd. Then I went to look at the calendar and counted the Fridays, and it is the THIRD Friday! How did that happen so quickly? It's my turn, so here's a quickie:

1. Do you tend to be a late person or one who is timely, arriving on time or earlier?

I'm used to being the one who runs the meeting/rehearsal/event, which means that I take being prepared and punctual seriously–it's a matter of respecting those good souls who have volunteered their time and effort for that which I've asked. It backs up on me sometimes, though:
  • I'm (unreasonably?) irritated by lateness. I know that life sometimes gets in the way, but I have a hard time not seeing habitual lateness as a sign of disrespect.
  • I drive Beloved nuts when we're going somewhere together–I'm the little bouncing animal gasping "Are you ready? Can we go? We're gonna be laaaaaaate!" She is gracious about this. :-)

2. Have you forgotten anything of importance lately?

The list of things I've forgotten lately is l-o-n-g. It's been an unusually stressful program year, and I've been in recovery mode for the last couple of weeks–and thus, not at the top of my game. But I'm working on it...and I get to go and sit beside a lake with Beloved for five days starting late next week. Huzzah, I say!

3. Is procrastination your inclination? Why or why not?

It depends. If it's a book or something over which I have creative control, I'm likely to go great guns until it's done, even months ahead of the deadline. But sometimes I have a hard time dragging myself off the couch to do another load of laundry!

4. Do you like schedules or spontaneity? Which works best for you?

I like spontaneity; I function better with schedules.

5. How do you stay on track with the various things you need to, people you must meet, etc., etc.?

My laptop has helped a lot, I think. WiFi and Google calendars and instant access to email. That having been said, I have 3 email accounts and 3 voicemail boxes to keep track of, which is a bit wearing.

BONUS: Whatever comes to mind about forgetfulness or lateness.

What was the question?