Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Slogger

OLD SONG
by Robert Creeley

Take off your clothes, love,
And come to me.

Soon will the sun be breaking
Over yon sea.

And all of our hairs be white, love,
For aught we do

And all our nights be one, love,
For all we knew.


"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience."  --Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Tonight, I am hungry for bed, hungry for diversion, hungry for something new.  I am feeling a low-grade boredom with my own mind, which means it is time for me to switch something up: either how I am treating my body or my mind or both.  I overslept this morning, which means the secretary (my dog) is getting canned.  All of this is to say, Tomorrow is another day!

I am reading a book called Swimming to Antarctica, which is written by the long-distance swimmer Lynne Cox, who broke the world record crossing the English Chanel when she was fifteen.  She has these big teams of people who help her before and during the swim, and this woman's focus and motivation is just astounding.  I keep coming back to her utter humility in the face of her strength and speed, two things that she develops in training, certainly, but also seem to be particular to her natural-born body.  The other thing that strikes me is her reliance on her family members, friends, and the swimming professionals in her community and around the world, who all contribute to the development of her goals and plans.  The amount of aid that goes into one swim is incredible. I am moved, imagining the grace and humility it takes to accept that help in order to accomplish her truly wild dreams. 

I've been thinking a lot about the balance between receptivity and action lately. I don't have a whole lot more to say about that, except that I suppose finding that balance is a lifetime's pursuit.  Maybe I should say, a lifetime's art.


I watched an interview with a yoga teacher who says that she starts out asking herself when she wakes in the morning, What do you need to bring this day into balance?  She really talks to herself (and also calls herself, Baby girl.  Last part is optional, I would think).

For a long time, I have been wanting to quote from a beautiful Louise Erdrich novel called (are you ready?) The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse.  My father, who is famous in our family for the time he asked if anyone wanted to go see Roberthood at the movie theater, has passed along to me a few traits: his muscular legs, a troubling certainty about always being right, and a tendency to innocently butcher the names of things.  Oh, alright, he also passed along some dashing wit and fanciful genes, but stop it.  You are too kind!  

When I first started reading Erdrich's novel, last fall, it took several weeks for me to get the name correct.  But it is worth it.  Remember it.  Read it.  I dare you.

What I love about the book (no spoilers here) is its reverence for the experience of human life on the earth.  The book combines intimate portraits of life on the spiritual path with an exuberant love song to life in the flesh.  I just realized that this phrase gives me particular delight.  As do the sex scenes in TLROTMALNH. 

So, a little bit, from a section called The Sermon to the Snakes.  (See?  There is a church built into the side of a mountain.  And the floor slithers with snakes.  It's gorgeous in the novel, trust me.  Not at all Indiana Jonesey (though my brother will lament this).) 

"I am like you," said Father Damien to the snakes, "curious and small." He dropped his arms.  "Like you, I poise alertly and open my senses to try to read the air, the clouds, the sun's slant, the little movements of the animals, all in the hope I will learn the secret of whether I am loved."

The passage is much longer but I cannot find the exact chapter I wanted to laud. Too many months have passed.  So, I will go now, leave the snakes of the past and dive back into Cox's book, to swim with more dolphins in the water alongside her.  Adieu, blessed beings!  May the new moon guide our way home.

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