The Hits Keep Coming

The next thing I read after You’ve got to be kind popped up in my RSS reader was Hating People is Easy. Loving Them Isn’t. Read to the end. Genesis B. is taking kindness into radical territory.

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You’ve got to be kind

The headline writers for MarketWatch have to be humble or have strong egos. The market moves after they write often falsifying what they wrote. Writing anything in a public place can be like that. The day after I wrote Kindness Forward, Austin Kleon, a local writer, did the subject better. I will be kind and gracious and link to his post, You’ve got to be kind.

Or I suppose, we can all write without looking in the rear view mirror.

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Grooks are haiku for scientists and engineers written in runes instead of ideo- or picto-grams. The term was coined by Piet Hein, a Danish poet, inventor, and scientist. My description is about as helpful as describing a haiku as a three line poem with a certain syllable count about nature and seasons. Both descriptions are mostly useful in the rearview mirror, “Oh, that was a haiku/grook.” Both grooks and haiku are short, though grooks are more fluid in form. Humor is often a part. Both unfold on close reading into more depth than first apparent.

Piet Hein wrote over 7000 grooks that are collected into 20 volumes, all of which are out of print. My favorite is:

Problems worthy
of attack
prove their worth
by hitting back.

This grook with its illustration by Piet Hein and four others is available here. A more extensive collection is at Archimedes’ Lab. Hein started writing grooks are getting them published as part of the Danish Resistance to the Nazis, a form of activism or resistance, I find playing more to my strengths and avoiding my weaknesses. So maybe I should add activists and resistors to the audience in the first sentence. His first published grook is:

Losing one glove
is certainly painful,
but nothing
compared to the pain
of losing one,
throwing away the other,
and finding
the first one again.

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Kindness Forward

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

The Dalai Lama

For those not as enlightened as the Dalai Lama and unwilling to wait for the results of thousands of hours of meditation, David Brooks has some suggestions in his latest column in the New York Times, Kindness Is a Skill – Practical tips for fighting a culture of savagery. I find his commentary on events in America at right angles to the usual left-right divide. It’s refreshing to get a new look from a different angle instead of the same old party lines and talking point.

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Dystopias with Light Visible

Most of the Ursula LeGuin books I’ve read are dystopias, not unescapable darkness, but unsettling visions of possible futures or scenarios. The Word for World is Forest is a disturbing portrait of evil even more relevant in these days of #meToo. The Earthsea Trilogy is another mix of light and dark and one of my favorite series.

My most recent LeGuin reads, The Telling and the Left Hand of Darkness, are definitely dystopias, but with a difference. There is some light visible, some way, difficult perhaps, out of the darkness and toward the light. They are both critiques and messages of hope.

We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable — but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words.

To read more of LeGuin’s thoughts on writing, and writing for change, see Words are My Matter and Maria Popov’s Freedom and Creative Vitality in a Market Society: Ursula K. Le Guin on Saving Books from Profiteering and Commodification.

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Weighted Pros and Cons

Listing Pros and Cons (points for and against a decision) is familiar and I’ve used it many times. It forms a foundation under more sophisticated decision making techniques like modern versions of Ignatius of Loyala‘s discernment. Mostly when I’m done I look at the length of the two lists and usually it’s pretty clear which way to go.

Recently I encountered an improvement on it, How to Make Difficult Decisions: Benjamin Franklin’s Pioneering Pros and Cons Framework. Benjamin Franklin apparently developed the technique. In the delightful Brain Pickings, Maria Popov’s commentary includes something that was lost along the way, pairing one to a few points from each column that are about equal weight and removing them. What’s left over may give a clearer direction.

Warning: Brain Pickings is wonderful and can lead you to spend too much time following links to other posts. Maria is incredibly prolific and there is a lot of good stuff here. My suggestion, set a timer (1 hour) and stick to it. You can pick up again tomorrow.

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One Coyote

     One Coyote

There in the night,
   a coyote choir,
   atop the ring of cliffs,
surrounding us,

How many? I cannot tell.
   Voices rising, falling, together.

Oddly together.

Coyote's mask slips.

One coyote sings
   to the cliffs
and they sing back,
   an acoustic Hall of Mirrors.

And for all the coyotes we hear,
   we recognize the one voice
of Coyote.

The 2018 Waco WordFest in now ended.  One Coyote was part of the anthology.

This version is how I read it.  The version in the anthology has a different last line of the second to last stanza.  This version is clearer meaning and has better rhythm.

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Waco WordFest 2018 Anthology launch

My poem “One Coyote” was accepted for the 2018 Waco WordFest Anthology. The book launch is October 6, 7-9pm at the Waco Convention Center. The WordFest is part of the Waco ArtFest so there may be other events happening there. I will be reading my poem as well as many other fine poets.  If you are in the area, come on by.  If not, I will post it on this blog when I get back.  Enjoy.

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Three Bookmark Journal

Like most writers, I carry around a notebook for ideas, first drafts, Morning Pages, and the occasional class assignment. I bookmark my progress filling pages.

Later I edit and rework on the computer. A bookmark marks the next draft needing entry. If something leads me to enter drafts out of order, I simply mark it off with a check mark in the margin.

Austin Kleon and others advocate revisiting notebooks. When re-reading notebooks I have another bookmark.

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Mindfulness Is/Isn’t

Recently I read somewhere, “Mindfulness is heart, mind, and body in the same place.”  It sounded good at the time and I understand the intent, but it isn’t wearing well with time. On reflection, I think it sets the bar too high. It may be better used as a compass, a direction to practice toward, than a goal. A more accurate statement may be Nirvana or enlightenment is heart, mind, and body in the same place. Not having experienced enlightenment, I may be making the same mistake in a different place. Mindfulness is being aware of the split and not rushing to alleviate it.

After living elsewhere for twenty years, I still find my heart and occasionally my mind back where I grew up. It is still where we vacatio. It is a beautiful place with pleasant weather. Many people with money agree and have bid the prices up out of my range. That’s a mind thing. They aren’t the people I grew up with and are not nice to live among. The landscape hasn’t changed. It’s still beautiful. That’s a heart thing.

Spiritual bypass would be to pretend it’s not so. I’m beyond that. To insist that nothing less than all in the same place is mindfulness is to cut off the bottom rungs of the ladder.

Mindfulness is staying aware of reality: internal, external, emotional, physical, and intellectual. And sitting with the awareness, not pretending it is otherwise.

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