Whosoever is delighted in solitude, is either a wild beast or a god.
Plato, Protag..I 337, (via wordsnquotes)
Our real journey in life is interior; it is a matter of growth, deepening, and of an ever greater surrender to the creative action of love and grace in our hearts. Never was it more necessary for us to respond to that action.
Thomas Merton
A strange desire to write.
There hasn’t been much of this lately. In fact, there has been a slight emphasis to not write, to instead think (really think, as in give yourself a thought and stick with it for ten, twenty, thirty minutes…to not let go of it; to ask the same questions over and over and again hoping for new answers, hoping for some new understanding to arise up within you), to meditate and grow your own compassion, to sometimes cry at the mistakes you have made in your years, or to focus and absorb the things around you rather than turn inside yourself to the emotions and creations of fantasy in your head.
You’ve been convinced to go and find the Real, and the fantasy, the encouragement of supposition: Oh man, you’ve decided that has got to go. Oh man—is that right?
This actually all began with emotion.
Today, coming back from a day of simplicity and complexity at work—ease in too well-trained knowledge, ease in my impending departure—a friend offered up one of his favorite covers, that of Bon Iver’s,“Pretty Love”, and offered to play it for me while I drove. Music has always played perhaps a too sentimental role in my life, songs forever associated with places and times and emotions, and the moment notes filled the car I was over five years in the past, thinking of a girl that had left me, and spending a terrible, terrible night listening to this album and drinking wine until I couldn’t anymore, knowing that it was all over. That working toward love, inherent and obvious and crippling love to me, meant nothing without the other doing the same. That I was leaving soon. That her voice would leave with me.
There’s an intellectual side of me that analyzes all of this and tries to find the universal compassion that is inherent in it. There is now a part of me that rejects such emotion’s attachment to situations or others, and instead searches only in the power that the emotion itself has. One, studied in Tibetan Buddhism, might say that I am searching for the Rigpa. One might say I am simply still coping. You can pick which one you assign to me—it doesn’t matter what you choose. There is the principle and the others: I know what I know, and you know your own. The rest is simply dark waves hitting the beach with an incomprehensible forever.
There’s a beautiful myth in many cultures that has the hero sinking into the belly of the whale. Those of us in the Western culture think of Jonah, but Christianity doesn’t have a monopoly on the unconscious. Going lower, going deeper, whether in correspondence or in my own thoughts and writings, forced in the morning or organic in the evening, these are all moments of humanity that I am trying to understand. And, in many ways, I feel as though I am still there, even five years after the fact. I pray and I meditate. I change in countless ways to others around me. I notice myself changing and am pleased even as I remind myself to never expect applause. Changes are recognitions—changes are growth—there is only one growth toward which we can thoughtfully and lovingly change.
Deepening. More of the inwards of the world to explore. Music to settle my soul in the meantime.
Oh, how I love the world and my stupid, insignificant place in it.
It’s time to go home. And it’s time to realize that home doesn’t exist anywhere but within.

A strange desire to write.

There hasn’t been much of this lately. In fact, there has been a slight emphasis to not write, to instead think (really think, as in give yourself a thought and stick with it for ten, twenty, thirty minutes…to not let go of it; to ask the same questions over and over and again hoping for new answers, hoping for some new understanding to arise up within you), to meditate and grow your own compassion, to sometimes cry at the mistakes you have made in your years, or to focus and absorb the things around you rather than turn inside yourself to the emotions and creations of fantasy in your head.

You’ve been convinced to go and find the Real, and the fantasy, the encouragement of supposition: Oh man, you’ve decided that has got to go. Oh man—is that right?

This actually all began with emotion.

Today, coming back from a day of simplicity and complexity at work—ease in too well-trained knowledge, ease in my impending departure—a friend offered up one of his favorite covers, that of Bon Iver’s,“Pretty Love”, and offered to play it for me while I drove. Music has always played perhaps a too sentimental role in my life, songs forever associated with places and times and emotions, and the moment notes filled the car I was over five years in the past, thinking of a girl that had left me, and spending a terrible, terrible night listening to this album and drinking wine until I couldn’t anymore, knowing that it was all over. That working toward love, inherent and obvious and crippling love to me, meant nothing without the other doing the same. That I was leaving soon. That her voice would leave with me.

There’s an intellectual side of me that analyzes all of this and tries to find the universal compassion that is inherent in it. There is now a part of me that rejects such emotion’s attachment to situations or others, and instead searches only in the power that the emotion itself has. One, studied in Tibetan Buddhism, might say that I am searching for the Rigpa. One might say I am simply still coping. You can pick which one you assign to me—it doesn’t matter what you choose. There is the principle and the others: I know what I know, and you know your own. The rest is simply dark waves hitting the beach with an incomprehensible forever.

There’s a beautiful myth in many cultures that has the hero sinking into the belly of the whale. Those of us in the Western culture think of Jonah, but Christianity doesn’t have a monopoly on the unconscious. Going lower, going deeper, whether in correspondence or in my own thoughts and writings, forced in the morning or organic in the evening, these are all moments of humanity that I am trying to understand. And, in many ways, I feel as though I am still there, even five years after the fact. I pray and I meditate. I change in countless ways to others around me. I notice myself changing and am pleased even as I remind myself to never expect applause. Changes are recognitions—changes are growth—there is only one growth toward which we can thoughtfully and lovingly change.

Deepening. More of the inwards of the world to explore. Music to settle my soul in the meantime.

Oh, how I love the world and my stupid, insignificant place in it.

It’s time to go home. And it’s time to realize that home doesn’t exist anywhere but within.

Everything in nature is lyrical in its ideal existence, tragic in its fate, and comic in its existence.
George Santayana (via apoetreflects)
…a little weariness’ll change a lot of things.
Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

What was the self?

You wanted a life of causes, but it was all effects: you could never get before.

Finding meaning in the meaningless was no kind of meaning, but you were satisfied with meaningness.

Luck is a skill, as is beauty, intelligence—all things you’re born with. It can almost ruin you, the belief that you can choose.

I watch a baby in a restaurant play with a plastic Slinky.

The only way past is through.

Elisa Gabbert, from “The Self Unstable”

Let Us Stay

Let there be soft space in the outcome,
a possibility we might overgrow our borders,

become whole counties of light. Let us remember
this season, our chins tucked, our hard lean

into gray wind. Let the heart go rich with moss.
Let it have no footprints. Let the sun bleach

the bones of words you no longer need.
Let the birds sing in orange and red.

Let the underfoot miles go. Let everything you touch
name you. Let it be a long kiss. Let us stay

until Sirius skips his scorched heart like a stone
through the last spokes of darkness.

Nicole Terez Dutton

I see humanity as a family that as hardly met. I see the meeting of people, bodies, thoughts, emotions or actions as the start of most change. Each link created by a meeting is like a filament, which, if they were all visible, would make the world look as though it is covered with gossamer. Every individual is connected to others, loosely or closely, by a unique combination of filaments, which stretch across the frontiers of space and time. Every individual assembles past loyalties, present needs and vision of the future in a web of different contours, with the help of heterogeneous elements borrowed from other individuals; and this constant give-and-take has been the main stimulus of humanity’s energy. Once people see themselves as influencing on another, they cannot be merely victims: anyone, however modest, then becomes a person capable of making a difference, minute though it might be, to the shape of reality. New attitudes are not promulgated by law, but spread, almost like an infection, from one person to another.

The dispute about how to achieve a better life, whether it should be by individual effort or by collective action, has no point any more, because they are two sides of these ams coin. It is difficult to do anything without help or inspiration from outside oneself. Individual struggles have simultaneously been collective ones. All the rest movements of protest against contempt, segregation and exclusion involve an infinite number of personal acts by individuals, making a small change in the whole by what they learn from each other, and by the way they treat others. To feel isolated is to be unaware of the filaments which link one to the past and to parts of the globe on may never have seen.

Theodore Zeldin, An Intimate History of Humanity
And now we pause for an offering to the cat gods which rule the Internet.

And now we pause for an offering to the cat gods which rule the Internet.

When one wants to be profoundly oneself, one puts oneself on a plane that is partly incommunicable.
We’ve been using the word ‘epiphany’ too lightly lately. But there have been epiphanies all the same.
How about we start the conversation with an apology? We all have so much to apologize for—from the time I joined in the bullying of Eric on a Boy Scout trip, all of us sitting in trees like a crows while we threw snowballs down on him, his fists clinched as he marched resolutely through our fire, to the time I was carelessly kicking rocks in a church parking lot and I maimed a blackbird and ran over to see it bleeding from its beak, flapping on the ground, stunned with what the enormity of what fate had sent its way—all actions of ours are imperfect, are sometimes careless, and at their worst, are mindless and searching only for visceral realization. With no sense of the Real, we hunt it blindly, and are stunned at the ripples we send outward when we suddenly land into its calm and placid waters.
But we learn. At least, I have hope that we can learn. And though my efforts have always seemed selfish, have seemed self-focused, there was always the question of what this self-perfection was for; for whom was it for? Could I dedicate myself to culture without dedicating myself the imperfect beings that help create it? Could I dedicate myself to knowledge without admitting the crazed men and women who had helped to create the books I admired so much; could I forget their insane and uncontrolled lives? How much could I dedicate myself to inequality when I was inherently such a massive part of it, if I represented it through my job and my privilege?
There is a pause in every moment where we decide between ourselves and others. There is a settling where we retract ourselves and attempt to see others beyond our own involvement. And hopefully, there is a moment of emotion where we see a simple equation of where we could help and where we could not, and we choose. The training that makes up our lives, that makes up our beings, is not in the reviews or critics or hopes of success—the real lessons come when we forget ourselves and ask only what action next brings another closer to Truth; to the release of Suffering; to a moment where these actions can make a positive difference. This is the creation of catharsis, through conversation, through art, through everyday actions that speak of the desire to bring others only toward the gravitas of love. There is no condescension in this moment—it asks only for right understanding and right words, something that we may say to relieve their burden, not to take it on ourselves, but to say that the burden need not be carried at all.
We should learn the power of being silent. We should learn the power of our words.
The point to realize is that there are no stories of the Buddha making anyone cry; the point to realize is that we are all Buddhas, waiting to be born.
The point is we have all been born—we all will die. And I hope, and pray, and meditate toward a moment where the only desire I have left plaintively calls that I do as much as I can in the time that I have been given. 

We’ve been using the word ‘epiphany’ too lightly lately. But there have been epiphanies all the same.

How about we start the conversation with an apology? We all have so much to apologize for—from the time I joined in the bullying of Eric on a Boy Scout trip, all of us sitting in trees like a crows while we threw snowballs down on him, his fists clinched as he marched resolutely through our fire, to the time I was carelessly kicking rocks in a church parking lot and I maimed a blackbird and ran over to see it bleeding from its beak, flapping on the ground, stunned with what the enormity of what fate had sent its way—all actions of ours are imperfect, are sometimes careless, and at their worst, are mindless and searching only for visceral realization. With no sense of the Real, we hunt it blindly, and are stunned at the ripples we send outward when we suddenly land into its calm and placid waters.

But we learn. At least, I have hope that we can learn. And though my efforts have always seemed selfish, have seemed self-focused, there was always the question of what this self-perfection was for; for whom was it for? Could I dedicate myself to culture without dedicating myself the imperfect beings that help create it? Could I dedicate myself to knowledge without admitting the crazed men and women who had helped to create the books I admired so much; could I forget their insane and uncontrolled lives? How much could I dedicate myself to inequality when I was inherently such a massive part of it, if I represented it through my job and my privilege?

There is a pause in every moment where we decide between ourselves and others. There is a settling where we retract ourselves and attempt to see others beyond our own involvement. And hopefully, there is a moment of emotion where we see a simple equation of where we could help and where we could not, and we choose. The training that makes up our lives, that makes up our beings, is not in the reviews or critics or hopes of success—the real lessons come when we forget ourselves and ask only what action next brings another closer to Truth; to the release of Suffering; to a moment where these actions can make a positive difference. This is the creation of catharsis, through conversation, through art, through everyday actions that speak of the desire to bring others only toward the gravitas of love. There is no condescension in this moment—it asks only for right understanding and right words, something that we may say to relieve their burden, not to take it on ourselves, but to say that the burden need not be carried at all.

We should learn the power of being silent. We should learn the power of our words.

The point to realize is that there are no stories of the Buddha making anyone cry; the point to realize is that we are all Buddhas, waiting to be born.

The point is we have all been born—we all will die. And I hope, and pray, and meditate toward a moment where the only desire I have left plaintively calls that I do as much as I can in the time that I have been given. 

Westward, Expanded Definition

1. [phenomenon] The redacted “unreasonable.” The manner in which eyebrows vault skyward in disbelief, or in which a knife cleanly slid over flesh becomes tart, uncomplicated language; the sweep of shoreline in repose, a face over coffee or open ocean dreaming in sifted gold. Any shoreline Any dark interior. Landscape rich with the suggestion of further sky and highways welting vast stretches of wilderness. The price of passage. The hunger to go.

2. [phenomenon] Gangster syndicate with Queen’s orders, fluent pox like English. The cavalcade movement of men, women and children upon the shores and fanning out. The God upon their tongue like a lead bullet, a fever, a willfully dismantled village, people, tradition, language or landscape.

3. [direction] Sunset driven into, minivan with socks; unshaven sleepiness and the narrow sprawl of club dates from coast to coast, series of sad motels in pastel disrepair, handfuls of telephone quarters, guitars that call us by the names our mothers age, the body as cathedral of many chambered noise

4. [symbol] Covered wagon. Puritan cornucopia of savage fruit and gizzards, full-throttle stallions lathered toward El Dorado. Horizon overbrimming velvet saloon bustier and dust covered whiskey tin. Plague of little post-prairie prairie houses. Compulsory Carolina exodus parade from mangrove to dustbowl. Compulsory school bus echo. The whitewater river running through it. Klan hand-blasted visage of four dead presidents in the mountains of promised land.

5. [phenomenon] The production of ghosted landscape, the shackle music and weight upon bones, the ski pitch of the full-bellied boat; God of speed toward another coast, a place more closely resembling the end of the world.

6. [phenomenon] Restlessness of spirit. Open sky opening. Land far and beyond the proportion of personal otherhood. Orchestration without time signature. Towns shrunk down to past tense on the horizon. Hysteria dressed in the flames of dying maple and momentum, strings vibrating against a landscape without buffalo, red wolf, short-necked Chicksaw ponies, bees, barley. It is a big sound, the heart tumbling around cold water tenements and canyons, the rusted-down bottling plant, fallow malls, sleepy costal towns after the season parade of detritus and corn dogs, the thoroughfare abandoned, fewer daylight hours lapping against night.

7. [phenomenon] Tripping. Police on the highway flagging down the suspicious. Convenient and aggressively vague definition of suspicious. A prison sentence without charge, without trial, without term. A habit of disappearing all squeaky wheels, encouragement toward silence. Offering a mutable dictionary. A night seared by sirens, a moment shrunken to a noose. A voice that replaces one’s own, and stepping form the crushed throat into bright air, strains its verbs against uniformed bodies of Hell no.

8. [phenomenon] The making of exquisite noise. The survival of genius. Genius transmission via underlanguage, overtongue, intersong, transhamonic polymorphorhythm, visual drumbeat, quilted scrapings, adornment, basket grass, indigo stained palm, spice, hidden alphabet, dance constant agitation, sweet hurricane of song.

9. [location] Geographical location famous for promise of gold. A direction less than one hundred years from where young girls stand in dresses the color of faded everything, bonnets and skirts, like bells filled with wind. Fields that become dustbin to bigger ideas, squat towns thrown like a poker dice, space between them scarred with rails. The unmarked grave and pogrom latitude. Territory upon which whole town were swallowed by fire. Where men shoot at bison from the windows of passing trains, the place where they fall and fall.

10. [interrogative] The multiplicity of questions. Can you? Jag a little music there; make it all the way to the ocean. Move steadily without expanding with possession; without becoming full as a tick; a hide wasted in prairie wheat, swollen cumulous of flies. Can you read the winds and their constant shifting. Learn the ghosts in every landscape. Remember their names. Know where you are.

Nicole Terez Dutton

"A weird, lovely, fantastic object out of nature like Delicate Arch has the curious ability to remind us—like rock and sunlight and wind and wilderness—that out there is a different world, older and greater and deeper by far than ours, a world which surrounds and sustains the little world of men as sea and sky surround and sustain a ship. The shock of the real. For a little while we are again able to see, as the child sees, a world of marvels. For a few moments we discover that nothing can be taken for granted, for if this ring of stone is marvelous then all which shaped it is marvelous, and our journey here on earth, able to see and touch and hear in the midst of tangible and mysterious things-in-themselves, is the most strange and daring of all adventures.”
-Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

"A weird, lovely, fantastic object out of nature like Delicate Arch has the curious ability to remind us—like rock and sunlight and wind and wilderness—that out there is a different world, older and greater and deeper by far than ours, a world which surrounds and sustains the little world of men as sea and sky surround and sustain a ship. The shock of the real. For a little while we are again able to see, as the child sees, a world of marvels. For a few moments we discover that nothing can be taken for granted, for if this ring of stone is marvelous then all which shaped it is marvelous, and our journey here on earth, able to see and touch and hear in the midst of tangible and mysterious things-in-themselves, is the most strange and daring of all adventures.”

-Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

Give me silence, water, hope
Give me struggle, iron, volcanoes
Pablo Neruda