Saturday, December 31, 2005

On Christmas Day, in a very quiet BART station, the saxophone player played scales up and down, over and over, as if to get those notes back from Christmas songs, so they could be used for any music.

On New Year's Eve, the rain and wind are dancing hard to give all of us a bracing shower, so we can start clean, new, invigorated, and humble.

Humble because if walking down the street in a straight line is a challenge I can't quite meet, I may know less than I think I know about everything. Hello. I'm ready to learn to be ready for the actual music reality now offers, the previous music being kindly and firmly whisked out of my head.
Sometimes when two people are walking down the street side by side, it looks like they are holding hands even though, physically, they aren't.

Friday, December 30, 2005

During the run-up to a war, I see women in public touching their hearts.

Looking at supermarket choices, waiting for the light to change, watching kids at the playground, women gently hold fingertips of one hand at the center of themselves right above their breasts.

We pledge allegiance.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Beneath my feet a ways down the earth is molten, hot metal that would hurt me to death, but not from hear. Above the clouds a ways is the sun, so hot it would kill me long before I got here.

I'm in the perfect place between impossiblities to walk around and go "hmm. . . ."

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

One way that I'm not too smart is that I think inanimate objects are inanimate.

Some of the wisest people I've known in my life know that that isn't true.

They know that everything is alive. Different objects bring different styles to being alive, but alive they all are.

I'm very open to knowing this but I don't. One way that believing this is true without having any internal experience of it being true has affected me is a wonder about bus seat repitition.

When I ride on the same bus system and the same lines for years, as I have my whole adult life, how often am I actually sitting on the very same physical seat? If I knew, maybe I could say hi to the seat. I don't think there's anyway to know. I don't even know what the odds are at all. I don't have any idea if Muni runs the same cars on the same lines or if they are all switched around all the time.

When objects, like bus seats, are mass produced I tend to forget that each one is its own unique self. Hi, there, bus seat, this bus seat, with your own atoms and molecules and history is not really something I know how to say. I try now and then. It is a large and interesting world, though the powers that be often act like they know the crowd easier to control is the individuals in the crowd are routinely rather deadened to their surroundings.

There's a book about part of the idea that object=living object. It's called "Panpsychism in the West," and it is about the idea that everything, every single thing, has consciousness. It's from MIT Press--is that a cool source or what? I saw an ad for it in "The Times Literary Supplement." I know that such books from such sources are often hyper-dry to show they aren't flakey. I'm glad to know it's out there.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Improved meta--An asterisk at the start means I wrote this today or added to it today.
When I add to something already written, I'll put an asterisk where the new words start.
Passing the kid in the stroller, I smiled at her. She glared back at me, as if saying, "You're just like all the others. Trying to cheer me up."

Maybe she was expecting to land on a mellower planet and still hasn't adjusted.

Go, tot, go. You've got a right to your moods.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

happy merry change is good

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

O frabjous day! My overhead lightbulb burned out when I turned it on at 7:30 this morning. Pretty cool, to start the solstice, the shortest day, the longest night with a burnt out light bulb. Makes it feel like I'm there with the larger program. Or the larger program is there with me.

It wasn't my bedside light that burned out, considerately enough, as that would have been more inconvenient. Rather it was the light above, directly over the unabridged dictionary of the English language.

Perhaps the message is that really big days, like the day when the light, from our short human perspective, turns around, aren't about words. Big days, nature-based big days, may be about being here and noticing what happens and letting it happen through me, if that's what it wants.

Charles Dickens wrote lots of sentences, and the best one was, "God bless us every one."

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

"Here comes the sun,
Here comes the sun,
And I say, it's all right."

--George Harrison

I think he's got a point, you know.

Monday, December 19, 2005

"A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens is divided into three books, which are called Recalled to Life, The Golden Thread, and The Track of the Storm.

Any one of those would make a good name for a band or a good t-shirt for a casually dressed healer.

In the movie "Resurrection," Ellen Burstyn plays a healer, someone who can physically heal sick people.

In one scene, she heals a person by holding on tight as the person goes through some intense difficulty--pain plus. You can see the healer's innate powers and persistence turning the track of the storm into the golden thread which holds us together and keeps us here.

The healer had been just your basic good suburban human being living a good domestic life until she got very sick and almost died. Medically, she did die, in fact, and had that near death vision of almost getting to a really great place and then coming back to good old, non-fabulous here.

When she gets back, she can heal people directly, by touching them. She does heal people. She refuses to give a brand name to her power, which upsets some people. It upsets some people a lot that she won't say "the fact that I can heal people shows that your theories about reality are true."

It isn't easy, but she finds a way to keep on healing, keep on holding on, keep on giving the golden thread another way in.
The young man with the skateboard went down off the curb and up onto the curb three different ways. Then he said to his friends, "Curbs are fun."

Let this city live that we may learn, inch by inch, to love it all.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The city called by English speakers Munich is called by the people who live there Munchen, with two dots over the u.

That means monks. German has several ways to make plural endings, one being to add on en. English basically grew out of one form of German with lots of one form of French blended in
The -en ending from German lives on in English in men, women, and children.

Munich, Munchen was a city founded where there were already some monks. At that time Europe was awash in professional prayers. Not that they were all necessarily sincere and hard-working, as with any job, but having so many who were supposed to be praying had to increase the total amount of prayers.

There are now fewer professional prayers in the world than there used to be.

Which means this is the hour for amateur praying. A lot of people who say they believe in nothing whatsoever will do something like praying for someone they love when that person is sick or hurt or in danger.

I think it would be good for more and more people to access that kind of prayer like activity for the whole thing, or for parts of the whole thing that come to their attention.

Traditionally, professional prayers didn't get out much. Now people like me get out a lot more than we used of would have. Few if any women a hundred years ago had my freedom to walk about a city and see what up and hope for the best, vibe for the best like I do.

Freedom plus whatever passes for prayer when there is real need could help the world in a new way. Someone always on the spot to pray in exactly the right prayish way for exactly what's needed.

Though I always let whoever, whatever I've praying to proofread my prayers. Only give it if it's a good thing to give. You see bigger and longer than I do.

Munchen was founded as a city because a noble wanted to make money on the salt trade that came in and out of Salzberg, which is to say, Salt City. The traffic to and from Salt City all went through another city which got the trade and taxed the passersby.

The nobleman wanted some of that money and founded Munich where the monks were, and that worked. He got the traffic and made the money.

That kind of thinking is still going on and working in the way it works. Prayer needs to find new ways.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

I can't believe that BART police are still tall men after all these years.

Other police departments, notably the San Francisco Police Department, have changed around height so women and minorities--and shorter white men--can get in.

I'm a shade under 6 feet tall, and BART police keep being as tall as or taller than me, so odd.

Also odd is the number of women--very few.

So I pass a couple of BART police (men) standing still by a BART station pillar as they wait to catch fare evaders, which must be a huge proportion of their work. They loom above me.

I take the elevator out of the BART station and there are a couple of San Francisco police, a little shorter than me, ready to take on anything--shoot-outs, traffic wrecks, domestic violence--uner six feet, trained, experienced and up to the job.

And people who catch fare evaders have to be tall.

It looks like a decent job for someone to have. BART is a government agency. Something is amiss. This decent job doesn't look very available to the vast, talented under-six-foot group.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


I'll be off line, off email, off this blog, on December 25 and December 26 because the library is closed.
What would you know if it were safe for you to know anything?

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Learning to walk is like crossing a bridge that the kid custom-builds with every step. You've done new stuff before.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

we make the road by dancing

se hace el camino al bailar

Which is a good poster to start the day with, on a pole at Valencia and Market.

I remember a friend telling me about a dream she had where she was looking at a picture of an eroded hillside in a textbook on soil science.

Then she was sitting at the bottom of that same eroded hillside with a group of women. They were looking at the hillside and doing what needed to be done, while sitting still together, to heal it.

And it got better in a few minutes, green and flourishing, not eroded at all, lots of soil filled with many plants.

Because they knew how to do something we could do if we knew how.

I reminded my friend of this dream to tell her how much it meant to me. She didn't remember having it or telling me about it. She was all for it. It was just like how she thinks and what she believes but she didn't remember it.

I used to open the mail, the editorial mail, at an alternative magazine, The CoEvolution Quarterly. Mail filled with the effects of hope--good ideas, great idea, and some ugly lunacy, now and then, because hope is a dangerous place to hang out. But this instance I'm remembering wasn't about lunacy, but about cluelessness, mine, in not being about to see hope when it was right before my eyes,

I slit open an envelope and a snapshot fell out, of nothing. I said to myself, "Why did someone send in a snapshot of nothing?"

It was a picture taken of rock, flat rock, just a rock surface, nothing else. So?

The letter explained that this was a truly eroded hillside. The topsoil had been washed away, and the sub soil, and all that was left was rock.

Except for one thing, which I didn't see. It was right there on this small picture and I didn't notice.

The guy who took the picture had found a crack in the rock in the hillside. He had jammed a little stone into it in a way that it would slow down a little water running down the hillside.

The slowed down water had dropped a little soil. Over more rainstorms the water dropped more soil, and seeds. Enough soil and seeds accumulated that some grass was growing, a few blades of grass, behind the stone on the eroded hillside.

Which is why this guy had planted the stone, to have that effect in a year or tow or three.

He danced around eroded hillside in his area playing what he called "sliprock chess." Placing the stones so they would slow the water and catch the soil and seeds.

It worked.

He wrote that down at the bottom of a neighborhoods of eroded hillsides would be a big gully that was a raging rapids during the rain, and he couldn't do anything about it.

But way upstream before there was a stream he could do a lot, he could do the same wise thing again and again in different places.

All he had to be was smart to think of it, and patient and persistence and hardworking to do it. It's utterly doable.

His idea that most problems have a solution like that, where you can go way upstream, before the stream is a stream and you can help heal the problem without resistance and without glory just by working, by playing whatever sliprock chess is for that problem. The Earth and the inhabitants of the Earth accept and respond to many ways of saying, "I love you."

Which reminds me of course of what Shirley Chisolm said--"I don't care about what people say." And the way she said said, with the immensely authoritative language of the islands, implied a very demanding, "What are you doing?"

Once you get your own form of sliprock chess, you need only get up in the morning and do it, and then do it again the next day. Get tired, accept the blessing, and, now and then, feel the love bouncing back as you watch the grass grow where there was rock or see the road emerging beneath the dancing feet of you and friends.

(It is strikingly uncool that I don't remember the name of the sliprock chess guy.)

The poster that says "we make the road by dancing/se hace el camino al bailar is for a live salsa blow-out with Anthony Blea y su Charanga at SOMARTS 934 Brannan SF, Saturday December 2005, 6 p. m.-2 a. m., $25 to benefit the Coaliton on Homelessness' work to unite immigrant and non-immigrant families.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

So I whined to a friend about it being what passes for cold here.

Then I went to a thing at the Main Library with music by Hyo-shin Na (who was there and great to hear talk) played by the Del Sol String Quartet, who obviously were totally into playing this music, their bows going up and down all happy and intense. New classical style music, like this was, is a bit of a stretch for me, but one thing that always appeals is that the people who have chosen the path of new music love being on that path. The folks were just shining with the pioneering, not-nineteenth centuryness of it all.

One thing Hyo-shin Na said about them with intense gratitude is they rehearse a lot, something a new music composer clearly doesn't always get.

The first piece they played was "Song of the Beggars" which was based on two things.

It was based on a Korean folk song about beggars who would travel from one weekly or twice a week fair in Korea in the old days, and it's winter, and they are singing "shouldn't my parents have given me a better life than this."

"Song of the Beggars" was also based on a Shubert song about an organ grinder in Germany in winter. His fingers are cold and stiff; he keeps playing. The dogs bark at him; people ignore him; he keeps playing. He does the best he can.

The music embodies struggle; lots of fighting-type feeling, like the winter weather trying to get at the beggars in Korea and the organ grinder in Germany and make them give up. The first note is a long note played by the violist, a deep note as long as his slow slow bow could make it. Na Hyo-shin said she wrote it that way to show what it like when it's really hard. You repress everything and continue to struggle on a note that stays the same and leaves a lot and and is low.

So much for whining about California winter.

The Del Sol Quartet has existed in this particular combination of four people for about three years. They went through a time of playing music from the Americas, North and South. Which means twentieth and twenty-first century music as no one in the Americas was composing classical style music for the string quartet or any of its instruments before 1900.

Now they are playing music of the Pacific Rim, also post-1900. They thought of Na Hyo-shin, who was born in Korea, trained in composing in Korea and the U.S. and lives in San Francisco. Charlton Lee, of the quartet, said her excellent reputation and following in San Francisco helped them get funding for her big idea.

Because when they asked her to do something, she thought of sharing. She said how about bringing over five women composer from Korea and you learn something by each of them and something by me.

They like to rehearse. They like to learn new music by composer who weren't born in Austria or Germany. And, like I said, she has a reputation that makes grant getting easier.

So, this Friday, the Del Sol Quarter plays pieces at the Yerba Buena Center by six Korean women composers, all of whom will be there.

Del Sol Quartet

Friday, December 9, 2005 8 p.m.
Yerba Buena Center Forum
3rd and Mission
San Francisco CA

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

As I took the escalator down into the Embarcadero BART/Muni station, a really large sycamore leaf bumping around at the top of the escalator indicated that everything is going to be okay.

Okay meaning, in this case, quite good, in proportion to the outstanding, almost silly, size of the leaf.

The large leaf had fallen from one of the several non-large sycamore trees that had been transplanted fairly recently into a sidewalk grouping.

A leaf like that has occasion to know.

It has until recently been directly connected with the earth. It doesn't read newspapers, and so has perspective. It's been doing nature life in a very human-built area.

If the leaf is fairly optimistic in the midst of brick/concrete/stone, I can only let its informed optimism fall in my insides and compost me richer.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

In the later part of December, it starts to lighten up.
Planet Earth--It would be a better party if everyone were fed.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

A book of beauty called "Journey through the Ice Age" by Paul G. Bahn (writer) and Jean Vertan (photographer) has excellent photos and words about cave paintings and rock carvings and such like. It's the kind of book that reminds of what's good and interesting about humans.

This book clues me in that it is no longer the done thing to call cave paintings and all that "art" because we don't know why people made it. The idea is that "art" implies an aesthetic intention. The intention of these long ago people might have been religious, magic, community building, or some intention we can't imagine.

That line of thought implies that artists now have only aesthetic intentions and none of those other kinds of intentions

They certainly had better talk like they only have aesthetic intentions if they want to get taken seriously in the heady halls of power.

I had never heard of Helen Frankenthaler when I turned a corner in the LA County Museum of Art and walked into a room full of her paintings and was bowled by blessings.

I could feel the skilled, powerful blessing she'd used as she put the paint on the canvas and I could feel the blessing still happening live as the molecules of paint still enjoyed each other.

The air of the room was alive with blessing between the paintings.

Helen Frankenthaler paintings look like layers of liquid color beside and on top of each other.

The layers look much more liquid and freer than oil paint usually does because

1. She dilutes the oil paint a lot with turpentine so it actually is more liquid.

2. She flicks the paint onto untreated canvas, canvas left as fabric so the liquid can soak in and bleed freely. In the usual oil painting, the canvas is treated with gesso so it is more of a hard surface.

Helen Frankenthaler has said if you look at her paintings and can see first she did this and then she did that, that's a failed painting. She throws out the ones that look like that.

It has to look like it all happened now, the splash, the flow, the colors kissing now.

I felt the now in a raw good way when I first saw her work. The now continued from when she made it to when I saw it and continues on. When I think about these paintings I can still feel them being on the planet I'm on; I feel the point of it all more. I'm lucky to be on this planet with her paintings and with the cave paintings and many different marks of many intentions as we spin and zoom through space
Being sad is okay, makes sense.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Harvey Milk was an enemy of "I'm gonna."

When Harvey was around, you tell him in the morning you're going to do some good thing and he says, "When?" He sees you in the afternoon and says, "Have you yet?"

The Harvey Milk memorial move is generous intention into action in a New York minute--you know, starting slightly before now.

I thought of writing this down while walking past the building where Harvey Milk died, which figures. It's easy imagine Harvey Milk having an impatient, activist approach to being dead.

It's always an event to pass an activist on the street because they know what you should do, and they are hard to argue with if the your true inner rebuttal is, "No, I just want to live my little life and follow the path of least resistance, thank you very much."
Parents who let their kids chase pigeons might consider also letting their kids feed pigeons to show the kids another kind of power.
Grace is a way of moving. Grace is a surprise that is good.

Grace is a way of moving toward a surprise that is good.

Grace is knowing how to live amazed and gentle.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

When there is nothing to do, there may be something to be.