Posts tagged: philosophy friday

Old Books, New Perspectives

By , July 11, 2019

None of us can fully escape this blindness [of our own age], but we shall certainly increase it, and weaken our guard against it, if we read only modern books. . . The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books.

-C. S. Lewis

I ran across this quote in a quote book I have, and I agree with it. It puts a finger on the feeling I got after I read two old books recently — that feeling of getting the long-range view.

I think it feels good to get a dose of perspective.

The two books were:

A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary 1785-1812. By Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. I found this book to be so interesting I could read it again, even though I usually bypass books about history. It isn’t so much a detailed midwifery record as a day-to-day record of a moment in time on the Maine frontier (what’s now Portland) in the late 1700s, from a woman’s perspective. Since it’s Martha’s personal diary record and not just ‘the highlights’ of a life, there’s a real window into what the daily grind was like. The author does an absolutely excellent job with this book; it’s obvious how much time and care she put into it. After reading it I discovered it had won a Pulitzer Prize for History. I found this book by chance on the clearance rack at my favorite used bookstore, and not knowing what it was I took a 50-cent chance on it. I heartily recommend it.

Peig: The Autobiography of Peig Sayers of the Great Blasket Island. By Peig Sayers. I’m interested in the Blasket Islands and this book has been on my mental list for over a decade. I was so surprised to see it in a neighborhood “library-on-a-stick” on my bike ride to work last summer. It’s about Peig’s life growing up in rural Ireland in the late 1800s until her death in the 1950s. I wasn’t as riveted by this book because it didn’t go into enough detail about life on the Blaskets (Peig moved there only after marriage), but I’m glad I read it so I could hear her tell the realities and concerns of life at that time, in that place. It’s not a long book, and I found it worthwhile.

Reading is the only way you can get this stuff — perspective from centuries ago, straight from the horse’s mouth.

It seems to me that every era has its headaches, troubles, and complications. Do we ever really move ahead? Or do we just travel down the track, swapping one set of struggles for another?

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Quote for Today

By , August 6, 2013

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We do not see the world as it is. We see it as we are.

(-without cited source)

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Visualization, by Lindsey

By , February 20, 2013

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Think of a time when you felt so free, so strong within yourself, where you were having the time of your life, completely in your element.

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Close your eyes. Go there to that exact moment. Breathe it in and re-incorporate it into your being.

Breathe the YOU in that moment…into yourself here in this moment.

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Let that effervescent experience be your medicine in this moment.

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Nope, slower than that~

By , January 24, 2013

In figuring out what works the best for each of us in our own lives, I think it’s helpful to sample the extremes through personal experience; we figure out what we do want, and what we don’t want.

I fractured a bone in my hand (my dominant hand, naturally), so I’m sampling the extreme of being-rather-than-doing. No art. No sewing. No major projects. Very minimal writing (I miss that especially). Minimal typing.

More reading…more sitting…more thinking and pondering. More time spent working around my hand to do things I want to, and have to, do — like preparing food. While it is an extreme — and I very much look forward to having my hand back — being forcibly disallowed to do much of what I’d normally be doing allows me to see, more and more, that I’m happiest when living a very simple life, conducted at a pleasant pace. I feel like I’ve said a variation of this so many times here before, I think I’m starting to sound like a broken record.

I’ve certainly sampled the other extreme — of living frenzied and stressed, always with one eye on the clock. And I sure didn’t like that. I’m learning, now, how to live a new pace of life that’s much more viable for me, and far less likely to result in general life burnout. My inclination has always been busyness and activity, with minimal lounge-around time, so pacing myself feels very strange sometimes. But when I downshift my whole pace, I arrive at the end of each day feeling more balanced and not so drained.

As I lay on the acupuncture table yesterday, words drifted into my head… I wish I could remember exactly what they were… something about “Learn to live comfortably in the slow, quiet moments. That’s when life’s the most enjoyable.”

And later as I mentioned to my acupuncturist that I often feel ill-at-ease during days of lower energy and minimal activity or accomplishment, worried that I’m not doing something concrete toward my future… she replied “There’ll be plenty of time for all that. And really, all we have is time.” All we have is time! I’d never had that thought before. It’s true. A long time, a short time, that’s not for us to know… But all we do have is time.

Let us make sure we are enjoying the time we have. Because otherwise, what’s the point!

(And let us try not to be worrying why this is the second bone that has broken, under only moderate impact, in under a year’s time…)

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Philosophy Friday: Bare feet on the earth

By , January 18, 2013

For many thousands and thousands of years, human beings had contact with the earth for the better part of each day. Walking barefoot or with shoes made from natural plant or animal materials; sleeping on the earth; touching plants, animals, trees, lakes, soil, oceans.

Wild animals have this connection, still.

I’ve noticed that children try to hang on to this connection as long as possible — preferring bare feet above shoes, and a trickling stream to splash in above even the most enticing indoor activity.

It tickled me to see children in New Zealand walking to school barefooted.

I’ve watched children throwing tantrums and have noticed that they will often throw themselves onto the ground during the tantrum. It does feel better to lie on the earth when you are hurting. I remember times of deep grief soon after losing my soul sister Sonja, where the only place I wanted to be was flat on my stomach on the grass in the back yard — and so there I stayed until the earth had absorbed all my tears.

Once, I was nearly hit by a car while crossing a busy intersection on foot; it was as if I had been invisible and the car simply didn’t even see me.  The close call really spooked me. Once I was safely across the street I was so shaken that the only thing I could do was make a primal beeline for the nearest tree and lean my whole body against its trunk. It wasn’t something my conscious mind even thought about — I had never actually hugged a tree before. I couldn’t believe how good it felt.

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If your winter weather allows you to be outside barefooted on the grass or the dirt or the beach (or barefoot in the snow as I remember doing as a kid!), then take advantage.

Put yourself directly onto the earth.

If it’s too cold for bare feet, or too snowy to sit on the grass…have you tried hugging a tree? Wrapping your arms around it and pressing your cheek against its bark? Mmmmmm.

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After some serious single-digit cold weather, we’re having a string of 50°+ days. So my cat and I go outside, each of us barefooted, to connect ourselves to the earth. And one of us particularly enjoys rolling in dirt.

Collecting celery seed yesterday afternoon

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Waiting

By , September 19, 2012

The energies must really be flying; have you felt the intensity? I’ve had a rough time of it lately; “severely distressed” would not be understating it. I feel awfully uneasy when I begin brushing against the outermost edge of my sanity, feeling trapped on all sides by that which feels utterly hopeless, questions I don’t have answers to, have-to’s I don’t want to face, and complex decisions that need to be made which will have very real ramifications now and in the future.

But it’s a solitary experience that one can only resolve for oneself; nobody else can, or should, do it for you. So outwardly, while I quietly peel apples at the table, inside I feel blown apart amidst the deafening maelstrom.

And my poor Honey, too, is mucking through much, and we both walk around with furrowed brows, preoccupied with what weighs so heavily upon each of us.

Such intensity right now.

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At times it feels like the most that I can muster is to just wait. Wait, and hope that it please just starts feeling lighter.

So whenever I can, I insert into my day that which is as light and life-affirming as possible.

I make applesauce from the apples off our tree. I have tea. I sit outside and put my face in the sun. I go barefoot. I read fluffy magazines (because that’s all I really feel like doing right now anyway, cause I’ve just about been done in otherwise). I cook cool things in my solar oven. I sing to my kitty-cat and attune myself to her zen-like vibe. I hug F, and hug him again. I sit by the garden in the long shadows of the evening.

And slowly, I work through these decisions — pairing purposeful action with sitting peacefully within the unknowing (still practicing), and at the end of the day, simply hoping it’ll all turn out okay.

Slowly, the world feels a tad lighter.

And then the next day, maybe even a little lighter still.

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Calendula

Solar-powered sun jar

A cup of tea, thoroughly enjoyed.

Apple peeling

Applesauce making

The mice are active in prep for autumn, so Liz too has been active.

Waiting for mice

She caught a moth here near the light, and is waiting in case of another one.

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Philosophy Friday: The Most Valuable Thing You’ll Ever Own

By , August 17, 2012

Yesterday I was telling you about the resting day I had. How often we all need these rest days and don’t take them! What if, when our bodies insisted on them, we actually rearranged our schedule to accommodate?

What if we treated our bodies as if they were the most valuable thing we will ever own? Because, they are!

I think our culture is too mind centered. We think we can heal our bodies with our minds, while simultaneously disrespecting them and driving them into the ground by continuing the frantic pace we set for ourselves. Positivity of thought is part of it, but I believe it’s not the only part; if we just give it a minute, our bodies can heal themselves in near-miraculous ways, without any mental intervention at all. Sleep, as I’ve discovered over and over and over through my life, is the Number One Healer. When we have the flu, we don’t get rid of it by repeating “I’m totally healthy! Totally healthy!” whilst ignoring our body and maintaining our frenzy even though we feel awful. No. We get rid of it by going to bed and sleeping and letting our body do its thing.

Let’s respect our bodies and work with them. They’re not pitted against us. They love us. We just have to learn to listen and heed their message better, I think. They’ll tell us what we need to do. We have to shut off our brains and listen, though!

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That rest day I took felt so wonderful. To not struggle against my tiredness was a relief. I’m naturally a doer… I don’t sit still very long before I pop back up and am doing something again. There’s so much I love to do and am interested in, that I find it very hard to rest! — partly because resting can feel boring. So if you don’t want to sleep, you might look through a fun magazine (Sunset, Coastal Living, Martha Stewart Living, and Mother Earth News are all faves of mine). Or draw. Or sit on your front porch and watch the world go by. Or read. Or listen to music. Or load an audio book onto your MP3 player if you’re too tired to read. Or close your eyes and just think, and allow your mind to go wherever it wants to (I’m a big fan of this one; maybe that’s a post for another day).

I’m still learning. It can be a tricky mental shift to tune in and work with my body instead of ignoring it in favor of the activities my mind wants to do.

Are you still learning, too?

What are some of your favorite restful activities?

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Thought-Word-Action

By , June 5, 2012

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Replace the words “I wish” with “I will.”

Dwell on things you will do and figure out a way to do them.

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Unfortunately I don’t know who said these words, but they are wise indeed.

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Quiet moments

By , June 1, 2012

When life gets too crazy, quiet moments do ground us back to earth. But quiet moments will rarely search us out, I find. They inhabit the shadows; if we’d like to have the grace of their presence, we must intend them. We must initiate them. We must arrange the time and the space…to bring them forth.

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**May you engineer some wonderfully quiet moments for yourself this weekend!!**

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