Archive for September 2012

Not yet the end

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Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little.

~ Agnes De Mille

It was such a cool, beautiful morning, this last day of September, that I decided to take a walk along the Catawba river. I needed to clear my head.  If there’s one dominant thought in my mind these days…it’s what’s next? At times, it seems as if I’ve been left sitting on a bench at a bus stop…waiting for a bus that…I’m beginning to realize…is never going to arrive. It’s up to me to stand up…and start walking. But…in which direction?

Heading out, I stopped to pick up the mail. My mailbox is a mile down the gravel dirt road, where pavement announces the beginning of  the outside world. Apparently the Post Office will deliver up to this point…and no further. It’s not very convenient, but  I think I prefer it that way… makes me feel like an outlander of sorts. I was pleasantly surprised upon opening the mailbox that a book that I had recently ordered had arrived…Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change by Pema Chodron, from which the quote at the beginning of this post was taken, and upon which my eyes fell as I first opened it. I once recall reading somewhere else that…the only thing in life of which we can be certain…is uncertainty.

Coincidentally (or are forces conspiring without my knowledge?), yesterday I watched a movie called The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel...which is about a group of older British expats who decide to spend their retirement years living in India. It was both funny…and extremely touching at times when dealing with the psychological aspects of aging…and change.  There was a quote from the movie that resonated so much with me that I wrote it down…

Can we be blamed for feeling we are too old to change? Too scared of disappointment to start it all again? We get up in the morning…we do our best…nothing else matters. But it’s also true that the person who risks nothing…does nothing…has nothing. All we know about the future is that it will be different. Perhaps what we fear is that it will be the same. So we must celebrate the changes because as someone once said, “Everything will be alright in the end…and if it’s not alright…then trust me…it’s not yet the end.”

American Beautyberry

Walking in the early morning light along the Catawba…water flowing over the rocks of  the rapids…gently, but insistently shushing me into silence. Every living thing seemed to be taking advantage of these last days before the cold weather sets in. The end of one season is here…the next is surely coming. It seems to be common knowledge among those who are truly present in the moment…making the most of what’s been given to them…now. Maybe it is time…to strike off in a new direction…to enter the new season that is presenting itself?

More things in heaven and earth

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I woke up wanting a small miracle. Just something to get me going on a Monday morning. I have to admit that there are still times when this darkness overwhelms me. So…when I took Belle out this chilly Autumn morning, I looked up into the sky. Orion was overhead…its stars brilliant against a faint field of thousands of other stars.

Can you just give me a little sign? Something to let me know that you’re still there?

I silently asked this in a heartfelt manner…and stared up…hoping for something…for a shooting star to cross my field of vision…for anything at all. I stood there for a few minutes…but nothing. Belle and I went back inside.

Later…when I arrived at work, I began unpacking the backpack that I took on my recent trip. I took my laptop computer out of its sleeve in the pack, then reached down and grabbed the cable and lock that’s used to secure the laptop to my desk…so that nobody walks off with it. As I took the cable out, I noticed that something was not quite right. The lock…a cylindrical combination lock, was not attached to the cable. I stared at the little eye hook at the end of the plastic-coated steel cable. Reaching down into the pack…at the very bottom…I found the lock…lifted it out…and stared at the lock in one hand…and then at the cable in my other hand…completely baffled.  There’s a little metal pin in the lock, around which the eye hook of the cable is trapped…or should be trapped. The pin was still in place…and I stood there for a while trying to figure out just how they became separated.


It didn’t take long at all before it dawned on me…and of what I’d asked for earlier in the morning. Although I didn’t get a star shooting across the heavens…I’ll gladly take what was given to me…wide-eyed and with wonder. In my mind I heard Sharon saying, “Don’t worry about everything…just enjoy life!”

For the rest of the day…an incredible lightness in my spirit. In the afternoon, driving home in silence…a most beautiful early Autumn day…where every single thing glimpsed glowed warmly from within…complete and peaceful in being itself.

Written by Jim

September 24, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Happy endings

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After spending the week in Southern California…touching down late last night in Charlotte…today I have this floating, disembodied feeling as I move about. Here…but not here.  Physically here…but mentally in a different time…a different space. It usually takes a day or two to catch up…to get back into sync. But in the meantime, I’m enjoying the sensation. Sensory overload…the green of the trees…the rich, organic scent of the soil in the air.

I picked up Belle at the kennel this morning. I was wondering how she would do…first time by herself. But evidently, she did great. She always gets a lot of attention from the good ladies at the kennel…and I’m sure she enjoys that.  Even greeted me with a stylish new haircut…


Spent the rest of the day in a quiet, expansive mood…reading and listening to music.  I came across this moving clip from one of my favorite films, Gladiator (an interesting note is that Lisa Gerrard wrote the song, Now We Are Free,  in her own private language…called idioglossia in technical terms…a language she has developed since the age of twelve).

I love happy endings. It’s good to be home again…

Written by Jim

September 22, 2012 at 5:44 pm


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It’s a strange and wonderful world that I find myself in tonight. In a parallel universe of sorts called the West Coast. People with whom I usually interact with in a virtual world of emails, video conferences, and phone calls…I now share three dimensional space. Face to face…becoming more real with every moment. But tomorrow…I board the plane that will take me back to my own little universe…and these dimensions will collapse once again…and all of this week in this strange land will again be held only in my memory.

And there are other universes out there…yet to be experienced first hand. I know they exist…first contact has been made. But at the moment…these worlds seem so distant…so unapproachable…so alien…but so endearing. The possibilities…simply endless.

Written by Jim

September 20, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Posted in Musings, Travel

Down the rabbit hole

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Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.
~ Lewis Carroll

1) In five hours…I’ve crossed a continent.

2) There’s a desert…and mountains outside my bedroom window.

3) Been up since 1am…and getting very hungry.

Anyway…that’s three. Here in southern California.

Written by Jim

September 17, 2012 at 9:14 am

Posted in Musings, Travel

Tagged with ,

Carried by the surprise

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I would love to live

Like a river flows,

Carried by the surprise

Of  its own unfolding.

~ John O’Donohue, Fluent

A cold front moved through the Carolinas last Saturday night, and Sunday morning was wonderfully cool…and dry. I spent that morning strolling in a dream-like reverie through the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens near Charlotte…nearly empty of other souls at that time of day. So peaceful…and quiet…broken only by the gentle murmuring of the many fountains. A surprise along every path…

Canal Garden

Elephant ears…

Elephant Ears

a whimsical bottle tree…

Bottle Tree

a fish…awakening into a dream…

The Awakening

and a chair for two…


Surprises are always welcome.

Written by Jim

September 10, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Just pick a spot

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Belle has always had this strange (and rather annoying) habit of scratching away at the carpet with her front paws before she lays down…as if she was digging a hole in the dirt. I’ve heard that this is a common habit for many dogs…that they’re just, “making their bed in which to lie.”

When Belle does this, I remind her that she really doesn’t need to do that…that she needs to “just pick a spot and lie down already!”  At this point, she obediently stops…briefly looks up at me…and then puts her head back down and resumes the scratching in earnest. After about the third admonition, she finally plops down, and lets out a heavy sigh…mission accomplished.

It’s hard to imagine where this behavior is coming from. I know…it’s instinct. But how exactly is this instinct passed down from generation to generation. Belle has never…to my knowledge…ever observed another Pomeranian, or any other dog for that matter, digging a hole in the dirt before lying down. Why does she think it’s necessary? Is it in her genes then? If so…that’s even more mind boggling.

I recall reading a fascinating book many years ago by biologist Rupert Sheldrake called, The Presence of the Past: Morphic Resonance and the Habits of Nature, in which he hypothesized the presence of something called a morphic field, which is a kind of collective unconscious, or repository, of shared behaviors common to, for example, a certain species of animal. Where this morphic field exists is the even more intriguing question. I can’t help but think that Belle, who belongs to the group called dog (more specifically, Pomeranian), might somehow be tuning in to the morphic field that contains the whys and wherefores of that particular behavior in which she’s engaging.

And then this leads me to another, rather unsettling question. Are there things…behaviors…that I’m mindlessly doing, of which I have no knowledge?

Written by Jim

September 8, 2012 at 7:11 pm