Monday, March 24, 2014

cereal, milk

The ordinary day as an adventure of the spirit. Pouring cereal, milk. Lifting the spoon. Eating breakfast.

The idea that the ordinary day need not be ordinary, and is in fact never so. This is an idea that I've been following for quite some time.

I'm not alone, of course:

An Excerpt from The Way of Transformation: Daily Life as Spiritual Practice by Karlfried Graf Durckheim.

I originally came across this on the blog Crashingly Beautiful.

"Let us suppose, for instance, that a letter has to be posted in a mailbox a hundred yards away. If the mouth of the mailbox is all we see in the mind's eye, then the hundred strides we take towards it are wasted. But if we are on the way as human beings and filled with the sense of all that this implies, then even this short walk, providing we maintain the right attitude and posture, can serve to put us to rights and renew ourselves from the well of inner essence.

"The same can be true of any daily activity. The more we have mastered some relevant technique, and the smaller the amount of attention needed to perform the task satisfactorily, the more easily may the emphasis be transferred from the exterior to the interior. Whether in the kitchen or working at an assembly-belt, at the typewriter or in the garden, talking, writing, sitting, walking or standing, dealing with some daily occurrence or conversing with someone dear to us — whatever it may be, we can approach it 'from within' and use it as an opportunity for the practice of becoming a true person. Naturally, this is possible only when we are able to grasp the real meaning of life and become responsible towards it. It is essential to realize that we are not committed merely to comprehending and mastering the external world. We are first and foremost committed to the inner way. When this is understood the truth of the old Japanese adage becomes clear: 'For something to acquire religious significance, two conditions alone are necessary: it must be simple, and it must be repetitive.'

"What does this word 'repetitive' signify here? It can happen that daily tasks, by their very familiarity, serve to free us from the grip of the ego and its quenchless thirst for success. They can also help to make us independent of the world's approval and open for us the inward way. But this is true not only of familiar tasks. Even the practice and repeated effort needed to master something new can be put to the service of the inner work. In everything we do it is possible to foster and maintain a state of being which reflects our true destiny. When this possibility is actualized the ordinary day is no longer ordinary. It can even become an adventure of the spirit. In such a case the eternal repetitions in the exterior world are transformed into an endlessly flowing and circulating inner fountain. Indeed, once repetition is established it will be found that our very habits can be the occasion for inner work. They enable us to make new discoveries and show us that even from the most mechanical actions there may issue forth that creative power which transforms a human being from within."

Or, we could revisit Rumi's words from this poem (Daniel Ladinsky, translator):

Things Are Such

Things are such, that someone lifting a cup,
or watching the rain, petting a dog,

or singing, just singing - could be doing as
much for this universe as anyone.

{from The Purity of Desire: 100 Poems of Rumi}

It was Chloe holding the spoon, and me trying to get the perfect shot. And as usual, I'm not certain quite yet, which I like best.

Perhaps this one:

It was a good weekend. I didn't have to work. We read a lot. Chloe began a new knitting project. The house was cleaned. 

The dog managed to find a sunbeam in the afternoons and I had to sweep the floor around him. He wouldn't budge. 

And Chloe made cupcakes. Cherries (from our tree) on the bottom, cream cheese icing on top.

And for dinner one night I made my usual go to pasta. With bucatini this time. Tomato sauce with Italian sausage. Lots of freshly grated parmigiano reggiano.

So, as I said, it was a good weekend, and no idea why my eyes popped open at 4am this morning and refused to close again.....

One last poem for the road, then:



Now you hear what the house has to say.
Pipes clanking, water running in the dark,
the mortgaged walls shifting in discomfort,
and voices mounting in an endless drone
of small complaints like the sounds of a family
that year by year you’ve learned how to ignore.

But now you must listen to the things you own,
all that you’ve worked for these past years,
the murmur of property, of things in disrepair,
the moving parts about to come undone,
and twisting in the sheets remember all
the faces you could not bring yourself to love.

How many voices have escaped you until now,
the venting furnace, the floorboards underfoot,
the steady accusations of the clock
numbering the minutes no one will mark.
The terrible clarity this moment brings,
the useless insight, the unbroken dark.

{from The Poetry Foundation}


  1. spot on.
    and your ordinary day is not only beautiful . . . it's
    rumi is my all time favorite.
    and any post with ace in it . . .

  2. Ordinary old cheerios have never looked so captivating! I also enjoyed the poem Insomnia, very fitting for me today. Now, I have to ask... what is Chloe knitting?

    1. Good question :) She's found a pattern for a hooded cowl. She usually does scarves, so this is a big jump for her. xo

    2. Maybe someday she will kindly allow you to photograph her creativity in progress...:)

  3. Yes, there is a terrible clarity that comes in the dark hour of sleeplessness. I've been enjoying your site. Thank you.


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