Monday, August 8, 2016

touching everything with light

Over and over again I sail towards joy, which is never in the room with me, but always near me, across the way, like those rooms full of gayety one sees from the street, or the gayety in the street one sees from a window. Will I ever reach joy? It hides behind the turning merry-go-round of the traveling circus. As soon as I approach it, it is no longer joy. Joy is a foam, an illumination. I am poorer and hungrier for the want of it. When I am in the dance, joy is outside in the elusive garden. When I am in the garden, I hear it exploding from the house. When I am traveling, joy settles like an aurora borealis over the land I leave. When I stand on the shore I see it bloom on the flag of a departing ship. What joy? Have I not possessed it? I want the joy of simple colors, street organs, ribbons, flags, not a joy that takes my breath away and throws me into space alone where no one else can breathe with me, not the joy that comes from a lonely drunkenness. There are so many joys, but I have only known the ones that come like a miracle, touching everything with light.

- Anais Nin

It was time to take out one of my typewriters and let it write some light. This is a Remington Cadet, sweet and portable. I wonder what sort of stuff has been written on it.

What is it about August? Never lonelier....

Never Lonelier

by Gottfried Benn

Never lonelier than in August:
hour of plenitude—in the country
the red and golden tassels,
but where is your pleasure garden?

Soft skies and sparkling lakes,
the healthy sheen of fields,
but where is the pomp and display
of the empire you represent?

Everything lays claim to happiness,
swaps glances, swaps rings
in wine-breath, in the intoxication of things,
you serve the counterhappiness, the mind.



by Fernando Pessoa

Sometimes, on days of perfect and exact light

When things have all the reality they can,
I ask myself slowly
Why I even attribute
Beauty to things.

Does a flower somehow have beauty?
Somehow a fruit has beauty?
No: they have color and form
And existence only.
Beauty is the name of something that doesn’t exist
I give to things in exchange for the delight they give me.
It means nothing.
Then why do I say, “Things are beautiful”?

Yes, even I, who live only to live,
Invisible, they come to meet me,
Men’s lies in the face of things,
In the face of things that simply exist.

How difficult to be yourself and see only what you can!

{from A Little Larger Than the Entire Universe by FP}

“I want to resemble a sort of liquid light which stretches beyond visibility or invisibility. Tonight I wish to have the valor and daring to belong to the moon.” 

- Virginia Woolf, A Writer's Diary

Run my dear,
From anything
That may not strengthen
Your precious budding wings.

Run like hell my dear,
From anyone likely
To put a sharp knife
Into the sacred, tender vision
Of your beautiful heart.

- Hafiz

“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it's true I'm here, and I'm just as strange as you.”

- Frida Kahlo

It Felt Love

by Hafiz

Did the rose
Ever open its heart

And give this world
All its

It felt the encouragement of light
Against its

We all remain



This past week, I hit a wall, so to speak. There was a convergence of exhaustion, peri-menopause, too much extroverting, extra shifts at work, worry about my lovely mother-in-law (who was briefly in hospital and is now out and recovering and feeling really well thankfully), trying to sort my kid for college this fall, a few nights of insomnia, and that thing called 'not writing' that sent me over the edge. I've been running into countless people who keep saying, let's get together for a coffee or a glass of wine in September and I just keep saying, mmhhmm, would love to. When in fact my plan in September is to disappear (except for work, because: bills). I'm saying no to everyone in September and that's the only thing that's keeping me going right now. I'm going to write so that I don't feel like I'm falling apart which is how I am right now. I think most writers relate to this: that in those intervals when we're not actually writing, typing, or scrawling pages in a notebook, we cannot call ourselves writers. I can't, anyway. This fall I took (gratefully) some extra hours at work which means I'll be working one full extra day and a bit. And this is really great because: daughter going to college. It means that I'm going to have to be extremely disciplined with my time, my writing time. (If I say it here it will happen, yes?)

So on the topic of exhaustion. I read an article while I was in the fog of it all, titled "How Exhaustion Became a Status Symbol: From sloth to burnout, each age remakes exhaustion in its own image." by Hanna Rosefield which is a discussion of a book, Exhaustion: A History.

From the article:

Exhaustion is a vague and forgiving concept. Celebrities say they’re suffering from it when they go to rehab and don’t want to admit to depression or addiction. You can attribute your low mood or your short temper to exhaustion, and it can mean anything from “had a couple of bad nights’ sleep” to “about to have a nervous breakdown.” It also seems like a peculiarly modern affliction. Relentless email, chattering social media, never-ending images of violence and suffering in the news, the lingering effects of the financial crisis, and looming environmental catastrophe: Who’s going to blame you if you confess to having had enough of it all?

Read on here.

Also from the article:

"Today, exhaustion still hints at status, but of a different sort. To say that you’re exhausted is to telegraph that you’re important, in demand, and successful. It’s akin to the humblebrag of ruefully describing yourself as “so busy”—naturally, since exhaustion follows from busyness. "

We're all familiar with those people and their humble-brag about being busy. But sometimes exhaustion is just that. And you have to listen to it. 

Next, for lack of a better segue, some flowers from the neighbourhood. 

This weekend we picked and pitted most of the cherries on our tree, so these are the 'before' photos. 

You may have noticed I keep trying to capture these hanging mountain ash berries.....

The August light is settling in nicely. Lower earlier, more golden.

The mountain ash berries again....


And again. I think this might be the one I have to finally be satisfied with.

Last things.

An article in the NY Times on Kenneth Goldsmith's new book, where he talks about 'wasting time on the internet.'
Why write this book? 
I had cognitive dissonance. Theorists say the internet is making us dumber, but something magical happened when my students wasted time together. They became more creative with each other. They say we’re less social; I think people on the web are being social all the time. They say we’re not reading; I think we’re reading all the time, just online.

I’m an artist, and artists feel things, we distrust these studies. As a poet I wanted to observe, I wanted to feel things.

I still think I'm wasting a lot of time on the internet, and lately I've been spending far too much time imagining what, for me, would be the perfect social media platform. Something more like instagram where original content is the rule, but where text posts are also possible, and where one could post from one's computer and not just phone.....Please, could someone design this?

Did you notice that Pinterest has changed its look? Mostly, I like it, but it kind of messes with the placement of the photos on boards and isn't easy to re-center them.

And that lovely friends, is all. Wishing you a calm week ahead. May you sail toward joy.

- Shawna


  1. You write, cup, hold, point to and capture the light like no other. This August light does appear to be growing warmer and softer. This is the time of year when I start longing for "introvert time" too.


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