your mind when it matters

Your brain uses only milliseconds to make its choices. 
…the most important thing that matters in regulating our thoughts, feelings, and actions is their first 100-200 msec in the brain, which is when the levers and pulleys are actually doing their thing.
plural noun: milliseconds !
We proceed in bursts, bursts of less than 200 milliseconds. One decision proceeds to the next. Left foot here. See that smile? Hand in pocket. Yes, a smile. There it is. Wonderfully warm flutter in my heart. Oh, there it is. Left foot there. Oh no, that’s not a smile. Right foot stops. 
These words fail to explain. They force us into a robotic ladder of mundane maneuvers. Life along an axis. Forty steps ‘x’, Fifty steps ‘y’. We’re not that. We must be more than a cyber-centipede of linked instructions.
And yet, we must admit our mind operates stunningly fast. We rarely sense more than a blur. As one thought follows another, are we tumbling and cascading along or can we learn to see ourselves operating in real time, in milliseconds? There’s a terrific frontier!
Deric Bownds once more:
It might make the strident assertion that the most important thing that matters in regulating our thoughts, feelings, and actions is their first 100-200 msec in the brain, which is when the levers and pulleys are actually doing their thing. It would be a nuts and bolts approach to altering – or at least inhibiting – self limiting behaviors. It would suggest that a central trick is to avoid taking on on the ‘enormity of it all,’ and instead use a variety of techniques to get our awareness down to the normally invisible 100-200 msec time interval in which our actions are being programmed.

too fast for myself

hedgerow“Going too fast for myself I missed  more than I think I can remember almost everything it seems sometimes and yet there are chances that I did not notice when they stood where I could have reached out and touched them this morning the black shepherd dog still young looking up and saying…
Are you ready this time” – W. S. Merwin

we come, we go

Happy the man, whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air,
In his own ground.

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire,
Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter fire.

Blest, who can unconcernedly find
Hours, days, and years slide soft away,
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day,

Sound sleep by night; study and ease,
Together mixed; sweet recreation;
And innocence, which most does please,
With meditation.

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.

– Alexander Pope, “Ode on Solitude”

bewilderment for sale

“I sometimes think US politicians don’t know which way is up.”

you’ve known this since you were a kid
looming change is your blood
struggling in a shit pile to fix it
and now you’re tired
call it reverence if you must
it’s real exhaustion
relief and more relief
powerful youth could fix it
wouldn’t it be nice to do it over?

what happens isn’t the whole story
you’ve been waiting more than a heart can bear
nonsense month after month after month
hooked into a parade of chains
breathing isn’t what it used to be
you’re stuck with that
stop and you cripple yourself

don’t stand there and cry

her flat just to the right of the lobby. Stoessinger arranged for a neighbor to accompany me. It was decided that I might make a better impression if I were introduced as a musician rather than a journalist, because Herz-Sommer can find journalists tiring. The tactic misfired somewhat. When I was introduced, she commanded, “Play something,” in her richly accented, Central European voice. I sat reluctantly at the upright and stumbled through the first theme of Schubert’s great B-Flat-Major Sonata. She stopped me and said, “Now tell me your real profession.” I confessed that I was a writer, whereupon she looked a bit sad. Nonetheless, we had a lively chat. I had the impression that she was no longer greatly interested in the past, but she was alert to the present, to comings and goings in her building, to news of recent performances. She spoke fondly of her son, the cellist Raphael Sommer, who died in 2001. But she does not spend her time grieving. In her conversations with Stoessinger, she paraphrased Spinoza: “Don’t stand there and cry. Understand.”

extincting ourselves

reticent tissue, that is the issue,
as time goes by, scratching vast mirrors,
the knitwork network

network to matrix and matrix to node, to coin a modern ode
the synthesis of reliable organisms from unreliable components
the relationship resource in the curiosity of breathing

ol’ english chorus, the metal of anarchy in the monolith of despots,
the analysts of share, incessant wet of relative deprivation,
competitive hostilities pummeling fulfillment

along the way from plankton to pulsar,
the executive HQ of the milieux

you got you goin’ on

“We share our lives with the people we have failed to be.” Adam Phillips: Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life There is always what will turn out to be the life we led, and the life that accompanied it, the parallel life that never actually happened, that we lived in our minds, the wished-for life (or lives):the risks untaken and the opportunities avoided or unprovided. We refer to them as our unlived lives because somewhere we believe that they were open to us; but for some reason–and we might spend a great deal of our lived lives trying to find the reason–they were not possible. And what was not possible all too easily becomes the story of our lives. Indeed, our lived lives might become a mourning, a tantrum, the lives we were unable to live. But what we missed and suffer, whether forced or chosen, make us who we are. As we know more now than ever before about the kinds of lives it is possible to live–and affluence has allowed more people than ever before to think of their lives in terms of choices and options–we are haunted by the myth of our potential, of what we might have it in ourselves to be or do. Often in “The ways we miss our lives,” we are grieving or regretting or resenting our failure to be ourselves as we imagine we could be.

…the roads untraveled, what we missed, our human identity as a constant looking back upon the lives we have chosen not to live–or the lives that we have failed to live–or the lives that, much to our frustration, have always eluded us.

We are as much a measure of the selves we aren’t as the self we happen to be facing in the mirror today. What about the one we used to love, or the one we picture ourselves loving someday? What about the job we longed for and never got? Or the job we got, but it could be in ten years? before-they-pass-away As photographer Jimmy Nelson reports, “The purity of humanity exists. It is there in the mountains, the ice fields, the jungle, along the rivers and in the valleys… the world must never forget the way things were.” These are the lives we are.  

domain is not third-party

Our rare and robust claim to make a treasure of ourselves.

Ask not.
Take everything.
Even my poverty.

To fly among the future with our heart intact.

a wail has its whispering

What man of us has never felt, walking through the twilight or writing down a date from his past, that he has lost something infinite? —Jorge Luis Borges

On the bank at the end
Of what was there before us
Gazing over to the other side
On what we can become
Veiled in the mist of naïve speculation
We are busy here preparing
Rafts to carry us across
Before the light goes out leaving us
In the eternal night of could-have-been
—nick bostrom

in the you of you

believe-in-youafter all, we are each put through caldron

will you never thunder?

will you never ache?

will you shrink and retreat?

will you burn and wither?

you are not to walk away from you, say it,

and all the angels hear


This is the exalted melancholy of our fate that every Thou in our world must become an It. -Martin Buber

thus we honor spirit

The general irresponsibility was to spend his whole year’s allowance in a week. His sister had gone to Hawaii and left behind her white Russian wolfhound. He took this dog to the stage door of the most popular musical of the day, and as the girls came out they all patted the dog. The long and short of it is that he cut an exam, invited the entire chorus line of 30 girls to dinner, spent all his money and got kicked out of Harvard.

Did he regret it?

Now that’s living!

Within a day’s glow a thousand moments tempt the mind…

I never knew what time could do 
Until I let my dreams come through,
Reminding me that day or night 
The stars are never out of sight.

What is there to say to those that glaze mankind? 

Well, I am the eagle:
To fly so high the darkness is below. 

One who can see the heart of the sun. 
One who can see what duty has won:
When the self will loft the mind and, hence, 

the mind will wire the body in some mimic’d poise,  
futurity spills upon us to test the courages.

Yet we all know this, as we know what hardens steel or vigors the child to solitary tasks, so seldom said, these murmurs of the heart we build each day. Here’s to recognizing amidst the blinding dark infinity the sweet triumph of every step we carve from this froth of earth. Here’s to discovery amongst our paths, to worthy dreams to lure us lovingly to fuller powers. May we be of sharp wit and diligence of will, and every flame succumb as ally, and every flood seek our buoyancy. 

To live with life a friend

and all the earth its winking crew 

and all the heavens supervise.

To live an ethical life in an ethical land, 

not put upon by guile nor sticks of rage, 

not ruled by the weakest of the weak  
hidden in the grandstand of corruption. 

Along the way from plankton to pulsar, 
joy which gives a heart beyond itself 

and joy which lends this heart to friends.

Now that’s living!


that morning, that night


When I hear them call
in the morning, before
I am quite awake,
my bed is already traveling
the daily rainbow,
the arc toward evening;
and the birds, leading
their own discreet lives
of hunger and watchfulness,
are with me all the way,
always a little ahead of me
in the long-practiced manner
of unobtrusive guides.

By the time I arrive at evening,
they have just settled down to rest;
already invisible, they are turning
into the dreamwork of trees;
and all of us together —
myself and the purple finches,
the rusty blackbirds,
the ruby cardinals,
and the white-throated sparrows
with their liquid voices —
ride the dark curve of the earth
toward daylight, which they announce
from their high lookouts
before dawn has quite broken for me.

–Lisel Mueller, “Why I Need the Birds”

together, which is warm

Repel to deny to learn too little so often as is each short infinity through beauty.

Delight in each prolific rendering of beauty as if the Earth a brew of tea and beauty its steaming wisps. This an inalienable wonder proved in either dirt or star and every blend between, our character sculpted in the clay of rapture, our heart’s regard for hope.

Beauty they say caresses the tender, arouses the dormant, excites the innocent, tempers the strong, guides the wise, comforts the good, binds the wicked, so why then do we so often ignore and abuse beauty?

If I walk slowly on soft earth amidst a native meadow, tongued by light, by wisps of breeze, touched across my chest and shoulder with warming sun, drawn by the incessant celebration of leaved branch, the spiked grasses, and the willing exposition of the flowers, will I not know of beauty and therefore be caressed, aroused, excited, tempered, guided, bound and comforted? May I not then add this taste of beauty to myself? To see and then be blind, to touch and then be empty, to join and then be apart, is to find and then to lose our precious human birthright. We are to rise each day and in our civilian duty declare no other purpose than the exploration of beauty.

We are smothered in the revelation of beauty, as awakening to each day within these stars must surely be. We are charged to take our birthright rather than be pelted with dusts of contempt, of incoherent denial, of jealous resentment, of darker splendored substitutions fashioned from culture and politic, and war. We are to strive in the breadth of our human mind to know the more intolerable splendor of beauty. We are beauty as ourselves, the essence of sweet seconded by reason. 

yes loud is legal

“I decided it is better to scream… Silence is the real crime against humanity.”

Nadezhda Mandelstam, Hope Against Hope

temples of smoke

I saw myself fall
Though a tumbling inferno
As if hell was where a boy
Shoveled clouds of sawdust
Into the wide mouth of doubt.

—Yusef Komunyakaa

i.e. Man is only wholly Man when he is playing

My Get-Up-And-Go Has Got Up and Went

My Get-Up-And-Go Has Got Up and Went by Anonymous

Old age is golden, or so I’ve heard said, 
But sometimes I wonder, as I crawl into bed, 
With my ears in a drawer, my teeth in a cup, 
My eyes on the table until I wake up. 
As sleep dims my vision, I say to myself: 
Is there anything else I should lay on the shelf? 
But, though nations are warring, and Congress is vexed, 
We’ll still stick around to see what happens next! 

How do I know my youth is all spent? 
My get-up-and-go has got up and went! 
But, in spite of it all, I’m able to grin 
And think of the places my getup has been!

When I was young, my slippers were red; 
I could kick up my heels right over my head. 
When I was older my slippers were blue, 
But still I could dance the whole night through. 
Now I am older, my slippers are black. 
I huff to the store and puff my way back. 
But never you laugh; I don’t mind at all: 
I’d rather be huffing than not puff at all! 

How do I know my youth is all spent? 
My get-up-and-go has got up and went! 
But, in spite of it all, I’m able to grin 
And think of the places my getup has been!

I get up each morning and dust off my wits, 
Open the paper, and read the Obits. 
If I’m not there, I know I’m not dead, 
So I eat a good breakfast and go back to bed! 

How do I know my youth is all spent? 
My get-up-and-go has got up and went! 
But, in spite of it all, I’m able to grin 
And think of the places my getup has been!

widower’d holidate

What I stole for love added up.
It added up to nothing.  To the air perfumed
by an absent woman.  To a box

filled with crushed chalk.  God save me
from the stars, once and for all—
I have had enough.  Let me love anything

but that: let me go free and dream
of green oceans and the surf
that batters some other world to sleeplessness.

It is enough to whisper only
this.  To speak to the flame in your breast
and hear nothing else.  Once

I believed I could possess
what touched you: the worn sweater,
or the song on the radio

that meant nothing and all in that instant.
Against your door I pressed
my ear, and heard nothing, the whisper

of water, maybe, a breath of cool air—
the gossip of your absence—
and nothing in me could knock or wait,

and all around me the night
spread like water through a rag,
and I let my hands drop whatever they held.

—Paul Guest, Popular Romance