My computer updated and now, along the bottom menu of my screen, it tells me – unsolicited – that “Rain [is] coming”. And I feel bad because I haven’t looked out of the window this afternoon. I did walk around the house this morning, still in my pj’s, picking up dog poop so the lawn mower wouldn’t catch it. But I didn’t take in the morning: not the weather, not the birds, not the scent of autumn. Sometimes I wonder why the Bible lists so many sins and not this one: inattention.

Yesterday I nursed my cold by lying in bed and watching television. There was a moment when I pulled away from myself – consciously – and I suddenly became aware of the room. The space in the room. The colors of the walls. The textures of everything in it. Everything so beautifully foreign, so outside of myself, so dispossessed of expectations, so soulfully free.

I became aware of the distance between my arm and the blanket, my eardrum and the air vent, my mouth and the closest surface in each direction: the painted pressed wood of the nightstand. The coarse linen of the chaise lounge. I sensed my breath filling the room. Together with Leonard’s breath, and our lives overlapping at a cellular level.

There is a spider that hides somewhere behind my vanity mirror. Also breathing. Also alive and intermingling – atomic. Discrete. Intertwined.

We are inextricably tied to everything that frightens us. That thrills us. That makes us aware of our breathing.

I think I have always held on to this fact as a kind of comfort.

These little moments cut me off from the world in one way, but they also connect me to myself. They connect me to my childhood, and to a state of vigilance that was both necessary and habituated, to time when I didn’t have the self-awareness to judge this openness – or justify it, or pity myself for it. There was no – and still is, no – value judgement hovering over this state of being that I fall into now and then, now.

And then I slipped away from myself, back into the day like a fish into a stream.

The little room smells like tea and nail polish. Rosemary oil in the burner: for memory, they say. Somewhere deep in my chest there is a melody taking form. Ophelia handing out flowers. “I would give you some violets, but they withered all [ …].”

Last weekend I ran along the shore and the air was still. But the sea was still churning from the storm that had passed through. Tall waves, dark and edged with a white so opaque I could imagine I was running through an oil painting.

Sometimes writing is like wading into a stream where others have left all the stories to flow together, to flow through your hands, around your waist and into new ribbons of currents of hot and cold shining with the tiny creatures that give the world life, that take the world’s life. There’s nothing to claim here. Not really. It all runs to the ocean.

I miss writing.

Leaving in an hour for London. With Maeterlinck’s Bluebird haunting my thoughts. It is a good place to be now. Ready for a new season.

a leaf wet with raindrops

Running through the park yesterday, I passed a woman with her arms wrapped around a tree. With her cheek pressed to the bark, her eyes closed.

And with all due respect for literal tree huggers, I wondered how the tree felt about this human pressing her physical presence in that way. I mean, it is an odd assumption – that all (potentially) sentient creatures want that kind of contact with humans.

We seem to have this compulsion to want to handle what we find attractive. We cuddle small children. We are cuddled as small children, yet seem to forget how we resented it. We want to reach out and touch otters, lambs… bear cubs. We want to infantilize the other. Keep it under our dominion.

“Trust me.” Says the man. The teacher. The expert. The child to the hampster.

There are plants that, when attacked by aphids, call out to wasps for help. I wonder if the tree was calling out for help as this woman pressed herself along its trunk. I wonder if the moment of blocked sunlight, blocked air made the tree gasp.

I think of all the video clips passed around social media of rabbits “relaxing” under the flow of water from a bathroom sink’s faucet. The sense of absolute righteousness revealed in the admonishing comments.

We try so hard to disentangle our presence in the world: the good from the bad. But even empathy brings with it elements of oversight:

1. an unintentional failure to notice or do something
2. the action of overseeing something
for example: effective oversight of the financial reporting process

It makes perfect sense to me that this single word encompasses both of these meanings.

two trees among fallen, autumn leaves

And we have returned to “normal” now. People still not wanting to sit next to each other on the train. Like before. My ears are full of cotton, and my head, congested. A normal cold. Like before. There is a part of me that thinks my body needs this. That it will somehow be both a workout for my immune system and a kind of catharsis.

Harmless discomfort. Shake it up, shake it off. Go for a run.

I jut my jaw forward to clear my ears. The sky is clear and dark. But those three stars have moved since yesterday morning. Now over the neighbor’s house instead of the street. How is that possible? Is that how this astronomy stuff works?

I love those films where the details change and the character finally notices. Or the viewer does. It seems to me this post-modern trope gets at what all the Modernists were aiming for: the awareness that there is a real world outside of our awareness. In the moments of our blinking.

Astonished. It is a nice word, and it nicely describes the emotion at the moment of anagnorisis: Now the tragic figure gets it. Simultaneously surprised by his own ignorance, as well as the existence of a real world. Or another world, where what where peripheral events were chained together along a different path that led – still – to this very moment. This is what it means to face one’s fate, isn’t it? To understand that we are sliding over the surface, slipping consciously along a sliver of existence. Krill, unaware of the ocean.

We don’t need a god to justify our fate.

Maybe a Galton Board.

Leaving the house this morning to walk Leonard, I caught a glimpse of the sliver of old moon before the thin clouds covered it. There will be a new moon on Wednesday. Maybe that’s why I feel an urge to make everything new.

To the south the sky is clear and black. I can see the stars, even here from the new subdivision. We’ve having a break in the weather, a bit of quiet between the hailstorms and the rain. I hum as I walk. Om four times: ha, ri, ni, sa. Amen.

There is a proverb about washing the bowl after you’ve eaten. But picking up the dog shit is far more humbling. Carrying it home to the bin, a much larger metaphor.

I’ve a second appointment with the new psychiatrist today. We left the question hanging: What do you hope to get from these sessions?

This morning, after my habitual meditation – a mash-up of Buddhist philosophy and Christian hymns tweaked ever-so-slightly towards pantheism – I was thinking about the paradox of pursuing ease while pushing to grow beyond of one’s comfort zone.

In another life, I translated what was pretty much Tor Obrestad’s life’s work with poetry (up to that point). I was new to the language. New to translation. We are too different as writers – as people – for it to have been a great match. But one image that remains with me is his description of a waking boy: with the white tips of new growth. In my mind a life’s work with poetry can be a single image if it is that perfect.

I think about the translucent edges of new. I imagine the nerves that grow suddenly, impulsive and vulnerable – the quantum surge of life that is too fast, too eager to be held back. Protected.

The wind burns when it blows over a wound. New cells, shining and wet. And we breathe through it. Everything in movement, as it should be. Don’t clench. Don’t cling.

This week my students do their last performance of the Three Billy Goats Gruff. I’ve been focusing on an acting style that is staccato. The information is conveyed in snapshots, moments. I could describe it as stop-motion theater. (Oh! I like that! Move over, Lecoq).

It’s difficult for the students to master. Even with mirrors, even with mechanical analyses: Thought. Execution. Expression. Thought. Execution. Expression. It is an unnatural style. It is unnatural in its artificial segmentation. My acting students are almost always motivated by a desire to bring stories to life. This is academic.

Tree. Fungi. Forest.
Mitochondria. Cytoplasm. Cell.

Life flows. At some level there is an ease. Something slips through, integrates. It can’t help it. All the shuddering is an illusion of objectivity.

I have been thinking. Maybe the idea is not to move out of the comfort zone, but expand the comfort zone.

acting students dressed as a three-headed troll

This morning I stare at a waning moon and a smattering of stars. The clouds will move in this afternoon and the rest of the weekend will be wet. The late summer feels finished. Leonard tugs at the leash. There is something I can’t see in shadows of the hollybush edge.

Yesterday I took the movement students outside. I hadn’t planned it but room scheduling has been difficult. We ran off what must have been a hundred pigeons from a patch of grass along the quayside. The swan, of course, we avoided. We moved through warrior positions and balanced poles on our fingertips: “Knees bent, knees bent.” It is an odd mantra to have carved into one’s subconscious.

Be ready for anything.

The swan remained centerstage. Unflustered. Such confidence for such a relatively small creature.

There was more wind than we would have liked, but it felt good to move in the fresh air – with the fresh air – outside of the little black box where we all spend the majority of our days. With another group of students, I would have had them let the wind push them around. I would have had them risk the judgemental looks from people passing by. I would have reminded them to commit, to challenge the onlookers’ projections of insecurity, to confuse them. Forget them. Forget the swan. But these students have been affected by the Covid restrictions for most of their theatre studies. There’s little trust in each other, little trust in in their own bodies… little trust in me.

The sunshine barely grazed my skin, but felt good on my retinas. Since the morning and evening walks are in the dark now, it felt like a flicker of past already. Everything is softer now, during this transition. Winter’s sharpness will come, but right now there is a bluntness to the days.

The afternoon is an oversized, red rubber ball that smells like the dark side of childhood.

Everything in its time, returning in its time with a surprising perspective. I am in a holding pattern. Holding so very much.

feather in the grass