New Year miscellany

road (2)

birthday card

“i am running into a new year
and the old years blow back
like a wind
that i catch in my hair
like strong fingers like
all my old promises”

–Lucille Clifton, from “I Am Running Into a New Year”

The above text (above the lovely poem) an excerpt from a birthday card given to me on my birthday (which happens to be on the first day of the year). Good friends always somehow have a clearer image of who we are, and our flaws, than we do ourselves, don’t they? Or at least, an intriguing image–I never would have suspected that my knowledge of halloumi cheese (which has a higher boiling point than other cheeses and can therefore be fried) was a notable and possibly essential part of my personality and character, but there it is.

Anyway, as the card suggests–don’t all of our self-improvement goals come down to doing less of the bad, hurtful, counterproductive things and more of the good, creative flourishing things?

Whatever good you want to do more of this year, and whatever bad things you are trying to do less of, best of luck achieving that as we run into the new year.

Photo source: unknown

Freewheeling Reports: Georgia photo diary

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Last month, during Turkey’s kurban holiday, I traveled to Georgia where I visited Tbilisi (the capital), Mtskheta (a historical religious center), and Kazbegi (a town in the mountains near Russia). I can’t even begin to give a full account of everything we did that week, much less give a worthy overview of Georgia as a travel destination and country, so below I simply posted a gallery of photos, which also don’t do any justice but at least prove I was there and give a small taste of Georgia’s awesomeness. Enjoy.

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Photo walks: Meditate and create

The world is so full of a number of things,
I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.
–Robert Louis Stevenson, “Happy Thought” (From A Child’s Garden of Verses)

Photo walks are when I pick up my camera, take a walk to some familiar place, and go looking for photos. I have done it for years now–my first photo-walk photos were taken on a camera that stored the pics on floppy disks. The photos I take on these walks have never been spectacular, just glimpses of ordinary things that seem extraordinary at the time, such as a crane resting on the river, or the reflection of leaves on a windowpane…

A childish imp with rusty fingers….

A lavender and green ladder of flowers to the sky…

The shape and rhythm of raindrops sprinkling the canal…

The dancing speckled emerald glow of sunlight filtering through wind-kissed leaves…

Balloons mimicking the sky and puffy white clouds…

And lots of other little, ordinary things.

Photos are not the purposes of a photo walk but a mean to the ends of reconnecting with my past, getting in touch with my environment, rekindling my creative juices, and meditating. The camera is just an excuse to reflect on my environment and exercise my creative eye.

The best part is that during and after one of these walks, my mind feels extraordinarily clear, calm, and peaceful. I highly recommend you create your own ritual that helps you meditate and create.

All photos by: Me

The present and the future

I will sail into the future on mystery’s wings and I will not look back. … our hearts yearn backward. We long to be found, hoping our searchers have not given up and gone home. But I no longer hope to be found… Do not follow me! Let’s just be fabulously where we are and who we are. You be you and I’ll be me, today and today and today, and let’s trust the future to tomorrow. Let the stars keep track of us. Let us ride our own orbits and trust that they will meet. May our reunion be not a finding but a sweet collision of destinies!

Jerry Spinelli, Love, Stargirl

Photo by fenk

Inspiration II

All the materials of a poem
Are lying scattered about, as in this garden
The lovely lumber of Spring.
All is profusion, confusion: hundred-eyed
The primulae in crimsion pink and purple,
Golden at the pupil;
prodigal the nectarine and plum
That fret their petals against a rosy wall.
Flame of the tulip, fume of the blue anemone,
White Alps of blossom in the giant pear-tree,
Peaks and glaciers, rise from the same drab soil.

Far too much joy for comfort:
The images that hurt because they won’t connect.
No poem, no possession, therefore pain.
And struggling now to use
These images that bud from the bed of my mind
I grope about for a form,
As much in the dark, this white and dazzling day,
As the bulb at midwinter; as filled with longing
Even in this green garden
As those who gaze from the cliff at the depths of sea
And know they cannot possess it, being of the shore
And severed from that element for ever.

— “The Images that Hurt” by W.H. Auden

Happiness and blossoms

How I Would Paint Happiness
Something sudden, a windfall,
a meteor shower. No –
a flowering tree releasing
all its blossoms at once,
and the one standing beneath it
unexpectedly robed in bloom,
transformed into a stranger
too beautiful to touch.
— Lisel Mueller, “Imaginary Paintings,” Alive Together: New And Selected Poems

But listen to me. For one moment
quit being sad. Hear blessings
dropping their blossoms
around you.
— Jalal-al-Din Rumi

Dreams (two poems)

Bring me all of your dreams,
You dreamer,
Bring me all your
Heart melodies
That I may wrap them
In a blue cloud-cloth
Away from the too-rough fingers
Of the world.

–“The Dream Keeper,” Langston Hughes

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

–“He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven,” W.B. Yeats

Photo: Natalie Kucken/Lexi Mire