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Find it faster. That thing which makes you happy. It’s not as far away or as deep down as you might imagine. Let your mind go fast, flip through the images that come to it. Let your mind land and arrive. Then act.

I realized tonight that one thing that brings me happy is cartoons from the New Yorker. Also, collecting things: leaves, stamps, cards for send friends, books.

A walk outside near food trucks and a colorful swap meet. A stranger asking me if I thought lemonade or caffeine were worse for you. And wanting to hear my answer. A familiar game where you have to find people who look like the cast of your favorite TV show, even if they actually don’t look like them at all. These things bring me happy. And saying happy not happiness, also brought me happy.

A new friend on Facebook shared a poem with me today, the kind you fall into, the kind that turns your body into a brass bell and it beats inside you with sounds pouring from the deep reverberations within.  Here’s the poem below from this website: 

How long does a man live, after all?
Does he live a thousand days, or one only?

A week, or several centuries?
How long does a man spend dying?
What does it mean to say ‘for ever’?

Lost in these preoccupation
I set myself to clear things up.

I sought out knowledgeable priests.
I waited for them after their rituals,
I watched them when they went their ways
to visit God and the Devil.

They wearied of my questions.
They on their part knew very little;
they were no more than administrators.

Medical men received me
in between consultations,
a scalpel in each hand,
saturated in aureomycin,
busier each day.
As far as I could tell from their talk,
the problem was as follows:
it was not so much the death of a microbe —
they went down by the ton —
-but the few which survived
showeds signs of perversity.

They left me so startled
that I sought out the gravediggers.
I went to the rivers where they burn
enormous painted corpses,
tiny bony bodies,
emperors with an aura
of terrible curses,
women snuffed out at a stroke
by a wave of cholera.
There were whole beaches of dead
and ashy specialists.

When I got the chance
I asked them a slew of questions.
They offered to burn me;
it was the only thing they knew.

In my own country the undertakers
answered me, between drinks:
‘Get yourself a good woman
and give up this nonsense.’

I never saw people so happy.

Raising their glasses they sang,
toasting health and death.
They were huge fornicators.

I returned home, much older
after crossing the world.

Now I question nobody.

But I know less every day.

autógrafo

Pablo Neruda
Translation by Alastair Reid

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If you gather

If you gather people, regularly, I will share a gift for you that a dear friend shared with me: Better Conversations: A Starter Guide. 

This elegant resources reminds us of how to listen and how to lead. It offers this  meaningful reflection, which I know you’ll love:

GENEROUS LISTENING

“Listening is an everyday art and virtue, but it’s an art we have lost and must learn anew. Listening is more than being quiet while others have their say. It is about presence as much as receiving;

it is about connection more than observing. Real listening is powered by curiosity. It involves vulnerability — a willingness to be surprised, to let go of assumptions and take in ambiguity. It is never in “gotcha” mode. The generous listener wants to understand the humanity behind the words of the other, and patiently summons one’s own best self and one’s own most generous words and questions.”

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Intuition: a knowledge of instincts, the gut’s recognition that it has been here before, in this life or another. You don’t get it by studying more, thinking more, or even doing more; you get more even it by recognizing the signals sent by the body and felt by the body: the impulses that start in the eye’s green center and travel to each of the toes.

This feeling, which occurs before thought or desire, reminds us that we’re animals. And animals have blessings and freedoms: freedom from excessive thought or reflection, and the abundance of action. The more we learn, the more we are at risk of forgetting our true nature…all these heady things remind me to get back to what matters, these feelings and thoughts, in now order, creating a tapestry of ideas and emotions:

  1. The smell of the earth after the rains
  2. Rickshaws and bright colored umbrellas
  3. The music and cadence of soft speech
  4. Library reading rooms
  5. Textures: of leaves, bark, dry skin
  6. The repeat inhale and exhale of an animal sleeping on your toes
  7. Finding a book with writing in it, notes from an ancestor
  8. This American Life on Saturday afternoons
  9. A true barber shop and remembering what Pablo Neruda once said.
  10. Rediscovering song, especially beat
  11. Pulling grass and organizing the blades into piles
  12. The lighting bolt of recognition seeing in a stranger all that you value in yourself
  13. Saints. The words itself. The old European buildings it brings up; the laughing and colorful gods smiling from far away places
  14. Rivers. Charles here. Charles in Prague.
  15. Discovering the truth behind gestures

Thank you for indulging as I feed the soundtrack of my instincts.

 

 

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September 3, 2017

Email, once my medium for sharing personal ideas and revealing intriguing thoughts about the world and my day, has now become a vehicle for efficient communication. How does that feel, you ask? It’s as if the Government has taken over a library, and thrown away all the used books and those paperbacks with writing in the margins, or has cut the branches from plum trees in the garden lest they fall on pedestrians jogging by in the morning rains. I  return to paper and pen, not out of nostalgic longing – that sensation that overcomes the gray haired man with a Boston Globe looking for the nickel telescope on the wooden dock – but out of a certain truth found in texture, and  certain grace, the inky blood spreading across the thick white page.

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Tiny Beak

Meet these unfinished and playful thought starters. Each is an unwritten story or advertisement, the earliest sign of life–that moment when the lights inside an egg turn on and a tiny beak breaks open its shell…

  • Lil Roar: meow like you mean it 
  • Grow a unibrow garden, an orchid of peach trees 
  • The smell of a city at dusk–the ryst on fire escape, trusted by happy babies since 1968
  • Darsatha, surrender not behind your colorful cloak, arise, awaken, daughter become 
  •  Last April was the cruelest month yet, when the crops died, and my cat died, and the teacher who once loved my work sold it to an Egyptian cryptographer
  • The confident man sneezed so loudly that his laces came untied and the fat church going woman nearly fainted, crying out for the ‘lord, lord alight mighty’  
  • In the tomb you’re forbidden from seeing, I hide a confession
  • PlowoRam, the easiest way to move the Left to the Right 
  • A sparrow landed on the water turning the red crescent moon’s reflections into silent waves 
  • Eyes under flaps of skin, eyes beneath the puff flesh, a hungry soul makes herself known 
  • We did not know he was an evil man when we invited him in
  • The stillness of constant motion, repeating itself so smoothly and quickly as if it did not exist 
  • the little girl’s red balloon snapped with the wind as a parade of elephants floated by her window
  • The moment before his life ended, Sam remembered the blueberry yogurt he left out of the fridge 
  • refracted in each rain drop a flattering copy of nature’s best portrait 
  • Wake-fresh—Get 2 more hours of sleep at the blink of an eye
  • The flying submarine you always wanted, now available in yellow
  • Snoper—a dose of dirty dish delivered daily 
  • We were the Nation of Jesus & Meth, of Blue Jeans and BBQs, Monday Night Football and escalators to the Cheesecake Factory 

 

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Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 2.10.01 PM.png

Band names bring me joy. I’ve listed a few new ones I like when browsing the Sinclair’s website. I’ve also created some new names, too. They’re all on the same list. You’ll see how difficult it is to distinguish the real ones from the newly imagined:

  • mouse on the keys 
  • iamnobody 
  • the beautiful gypsies 
  • upbeat mouse 
  • pimps of joytime 
  • maggy loves kenny rogers 
  • elvis thin and sexy 
  • wilder yet 
  • the show and grow designers 
  • north of boston 
  • cultured potato 
  • sorority noise 
  • kindness myth 
  • henry ford on the line 
  • the @@s
  • uncle bobs bear 
  • Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 2.13.23 PMWhile playing with this concept, I came across an article on band branding you might enjoy, especially if you love playing with language as much as I do. I’ve taken this photo from that article; go check it out!

 

 

 

 

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Your handless arm and distant gaze

survey my body

I see the repulsion my patent leather shoes

and crisp hat

have inflicted on your weary face

How will you reclaim me?

My big ears are in our wedding photo,

and your toothy smile and polka dotted dress—

we only posed to bring us back you know

to awaken what we feared we might lose

before I knew the shriek of bombs

and you the hum of factories,

this photo promised to return us

to us

Now you sing lullabies to your orchids

in a language I can’t understand

a language that returns me to the villages

so incomprehensible I am speechless

what ceremony will you use to return me?

bring me back to the you in this photo

to reunite me with this man who is no more

-zach braiker

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