Tag Archives: Philosophy

Sunday inspiration: When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer, Whitman

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

Clarity wanted – apply within

Sitting beside a body of water at sunset has a way of putting things in perfect perspective. Doing so with kids around magnifies that by 10x or so.

Sometimes we adults think we have it together.  We’ve got it all figured out.  Planning, projecting, we control our destinies, we OWN our careers.  We make things happen.

Then come those times when we realize – no, make that remember, because it’s buried there in each of us – in a crystalline instant, that it’s all about the joy of the present moment – even if that clarity is fleeting, the memory of it remains, to be applied within.

Suspension in the moment

Thursday evening, reflecting

Finally some rain today in the midst of our great midwestern American drought of 2012 – and just like that I have grass to mow again, not that I’m complaining.  Through one window to my left I see a patch of lawn and garden beginning to look alive again.

To my right are our ladies talking to each other as they compete in a video game.

Here in the middle is me, the watcher watching both directions, noting the grass revive to the left and wondering at the people our girls are becoming on my right.  Beauty on all sides, and I’m thankful, thankful.

So much about the passage through this world is perspective, and the journey of learning a slower, more mindful approach has rewards obvious and subtle.  Of course the obvious ones are clear, but the subtle ones make themselves known only through hints, and not unidirectionally; they may briefly appear and then withdraw.  Simple, stupid examples might include just recognizing there’s an option to leave the radio off during the drive home  and finding the mind more chatter-free and attentive for home re-entry; or taking a moment to focus on the breath during stressed intervals and finding upon careful observation that calming really does come, leaving some openness to work within where there was just tension.

I’m learning slowly through experience from yoga practice that the body really is an extension and an instrument of the mind (and vice versa, I guess?), and experiencing the first subtle signs that creating openness and fluidity in the body does manifest as improved openness and fluidity in the mind.  Trust me, I’ve been a brittle stick from years of running, cycling and no-stretching, so I am not that willowy ideal yoga practitioner.  And it’s funny to see revealed the ways in which the brittle stick body corresponds with the brittle stick mind; sometimes through brittle breath, or through brittle will, brittle emotions.

Working to open one opens the other, and it’s a fascinating journey indeed.