Let there be space

DAY: Sunday, but I’m a bit behind here…there was all of last week after Monday. Hmm. Where did those days go?

MORNING MEDITATION: Today’s was lovely. Calm. Ample. Do you know what I mean by that? As if the mind actually feels free to expand and knock down its own barriers. As if it dares to abandon center stage all together, leaving nothing much in its place but…space. The modules stop chattering between themselves. The thoughts of what to do next recede. For the past few days, the guide who is saying less and less as time goes by, has spoken about allowing the mind to be spacious. Such a lovely idea! When so much of life is closing in on us, in our heads we can be open. And free. I’ve struggled this past week with the idea. It seemed more a celestial concept than an achievable reality, and yet today, the clouds cleared, and there it was.

TDC: Spotted in the neighborhood furniture store run by the two tall sisters—the proverbial doggy (theirs) in the window. He sat propped upon the back of the chair which is—yes—for sale even though he seems to already own it. As I passed, just another character in this bewildering weaving of reflection and reality, I wondered: How spacious is an animal’s mind? How open and free must it be in that little skull where competing concepts are likely few? What feelings are arising in his canine heart? What urges lie in wait? How open, how free in that little mind…

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And as I type that, I realize what an apt metaphor he himself is— in his glass corner— for the experience of mindful meditation. He is the mind, watching things come and go. Hearing the sounds of the world, slightly buffered, but there. Aware. Awake. Calm.

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The flavor of the mind

DAY: Monday.

MORNING MEDITATION: 10 minutes. Went well considering I got hung up on one of the first things the guide suggested in his beguiling, mellifluous tone: “Try to note the flavor of the mind.” The beauty of that phrase—the beauty of that idea—colored the rest of my meditation. Of course he’s talking about mood, underlying emotion. But how juicy and delightful is the concept of the “flavor of the mind”?

TLC: Abandoned in the kitchen, a pink elephant eraser of my 13-year old daughter. A wise-eyed rubber pachyderm whose sole existence is to whisk away her small, here-and-there errors. And where was he left? Under a vase of ranunculus given to me by my husband to lift my spirits (tough day at work). Ranunculus which happen to be the exact, un-Photoshopped, pink of Aforementioned Elephant. Touchstones. Reminders. I cannot look at these without feeling great happiness and gratitude. The desire to laugh. The flavor of the mind? You guessed it. Bubblegum pink.

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Deviled eggs and women

DAY: Saturday & Sunday

MORNING MEDITATION: Yesterday’s was nonexistent and today’s was the work of a tired mind. I’d have preferred sleeping. Am I the only person who finds weekends and holidays more exhausting than the M-F/9-5?

TDC: Yesterday’s Daily Cures were few and far between outside of meals. I felt harried and preoccupied until I sat down to eat. The senses require our attention, and in so doing, they pull us out of our tangled thoughts. At lunch, I was saved by comfort food to the nth degree: Deviled eggs. Proust would have been proud, although deviled eggs wouldn’t have been a very elegant start to his story. With every decadent, mayonnaise-y bite, memories rushed in of the picnics my grandmother would pack for our fishing trips on the Rappahannock River. I present to you the unglamorous but delicious eggs (I have made a pact with myself to show you TDCs, pretty or not):

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Today’s Daily Cure was one of those cinematic moments that stops time. I was walking with my daughter in Via Dante by a café, when we spotted a woman rigorously dressed and turbaned in white with a foam-topped coffee in front of her. She sat very still, observing other women as I was observing her. A video of yet another woman played in the window across the street. I felt bound to them all in that instant. Nothing to do with Deviled Eggs, but such is the unpredictability and randomness of what makes us happy. I hope your weekend is full of such moments.

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Paths

 

DAY: Friday

MORNING MEDITATION: 10 minutes. Went well. Body felt more relaxed than usual. Less tension between the shoulders. Slight interruption as my husband left the house: Would we eat octopus for dinner? Who would pick it up? Who would prepare it? That settled, I dropped back into the warm blackness of my inner space. Thoughts a bit flighty at first, then calm.

TDC: The feel of my feet on the ground as I left the dentist’s office in an almost celebratory frame of mind. (A good dental cleaning always boosts my spirits.) The realization that—no matter where we are—we are walking over history. Layers and layers of it. Millenia of it. The thought that if all our personal, daily trajectories and wanderings dragged faint threads behind them there would be an infinitely intricate mesh laid across the surface of the earth that would then fall down into the layers of geological time*. I saw a nun crossing the piazza, pleading with someone on her cellphone, moving urgently in a straight line toward, and then through, the center a masonry X.

NUN 2*These thoughts were probably influenced by a passage I recently read in Ian McEwan’s beautiful book The Children ActYou can read it here.

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The taste of yellow

DAY: Thursday, even though I woke up feeling—think Bill Murray in Ground Hog’s Day—that it was Wednesday all over again and that it would be kinda nice if it were, in fact, Saturday.

MORNING MEDITATION: 10 minutes. Went pretty well today. I’m new at this, just 27 days into the journey. I find that more than observe my thoughts drifting by, I tend to bat at them like flies. “Shoo shoo, go away!” Technique definitely requires some refining. And speaking of flies, there were ants in the kitchen last night. A sure sign of Spring. But that wasn’t part of the meditation. See what I mean? “Shoo shoo! Go away thoughts about ants!”

TDC: There was a bonus Daily Cure yesterday. It was Women’s Day which is typically celebrated in Italy with the gift of Mimosa flowers. A little French café I like for afternoon pick-me-ups was giving its female customers tiny, silver-dollar-sized tartes au citron, having given themselves creative license to interpret the yellow of mimosa with the yellow of lemon. It was delicious, intense and totally unexpected. I felt appreciated as I nibbled it into nonexistence. How does that get to be today’s post? Because the goodness of that kind of gesture lingers.

TARTE CITRON

Posted in COLOR, ITALY, SAVORING | Tagged , , , , | 24 Comments

Newness

DAYWednesday.

MORNING MEDITATION10 minutes. Challenging. The courtyard was full of chatter. In-depth discussion among neighbors and visiting gardener about how the wistaria should be pruned, etc. Italians love to weigh in on every topic. It was all I could do not to leap up and join in.

TDCThe arrival of buds in the courtyard and elsewhere, and a new look/feel/focus for the website. Everything needs pruning and fertilizing for the spring, including the digital space where you all tolerate my public mucking about.

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To love. To red. A color story.

Today is one of the great clichés. And as with most clichés, there’s a reason for its existence. We do love and we love passionately. And without love we would be nothing. But our love isn’t wrapped up in hearts and bows and frills. It’s everywhere. All around us. To celebrate the blessed omnipresence of love, I’ve taken a quick trip through the past few months, revisiting things I felt compelled to photograph. In every case, as banal as something seemed, there was Love behind my motivation for photographing it. Love and memory and personal meaning.

To the sensual. The hint of a smile. The beginning of a Yes:

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To a humble chair inviting you to sit and meditate over a coffee or a mood:

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To the red tights on the man in one of my favorite paintings:

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To all the children in our lives:

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To the game of love, which requires skill, stillness, thought. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose; but we stay in the game:

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To wine and chocolate, which remind us that love is in the full, celebratory use of our senses:

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To the animals we love and who love us more:

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To the simple overlooked things that serve small purposes:

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To the everyday, mistreated objects that contain our lives:

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To those things that could speak entire novels of our past, encountered by chance, miles and oceans away from where we first knew them:

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To the escape routes, the ways out, the adventures waiting to happen, the places yet to go and see:

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To the patterns that repeat. Warmth through the generations. A visual reminder of a blanket knitted by my mother:

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To the women we come from, the ones that loved us no matter what, the elders, the wise ones, the ones we can only remember from the photographs we keep. Shrines:

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To the color that contains it all, the lifeblood, the love:

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Posted in COLOR, ITALY | 14 Comments