Anything we feel that isn’t love That’s what makes us sick. OR: anything that isn’t joy or strength
Inspired by 27 May 2023 writing workshop
Carmen Bugan’s workshop on memoir was so beautifully compacted and animated that it is impossible to do it justice in a few words. It offered a rich and wide-ranging presentation and a lively discussion. It led from Plato, and life as an act of remembering, to Dante drinking from the river Lethe and the loss of memory.
We were asked to examine our relationship to memory at different levels – personal, cultural, historic, literary – and its role in our writing. Other questions were: how do we access memory? What part do sensory observations play in our writing and how do they connect to memory? Do we use memory to make sense of the puzzle of our lives?
Exciting writing exercises were proposed. One involved a line from Seamus Heaney: “Sing yourself to where the singing comes from.” Another concerned the role of touchable objects (e.g. an aquamarine ring) that trigger memory fragments of emotional and spiritual significance. A citation, also from Seamus Heaney, showed how connecting a humble everyday object or act to an intimate memory potentiates the impact on the reader.
Asked about fictionalizing a memoir, Carmen evoked the writer’s responsibility toward truth, the self, the persons portrayed in the story, and the reader. To put truth in print demands courage. Carmen is a true paragon, exemplified in her writing and her life.
With her broad, adventuresome experience and big, perceptive heart Carmen Bugan represents a vast array of knowledge, feelings, dreams and aspirations. That she managed to transmit all this and more in a mere hour-and-a-half makes her a truly inspiring teacher. How ingenious of her to have chosen Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory and mother of the nine muses, as her ally!
The Lord is taking things
into Our hand,
Divine and Human, One.
unperturbed by graffiti
monsters’ silly snarl
“Illness or pain is just an extension of negative emotion. When you are no longer feeling any resistance to it, it’s a non-issue.”
Track down resistance
(parallel to NaPoWriMo)
Recently I received the following unexpected, unsolicited, probably multiply sent-out, impersonal message from a sender who shall remain nameless:
“In Boston Chopra was one of the coowners in my condo building and was the only one totally irresponsible in his responsibilities. We thought of him as a scum bag and total phony from our direct experience with him. He may spout worth thoughts but anything coming from him I would discount.”
I replied as follows:
Thank you for your message.
I don’t doubt your personal memories regarding Chopra’s comportment in his youth.
It does, however, lead me to the opposite conclusion: it validates Chopra’s present-day powerful positive role in the world.
For two reasons:
One, modern psychology recognizes that unless a person has experienced negativity in himself, and worked through and beyond it, he will lack the personal, embodied understanding of its effects and of forgiveness and compassion. That experiential knowledge is a sine qua non condition for offering teaching in this domain.
Two, a well-known biblical parable offers another explanation: that of the prodigal son. He amassed sufficient experiential substance to warrant a celestial banquet. The key to the banquet: conversion. Alchemization is required: the transformation of lead into gold. The question: is there sufficient lead that can be alchemized? Enough substance to transubstantiate?
What life was lived? No lead melts into no gold.
I found a lot of gold in Chopra’s work, in his writings and his workshops.
His teachings uniquely embrace body and mind/spirit, ancient wisdom and cutting-edge modern science, span the
Vedas and Quantum Physics. This all-encompassing perspective enables Chopra to help modern-day humans to fulfill their mission (here a a definition according to Shinto philosophy:) to link heaven and earth.
Anyone in search of greater fulfillment, is free to test Chopra’s recipes.
Reading his book “Synchrodestiny” may easily turn life into a serendipitous adventure.
Behind, belated, and loving it
welcome the violoncello
its notes reverberate
glide raindroplike near
in mantles of mother of pearl
melt suffering into iridescence
shapeshift into shining
befriend the flitting
see it build its nest from
mud and saliva
here in the quiet cloister
of an abandoned
turn the stone it
lay your palms
on stumbling blocks
pour syrah on the ground
drain the silver
the lark spirals skyward
its song caresses
the wheat field
when you break bread
let its flavor be
Small talk so small it
talk at all
poisons pristine air
affronts the void
a relentless moth it
against lit window panes
a slug in the mud
it denigrates wisdom
an empty crow’s nest
it lacks zest
like petals torn
from a rose in bloom
once bisons’ doom
a wart on the tip of a nose
a litany of life’s iterations
like a broken street lamp
at thoughts’ crossroads
myth’s old promise of strife
chit chat ramps up a spell
The Cosmos (a draft)
Huge, unimaginably immense,
beyond the grasp of any sense
the Cosmos floats,
a giant bubble, on board all mystery,
mirages, visions, dreams of the ages,
touchable present reality, too,
me, you, skyscrapers, jungle,
bridges, valleys, mountain tops,
boats plying streams,
symphonies playing in concert halls,
snowflakes and raindrops,
fingertips clicking on keyboards
in search of a verse,
successes, flops, waterfalls,
poets on all sorts of planets,
lizards and foxes, hummingbirds, elephants in the wild,
butterflies, snails, artists, nerds,
zebras in zoos, books in libraries,
walls, windows, open doors,
shores, embankments, a world’s willingness and concern,
other planets, zillions of galaxies, countless constellations
swirl in stern order, don’t collide,
Cosmos, humongous, humorous,
will abide and forever delight
in endless variations
of life’s darkness and light,
Praise the biggest thing you can imagine