Archive for ‘April, 2013’

who are you,little i

(five or six years old)
peering from some high

window;at the gold

of november sunset

(and feeling:that if day
has to become night

this is a beautiful way)


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This post by my dear friend, Amanda, has been slow-cooking into a rolling boil in my mind. More so now, given the pandemonium and senseless death in Boston this week. I, too, greeted with repulsion the idea of death begetting beauty. This vexation wasn’t foreign; I remember a similar feeling when I first read T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets. Just the first five lines, in fact.

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.

At first glance, this passage frustrated me to no end. In particular, “all time is eternally present” was a paradox too nettling to entertain. Pardon me if this was the only thing I gleaned from reading Tuck Everlasting in 5th grade, I thought, but in order for something to be eternal, it can’t have temporal boundaries. BUT time engenders boundaries just by its nature: we employ time and space to determine relativity (right, Einstein?), and this requires parameters. So boundary-abiding time is the antithesis of boundless eternity, then? WHAT ARE YOU GETTING AT, MISTER ELIOT? I MEAN, REALLY.

Exasperated, I slumped back and took sip of my wine (yes, I get this physically worked up while reading). I caught a glimpse of my weary, 3:15ish a.m. face reflected in the glass in my hand. The glass’s curvature and my bloodshot eyes hiding behind glasses rendered my face a fruit fly-like caricature. I snorted with laughter. Thank goodness no one is awake to witness you right now, weirdo. Good thing you don’t look like this all the time.

And then I had one of those moments when something clicks in your mind but no one else is around to revel in it with you (don’t worry, you checked), so you geek out and celebrate by yourself:

Staring at my buggy wine-glass self, I realized what I had failed to see moments earlier: this “impossible” statement of Eliot’s was actually completely true (OK OK GUESS YOU DESERVED THAT NOBEL PRIZE BRO). Because, just as an image in a wine glass is both the same as and entirely different from the thing it reflects, so a moment of time is simply the reflection of eternity. And so, time and eternity are perhaps not antithetical, but rather the exact same thing.

Of course, that was one line of a poem. I could’ve just turned the page and read on. Death of a human being is infinitely more difficult to circumvent. And yes, it is undoubtedly tough to observe death’s reflection in a wine glass and think, wow, it sure looks ugly right here, but that doesn’t mean it is wholly and fully defined by this current ugliness. Maybe death is a particular 3:15ish a.m. reflection of beauty. And maybe, if you’re like me, this idea isn’t easy to swallow right now. Maybe it won’t be for a long while.

But there is always hope: that maybe it will make it easier to spot beauty in the breakdown someday.

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I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture of their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down, men other-centered can build up.
— Martin Luther King Jr.

Just a reminder that you (yes, you) CAN love yourself and put yourself first and pursue every. damn. thing. in this world that you want AND save the world
Lest you forget. In case you’re rudely questioned, over and over, about your capacity to do so, to the point where you start un-believing in yourself.
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My dad surprised my mom with a compost yesterday. And my mom and I are embarrassingly excited to use it.

its place in the sun, for now

its place in the sun, for now

When I studied in Costa Rica, composting became a natural follow-up to every meal of ours: before we all dropped off our dishes with the week’s dish pandilla, or “gang” of students chosen to man the sinks, we first stopped at three different compost bins designated for different types of food wastes to toss in our uneaten food & food wastes. By the time our plates got to the sinks, they were pretty empty and clean after just a rinse or two. The amount of waste we generated from meals was virtually zero (except for Chiky wrappers…if only those were compostable).

Cold weather and a return to New England has quelled my composting activities, so I’m excited to start again with the onset of spring. I’m trying to convince my parents to convert half our backyard into a fruit/vegetable garden, instead of the tiny corner that our garden is currently in…. fingers crossed that my persuasive powers come through!

guess where these veggie and fruit peels are going tonight.

guess where these veggie and fruit peels are going tonight.

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You need not see what someone is doing
to know if it is his vocation,

you have only to watch his eyes:
a cook mixing a sauce, a surgeon

making a primary incision,
a clerk completing a bill of lading,

wear the same rapt expression,
forgetting themselves in a function.

How beautiful it is,
that eye-on-the-object look.

–W.  H. Auden


A man named Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (and you guys thought MY name was difficult) spent some time in an Italian prison camp during WWII. In this hellacious environment, he discovered chess. He found it an excellent way to divert his attention away from everything going on around him. It was his strongest, most deeply held conviction that chess helped him fare better than many of his fellow prisoners. At the risk of sounding like an overplayed Rihanna jam, it was in chess that he found love in a hopeless place.

He named this chess-induced euphoria “flow.”

Later in life, as one of the century’s leading psychologists, he described flow as:

“…being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”

While I was first introduced to this term in high school, I’ve known the feeling my entire life. I’m betting you have too. I’ve retrospectively noticed that as free time gets more elusive with age and the name of the game is “prioritizing,” I tend to trim the fat by cutting out seemingly superfluous pursuits to make time for ceaseless “important responsibilities” but SHREYA, HOLD ON A HOT SECOND, THESE ARE THE IMPORTANT ONES. The things you do where you find flow – these are what make you human, make you alive. So what, really, is more important than partaking in any and every one of these things?

Bottom line: I promise myself time to cultivate flow like the bountiful crop it is. And I challenge myself to find breadth and depth in the activities within which I try to discover flow. (Yes, one of the easiest ways for me is rollerblading. No, I am not jesting you.)

When was the last time you forgot yourself in a function?
When was the last time you experienced flow?

If the answer is earlier than today, hasn’t it been far too long?

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“Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think, I’m not going to make it, but you laugh inside — remembering all the times you’ve felt that way.”

Charles Bukowski


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