Just wanted to share with Jade readers this post Making Light Work just published on Field of Merit, which I typed up this morning. I guess I’m doing this because…it speaks to me! I know that might sound odd since I’m the author however sometimes I’m surprised at what comes out the end of my fingers, having been routed through my brain first of course!
I remember a conversation I had with a chap about creative writing and the reason for writing generally. I admired him so much. A real writer who, in his case, paid his bills by writing instruction manuals for Microsoft back in the very early days! It is fairly standard thinking to say that one writes in order to clarify ones mind. This is true. For me however I find I don’t even know what I think about something and then in the process of stringing words together I find myself pleasantly surprised. And happy. That’s how it is for today.
Thank you. Thank you very much. Thanks, you’re so kind. We say it out loud and we write it in letters, on cards and in emails. There are so many means now through which we express gratitude. At this time of year, as a child, it was time to get out the Basildon Bond paper, blue with envelopes to match, and write the obligatory thank you letters. To be honest writing those letters was a chore. I got through the job under my mother’s watchful eye. Thank you Granny for the lovely present you sent me, I will make good use of it. And Dear Auntie Paddy, Thank you for the puzzle. I liked the horses. Not so long ago I was going through my grandmothers papers and came across all of my thank you notes to her. Preserved along with other letters from her family in a chocolate box with roses on top. Even my childish scrawled letters had enough meaning to be kept. Thank you Granny.
Adopting a default attitude of thankfulness might seem at first to be rather errr…old fashioned or false. After all gift receiving times like Christmas can be rife with disappointments for both children and adults alike. It can be hard to be grateful for something you didn’t want, can’t use, will never wear etc. However we used to say, It is the thought that counts and yes indeed it is if we are able to say that and actually mean it! The knitted rabbit and bear were Christmas presents for a small child. He might take to them, he might not. My monastic work colleague and I produced them, she knitted and I made them up. I’m thankful for the opportunity to help make and give gift. To help make these toys which have already given a lot of pleasure before ever they reached their target.
Expressing gratitude can become a habit. There is always, no matter what ones circumstances are, something to be grateful for. Perhaps life itself. Or as in this article gratitude for ones thumbs and fingers!
I was in two minds as to whether or not to post this quote. The sentiments are a tad unfashionable perhaps given the current climate in the world. But listen: She is a speaker whose words are to be treasured, seasonable, reasoned, well-defined and connected with the goal. And speaking words which are pleasing to the ear. Who would not aspire to speak thus?
Abandoning false speech, the ascetic Gotama dwells refraining from false speech, a truth-speaker, one to be relied on, trustworthy, dependable, not a deceiver of the world. Abandoning malicious speech, she does not repeat there what he has heard here to the detriment of these, or repeat here what he has heard there to the detriment of those. Thus she is a reconciler of those at variance and an encourager of those at one, rejoicing in peace, loving it, delighting in it, one who speaks up for peace. Abandoning harsh speech, he refrains from it. She speaks whatever is blameless, pleasing to the ear, agreeable, reaching the heart, urbane, pleasing and attractive to the multitude. Abandoning idle chatter, he speaks at the right time, what is correct and to the point, of Dhamma and discipline. He is a speaker whose words are to be treasured, seasonable, reasoned, well-defined and connected with the goal.
Taken from the original Pali Brahmajala Sutta
With thanks to the Reverend who dug out this gem from the deep well of the internet. I’ve changed some he’s to she’s in the text just to mix things up a bit.
Now visiting family my eye once again rested on Susan Sontag’s classic, On Photography published in 1977. This time I picked it off the shelf. It makes for interesting reading especially since so much has changed since her intelligent pondering on the photograph and photographers. Digital photography being one major change. This book alone had a huge influence on my decision not to continue on with my life-passion of photography, full time. There is much I would wish to quote from Sontag’s book. For now here is something from the end of the book quoting historic photographer, Paul Strand.
Your photography is a record of your living, for anyone who really sees. You may see and be affected by other people’s ways, you may even use them to find your own, but you will have eventually to free yourself of them. That is what Nietzsche meant when he said, “I have just read Schopenhauer, now I have to get rid of him.” He knew how insidious other people’s ways could be, particularly those which have the forcefulness of profound experience, if you let them get between you and your own vision. Paul Strand
I guess we all know how we become coloured by those around us. Moods are strangely catching as are thought patterns. Where ones attention is directed will influence, not only others attention field, it will influence their whole person including their felt sense of themselves. That might include feeling dragged down, lifted up, unconnected, floating etc. This is normal enough and I believe we have an inbuilt sense as meditators/conscious beings to return to ourselves and to move on. We would talk of this as bringing meditation into daily life circumstances, to keep on returning to ones sitting place.
Yes, Susan Sontag and her profound reflections on photography influenced me way back and I am glad of that. We can and do benefit from the insights and hard graft of others and being open to influence is crucial. However, and almost simultaneously, we have to personally put in the hard graft of moving on past our teachers and mentors, parents or guardians, friends and partners who have helped shape us. Crucially, without judgment or rejection.
I guess that simple ol’ instruction to bring meditation into daily life, to constantly forget, and move and breathe ones uniqueness is not so simple. Not easy either, yet essential to going deeper. Spiritually speaking.